Our Happy Place

Our Happy Place

We are back at Zion National Park. The thin November crowd makes the park visit much more pleasant.

Here’s a view outside our hotel room.

Before heading out for any hikes, we had to go to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Kanab to see if we could get lucky with getting one of the walk-in permits for the Wave trail.

The Wave trail located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is only accessible to those with a permit, which is given out through a lottery system. There is the online lottery that is held 4 months prior to the desired hike date, and then there is the walk-in lottery held the day before the desired hike (between mid-November and March, Friday walk-in lotteries are drawn for the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday hikes).

The online lottery gives out 12 permits (max 48 people total) a day, and the walk-in gives out 4 permits (max 16 people) a day. Since I wasn’t able to secure an online permit on 2 occasions, we decided on the walk-in route hoping that it would be easier. Unfortunately, 200 other people had the same idea.

All 200 or so people (99 parties) vying for one of the 12 permits this weekend.

At this point we knew our chances of securing a permit was low – 12 in 99.

The process is simple, you’re assigned a number (#14 in our case) when you hand in your application. Once all applications are in, there’s a roll call. Those not present during roll call will have their applications yanked. Once roll call is over, red numbered balls are picked at random. Those lucky enough to have their numbers called out win a permit. Simple, other than that the probability of winning was 12% (higher than getting into MIT, but much lower than getting into RPI).

Knowing our odds, we didn’t hold out much hope. Saturday and Sunday’s permits came and went. Monday’s first 3 permits were also spoken for. There was only one permit left. Finally, with ball in hand, the announcer called out, “This is for a group of 2 people from California…number 14”. We both whooped ecstatically as we couldn’t believe that we had won the very last permit!

The small group of winners waiting to be debriefed after paying their $7 per person fee.
The Wave trail is not marked, so we were all given a picture map showing landmarks to look for and follow in order to get to the Wave. This will be interesting…

After the 15-minute debriefing, still not quite believing our good luck, we made our way back to Zion National Park to begin our hikes.

Since it was already too late to hike Angels Landing without encountering crowds on the trail, we decided on a less popular trail on the east side of the park – East Rim Trail.

Compared to Angel’s Landing and the Narrows, this trail can’t compete. However, had this trail been in SoCal, it would be very popular.
There is a very nice view of the Checkerboard Mesa in the distance at mile 2, which was where we turned back. The full 10-mile length of the East Rim trail connects onto the Weeping Rock trail within the valley floor, but we decided not to over exert ourselves given that we still have 3 more days of hiking. Worst case is if Joe’s ankle acts up and we can’t do the Wave on our last day.
The trail certainly offered us a lot of solitude, as we saw a total of 4 people throughout our entire hike.
The view was thankfully more scenic on the way back.

After the somewhat “underwhelming” hike, we drove towards our next trail.

A closer look at the Checkerboard Mesa at its vista point.

Luckily, the day was saved by the Canyon Overlook trail located right outside the eastern tunnel entrance.

This short and sweet mile hike immediately started out fun, reminiscent of the Echo Canyon trail in Phoenix we did a few months ago.
Someone’s obviously having too much fun.
The changing terrain kept the hike interesting.
Hiking along the edge kept the excitement going.
And the beautiful red rocks certainly made the trail that much more enjoyable.
The view of Pine Creek Canyon at the end of the short trail.

Tomorrow morning we’ll set off for our last Angels Landing hike before the lottery permit system is put in place in 2022.

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