Whoa, long time no see! It’s been a while. The semester wrapped at up UVM, my friend Eric from Ireland came to visit (first time to AMERICA!), and after a long dark winter in Vermont the sun came out, so I’ve been outside on walks OR sipping negronis OR eating ice cream.
But I keep talking about my Zion trip to friends and strangers. Unorganized hilarious magicalness would best describe it.
It was a bit impulsive. Liza (North Carolina), Peggy (Chicago), and I (Vermont) essentially got tickets to Las Vegas with no real plan as to where to go from there except get out of town.
We thought we’d camp. None of us have been “camping” in a while though. Our group texts looked something like this.
I had to test whether I could still properly set up my tent.
Then my cat, who has started to hate it when I go on trips, peed on my hiking gear. The night before. Soooooooo after laundering and repacking everything, I happily said good-bye to a still frozen Lake Champlain.
The first day we all didn’t get in until late and spent the night at the Excalibur, which I deemed a grungy Game of Thrones, haha.
A quick pic of some slot machines.
We stayed up late in Vegas catching up and eating Popeyes chicken until 3 a.m. Liza still wanted to get up early to head to Zion, so we thought we’d camp in a campground at the park and do an easy day hike or bike ride that afternoon.
So we rented a a car, which ended up being a giant white Texas SUV (random), and drove a few hours to UTAH!
Then we got stuck in traffic for forever. Zion was a TOTAL zoo. It was Easter weekend so I guess we should have known…
The park ranger laughed when we rolled up at 2 p.m., telling us that all the campgrounds filled up around 7 a.m. that morning. Although unprepared – and still in Vegas clothes – we thought we’d see about getting a day-of backcountry camping permit.
Best quote from Liza, who was decked out in leopard print & dripping in rhinestones: While I love my outfit, I really wish I wasn’t wearing it now.
After initially telling us there weren’t any backcountry spaces available, we pleaded, and she said that they had one cancellation on the West Rim Trail that we could use for the next three days (broken up between campsite #6 and campsite #3) but it was very remote, 8 miles away, and up a steep canyon with some treacherous switchbacks.
We said we’d take it.
And then we (okay, I) panicked because it was late in the day and we were unprepared. Liza had to tell me to go back to my “place of yes.” We quickly drove to an outdoor gear store in the town next to the park to buy a map and water purification tablets. I also bought like ten Cliff bars and extra batteries. We packed and changed in the store’s parking lot, and I scarfed down a corn dog from the gas station like it was my last meal before we started hiking just before 5 p.m.
The hike was gorgeous but suuuuuuuuper hard. I had to laugh because we thought we’d take it easy and ended up on this crazy backcountry trek. The West Rim trail is a 16-mile long stretch that goes from the northern part of the park at Lava Point down to the Grotto inside Zion. Most people start the West Rim Trail up at Lava Point and hike down because otherwise it’s over 3,000 ft of elevation gain. WE started at the Grotto because of time/location and hiked up. It was intense – we hiked up part of the popular Angel’s Landing trail (Walter’s Wiggles 20 steep switchbacks in the beginning were killer in a heavy pack!) – and I occasionally was like, WTF am I doing? But the light in the canyon was one of the most gorgeous things I’d ever seen.
It got dark on us – even taking the Telephone Canyon shortcut – but luckily there was a full moon, a real God-send since my headlamp broke (um, right?) and there were some super steep drop off points on the narrow trail.
It took about five hours to get to our campsite. At that point it was 10 p.m. and freezing outside, so we quickly set up one tent, drank some rum, ate a bit (sardines for Peggy & Liza – ewww – and peanut M&M’s for me), and zonked out for the night.
The next morning we made instant coffee and macaroni and cheese for breakfast (and pretty much ALL meals thereafter, haha). We saw more deer than people and after a harrowing journey to get there, it was totally chill on the plateau. We lazed around our campsite reading for most of the day, except for our excursion to get water (interesting experience).
At Cabin Spring, aka our beloved little mud hole for fresh water.
The next night we moved from campsite #6 to campsite #3. The first campsite was in a wooded area, so we were like YOWZA with our new view. A.W.E.S.O.M.E.
The next day we hiked 8 miles out, which was mostly downhill:) Check out this blue blue blue blue blue sky too <3
We decided to make a spontaneous trip to see the Grand Canyon on Easter for sunrise, so we booked it to our car, stopped at Subway’s for sandwiches, and beelined it for Williams, Arizona. Made a quick stop at Lake Powell for an ice cold lake dip!
Which then brings this recap up to date –> All about Easter @ the Grand Canyon.
Tomorrow I’m heading to my favorite city stateside – NOLA! – for Alison + Jason’s wedding. I’m staying in New Orleans for two days with my youngest sister who is tagging along, and then spending two days in Baton Rouge with LANEY <3 It’s like 90 degrees so I’m packing sundresses, swimsuits, hats, and plenty of sunscreen. Wee!