Caravan to Utah!

Zion National Park Travel Blog

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Fresh from LA/LV - we're ready to go hiking!
Friday was interminable.. a full week of work, winging a midterm I didn't realize I had missed while I was in Cancun, and then finding out I was due for my first oil change before taking off - but with no time to get it done! I left work a little early to get the car checked out for the first time (5000 mile anniversary of my new car!), threw some things into a bag, carefully packed my cameras and batteries and headed over to Tracy's to pick her and Sheila up. I haven't seen these girls in ages although we talk all the time. Tracy was SUPER TAN from her trip to Hawaii and with her help we FINALLY put my car plates on. I have had my new plates for.. 4 months now! hahaha, oh well that's what happens when there are no boys around! I was so incredibly happy to see Tracy and Sheila I hugged them both for minutes and minutes! We left to pick up Nhi - the lightest packer of all of us by far!

Driving to Las Vegas was a breeze today, save my dried out contacts and increasing weariness.
walking to the trailhead
Seeing the lights of Las Vegas always fills me with anticipation, and this trip to Vegas was my first since the TB LV meetup that I hold very very dear in my heart. Nostalgia, among other things, welled in me and I remembered all the beautiful faces that I met during that meetup. My mind danced through the various hotels and casinos and before we knew it, we arrived in a suburb of LV at Sal's house shortly after midnight. Tired, sleepy girls tumbled out of my car onto the street and walked up to Sal's - brightly lit with the life energy that is Sal's.

Tracy, Nhi, Sheila and I knocked on the door and were welcomed by Sal's smiling countenance. He's still awake!! He hugged each of us as we entered and I introduced the girls to Big, who I had just met last week and decided he was up for an adventure and flew out at a high cost from SF to join us for the weekend.
Favorite scenic pic of the day!
We stayed up until probably 2am taking a tour of Sal's house and GORGEOUS backyard, chatting and hearing stories about each others' weeks. Nhi discovered Sal's pomegranates and Big taught us about Kambucha - a fermented tea drink grown via a thousand year old mold. Yum.

Texts went out to Nancy and RJ who would be arriving in the morning. Tracy and I bunked on the bed since we have bad backs and Nhi bunked on the floor because her back hurt too. Sheila got the aerobed all to herself and Big slept on the couch. I was looking forward to the aroma of Sal's Ethiopian coffee maker going off at 5:45. It was difficult to sleep considering the anticipation of seeing my beautiful LV people and going on an adventure with them after such a long but loving intermission.
Zion or Wal-Mart photo shoot - you decide!


I awoke to Tracy getting out of bed and climbing over me. Deciding to get up as well, it was 5:30am and Big was up as well. You could hear Sal's alarm go off shortly but the coffee maker didn't go off! So I pushed a button and went to the patio for a morning cig. Nancy texted, she arrived shortly after fully awake! We all got ready and RJ arrived close to 6am. We left a little after 6am - 4 to a car and raring to go... to Dunkin Donuts! =)

Pitstop!! After a healthy ordering of breakfast sandwiches, gatorades and a dozen donuts (Krispy Kreme ain't got NOTHING on Dunkin'), we hopped into our respective cars and were raring to go... to the gas station!! RJ needed to fill his tank and Big forgot to buy water. Nancy cracks me up, when we left the gas station she quipped "Ok, now I have to go to the bathroom!"

FINALLY we were on our way to Utah! It was probably after 7am at this point! It's ok, at 1 hour late, we were making awesome time for coordinating 8 people! We passed by some gorgeous striated mountains, a lot of Mormon garage sales and finally arrived at the Lodge that Sal picked out.
Please do not feed the animals!!
Wow, it was beautiful! Rustic charm, but clean and new looking, and restaurant and museum on sight! They wouldn't let us check in just yet, so we collaborated for 15 minutes to figure out which trails we were interested in and set off on our hike!

I couldn't believe how prepared everyone was! I think out of the Zion 8 - 4 people were wearing these funny things called camel packs. They're like these plastic or rubber things you can fill with water and attach a tube to and suck on the tube while you're walking. Sheila's tube even sprayed water!! RJ and Tracy wore special socks and everyone was just majorly prepared. And then there's me. I forgot my hat, was wearing clothes I normally wear to work, and had 1 bottle of water with me. Yeahhh...

With RJ, Tracy and Sal's help (they were all experienced Zionists), we decided to do the Emerald Pools hike.
Fave TB pic!
It was about 3 miles each way if we just went to one of the 3 pool levels. But we would end up gracing all three pools with our shenanigans, of which there were quite a few, the funniest ones being at the high pool. I'll let the pictures tell the story but perhaps one of the funniest things was while we were standing around getting ready for a circle shot, some little kid had balled up sand and thrown it at us, hitting Nancy in the leg! The mom of the little kid didn't see what happened but figured it out after our puzzled stares and exclaimed "NO WAY!" It was pretty funny and poor Nancy getting hit with the fury of tiny people! =)

I was really worried I wasn't going to make it. The beginning of the path to the middle pool is a pretty intense ascent.
I was breathing hard within seconds and Nhi and Sheila each literally grabbed one of my arms and PULLED ME up until we got to even ground. I thought I was going to die until I saw a HUGE tarantula and then I thought I was REALLY REALLY going to die. And then I saw the cliff edges and I knew it was gonna be interesting.

Zion National Park is the most beautiful National Park that I've ever seen. Sal dreamed up this trip when he, Tracy and I went to Palm Springs to visit Danny. We missed the meteor showers by an hour or so and Sal suggested Zion National Park for our next attempt. Needless to say the second I got home from Palm Springs I was already planning for Zion =) And boy, despite all the craziness for our group - midterms, mental health days, tough weeks at work, coming back from Hawaii.
Nhi is so cool!!
. the peacefulness and beauty of the scenery took us out of time and place and most importantly, stress!

After making it up to the middle pool we walked past and hung out for a bit in the middle of a teeny vein of the Virgin River. I was so tired I plopped down on a big rock (only having made it there because Nhi lured me with my bag of Doritos and I was starving by this point) and munched away. I was completely alone at this point as the group had decided to venture further into the space between the mountains and I was very content babbling with the brook and eating Doritos. Within 2 minutes, I noticed at least half a dozen beautifully colored birds fly to branches near me and eye my Doritos. They never ventured any closer and by the time I changed lenses to my zoom, they were gone.
A little fall
But how funny! They knew the sound of a crinkly bag!

Sal joined me soon after and explained why it was freezing cold between the two walls of the mountains. Then we played Marco Polo with the group. Sal lets out a fierce Marco that painted the invisible part of the canyon wall. The group's collective Polo paled in comparison but I was glad we were able to hear them to see how far they went and whether or not they were heading back in our direction. I think this method is now our unofficial cry of "where are you, and please come back soon!"

So now we had seen a lot of things in and around the middle pool, which was pretty stinkin' unimpressive compared to the glorious sights all around. A big puddle really! So on our way out we saw a sign for the high pool.
Sal takes it all in =)
It said 0.3 miles. It was SO NOT 0.3 miles. Basically it was a staircase that went almost vertically UP and if you take the distance of the BASE of this staircase.. maybe it was .3 miles. But man it was painful. ESPECIALLY on the way down. But it was also funny because it was coverd in sand! Almost like walking on the beach except it was very cold!

It was kinda humiliating seeing a ton of kids run right past you, easily skimming up the steps while I trudged heavily along up steps that were the height of my knees. Very sucky... but it was worth it. There were some cool rocks that Big, Nhi and Sal perched up on surrounded with prayer rocks (I haven't seen these since Aruba!) and then the high pool was very nice. A BIG puddle of VERY COLD water! This is also where Nancy was attacked by the ferocious little girl with deadly handfuls of cold, wet sand!

On our way down we passed by the lower pools but I honestly can't remember where that was or what it looked like.
All I remember was wanting to LEAVE I was so tired and my ankles and calves were not liking me at all at this point. After some funny photo sessions in a place I can only descibe as a wall of womb-like holes we made it back and across the bridge, ready to go home, and many craving steak! All I was craving was a pillow to lay my head and to stretch my back out! I skipped dinner and got into bed and slept soundly for the first time since I left LA - and for about 2 hours! Woohoo! =D

I awoke to the sound of everyone coming into the room, hands full of leftovers and everyone asking me if I was hungry. Wow I felt loved! Tracy popped in and said the sweetest thing that I have ever heard, and that is tough because Tracy always says sweet and funny things!! When she asked me if I wanted food, I told her a lot of people had brought food back, pointing broadly at some leftover trays.
Whee!!
Tracy's face lights up and she proffers "But I cut mine into bite-sized pieces for you!!" This elicited the biggest hug from me!! Who thinks of that?? To bring me back leftovers cut up since I don't have utensils?! But as she was in a different room I never saw the leftovers and proceeded to finish Sal's porkchop and Big's crabcake - both SO YUMMY! But I love Tracy SO MUCH I can't even begin to say.

Tracy and I head to the hot tub for a little while, Tracy encouraging me to immerse and sit in front of jets to help with the muscle aches I'm bound to have tomorrow. The hot tub here is HOT. But it succeeded in warming you up so nicely that you're not cold when standing in the cold desert air afterwards! We then showered and headed to bed.. for a couple of hours! Remember you're not really allowed to sleep more than a couple of hours when you're with us!! =)

So a couple of hours later.
Coming soon to a record store near you!
.
jenn79 says:
Vance: Hahaa!! Oh if you only knew how poorly I held up on that hike! =)
Posted on: Oct 22, 2008
vances says:
You're becoming quite the hiker!!!
Posted on: Oct 22, 2008
mr_shanet says:
glad u had fun in Utah :)
we were both hanging with TB friends that day, only i was a bit farther away from home :)
damn another missed opportunity to meet sal and hang out with u again :(
soon i will do both i hope.......

CONGRATS on the feature :)
love ya - u know in a friendly plutonic non mushy mushy type way ;)
Posted on: Oct 22, 2008
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Fresh from LA/LV - were ready to …
Fresh from LA/LV - we're ready to…
walking to the trailhead
walking to the trailhead
Favorite scenic pic of the day!
Favorite scenic pic of the day!
Zion or Wal-Mart photo shoot - you…
Zion or Wal-Mart photo shoot - yo…
Please do not feed the animals!!
Please do not feed the animals!!
Fave TB pic!
Fave TB pic!
Nhi is so cool!!
Nhi is so cool!!
A little fall
A little fall
Sal takes it all in =)
Sal takes it all in =)
Whee!!
Whee!!
Coming soon to a record store near…
Coming soon to a record store nea…
Especially the rabid ones!! =)
Especially the rabid ones!! =)
Nhi
Nhi
Nancy
Nancy
Nancy taking a pic!
Nancy taking a pic!
Aww!! =D
Aww!! =D
Nhi
Nhi
Sal and I
Sal and I
Middle puddle.. I mean pool!
Middle puddle.. I mean pool!
Nancy looking for Bear Grylls!
Nancy looking for Bear Grylls!
RJ sits..
RJ sits..
and then does tricks!
and then does tricks!
Sals here!
Sal's here!
Sal =)
Sal =)
more Sal!
more Sal!
The group waiting for us!
The group waiting for us!
Rj defying gravity as usual and Na…
Rj defying gravity as usual and N…
Tracy and RJ clowning around!
Tracy and RJ clowning around!
Sal and RJ clowning around!
Sal and RJ clowning around!
RJ shows Nancy something cool!
RJ shows Nancy something cool!
Sheila is a vision!
Sheila is a vision!
Nancy sitting pretty!
Nancy sitting pretty!
Sheila!
Sheila!
Check it out!
Check it out!
Nancy is nuts!
Nancy is nuts!
Big Peace.
Big Peace.
yeah, I know - Im hiking in my wo…
yeah, I know - I'm hiking in my w…
Nhi, Sal and I
Nhi, Sal and I
Nhis glamour shot.
Nhi's glamour shot.
Big blending in...
Big blending in...
until Nhi invades his photo shoot!
until Nhi invades his photo shoot!
I am happy, but zen!
I am happy, but zen!
I climb everything!
I climb everything!
...and scare little children!
...and scare little children!
RJ, look what you made me climb (a…
RJ, look what you made me climb (…
I see our group!
I see our group!
Hi guys! =D
Hi guys! =D
What a gorgeous crew!
What a gorgeous crew!
And this is what happens when you …
And this is what happens when you…
Big, RJ and Tracy
Big, RJ and Tracy
RJ leads the way!
RJ leads the way!
view of the fall from the side
view of the fall from the side
Holding hands out to feel the spra…
Holding hands out to feel the spr…
See? Tracy is doing it too! but wi…
See? Tracy is doing it too! but w…
Another heart stone =)
Another heart stone =)
Tucked into the rocks!
Tucked into the rocks!
Sal does the rockclimbing pic best!
Sal does the rockclimbing pic best!
...everyone else looks like they n…
...everyone else looks like they …
Sal and Sheila =)
Sal and Sheila =)
Big is not afraid to get pollen up…
Big is not afraid to get pollen u…
Big lost in wildflowers
Big lost in wildflowers
On the way home!
On the way home!
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Zion National Park
photo by: rsvpme