Sixteen miles. 2,500 feet. My first weekend in Zion. All me.
“You’re going by yourself?” Well, yeah. There are no bears in Zion. What dangers are there?
About 2.5 miles in, very soon after leaving the well-trodden Observation Point trail, I got lost.
‘This doesn’t feel like the right way, Em,’ I told myself as I held onto a tree, clambering down into a canyon. ‘Are you really sure?’
I frowned as I half-slid, half-fell the last five feet down, scratching one leg on a tree and bruising the other on a rock.
But there were footprints–er, there was a footprint–in the rare sandy patches at the bottom of this canyon, so I decided I must be headed in the right direction. Five minutes of walking later, however, the sides of the canyon had only grown taller, and I was pretty sure I was supposed to be going up.
I backtracked until I came across a sheet of rock that looked scalable.
About twenty minutes of clambering and falling later, I found the trail, and stuck my tongue out at it. I immediately started hiking again–only about thirteen miles to go, right? I’d walked for perhaps another ten minutes when my uneasy feeling began to grow. I was starting to head westward again. ‘Are you sure, Em? If you turn around and then have to turn again, you’re going to feel really dumb. Really really dumb.’ I turned around, making the correct decision. Soon, I hit switchbacks, and almost wished I’d kept going and headed back to the beginning
‘I am never doing this again,’ I thought as I clambered up switchbacks. ‘I don’t know why I would ever want to do this to myself.’
I refused to believe it when the trail finally flattened out again. ‘Nope,’ I told the trail. ‘You’re not fooling me. I’m not getting excited just to have more uphill.’
All around me, insects were chirping. The cicadas obviously thought it was night, and some bugs were out there pretending to be rattlesnakes. Rattle rattle. Hisssss.
To my surprise, the next four or so miles were flat. A lot of the path was sandy, making my feet push to get through each step. The last part was downhill, to my disgust–I knew I’d have to climb up that later.
Around 11:36am, a sign told me Cable Mountain was three miles away. I decided I’d be there by 1pm.
An hour or so later, “Baba O’Reilly” by the Who started playing. I’d been listening to music in alphabetical order and it was the first B song of the day. ‘This will be it,’ I said. ‘This will be the song that takes me to the end.’ Because if that song doesn’t pump you up, what can?
“Out here in the fields…” Daltrey started singing. I walked faster.
All of a sudden, I jumped back. I understood what they meant in the phrase ‘jumped out of his skin.’ There, lying in front of me on the trail, was a snake, at least six feet long and as thick as my arm.
I stood, petrified, for a few seconds, feeling my heart pound. My fear dissipated as I remembered that unless I provoked it, it probably wanted nothing to do with me. Even if it was a rattlesnake. Which it likely was. I snapped a photo of it, and then grew a little bit annoyed. I was supposed to be at the end of the trail. I didn’t want to stop and wait for a snake to cross.
I’d just decided to walk through the underbrush, looping widely around the snake, when it slithered off the path.
Breathing shallowly, I continued along the trail. “Baba” had almost finished when I passed through a clearing and saw the fabled cable works. I had made it!