2021 Hiking Trip (September 12 to September 18, 2021)
We traveled to Utah this year for our annual excursion. Our destinations included; Zion, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, and the Slotted Canyons of the Peek-a-Boo Mountains. This year’s adventurers included 8 rough and rugged men; Dave S., Pat S., Tom H., Steve D., Dan D., Kevin K., Pat C., and Me (Bill H.). Our daily itinerary included:
Sunday: Arrival in Las Vegas around 1pm and immediately drive to Zion National Park. We spent the night in a little motel in Springdale, Utah—just outside of the park.
Monday: Left early in the morning (6am) so we could stop for a quick breakfast and coffee. We arrived in the park by approximately 7:15 am—the park opens at 7am. We had decided to go early to avoid the huge crowds that have been visiting the park this year. We were too late—there were already at least 4 or 5 shuttle loads that filled, before we were able to get on a shuttle to get inside the park (shuttles are the only way you can enter the park). We started out our hike on the Virgin River through the “Narrows” of Zion—a picturesque hike in the water and up the river for a total of 10 miles—a couple more walked another mile or so. The hike has you walking on large boulders in heavy current, so on every step it is important to be watching your footing. A beautiful hike and the video doesn’t do it total justice. When we left the park the temperature was 115°. We travelled for another 1 ½ hours to get to our home for the week in Bryce Canyon City.
Tuesday: We had a relatively easy hike, after traveling for well over an hour, at Cedar Breaks Monument–altitude around 10,700 feet. When we left our house the temperature was a shocking change down to 37° at departure, and only around 57° when we reached our destination. A beautiful canyon that is viewed from the rim and the hiking is through the woods and rocks surrounding the canyon. Hoodoos are everywhere in Utah—I always enjoy seeing them. They are somewhat eerie in that they look like people that were turned into stone—there is a legend that says this is how they came into existence.
(Wikipedia: The name derives itself from the Hoodoo spirituality where certain natural forms are said to posses certain powers, but by the late 19th the spirituality became synonymous with bad-luck. Prior to the English name for these geographic formations they were already the origin of many legends from Native Americans such as Bryce Canyon National Park where hoodoos were considered petrified remains of ancient beings who had been sanctioned for misbehavior).
This hike was short (4.5 miles) due to the altitude, but we did enjoy meeting all the people from Wisconsin—surprisingly a large number of the hikers we met. When we returned home the temperatures were in the upper 80 degree category. After a short rest we went out to dinner and then went to a “Star Gazing” with “Dark Ranger” (a park ranger at Bryce that moonlights as an Astrologist—we ran into Dark Ranger the next day in Bryce Canyon). By the time we ended the temperatures were down into the upper 30’s at best.
Wednesday: We decided to split up today and 5 of us went to hike Bryce Canyon—an absolute “must see” National Park. This was a very exciting hike, filled with sharp canyon walls, Hoodoos everywhere, and some of the best scenery you could imagine. I won’t say Bryce is better than Zion, but I will say that these have to be a couple of the best hiking spots in the United States. Again, the temperature swings are something to deal with. You definitely need to dress in layers. We left our house at 36° dressed heavy, but by noon, I was dropping 2 layers and dropped the leg portion of my convertible pants and now I was dressed with shorts and a tee shirt, and very comfortable. By the end of the day the temperature was again approaching 100°. We cooked outside on this evening and built a fire outside, but by 8pm the temperature was dropping into the low 40’s and uncomfortable—for me. Most of our crew would say I was a wimp on the temperatures, but that is my failing.
Thursday: We took a fun break from hiking all day and went on a 4-Wheel Utility Vehicle tour with EZE Tours in the slotted canyons of “Peek-a-Boo” Our tour company was EZE Tours—and they were the most fun people and guides that I have experienced in a long time. We were driven at very high speeds (considering it is a UTV in deep sand) across the plains to several peaks that we could then hike up for scenic views, educational spots, and some just plain fun stops—like racing down a sand dune or climbing up the inside wall of a slotted canyon. My driver was a young crazy, fun loving, kid that loved to try to scare us. He even did a back flip off the top of the UTV—just for effect. Fun tour, fun people, and a very enjoyable day. Temperature at the beginning of the day–36° and at the end of the day, another upper 80°, so the dramatic temperature changes were a daily thing to deal with.
Friday: Our hiking is over and time to start our long trip home—back to Las Vegas first, about 4 hours by van. To break up the trip we stopped a small museum, filled with antique cars, old farm equipment, and even the first snowmobile, which was invented in Sayner, Wisconsin—what is it doing in a museum in Utah—it belongs in Wisconsin. We arrived in Vegas around 4pm and checked into our hotel and everyone went their separate ways to enjoy Las Vegas. I know many, if not all, went to Fremont
Street to view the many freaks, etc. but–there is no more to this part of my story, because “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”
Saturday: Caught our plane home around noon and arrived safely back in Minneapolis around 4pm. End of Story—but I can assure you WE ALL had a great time for the entire week. Looking forward to next year.
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