Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, July 27, 2015

Zion National Park Features Overwhelming Beauty

"Journey to Zion" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Zion National Park is every bit as majestic, rugged, poetic, artistic, and overwhelming as I had expected. No wonder one of the first Mormon settlers stood in awe and gave the canyon, the name of Zion, a place of peace from the Bible. The massive faces of red rock rise high in spectacular formations that bring forth feelings of wonder and reverence in those who plod and climb the trails. The Virgin River over a few million years has carved out and sculpted the magnificent canyon that we see today.

How brave and daring the first settlers were to trudge into this terrain and become farmers of fruit trees, corn, and tobacco. What a magical place it must have been some 9,000 years ago when the first humans are said to have occupied the region.

"Virgin River View" ©Mary Montague Sikes
The altitude was a bit of a problem for us when it came to hiking the trails at Zion. Since we live near to coast of Virginia, basically at sea level, it takes a few days to acclimate to the higher altitudes, around 4,000 feet at the Zion Lodge which was one of the lowest elevations we encountered. That meant hikes were more tiring.

We enjoyed using the shuttle system which is free and operates from mid-March to late October. It runs along a six-mile scenic drive inside the park. Guests with overnight room reservations at Zion Lodge are permitted to drive inside the park, but no further than the Lodge during the months the shuttle is operating.

During our time there, we did the Riverside Walk which was easy, very hot, and scenic. We also took the hike to the Lower Emerald Pools which ends at the lower pool and three waterfalls. The trail was busy with crowds of visitors, most of whom were conversing in foreign languages (Russian, French, Dutch, and more).

Our last day at Zion, we took the Angels Landing trail which was hot but not too hard until the point where chains are built into the rocks to aid climbers to the top. I had read a lot about this trail which is paved part of the way and longed to journey there to take photographs.

"Along the Trail to Angels Landing" ©Mary Montague Sikes
"Angels Landing" ©Mary Montague Sikes

Our visit to Zion was hot, exciting, tiring, invigorating, and memorable. Now I long to go back and photograph the things we missed. I can hardly wait to get back my art studio to start painting from my new reference photographs.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's an amazing place all right.
High altitude messes with your breathing. You run out of breath faster.

Birgit said...

This looks so beautiful and the colours of the sky and rocks-can't wait to see your paintings. I can just see me trying to climb that

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Such a a beautiful place. I've never been there.

Mary, I remember when we arrived in Albuquerque. We were staying with a friend until we could find our own apartment and had to lug our stuff up to the third floor. By the third trip, I was winded and couldn't figure out why. But it was the elevation, which was around 6000 feet.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Yes, Alex, the western terrain is beautiful but you have to get used to the thin air!

Birgit, some of the climbs are much easier than others. I admire those daring enough to climb straight up with the chains.

Diane, you would love it for your photography! That's a tough elevation--6000 ft. No wonder you were winded.