Winter Utah and Colorado Road Trip, 2006

Griff and I decided we wanted to see a lot of the parks in Utah, and go skiing in Colorado. 10 days and 3500 miles seemed quite doable.  Off we went!

I had just had sinus surgery and my face was still a bit swollen.  And I was still on perkaset.  Definitely was not supposed to let my face be exposed to air any colder than 50-degrees.  Below zero camping sounded like it would be just fine as long as I wore a scarf.


Zion National Park

Only an 8 hour drive from San Diego, we were there by nightfall.  Unlike camping in the summer when its crowded, we had our pick of the valley.

Enough adventure will get packed into those 2 days in the park for an entire year. Read on.

Expedition Point and Angel’s Landing

Decided to hit Expedition Point first, starting around 11am (I am still a bit drugged so its hard to get up early).  Its about 8-miles round-trip, so we brought lunch.  After getting back down to the valley around 3pm, we decided Angel’s Landing – and easy 5 miles up and back – would be just the thing before sunset, which was at 5:50pm.

Sunset was clearly posted in the visitor center as 5:50pm.  Cannot emphasize this enough.

On our way up Angel’s Landing we passed a dad and son coming down, and they politely asked if we knew what time it is and if we had a light.  We did’t have a headlamp (hello Hoboroll where art thou?) because we couldn’t find it, but figured we’d be up and back in no time so it wouldn’t matter.

Well, imagine how we felt at the top when this was our (stunningly beautiful) view:


Okay, so its 5pm and the sun HAS SET.  WTF mates?  If you haven’t seen Angel’s Landing, this is what you have to descend – and in ice or dark, it would be very treacherous (this photo was taken in the summer):

And there goes the last of the sunlight.  Just great. 

The sign says not to attempt in hazardous weather or after dark.  Notice, it is dark now. 

We make it off the cliff with plenty of dusk left, and the rest of the trail is a piece of cake, even in the dark, so we aren’t too worried.

Then I hear Griffin’s cell phone start to buzz in his backpack – I mention his phone is ringing.  He stops, and calmly says, “I didn’t bring my phone”.  Creepy… we keep going.  Then we hear giggling, like the sweetest sound of children playing, echo up the canyon.  Its pitch black by now but luckily we found one of the lame pencil flashlights at the bottom of the bag… it provides about a 2′ radius of light.  Still, in a dark canyon any light seems welcome.

Further down we go – and now we are close the the trailhead, maybe a mile away, and can see the cars driving in the valley.  And then we get that feeling – that creepy feeling that you are being stalked by a wild animal.  All the hairs stick up and your instincts take over.

Mountain lion – NEVER RUN!  We suspected this was what was on our tail… so we started singing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs and walking quickly, but not running.

We made it back to the car safely – all in all a rough 13 mile day for 2 weeks post surgery, but hey, we were alive.  And PISSED off with that damn visitor center.  It was 6pm.  I decided to give them a piece of my mind the next morning.

The next day: a quick stop at the museum before the vistor center… clearly posted:

“Please note Zion Canyon is on Mountain Time”


Well, that explains that.

Hike the Narrows in 38-degree water

Since our adventures the day before hadn’t been enough, we also decided that hiking up the Virgin River in wetsuits would be a grand idea.  The water temp was 38-degrees, but whatever, we aren’t submerging or anything, just hiking.

Surprisingly, this went okay, and we did not have any incidents.  I believe we made it about 4 miles up river before turning around (yes, before it got dark this time).

Bryce Canyon

Took a drive over to Bryce.  Found a lovely campsite in the snow… and quickly the temperature starting dropping as the sun went down.  Zion Canyon is at 4000′ above sea level, so a balmly 20-30 degrees at night.  Bryce, however, is at 8,000′ above sea level, and the temperature went below zero that night.  I might have been a bit cold, but was more worried about my face and nose freezing (literally that soon after surgery if the tip of the nose gets too cold the tissue can die and fall off – this seems worse than sacrificing a toe for Mt Everest).

My scarf got me through the night, but only to find the next morning that our car battery had died.  A nice family – the only other people nearby possibly for 100s of miles – jumped our car (this world is a good place), and we were able to get to an auto shop where the guy who was closing his shop early decided to stay open just to replace our battery.  Grateful we were.

And a nice day of snowy Bryce hiking we did have.

Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks

Lots of driving, some napping, some getting agitated at the passenger.  Typical road trip things.

Arches National Park

Didn’t get too many pictures here, but we did go on a really tame hike compared to our Zion day of hiking.  It was raining periodically so not so much on the photos.  See the fence in the photo?  That implies its safe to walk around, even after dark.


Breckenridge, CO

Finally, to my favorite ski town.  Stayed at a lovely bed & breakfast in town and had a jolly old time.  Perhaps too much of a good time, we were worried my bad behavior and inability to stop laughing at everything (hello perkaset) would disturb the other guests.

To protect the sensitive nose, I had to wear a skiers motocross like helmet.

We almost had this much fun in the hot tub:

Instead, Griffin and I played 20 questions, I got him riled up because I almost beat him, and then proceeded to explain to him that he was upset because he is Mr. Serious… and then I told him, in all seriousness, that I, on the contrary, was Mr. Silly.  I meant to say Mrs., but it just didn’t quite come out that way.  Another nickname is born.

Silverton and the Four Corners

We headed south to see cousin Stephen and his Silverton lifestyle.  He tried to convince us to ski with him, but we decided to leave the mountain for the experts.

The four corners was cold, but we branded it anyway with our love.

The Grand Cayon

Not much hiking to be done here as it was winter and we were a bit tired of our travels at this point, but I did need to prove that I could squeeze between two very close pillars at the visitor center.  I did not know that the next 10 times we’d re-visit the park this little episode of mine would be remembered.  *sigh*

And back to home.  All-in-all, about 3500 miles in 10 days.  Bueno!

This entry was posted in Arches, Bryce, Canyon Lands, National Parks, Road Trips, Ski Trips, United States, Western USA, Zion. Bookmark the permalink.

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