January 5, 2020

Waking up early again, I got caffeine from the vending machine. I’d go back to the Bend for the sunrise and better photos. Only then some 10 miles or less, this was a good call. To the fast food for drink and another smoothie, to wait for the sunrise. It was then off to the entrance station, where I’d have to pay another $10, as the fee is good for only one visit.

Using the facility, I hiked up to the top of the small hill. Bump 4480+’ had good prominence and a fair view, so I’d count this as a peak ascent. The true HP had no register, of course, but there were a tiny pile of rocks as some marker. Off from the true highpoint as I could tell, I took my panoramas and did my summit twirl.

Hiking down to the viewpoint, I did more camera work. There was a low overcast, so no great light with sun. It didn’t look to clear anytime soon, so I chatted with guys who had a 6K video cam. They were on a road trip from Georgia. Them camping, I suggested the low winter rates at the bargain motel. We spoke for awhile, then I had to leave. Using the restroom again, I motored off. “Goodbye to the Bend, as I might never see you again.” A line for a song ran through my head.

Taking 89 onwards, northbound, it was to snap photos ahead. The vistapoint for the Glen Canyon Dam made for a short walk. Making stops at a Lake Powell vista point, the Escalante-Grand Staircase visitor center which was closed, but the restrooms were open, it was to the Toadstool hiking trailhead. No facilities, but hikers told me that the sight was only a mile away, and that I couldn’t get lost. I signed the trail register, and set my Watch workout. There was a telephone line to follow, with a crude but marked trail. I took many photos, but with still overcast light. Shortly to the toadstools, they made for more camera work. I had one bar on my phone, but no downloads. Back to the car, I continued along the highway. Not probable to get a BLM permit to see the Wave. High clearance recommended, so with the 6.3 mile round trip hike, I passed on that.

The sky began to clear, so it was blue sky from here on. With a short stop at the fast food in Kanab, UT, I got more drink. Passing on to Carmel Junction, UT, I used the gas station restroom. They had alligator jerky for $20. I bought a beef stick, as I was using the facility.

Turning westbound onto UT 9, it was to Zion National Park. There were shortly sights to see. Massive red rock walls on entering the park. I stopped at an ice waterfall. This all brought back old memories, but the sights were indeed grand. I made sure that my 4K dash cam was running, but took more stills ahead. Just too scenic! Going through the tunnel, the views of the canyon were outstanding. No place for a Tunnel View vistapoint parking lot as in Yosemite, but they ought to build something. There were then some pullouts. but I’m glad to have a dash cam!

Taking the scenic road, normally closed but for off-season, I went to the Grotto parking lot to hike Angels Landing 3X. Waiting for an half hour, I finally got a spot. Cars were parked illegally, but the ranger just passed by. Hikers were mostly going back to the nearby lodge. I took my full pack, with pee bottle and extra water in my old 1970’s bota bag. It was warm enough, so I left some layers in my trunk. I had warm clothes already in my pack.

About 3 p.m., I started up. It took me a bit over an hour on my first climb, then about two hours to top my last time, and I had a humongous flashlight. I hiked up so slowly, and took more 4K video, with my Watch workout set. To Refrigerator Canyon, it was to ask hikers about conditions. They had been summiting, but advised of sand on sandstone, so slippery. No ice or snow impediment. The rangers were again overcautious, advising to have traction devices. Nobody had any that I saw.

Slow, hikers had passed me, but I thought that it was in the bag. Getting to the chained sections, I was cautious and slow. To some ice by the route, it was 4:39 p.m. It’d be Hell to go on in the dark, as signs had advised. Just too dangerous and out of time for a repeat. With dark approaching, the light would be bad. I had great summit photos already on my website.

Turning around, it was safer to go back. Scrambling in the dark with ice along the trail, I could have a misstep. So with some regret, I declined going on. The hard parts as I recall were below me, and another hiker who had passed me, was also returning after making the top. I was weighed down with my large camera pack, and my DSLR hanging from my neck and shoulder, to be switched from side to side to avoid banging on the rock. Then my bota bag.

I chatted with the hiker as she waited for me as I made some moves down, so cautiously as I didn’t wish for any more misfortune. I took quick photos of the bad parts, and got back to the regular trail. I had given her my business card, so she could visit my website and Facebook pages.

Hiking on down the trail, I had done this in about 45 minutes on my first time. Chatting with more hikers, it got to climate change. From a coal state, they made faces, so I stopped to drink water from my bota bag. The sunset light was fading, and I had my photos and video. My plans were to go to Vegas for more dining and things to do. I stopped at the Hurricane fast food for rest and drink.

To my motel in St. George, I walked to the 24/7, and had a salmon dinner. It was to figure what to do next. On the Interstate, it could be to head north to Salt Lake City. But, as no one wished for a free $799 season ski pass to team up with me, I didn’t get one, good for many Utah resorts. The room rates were so high for the next couple nights in Las Vegas, so there must be some event. I thought over about it, and decided to go home. It was about an 8 hour drive to Fallon, and I did have so many unexpected expenses. I needed to get my camera fixed.

I could do more traveling, later, to San Francisco, and the CA North Coast. Or to Los Angeles and San  Diego.

Only some 500 miles and 8 hours home, this was it.

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