The more you dream the farther you go...
There are three gobsmack gems in the main corridor of Zion that are "must dos," in spite of standing-room-only shuttle bus rides, madding yackety-yak crowds marching side-by-side up serpentine trails, and, of course, only well-peopled photo ops: Exploring the depths of Hidden Canyon, tiptoeing up the shear edge to Angel's Landing, and wading The Narrows to Wall Street. If you want to stand a chance of experiencing these places by yourself, you must either get up early (like before dawn and shuttle bus runs) or just go farther.
Outside the the main corridor, just east of the tunnel, is another "should-do," even though it's trampled with tourists. This short trail will land you on a precipitous point that overlooks the switchbacked highway up to the tunnel and colorful sandstone walls that surround West Temple's majesty. We thought it worthy enough to join throngs of tourists and show hiking pals, Chris and Juliet.
The first time Bobbie and I hiked this trail we were disappointed by its brevity. After getting an eye-fill of distance, drop, and view we gazed up at the shrine-like block named East Temple. Hmmm, wonder if we can get up there?
The climb to the East Temple is a litmus test for borderline acrophobes. At times if feels like one slip and you might just tumble into the shadowy abyss a thousand feet below. However, this hike resides at the top of our all-time favorite list for Zion. It has a little bit of everything Zion has to offer.
|Bobbie holds up the overhang so we can pass safely...on the way to the overlook.|
I'd been mulling over whether or not to suggest it to Chris and Juliet. Once we had our fill of the overlook, I pointed up and said, "You should lay hands on the East Temple while you're here. It's a sacred place and the views on the other side are without equal."
"I'm down," says Juliet. And Chris? He's always "down" for new dots.
|An OMG view of West Temple from the overlook|
|East Temple, from the overlook...piece of cake, right?|
It's a steep slog, I warned as we prepared to launch, But I think you'll agree it's worth the effort.
Bobbie mentions that she'd read that it was possible to do a loop-hike, and come back out on the highway within a half mile of where we parked. So had Chris. Uh Oh.
But we've been up to East Temple multiple times and never once have we seen any possible way down into the Hellish rough country that awaits on the other side of Heaven.
Let's just shoot for the Temple today, I say. We want Juliet to come back, don't we?
|The views west just get better and better as we ascend the slant to East Temple|
|45 minutes in, quads and achilles burning, we still have a long way to go|
|There are places that feel as if a slip could send you tumbling into the canyon below|
About the time the "falling" thought crops up, we hear a loud clang...clang clang. While Juliet was creeping up a steep section on "all fours," her thermos of water slipped out of her pack pocket and tumbled down. Already on the edge, this set her off...a palpable demonstration of what might happen if she misstepped. Needless to say, there was a pause, to reconsider our East Temple goal.
I thought we should turn back and offered to do so. We're up here to have fun. I don't want you to do anything you don't feel comfortable with. Then Bobbie and I leave Chris and Juliet to have a little father/daughter talk.
|Sometimes I'm not the best route chooser. Bobbie gets stuck...can't go up/can't go down. So I climb down and throw her a rope. This does not instill confidence in Juliet...|
|Break time...it's freaking hot on the sandstone, and no shade for cover|
|Chris and Juliet...on the move again. Apparently the "talk" worked|
|45 degrees doesn't feel steep...unless there is a dark canyon below, waiting to swallow you up|
|Progress. Juliet sets her jaw. She's quite flushed and really needs to get out of the sun, but there is no shade in Hell|
After lunch, I set about looking for a way down into that mess, in case we want to try to make a loop. I know...I'm pushing it, but can't help myself. Besides, Juliet is not exactly thrilled with the idea of going back down what we just came up.
Yeah, that's where we need to go in order to make the loop. It's getting late and so I have second thoughts.
|Meanwhile, back at the saddle, lunch and discussions ensue about doing "the loop."|
|Maybe we can get down this way....NOT!!|
Its still a steep push to lay hands on the Temple. We leave that for next time...when we have more time, and energy, and steadier legs. But Juliet is "down" for the loop. Yes!
|So here we go...walking the saddle, looking for a way down so we can make a loop|
|That's rough country...You could get lost in there|
|Another saddle...nope, too steep. Or is it?|
|Another view of East Temple|
|Father daughter talk worked...Juliet loves her adventurous dad :)|
|East Temple panorama. Gawd Almighty, I love my life!!!|
Where there's a "Chris," there's a way.
The guy is incorrigible. We follow Chris like sheeple to the slaughter. Some how we make it down...a slope I'm not sure we can come back up. We are committed, now.
If we can only find the way to Pine Canyon...our escape hatch out of this amazing maze.
Stay tuned, Conclusion is next...
Mark Bobbie Chris and Juliet