Monday, September 29, 2008


After the attempt to reach The Subway, there was some doubt in my mind if Cathie would be all right to attempt the next hike we had planned. We have wanted to hike to Observation Point in Zion for several years after having failed to complete the hike on a previous visit. Starting in Zion Canyon, the trail zigzags its way to a point overlooking most of Zion. It is an 8 mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 2148 feet! After a day of recovery from the Subway attempt, Cathie skipped the medication that made her dizzy and gave the go ahead.

We set the alarm for an early start and were hiking by 7AM. You must take the Zion Shuttle to the trailhead. The shuttle system in the park works really well with busses running every 7 to 8 minutes beginning at 6:45 in the morning until 10:00 PM. The trail to Observation Point is maintained with no boulder hopping involved. What is involved is a steep climb for almost the entire 4 miles. There are beautiful views on the way up, which were especially nice with the rising sun shinning on the mountain tops and cliff faces.

After climbing 2-1/2 hours, we were rewarded with the best view in Zion. Luckily Cathie made it without experiencing any of the problems she had a couple of days ago. She climbed the entire 2148 vertical feet, while I made the extra effort and climbed 2149 vertical feet, climbing the last foot twice. We were the second couple on the top on this particular day and shortly after we arrived, the other folks started back down. We were left in the solitude with a never ending view for 30 peaceful minutes before other hikers started to arrive. We decided to head back down as it was getting too crowded at the top.

Going down the steep trail presents its own problems with sore toes and knees. Almost to the bottom, I discovered another problem. It was my own feet getting in the way. Cathie said my body actually skipped down the trail as I did a header, landing on my face, stopping the downhill slide with my knees. Imagine the surprise of the startled German tourist as I came to a stop in a heap at his feet. My first thought was that I broke my glasses. I wasn’t worried about broken bones as they are covered by insurance, but the glasses…..

There are several good things about my fall, as I try to find something positive in just about everything. The bloody areas on my forehead, nose, arm and knees were a point of conversation for everyone on the shuttle back to the visitor center. Not wanting to admit that I tripped over my own feet, I started making up stories of heroics on my part, like how I saved a small child from certain death who was falling over the edge. It was also a humbling experience for me, as it is usually Cathie who does the falling down.

After four nights in the tent, we are now the guests of Susan and Mike at the Rockville Rose B&B. The B&B is a short distance from Zion’s entrance and we would highly recommend this establishment for its comfort, great breakfast and engaging hosts. We’re here for two nights before heading to Moab.





Sunday, September 28, 2008


After an early start, we arrived in Zion mid afternoon and the first thing we did was to go to the back country permit desk at the visitor center to seek a permit for the Subway. Our luck continued to hold as there were permits available for the next day. Check out the link here to learn just what the Subway is. After setting up camp at the Watchman Campground inside the park, we fixed a great dinner of Halibut using our new camp kitchen. It is going to take some getting use to camping this way, with the hardest part, just remembering where you put something.

We’re up before dawn so we can get to the trailhead as it gets light. We’re hiking before sunrise thus avoiding some of the heat. It’s been in the low 90’s by early afternoon. The first ½ mile is easy through pinion pine, then it’s downhill into a deep canyon for the next ½ mile. It’s really steep with part of the trail on the edge of a cliff. We realized right away that the worst part of the hike will be the return up this potion of the trail in the afternoon heat. Once in the bottom of the canyon, it’s just a matter of following the stream up canyon until you reach the Subway. The going is not too strenuous, but there’s a lot of crossing and re-crossing the stream and boulder hopping. Total distance to and from the Subway, 9.5 miles, a piece of cake, right?

After about 3 hours, Cathie started having some difficulty due to a bad head and chest cold. She complained of difficulty catching her breath and of being dizzy. She was taking some medication with a side effect of dizziness. We figured we had another hour of walking before reaching the Subway, and Cathie didn’t know if she could make it. We decided to wait for a guided group of hikers who were behind us. When they arrived, the guide told us our estimate of another hour was pretty close to being correct. We decided due to Cathie’s condition it was probably best to turn around, knowing we had at a minimum a 3 hour hike to return to the trailhead.

As we walked down canyon, Cathie continued to get worse. We were stopping frequently for her to rest, dreading the steep climb out of the canyon. As we reached the bottom of the climb, Cathie told me she didn’t think she could make it. I told her we would take all the time she needed, but staying at the bottom of the canyon was not an option. We started up, walking very slowly, stopping to rest about every 20 to 30 yards or so. Cathie was really having difficulty and told me on several occasions that she thought she was going to pass out. She described everything turning white, with her head spinning. We would stop when ever we found a shady spot with shade being at a premium on this the sunny side of the canyon wall.

After 1-1/2 hours to climb the ½ mile up the side of the canyon, we finally made it back to the car. Cathie told me later that she was really scared and at times thought she would never get out of that canyon. As for me, I was also scared about the possibility of having to leave her under a tree and going for help. There was no cell phone coverage in the canyon or at the trailhead, so she would have been alone for a long time.

Oh well, we didn’t make it, but it’s another adventure and a story to tell. I will return and complete the hike in the future. Any takers?


Sunday, September 21, 2008


Not wanting to let any grass grow under our feet, we’re off once again, only this time it will be without the RV. We are actually going tent camping for a month, with B&B’s and motels interspaced at timely intervals. This time it will be in Southern Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, many places we’ve been before and some new ones too. We were able to obtain a permit for a hike to The Wave near Kanab. We were unsuccessful in attempts a couple of year’s ago (read about it here: ) but we were able to obtain a permit on-line by entering a monthly lottery. Out of about 800 people each month trying to get a permit, 10 people are given permits for each day, so we lucked out. You can read about The Wave here:

Since we were heading to Utah to see The Wave, we figured we might as well make a real trip of it. So here’s our itinerary, which, as is our custom, could change on a whim:

First up is Zion, for about 6 days, then its east to Moab. In Moab we managed to obtain a permit for the White Rim Trail, a 100 mile 4 WD trail in Canyonlands National Park. Next Grandstaircase Escalante National Monument before hike to The Wave. After The Wave, its’ south to Canyon de Chelly in Northeastern Arizona, and Chaco Canyon across the border in New Mexico. Next its' on to Albuquerque to visit friends for a couple of days before heading back west for a one night stop at the Grand Canyon. Finally a couple of nights at a B&B in Prescott, before heading home.

Since the RV is staying at home this trip, we needed a new camp kitchen. I had lots of fun, designing and building the one shown here. Fits nicely in the back of the 4-runner and holds all the essentials.

To be continued……