How Beautiful If Nothing More...Than To Wait At Zion's Door...

Zion National Park Travel Blog

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The Emerald Pools Trail winds along the mountain

After watching a string of Volkswagon Bugs caravan on the freeway, I knocked out for a good half to an hour.

Footbridge crossing the Virgin River
..I really need that nap. Goodbye Nevada...Hello Arizona...Goodbye Arizona...Hello Utah!

As we drove past small towns of southwestern Utah, we saw clouds of smoke billowing up into the air...brush fire?...nope trash burning.  In the distance I can see huge rock formations growing ever closer on the horizon. To my right was the Virgin River...twisting in a very serpentine manner through the high desert terrain. 

Before heading into Zion National Park, we pit stopped at Majestic View Lodge...our accommodation for the night. Sal tried to check us in early but that was a no go. So after using the facilities, we gathered outside in front of the lobby and debated on which breast-taking.
Cool looking twisted wood
..hahaha... hiking trail we should embark on.  It was settled...Emerald Pools Trail...woo hoo!

We jump into the cars and drive up to the park but we were stopped by park rangers who were directing us to park along the Zion Park Blvd...just outside the park near Zion Canyon Giant Screen Theater.  So we had to walk the rest of the way to the visitor center where Nhi and Sal bought the National Parks pass, an annual membership to all the parks within the National Parks System for free, plus with the pass they got all of us into the park for free too...woo hoo!

We hopped onto the the shuttle bus, the only vehicles allowed to traverse Zion Canyon Scenic Drive from April to November, up to Zion Lodge.  We walked across Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and crossed the footbridge ove ther Virgin River to the Emerald Pools trailhead.
RJ, BiG, Nancy, and Sheila acting silly
From the trailhead, we took the trail that led us to the Middle Pools. The hike up to the Middle Pools was strenuous and underneath the midday sun but it still was beautiful as the trail switchbacked along the dramatic cliffs with gorgeous views of the canyon and the river.  Fortunately some portions of the trail were shaded by the elevated canyon walls or by trees...either way it was a godsend.


RJ, BiG, and Sheila were the first ones to reach the Middle Pools. The Middle Pools area was completely shaded and really cool in climate. The pools are called Emerald pools because of the abundance of green algae growing in them...at the time of our visit, the pools looked more like puddles...oh well, they were still pretty to look act.  Nhi, RJ and I ventured off the trail following the stream that feeds the Middle Pools, the Behunin Canyon watershed.


Just a bit aways from the Middle Pools I found a large sized boulder which I climbed up.

Classic TB Circle Shot...Part Deux!
Yay...the top was flat so I begged RJ to take a jumping pic of me. He tried 4 times but to no avail so he enlisted the Nancy to take the pic. I guess the 5th time was the charm...she caught me in mid air with my signature cheerleading split jump...hahaha thanks RJ and Nancy! I then urged RJ, Nancy, Sheila, and BiG to climb the rock too so I can take their pic...Alice called it the Power Ranger pic...hahaha!  Sal and Jenn soon caught up with us and we all were snap happy.


Nhi urged us to follow the stream so we can touch the walls of the canyon. Sal and Jenn decided to sit this one out and rest on a rock amidst the slow flowing stream. RJ, Nhi, BiG, and I scouted ahead for the best route forward with Sheila right on our heels and Nancy followed our shouts of "Marco" or "Polo". We lent each other a helping hand up through the steep parts, gingerly stepped on rotted logs, warned our fellow TravBuddies of loose rocks, viewed cute waterfalls as they eroded rock faces in very cool patterns, shimmied through tight crawl spaces between rocks, ducked under tree branches, and scaled huge rock boulders as far upstream as we could but the closer we got to the canyon wall, the steeper the route and the looser the rocks underfoot.

Heaps Canyon
So close yet so far...looking at the cliffs above us, we could see other hikers making their way towards the canyon walls...maybe we should have stuck to trail?  Even though I was exhausted from the lack of sleep, I enjoyed our trailblazing adventure...climbing over rocks and fording the streams...does this make me hard core?

 

We hastily made our way back down and met up with Sal and Jenn. Together we hiked down to the main trail where we were at a crossroads...shall we call it a day and head back down or take the trail to the Upper Pools? Forward and up we went. The trail to the Upper Pools consisted of fine sand littered with rocks of varying sizes. The trail was seemingly precarious at times because it traversed the cliff's edge...so close that I could see where we were earlier in our off trail exploration. Hiking up on the sand was tough but the little kids running up the trail motivated me to keep on going.

 

At the Upper Pools, the sandstone cliff faces towered over us majestically...it was amazing. It must have a really dry summer because the Upper Pool looked shallow even though its a collection point of the Heaps Canyon watershed.  While we waited for the others, RJ and I scrambled up a boulder-ridden slope for a bird's eye view of the pools. So much for peace and quiet...the area was noisy with hikers and their kids screaming, crying, running around, and throwing sand...especially at Nancy...hahaha! Once the others arrived we took the opportunity to take a group photo...or 5 or 6! 

 

With hunger pangs echoing in our bellies we head back down to the Middle Pools area. Once there, instead of heading back the way we came up, we decided to head down the trail that led to the Lower Pools. This time trail was hard packed dirt with sandstone stairs and stepping stones. The trail continued downward hugging the rock face underneath an overhang from which low flow waterfalls were cascading down into the Lower Pools.

Breath in focus power!
 Directly under the falls, the trail became muddy and slippy but a chain-link hand rail drilled into the rock assisted us along the trail.

 

After the falls the trail wound downward through a forested area. Offshooting from the main trail was a short foot path up to a red sandstone wall with artful-looking people sized nooks and crannies. You know what happened next...we got snap happy again! We continued back down and at last we crossed the footbridge. RJ and I took the liberty to soak our tired feet in the fast flowing Virgin River while we waited for the rest of the crew.

 

Tired and weary, we boarded the shuttle bus at Zion Lodge. To my dismay, the shuttle was packed with other hikers wanting to leave the park so the shuttle was standing room only. It was a struggle to hold onto the overhead bars...in fact my arms were cramping up but I had to hold on even tighter or be thrusted forward knocking down everyone around at every bump the shuttle drove over.

View of Red Arch Mountain
Once at the Visitor Center I briskly walked towards the cars. I turned and around the the rest of the group was no where in site so laid my backpack atop a short rock wall and laid down staring up into the sky watching the wind rustle the fall foliage. The group casually strolls on by past me and we all head to the cars...salivating over the thought of a beefy steak dinner.

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The Emerald Pools Trail winds alon…
The Emerald Pools Trail winds alo…
Footbridge crossing the Virgin Riv…
Footbridge crossing the Virgin Ri…
Cool looking twisted wood
Cool looking twisted wood
RJ, BiG, Nancy, and Sheila acting …
RJ, BiG, Nancy, and Sheila acting…
Classic TB Circle Shot...Part Deux!
Classic TB Circle Shot...Part Deux!
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
Breath in focus power!
Breath in focus power!
View of Red Arch Mountain
View of Red Arch Mountain
The Virgin River
The Virgin River
View of the Great White Throne (ce…
View of the Great White Throne (c…
View of Lady Mountain from the tra…
View of Lady Mountain from the tr…
View from the trail leading to the…
View from the trail leading to th…
Me and my traveling buddy...Julius…
Me and my traveling buddy...Juliu…
View of the Virgin River and Sandy…
View of the Virgin River and Sand…
View of the Virgin River and Sandy…
View of the Virgin River and Sand…
Julius was here!
Julius was here!
View of Lady Mountain from the tra…
View of Lady Mountain from the tr…
A reptilian friend
A reptilian friend
View of the West Rim
View of the West Rim
View of the falls that drip into t…
View of the falls that drip into …
View of the falls that drip into t…
View of the falls that drip into …
Sheila, BiG, and RJ waiting for th…
Sheila, BiG, and RJ waiting for t…
I liked the reflection off the Mid…
I liked the reflection off the Mi…
I found the perfect rock...and you…
I found the perfect rock...and yo…
RJ and Nancy
RJ and Nancy
More silliness by Nancy, Sheila, J…
More silliness by Nancy, Sheila, …
Behunin Canyon...I think
Behunin Canyon...I think
Notorious BiG
Notorious BiG
RJ
RJ
Sheila
Sheila
Another rock I had to climb
Another rock I had to climb
Finally Nancy caught up with us
Finally Nancy caught up with us
Behunin Canyon...I think
Behunin Canyon...I think
Cool looking rock that has been er…
Cool looking rock that has been e…
Behunin Canyon...I think
Behunin Canyon...I think
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
RJ leading the way down from our o…
RJ leading the way down from our …
West Rim
West Rim
Nancy and I from far away
Nancy and I from far away
Nancy is ready for her close up
Nancy is ready for her close up
Nancy and I up close
Nancy and I up close
Behunin Canyon...I think
Behunin Canyon...I think
Behunin Canyon...I think
Behunin Canyon...I think
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
Heaps Canyon
View of Red Arch Mountain
View of Red Arch Mountain
Jenn heading down to the Lower Poo…
Jenn heading down to the Lower Po…
The TB Gang
The TB Gang
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
Sheila, Sal, and Nancy
Sheila, Sal, and Nancy
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
Falls into the Lower Pools
View of West Rim from the Lower Po…
View of West Rim from the Lower P…
Along the Lower Pools Trail
Along the Lower Pools Trail
Jenn and Sal on the Lower Pools Tr…
Jenn and Sal on the Lower Pools T…
Sal chained himself to the Lower P…
Sal chained himself to the Lower …
RJ, Sheila, Sal, and half of Jenn …
RJ, Sheila, Sal, and half of Jenn…
Nancy and Sheila like to climb roc…
Nancy and Sheila like to climb ro…
RJ, Sal, and Nhi like to climb roc…
RJ, Sal, and Nhi like to climb ro…
Nhi...get in your hole!
Nhi...get in your hole!
Sheila...get in your hole!
Sheila...get in your hole!
Sal...get in your hole!
Sal...get in your hole!
BiG...get in your hole!
BiG...get in your hole!
View of the Court of the Patriarch…
View of the Court of the Patriarc…
View of the Court of the Patriarch…
View of the Court of the Patriarc…
Chillaxin my tired feet in the Vi…
Chillaxin' my tired feet in the V…
Nancy, Sheila, and Sal at the foot…
Nancy, Sheila, and Sal at the foo…
Nancy, Sheila, and Sal at the foot…
Nancy, Sheila, and Sal at the foo…
RJ resting his tired feet too!
RJ resting his tired feet too!
Classic TB Circle Shot...Shucks I …
Classic TB Circle Shot...Shucks I…
Zion National Park
photo by: rsvpme