I've been here before. This is my second attempt at Flagpole Mountain. A massive iconic mountain that most people don't even know exist. The mountain sits just on the hikers right as they make their way up the Narrows Riverside walk. Of course all they see are hundreds of feet of stunning red Navajo Sandstone. On top of which sits a plateau with a rocky outcropping. A portion of the rocky outcropping has broken away leaving a single spire of sandstone several feet from the summit cap. Hence the name Flagpole Mountain.
For those interested in both peakbagging and canyoneering, Flagpole Mountain is that rare double treat. Bag the peak, rappel into Mystery Canyon and finish the day by hiking out the Zion Narrows. A triple bagger; sort to speak. The problem is: Mystery Canyon requires a permit, which are very difficult to come by. I have tried (by lottery) more than a few times, with the hopes of dropping in on Flagpole Mountain then exit via the above mention Canyon and Narrows. To no avail.
Today, I decided. I would just go climb the mountain. It would require re-ascending a rappel rope, as Flagpole Mountain also includes that rare requirement of a rappel on the approach (which is also why an exit through Mystery Canyon is preferred). The approach is simple enough. Follow the East Mesa Trail. Or hike up from the canyon bottom toward Observation Point. The East Mesa Trail is a wonderful stroll along the plateau, already at elevation. Carrying rope and harness, it definitely is the more energy conservation way to approach the hike. The trail passes directly over the head of Mystery Canyon and arrives at an unassuming peak to the west called Blew by Peak. So named because it is difficult to discern and most people simply "Blow by" without realizing it.
Reaching the peak is the easy part of reaching Flagpole Mountain. You then begin to descend down a rugged, bush covered hillside. You are shooting for a thin saddle on the east side, and it is difficult not to get off track, so use caution and a reliable GPS to help guide you to the end. The saddle is the connecting link between Blew by Peak and Flagpole Mountain. It is the location of the approach rappel. I've stood here before, only to turn back due to conditions. The first time it was snow on this north face. This time it is rain. Just as I reach the rappel station a series of thunderstorms bear down the Zion Narrows and brings rain along with it.
This hike is difficult enough without everything I'm going to be trying to climb wet and muddy. I decide to call it a day and head back to the car. The approach road is also made of clay and even a little moisture would make it impassable. I struggle once again with the bushwhacking on my ascent up Blew by Peak. The rain descends, but the storm is fast moving and I cross Blew by Peak summit once again with barely a few drops. Just enough to knock the dust out of the air and make the local wildflowers look brilliant in the afternoon sun. I guess, I'll be back once again.