October 3, 2017 Zion NP Day 2

What a great day in Zion we have planned. We were slow to get moving this morning, but we had things to do. Around 9:30, with hiking gear in hand, we took the 30 minute drive to Springdale, which is located at the entrance to Zion National Park. Our goal originally was to scope out the park by truck and take a short hike, but the line to get into the park was long. We changed our plans when we got to the sign that said “parking is full”. A quick u-turn and we were in the parking lot of Zion Outfitters. Bob went in with questions and come out with all sorts of answers. We could park there in the lot for $20 all day and ride the park shuttle through the park for free.

One of the questions we had was what is the best way to hike the Narrows? The Narrows is a very popular hike, but it has some challenges. The Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper Zion Canyon, 16 miles long and at times 20-30 feet wide, hence the name The Narrows. The Narrows, with its soaring walls, sandstone grottoes, natural springs, and hanging gardens is an unforgettable experience as told to us by people who have hiked it. Hiking the Narrows means hiking the Virgin River. At least 60% of the hike is spent in the river so special gear is needed for a safe and comfortable hike. The water is cold–53 degrees and the rocks are slippery. Hikers return the same way they came. Now that we know what to expect we can plan our hike in the Narrows on Thursday and rent equipment from Zion Outfitters. We entered the park with our Senior Pass and headed for the shuttle stop.

Bob is sporting our Camelbak, a water backpack that my brother gave us for times like this.

We waited in a long line for the shuttle. It took 2 double buses to load up before it was our turn to get on. 

There were a lot of people in the park today, but things moved along quickly and people were considerate and friendly. Starting at the Visitor’s Center, the shuttle makes 9 stops to get to the north end of the canyon at the Temple of Sinawava and the Narrows. The ride from the Visitor’s Center to the Temple takes about 40 minutes. We decided to do the whole ride up so we could get the entire overview and then ride back down to the Zion Lodge where we would pick up the Emerald Pool Trail. The sun shone on part of the canyon, while parts were still in the shade. The driver pointed out different features of the canyon and people that were doing rock climbing.

This next picture shows the rock climbers. They look like tiny dots on the rock. If you look closely you can see one of the climbers near the lower left corner and there’s one farther up. I was able to zoom in with my camera and see them up close.

With every turn in the canyon, another extraordinary view appeared.

From the bus, we saw 5 mule deer bedded down along the river and the bus had to stop for one as it finished crossing the road in front of us. This isn’t the best picture of a mule deer, but it’s there.

By the time we got down to the lodge to begin our hike, it was around noon.

The Emerald Pool Trail is rated as an easy 1.2 mile hike.The first part of the hike from the lodge to the lower pool was paved and handicap accessible. You walk across the bridge over the Virgin River.

It led to the lower emerald pool and waterfalls.

When we reached the pool, we had to walk under an overhanging cliff where the water flowed over the top. The path got a little wet from the spray and so did we.

From the lower pool to the middle pool (.5 mile), the path was pretty easy walking with steps carved into the rocks.Some passages were narrow.

When we reached the middle pool, we found kids swimming in it. How brave were they?

We took some time to rest here and eat a snack in the shade. There were multiple pools in the middle pools in this area.

The path from the middle pools to the upper pool was 1.0 miles, but it was more vertical and more climbing over the rocks.

We took it slow and easy watching our footing climbing up and over and down, down into a dead end canyon. People going down kept telling us, “Just a little bit further”, “It’s just around the corner”, and “You’re almost there”, but it never was. When we finally got there, it was well worth the hike.

The canyon walls were beautifully painted by nature with water and wind. The walls rose far above us and the pool sat at the base of the cliff.

It took us 1 hour and 40 minutes to walk up (including rest stops) and about an hour to walk down. On the walk back, the light in the canyon was different and so were some of the views.

We caught the shuttle at the Zion Lodge after a short wait. The bus was crowded, but the ride went quickly. Back at the Visitor’s Center, we walked to the truck where we enjoyed some beverages on the ride home. The views were just as beautiful as on the drive up. 

There were a lot of people at the park today, so we were looking forward to the peace and quiet of the campground. We got back to the campground around 3:15. Auggie was happy to see us. We gave him some outdoor time with us and the 3 of us relaxed outside before dinner. We had steak on the grill and Auggie got the bone.

We all took a walk as the sun was setting on the red rock cliffs around the campground. 

Back at the camper, Auggie caught sight of the squirrel who lives in the rock wall behind us and he tried to go in after him.

It began to cool off when the sun went down. It was beautiful day of sunny skies and 80 degree temperatures. Tomorrow will be a carbon copy of the weather today. It’s been perfect so far!

 

 

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