Sunday, August 19, 2007

Zion National Park

The Las Vegas Hiking Meetup group went to Zion National Park in southern Utah this weekend to do a number of hikes. Almost everyone went up on Friday night and camped, but I am not much for sleeping on the ground. So I drove up Saturday morning with Calvin from my wine group. We had to meet the group at 9am Mountain time, and Zion is 3 hours away from Las Vegas, so we had to leave at 5am.

We started the day with a hike up to Angel's Landing. This rock formation gets its name because it is so narrow that only an angel could land on it. The peak is 5785 feet and 1500 feet above the canyon floor, and it was a 5 mile hike round trip. As you can see from the picture below, there is a sheer cliff on either side of a tiny spine.A chain railing follows the path almost the entire way to the top. In this picture, you can see the rail as well as the people making their way up.
I had seen pictures online prior to the trip that conveyed the narrowness of the spine. I took this picture at the most narrow point. The cliff on the left is clear. On the right, there appears to be brush, but those are actually trees at the bottom of the canyon.
This is one of the steepest points.
Here I am at the top with the canyon behind me. You can see the road below, and the tiny white line is the bus that runs throughout the park.
Our group at the top of Angel's Landing.
The beautiful view looking down the canyon.
Starting our way back down. For the second hike in a row, I ran into a group of French Canadians and got to practice my French. Who knew there were so many of them out here on the West coast.
After our first hike, we took a quick walk up to Weeping Rock, which has a small waterfall and hanging gardens. Then, we went to the Zion Lodge to eat lunch. I had packed a peanut butter sandwich, but the hot food and ice cream were too tempting! We ate under this huge tree on the grass with the mountains towering above us.
Our final hike of the day was the Emerald Pools trail. This was an easy 3 mile trail that passed by three sets of waterfalls and pools. This is the light waterfall at the Lower Emerald Pools.
The scenery along the way was magnificent, with beautiful views across the canyon.
Here I am at the Middle Emerald Pools.
And here I am at the Upper Emerald Pool. Our whole group waded or jumped into the water, which was cool and refreshing.
On the way back down - you can see the Virgin river at the bottom of the canyon below.
The setting sun had a nice effect on the mountains at the end of the day.
Calvin and I finally headed home at about 7pm. We had a great view of the sunset on the drive home, and we made it back to Las Vegas at about 9:30pm. I am jealous that the rest of the group camped another night and were planning on doing more hikes on Sunday. I'd like to go back to Zion soon to see some other parts of the park.
I filled up the entire 1GB memory card on my camera with pictures from the day! After deleting some of the duplicates and ones that didn't turn out, I ended with 217 keepers. If you have the time and patience to view 217 gorgeous pictures, you can see them here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

High School Reunion

I really, really didn't want to go to my 10-year high school reunion. I hated high school and had few friends in my class. But I found a cheap ticket to Tampa on Southwest for that weekend, so I figured I might as well go while I was in town. To my surprise, high school reunions can be more fun than high school itself! The rivalries have ended and the attractive and popular people have fallen from their pedestals. What's left is a bunch of people who grew up together and genuinely care about the direction that each person's life has taken.

The weekend festivities were held at the Holiday Inn Harbourside, or Hamlin's Landing as we called it in high school. Ironically, this is where all of the high school parties were held, so it all came full-circle. Friday night we all met up at the poolside bar. We spent the evening breaking the ice and trying to remember who the heck everyone was. It felt like a regular night out on the town, except that you knew every person at the bar. It's amazing how alcohol can break the tension of being thrown into socializing with 100 people you haven't seen in 10 years.

There was dinner and dancing on Saturday night. It was nice getting the awkward hellos out of the way on Friday night because on Saturday we could just kick back and enjoy the evening. I went with Keri and Jessie (and Jessie's husband, JR), my two track buddies.
Here is a view of the intercoastal from the hotel balcony. This view really made me miss home, though the humidity that weekend reinforced my love for the desert.
I flew out Sunday night, and we were almost grounded in Tampa due to thunderstorms. Right when the stewardess announced that we could use our electronic devices, we were flying right over Seminole, and I was able to take this picture.

Here are the rest of the pictures from the weekend.