There’s More to Vegas Than You Think

“Where are you going?”

“Vegas.”

“What!? YOU are going to Vegas?”

We called our first trip to Las Vegas, years ago, the “Over My Dead Body” trip…. Everything I knew about Vegas seemed at odds with the way I choose to live my life. But Vegas, I found out on that first trip, has some wonderful experiences, some great people, and some incredible natural areas to explore. Read More

Sunrise at Canyon Overlook

“Got the headlamps?” “Check.” “Coffees?” “Check.” “Puffies and toques?” “Yep.” We were up before the crack of dawn on our last day in Zion, ready for one last taste of adventure before we had to leave her for the climbing Mecca of Red Rocks in the Nevada desert.

Canyon Overlook lies on the east rim of Zion Canyon and is a hike with a little bit of everything. You climb up sandstone mounds, walk along sandstone ledges, travel under overhangs, peer down a deep slot canyon, travel across a catwalk hung over a chasm, walk through sand, and then come out to an absolutely incredible spot. Perched on the white sandstone top of the canyon wall, you look out across the vast expanse of Zion. And at dawn, it is truly majestic. Read More

Don’t Do Angel’s Landing!

Skip Angel’s Landing. Yup, that’s what I said. SKIP IT. This is a first for me… recommending that you NOT do a hike!

Angels’ Landing was the hike we most wanted to do in the park. It promised to take us 453m up to the peak of a narrow ridge line, holding onto chains where the drop offs on either side give thrilling exposure. We thought it would be super fun to walk on a fin of rock, suspended over the canyon floor, far below. Read More

Observation Point: Our Favourite Zion Hike

“I wonder what’s around that corner?!” Famous last words…. And with that utterance, our half-day hike became a full-on, full day, 18km walk in the park. Without a lunch. Rookie mistake. Read More

Zion’s Hidden Canyon

Hidden Canyon is a fantastic hike that lets you romp and scramble and explore a small side canyon that’s perched high above the Zion canyon floor.IMG_1302

Hidden Canyon lies in the slit on the right hand side of the photo above. If you look carefully, you can see people along the surface of the rock, on a trail that is carved out of the rock face.

It’s accessible by a steep, switchbacked trail that climbs until it can go no further as a regular trail. It first becomes steps, laid carefully into the rock…IMG_5931.jpg … then it becomes  a narrow sandstone rock path that leads to the cliff edge…IMG_5934.jpg… and then it becomes ledges, cut into the sandstone, with chains to hold, that go around and across a massive, curving cliff face.

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Here Bill walks along one of those ledges.
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Where the drops are precipitous, there are chains to grab.
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Unless you have a fear of heights, the trail is plenty wide, though the chains come in handy when passing people coming in the opposite direction.
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You can see how soft the rock is… where the chains rub the wall, little piles of sand result, and the chain cuts further into the cliff face.
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As you enter the canyon, you can see the Weeping Wall waterfall across the canyon.
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A final series of steps, cut into the rock, take you into the canyon, a narrow slot between two massive cliff faces.
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The chains are on the right, and the steps are on the left.

Exploring this terrain, you walk through the creek, you climb over boulders, you squeeze through tight areas, and you balance on logs. It’s super, super, SUPER fun!

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The canyon is narrow at the beginning.
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One wall is moss-covered. The other wall is sculpted rock.
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Clearly water has poured through here… and does, during flash floods.
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There are some tight squeezes.
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And there is water to navigate through.
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The wet spots are not tricky.

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The tight squeezes were my favourite parts!
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And watery spots to navigate.
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When you reach this sign, don’t stop!
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The scrambling is not difficult.
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In places it is wet, but the rock is not slippery.
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This was the most challenging spot… an easy squeeze and slide down.
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Likewise, when you get to this sign, don’t stop!

Close to the end of where you can go without climbing equipment, there’s a little arch … such an amazing feature.

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Hidden Canyon’s stone arch.
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It’s so fun to clamber up the arch.
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This is the back of the arch, seen from above while standing on it.

See what it’s like to walk up on top of it… it’s like walking along the back of a giant worm in a horror movie!!

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On the way out for us, the rain stopped and the sun came out, showing off the incredible colours of the rock!
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Back to the cacti of the open sun areas….
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… back out through the chains….
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…. down the worn ledges…
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And soon, onto the switchbacked trail.

Just imagine… wherever you see a waterfall in Zion, falling from high above the canyon floor, there is a smaller canyon like this one, hidden out of sight. I love that the park’s founders decided to make one of these high canyons accessible (by carving trails into the cliff face) to us all, revealing a little bit more of the magic of this wondrous place.

If You Go…

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  • Bring gaitors for the water pools in the canyon. This way you will not have to scramble up high on crumbly dirt trails, and contribute to the erosion of the area. You can simply splash through the puddles on a rock hard surface, instead.
  • Bring food and drink with you as there is nothing to purchase in the park and getting to the trailhead using the mandatory shuttle system (in and out) takes quite a while.
  • DO NOT enter the canyon if the water is rushing, or if heavy rain is in the forecast. These canyons are sculpted by water… powerful water…. and are prone to flash floods. Check the weather forecast & park system warnings before heading out.

Read More About our Time In Zion

 

 

Zion’s Little Detour: The Weeping Wall

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. Read More

If You Go to Zion National Park

Zion National Park is a hiking Mecca in southwest Utah… one of those places that if you like hiking and scrambling, and if you LOVE canyons, you’ve just GOT to go! IMG_5931.jpg

The sandstone, with its deeply carved slot canyons and its incredible streaks of colour, is amazing to see… but the sheer size and scope of the landscape steals your breath away (or is that the step slopes you need to climb to see those vistas and take it all in!?)!!IMG_1317.jpg

We hiked 18km on our first day there… on what was supposed to be a half day hike, just to settle in… but we got totally caught up in the beauty and couldn’t stop going and climbing and exploring. The canyons are unbelievable!

Read More

An Overview of our Zion/Red Rocks/Moab Trip

Passing through the border crossing at Carway, Alberta, a rather wildwest US border patrol officer asked us what we planned to be doing, took a look at the bikes and the climbing gear, and asked us with such incredulity in his tone, “Now why would y’all want to be doing that?!” Those words set the tone for our vacation… not the usual… to Zion, Vegas and Moab. Read More

Snowshoeing the Rummel Lake Trail

I wouldn’t be Canadian, if I didn’t talk about the weather, and it’s some strange weather we’ve been having this winter, that’s for sure. But the neat thing about rapid temperature fluctuations is that you can get some pretty amazing hoar frosts… and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know all about my love of hoar frost. It transforms the landscape into a sparkling wonderland that captures and refracts sunlight off ice feathers. It’s probably my favourite thing about winter here. Read More

Skiing the Fairview Trail

Alright… I’ll admit it… the weather here has been exceptionally cold lately, with -25C to -30C days (that’s -13F to -23F in American). I’ve always embraced the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather; just bad dressing.” But I’ve had enough of it. Even I found it challenging to see the beauty in the hoar frost crystals…. the ice feathers that form on a crust of snow when the air gets colder and colder and drier and drier, and the water is wrenched out of it in a deathly, icy battle. Read More

A Wintry Heli Tour

Bill and I have been married for 25 years now, and we decided to mark that momentous occasion with a special treat: a helicopter tour over the places that we’ve been hiking, snowshoeing, photographing, adventuring, skating, cycling, and picnicking our way through the years.

IMG_0188A helitour would give us a birds’ eye view of some adventurous milestone locations for us as a couple. It is the sense of exploration and adventure… in landscapes close to home and in our travels abroad… that have helped us bond over the years. Those adventures have given us a shared purpose and history, and so they’ve connected us deeply. They’ve helped us parent our children, make strong friendships, develop a few unique passions… and given us a wealth of experiences that have helped us feel ever-so-alive.

Celebrating 25 years while also exploring our old haunts from a new perspective seemed the perfect adventure on a sunny winter day. Read More

Skating on the Spray

There’s been such excitement in the air here, it’s almost palpable. Social media platforms are a-buzz with effusive posts and comments about the skating conditions we are currently experiencing.IMG_2084.jpg

It’s a once in a decade occurrence in these parts. Ice forms PERFECTLY… with a mirrored, black surface so smooth you’d think a giant-sized Zamboni had passed over it countless times. Read More