On January 24th, my dad, Jay, our brother in law David, and I hiked Observation Point in Zion. The morning was crisp and clear as we set out on the icy trail that switchbacked steeply up the side of the mountain. The ice was intermittent but packed firm in blue white rivulets. My sneakers fought to find purchase on the slick surface.
The temperature was in the 30's, but our bodies quickly warmed from the strain of climbing in the increasing elevation. Only my lungs burned with cold as I moved upward. My ears, ever sensitive to exertion in chilly climates, began to ache with pressure.
I've decided that my pashmina scarf (purchased in London for 5 pounds) is the most versatile item in my wardrobe: it's refined enough for formal attire, but it is at once lightweight and warm and perfectly functional. I looped it over my head and across my face, protecting my ears and warming the air I breathed through its filter. On this hike, I would use it as head wrap, scarf, and shawl. I broke several fashion rules, but the scarf was soft, and I was warm.
David had come to town to get some dental work done, and we were able to fit in this hike. We missed seeing his wife and kids but were glad for the excuse to have him visit (Andrea, maybe you should consider getting a few cavities so you can fly out here next...).
I've only hiked Observation Point once before, a year or two after Jay and I were married. I correctly remembered it being grueling. The hike was definitely strenuous, and I was by far the weakest link in our party, but there's a big difference between hiking in January and hiking in May. Though cold has its own brand of discomfort, it has nothing on heat. The men were patient with me, and we made it to the Point.
The canyon yawned wide below us, the river a silver ribbon snaking through the gorge. We watched people tiny as ants scale the spine of Angels' Landing far below us and gasped with vertigo when we stood too near the sheer edge.
After eating a lunch of sandwiches and fruit, we set off back down the mountain. Jay and David soon outstripped Dad and I with their long legs on the downhill stretches. We took our time on the descent, babying our knees and quads. Dad could have gone faster, but we savored the trail and the conversation.
At one point during the last quarter of the hike, back on the slick slope, my feet flew out from under me and I landed square on my back (padded, luckily, by my backpack). I was a bit scratched up and acquired a deep bruise on my hip, but I was still able to hike without issue (though I now inched my way down the icy stretches).
The hike was a grueling eight miles, and maybe my dad and I were a bit slower than usual, but it was still a triumph. All in all, not bad for a guy eight weeks out from quadruple bypass surgery and an 11 weeks pregnant woman.