Monday, March 15


Instant Karma - Zion Style

After what can only be called a challenging Saturday making our way through a snowstorm to Zion National Park from Salt Lake City, we arrived wearily late Saturday night as beleaguered travelers. But Zion revitalizes spirits almost instantly.
The day, which was supposed to have been cloudy and rainy, dawned clear and stayed that way all day.

Entering the town in the dark made the surroundings invisible to us. What joy to see this view from our hotel room! As usual, I was the first one up. I made my way to the Mean Bean for a coffee, sharing the establishment and pleasantries with two mountain bikers. Soon the family was rolling and we made our way to Oscar's for an amazing breakfast.

As we left, in my excitement, I left my Plasticville cap on my seat. One of the intrepid mountain bikers - who had also migrated to Oscar's - kindly kept me from leaving this valued possession. It was with a smile we hiked under waterfalls to Upper Emerald Pool. An easy and pleasant hike to get loose.

And a sloppy one with recently melted snow as we made our way back to the valley. The red mud was slippery, but Kate - ever the one to keep things neat - ensured that her hiking pants stayed neat by pulling up the legs.

We had loads of fun on a few short hikes around the area. Then it was on to dinner. As we entered the restaurant I saw a stocking hat on the floor near the hostess' stand. I picked it up and was about to give it to the hostess when who should come out of the bathroom but one of the mountain bikers - who had dropped his hat on the way in. Amazing serendiptity. It is admittedly a small town. But when that sort of coincidence combines with the natural beauty of this place it's hard not to ponder higher powers.

Today our troupe of intrepid wanderers does a more strenuous hike to Observation Point. More observations (with accompanying photos) to come.


It's NCAA basketball season, so maybe that's the reason. We started our hike to Observation Point yesterday uneventfully.

Excited. Ready to go. And breathing hard after a couple of minutes. Winding our way up this shady group of switchbacks toward Echo Canyon above.

But the results of the snowstorm that was our nemesis on our trip to Zion hit us again on what I will now think of as "Mutumbo Corner" when an inch of ice on the trail rejected our shot at the top and slapped us back to the valley. So, in an ironic twist, ice forced us to spend the day in the valley working on our tans by the pool.

With a beach day behind us, we are now armed with ice cleats to put on over our boots. Today we try the route to Angel's Landing with hopes of success.

At Our Angelic Best
Yesterday we made our way up to Angel's Landing, a rather daunting hike physically and mentally. I thought the hike showed each of us at our best. Kate's self-knowledge in deciding when to turn back and patience and grace in waiting for our return (a wait measured in hours and not minutes). Peter with his athleticism and humor, usually in the distance as Madeline and I plodded along to the top of Angel's Landing.

Madeline and I were the question marks in getting to the top. As this photo illustrates, the hike is nothing if not daunting.

Especially so with all the ice and snow. Peter was kind enough to wait until our return to tell us that the ice and snow made it a much harder climb than when he did it four years ago. Those dropoffs are steep and real.

Madeline was wonderful. Patient, and with a "go for it (but safely)" attitude that was just perfect. Here's a photo of us at the top.

Oops, that's the Staniforth clan in San Antonio. This damn computer age. But I know that part of at least Art and Ben are here in this area in spirit. Here's Madeline and me high atop Angel's Landing.

To say the view there is amazing is understating things.

You can look as hard as you wish, but you still can't see our car down in the valley. But it illustrates that the hike is a long, steep one.

Both MO and I found the trip back down even more daunting than the trip up.

But we reached the bottom happy and healthy.

A beautiful day. Sore muscles and high spirits. Even with a 10 second timer I couldn't quite get into the photo - I'll be a slow hiker today.

Day of the Condor

Yesterday's hike started identically to the hike to Angel's Landing. So it was cardiovascularly challenging. But when we reached a place called Scout Point we went a different direction toward the much less populated West Rim Trail. A rewarding choice. Soon we were looking down over the valley watching three condors fly below us. Odd to watch such a magnificent bird soar from above.

This is not my photo, though it might well have been taken here. The three birds had apparently been sitting where we were only 10 minutes or so before. Seeing them at that range would have been great, but for a bird watcher like me (and for all of us) it was quite a treat even from a longer range.

Our hike was much more a solitary exercise. The West Rim is beautiful but not as popular or populated as the route to Angel's Landing. Still, for reasons that are probably obvious, we felt right at home and found it great.

We had a nice lunch in the sun while watching the snow melt into rivers. That's a sight that any Minnesotan in March is happy to see.

A lovely day.

Going Home Again

They always say "you can't go home again." But that has proved untrue in two ways in the last couple of days (and hopefully three as we fly back to St. Paul today). Our last hike of the week was a special one. Back to Echo Canyon, an incredibly beautiful spot that was a real favorite when last we were in Zion.

It was blocked by snow and ice on Monday, and the snow and ice were still there but significantly melted on Thursday.

It's hard to capture how beautiful this place is. But here are a few attempts.

You can see and feel the effects of time and pressure.

Just amazing. Peter hiked to the top and Observation Point.

Madeline and I joined Kate in the valley below, where we could concentrate on our other major interests this week - food and basketball.

Peter remembered with great fondness, an Aussie Burger breakfast special at Oscar's. He and Madeline went off menu and ordered one - to great effect!

An Achiever to be sure.

And last night, after returning to Salt Lake City, we returned "home again" to the Red Iguana - our favorite Mexican restaurant.
So maybe you can go home again. And when we do, Kate will be free to watch only part of Badger games.