Mountain Goats

Our last day in Zion we booked an adventure to go into the wilderness for some rock climbing and canyoneering.  Climbing in the morning until our arms were to sore to go up the rock walls, we then headed into the canyons, learn how to rapel and squeeze through tight places. After the adventure there was just enough sunlight left to back into Zion proper and do the easy Emerald Pools trail getting one last look at the beautiful landscape before we leave the next morning.

Through the Narrows

Second day in Zion we got up early to rent some dry pants and wet shoes, to keep up warm and grippy for Zion’s most unique hike. The Narrows is a ‘trail’ which is really just hiking up the Virgin river with 1000 ft rock walls on either side. At any time of the year this is a difficult and dangerous hike, as its mostly wading through freezing cold water hopping to avoid a flash flood. In October the waters are low and the chance of a flood is near zero, the journey through the river was still fantastic.

We wrapped our feet in insulating neoprene socks, to insulate our feet even tough the will be submerged in cold water for a few hours. We put on our dry pants to keep our legs dry and warm. We wrapped up phones and cameras, hopping to keep them dry and unharmed. Grabbed our walking sticks and headed out.

The Narrows is unlike any hike, there was no mountain to climb and no overlook points to reach. The trail was almost completely flat and there was less to see the deeper you go. The ‘trail’ goes for 20 miles, but the farther bits need a permit. I recommend going as far as you can as its spectacular. We were sharing the river with many other people at the beginning, but miles upstream people turn around or stop and when we reached Wall Street we almost were alone.

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Fording the river

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Not very narrow yet

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Jonny, surrounded by virgins (river)

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Knee deep in fresh mountain spring water

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No more banks to stand on

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Looks like its getting deeper

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Emerging from the waters

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Action shot with our dry pants and wet shoes

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Continuing up the river

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I can’t count the number of time we crossed this river

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Jonny is getting a little far ahead

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We were not the only ones in the water

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Jonny, be careful the water is deep

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Ohh no, they are drowning

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Feeling like hobbits with our walking sticks

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Still some dry land to walk on

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This canyon has been in the making for millions of years

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The walls are getting so tall its hard to find sunlight

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A little grotto off to the side

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Climbing over rocks

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Trying out a long exposure

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Stay very still guys

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Its get difficult to capture how deep this canyon is

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Jonathan waiting for us slow pokes

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Justin seem to be avoiding the easier route

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Stop for lunch and more long exposures

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Its like painting with water colors

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A big rock, and a decent place to turn around

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A small bank for a little rest

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Hanging gardens with a little water fall

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The neon shoes that kept us from slipping on the wet rocks

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A sign of civilization

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The river is widening up again

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We can now go from bank to bank again

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Group photo

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My favorite of the long exposures

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The waters are very low, but some places still have a bit of current

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Justin’s in the deep end

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Angle’s Landing

Our first full day in Zion we get an early start on one of the parks most iconic hikes. Angel’s landing, climbing up dozens of switchbacks to walk over a narrow ridge with cliffs on both side hanging on to an anchored chain for dear life. A challenging hike, but the view of the valley as the sun came up was completely worth it.

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Up so early the moon is still out

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Angle’s … Angel’s landing, our goal

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Morning starts seeping into Zion valley

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Zion valley

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The trail taken so far, only a third of the way up

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The elusive Justin, camouflaged in its native environment

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Little tiny arches

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Up the wiggles

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Most of Zion still hasn’t seen the dawn

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To Scout Lookout

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Cliffs on both sides

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Time for the Chain

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Follow the Chain

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The trail is getting a little bit more difficult

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Still a lot farther to go

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Jonathan and Angel’s Landing

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Zion still waking up

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Cliffs to the left, cliffs to the right

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Geocache? Three digit lock shouldn’t take more than an hour to crack

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Keep going up and don’t look down

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Seriously, don’t look down

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The Chain is life

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Almost above the valley

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Keep climbing

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As we reach the end of the trail, the beginning starts getting sun

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The top and Angel’s landing

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A beautiful view on both sides

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Following the Cairns

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Hello Zion

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Looks like a new friend

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More people making their way up

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Justin with the valley

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An oasis in the desert

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A quick pic

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Last look before heading down

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Ready to descend

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The trail down

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Where is the elevator?

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The chain is slowly cutting through the mountain

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Without the chain the trail just blends in

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Heading back through Refrigerator Valley

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The bus stop is still miles away

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Walters Wiggle

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A local lizard

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Angel’s Landing seen the the banks of the Virgin River

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Spending the rest of the day at the pool with a view

Arches II: A walk with the Devil

On our third day in Moab we return to Arches National Park for a walk through Devil’s Garden. We stopped by the Landscape arch viewing area then took the path less traveled through the garden. The Primitive Loop was an excellent hike, not very challenging but it was rough and long enough that we had the trail to ourselves for most of the hike. Add to that a few rock scrambles and amazing views and it was a wonderful day.

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Back at Arches to look at more rocks

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A local!

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You can see why they call them Mule Dear

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First arch of the day

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The Landscape arch

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The landscape

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The landscape in landscape

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Jonny, you are so small

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The steep rocks to on the right actually is the trail

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Snack break

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Our own Private arch

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The best lunch spot so far

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The Dark Angle… errr… Angel

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Whoah, double arches

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Under the arch

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The Dark Angel through the eye of an arch

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Going off the trail a little, but the view is worth it

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The bruvs

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Walking the ridgeline

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Looking back at Devil’s Garden

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Looking out over the park from the Partition Arch

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Long shadows make the park more gorgeous

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Wait, let me take a selfie

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The Landscape Arch in landscape

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End of day light on red rocks

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The Balanced rock

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The valley in shadow

Arches is an excellent place for some star gazing, as ther is little light pollution. Unfortunately for us it was also a full moon. We only had a few hours of darkness before the moon came up to ruin any good views. Between the moon and the clouds I did get a small window to practice taking some starscapes.

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This image contains an airplane and a shooting star!

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Amazing

Candyland

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Ready for another day in the desert

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What a backdrop

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A far off salt refinery

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Looking out over the rivers

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Many canyons

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Looking out over Dead horse point

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I hope this is called dead horse because of the horseshoe lake

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He’s a maniac, or a monkey

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Billy goat in the top left

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Looking for arches in Canyonland

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So much sandstone

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Canyons leading into the Colorado River

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The Mesa arch

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I see why they call it Canyonlands

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Jonny looking for some butte

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Old Native American grainy

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Built directly into the rock

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“THE PRECIOUS”

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From the trail these granaries are completely invisible.

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That’s a big butte

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The view from atop the butte

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Canyons under the clouds

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On the other side a desert meadow

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A single ray of sunshine

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Justin on top of whale rick

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Another lonely desert road

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We found some stairs

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This look like a natural rock formation

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On the edges of the Upheaval Dome

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Another billy goat

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Another arch in Canyonland (albeit a small on)

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Island in the sky

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Pride rock!

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Time for a selfie?

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Justin takes a photo

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To me, this is a Kaiju footprint

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Breathtaking

 

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Simba, all that the light touches is our kingdom

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Canyonlands is saying goodnight

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Goodnight Canyonlands