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East Temple Saddle - Zion National Park - Utah, United States

by steve625  
with a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx
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After a day and a half of business meetings in Springdale, UT.  I was chomping at the bit to get out and hike. The weather was predicted to turn bad Friday and Saturday, so I figured any time hiking would be a bonus hike.   My wife Linda had joined me for the trip and we hooked up with some good friends Steve and Amy for an afternoon in the backcountry.  We had two goals:  1.  Have a great time and 2. On 11/11/11 we needed to hike something at least 1100 vertical feet.  Steve and Amy were opting to hike Angles Landing (popular hike in the main Zion Canyon)  Linda and I were hoping to avoid the congestion of a popular hike which would allow Linda to play her bagpipes in the backcountry without disturbing anyone's peace and quite.  It was decided that we would hike the East Temple Saddle, but avoid the steep slickrock by hiking up and back down by way of Upper Pine Creek.

I knew it was going to be a beautiful day when dropping into Upper Pine Creek (not 10 feet from the road) we spotted a heard of 20 Big Horn Sheep resting among the trees.  Three big beautiful Rams and the rest female and kids.  They just laid and watched us move down into the creek bottom.

Traveling Upper Pine Creek is a real treat, the wash is sandy with beautiful fall colors still clinging to the leaves.  Upon reaching the end we turned left and scrambled up the dryfall.  This is a popular route and a kick off point for Spry Canyon, Mountain of the Sun and other backcountry routes.  The trail is well marked and our scramble was easy.  Upon reaching the first shelf, we turned back South and began to work our way higher on the ridge.  There are cliff bands to the left and the steep walls of Upper Pine Creek.  Staying to the right allows you to use the weakness and cliffbands to move higher.  Soon a prominent ridge line becomes obvious.  Continue hiking South and soon you will be able to step up and onto the Ridge.   This ridge is the West ridge line of Shelf Canyon.

Shelf Canyon is the short narrow slot canyon which starts at the Canyon Overlook overflow parking lot.  Looking down canyon, we were able to spot the road.  To the North, just a short walk along the ridge is the head of Shelf Canyon and a large pine tree.  Dropping under the pine tree and hiking along a narrow shelf on the opposite side, one is able to scramble around the head of the Canyon.  Beautiful views to the South, as you look straight down the canyon.

Turning West now, follow the East / West wash toward East Temple.  The wash is easy travel and contains several falls all of which are easy to negotiate.   Arriving at the base of East Temple, you will notice large buttresses running North and South.  On the East side of the large buttress just to your left, turn South and proceed up the slickrock.  The slickrock begins to become steep and is a solid 3rd class scramble.  Choose your route with care and the easiest path, taking advantage of the many weaknesses and good shelf systems. 

The buttresses contain much color and you should pass just on the left hand side of a beautiful yellow buttress.  Working higher you soon reach the summit and a panorama of views to the South and West open to your eyes.  The most prominent of these is Bridge Mountain.  But also noted is the wide valley of Hepworth canyon, just above the large window from the tunnel.  Destination peak, and West Temple.  Looking down you should be able to spot people arriving at the end of the Zion Overlook trail.

Resting on the saddle, we ate lunch, took in the wonder of sights and listened to Linda play a medley of music on the bagpipes.  The beautiful views, and the sound of bagpipes rolling through the canyons created a wonder to the senses.  What a wonderful day to remember 11/11/11.
Backcountry Route! Safely hiking backcountry routes depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to your surroundings. Your safety is your responsibility.
Water 1-2 liters, energy snacks.
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Comments (1)
Wow, looks like an awesome hike!
by chris on Nov 14, 2011
Trip Info
November 11, 2011
Trip Location: East Zion, Utah, United States
Length: 3.3 miles
Duration: 4 hours
Activity: Hiking
Trip viewed 1,401 times
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