A few weeks back was free national park day and thus I decided to go on an adventure. Temperatures have been dipping well into the negatives here in Cedar City so it was time to head south and go to the land of the warm. Zion National Park was calling and it was time to go. So after calling around and gathering a few people together we left Monday morning and headed out to the biggest hike in the main section in the park, Observation Point.
The Observation Point trail is located at Weeping Rock and is a grueling 8 mile hike that takes you up 2100 feet of elevation gain. The end destination of the trip overlooks Angels Landing. Its amazing.
The hike began somewhat exciting. The temperatures at the bottom of the canyon were in the high twenties. Weeping Rock had turned into a waterfall of ice that seeped out of the rock closing off the trail. After playing around by it for a few minutes and trying to crawl around on baseball size ice chunks we continued on.
The trail at the beginning is a 800 foot monster. The trail is extremely steep and now that it was winter it had a few new obstacles. Like Weeping Rock, water seeps out of the canyon walls here and there and this had occurred not long up the trail. As the water seeped out, it froze creating a huge ice flow over the trail. Luckily for us there was a section of dirt to walk on so we could squeeze by this.
Side note- Ice like this is freakishly slippery. Do not attempt to walk across it, you will fall. Everyone who attempted did.
So the trail continued up and up. While on the assent we had a fun by product of our hike, sweat. I know you are thinking that is normal/gross or something along that line, but for the guy with us, it was funny. His perspiration which collected on his facial hairs began to freeze. So it was not long before he turned into a snow man. It was awesome.
After the first segment of hiking, the trail shifts to a new flavor. About 800 feet above the canyon floor or so you cut back into the plateau and follow a slot canyon that crosses the trail a few times. This is where we found a fun and slightly scary section. The water that had once flowed through the canyon had froze and created a pathway.(this is not apart of the trail, but can be taken) There were other foot tracks that went across it, so I figured that it might be safe to go walk on unknown ice… Yeah. The video explains well what happened next.
From this point the trail soon begins to rise again, and rises, and rises, and rises. The trail zig zags back and forth of the backside of a plateau that will soon become Observation Point. Its not long before the trail then wraps around the mountain and then overlooks Zion Canyon. This is an impressive shift in scenery that should be enjoyed. From here the trail hugs the cliff and takes you to the tip of the plateau where it is finally flat.
The last mile of the trail follows the rim and is a quite refreshing experience compared to the climb you just did. Currently everything is covered with snow and water so it was muddy. My socks have not yet recovered from the mud and and funky red splotches on them. I wish I had more to say about this part, but its flat and nice, so lets get to Observation Point.
Observation Point is located at the tip of the plateau and the end of the trail. You pop out of some trees and you are there. There are huge cliffs surrounding you and you get to look down on Angels Landing which is kind of a strange experience. This is a great spot to eat lunch, which we did and just sat enjoying the view. After a few minutes we headed back down which has some of its own challenges. This is a time where your thighs burn and your toes are susceptible to blisters.
But we made it back down in great time and there was even time for sliding on ice.