Zion September 2017

Dates: September 24-30, 2017

People: Mark, Matt H., Ken K.


  • 9-24 (Travel Day)
  • 9-25 (Zion Traverse)
  • 9-26 (Zion Traverse)
  • 9-27 (Zion Traverse)
  • 9-28 (Zion Traverse, Angels Landing)
  • 9-29 (Observation Point)
  • 9-30 (Travel Day)


My trip in a way started at Holy Ghost Lutheran where I was helping to coach Luke and Jonah's soccer game. I was able to stay with them til half time where we had a rough first half and trailed 2-0. My Deacon at Grace, Bob Auxter, was very kind to come and pick me up to take me to the airport so Sarah could stay at the boys' game. As we drove up to the airport I was told we had quickly tied the soccer game 2-2 and it ended as such.

Bob got me to the airport at 2:45p giving me just over an hour and a half. I made it through security and then walked up and down the terminal a couple of times to get my steps in for the day. After getting steps in I had just a few minutes at my gate. We were fortunate to board our flight early. This pleased me as my layover in Dallas was short. I had a B39 pass so when I got on the plane I took the first middle seat I could find in the early rows. We pushed back right on time. In flight I had a Leinie's Oktoberfest and watched the remaining episodes of Rebels Season 3. We arrived 5:40p central in Dallas which was about 20 minutes early. In Dallas I found supper at Manchu Wok eating some fried rice with a couple of types of chicken.

Our plane getting into Dallas was late so we were about 30 minutes late in leaving Dallas. I arried in Vegas about 20 minutes late. Ken had arrived at 9:15am so he had already picked up the rental car and also bought fuel for our backpacking stove. He got to spend the dy around Vegas. Matt was arriving about the same time as I did. As I turned my phone on I found Matt had already arrived and Ken had picked him up. I texted with them until my bags arrived and they grabbed me too. We made our way out to I15 and began the drive up to Zion. We were able to drive straight through without any stops and got up to Zion shortly after midnight local time. I probably slept off and on the last 30 minutes.

We found our campsite, site #4 in the "D" loop and got the tent setup in the dark. We didn't do much with gear saving that for the morning.


We were out of the tent shortly after 7am this morning. We knew we didn't need to be in a great rush, and with a late night last night, we slept in, a little. We had a bit of a morning checklist which included having to check-in with the campground since we were late arrivals last night. We also had to pickup the wilderness permits which I detail in the trip report. We got our packs readied for backpacking and made sure the tent was in good order to sit for a few days. Ken was also on the phone making sure our shuttle pickup was in good order and ready to go.

Western Zion Traverse Trip Report


Western Zion Traverse Trip Report


Western Zion Traverse Trip Report


Western Zion Traverse Trip Report

When we returned to our camp site after the shuttle ride from the Grotto we were quickly interested in getting showers. We also wanted food and beer. We probably spent 20 minutes at camp situating a few things with our backpacks and getting stuff put away in the car. We figured out that we could carry our shower stuff and a change of clothes in our daypacks, shower, and then go straight to lunch. So that was the plan. We walked over to the Visitor Center and then on the foot bridge over the River out of the park and into Springdale. We went to Zion Outfitters where they offer public showers. In store or at a machine in the basement by the showers, they sell tokens for $4 for a 5 minute shower. The shower felt great to get all cleaned up into some fresh clothes. After it was a short walk next door to the Zion Brewery for a 2pm lunch. I tried their applewood bacon burger with seasoned fries. They also had great beer selection. I tried their Red Altar which was an American Red, and I tried their Burnt Mountain Brown. Matt and Ken each were doing samplers of a variety of their beers.

After lunch we walked backed over the bridge. We had to show our pass each time we did this so they knew we had paid our entrance. Back at camp we spent more time repacking our gear. At about 4:25p Matt and I set out to explore the Narrows. We shuttled to the back end of the Canyon to the Temple of Sinawava. Ken was having blister issues and also was exhausted so he stayed back. Matt and I hiked the Riverside Walk to it's end. I then hopped into the river, up to just below my knees and went another 10 minutes hoping to see where the canyon narrows but I didn't quite make it that far. It was fun walking in the river and I grew a new appreciate and desire to try this classic hike more next time. We had noticed that at the outfitters they rented shoes for doing this hike. They were almost hiking boot-like with probably some water protection. It seemed sturdy boots were more recommended than sandles (which is what I had) or even FiveFingers.

Matt and I hustled back to the shuttle stop and back to camp to meet up with Ken. He had meanwhile driven back into Springdale and purchased firewood for us. We drove into Springdale to their Subway for supper. Then headed back to camp and had a nice campfire. We finally retired into the tent around 10:45pm. I read awhile until I went to sleep around midnight.


We were up at 7:15a today with no great hurry. We didn't have any strongly set plans today to get us moving, but we also knew we didn't want to waste the day away completely. It was fairly cool with a breeze today, probably right around 50°. We heated up water to make drinks and got through one pot with the remaining fuel, but it ran out on us before a second pot could be finished. We also spent some time this morning doing some dishes for our Backpacking Traverse and sorting out some of our gear. We finally settled on doing a group hike of the Emerald Pools and then Matt and I would go further and hike Observation Point. It was 8:40a when we finally set out for the shuttle. It was 9:15am when we got to the Zion Lodge stop to start hiking.

Zion Emerald Pools + Kayenta Trail Trip Report

Zion Observation Point Trip Report

Matt and I had hustled out of our Observation Point hike so I could do my check-in for my Southwest flight. I had thought I had given Sarah my information but it turns out I messed up and didn't get her my confirmation number. I didn't know this at the time, but I still wanted to make the effort on my end as well. The time for my flight came and went while we were still riding the shuttle back out to the Visitor Center. At about 5 minutes past we got to the Zion Human History Museum and finally here I got enough cell signal to get my check-in done and I think I was around B30 or so, not bad. Matt and I made it back to camp at 3:15pm, Ken wasn't back yet from his afternoon adventures.

At about 3:45p when we were all back together we walked on over to the edge of Springdale heading over the foot bridge over the Virgin River. We went to the market to grab some snacks. I had a cheetos and a Mountain Dew and we sat outside at some picnic tables to eat and relax a bit. After this little excursion we hiked back to camp where we did some more relaxing.

Around 5:30p we drove into Springdale with plans to hit The Flying Monkey for a nice pizza supper. Per their hours they should have been open but they were having problems and a sign said they'd be open 20-30 minutes late. That time window came and went. We knew people were inside, someone even came to their door at one point and took the sign away but never unlocked the door. We waited just a little while longer and then bailed on them. We drove over to Zion Pizza and Noodle and ended up having a great time with them. Its a restaurant put into an old Mormon church and had a nice feel to it. we group ordered their Rising Sun Pizza and also tried a sausage pizza. We also each tried some beers. We shared a pitcher of Squatters Pale Ale. It was all very tasty. The restaurant was pretty low key where you go up to a counter to order, and they give you a number to take back to your table where they bring your food.

After supper we hit the Zion Market one more time to get some beer and firewood. We did a make your own six pack so we each could get two of our choice. I did Squatters Full Suspension Pale Ale (same as the pitcher we had at the pizza place, it was pretty good) and I tried a Park City Breaking Trail Pale Ale. We drank our beers over the campfire and they were all pretty tasty. We spent the evening over the campfire enjoying our beers, packing up our stuff, and having fun. As usual a great way to spend our last evening out in Zion.

We finally hit the tent around 11:30pm. I finishing watching Rogue One which I had started our in the backcountry a few nights prior.


The night before I had talked with Matt about getting up early and going for one more hike. I had my sights set on the Watchman Trail. Matt was intrigued and joined me. We got up at 6:45a to give us plenty of time on trail before we would have to hit the highway to Vegas. By 7:05a we were able to set out from camp.

Zion Watchman Trail Trip Report

We were back to camp by 8:30am. Since we had packed well the night before there wasn't much to do but take down the tent. We had that done and hit the road by 8:56am. We were nicely ahead of schedule. We hit the showers at Zion Outfitter one more time and then headed out of Springdale. We hit the McDonald's in Hurricane for some breakfast and drinks. I just grabbed a Mt. Dew Kickstart in the gas station. Ken put a few dollars gas in the car. We had pre bought the fuel tank so we needed just enough fuel to get us back to Vegas, and no more.

On the drive across Utah, Arizona, and Nevada I talked to Mom on the phone as today was her birthday. While I talked to her we could see patches of Joshua trees in the fields along the road.

We got into Las Vegas with plenty of time to spare. We hit the Chick-fil-A along the interstate towards the north side of the Strip. I engorged on two very tasty spicy chicken sandwiches. After lunch Matt and Ken got me dropped off at the airport. I think I was about 2 1/2 hours early which is mostly what I wanted. I think they were heading off to watch college football and have a beer somewhere. I made it through security without any trouble and got out to the gates. My flight left mostly on time. I did the inflight WIFI today so I could get caught up on things back home and at work. I spent time reading Trail Runner mag and following the Cubs game. I had great views and caught pictures of Zion during the flight which was a highlight. I was hoping to also see Colorado but it was completely cloud covered until we dropped into Denver. There was a storm on the north side of Denver which I got some neat photos of. We arrived into Denver a few minutes early which was good as my layover was only an hour.

I grabbed a slice of pizza and an ice cream cone while wakling around the concourse. While there they moved our gate down several gates, not sure why. I boarded with B2 and grabbed a nice window seat just behind the wing. We left Denver on time. In flight I had a Jack and coke and watched Demolition Man. We got into Detroit 25 minutes early.

The End.