An Epic Hike in Zion

It was six o’clock in the morning on May 19th, 2017. As I laid cocooned in my sleeping bag, I listened to the sounds on the other side of the nylon tent walls. I noticed it was getting light outside and the sun would be rising soon. Although with the towering canyon walls, I wasn’t sure when the warmth of the sun would actually reach our campsite.

Observation Point Zion

Me on the left, daughter Ashton on the right. Angel’s Landing off my right shoulder.

The fluttering of wings as the birds flew from one tree to another along with their continuous chirping put a smile on my face, but there was another sound, an unusual sound, that took me a moment to figure out.

I quietly (as quietly as possible) unzipped the tent and then slowly stepped out.

deer in Zion

The deer in the campground were not bothered by people. This was a rare opportunity to photograph wildlife with a wide angle lens.

The unusual sound I heard while laying inside the tent was made by deer … it was the ripping of grass and chewing. ย A deer had been grazing just on the other side of the tent wall, mere inches from my head, but by the time I stepped out of the tent, that deer had moved on. However, two other deer were across the street grazing.

Quaker oatmeal and coffeeThese deer are obviously used to people and when the two grazing deer came walking toward and then past me, I stood frozen and silent. This was one time a zoom lens wasn’t necessary. What an awesome way to start the day!

Ashton and I had a couple of hikes in mind that day, and we wanted to get a somewhat early start.

Shortly before seven, I started heating up the water for coffee and oatmeal, and when Ashton stepped out of the tent, I excitedly pointed behind our tent. There in the tall grass lay three female deer munching on grass while watching the tourists pass by. This was their yard, and we were their tolerated guests.

wearing makeup while campingWe knew in our gut, this was just the beginning of one heck of a memorable day.

With breakfast out of the way, we continued to get ready for the day, which for these gals, includes a little makeup. Hey, just cause we’re camping doesn’t mean we can’t do it in style ๐Ÿ˜†

We loaded up our gear and then hiked over to the visitor center to pick up the shuttle bus. Twenty-five minutes later, we exited the bus at stop #7 for the Weeping Rock and Observation Point trails. We headed up the short Weeping Rock Trail which is less than a mile round trip. It’s a steep paved trail which ends at a rock alcove with dripping springs. Kind of cool and interesting and we thought worthwhile.

Weeping Rock Zion

The trail to ‘Weeping Rock’. It was a brisk morning which Ashton can attest to!

Weeping Rock Zion National Park

Weeping Rock – interesting sight. ย Water seeps out of the rock and vegetation grows in crevices.

Little did we know at the time, but this trail served as a nice warm up as toย what was to come. After admiring the seeping rock and lush plants, we hiked back to the trail head and took the spur toward Observation Point. We agreed earlier that morning that this 8 mile (12.9 km) round trip strenuous hike with a 2,148 foot (655 m) elevation gain was more than we wanted to tackle. Therefore, we planned to hike about an hour and a half up then turn around (3 hours round trip) to head back to camp for lunch and explore the Watchman Trail in the afternoon. Good theory!

Observation Point Trail Zion

Can you spot the shuttle bus? ย Offers scale. ย Little did we know, the trail would climb and take us near the top of that mesa – white portion of rock…. ย ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

From the get go, we could feel the trail climb. We were immediately huffing and puffing and stopping frequently to catch our breath. Although the trail starts out paved, the continuous uphill, zig zag climb is anything but easy.

hiking zion

the trail is a never ending zig zag

As we neared Echo Canyon, we were thankful the trail leveled off and offered a nice reprieve from the continual uphill climbing.

Echo Canyon

Echo Canyon. We enjoy the reprieve from climbing.

Echo Canyon

Enjoying the flat part of this strenuous trail

slot canyon Zion National Park

Ashton’s first slot canyon

This was Ashton’s first ever exposure to a slot canyon and although we only hiked a small fraction of Echo Canyon, it was a visual delight. In order to hike the actual Echo Canyon Trail a permit is required and canyoneering skills are necessary. Yep, not for us. We were thrilled and satisfied with the sliver we did experience.

hiking in Zion

Observation Trail continues

I don’t recall how long it took us to hike to the other side of Echo Canyon, but I do remember Ashton and I being awed by the landscape. The photo-ops were endless and there was no way we wanted to turn around at this juncture … not yet, anyway.Zion national Park

It was onward and upward, and the uphill climb seemed unrelenting, but did we stop?

hiking Zion

Is this our turn around point?

When we came to a trail sign …. (this was the noted spot on our trail map where Ashton and I originally planned to end our climb and turn around) …. we decided, we’ve come this close …. “lets do it“! Truth be told, it was our stubbornness that egged us on. We refused to be each others excuse as to why we couldn’t complete this 8 mile strenuousย hike.

Zion National ParkIn other words … there was no way I would accept defeat so my daughter could say, “We couldn’t complete the trail because my mom couldn’t handle it“. ย Heck no! That makes me sound old. I may be old, but I’m not that old.

And then, Ashton refused to give in to her fear of heights because she wouldn’t give me the ammunition to say, “We couldn’t complete the trail because of my daughters fear of heights”.ย Yeah, we’re stubborn!

Ah, but that age thing did catch up with me. At one point, I found the need to actually sit down on the side of the trail to rest and let my heart rate come completely down. All that climbing had my heart pounding rapidly in my ears. Years ago, I worked out with a personal trainer and used a heart rate monitor regularly. Because of that experience and knowledge, I knew I was pushing too hard and needed to take a break for my health and safety. After munching on a Lara Bar, resting, and drinking more water, I felt ready to tackle another stretch of climbing …… ย just in time for my daughter to face her fears.

hiking in Zion

Ashton’s fear of heights kicks in! Who’s got the racing heart now?

This would be the final stretch of climbing needed to get to the top of the mesa. The trail was literally blasted out of the canyon wall and offered dizzying drop offs and eye-popping scenery. Not exactly ‘fear of heights’ friendly.

hiking in Zion

can you see the zig zag trail?

hiking Zion

Let’s zoom in a little closer – can you see the trail now? Check out that elevation gain.

hiking Zion

Zoomed in more! This stretch of trail was the most challenging for Ashton, not to mention my lungs.

hiking Zion

Ashton confronts her fear of heights! The popular Angels Landing Trail is just to the top left of Ashton’s head.

Ashton’s fear of heights was news to me. I have to admit, I found the whole situation somewhat humorous and had to ask, “Since when did you develop a fear of heights?” Somewhat hesitantly, she responded in a near whisper, “Since I went bungy jumping in New Zealand”. Her response resulted in more chuckling on my part …. “So you gave me gray hair, and gave yourself a fear of heights.” ย Photo-op!

hiking zion national park

Ashton tries calming her nerves – fear of heights! “Seriously, mother!!! You really have to take a picture?” ย Yes I do honey, yes I do ๐Ÿ˜†

zion national park

Another needed stop to calm the dizziness.

hiking Zion

Whew! Climbing has stopped. Mini panic attack over, but we still had further to go… Far left Mesa in the distance – to the left of the red vertical line = “Observation Point”

Once we reached the top of the mesa, we were able to breathe normally, but still had more distance to hike to get to “the point”. Ashton’s racing heart caused by a fear of heights had calmed down, and my racing heart caused from the ridiculous uphill climbing had also calmed. Deep calming breathes were taken by both of us followed by a sigh of relief.

hiking Zion

Observation Point in the distance – note the red vertical lines against the white rock – the V lines point to our destination.

hiking in Zion

Can you see the specs of people at Observation Point? ย Follow the red vertical stripe up.

With the goal now in sight, our pace quickened. Ashton and I kept looking at each other with smiles and saying, “We’re doing this. We’re actually doing this. We’re almost there“.

As we exited that last cluster of pinion trees, we were assaulted with the most breathtaking view that is quintessential Zion Canyon. Engulfed with awe, we high-fived each other while huge smiles stretched from ear to ear. “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe we made. We did it!”Zion Canyon

It took us four challenging hours of unrelenting uphill climbing and at times we questioned our sanity. We also questioned each other, “Are you sure you don’t want to turn around?” ย “It’s up to you. If YOU want to turn around, we’ll turn around“. “I’m fine. If YOU want to turn around, we’ll turn around“. ย “Well, I’m fine too“. ย Onward and upward! ย Did I mention, we’re stubborn?

hiking Zion

Note the brass survey marker embedded in the rock. As you look to the monolith rock to the right – we are looking down on the infamous Angels Landing. Ashton was ready for a photo-op now!

Observation Point

Observation Point

That view … is that not the most incredible view! Thank goodness we embraced that stubbornness or we might have missed out on this experience. And what an experience this epic hike was. A memorable day indeed …. from start, to finish!

hiking zion

Time for a break! Let’s savor the view.

But the hike wasn’t over yet. What goes up, must go down, and what one thinks might be easy, probably isn’t. Next up, the journey back down the mountain ….

Zion Canyon


87 thoughts on “An Epic Hike in Zion

  1. Wow, finally catching up on my blog reading, took a self imposed break from FB so I could read all the blogs I haven’t kept up with. MonaLiza and I now have canyoneering skills after our slot canyon hike last summer ๐Ÿ˜‰ Looks like an awesome memorable day, good for you both.

    • I do remember your post and ML’s post on your Utah (or was it AZ) hikes. Some of those trails are amazing and I’d love to explore them … just need to find another couple to go with ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love slot canyons!

  2. Beautiful! We recently stopped in Zion on a cross-country road trip, but we only had a couple of hours to spend in the park. We ended up only doing the Emerald Pools trail, which was still gorgeous. Really wish we had more time there!

    • We spent two days in Zion and barely touched the surface. But if a short stop is worth taking in that amazing scenery. Definitely worthy of a return visit!

  3. Was hanging out at Susie’s party and checked out your site. These pictures are amazing! I take it your smartphone has HD crystal clear zoom options ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the fact that everyone’s stubbornness got them through that crazy intense hike. Well done! And once again AWWWWWWWESOME pictures!

    • Awe, thanks for the compliment and stopping by. I hardly ever take photos with my iPhone 5 ‘with the crystal clear zoom’ ๐Ÿ˜† Almost all the photos were taken with my bridge camera – Panasonic FZ200 or my little Sony P&S. Love that Panasonic … it goes everywhere with me. Yeah, we’re grateful that stubbornness propelled us onward and upward or we would’ve missed out on an epic hike ๐Ÿ˜Ž I’ll head on over to your site!

  4. A great hike, love how you both persisted in face of what you each found difficult! The photos are marvellous too, what a lovely place to visit! I wish I could… but I’ll have to do with the Southwest Coastal Path in England this weekend. :)( It isn’t going to be remotely as challenging but the scenery will be good!)

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  6. Now that Aston has had a taste of slot canyons I am sure there will be more in your future! Love the pictures of her hugging the walls as she walks up the switchbacks!

    • She wasn’t laughing as she was hugging the walls, but mom sure was LOL. Yes, we’re already talking about more slot canyons. They are addictive, aren’t they?

  7. How fabulous to do this amazing hike with your daughter. i love that the stubborn gene definitely runs strongly in the family. I can see though why you wouldn’t want to turn around. So magical, albeit steep. Oh yes and glad it wasn’t a bear chewing outside of your tent!

    • Years ago while camped in a tent near the border of Minnesota and Ontario, there was a bear on the other side of the tent wall. I could hear its breathing and if not for the canvas I could’ve touched it. Fortunately a young one who was scared off easily, but it did get the heart racing.

      This was a fabulous trip that we’ll be talking about for years ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • It is a magical place and I too hadn’t been there in years. I’m so glad we chose Zion for our mother/daughter get away. It was perfect!

  8. You had my heart beating as if I were climbing with y’all. What a hike indeed! Gorgeous photos. You two make a great hiking couple. You compliment each other in many ways. Mostly…love of being together. Great job! I would have definitely turned around at 1 1/2 hours.

    • What’s funny is the minute we got on the shuttle I said, “Ok I did it. Now I’ll never need to do it again”. But now that the pain has cleared, I would probably hike it again with my daughter…. maybe LOL. Fantastic memory!

  9. Great Hike! Check out our blog for our Grand Canyon hike stories and check out our Angel’s Landing video on Youtube Channel harleyhawk4

    Hawk and Red Fox

    • We knew before we ever left Phoenix, that Angel’s Landing would not be on our itinerary. As beautiful and challenging as it looks, the crowds are the major deterrent. Glad you made it.

  10. So glad you both conquered your fears and made it to the top. This is my absolute favorite hike in the park. Well worth the effort!

    • You and MonaLiza played a huge role in me wanting to tackle this hike. I reviewed both your blogs for ideas. I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the top, but oh so glad I did. I actually look forward to doing it again one day … not anytime soon though ๐Ÿ˜†

  11. Feels great to get to the top of a big hike, doesn’t it?

    Have to tell you that I saw your breakfast photo before I read the caption. Thought you were having coffee and a pint of ice cream each. My thought? Breakfast of Champions! It was a slight disappointment to see that it was oatmeal.

    Great photos and commentary as always.

    • Thanks Judy. Hmm, ice cream for breakfast? Might’ve been something I’d a done 20 years ago, but these days, I know better ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was an amazing hike, but oh so challenging!

    • As you mentioned earlier, slow and steady and some spots were soooo slow that I wondered if I’d ever make it to the top. Such an epic hike filled with fond memories!

  12. What a great blog! We didn’t get to hike this one before we were called back East because of a family emergency, but it will definitely be on our list when we return to Zion some day. Great commentary and pictures. Congratulations to you both!

    • Thanks Steve. Do add this hike to your list for a return visit. It won’t disappoint and it will definitely challenge. Will you be back in Casa Grande this winter?

  13. How cool (and insane)! I’ve done Angel’a Landing but not this one and it’s amazing how different the canyon looks from a slightly different vantage point. Glad you guys made it and conquered some fears in the process!

    • We had talked about hiking Angel’s Landing but only to the Scout’s landing/point. Because of the traffic, we opted for Observation Point and I’m so glad we did. The slot canyon was an unexpected joy and the views overall were amazing. Highly recommend!

  14. I’m clapping my hands and tipping my hat to both of you for making the hike memorable. I guess if no one was egging each other you could have turn around at that midpoint. And I could say that I prefer Observation Point than Angels Landing ๐Ÿ™‚ and when we were there I did not even had an idea we were looking at Angels Landing. Great Job Ingrid and Kudos to Ashton, you both conquered your fears.

    • I remember reading yours and Amanda’s post about preferring Observation Point over Angel’s Landing and that’s all I needed to tackle this incredible hike. Thank goodness our stubbornness kept us climbing!

  15. That is amazing! What a fun trip with your daughter! I could totally relate to the fear of heights thing. I would be clinging to that wall, too! I’m looking forward to reading about the trip back down.

    • I know you’ve tackled your fair share of challenging hikes and understand some of the obstacles. I’m so glad she and I pushed each other onward and upward …. what a wonderful mother/daughter memory!

  16. What a wonderful hike you two ladies did. The post was so fun to read and the photos were beautiful as always, Ingrid. We didn’t get a chance to do Observation Point Trail when we were in Zion. I know what we will be doing next time.

  17. I was sitting on the edge of my chair as I read about this hike/climb!! What a hike!!! What a view!!! What memories you two have made. Memories that will last a lifetime!!! I did the happy dance for you both!!!

    • I never thought at my age that I’d be able to hike such a distance or do such a climb …. happy dance all around for sure along with lasting memories!

  18. Wow! Very impressive! Incredible view and can’t believe you kept going. We would have probably stopped to rest and then climbed back down. Way to go!

    • Trust me, the thought of turning around crossed both our minds several times, but there was something in us that felt we needed to accomplish this hike and I’m so glad we did ๐Ÿ˜Š

  19. So fun!! What a great accomplishment and a grand adventure for the mother-daughter team. And so helpful that you can egg each other on. :-))

    • Oh yeah, thank goodness for that egging because if I’d a been by myself, I assure you that I would not have completed this hike. She and I always manage to put the ‘adventure’ into our get aways!

  20. Holy cow!!!! You are braver than I am and obviously in much better shape. I would’ve fainted away after a couple of zigs and zags ๐Ÿ˜‰ Great photos and thanks for sharing.

  21. Wow, that looks super strenuous…and non-shady. ๐Ÿ™‚ You guys are rockstars. That’s an achievement to be proud of. I do love the views you had.

    • The views were indeed amazing. The sun did make it hot at times and we relished the breeze. Daughter returned with a sunburn while mother (who stayed covered up in clothing) did not ๐Ÿ˜†

  22. Oh Ingrid, what an incredible experience between mother & daughter! Sounds like both of you challenged yourselves on this hike. What an accomplishment!

    • Thanks Pit. You would enjoy riding your bike on the road through Zion Canyon. Since only shuttle buses are allowed, there’s no issue with cyclists dealing with a lot of traffic.

  23. What a tough hike, but epic indeed! The views are incredible. Congratulations to you both! I have been known to be similarly stubborn at times. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous… and the perfect solution to my ‘Angel’s Landing problem. This hike is now officially on the list (along with ‘get in serious hiking shape’). Glad you all enjoyed it!

    • Even if time constraints allow you to only hike to the slot canyon, you won’t be disappointed. It is most definitely a challenge and one brochure I read said it was even more strenuous than Angel’s Landing. The trail is wide enough in most spots to easily pass other hikers. You’ll love it!

  25. This was completely suspenseful! Well-written and your usual astounding vistas and photos, much enjoyed, Ingrid. When you wrote in the photo caption, “Can you see the zig zag trail?” I said, “No, I can’t.” I saw that cut in the mountain, but did not consider it was a trail, until the next two zoomed-in photos pointed it out. Congratulations to you both. What a sparkling memory for you two to share.

    • “Well-written”? Thank you so much Jet. A compliment like that coming from an accomplished writer, such as yourself, means a lot to me. We had such an amazing trip, but way too short. Be sure and put Zion NP on your travel list. You won’t be disappointed.

  26. Yes, that is an incredible view! Congratulations to your daughter for doing the hike despite her fear of heights.! And to you for not letting anything stop you from doing it!

    • As I sit here typing, I’m still awed she and I accomplished that hike. It might not be a big deal to some people but it was a huge deal for me and I’m oh so glad we did it!

  27. Very nice. I couldn’t handle the final climb on Angel’s Landing due to my fear of heights, but I’d like to try out Observation Point next time I make it to Zion.

    • I think you’d be able to handle Observation Point. The trail is wide enough for folks to pass each other and no cables needed. The scenery was stunning and not just from the top. Highly recommend. Start early and take your time ๐Ÿ˜‰

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