Just took a really nice solo hike this morning up to Scout Lookout in Zion National Park. What a great way to start your day.
Scout Lookout is the junction point on the Angels Landing trail where casual hikers settle in and enjoy the view, while the more daring grip the chains and continue on to the pinnacle of Angels Landing. I’ve been to the pinnacle several times – but today wasn’t about reaching the farthest point. I was actually looking for my sunglasses.
Two days ago my 11-year-old son and I took advantage of some free time and spent the afternoon together in Zion National Park. It was one of those treasured father-son afternoons where just the two of us got to enjoy the incredible scenery and share in some rewarding conversation. Zion is a perfect setting for communication. The towering cliffs create a sort of reverence that prompts you open up and reveal your inner feelings. Hiking the trails provides a rich supply of intriguing twists and powerful vistas that spur the imagination.
It’s the middle of winter, but winters are mild here, and even though there were patches of snow left over from a recent storm, the hiking weather was ideal, and the snow added a new dimension that you rarely see in this area. We had a fantastic afternoon together, and we committed to try to make it a monthly event. The only glitch was when I left my prescription sunglasses on a rock at Scout Lookout before we started the hike down. I didn’t realize they were missing until we were at the bottom and by then it was getting dark. So today, I decided to take an early morning hike to see if by some chance the glasses were still where I left them.
What I learned is that the 2-mile trek is a perfect little starter for a great day. The morning solitude was refreshing and the views on the hike are unreal. “That’s a long way to go for a pair of glasses,” I was told. But even though I’d just done the hike just 36-hours earlier, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed.
From the trailhead at the Grotto Picnic Area, you can reach Scout Lookout in an hour or so if you just keep a steady pace. I had the trail to myself, except for a couple of deer who jumped from the path and gave me a curious look as I passed by. Up a little further, a small group of “20-something-year-olds” gave me a smile as they jogged their way down from an early morning flashlight run. When I reached the summit it was just me, the mountain, and the view. Nice!
The Angels Landing Trail is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in Zion National Park. (See more pictures) The trail is paved and well maintained up to Scout Lookout, and the vista from the 1000-foot sheer drop is breathtaking. You don’t have to go to the top to have a great experience, but if you continue up the narrow ridge to Angels Landing, the trail is a different story. In that section, hiker’s work their way up a jagged spine with the help of anchored support chains that are attached along precarious sections. The view at the top is a 360 degree masterpiece.
I didn’t find my sunglasses this morning, but it didn’t seem to matter. I was really just reconfirming the memories of a great day in a great place with a great boy.