As a warm-up hike our first day we did a short romp, up through a light rain, to the base of the waterfall that tumbled out of the Weeping Wall. The header image for this post shows it, near my hiking boot, seen from far above on the Hidden Canyon hike that we did in the park, later on that day.
The Virgin River runs through Zion National Park and has carved out the massive canyon there, bringing 1 million tons of sediment down a year, mostly in flash floods. Colours in the canyon come from minerals as they seep through the rock, piggybacking on the water. It’s these minerals, such as red iron, that give sandstone its variety of colours, and are responsible for the incredible manganese streaking and varnishing of its canyon walls.
Sandstone is soft and porous, and the water that fell as a heavy rain the night before, soaked into the rock with no trouble. But the mineralization… that process that brings spectacular colours to the rock… also creates hard layers that the water cannot easily penetrate. Like human nature, water chooses the path of least resistance and in this rock, that means it travels laterally, on top and across that harder layer until it seeps, and sometimes pours (with tremendous force), out the sides of the rock.
The end result is a spectacular waterfall that pulses… watch the video here and you’ll see it slowed down… you’ll catch those bursts of extra water that fall heavily, like curtains coming down on a stage performance, and then almost disappear, as if by magic, into the air.
However, to truly appreciate the magnificence of this waterfall, you have to put some distance in your boots, some sweat in your clothes, and get up high on the trail to either Hidden Canyon, or Observation Point. Can you see the waterfall in the distance from this switchback in the trail?