Monday, October 5, 2009

Vacation - Vegas & Zion

Jackie and I just got home from a great vacation. A week ago Saturday we flew to Las Vegas, intending to spend a day in Vegas at the beginning and end of our trip, then drive up to Zion National Park for the 5 days in between. We got into Vegas early so we had plenty of time to walk around and check out some of the casinos. Neither of us are too interested in gambling, but we did enjoy checking out all the different places. That night we had tickets to Zumanity, which is billed as the sensual side of Cirque Du Soleil. The show was amazing. Definitely not something to watch with your parents or kids (its actually 18 and over), but a really great show.

Sunday morning, after some breakfast, we jumped into the rental car and head to Zion. After about 2 1/2 hours we pulled into Springdale, the town just outside the park headquarters. Immediately we were amazed at the beauty with these huge red rock cliffs all around us. We spent some time in town scouting out some hiking plans for the upcoming week, grabbed some groceries and headed to the house we rented. That turned out to be a great place, fairly new and in a secluded vacation home community. Peace and quiet with awesome mountain views surrounding it.

The next morning we drove up into the high country in the middle of the park. This was a different area as we climbed to 7000-8000ft, and were surrounded by Ponderosa pines and Aspens. Many of the Aspens were turning yelllow for the fall, which made a great contrast against their white trunks.

On Tuesday we took advantage of the still 90+ degree temperatures and decided to hike the Narrows. This is the far north area of Zion Canyon where the canyon walls narrow to as little as 20feet in some spots with walls up to 2000feet. There's only a trail for the first mile, then you literally get into the river and hike through the water, either along the river bed or along the banks were possible. It was a really amazing experience. We hiked a total of about 3 1/2 miles up stream, then turned around and headed back.

Wednesday was our 4th anniversary. We had hoped to hike Angels Landing, but it was pretty windy so we decided on some less exposed hikes for the day. We ended up doing two hikes, Hidden Canyon and Emerald Pools. Hidden Canyon was 1 mile each way, plus some scrambling up a small slot canyon. The main trail included some exposed ledges along a cliff face that offered chains fixated to the wall for some added security.

Thursday we headed up Angels Landing. It was a little over 2 miles of steep climbs with lots of switchbacks, then we got to the chains. The first section was fairly simple and both of us thought we were almost there, then we came around the corner and saw that we still had about 1/2 mile of intense climbing along an exposed ridge. Either side of this were 1000 foot drops. I was pretty nervous, but Jackie encouraged me to give it a shot. We were moving pretty good and it wasn't too bad. We were about 3/4 of the way up and it was getting really crowded with 2 way traffic. Our nerves started getting the best of us both so we opted to grab some pictures where we were and head back down. The view is supposed to be amazing, but I don't regret the decision to head back down.

On Friday we headed back to Vegas and finished the trip off with dinner at the Eiffel Tower restaurant, overlooking the strip and the fountains at the Belagio. Great way to finish a great vacation.