First Zion National Park Trip, Part I: Echo Canyon

Yet, another first for the summer: Zion National Park!

A last minute trip that resulted in many injuries, but well worth the pain. Let me start from the beginning before I get too far ahead of myself, however.

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Friday after work, we zipped down south to camp out near the national park. It was nearly 11.30pm when we arrived at the site – nope, no gorgeous cliff view this time; although the view at our camp site was still incredible.

Oop, not that view. Please look beyond the van and the man.

Anyway, it didn’t end up being too late of a night since tomorrow… Echo Canyon!

Clear skies : cool nights – I was told during my second (I think) adult camping venture. Luckily, the stars were out and after about an hour on Lisa’s iPhone constellation app, we comfortably hit the sack sans desert heat.

Breakfast, sandwich-making and some pack packing later… we hit the road to Zion’s. One car, no shuttling needed… we drove into Zion’s and parked at the Visitor Center for the park shuttle: Weeping Rock stop.

Following the paved path of the East Rim Trail, we scaled up the mountain side quite a bit. Pass Hidden Canyon Trail and you’ll cross through Echo Canyon.

If there are already folks in the Echo Canyon Narrows, you’ll be able to hear them echoing through as you walk on the top just above them. Proceed to the right as the road forks off to Cable Mountain. About 10-15 minutes into this trail, you’ll want to find a good spot to slightly down climb into the canyon. Find more exact directions at Climb-Utah.

We lunched before we the adventure began since we figured it’d be difficult to eat in the narrow canyon (looking back, we probably wouldn’t of had too much of a problem). First stop – DOWN!! Anchored by a sturdy log, we took our first rappel. Wahooooo!

From here on out, it was just short rappels and pot holes that ruled the adventure. One rappel we encountered was secured by a load of rocks…

It was safe! We are still alive and kicking it.

For the first half of the trail, we did pretty well without wetsuits. The air was warm, probably mid-90s or so, and the hike got our blood pumping enough. There were also some spots where the water was low enough to avoid getting wet.

And… we definitely tried to avoid it when we could as the water was pretty scummy. If you look closely, you will find a white bug at the bottom of this pothole and a shiny brown ‘roach floating atop…

There are also a few slightly awkward rappels and at least one fairly high pot hole to climb out from… so make sure there is at least one or two folks in your group that are able to help troubleshoot and guide any beginners (or short people… like myself – thanks Keith and Zac!). At the very first (I think it was the first…) rappel, I slipped funny and scrapped up a good section of my left thigh and forearm. There are still dark marks…

The views throughout the canyon are incredible. Look up occasionally to see some incredible formations and glistening shadows.

About mid-way, you’ll encounter a room before a fairly deep pot hole. As you look out past that pothole, you’ll see that the next few holes you’ll hit are pretty shady. This is where we put our wetsuits on as it got pretty chilly without much sun. Unfortunately, this is also where I put away my camera…

After this section, the canyon opens up a bit and you’ll get to walk breathtaking sections.

You’ll eventually come across familiar territory as you hike back to the path you originally started on. At this point, where the Observation Point/Cable Mountain trail crosses Echo Canyon, you’ll want head back onto the trail and venture back out.

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