Having decided that roulette wasn’t the best way to earn our Vegas spendings back we cut our losses and headed east. First to the Hoover Dam – hot, huge and very low… then onto the Valley of Fire – a state park recommended by a truck racing driver – or a racing truck driver? Either way he was right – a stunning landscape of sculptured red sandstone, albeit a rather hot night complete with rather loud thunderstorm.
Onwards to Zion and a lovely free spot by a small creek where we took up residence for 4 nights… longer than we have spent anywhere so far! Zion takes hiking to the next level and we managed both of their most famous routes – Angel’s Landing, a 5 mile round trip with a 1500ft elevation gain. The last half mile takes you across a narrow path with huge drop offs on either side and you are pulling yourself up with chains (or clinging to them for dear life also works!) The Narrows is a hike up a slot canyon – in a river. Literally. The sight of numbers of people prodding the water in front of them so they don’t suddenly end up neck deep and working out where to put their feet was highly entertaining – all I’ll say is I was glad of our water shoes – there were folk in crocs, full hiking boots and everything in between which didn’t look nearly as comfortable over 10 miles.
Sometimes you just can’t make it up – best conversation so far…
Richard to cashier in market: ‘mumbles’ then says, “It would help if I could speak English.”
Lovely Cashier: Oh, no – you’re fine, where are you from?
LC: Oh right, what do you speak there….
LC: Oh… right…
Other cashier behind her creasing up…
Having got a taste for stunning geology we decided we needed to see more rocks so have toured the rock parks of Utah. Each park is amazingly different offering phenomenal creations, colours and structures that mostly have to be seen to be believed. It’s not hard to understand that when an early artist sent works ‘back east’ he was scoffed at for such unbelievable sights. Zion, down to The Grand Canyon North Rim. This is much quieter and a 1000ft higher than the South Rim. Hard to describe the sheer scale of this ‘big hole’ but it made for an early start and one of the hardest walks so far, still highly recommend it. And the pizza at the canyon lodge is pretty good as well.
On to Kanab, a great town – where we tried our luck with the North Coyote Buttes ‘the wave’ lottery… a site where 20 people get to go each day – 10 get places in advance in an online lottery, the other 10 are drawn at 9am the day before your permit grants you entry. With 45 entries (one entry per group of people it was a long shot and we didn’t win. However, this is where our trusty 4runner comes into its own as there is a less popular ‘South Coyote Buttes’ lottery too… less popular due to the fact it requires 4WD to reach it and most are in their trusty Toyota Corollas from Vegas. We managed to get spaces for that day – (Thank you Brandice, hurry up and get yourself out on the road!! ) which was even better as the following day was a complete washout and you could not get anywhere off-road. Going into a ‘park’ where there are no paths and minimal mapping is interesting to say the least and I can’t say that we covered as much ground as we anticipated but the sky was blue, the sand was hot, the rocks were orange and we had the excellent company of Scott, who also wanted in but only had a 2WD, so got lumbered with us for the day.