A misty Thanksgiving Hike, Zion NP


I lava it!!!
Jan 19, 2012
Thanksgiving is always a day where I go on a hike or some other outdoor-related activities. My original plan was to go skiing near Navajo Lake and test out my new backcountry ski. Or maybe go snowshoeing at Cedar Breaks. But then a winter storm system moved in and all roads leading to the high plateaus where closed. I really wanted to have some snow and since Kolob Canyon was also closed I went to the main canyon of Zion. It was definitely not my favorite day to be in the park because it is always super busy and crazy.
But with the storm lingering around and a lot of rain in Zion, it actually prevented many to visit. I didn't mind the rain as I had good rain gear.
My plan C for today was hiking up West Rim as far as I could go with the limited amount of daylight. I started pretty late because of all the road condition checks on my computer, but finally, I was in the park and got off at the Grotto trailhead.
As feared, there was quite a bit of foot traffic. But at least I only had to deal with that until I would reach Scout's Lookout.
With all the rain I hoped for some moody images but as soon as I started to hike, it cleared out and the sun was out.


I had hoped for a bit more of the moody weather, but maybe the break in the storm would not last long. It actually was so hot outside that I shed all my layers and hiked in my t-Shirt. I was dripping and steaming, it was 51 F outside, way too hot for the season.
I worked my way up to Scout's Lookout and was more than happy to leave the mainstream and delve into solitude.
More clouds have moved in and created some nice moody images while I was looking back to the Great White Throne and Angels Landing.


Great White Throne And Angels Landing

The higher peaks had a nice dusting of snow and I hoped I would encounter some snow on my hike.


the first small patches of snow

I stopped at a nice point where I could see the massive rockslide that thundered down Cable Mountain on the Observation Point trail. Literally every bit of rock was pulverized in that event and I heard from our trail maintenance crew that there are two deer wrapped around some trees that were caught up in it.


Cable Mountain and the slide area in the middle


a close-up view: the trail is covered in sand, rock and a sand slurry

The view toward the Great White Throne and Angels Landing was also pretty nice from here.


Finally, more clouds moved in. It was still pretty warm outside but hoped that it would change later as I continued to get to higher elevations.
The hike itself was amazing. Not a single soul up to this point and the higher I hiked, the nicer the views.
It progressively started to get foggy and the entire landscape was transformed in a mystic and moody wonderland. I was so in love with what I saw!!


Mystic wonderland


More clouds and fog moved in and I had to stop like every minute so I could take pictures. It was exactly what I had hoped for today.


The weather was really amazing. Within minutes I walked through thick fog and could barely see anything just to have the fog get lifted five minutes later and reveal a scenery peaking out of the clouds, mist, and fog.



I followed up a slickrock ramp and the trail gradually gained elevation again. The first snowy patches showed up along the trail and I smiled. I would definitely get to see some snow today.


The hide and seek mood continued and I often completely hiked in the clouds and mist. Minutes later the fog lifted and revealed the scenery again.


It finally cooled down significantly and was a lot more fun to hike right now.
I had a nice late lunch break on a slickrock ramp and continued hiking up higher.
The fog moved in again and created again moody scenes.


And then, I finally encountered the first snow!! I was happy and enjoyed it a lot.


Finally in the snow!!!




A weather system moved in and it started to rain. The fog moved in as well and pretty soon I was walking in the clouds again.


Rain and ice rain followed and the fog became thicker. I just reached the Telephone Canyon intersection and decided it was a good turn around point given the time of the day and with more weather moving in.
Most of the hike back was in thick fog which was a lot of fun and reminded me of Hawai'i where I often had my lava tours in thick fog.



I just the view where you could see anything. Trees became sentinels in the mist and suddenly appeared along the trail that was covered in thick fog.


I got closer to the viewpoint I stopped earlier and all of a sudden the storm broke and the fog started to lift. It was the most amazing experience ever.
The scenery changed every minute and I was just amazed.


It was more than just good, it was amazing.


Finally, the fog lifted to the south and revealed the peaks of the Great White Throne and Angels Landing again. A layer of fog was wrapped around the Great White Throne which was pretty amazing.



Looking down to Big Bend Shuttle area


The Great White Throne


Sky Island

I sat on the rim and enjoyed the views.
The eye-candy kept going for at least half an hour.




It was the perfect day and a perfect hike in solitude. I only encountered two hikers on the West Rim Trail.
The moody conditions created the most memorable hike I ever had in the park and even though I could not stick to my original plans I was glad I decided to go and hike up the West Rim.
The winter boots were definitely not made for long hikes with a lot of elevation gain and are more made for snowshoeing trips. But since I did not know what conditions I would encounter I've chosen to wear them. Even though I ended with a hand-sized open blister on each heel. It was a great day and I can't wait to come back.
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Absolutely geeking out conditions!!! Thank you for doing this. I am gun shy about going to Zion in hopes of finding unique conditions. Too many trips with rain in the area hoping to see the walls flowing only to just get wet. And don't get me started on the fickle fall foliage of the main canyon. :geek: So wonderful!!
You were amply rewarded for braving those sketchy conditions. Some really great landscape scenes that you were able to memorialize with your camera. I can't decide on a favorite. Thanks for sharing!
Absolutely geeking out conditions!!! Thank you for doing this. I am gun shy about going to Zion in hopes of finding unique conditions. Too many trips with rain in the area hoping to see the walls flowing only to just get wet. And don't get me started on the fickle fall foliage of the main canyon. :geek: So wonderful!!

I don't know, but each time I go in search of special conditions, I really lucked out. And this trip was just the most amazing one ever. Even though it was Plan E
You were amply rewarded for braving those sketchy conditions. Some really great landscape scenes that you were able to memorialize with your camera. I can't decide on a favorite. Thanks for sharing!

It was not bad at all. We had a lot of fog and mist in Hawai'i and everyone hiked in these conditions. I guess you just need to get used to it. I liked it a lot. I'm more bored when we have these blue sky days down here without any cloud in sight
Yvonne, Thanks for sharing these photos and trip report from Zion. How I miss Zion and wish I was there right now hanging out. Must of been nice and not many people around and about.
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