Monday, May 07, 2012

Zion Day 7: Jenny Peak (and her Nipples)

Photos Map

Yes, this was supposed to be the wall climb. We had racked and packed the day before and determined to launch. The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. but while eating breakfast we were disturbed by the pitter patter of raindrops on the RV roof. Sure enough, it was raining. We decided to drive into the canyon anyway (with our special pass, obtained the day before) to check out the conditions up at the Big Bend Shuttle Bus Stop. We stopped at the Grotto to use the bathroom and there had a nice encounter with a ring-tailed cat. .These guys are so cute. They have huge, inquisitive eyes (as they are mostly nocturnal), expressive ears, and a cautious curiosity. Alas, none of us had a camera easily accessible. 

At the parking the ground was wet and so were all the plants and the rock. We decided it wouldn't be responsible to climb the rock in those conditions, as you can damage the rock, which is much softer when wet. We went to go scope the river crossing anyway and found a couple down there  preparing to cross. They were off to free Moonlight Buttress. Seeing them cross and head for their climb made me second guess our decision somewhat, but Opie was adamant about putting off the climb. Being a deeply spiritual person I communed with nature and actually bonded with the big red cliff above us. Together we decided caressing her precipitous slopes would be put off for another day. Besides it was colder today and wet and we could easily delay another day. 

Not content to just sit around, I proposed a hike up to Observation Point, where we'd have a great view of our wall objective: Sheer Lunacy, two routes to the left of Moonlight Buttress. The Loobster, who wasn't planning on doing the wall, hadn't eaten anything that morning, thinking he'd be back at the RV in just an hour, did the 3-hour, 2100-foot, 8.5-mile hike anyway. We all just went up with nothing, as it was impromptu. We hiked from the Big Bend Shuttle Stop, as we only had a permit to park there, to the next stop down canyon - the Weeping Rock stop. Here we picked up the trail and had a very pleasant hike up this steep trail. It was still mostly in the shade, since it was just 7:30 a.m. and it switchbacked up the east side of the canyon. We passed a couple of ladies early on and had the trail entirely to ourselves. The views were indeed spectacular and after 15 minutes we headed down.

Back at the RV, after an early lunch (breakfast for the Loobster), we packed for another hike. I had decided we'd do Jenny's Peak on the east side of the tunnel, which was a 4th class scramble. Opie drove us through the tunnel and had an enjoyable scramble 1400 feet up to the summit. We also bagged two smaller summits just south of there, known as the Nipples. We moved at a casual pace, enjoying the day and saving ourselves for tomorrow. We noticed another nice peak to the east, maybe Lost Peak, and decided to turn our hike into a loop. We descended steep slabs and sandy areas down to the saddle between the peaks. Here we discovered three things. First, a sign saying not to go further south, as the area was closed for a wilderness study. Second that the route out of the notch towards Lost Peak was much steeper and most serious than it appeared when we made this decision. And, three, that tracks led north, toward the road, down the canyon. Loobster pushed for the canyon descent and I assented with just a touch of reluctance, fearing a nasty bushwhack. I knew from the topo map in my guidebook that the canyon looked pretty gentle, but there could have been wading or 30-foot falls lying down there. But I was wrong. The entire canyon went smoothly and easily and was quite nice. I turned the wrong way when we got to the wash that parallels highway 9 and led us the long way to the road, with some the bushwhacking I had been trying to avoid, but soon we were hoofing it a half-mile down the road back to the car.

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