Spring Escape – Zion National Park – Day 2: Observation Point, 4.2.14

The weather forecast for my second day in the park wasn’t the most promising, with  60% chance or more of rain in the afternoon. I got up, got my pack ready and headed over to pick up a shuttle bus, still not quite decided on a plan for the day.  I was trying to decide how to approach the morning, whether to do one big hike or a series of shorter hikes.  As I rode up into in the canyon, the weather looked good, sunny, but cool, so I decided to hike to do a longer hike to Observation Point, an 8 mile round trip hike. After that, I’d see what the weather would do and if I wanted to do any more hiking for the day.

Observation Point, 4 miles.

Observation Point, 4 miles.

At the trail head, headed toward the orange canyon walls.

At the trail head, headed toward the orange canyon walls.

Off the bus at the stop for Weeping Rock, I was once again headed toward the canyon walls and a series of switchbacks. These people really know how to make switchbacks!

Along the trail, into a narrow canyon.

Along the trail, into a narrow canyon.

It gets a bit narrow through here!

It gets a bit narrow through here!

After a while, the trail leveled off, and I was traveling through a canyon, with the walls getting narrower and narrower. Once through the canyon, I entered a section that looked a bit different than the other side. Since I was higher in elevation, I also noticed a light dusting of snow that had fallen overnight.

Light dusting of snow along the trail.  It was still cold enough to get a light dusting of snow, which would quickly melt as soon as the temperatures warmed up for the day.

Light dusting of snow along the trail. It was still cold enough to get a light dusting of snow, which would quickly melt as soon as the temperatures warmed up for the day.

Manzanita flowers.  These flowers are tiny and grow in clusters on shrubs.

Manzanita flowers. These flowers are tiny and grow in clusters on shrubs.

 

Cactus!  There was actually quite a bit of cactus growing in the park, at all elevations.

Cactus! There was actually quite a bit of cactus growing in the park, at all elevations.

The switchbacks picked up again, and soon I was hiking upward toward the top of a small plateau. The trail leveled out and I could see where I was going – over to Observation Point. The flatter trail was a relief from the steep switchbacks and I picked up the pace. I had seen very few people at this point and passed a group of three who were returning from Observation Point and highly recommended the views.

A look back to the last section of trail, the flat section right after the last switch backs.

A look back to the last section of trail, the flat section right after the last switch backs.

Same location as the photo above, but zoomed in so that you can see those switchbacks!

Same location as the photo above, but zoomed in so that you can see those switchbacks!

A look back down to the trail I had just hiked up.  See the switchbacks there, too?

A look back down to the trail I had just hiked up. See the switchbacks there, too?

Arriving at Observation Point, I was not disappointed, the views were spectacular! I could see down the canyon, Angel’s Landing, the Organ, the river and the road below. It was the perfect place for a lunch break.  After a few moments, three other hikers arrived to enjoy the views as well. While on the top, I noticed the clouds coming in across the top of cliffs on the other side of the canyon, and that was my signal to move along and descend.

View to the south from the top of Observation Point.

View to the south from the top of Observation Point.

 

A better view of Angel's Landing from the top of Observation Point.

A better view of Angel’s Landing from the top of Observation Point.

 

IMG_0367

Found the USGS marker!

Some nice hiker took my photo, with the canyon in the background.

Some nice hiker took my photo, with the canyon in the background.

Time for a break and some lunch, Steve Smith style.

Time for a break and some lunch, Steve Smith style.

By the time I reached the trailhead, I was in my rain gear, and it was raining.  Since I was right there, I took the quick one-mile round trip trail to see Weeping Rock.

At Weeping Rock.  There is usually water flowing over this overhang of rock from seeps in the rock layers.  If it has rained, there will be sufficient water to form a mini-waterfall.

At Weeping Rock. There is usually water flowing over this overhang of rock from seeps in the rock layers. If it has rained, there will be sufficient water to form a mini-waterfall.

I decided that since I was dry and comfortable with the gear I brought (I had a fleece, hat and gloves, too), that I would do the short River Walk hike at the head of the canyon since I was so close.  Once I got on the shuttle bus, it was actually snowing a bit, too!  The River Walk trail was only a mile to the end, right at the river’s edge.  In the right weather conditions and with the right gear, it is the start to a hike through the Narrows. The trail to hike the Narrows is actually the river itself, so wading is part of the experience. Since I did not have canyoneering shoes and the air and water temps were a bit chilly, that hike would have to wait for another visit to the park.

At the end of the River Walk and beginning of the hike up the Narrows.  It looked interesting, but it was too cold for such an adventure on this day.

At the end of the River Walk and beginning of the hike up the Narrows. It looked interesting, but it was too cold for such an adventure on this day.

The rain continued, so back on the shuttle bus, I decided to stop at the park museum and take in the park movie to get inside for a while. After that, it was dinner in town (remember, I’m on vacation here!) and back to the tent to plan the next day’s adventure: a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park.

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