Condors and Angels

So how many people are going to be after these permits??! We arrive at the office about 20 to 7 and find to our relief that there’s only three people in front of us in the queue, and know the queue is for all back country permits so they are not necessarily looking for permits to do The Subway. They are, but we know there’s 25 available so we rest easy and bide our time till the office opens.

It’s funny but obvious when we think about it. Every permit we’ve gone after bar one, we’ve got. The reason – there’s hard work and adrenaline involved in all the ones we’ve successfully got, but The Wave is accessible to everybody, it’s just a short hike in and a meander amongst very nice coloured rock!!

Oh well, we’re happy. The Subway should be fun, it’s a 6-12 hour day, depending on ability, finess and water levels we guess, through an amazing slot canyon. A couple of the people in front of us in the queue are Canadian, she did the hike quite recently and reckoned a wetsuit would be a good idea. There’s a hire shop opposite the campsite so we’ll check this out later.

Permit securely packed away we take the free park shuttle bus (cars aren’t allowed up the main canyon road, keeps the traffic under control) to the Grotto where we have brekkie on a convenient picnic table and watch some bambi’s as they pass nearby.

The bus wasn’t very busy, there were about 8 people who got off at our stop, most probably for the same hike to Angels Landing (so called because of it’s in-accessibility that only angels landing from above could reach it!) and they are now in front of us. Not too bad. It’s a really popular hike and not only will it be really hot in a few hours, but it will also be really busy. Not something you want to be dealing with on the 2nd part of the route, on a totally exposed (both sides of about 1,500ft) ridge that’s only passible in a few places… Safety coming only from the strategically placed chains up the path.

So to the task in hand, we get on with the steep short hike that will take us onto an amazing precipice with 360deg views of the park. We are so so glad it’s not hot yet, what with Walter’s Wiggles to contend with it’s a fairly taxing hike.

You certainly couldn’t even contemplate the 2nd part if you are afraid of heights, as demonstrated by the 3/4 people sat by the wayside or already descending – the early evidence of wreckage that are the unsuccessful.

That said, it is so so worth it. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and as the heat of the rising sun consumes our energy on the last vestiges of the hike, we get some (hopefully) amazing photo’s of the views presented to us. Into the bargain we have a huge condor circling the ridge really close by, it’s a tad unnerving. But the best description overall – breathtaking!

Yesterday we came to the conclusion that we don’t have enough time to fit in all the places still on our list: Mohave, Sequoia, Death Valley, Yoesemite (already re-scheduled), Vegas …. With less than a week to go, as well as making the most of Zion. So we decide to can everything else for now, especially if we were successful getting the permit for The Subway (which we have been) and just stay here in Zion till Wednesday before driving the long haul back to Morgan Hill and the Waddingtons prior to returning the car …. An easy decision in the scheme of things, we might get to drive back there via Death Valley, but otherwise we’ve already filled up the days we have left … tomorrow The Subway, Tuesday recover and chill, Wednesday potentially a last hike – The Narrows, then drive through the night to MH. Let’s see how it pans out, as always, the plan is only as good as the next day πŸ™‚

On the walk down from Angels Landing, (its now starting to busy up as well as heat up, we don’t envy those on their way up now) we get talking to Doug who’s from Vegas but now lives in Bend, Oregon. He’s a card and we have quite a laugh on the way down. He’s done quite a lot of hiking in the area and cycling in Moab, with quite a few tales to tell on both.

An interesting piece of knowledge we overhear today – when the forecast says “40% chance of rain” here, they don’t mean there’s a 40% chance it’s going to rain?! It means that 40% of the area within that forecast will get rain!!! Would have been nice to know that when we were in the Grand Canyon!

At the bottom we bid him farewell as he returns to the carpark in search of his two friends, early bailers, and we carry on to Emerald Pools in the hope of finding a nice spot for lunch. We fail miserably and end up sitting in a wee clearing just off the path. Much to the amusement and envy (possibly) of passers-by who spot us, These pools/waterfalls might be one of the parks big attractions but probably only due to the proximity to the Lodge and their accessibility for the wealthy greys … We’re not that impressed, they’re not a patch on Ribbon Falls!

After lunch and a quick visit to the Lodge we take a return bus back to the campsite where we sit in the shade and try for a bit of wifi.

When the sun has gone down enough to make it bareable we shower and walk into the village to try out Oscars as recommended. Disappointedly Bernice can’t have the raved about fish tacos as the fish is marinated in dill!! πŸ™ She settles for a garlic burger instead, not quite the same.

What a great day though πŸ™‚

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