Day 2: The Maddening Crowd

Top of Echo Canyon to Cabin Spring
(11.0 miles, +3,000/-2,500 feet).

I love all the scenery in Zion Canyon, and I love the fact that it is accessible to all different kinds of people.  But when I’m in a frame of mind to go into the backcountry, it can be shockingly repulsive to deal with all these people.  Today was a good lesson for me in how to prepare myself for hikes that go in and out of more touristy areas.

The best part of today was the hike down to Zion Canyon.  It was cool, and we saw hardly anyone for the first couple of hours as we descended 2,000 feet to the valley floor.

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I love hiking in the morning

Echo Canyon deepens and narrows, and the trail frequently follows natural sandstone ledges and switchbacks.

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Beautiful sandstone in Echo Canyon

Near the bottom, we took a fun detour into the narrow and deep Hidden Canyon, where we found a low lying natural arch.

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MixMaster and Art engage in arch support

Once we got to the valley floor, Art gave us a safety lesson.

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Art shows us what not to do

After a few failed attempts to walk near the Virgin River, we walked the valley road to Zion Lodge, where we grabbed an early lunch.   The park was already crowded, and soon we were eager to make our way back to the backcountry.  If I ever do this hike again, I will skip the lodge and make my way to the West Rim Trail as quickly as possible.

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Road walking, meh

From the Lodge, we crossed over the river and waded through the crowds to get to the climb up to Angels Landing, which unfortunately is also the start of the West Rim Trail.  The trail up is paved(!?!) nearly the whole way, and for me at least it was a miserable and hot couple of hours.

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The paved route up to Angels Landing

It was so hot, and Angels Landing was so crowded, that we decided to give this famous monument a miss.  I think a pre-dawn day hike is probably the best way to do it, so I’ll be back.

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Angels Landing

The West Rim trail continued climbing up and up to nearly 6,000 feet, and the crowds thinned out considerably.

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West Rim Trail boot marker
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Zion Canyon view near Cabin Spring

It then descended to 5,500 feet before climbing again up to 6,710 feet at Cabin Spring.  We shared the spring with a deer, who was not concerned in the least with our presence.

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Art gets water with a friend

Nearby, we found the backcountry campsite we had reserved with our permit (West Rim #1).  It was set quite dramatically above Zion Canyon with incredible views.  I was really happy to get back to some solitude!

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At last, home sweet home
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