An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveEvening Hike in Snow Canyon State Park
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Evening Hike in Snow Canyon State Park
Saturday, 23 August 2003 11:36 PM MDT
Yakkity Yak, Astounding Adventures
Throughout this week, and especially today (Saturday), I've been chomping at the bit to get outside and go for a hike. As the day wore on, and evening neared, I worried that this week would end without my ever getting away from St. George into the outdoors. As a last resort, shortly after 5:00 PM, I messaged my brother (you know, using one of those online instant messaging systems, Jabber in this case) asking him if he wanted to go for a hike in nearby Zion National Park. He was game.
By 6:00 PM, I had not yet departed for Hurricane to pick my brother up. I'd been searching and searching for my glasses, without which I am too blind to drive, to no avail. I couldn't remember where I'd put them, and they weren't in the usual places. So I called Kendall back, and proposed another solution. He could drive to St. George and pick me up, and we'd go hiking somewhere around here. We settled on the very close Snow Canyon State Park.
By 7:00, we had paid the $5.00 entrance fee and were heading up the road in the park, surrounded by red and white sandstone, black basalt lava flows, sand, and sagebrush. What a beautiful place! I was happy to be outside and away from town (even though Ivins abuts the park to the south, so we were by no means far away at all). At last we parked, and settled on hiking the White Rocks Trail, a moderate 4 mile trail according to the brochure.
The evening sky was streaked with clouds, the tattered edges of summer storms to the east, and the air was much cooler as the sun sank toward the painted stone cliffs to the west. It was the perfect setting for an evening hike. From the parking lot, we descended toward the west across sandy soil and black lava rocks.
It wasn't long before we were at a junction, where the trail we wanted to follow branched northward, while another trail continued south. At the junction, were several openings in the earth, remnants of lava tubes. We looked around one, like an open pit in the ground, took some pictures, then headed north up our trail, pausing to check out yet another lava tube not far from the junction.
The trail meandered north and west, now climbing in altitude. Now and then the trail crossed soft sand, which slowed our progress. All around us, desert flora abounded, yucca, cactus, juniper, and various types of brush. I wish I knew more and could identify the plants that live in this area, but alas, I am botanically illiterate. Now and then a small or large lizard would dart across the sand to take cover beneath a bush or rock.
Shortly thereafter, the trail reached its westernmost point, affording a magnificent view of the canyon and cliffs to the west, the sun touching the top of the mountain, disappearing from view even as we surveyed the vista. North of us, cliffs and hills of white sandstone were lit by the setting sun. Beautiful!
The trail wandered eastward and down for a bit, then resumed the ascent, angling north up a gentle ridge rising towards the white sandstone hills northeast of us. Here at somewhat higher altitude, manzanita bushes made an appearance. The closer to the white hills the trail wandered, the more often the trail crossed sandy spots, soft, deep, white sand. If you've ever hiked across sand, if it's soft and more than a few inches deep, you know how it slows your pace.
We paused on the trail to listen to some unusual birds calling to one another. I took out my binoculars and checked one of the birds out, perched on a juniper tree limb. It was a medium-to-large sized bird, with blue feathers on it's sides and back, with black feathers bordering it's wings, and light, perhaps white feathers on it's front and belly. I may not be entirely accurate with this description. I'll have to ask a local biologist I'm acquainted with what kind of bird it is. And thus I expose my ignorance as to creatures of the wild. But hey, how else can I learn unless I ask?
The trail wound its way to the base of a white stone hill, then began a short, but steep climb up a sandy hillside, followed by a quick scurry up a slick-rock slope. I huffed and puffed a bit, and we paused on the slick-rock for a photo. I set my camera above us on automatic timer mode, and we turned our backs to it, facing the canyon and cliffs to the west. We felt like masters of all we surveyed, engulfed in the beauty around us, a gentle breeze gusting past. The dry air felt cool as it evaporated my not-inconsiderable perspiration.
Now the trail wound more northward. We followed as the sky grew darker, and the architecture of the clouds in the sky was made apparent by the light of sunset, colored in majestic whites with hints of pink, red, and yellow, against a backdrop of electric blue and deep gray. Nature was putting on a performance for us. The reflected light illuminated the surrounding sandstone features in an ethereal light. It was amazing! No camera could capture the splendor before us arrayed.
Before long, the trail forked again. The west fork continued to our destination, a natural amphitheater of sorts, the terminus of the White Rocks trail. The east fork shortly joined the nearby highway, not far from the park's north entrance. We had arrived from the south.
As nature's evening light show played out above us, colors ever changing, we made quick work of the west fork, sifting through the sand, then scurrying up the white sandstone slick-rock into a little canyon of sorts, that opened up soon thereafter into a natural bowl or amphitheater. We'd reached our destination, and dusk was upon us.
I could not restrain myself. I had to sing. So out came The Star Spangled Banner and Kendall harmonized. Ah, what fun! What a beautiful spot. My only regret was we had to leave it, to make it back to Kendall's car before it was totally dark. I would like to come back here again.
Instead of backtracking the 4-mile route through the desert to the car, we took the west fork, and within a half mile, arrived at the highway. From there, we walked on the highway's shoulder south to the park's north entrance, where we turned west and reentered the park. From the entrance we followed the road as it wound its way westward and southward down the hill further into the park, to the parking lot where our transportation awaited us. Since it was getting dark so fast, we jogged a bit down the road here and there.
All in all, if the brochure's mileage estimation is correct, I figure we hiked 5 to 5 1/2 miles, total round trip. It was the perfect hike, deeply satisfying, in a stunning natural setting. And the sky was absolutely indescribable. I loved it. Thank you, Kendall, for rescuing your brother with exactly the hike he needed.
Such beauty cannot help but make me mindful and grateful to Heavenly Father, for His marvelous creations. I am truly blessed.