Zion National Park – Watchman Trail – An Underrated Classic Hike

One of my first hikes as Zion was on Watchman trial, a very classic hike but quite underrated compared to others.  We started the hike around 10AM and was probably one of the more animal filled hikes I had in Zion probably because there was a lot less humans around.  Best part? The hike is only 2 miles and can be completed in an hour – two depending on how much time you take for photos and snacks.

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The hike starts probably about 5-10 minute walk from Watchman Campsite and an even shorter walk from the visitor center

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Within a 10 minute walk you get an amazing view!

Watchman 4 And a new friend, a mule deer
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Lots and lots of lizards

Watchman 1

And a crawly snack for the lizard

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After about a 456 foot ascent, you’re pretty much as the top with this amazing view at 4419 ft.

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One warning, it gets pretty hot since most of the hike is exposed.  Wear sunblock because even in Mid April, within 30 minutes this kid’s neck was fried.

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More lizard friends.  I can tell you after a week of hiking I was a lizard and squirrel expert photographer.

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And Cacti!! Loved how within an hour I previewed all the parts of Zion that I would hike through the rest of the week.

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Another amazing view photo of the Zion Canyons

Watchman 1

The top has a great picnic/resting area to relax and enjoy before making the descent   We heard that 5 minutes before we got there, there was a horned sheep citing but sadly we did not see it.  Overall great hike for the 90 minutes of time!

Hiking the Narrows – Zion National Park

The narrows refers to an area where the Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon: 16 miles long, up to 2,000-feet deep, and at times only 20 to 30-feet wide. However, hiking The Narrows means hiking in the Virgin River. At least 60 percent of the hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the river. You are literally chest deep into water on a good day.  There is no maintained trail because the route is the river. The current is swift, the water is cold, and the rocks underfoot are slippery.

When we did the hike, the current was described at “moderate” and water was a bone chilling 40 degrees Fahrenheit   A permit is required for the 16-mile top-down hike through The Narrows. A permit is not required for hiking The Narrows from the bottom up.  I’m not even sure if the top-down hike was open when we were visiting in April, so instead we ventured bottom-up approach.

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Before we could start the hike, I knew we had to get equipment.  I knew that after almost freezing in tropical water, I needed a dry-suit for this hike.  I woke up the boys and of we went to Zion Adventure.   This styling little number costs about $52 a day to rent and comes with your very own walking stick, boots and neoprene socks.

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While the water was only 40 degrees, the air temperature climbed up to 70, so needless to say things got a little warm in there.  And if you’re wondering if that walking stick is really necessary? I can tell you yes, yes it is.  I fell right from the start even with the stupid stick.

Zion Narrows 1

When you get off the shuttle, the hike starts with a one mile paved walked before you hit the water.  I continued my squirrel photography and if you want to get really strange looks, walk by a bunch of people chilling in a dry-suit.  I think someone at one point burst out laughing at us.

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Within a few minutes of walking, we were waist deep in water.  Sadly, those times were not captured since I value my camera and am currently accepting all donations for a waterproof case.

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We rented a drysack thing to hold my camera and phone but we quickly found out it was not waterpoof.  Poor Tony held it and worked very hard not to fall while the rest of our group would drop like flies on a random rock.

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Every time we hit a sandy beach, the boys would decide it was time for a break

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In about a mile and a half we reached a forkroad.  We could walk down Wall Street or the other (I forgot the name).

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We started with the other, which was more shallow and had more plant life.  We then made our way back.

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What the other lacked in water, it made up with some serious rock climbing.  Although part of me thinks we just hiked past the designated trail.  Things got way too hard, way too fast.

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Wall Street kinda of resembled this only the water was chest deep.  Since you’re walking against the stream, you are using your stick as a third leg to push you forward.  Very draining and snacking had to occur often to refuel.

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Needless to say, coming back was easier.  You see the drysuits get filled with air and turn you into a floatable device.  You can basically relax and float your way back down.  Except poor Tony, because he had to hold up my camera from the water.  He doesn’t look like he minded at all, plus he was a champ at this.

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And how do you reward yourself after a treacherous battle with water? You don’t share your ice cream! Bwahaha.

Bryce Canyon – Hoodoos from Sunset to Sunrise

Our first stop and venture into national parks started with Bryce Canyons.  After four hours from Salt Lake City, I almost dismissed and skipped over this marvel in favor of an extra day at Grand Canyon.  Luckily, upon arriving at Bryce in the late afternoon, I completely fell in love with the canyon and it’s collection of hoodoos.  Not to be confused with voodoos,  hoodoos are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and “broken” lands.  I’m sure they exist in other parts and countries, but I personally have never seen anything like it.

Bryce Sunset to Sunrise 1

My brother and I started at Sunset point for no main reason besides the fact that it was the first parking lot we saw.

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We ooohed & ahhed looking down below
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The first mile or so were steep switchbacks straight down to the canyon floor

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As the floor of the canyon there was a side trail called Peekapoo loop.  We started thinking it was a short loop until we learned it was about 5 miles and we quickly turned back.

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On our return we met with a dinosaurBryce Sunset to Sunrise 7

Instead of taking the steep sunset point back up, we decided to follow the trail to sunrise point instead.

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There we met her majesty the queenBryce Sunset to Sunrise 9

Clearly my brother was very happy that he got to avoid walking up the steep switchbacks and instead slowly made his way up the canyon on a longer but more gradual trail.  Bryce Sunset to Sunrise 10

The view was amazing and with each step we were rewarded with an spectacular peek at the canyon.

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Sunrise point looked slightly similar to Sunset point and was only a half mile hike away from the start along the rim.  We walked by many trees hanging by a root that gets them closer and closer to the edge as the canyons continue to erode and grow.

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After a failed attempt at getting dinner, I dragged Tony away from his homework and to sunrise point to watch the sunset.

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No one left disappointed. but a little cold.  The temperature went from 70 at 5PM to 40 at 8PM!

The hike from Sunset Point to Sunrise point was about 3 miles (not counting our peekaboo  trail) and could probably be done in 1-2 hours depending on how long you take pictures.  Starting at Sunset allows you to quickly descent and a more gradual ascent to sunrise point.  Unfortunately, I did not have the energy or motivation to wake up early enough to watch the sunrise, but I’m sure it would have been worth it.

Visiting Salt Lake City – Food, Sights & SLC Marathon Photos

So marathonfoto released the SLC Marathon photos and thought I’d share.  You can read my recap that I posted earlier here

SLC Marathon Me 3

Me and Tony almost running together.  If I didn’t run the first 1/3 of the race with him, I’d probably be going even slower.  My legs were being whiny   If you’re wondering gee how can I ever look so styling? Easy, go traveling with only running clothes for 60s and sunny and then wear everything you own for this trip when it’s 40 and raining.
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Crossing the finish line just shy of 4 hoursSLC Marathon Me 1

The happy face of being so glad I am finished.

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Salt Lake City, doesn’t look like anything special if you just look at the big box stores, the large boulevard style highways and the general recently developed city outside, however, the surrounding landscapes are amazing!  I loved seeing the snow-capped mountains in the background.

We spent about 2 days in Salt Lake City.  A fun city for a short visit.  Our first order of business after we got our rental car and then our race numbers was food!  I found Siegfried’s Delicatessen on Yelp, and it was 2 blocks away so instant winner because I was starving after our two flights.  I realized that I only have two levels of hunger when it comes to food, not hungry & starving!

SLC Lunch

I ordered a smoked turkey sandwich, a tomato & cucumber salad & sauerkraut   I was quite ambitious in what I can eat and handle day before the race.  Luckily it worked out! Sauerkraut had bacon in it and was probably one of the best I ever had!

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Tony got a roast beef sandwich and a potato salad.  Everything was delicious and fairly cheap.

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One of the things we did was walk around the city center which to me seemed like it was mostly centered around the LDS church.  At least there were lots of pretty flowers to keep me occupied.

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Although these trees scared me.  A little too Alice in Wonderland for me.

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After a walk downtown, we drove around some neighborhoods from the upper Avenues (until we got blocked by a giant gate) to Sugar House a more liberal neighborhood with a few indie food spots and more big box stores.   That was pretty much our Friday since we had to rest early for the race at 7AM.

The race went well and was one of my favorite events even if it was one of my worse marathon times.  Full recap here, but what you’re really interested in was what did we eat after besides lots of pretzels, cookies, & Dannon yogurt products?

Well my yelp app once again came to the rescue and after a small nap, we headed to Red Iguana.

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We started with some celebratory drinks, which were a little disappointing but luckily, when the food came out, we left happy.

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I got Chili Verde, which is tender select cubed pork cooked in our green chile and tomatillo sauce. served with rice, refried beans and tortillas.  Sadly, I only made it half way through the dish.  Maybe my exhaustion was getting in the way of my RUNGER.

SLC Food

Tony ordered the Mole which we’ve never tried before.  Fresh chile poblano, chile guero and jalapeno, blended with pepitas, sesame seeds, basil, onions, zucchini, avocados-tossed with turkey or chicken.  His runger was in full force because he chomped it all down.

SLC Iphone 7We stopped at a market to get some fruit and I thought all the dried spices and fruits looked really cool but I didn’t know what anything was so we didn’t buy anything.

SLC Lake

After satisfying our runger we visited the Great Salt Lake, the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere.

SLC Lake 2

Needless to say it was quite salty, we walked by lots of dead birds that might have died years ago or maybe weeks, I don’t know how the salt process of decay works.

SLC Center

We walked by the center to see if the church or square lights up at night.  It didn’t really.  Day view was better, but the area is filled with people taking wedding photographs, prom photographs and any type of I’m wearing a ball gown so take lots of photos theme.

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My Iphone half broken camera doesn’t really do the reflection pool justice, but I was watching some wedding photographers take shots and they looked really awesome.  Worth a walk-by if you’re in the area.

SLC Dinner 2

Dinner was from Curry Fried Chicken.  Why? Because honestly there weren’t much options left by 10PM and we were hungry.  Tony got a wrap from there the day before that tasted awesome so I wanted to try one but the second time visit was disappointment.  My brother ordered their Curry Fried Chicken which was a little too crispy for us.

SLC Dinner

I ordered the curry vegetable wrap & Tony ordered the chicken wrap, which had more wrap then filling as it was half empty.  Disappointing way to end our last meal but I guess 2 out of 3 food successes in Salt Lake isn’t too bad.

Also don’t forget to enter my Nuun Giveaway!