Spring-time in Zion is something I always look forward to. So far, I’ve had 3 fantastic weekend trips that are worth quickly jotting down.
Weekend of April 13 & 14th, 2013
Ryan and I snuck away for what turned out to be a short but fun weekend. Saturday we ran Fat Mans Misery down to Parunaweap and back, something new to both of us! Map here. After finishing this route I was still very enthusiastic so I ran up the Pine Creek drainage (just east of the tunnel), scrambled up the south ridge of Deertrap and then ran out the trail past Cable Mtn and down into the park via the East Rim Trail. Knowing how to navigate the Deertrap ridge is a real enabler as it opens up many linkup options. So good….
Sunday Ryan and I hiked up the West Rim trail and dropped into Behunin Canyon. At the prominent 90-degree turn we left the canyon and climbed up “Behunin Ridge” (according to Courtney Purcell’s book) to summit the Mt. Majestic plateau, yet another new adventure! On a side note I’m now convinced that Buzz thought of everything when he designed the Ultimate Direction SJ vest as it held my bushwhacking jeans perfectly.
Friday April 25th, 2013
Mindy and I vowed to celebrate our anniversary in Zion on the third weekend in April for as long as we’re able to, so we were thrilled to find ourselves driving down for it again this year. We didn’t have any plans set in stone so this would be an ad-lib trip.
On one of many previous trips, Buzz had mentioned that years ago he had linked together 5 peaks in the western part of the park, starting/finishing at the Wildcat trailhead. They were : 1) Pine Valley Peak, 2) West Northgate, 3) North Guardian Angel, 4) South Guardian Angel, and 5) East Northgate. The idea had stuck in my mind so when the opportunity presented itself I jumped on it. Mindy wasn’t feeling well and wanted to do some mellow hiking so she encouraged me to go exhaust myself. :)
I took off from the parking lot bound for the NE ridge of Pine Valley Peak, which is very close to the parking lot. I read the route up it perfectly and found myself on the summit in right around 12 minutes. After a quick but controlled descent I was on trail en route to West Northgate. This route is a super easy scramble up the north ridge and down the steeper south nose. A brief Manzanita thrash leads to the base of the majestic North Guardian Angel. I made decent time up the northern slopes and then ran the ridge to the summit. I paused for a moment on the summit to take it all in. It was here that I proposed to Mindy back in October of 2009, a glorious day I’ll always remember. After a quick descent and I was onto the tricky route down to the Left Fork of North Creek (aka the Subway).
I made a few mistakes on the sneaky little route, but overall made pretty good time getting down to the river. I drenched myself to cool off and then took off up the small climbing section and steep trail out of the tight canyon. I love the next part winding through the river bed en route to South Guardian Angel (SGA). SGA is super-classic and for good reason. The views are second to none and the peak itself is visually stunning with it’s vegetation free white sandstone cap. I ran into a party of 4 who were out for a multi-day trek to summit the peak. It felt so good to be moving fast and not lugging 60 lbs of crap like they were. I quickly tagged the summit and retraced my steps to the Subway.
I cooled off again and started the hot slog up and out the sneaky trail. Once out I took the south ridge of East Northgate, a route I hadn’t done before. It proved to be fairly loose, but relatively easy. I tagged the summit and took off bound for the car. With ~20 minutes to go I arbitrarily decided a 4 hr goal would be a good challenge. I pushed, but came up short by 3 minutes. I hit the parking lot thrilled with the route and effort. Mindy met me with her usual smile. It doesn’t get much better than this.
My splits were (hh:mm)
- Parking Lot – 0:00
- Pine Valley Peak Summit – 00:12
- W. Northgate Summit – 00:46
- North Guardian Angel Summit – 1:07
- Subway Crossing – 1:40
- South Guardian Angel Summit - 2:26
- Subway Crossing – 2:59
- E. Northgate – 3:39
- Parking Lot – 4:03
Saturday April 26th, 2013
Friday evening Mindy mentioned that our friend Nancy Feagin was running the Traverse, east to west, starting at 4:30AM. I love being around inspiring people and Nancy is right on top of the list. She’s an incredible mother, wife, Mt. Everest summiter, weekly 5.13 climber, Mountain Guide, and Accountant. Oh, and did I mention she’s the nicest person you’ve ever met! Nancy is one incredible roll-model. So, I asked if I could join her or the first portion of her run, to which she kindly said yes. At 4:30AM we took off from the east entrance of the park, heading west. It was a perfect morning; bright moon, cool temps, excellent company. We chatted on the early climb and discussed the different phases of Twilight as the sun began to light the sky. We parted at the Grotto, Nancy went on to finish the traverse and I went to have breakfast with Mindy!
After a great breakfast at the new Mimi’s Cafe, I took a quick nap and then geared up for part 2 of my day, a peak-linkup extravaganza I had been obsessing over recently. The objective : East Temple (ET), Twin Brother (TB), Mountain of the Sun (MOS), Deertrap (DT) and wrapping up with a descent down Hidden Canyon. With 200′ of rope and a bunch of water & food I took off in what was a much hotter day than I was hoping for. East Temple was hot but went well. This peak is super-classic and has drawn me to it for years (previous posts : 6/29/2008, 10/18/2008). It’s an amazing route and is seldom done, for good reason, as it’s high-consequence scrambling/climbing and very tricky route-finding. Fortunately I know the route well and read it perfectly. Tucked away on the north side of the summit cap was a small patch of snow, which I took full-advantage of to cool off with. The descent went perfectly; rather than descending back to the overlook trail, I cut over to the saddle on the east side of the peak. From here I headed north and turned left into Spry Canyon (see map below). At the 165′ Spry Canyon rappel I rapped 100′ and then downclimbed the rest before heading over to the southwest face of Twin Brother another super-classic route. Scrambled up the face, ran the plateau and descended the Northwest ridge, something I had done last fall with Stu and Brent. Next, I tagged the obvious Mountain of the Sun (MOS) and then climbed back up-canyon and acquired the south ridge of Deertrap. From Deertrap ran over to the top of Hidden Canyon and made the long and beautiful exit out to the standard Weeping Rock trail. Wow, what an incredible route. I was worked.
Sunday April 27th, 2013
Both Mindy and I were ready for some new terrain. Thanks to the fantastic new book from Bo Beck our eyes were opened to a great loop run south of Zion, just outside Hildale, Utah. Yes, this is the same Hildale that is the headquarters of the Fundamentalist LDS followers. I had driven through the highway outside of Hildale/Colorado City many times on my way to the Grand Canyon and always got a chill up my spine. I seemed to always push the accelerator down a bit further. But, this time were were intentionally driving into and through Hildale. Wow, this place is truly haunting. Enormous houses, more like compounds really, and in many cases tall fences more reminiscent of a prison camp than a residential setting. We tried to keep our eyes on the road and just follow our instructions to the trail-head… creepy.
We ran a loop up Squirrel Canyon and down Water Canyon. I figured it would be good, but it was REALLY good. I’ll let the pictures do the talking:
Weekend of May 18th and 19th, 2013
With Zironman only one week away it was essential that we at least forerun Imlay. Buzz couldn’t make it out so this trip would be just Ryan and I. On Saturday we slogged up the West Rim Trail with plenty of training weight on our backs. We had the requisite 350′ of rope, head-to-toe neoprene, water, food, and also threw in a bolt-kit and hammer should we need to set any new anchors that may have been stripped away from flooding. Immediately upon touching ground on the 175′ rap 5, the heavens let loose with a heavy rain and a quickly following hail-storm. We changed into our neoprene suits and then sat quietly. We were in awe with the surreal beauty around us while also both knowing that the Imlay slot canyon below was NOT where you want to be during a rainstorm … Thankfully the skies cleared and we pressed on for what turned into another amazing descent of this classic canyon. We were both confused by the conditions which rendered some pot holes full of water and others bone dry. The conditions had us hooking out of at least 5 pot-holes, more than we have ever had to on any of our previous trips. It is definitely slower than usual, but not by more than an hour or so. Our optimism remains high for Zironman in a week.
Sunday : Ryan hadn’t yet been up Deertrap’s south ridge or down Hidden Canyon so we rallied on this classic point-to-point run/scramble. It simply could not have been more perfect.
Zironman here we come!