Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jughandle Arch and Center of the Universe

Disclaimer: The hike to jughandle arch requires steep climbing on loose rocks. Although the route is relatively short (4-5 miles round trip for jughandle and center of the universe), there is no shade and the steep climbs will wear you out.

We're gettin' to the top of that thing!
Valentine's Day usually conjures up images of romance and chocolate. Neither of those were on the agenda for our outing. Unless you take into account my profound love affair with Zion National Park. We had a kid sitter for the day and Steve and I were geared up to do a more "challenging" hike. The criteria was as follows:

1.) Hard (nothing we would typically do w/ the kids)... I wanted to get a good workout in.
2.) Remote... just in case we did want to throw in some "romance" ha.. :)
3.) Scenic

My friend Matt, who always has perfect suggestions for supremely awesome hikes, suggested jughandle arch and center of the universe. The hike would take us to the top of a notable arch in Zion's east canyon and to Center of the Universe (a crazy cool-looking expanse on the hike out. Bonus).

The hike really got your heart pumpin'

It took about an hour to get to this point. Now, how to get on top!

Closer up of arch

I love it! Sun, snow, tank top, bliss!
To reach the top of the arch, we had to do some back-tracking. You can not simply climb up to it from underneath (not easily or without risking death. I am not a fan of death.)

So back down we went, into the wash to the right (west) and through a lot of scrub and bushes filling the valley below. Meandering our way to the back of the valley, heading north towards a rockfall that would be our route to the top.

Steve looking down at the valley below


I gotta admit, I was a little nervous looking up (and up, and up) and the boulders and rocks we'd be climbing on. It's always a little intimidating because rocks can fall. And people do die. I don't want to die.

But as we started going up, it seemed doable and not quite as terrifying. After about 20 leg burning and butt sculpting minutes, we had arrived at the top of the plateau. YAY!

Final pitch to the top

Yay we made it :)

Views for miles and miles

My heaven
Now we had reached the top, but we had to find the TOP of the ARCH! We headed east about 1/4 mile and found an out-cropping that I was sure had to be the arch (hard to tell from up top!) Sure enough, we scooted around the rim a bit farther and could see the opening below that let us know this was the jughandle. I carefullyyyyy jumped over rocks to stand directly in the middle of the jughandle arch. Exhilarating!

On top of  a scary craggy arch

meditating :) ha ha not really
OK phew. That was fun. So now back down -- and to find the Center of the Universe (obviously).

The Center of the Universe route would require us to go back down that crazy rock slide, back into the bush whacky valley, around some snow, up some steep slick rock and then...

We were there!

That little dot in the middle right is me :)

If you like remote, wonderful wilderness, this is the place for you!

Always looking for a trail to run on

My 2016 Valentines: Steve and Zion National Park. Both get a gold star for making my heart race and making me weak in the knees. Awwww cheeze.. xoxo


Here are the directions we followed. This guy has a really awesome website! Enjoy!

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