On a little lighter note, but something that is just as much fun for me, I would like to tell you what I did this weekend. While many in my county were working at the convention, I decided to get away.
Yep, I traveled down to Zion’s National Park and enjoyed an 18.4 mile hike through some of Utah’s beautiful red rock country. We started out the trip by meeting up with the rest of our party at the East Gate of Zion’s National Park. It was a beautiful way to start our trip.
Then we heading to beginning of our trail which was located just south of Mt. Carmel on a dirt road about a 10th of a mile from US89. At first we worked our way down the road past the first gate, but from everything that my guides read, we needed to park at the first gate. So, we dropped our packs off as far as we dared take the truck, then we drove bak to the first gate and hiked to our packs.
There were many great pictures of buttes and mesas along this trail. I couldn’t help taking picture after picture. But it was also perhaps the least interesting part of the trail, because he hadn’t yet entered into the red rock that I love.
The first part of the trail is both an off road trail and a horse trail. So, while were were mostly by ourselves (accept for one small meeting with some ATVs) there was plenty of signs of people having been in the area.
The sun was starting to set as we got into the red rock part of the trail, and more and more we spent our time walking in the water. This was actually really nice because it would be a nice refresher to tired and sore feet. When we arrived at Mineral Gulch we knew that we only had a few hours left and my guides had read that there were several beautiful rock formations in the gulch. So, we donned our wet suits, and I put my camera away (I didn’t want to get it wet), and we trekked into the gulch.
They were correct. It really was full of some beautiful rock formations. I truly regretted not having taken my camera for two reasons. First, it was very dry. The wet suits were completely useless, but mostly I regret not getting some great pictures. My party was probably tired of me, because it seemed that every time I turned around a new corner, I saw a face in the formation. I really wish that I had some pictures of them to share with you.
That night we settled down along one of the Sandy banks just at the mouth of Mineral Gulch. By the time we got out of the gulch is was getting dark, so we barely had enough time to set up camp and get a fire started. Then we ate dinner, and as soon as my food was eaten, I went to bed. I was tired, and I say no reason to stay up and talk.
The next morning, we woke up had breakfast and headed out on the trail at 9:00 in the morning. Again we saw many great rock formations. But there wasn’t a lot of time for picture taking because we had 11 miles of trail ahead of us, and the last 4 was supposed to be the hardest.
I wish that I could describe the beauty of the place, and the best part of the hike was knowing that we were one of very few people who have ever traveled in this area. However, we know that these trails have been traveled for many years. One of the signs were these fun petroglyphs that were located about 500 feet from the trail, and well worth the brief break and trip of the trail.
One of my main goals for this trip was to hunt for a couple of geocaches. But this trip proved a disappointment for this trip. There was one cache that was on the must do list. It was called Fat Man’s Misery, and from what I understand it was reachable from where we were. Unfortunately, we lost satellite reception when we got within 350 ft. and we didn’t pick it back up again until we passed it by a tenth of a mile.
There were a couple of other caches that we passed, but one of the men with us wasn’t interested in geocaching, and really didn’t seem to want to indulge me. So, I came home without even one find on this trip. I was hoping to find one after he had left our group, but by that time I was very tired, and my GPS just up and lost all of my personal waypoints. So, I was left with nothing.
But, before I get to the end of the trip, I have to write about the last 4 miles. It was by far the toughest hike of my life. The first mile was straight up. Not so bad that we needed gear, but there was definitely one point where I felt that one slip would have cost me my life.
The next two miles were up hill, after up hill, after up hill. I was beginning to wonder if it would ever head down, which according to the elevataion chart it was supposed to.
The last mile was still pretty rough. Yes, it was finally heading down hill, but like the rest of the trail is was mostly sand. So, that double the amount of effort you needed just to walk in a straight line.
During the last 2 miles, I kept trying to listen for cars so that I knew I was close to the end. But we didn’t hear any cars until we could see their headlight just a head of us. Yes, I said head lights. We didn’t get off of the trail until around 9:00pm, and I was purely beat. I took everything in me to make this trip, and I had a terribly wonderful time.