Luckily, I'd planned for us to take a day of rest on our third day in camp near Zion. Little did I know how much I'd need it after my little tumble to the pavement. It also gave us a day to spend some time with the cats. Peanut is turning out to be a very poor traveler; he's been hiding in the closet ever since we landed and barely comes out even to eat.
We visited Wal-Mart in the nearby town of Hurricane and did a little shopping. Mike needed some parts to repair the cat cage damage from the Midnight Visitor, so we located the local Ace Hardware store, which was notable for its sloping floor. I love traveling. Back at camp, Mike triple-braced the top section of the cat cage, in anticipation of a return of Amahl (Ah-mawl?) and the Night Visitors. Take THAT, local fauna.
Recharged, the next day we decided to tackle a slightly more challenging hike called Hidden Canyon trail. The round-trip distance is only 2.5 miles, but with a vertical rise of 850 feet, this hike is classed as "strenuous" in the Zion hiking guide.
The trail starts out somewhat steeply, but on good footing. It looks like natural rock that's been laid in place, but a closer inspection told us that colored concrete had been laid down a long time ago, and then became cracked and distressed under the foot traffic over the years.
This was our first hike which warned of "long drop-offs". No kidding. Look carefully at the picture to the left - yes, there are people up there.
It was also my first exposure to the chains they bolt into the rock face on particularly challenging parts of a trail; we'll see a lot more of this later on the infamous Angel's Landing hike.
Hidden Canyon is actually a pretty nondescript slot canyon that's hidden only because you can't see it from the main canyon floor. We did find a very pretty freestanding arch on the canyon floor at the end of the hike.
Despite the fact that I'd avoided my morning cup of tea, eventually nature called. Not too many Porta-Potties on the cliffside, so I found a discreet corner to use one of my wonderful P-mates. These things are a godsend when hiking. Mike took a picture. Notice I'm not showing it to you.
We saw more examples of hanging gardens along this hike. Many of the plants seem to be growing out of nothing but stone.
The black regions on the stone wall next to Mike are examples of "desert varnish", a dark coating that forms on certain types of stone in arid regions. Some Native American petroglyphs -- rock carvings -- were made by scraping away the desert varnish to expose the lighter color of the stone underneath.
On the way back down, we found a nice area of boulders off the trail to stop and have lunch. A moocher immediately tried to move in on us.
Speaking of moochers, as we sat and enjoyed the view after lunch, a bunch of rather noisy and rude people stomped off the trail and into our quiet hideaway, stepping over and around us to claim their own spot on the rocks. Nice.
After we got back to the bottom, we took the shuttle one stop back to the lodge; I was dying for the morning cup of tea I never got to have. The lodge dining room was very crowded, but when we explained we didn't want to eat, they let us sit in the lounge area. The nice old gentleman maitre d' offered to take our picture. It's out of focus, but hey, it's the thought that counts.