West Coast Road Trip Day 3 Part II - Zion National Park Adventure

Right before leaving Bryce National Park, I saw this huge raven walking around, and jumping up and down this pedestal at the Ponderosa Point overlook. While other people were taking photos of him, I noticed that he seemed relaxed around people, and was strutting his stuff as if he were a movie star.

I got out of the car and began taking photos of him with the canon super telephoto lens. He was probably the best model I have ever worked with in my career! This raven had manners and did not make a fuss - which was a surprise because they are loud. Ravens are my favorite birds and one of the smartest animals on planet Earth so this was a pleasure and a cool memory to share here.

Afterwards, we jumped back in the car, headed down the mountain, and drove out of the park to go to Zion national park. It was only a two and a half hour drive over there and luckily, it was calm and not very hot that day. In addition, there was some lush green scenery on the roads ahead in some residential areas. With fifty-five minutes left on the drive, I was beginning to feel a little tired with the sun taking it out of me, and the elevation probably was a contributor as well. So I out threw some heavy metal on to wake me up. Charlotte didn’t mind so I rocked out to All That Remains with my devil horns up high.


 

 

 

 

With the excitement of us like coffee dancing in bubbling hot water, we made it to the east entrance, and making it a tradition of taking a picture of the sign, it was a must!

A few hundred feet later at the east entrance, a flood of cars created a parking lot for about 30 minutes. Little did we know, there was a very scary, but cool tunnel ahead that you have to drive really slow around and through the mountains. Speed limits were about ten to fifteen miles per hour, so that explained the traffic jam. The GoPro video camera died right before heading into the tunnel, so that was a bummer. First, let me tell you about this tunnel – it is a two-lane road cut right into the mountains with no lights, or reflectors on the road for safety. You have to have sharp eyes, and try your hardest to not get blinded by the headlights on the opposite direction passing in front of you. I felt that some people had their high beams on, and that did not help the situation. Alas, we made it through and sighs of relief later; I was able to grab a couple shots here on the first overlook. 

Moving on, we decided to go to the visitor center to grab an insight what to do, but it was too late (as usual) and we noticed some shuttle buses that run throughout the park. We then hopped on the bus, and the bus driver was really nice, and gave us a lot of information about the park with how often the shuttles ran at the park.  Since the sun was going down, we did not have much time to explore so we took some photos of the area.

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After it got dark around 9:30 P.M. we decided that another day was a must, and to start looking for a hotel around the area. After the forty-five minute shuttle ride down to the visitor center parking lot, quite a few campers were around, and the smell of campfires in the air, the bugs came out to play. Charlotte, being a person who cannot stand bugs, ran to the car. I took my time soaking in the whole experience. Why the rush?

Hopping back in the car, searching like madmen, there was one vacancy left! Hoping that the weak cell phone signal cooperated, we were able to book something, and ended up finding a cheap hotel for the night at the Days Inn in Hurricane ,Utah. Once we arrived, the concierge told us that we were really lucky, because a man was booking a room at the same time we were, and we snagged it first! Phew! Our eyes lit up, because we would have been shit out of luck! He was very nice about it while setting us up with our room. With key-in-hand, and walking toward the room, this Days Inn had a real southwestern vibe. Used to modern accommodations, this was definitely a cool change. The room was clean and everything we needed with two full size beds, a fridge (hallelujah) and a very clean bathroom. A+ in my book.

View from the Days Inn. Hurricane, Utah

View from the Days Inn. Hurricane, Utah

Going through our food supply, we needed to replenish a few things, and we hit up a grocery not too far down the road. Pretty basic, and business as usually, I did notice they had a lot of fresh fruit and dried chilies! I was ecstatic for those, because you can’t really find those chilies here in the northeast so I bought two bags of ancho, and Chile de Arbol. The ancho’s are moderate, while de arbol is on the same level as cayenne chilies. Also picked up bananas, pepper jack cheese for sandwiches, fruit, water, and not sure where we found all this energy but we were there just browsing for about an hour. Typical shopper syndrome.

This concludes the third day on this two-week road trip. Day four will be up soon! Stay on the lookout for a complete day at Zion National Park.

A Road Trip That I Will Never Forget

For the next couple weeks, I will be writing about the adventures that took place last month. A two week road trip exploring seven states, nine national parks, two state parks, a few major cities, and all of the experiences along the way. With an unexpected heart-warming response from feedback I have received on social media, I cannot wait to share this with all of you. Thank you for your support, and pushing me to do what I love to do.

-Demetrios

A guide to Hiking The Whiteoak Trail in Shenandoah National Park

This is an amazing trail to check out - best decision I've made to discover and test my physical and mental toughness with spectacular views of the waterfalls. So worth it!

This was a challenging hike to say the least. I recommend taking the time to study the map, and make sure you have a head start in the early morning hours, because this could take about 6-8 hours to complete and maybe more with extra exploring. The round trip is a total of 7.3 miles (11.8 km) from the Skyline Drive parking lot to the Whiteoak Canyon Trailhead parking lot (mile 42.6) to the final waterfall of the lower three. The elevation is moderate with a 900-foot drop to the upper falls, but an additional 1,100 feet to the lower falls. A total of 2,000 feet in elevation change. Be prepared for a temperature change as well – at the time of the hike last April, the starting temperature was just above freezing, and dropping in elevation with a few short hours later, it went all the way up to 70F. Quite warm when you have a backpack, and constantly on the move. Make sure to keep time when the sun will set. This will determine what time to arrive and leave.

After the moderate first half of the journey, you can stop and enjoy the three upper falls. Hearing the soothing sounds of water trickling down towards the waterfalls is wonderful, and so calm. A gorgeous site you cannot forget. Collecting your thoughts with meditation are ways that help me move forward. From this point, you can take a breather to watch the waterfall from above and recoup for the next journey to the Lower falls. A good 15 minutes is enough time to get ready for the steep challenges ahead.

During this time, you will notice the elevation is much steeper than the previous 2.3 miles, and gets tougher. I suggest a walking stick to help alleviate the strenuous use of the muscles in your legs to prevent cramping. Make sure to hydrate every so often with an ample amount of water and electrolytes. On the way down to the lower falls, watch your footing and take your time with lots of caution with uneven rock, and roots from trees branching out that could trip you. The last thing you need is a sprained or broken ankle trying to get back to your car.

You have now made it to the lower falls! Please take as much time as you need to enjoy the last of the Lower Falls. Rest up a little more with 30 minutes, and fuel up with some food and water. Go photo crazy, and take as many photos as you would like, because you never know when you will come back. In the meantime, take a mental note of time and focus on the journey back up the mountain. With exhaustion looming, stay positive and hydrate. Higher elevations can cause you to lose more liquids, so keep that a priority.

 

 

This hike is for the more experienced, physically, and mentally tough individual. Always prepare, and make sure you know your body. There are black bears and lots of wildlife here so be on the lookout. Black bears usually keep their distance, and are skittish from humans. Do not panic if you encounter a black bear. Be vocal with your hiking partner, and stay calm. In rare cases move around the bear, and respect their space. After all, this is their land, and most importantly, their home.  

The Hike to Glen Onoko Falls

This shot was taken on The Glen Onoko Falls Trail back in September. There are three falls on this trail, but beware there are signs everywhere and it's a hard hike up the mountain and take extreme caution, because there have been deaths and severely injured people that hiked this mountain. The trail was fairly dry, with an incline just below 1000 ft. I do not have hiking boots, but I highly recommend it. This is a 4.1 mile round trip from top to bottom.