I am not a fan of hiking. Alright I’m not going to lie to you – I hate hiking. Pretty much the only way you can get me to go is to promise me a grand finale photo of awesomeness at the end of the hike… sweeten the deal by throwing in a beer and I may not bitch along the way… however I am not promising I won’t privately complain in my head. But you won’t be able to hear that so it won’t matter.
I blame my childhood for my dislike of hiking. This is also where my dad and I differ greatly. He loves hiking and it stems from his childhood. He spent many years hiking Canada while vacationing from Southern California. Can’t really blame the guy. Compare the two and how could Canada not win?
So back to my childhood. We lived 17 miles (27.3 km) out of our small town. Our driveway from the county road to our house was a mile long (1.6 km)… imagine that if you will. Most people pull into their driveway (most likely not park in the garage because they have too much stuff packed in there) and walk into their house. Where as I was let off at the school bus stop at the bottom of our long driveway and hiked up a hill with coyotes nipping at my heels… isn’t that how the story goes? OK so there weren’t coyotes nipping – but there was a hill and crazy ass neighbors (I’ll save the neighbor stories for another time).
When I decided to go to some of the “Mighty 5″ National Parks in Utah I began to realize I was creating a trip around something I wasn’t fond of, hiking. The good thing about National Parks is that they accommodate even the casual traveler… or the fat ass hiker as I refer to myself.
I found hiking information online and from the pamphlets I ordered for free from Utah’s tourist information site (PS Utah has a great tourist information site check them out for more info). Of course I would not be picking any extreme hiking but I was up for more than a leisurely stroll along a flat paved trail that my Grandma (if either of them were still alive) would be power-walking on.
I combed through the information I had found and decided that I would be best suited to moderate to easy hikes. Since I was traveling alone I was not about to push myself further out of my comfort zone than necessary. Nobody wants a broken ankle and have to rely on strangers to help get them down the mountain. Although a cute park ranger helping me wouldn’t be too bad 😉 I did however pass two park rangers on their way up to Angel’s Landing in Zion with a Gurney. I never looked up what happened that day at Angel’s Landing but if you have to be pulled out of there on a Gurney it can’t be good. Just so everyone is clear – I had no intention of hiking Angel’s Landing. The sign at the beginning of the trail indicating 6 people had died since 2004 while attempting to hike that trail was enough to deter me.
The moderate to easy hiking gave me a wide array of options but left out one crucial component – Boomer. For both Bryce Canyon and Zion he was only allowed on one trail in each park. A paved leisurely stroll that we would find my Grandmas on.
Since my trip was mostly focused on two of the five parks, Zion and Bryce Canyon I decided to split them up. One I would hike in and one I would do a driving tour with Boomer. I felt Bryce Canyon lent itself more to a driving tour so I decided to pick a few hikes in Zion. Zion also had a handy boarding facility, Doggie Dude Ranch, located near by. Boomer could enjoy a few hours making new friends while I wandered off to find my grand finale of awesomeness at the end of the hike.
My hiking experience in the Utah National Parks was positive but it has changed my focus while traveling to visiting more state parks and federal lands because I travel with a dog. The state parks and federal lands are more accommodating of pets. I also prefer hiking with a dog pulling me up the hillside as oppose to me pulling myself up the hillside. The only drawback of hiking with a dog, carrying more water. Sounds like Boomer should be getting a doggie backpack!