|This is one of our favorite hikes in Zion. The elevation gain is 1500 feet in 2 ½ miles. The last half mile is along a precipitous, needle thin ridge that requires chains anchored in the slick rock to keep the masses from falling to their deaths.
The trail starts out deceptively easy as it crosses the Virgin River on a footbridge just up the road from Zion Lodge. Soon the trail leaves the Virgin River far below as it climbs steeply up a trail that was cut out of several shear sandstone headwalls. The path levels out as it enters a narrow, breezy cut in the cliff face created by a creek that only runs during storms. The relatively level walk back into this shady canyon belies what is ahead for soon you arrive at a vertical sandstone cliff that has about twenty tight and very steep switchbacks carved into going up about 300 very sudden feet. This stretch is famously known as Walters Wiggles. How cute, they almost tear your lungs out.
Once you arrive at the top of this rock ladder, the terrain widens out to a large saddle where most folks stop, rather than climb hand over hand out to the apex. The saddle area is a great place to rest and have lunch. The drops are about 1200 feet on each side of the saddle and are quite impressive when you look out over the abyss.
There were too many people up there floundering around on the chains for me to want to go to the end (and Nancy never plans on going to the end), so we hiked up the South Rim Trail that passes through the saddle area on its way to the valley floor far below us. As we went up the trail we quickly left the crowds behind. The views along this high trail were magnificent. There were places along the path where we could lean out and look straight down over 1200 feet. It can give you an odd feeling standing on the edge so far above the river.
We relaxed and enjoyed the solitude, the views, and the music of the wind through the high country ponderosa pines. This was a great place to enjoy another lunch made by Nancy and most importantly, carried by Nancy all the way up here.
Just as we started back down the South Rim trail a couple of serious backpackers passed us by. They looked like they had been in the wilderness a long time and were focusing on the promised comforts of the semi civilized canyon floor. Read that to be a hot shower.
Retracing our steps again gave us an entirely new perspective of the scenery. Every stride up here, high on the canyon walls, leads to a new mind expanding view. The grade that we came up is so steep that your thighs start screaming as you descend to the valley floor. It sure felt great sitting down on the canyon shuttle for the ride back to base. Another great day was had exploring the walls of Zion.