I’m in a hotel room in Zion, unexpectedly, as the Grand Canyon has had the alert of flash flooding. We are ahead of schedule and at Zion National park a couple of days earlier. We have been here before so a quick trip here and maybe take some days off of camping for a little luxury of a bed would do me fine. I wash my face by the basin of the room. There hanging is a print of Zion the Sanctuary. I begin to study the print, the two men in it look haggard after a day of work but at peace. Still, to this day, this is how I am sure people feel when visiting the park. They may not be working but getting dirty on the sandy trails and being surrounded by the peaceful and calmness of the canyon.
When visiting the park, there are so many different aspects of capturing the true essence of the park. One of my favourite places to appreciate the scenery is the Canyon Overlook trail. This trail is graded as an easy hike; this 0.9 miles out and back trip is accessible all year round. Walking this trail brings with it rugged conditions and stone steps that ascend the ridge from the carpark. Walking along this trail brings alcoves that are welcoming from the hot sun. This hike is magical at sunset, which is when we are completing this. This is a heavily trafficked hike but one this is a must on your visit to Zion. Surrounded by wildflowers, plants and trees and of course rock formations, making our way around the switchback, the view opens up to showcase the West Temple, Towers of the Virgins, Streaked Wall and the Beehives. The East Temple stands directly above the Overlook. Watching the sunset over Zion creates ever-changing shadows over the rock, showing off the different colours and textures. Trying to take it in is overwhelming at times. Finding some shade, I sit and be.
I reach for my watercolour palette and moleskin journal. I begin to sketch out the view and then apply the colour to my drawing. My new watercolour palette, (a recent birthday present from my mum) has been a thoughtful process to create mindfulness and taking in detail the environment I have been surrounded by. I recently discovered that I began consuming hikes and ticking them off my list. I would think that I have captured it not knowing that I had just taken a heap of photos and “admired the view”. After hiking, I would return and attempt to write about the detail. During this time, I began to discover that consuming meant lack of detail. A lack of understanding of flora and fauna around me at that time. I had not indeed processed and been present at that moment.
I am in no way a perfectionist when it comes to art. I do not always paint within the lines. I try to interpret the land, and it is truly therapeutic. I don’t see myself at markets selling paintings, but I do want to look back in a few years and see how I understood the land at that time.
We wake from our tent; we are staying at Watchman’s Campground while at Zion. The beauty of this spot is that we get to wake up to Watchman’s peak towering over us. It is a stunning formation and one view that I never get over. Watchman’s Campground is in an ideal location. It provides easy access to the Zion Shuttle bus, visitor centre and within walking distance to Springdale, a small town just outside the park. This town has many accommodation options, restaurants and galleries. Being summer, we want to do a challenging hike but not a full day hike.
We jump on the shuttle and decide that the Weeping Rock stop seems fitting. Today we choose to hike the East Rim trail to Observation Point. This 7.1 mile, out and back route is heavily trafficked. I am not sure if it is always this busy but multiples hikes where closed including Angels Landing due to rockfall damage and thunderstorms previous nights ago. This hike is located near Mount Carmel and features river walks, multiple switchbacks and enjoyed from May to October. This hike is rated as moderate but don’t be fooled this is a strenuous hike, especially in summer. You can break a sweat pretty easy. What I enjoyed about this hike was the variety of the changing landscape. It is a straight up ascent for the first few miles and then a pleasant walk down into the canyon where the sounds of streams flow, and birds chirp was something out of a fairytale. After the shady walk by the river, it is then straight up again, performing many switchbacks that leave you guessing where this outlook is. The questioning is almost extinct as you begin your journey to the finishing point through a meadow of wildflowers and the random cacti. It is surreal but beautiful. The trail starts to open up and there at the highest peak, the main canyon and Angel’s Landing is in view. It is a great day hike that captures a variety of aspects of the canyon.
The most well-known trail to try when visiting the park is the Narrows. The Narrows can be accessed by the Zion shuttle bus, the last stop. An early start is recommended as the Narrows is famous especially in summer as a way of cooling off. The Narrows consists of walking through the canyon walls. The cool thing about the Narrows is that the trailhead begins at the Riverside walk which is graded easy. This flat 1.8 mile out and back is a sweet walk along the Virgin River, never fear, you don’t get wet on this walk. For the keener and water lovers, the river keeps wrapping around the canyon, and you can pretty much walk as far as you feel capable too. Most people step up to the most popular section of the walk, Wall Street. As we walk this section, we are surrounded wall to wall by the canyon.