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Zion smorgasbord including a subway ride.

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I get this email saying Mark & Maikel are doing the Flying Monkey ride tomorrow. Wait, I know this is a grunt and pause for consideration. Next email says “You’ll like it!” and I reply “Sure, when & where?”.

Mikal and Mark cruising up the Monkey.
Maikel and Mark cruising up the Monkey.

A four mile preamble and then the 6 mile climb begins. MapMyRide says its 2700′ over the 6 miles. I ride ahead to take a photo. Nice one but it was the last time I saw their faces till the top. Never did get any closer than the disappearing dots in the next pic.

That's the last I saw of them till the top.
That’s the last I saw of them till the top.
The reward for those that revel in attaining summits.
The reward for those that revel in attaining summits.
Secrete chill spots.
Secrete chill spots.
Just sucking in that oxygen.
Just sucking in that oxygen. Thanks for the photo Mark.

I was itching to do a quasi traditional hike, one I had never done before and it might as well end in Zion Canyon even if it was crowded with tourists. East Rim Trail fit the bill and I cautiously informed the others of our intentions. Mark, Maikel & Susan said yes and we also now had two cars needed for the one way hike shuttle.

Big horn's having breakfast.
Big horn’s having breakfast.
Heading out from the East Entrance trail head.
Heading out from the East Entrance trail head.

Once again it was simply nice to be out in the back country walking the trails. Weather was cool with clear skies as we hiked up Clear Creek and slowly wound our way up towards the top of the surrounding shelf.

Looking back.
Looking back. That’s Checkerboard Mesa in the distance.
Curiosity.
Curiosity.

Jolly Gulch gave the option to peer over the edge as if looking down a dry waterfall.

That's what we're looking at.
That’s what we’re looking at, Jolly Gulch.

The trail traverses the top, which looks like a sparse forest rather than Zion cliffs but the reward is the last section as we descend, first into Echo Canyon and then Zion Canyon.

Lunch break.
Lunch break.
Feast for the eyes.
Feast for the eyes.
Pano in progress.
Pano in progress.
Dropping down into Hidden Canyon.
Dropping down into Hidden Canyon.
.
There is a trail up there.
Wow.
Echo Canyon.
Getting close to the main valley.
Getting close to the main valley.

Really fun 11 odd mile hike, a bit of uphill but mostly we lost elevation from the East Entry down to the road in Zion Canyon. Shuttle bus back to our car was chock-a-block full and so was the Visitor parking lot. I had had my fill and we escaped to our hill top perch to gaze out over the now desolate horizons.

Our hilltop perch.
Our hilltop perch.
Window view.
Window view – that’s our basil plant that survived our 8 week sojourn.
End of today.
End of today.
Guacamole.
Guacamole.

Had to get up Hurricane Mesa and check out Guacamole, a slick rock bike ride. The road was a bit rough up to the mesa and we parked next to a couple of cars at the perceived start of the ride. A friendly chat with a family set us off in the right direction watching for white dots and baskets of rocks acting as cairns.

View down.
View down.
Guacamole cairns.
Guacamole cairns.
Plenty of slick rock to play on.
Plenty of slick rock to play on.
Trail.
A trademark of the mesa trails is that at some point they must get as close to the edge as possible.

Skies started to darken and we turned around short not wanting to get caught in a downpour. We still had other business to attend to.

Previously, at the end of one of the hikes Mark had let out “Anyone interested in doing the subway”? Now I knew of that hike but also that it was super popular and therefore full of bureaucratic red tape and that had dissuaded me from putting it onto the radar. Gail chirps up that she thinks there are still permits available and that got my curiosity. There is a three month lottery for permits and then a last minute drawing where you can apply 2 to 7 days ahead of your hike. What the hell, the fee is a non-refundable $5 to apply, and I applied for 8 spaces. They make you wait till it’s two days from your request but it was worth it as we got our allotment. That is where Rose & I were now headed, to the visitor center to pick up the permit.

“Early start” says Mark and we hit the trail before the sun could wash down the cliffs and into the Left Fork North Creek the official name of the canyon leading up and into the subway.

Early start.
Early start.

On paper, the bottom-up hike we were doing, is listed as being around 6 or 7 miles round trip but numbers deceive as most of it is in a bushy canyon with plenty of goat trails, sections of pathways that start and end for little reason together with multiple necessary and unnecessary river crossings – Get the picture?

Plenty of river cris-crossings.
Plenty of river cris-crossings.
Above.
Sun light desperately trying to reach us.
Dinosaur footprints.
Dinosaur footprints along side the trail.

The Zion website describes them as: “Eubrontes is a larger three-toed print–generally 10 to 20 inches long–from a larger dinosaur such as Dilophosaurus.”

Scale.

The canyon narrows and the river dominates. One of the few times I was glad that Maikel lent us some hiking poles as the water swept rock can get very slippery.

Water dominates the available pathways.
Water dominates the available pathways.
Reflections.
Reflections.
Which way now?
Which way now?
Ahh, the subway makes it's presence.
Ahh, the subway starts to make it’s presence.
Erosion in motion.
Erosion in motion.
New subway under erosion.
New subway under erosion.
Hugging the sides.
Hugging the sides.
Into the subway.
Looking back.
Tread carefully.
Tread carefully.
.
.
End of the line.
End of the line.

The photo above is as far as we can proceed. The end is behind me and I am looking back the way we came in. To see the upper subway you have to enter from the top of the canyon with rope and wet suits as you have to rappel (I grew up learning to abseil but now I have to rappel) and swim though mandatory pools. On the bucket list for next time.

Rolling out.
Rolling out.

Out.

Retrace.

Still the hike out with the same indecision’s as to where the trail goes and where’s the best way to cross the river.

Time to climb out.
Time to climb out.

3 thoughts on “Zion smorgasbord including a subway ride.”

    1. Why not do an Orderville hike first? – has a few short chockstone rappels and wades to get the feel of it then have fun in the subway?

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