The Vertical Land

Hidden Canyon Trail View

We’ve been on the Colorado Plateau for more than a week now. It was formed in four stages. First, came sedimentation, where sand dunes thousands of feet high piled up. Then came lithification, where iron-oxide and calcium-carbonate, think rust and Tums, cemented the sand into rock. Next came uplift, where tectonic forces shoved what was once ocean front property up, up, up into what is now high desert. Now we have erosion, here in Zion this comes in the form of the Virgin River. This river has carved Zion canyon for thousands of years at an average rate of 16 tons per day.

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

We’ve been scaling Zion’s canyon walls. Yesterday, we did the Emerald Pools, three spring fed pools that are little oases in the desert. They are independently fed from seepage out of the canyon walls. Today, we did the Hidden Canyon, a narrow slot canyon that is up on the east wall. It started paved, then the switchbacks ensued. The pavement ended and then chains began. These chains are bolted into the upper cliff face side of the trail and gave us a secure handhold as the trail continued to climb and narrow. On the way down we warned one family about the chains. The mom responded by saying, “Then you know that you are getting to the good part.”

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