This morning the king of our castle completed Angel's Landing, the most infamous and perhaps most popular hike in the park. It's second only to the Narrows, which Rex walked earlier in the week. Neither of these hikes appeal to me because they are so heavily traveled. In fact, walking in Wal-Mart comes to mind. But Angel's Landing also includes a 1/4-mile of narrow "path" (really a slick rock with some cables) and a 1,400-foot drop on either side. I could have done it, but I would not have enjoyed it so why do it? Rex at least had the right idea: be on Angel's Landing by 7:30 a.m., before 80 percent of Landing hikers are out of bed. Rex promises photos at a later date, and he claims to have been the first one to the top today--save one German half his age.
Meanwhile, I went for a run then strolled the two miles out and back to the Narrows. The path I took, at the end of Zion Canyon scenic drive, leads hikers to a spot where they must walk in the river to continue--and many, many do so that they can see the cliff walls narrow to about 20 feet apart and nearly 2,000 feet high. The crowds erased any interest I might have had in the Narrows, but only wild horses would keep me from seeing an American dipper and that is why I walked, very slowly, the first paved mile this morning.
|Beginning of the Narrows hike up Zion Canyon, in the North Fork of the Virgin River|
According to park literature, American dippers are common in Zion. Even so, I've only see them three times in my life and each was thrilling. This morning was no different. Despite assurances from a ranger that the bird frequents the river above the Temple of Sinawava, after 90 minutes of walking and looking I saw none. Finally I spotted one and was rewarded with a long look at a dipper foraging in the middle of the river. Only when a small child ran by on the path, screaming, did the dipper disappear. So much for wilderness.
Anyway, seeing the bird was euphoria. If you've ever watched this creature, which looks like a chunky robin but is actually a wren, you might understand my excitement. It has the most unusual habit of walking on the stream bed while chasing down insects. In deeper waters it runs along the bank and dives in, disappearing for several seconds at a time.
I appreciate that Rex loves a scary, challenging hike, and I am thankful that he also gets a kick from waiting out a beautiful bird, as we did yesterday. More on that, the chat, tomorrow.