Friday 5/24 – Sunday 5/26
Zion National Park
Slizzard slizzard says king lizard
Fee Fi Fo Fun says Zion
wE SHaLl aSsiMilaTE say the locusts
Time to partyyyyy says the holiday weekend
By the time we reached the Zion visitor center the swarm had settled in. Every lot in the park was full, the line at Angels Landing stretched down through purgatory, the Narrows were clogged full of human flesh, and the West Rim’s backcountry permits had sold out. It was at this point that we consulted Ranger Rick and discovered the depths of our folly. It was memorial day weekend. They had come.
Our plans were dashed, our most hateful thoughts confirmed, and we needed to regroup. So, we tromped up to centinel point to survey the land, regain our composure, and watch an unbelievably cute small person belt cheeeeeeeese till the canyons rang with her song and her parents had enough pictures. Now, it is known that Zion is the most popular park in Utah, one of the more park going states in the country, and it is known that memorial day weekend is the most popular time amongst casual park goers. But despair not poor reader, for we’ve touched the Star of Eärendil, and so we know that there is light in even the darkest of places.
That light was the East Rim trail, a backcountry camping spot lesser known to the spawn of evil. We collected the necessary documentation from Ranger Rick, and fled for the hills. What awaited us was a gorgeous stretch of trails through checkerboard mesas, stone murals, and friendly as all heck pinyon pines. We hiked the first five miles of these the first evening. Highlights included canyon cutting waterfall, snow dyed by the sunset, and a retelling of the Battle of Blackwater. We chomped mac and cheese and slept amongst the roots. They stayed up long into the night dancing worship songs around their arboreous overlords.
We awoke later and less rested than we’d hoped. Winds that carved Zion canyon will do that I suppose. We hiked a bit to a nearby watering hole for bladder refills, and, following the suggestion of the first of our trail friends, headed out towards Observation Point. We’d spend the whole day on that trail, echoing through echo canyon, viewing the various viewpoints, and befriending one of the great ones – Akis the Australian icon.
We met Akis on the assent up Observation Point, and though our time together was short, it was sweeter than a starbucks seasonal special. Akis was living on his lonesome, trailblazing and star gazing through Japan, Hawaii, and the wildest corners of the American west. His hair was shockingly quaffed, his eyes clear, and his compass locked on adventure. Friendly cannot grasp the ease with which Akis endears himself to you. We welded lifelong bonds stronger than Ramston steel in the time it took us to share a can of Trader Joe’s smoked trout. It was beautiful.
We left Observation point with enough time to reach quality tent pitching spots before sun down. By this point we’d gone several miles sideways and several thousand feet up and downways, and we were high as any runner you’ve ever met. Fueled by this cardiovascular joyousness and the terrible fear of sleeplessness, we decided to just full send the damn thing and hike the whole way back to the car. We plowed through sunlight, another couple George R.R. Martin books, and another seven miles. By the time we reached the Slug we were slimier than silly string. We collapsed into the unconscious, and awoke a wee bit sore.