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Day 148: 12/19/17  Exploring Zion

Miles: hiking! 10 miles maybe? Steps: 19,233 Vertical gain: 2,000 ft. Liquid consumed: 140 oz. Wildlife: Few dogs in the park, cool birds soaring close right below summit of Angels Landing, some deer. Faith in Humanity: Steve and Jodi from the Poconos gave me a hitch and were super nice, other canyon reed with Texas plates also gave me a hitch, thank you!!!! Great day to Walk The Parks! I slept in and woke up and it was a bit chilly so I didn’t get up. Eventually I needed to use the restroom which got me up and at ‘em! First matter of business: am I allowed to hitchhike in the park? My left knee wasn’t feeling too good when I woke up, so I wanted to try to not ride my bike today. I walked to the Visitors center and was pretty surprised when they told me I could hitchhike without an issue! Wow, ok! I’m not typically a fan of hitching, honestly. I haven’t had any bad experiences, it just weirds me out a little (don’t get me wrong, I’ll still do it when needed!). But, with a little knee pain and a strong desire to take a day off cycling and with it being legal: out goes my thumb! The first car stopped but wasn’t going my way, then a couple minutes later Steve and Jodi from the Poconos picked me up and we were going to do the same hike: Angels Landing, probably the most popular in the park. They were super stoked to visit the park for the first time. I really liked their positive, excited attitudes! Thanks for the ride! I was excited to hike and for a big hill, so I pushed myself a bit: fairly continuous steep uphill. The trail is kind of roughly paved for most of the first 2/3 of the hike which is a bit odd, but this trail gets a TON of traffic! I was surprised how busy it was on this December 19th, but it’s cool that so many people are out here, right on! The cynical critic in me must say that this trail could be described as a bit of a watered down experience. Sure, it’s beautiful, I’d do it again, BUT it’s literally paved for most of it and then when the pavement ends there’s big chains nearly the entire rest of the way. On the one hand, this allows lots of people who would never do this hike to experience something pretty astounding with a lot of the exposure to steep large cliffs fairly well protected. On the other hand, that kind of waters things down! Mountains aren’t really meant to be paved and have serious chains installed in large lengths! Thinking about it, I think I agree more with the former. Even though he pavement and chains are present, it’s still a beautiful, challenging hike, and it’s really cool to see so many people push themselves a bit out of their comfort zone and experience Zion in a cool way. The hike down wasn't so bad, and I was back on the road and threw my thumb out for a ride. First truck stopped and let me hop in the bed. Nice guys. Based on the gear I believe they did some canyoneering. Good on them! Thanks very much for the ride, too! Next, I decided to walk out of the park and get a meatball sub at Subway. Sub was good, but damn they’re hardcore about no public restrooms there! The doors have a keypad lock with a sign “code is on your receipt.” Haha, how welcoming? I’m sure it’s also very annoying for the owners to get so many non paying customers trying to use the restroom. I wrote and sent out some post cards today which felt good. As I finished my last one I thought of so many more I’d like to send! Next I made a call and got a ridiculous and awesome permit for the Grand Canyon! I’ll be calling below the rim for 7 full nights! And I have to get there first and there’s a forecast for below zero lows before I drop into the much warmer canyon! Crazy! I’m super excited though, I can’t believe I get to do this trip while on Walk The Parks: Nankoweap to hitching on a raft to Beamer Trail to Escalante Route to Tonto Trail to South Kaibab Trail! That’s awesome, I’m so super excited! I chatted up a few people, then casually meandered back to my campsite for a nice dinner of ramen and hot sauce. Got organized for tomorrow so I can try to leave as early as I can. Big day tomorrow up a big hill with a Tunnel I’m not allowed to ride my bike through so I have to hitchhike, then to Kanab! Excited for the adventure!

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