We stayed in Zion for a few days with Mike's sister's family and it was an absolute blast! They were kind enough to let us stay with them at the Driftwood lodge in Springdale, which made the cold and rainy weather bearable. It also gave us a chance to catch up on some much needed laundry and consistent showering. The meals during our stay at Zion were a major improvement over our one-pot meals from camping, and we certainly enjoyed that. We should have taken pictures of those meals since they were presented much better than our camping meals, but it's much easier to get the camera out while camping than while at a restaurant, so no pics of the good meals. Thanks, Mark and Amy, for the dinners!
The first full day we had there was fairly cold and rainy, but we still went out for a short hike during that rare rain storm - Zion only gets ~15 inches of precipitation each year. Even though the weather was a bit dreary, it gave us an interesting perspective on the park that many don't get to see. There were a number of waterfalls that we got to see that usually weren't there, and the ones that were more constant were thundering water down instead of just dripping. Also, the entire valley floor looked so much greener and more alive with all of that moisture. The rain prevented us from considering the hike through the river up the Narrows, but that's ok, we were able to see a lot, and Mike's niece Claire was able to enjoy all of it too.
The second day of hiking we managed to get out fairly early (thanks mostly to Claire's early morning schedule) and enjoyed some morning sunshine for our hike to Angel's Landing. The hike was a long trudge upwards through Refrigerator Canyon to Scout's Lookout. Mark got the best workout as he had Claire in a carrier the entire day, but we definitely all felt the hike up.
At Scout's Lookout the trail continuing on to Angel's Landing is a bit more of a challenge with some risky exposure to 1000 ft + cliffs. Mike was the only one that was excited to make it to the top, so set off along the trail. In the riskiest places, there were chains bolted to the rock to help with balance, so the trail wasn't too dangerous. It was bad enough though that Mike took off his sunglasses so nothing would impede his vision, he certainly did not want to kick a rock and stumble anywhere along that path. The pictures don't do it justice, but here's a glimpse of that stretch...
We all met back up at Scout's Lookout for a snack and some water, along with a family photo.
It was a relief to walk back down the trail, and well timed as it was getting much more crowded as the day went on. That, and rain moved in by the time we got back to the hotel, so we had timed it perfectly.
Our final day in Zion was a shorter day, but we managed to view a part of the park that we hadn't seen before, Kolob Canyon. Before taking off, Claire got her first "ride" on a motorcycle. A future ADVrider inmate, perhaps...
Claire was soooo much fun to hang out with for those few days. She has the most fun of any of us, and causes us to have a riot as well. Her laugh is frequent and contagious. Even simple things like graham crackers can be the most entertaining (and messy) things in the world.
That, and she's very good at sharing, too.
It was a chilly ride up to Kolob Canyon, but a nice section of the park that deserves a longer day to explore on foot.
After our quick tour of the area, it was time to say goodbye to Amy, Mark, and Claire. That was extremely sad as we had such an amazing time those few days in Zion, and we are unsure when we will get the chance to run into them again. Hopefully it's soon, we miss you guys a ton already!
Jill and Mike took some time to bundle up for the drive slightly north to catch a road East back towards Bryce Canyon. Thankfully, we heard that the road we were considering gained a lot of elevation, so we went out of our way a few more miles to the north to catch a lower road. We still managed to catch up to a cold rain that luckily wasn't too heavy. We pulled off in a rest stop to get our bags and selves covered, where we hung out with a couple heading home on the BMW touring bike. After the rain let up, we headed east, but still managed to find ourselves in a rainstorm. It was a good first ride in the rain for Jill - now she knows what she has to look forward to in future rainy rides. By the time we got to Panguitch, UT, we were cold and tired and wanted to find some warmth. So we sprung for a $30 room (yay, off season!) early in the afternoon, allowing us some time to walk around and catch the National Forest office and library.