Root Family

Root Family

Sep 15, 2013

East Rim of Zion and Keyhole Canyon

After some weather changes and shuttling concerns with our original fall backpacking trip plan, April and I decided to do the East rim of Zion.  We did the West rim back in 2009 and the Kolob Arch hike in 2011, the Subway hike in 2012, so this would make a complete traverse of Zion's longer backcountry trails (just need to do the 10 miles in Hop Valley to complete all the pieces of top to bottom). 
We made a few invites and were totally lucky to have our cousin Emily come along with us. 

Day 1:
We drove Emily's Prius down to the south end of the park to check campground availability for the following night.  We knew the Watchman campground was full and the South one is walk-up only.  Luck was our friend on this trip.  After circling the sites and finding none available, we found a group still in their campsite and asked if they were leaving tomorrow would they be willing to drop our envelope for us, therefore securing the site for when we complete the East Rim trail.  They were totally friendly and understanding so we set it up.

Then we drove across to the East entrance, parked and got our hike underway.  The views were again pleasantly surprising, with Jolley Gulch's impressive chasm and views of other canyons and plateaus throughout the area. 

Emily and April on the trail

views from the East Rim
Jolley Gulch

We took the fork to Cable Mountain and set up camp a mile or so up the trail.

As soon as we were set up we took off for Cable Mountain.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was blown away with the impressive view!  I loved looking across the main canyon at the south end of the park, looking down on familiar Angel's Landing and other parts.  Totally worth the detour to do these few extra miles, I'd love to visit this viewpoint again.
Emily on top of Cable Mountain

looking down from Cable Mountain

We made it back to camp just before dark in time to cook our Cup of Noodles (my backpacking staple) and go to bed.  
Day 2:
In the morning we did the few extra miles to head out to Deertrap Mountain, further up the fork off the East Rim trail.  The views here were beautiful also, looking across the canyon again.

We went back to camp, broke down tents and stuffed our bags and prepared for the hike down.  We completed roughly 10 miles each day on the East Rim Trail because of the extras we did.  I especially enjoyed looking down into Echo Canyon as we got closer to the base.  I would love to get my rappelling gear on and do that canyon sometime.  We saw more and more people and were getting quite sweaty, it was perfect that when we got to the grotto trail at the bottom we were able to soak our sore feet in the cold water before getting on the shuttle.

We rode to canyon junction in hopes of hitching a ride back to the East entrance from the tourists driving through the tunnel and on.  We spent about 10 minutes thumbing it until a man who was there taking pictures offered us a ride.  Like I said, Luck was our friend again.

We were happy to get back to the South campground, set up our tents and head into Springdale for a good meal at Wildcat Willie's.

Day 3:
The next morning we were a bit sore and kind of lazed around, went into Springdale again for a few supplies, and rented wetsuits.  My husband Tyler and his friend Brian were coming down to St. George that night to do some work the next day.  They met up with us to canyoneer Keyhole Canyon, a short technical slot with pools of water.  Tyler and I did it back in May for the first time and loved it.

a short steep trail down to the entry of Keyhole Canyon

Brian and Tyler with GoPros ready to get wet

Emily entering the canyon

It gets dark and chilly in there and the first rappel is into water where you can't touch the ground beneath you, but it's so awesome!  It was my cousin Emily's first time rappelling and she did it like a pro!

myself in one of the pools
Brian's moqui marble

 exiting Keyhole Canyon, April, Emily, and myself

was awesome to meet up with this handsome guy on my trip!

Everyone loved this hike.  There are a few spots where it's very difficult to find the sky above you because the canyon gets so narrow, and there is a long slanted section where one wall is totally angled and another section that you must swim through.

Brian found a moqui marble in the canyon.  When you clear out of the canyon it's as if you're coming out of a cold dark cave and it feels amazing.

I loved peeling off my wetsuit by the car while some tourists wonder where on earth you just came from.

Emily and April and I all have young children we wanted to get back to that evening so we pretty much high-tailed it out of there after that.  We drove out the east way, going through Orderville for my first time, it was very pretty.  We had a great time and it was super fun for Tyler and Brian to join us for Keyhole.