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Monday, May 12, 2008

Zion Trails & Wildflowers

I hiked in Zion National Park over the weekend and had a marvelous time. The air temperature was perfect, warm but not hot, and wildflowers were blooming everywhere. The scenery was spectacular. Now's the time to hike in this popular area.

The Virgin River was high and muddy. The popular Narrows hike is not yet accessible because of the high water. But most tributaries are now running low and clear. Flows in the main river will drop during the next few weeks. I expect the Narrows and other water hikes will open in early June.

Water temperatures are still cold, and will continue to be cold into June. That didn't stop us from looking for a handy swimming hole, after we completed our hike in the sunshine. We jumped in, but didn't stay in the water long. It is still a bit early for canyon hikes where you have to wade or swim long distances. But, again, that will change during the next few weeks.

We hiked up Pine Creek, above Hwy 9, and then up the slickrock toward the pass just below Deertrap Mountain, looking for ancient Native American rock art. We found some there and more in a side canyon farther up Hwy 9.

Orange/red Indian pain brush was in full bloom along the trail, clinging to the sides of sheer cliffs. Cacti were also blooming, in several effulgent colors. The blossoms on most cacti were not yet full - that will come during the next week or two.

As the afternoon waned, we drove back through the tunnel and down the switchbacks, stopped at the bridge and then hiked up Pine Creek the short distance to its waterfall. We played in the water there, and at the deep swimming hole just downstream, cooling off before starting the journey home.

It was a great trip.

- Dave


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