SUN CHASERS: TAKE ME TO ZION

Have you been eager for this post to come out?  Ya?  Yeah, me too...I've been dying to share these photos with you.  So, without further blabbering, here it goes.

Zion, there's a reason they named the park after the Hebrew word for heaven.  It's hard to describe what you feel when you enter the park, there's indeed something majestic about it.  We drove the parkway near sundown for a quick view before we turned around to find a camp spot outside the park.  When you first see the massive slabs of vertical rock it's hard to believe what you're looking at.  'Is this real life?' 'Am I seeing this right?' are common questions I'd imagine go through peoples heads.  Then realization strikes and your mind begins to process the scale of the red rock cliffs.  'Wooooooooow' are the next thoughts, 'those are REALLY big.'  Unfortunately, despite the confidence that people put in my photographic abilities, pictures just don't do this place justice and even my photos fall short by a long shots, you have to go there and see it with your own eyes.  

Our first day in Zion started out with me driving to Springdale from St. George and waiting for Alison to catch up on her bike.  On the way there, out of curiosity, I drove up some random off shoot roads.  One in particular, Dalton Wash Rd, proved to have some good prospects for camping, so I made note of that, took some pictures and moved along.  I made it into Springdale and sat down in wait for the wifey.  

 Immediately after exiting the highway onto Dalton Wash Rd you're surrounded by a new world, it's quite incredible.

Immediately after exiting the highway onto Dalton Wash Rd you're surrounded by a new world, it's quite incredible.

After Alison's arrival in Springdale we packed up her things and hit the road to catch a glimpse of Zion before dark.  We drove out to the turn around in the park, craning our necks the whole way.  As a side note, if you have any preexisting neck issues before you enter the park, go rent a convertible.  Not having a roof to look around is by far your preferable viewing option while traveling through Zion, as I stated earlier, vertical walls and they're thousands of feet tall.  As we drove towards the exit of the park we rounded a corner and there driving towards us was a wall of pretty lights.  I immediately knew that I was looking at another overlander.  As we approached I began to make out the lines of a large bumper (aka Moose Catcher), then the grill of a dodge ram, then...oh wait, is that an XP Camper?!?!  If you've never seen an XP camper take 5 and check out this link, (http://xpcamper.com/).  I had never seen one up close before, but the fact that it was mounted on the back of a dodge ram made me think immediately that it was Song of the Road (http://songoftheroad.com/) passing us.  Well, an opportunity not taken is an opportunity wasted, so as quick as I could I swung a u-turn and made pursuit of the fancy XP Camper.  

We caught up to the camper at the end of the parkway and soon after I was chatting with Marian and Gary Miller, a wonderful couple from Oakdale, California.  Marian had just been saying to Gary that it would be nice to camp with someone also traveling and I had been hoping to find fellow overlanders to spend the evening visiting with...so it was basically a match made in heaven...or Zion.  (aha!  see what I did there?)  I told M&G about the Dalton Wash Rd and we decided to meet there.  Alison and I made our way back into Springdale to do some laundry (my first time in a laundromat.  Life lessons, am I right?), and make dinner on the side of the road in Casper.  PS: Having your living space with you at all times makes a lot of things way easier, preparing dinner for instance.  

 Alison is a pro at cooking in our tiny home.  I'm a pretty lucky guy to have a wife as amazing as her, my travels would be significantly lacking without her.  And yes, we're cooking inside the camper again, we just don't have an open flame near gas like last time.

Alison is a pro at cooking in our tiny home.  I'm a pretty lucky guy to have a wife as amazing as her, my travels would be significantly lacking without her.  And yes, we're cooking inside the camper again, we just don't have an open flame near gas like last time.

After dinner and laundry we caught up with M&G along Dalton Wash Rd and spent the remainder of the night chatting, swapping stories, travel plans and cool locations to go visit.  Meeting and visiting with our new friends was such a blessing in so many ways.  It warms my heart when I can spend an evening with people just because we have similar interests and then leave as friends.  Marian and Gary shared their home, their food and best of all...their shower.  Marian & Gary, when you read this, thank you for your hospitality, generosity and kindness, we look forward to spending more time with you both!

 Good morning Utah!

Good morning Utah!

 The XP Camper is a show of engineering prowess, the tour given to me by Gary exhibited an extreme eye for detail and a well planned out design.

The XP Camper is a show of engineering prowess, the tour given to me by Gary exhibited an extreme eye for detail and a well planned out design.

 Our new friends, Marian and Gary.

Our new friends, Marian and Gary.

The next morning we woke and packed up slowly, said our farewells then moved on to explore Zion a little more.  This is where things get real good.  I've said plenty already, so I'm just going to leave you with the pictures.  Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah, USA...go do it!

 Emerald Pools

Emerald Pools

 Leaving Emerald Pools we walked along this path to the Grotto where we would find the trail head for Angels Landing.

Leaving Emerald Pools we walked along this path to the Grotto where we would find the trail head for Angels Landing.

 The walkway to Angels Landing is pretty unreal, it essentially switchbacks directly upwards along a wall of rock.

The walkway to Angels Landing is pretty unreal, it essentially switchbacks directly upwards along a wall of rock.

 Our first look over the sheer rock walls.  Alison stands beside a vertical drop of thousands of feet.

Our first look over the sheer rock walls.  Alison stands beside a vertical drop of thousands of feet.

 HERE WE GO!!  The last leg of the hike to Angels Landing basically requires you to be a mountain goat.  There is a sign before you start the final ascent warning hikers of the possibility of death.  Since 2004, 6 people have fallen to their death attempting the climb to the top.  It's not a large number but gives light to just how dangerous this climb is and the crazy thing is that it's open to anyone who is willing to go, no experience required.

HERE WE GO!!  The last leg of the hike to Angels Landing basically requires you to be a mountain goat.  There is a sign before you start the final ascent warning hikers of the possibility of death.  Since 2004, 6 people have fallen to their death attempting the climb to the top.  It's not a large number but gives light to just how dangerous this climb is and the crazy thing is that it's open to anyone who is willing to go, no experience required.

 Perhaps it's hard to see, but if Alison trips...she's gone.

Perhaps it's hard to see, but if Alison trips...she's gone.

 I often think of what base jumpers think before they launch themselves from a perch just like this...

I often think of what base jumpers think before they launch themselves from a perch just like this...

 See that parking lot down there, ok, now go back to the first picture on this blog...look at the rock face.

See that parking lot down there, ok, now go back to the first picture on this blog...look at the rock face.

 Here's an adventure shot for My Inner Fire, a clothing brand Alison promotes.  She got a lot of comments on her leggings as we hiked.

Here's an adventure shot for My Inner Fire, a clothing brand Alison promotes.  She got a lot of comments on her leggings as we hiked.

 There it is, Zion National Park.

There it is, Zion National Park.

 Proof that I was in fact at the top.

Proof that I was in fact at the top.

 The happy hiking couple.

The happy hiking couple.

 There was a significant amount of snow on the last scramble, making it that much more difficult to climb.  I'd say that I'm pretty good with heights, but this climb gave me weak knees and had me taking a lot of extra caution not to trip.  Hey Mom, I'm not dead, you can relax now...

There was a significant amount of snow on the last scramble, making it that much more difficult to climb.  I'd say that I'm pretty good with heights, but this climb gave me weak knees and had me taking a lot of extra caution not to trip.  Hey Mom, I'm not dead, you can relax now...

 The 'easy' part.

The 'easy' part.

 Snapped a few shots of us leaving the park before it became dark.  It's just as beautiful leaving as it is entering.

Snapped a few shots of us leaving the park before it became dark.  It's just as beautiful leaving as it is entering.

 There is a 1.6 mile tunnel like this carved out of the rock leading out of the Zion, it was completed in 1934, which I find pretty incredible...it's a tunnel through a mountain, that's some serious work!

There is a 1.6 mile tunnel like this carved out of the rock leading out of the Zion, it was completed in 1934, which I find pretty incredible...it's a tunnel through a mountain, that's some serious work!

 And from here we make our way into the Arizona desert.

And from here we make our way into the Arizona desert.

Zion National Park is definitely a place I will return to.  There are a number of large hikes which I intend to do.  Zion is a place that you can't just go in and out of in a day, you have to spend a week or more to soak it in a thorough amount.  There is so much more to the park as well, if you leave on hwy 89 there is a few miles of slick rock mountain on the East side of the valley which is a massive playground for the adventure seeker.  So, if you plan to go, plan at least two days if not more.  

Over and out.