12 October 2020
Wildcat Canyon Trailhead to Northgate Peaks and back
(4 miles, +500/-500 feet).
Today was definitely my favorite day of our short trip to Zion. We hiked to the Northgate Peaks through a lovely ponderosa forest and had great views of Russell Gulch, the Left Fork, Pine Valley Peak, and the eponymous domes at the end of the trail.
I was here before on my Trans-Zion trek, but last time I didn’t realize that it was possible to actually hike along the narrow stripes that run parallel to the ground.
I asked Jay if it was okay for me to give it a try, and he said “sure!”
The line is pretty narrow — 6 to 12 inches in most places, and it leans outward. The exposure is not too bad at first — a stumble would not lead to a severe fall. But it gets steeper as you go around, and soon I was having a very hard time with a class 3/4 move to get past a steep sandy part with a sheer 50 foot drop below. I climbed up to a tree above it and managed to avoid that section, but it was scary enough that I decided not to come back that way.
The views at the little outcrop between Northgate Peaks were magnificent!
On the way back I dropped down into a gully and then followed that back up to my starting point. It was all easy class 2, and soon I was back with Jay and on my way back to the car.