Hiking to The Double Arch Alcove in Zion National Park
After a week in the scalding heat of Las Vegas, I was ready to slip into the wild for a little hike. I headed to Kolob Canyons on the north side of Zion National Park about mid-afternoon, looking forward to my very first hike in Utah. I was not disappointed.
Taylor Creek Trail leads to the Double Arch Alcove, featuring a grotto of gigantic proportion. The sheer scale of everything in southern Utah was immense, including the idiots that I chatted with a couple of times on the trail.
To give you a relative sense of the scale of the Double Arch Alcove, look at these two photos. A few young dipshits were sitting with their dogs on the top of the first arch. The photo below was taken about a hundred meters away from the arch. I zoomed in on the group, confirming that I was seeing someone who thought bringing their dogs for a hike in a national park was a good idea.
The photo below was shot from the same location, just zoomed out.
We’ll return to my discussions with these bumpkins shortly.
Taylor Creek Trail
The trail itself drops from the parking lot to meet up with the creek. For a couple of miles, the trail crosses back and forth across the little stream. As it was late summer, the water flow was just a trickle. My hiking boots would stay dry, but only for a day. The views of the cliff and rock formations became more and more dramatic.
The further you walk, the more gigantic the rock formations seemed. They begin to box in the canyon, tighter and tighter, as you move closer to the Double Arch Alcove. However, until you are very close, the alcove remains hidden from view.
About two miles in, you come to Fife Cabin. Author Fife, an instructor at Southern Utah State College, built the cabin in 1930 as a haven to escape to and raise goats when school was not in session. This is the second cabin on the Taylor Creek Trail. Near the start of the trail, the Larson Cabin is easy to miss and not as picturesquely nestled in the woods like the Fife Cabin.
The trail then drops into the creek for about a half mile. I’m sure in the spring that you’d be splashing through the water, but in late July the creek bed is partially dry and easy to follow.
The Double Arch Alcove
Shortly after leaving the creek bed, the walls of the cliffs are closer together and rise precipitously into the sky. At first, you think that what you are seeing is just more of the wall of the cliff, but the closer that you get, the more the alcove comes into focus. I only expected to see a rock formation, but the top of the lower grotto is large enough for many trees to be growing.
As you approach, the immense scale of the arches becomes more apparent. The second arch is far up the cliff wall.
The grotto of the lower arch is absolutely huge. There were a couple of families there when I arrived, but they left within a few minutes, giving me some enjoyable time alone to snap some pictures. The semi-permeable rock seeps water that enables hanging gardens and moss to grow on the walls of cliffs.
As my first stop in one of the Mighty Five® National Parks of Utah, I was truly awestruck by the fantastic beauty of the rock formations. As I turned away from the grotto and headed back toward the trailhead, a feeling of peacefulness spread through me. I felt very connected to the natural world, and my soul was at ease. I love being out on the trail. The sense of connection to our natural world always settles my spirit and makes life feel full of meaning.
Back to The Numskulls
As I was hiking out, a dog trotted up alongside me. Of course, it was from the group that was sitting on top of the lower arch. Within a few moments, the young men arrived, along with a second dog.
A younger me might have been quite direct and punitive to those who likely saw the NO DOGS signs, but disregarded the rules. However, I now take the approach encouraged by the National Park Service and attempt to educate folks about why dogs shouldn’t be in the parks. I explained how they could bother wildlife, leave diseases and parasites in their fecal material, or become a snack for a larger predator.
The boys listened and even apologized. Then they headed down the trail in front of me. Within about a half mile, I caught back up with them. Since they didn’t have leashes, one of the dogs had taken off, and they had to retrieve it. They looked at me sheepishly, as I had just chatted with them about the nuisance that their pets could be.
Now, none of these young men appeared to be future Rhodes Scholars but didn’t seem completely devoid of brains. However, when my peripheral vision saw what one of them was doing, my brain had one of those no-way-on-earth-are-you-actually-seeing-that moments. The guy was actually down on all fours, straddling the small creek, and lapping up water like a dog!
As is too often the case with park visitors, they had failed to bring any water. I proceeded explained to them the risks of giardia and cryptosporidium. However, I honestly doubt much of what explained stuck, but I’d done what I could.
For a good argument on why you should leave your dog at home, please read this article in High Country News by Marjorie “Slim” Woodruff.
Off To A Marvelous Start
Without a doubt, I was excited to begin wandering southern Utah. Starting off with such an enjoyable hike along a beautiful trail to an interesting destination, made me all the more excited for the coming days.
Please visit my Flickr Gallery for more picture of this wonderful hike:
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