I contacted the ranger on Monday to make my reservations. In this popular park, you can only camp in designated sites in the back country, which must be reserved in advance. Little or no snow was the report I got from the nice ranger. Now to get a hall pass from my wife. I knew she wouldn't want to go...too cold for her.
was nice...we cooked and ate too much food, and I packed for my trip. Early to bed and I was out Friday morning by 6:00am, to the coffee shop and then on the road north. As I got into St. George I noticed quite a bit of snow on the high peaks in the distance, but surely I wouldn't be that high.
Driving into Zion canyon, there was snow, but not too much. The north facing slopes seemed to have quite a bit, but the other side of the canyon not so much. A quick stop by the ranger station to pick up my permit, he told me there would be very little snow where I was headed, maybe a "half a foot", and that the weather forecast was a low of 26 degrees Fahrenheit up there at 7,000' tonight. A good test for my new 30 degree quilt I thought.
The parking lot was shady and very cold, probably around 30 degrees. Time to get moving. Heading up the first portion of the trail was familiar, as this is the same route to the popular Angel's Landing, which I would be bypassing today. Snow and ice on the somewhat paved trail, I could see why they made it so durable now...snow, ice, and all the foot traffic on this steep section would surely be a trail maintenance nightmare. I did my best to avoid the icy sections and managed to stay on my feet with some help from my trekking poles.
As I passed the first section where most people stop, the trail kept heading up, more gradually now. The snow was more prominent, maybe 6 inches deep.
Beautifully carpeted, the desert landscape takes on a very different look when covered in snow. The sharp edges of the rocks are all softened, and the snow glistens in the bright sunlight.
The further back I got, the deeper the snow, and it was absolutely quiet. The kind of quiet that you can't experience in the city.
At campsite 1, which was 5 miles into my 10 mile walk, the snow was about 2 feet deep. The tracks in the snow disappeared about half a mile past this point, and the snow was up to my knees. Walking in 2 feet of powder is rough, not to mention cold. The day was getting late, and this was my decision point. Reluctantly, I decided to turn around and headed back to the parking lot, turning this into a day hike.
I was disappointed that I wouldn't be staying the night, but I didn't want to break the park rules and just stay anywhere and I wasn't comfortable finding the trail in the deep snow. On the way back I took my time and enjoyed my surroundings. Icicles everywhere...this is not something I'm used to seeing living in the desert.
As I rounded a corner and saw these two deer using the trail headed my way. All 3 of us stopped in our tracks and stared at each other for a minute or two.
The deer decided to head down off the trail to let me pass. They kept their eyes on me though!
Wonderful deep snow blanketed this normally rock and bushy area.
Almost back to the populated part of the trail, that's Angel's Landing in the middle of the photo below. At one section there's a bridge with thousand plus foot drop-offs on both sides...not a good place to be walking on ice!
Back at the parking lot, I thought about heading to the camp ground to stay the night, but car camping isn't all that appealing to me... especially alone. Another 3 hour drive back to Las Vegas, it was a long day. A beautiful, exhilarating day in Zion!