Saturday, July 9, 2011

Crazy Road Trip Summer 2011: Day 8

We went down to breakfast promptly at 8 a.m. for our day in Zion. Tom offered us coffee, tea, and orange juice and made a wonderful fritatta, strawberry yogurt parfait, and biscuit breakfast. It was awesome! We were staying at the harvest house with two other couples. One was from Brazil and the other was from California. The couple from Brazil were here for a software convention in Las Vegas and the couple from California came to Zion as part of their travels for the summer. Both couples were very nice and the husband from the couple from California had the same camera as Bill, so he and Bill had plenty to talk about!

We set out for Zion after suiting up with our hats, backpacks, cameras, and of course, the fun shoes :) Zion has a unique relationship with the town of Springdale. Both Zion and Springdale strive to be green so entrance to the park is achieved through a unique shuttle system. Apparently Zion used to be extremely clogged with traffic during peak vacation times (much like Yosemite is today), so Zion no longer allows cars to drive into the park unless you pay a fee. If you do not want to pay the extra fee, you must park in the town of Springdale and take the shuttle into Zion from one of the many shuttle stops in town. The shuttle drops you off at the entrance and visitor center, where you pay your entrance fee and then can take another shuttle to the main stops in the park. Zion strives to be green in many other ways and is quite technologically advanced. They do not sell disposable water bottles, but instead sell reusable bottles or encourage you to bring your own reusable bottle. They have filling stations with spring water at every main stop so that you can refill your reusable bottle or Camel Pack. Their bathrooms also have efficient toilets and cool new Dyson hand dryers.

The first hike we took was to the Emerald Pools. It was cloudy when we started the hike, so it was difficult to get good pictures in the beginning. The trail is nice and paved all the way to the lower pools.

This is the small waterfall spray that falls into the pools. It reminds me quite a bit of the Tonto Natural Bridge area in Payson.

More waterfall
The Lower Emerald Pools

The waterfall again.

This is the view of the waterfall as we started to head up the next part of the trail to the Upper Emerald Pools. At this point, it was getting closer to mid day and the trail was getting more crowded. We shared the trail with a boy scout troop, two classes from a local summer school program, and one very badly behaved group of middle school aged boys who were not well disciplined by their chaperone (I will never stop being a teacher lol). Apparently the Emerald Pools trail is the popular trail for children. It was also getting hot and this part of the trail was very sandy and rocky. I discovered at this point that Vibrams are not impervious to sand! They were, however, extremely useful on this part of the trail. They have a great grip even on sand covered rocks. They also allowed me to feel the rocks under my feet better since my feet could flex and my toes could grip. I was never unsure of my footing or felt like I might  slip. Zion seems to attract the trendy outdoorsy types, so I saw several others with my shoes!

Cool clouds in the sky.
Upper Emerald Pools. The water was beautiful!

In this picture, you can see some of those badly behaved middle school boys. 
The canyon wall
Pretty prickly pear flowers :)

The shoes in the red mud!

After our hike to the pools, we took the shuttle to Court of the Patriarchs. These three peaks were named by a Methodist minister: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:

Another prickly pear bloom.
Bill taking his prickly pear picture.
Bill's prickly pear picture.

After going to the Court of the Patriarchs, we headed to the Zion Lodge for lunch. It was packed and we had to stalk the tables like vultures to get a spot! After lunch we had some ice cream. Apparently that's the real reason why everyone goes to the Zion Lodge! The last hike we took was the one that leads to the beginning of The Narrows. The Narrows is a 16-mile-long stretch of slot canyon at the end of the shuttle route. The entire trail of the narrows is in the creek and requires squeezing between rocks and wading through water. I wanted to at least hike through the beginning of it just to see it, but it was closed due to high water.

The river that goes through the narrows.

Bill looking at the canyon walls.

 Bill and I
 Bill took several longer exposure pictures of the river.
We kept seeing these everywhere. People kept stacking rocks all over the place. I'm not sure why.

Bill and I were exhausted after our long day of hiking in the heat. We both fell asleep on the shuttle back to Springdale. After going back to the Harvest House and taking a short rest, we headed out to dinner.

Some flowers along the way. I liked this one because the petals were so strange.

We ate dinner at Amigos. I'm not going to go in to detail, but it was the worst Mexican food I've ever had! I wouldn't recommend it if you go to Springdale. After dinner, we headed back to the Harvest House and Bill took these awesome pictures of The Watchman from the backyard:

Check back for my next blog about our stops along the drive home!

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