Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Zion 2010 - Photos & Commentary - 5/7/10 thru 5/9/10

The Place

Just sit right down and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a wonderful trip!

That started from this city of lights
Aboard two cars and an RV.

The mates were mighty desert hikers,
The skipper brave and sure.

Five explorers set off for an adventure that day
For a three day tour, a three day tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The night-wind blew hard and cold,

If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The weekend would be lost to the caterpillars, the weekend would be lost to the caterpillars.

The weekend was full of fun and play on this uncharted desert National Park

With Kay the photographer,
Howard, the skipper, too,
The millionaire Don and his wife, Marg,
The movie star K2,
No professors nor Mary Anns,
Here at Zion National Park!!

The Players

The Wildlife

The Hikes

Canyon Overlook Trail

On Friday afternoon, Kay and K2 drove through the tunnel and parked at the other end to do the Canyon Overlook Trail, a one-half mile hike to an overlook of the canyon below the tunnel. The trail is very interesting with steps, overhangs, overlooks to the slot canyon and road below and ledges with handrails to assist.

This is where we saw the group of six big horn sheep, 4 adult females and 2 kids. We also spied a chipmunk vying for crumbs from our snack that we ate at the top. This excursion only took a couple of hours in the afternoon when the light was warm for photography and fewer people were on the trail. We even got a prime parking space in the small lot which is a rare occurence.

A small pot luck dinner with hamburgers over the fire was served Friday night.

Emerald Pools

Saturday morning, we all woke early, anxious to get started on an exciting day. Howard had signed us up for a 2 hour bus tour of the canyon so we all climbed aboard. The tour was interesting and added a few tidbits of information that was not yet in the "brain-file." Afterwards, four of us decided to hike the Kayenta Trail to the Emerald Pools from the Grotto shuttle stop.

As we hiked around the bend, the views of the canyon were exquisite. The cottonwood trees were bright green and in full foliage. The Virgin River was overflowing and the morning sun was beginning to warm the fresh air. Soon, the Lower Emerald Falls came into view through the trees. There were three separate places where the water flowed over the cliff, each about two feet wide.

We hiked to the top of the lower falls and posed for pictures on the cliff. Then we headed up the hill towards the Upper Emerald Falls. This climb is steep but the reward at the end is worth it. There was a lot of water spraying down from the cliff about 2000 feet above us. The wind blew the water first to the right and then to the left. It fell on the rocks below and then ran into a small pool with a sandy beach. The color of the water was copperish ... not green.

After enjoying a snack at the pool while joined by thirty of our closest friends, we hiked back down the hill passing a hiker who was being attended by a ranger. Dehydration was the official explanation. However, on our way down the trail, we were passed by another ranger, a stretcher with two rangers, and another three rangers. At the bottom, there were two ambulances. We guessed the park rangers take dehydration issues very seriously.

Marg and Don provided a wonderful dinner of lamb chops on the grill Saturday night.

Petroglyph Adventure & Exploration

After hearing about a little- known set of petroglyphs in the park during our bus tour the day before, K2 relentlessly pursued the rangers for the location of such. The rangers finally gave in and gave her a vague set of directions which we took to heart as the truth. Sunday morning, after saying goodbye to Marg and Don, three of us set off to find the treasure. After figuring out that the parking for the trail was not on the side of the tunnel that the ranger said it was, we found the wooden fence with the sign "No Bus Parking."

We started down the trail to a main wash that flowed not far from the road. Bypassing a couple of side washes, we continued down the main wash through two beautiful slot canyons which showed levels of ancient waters. Finally, thinking we were headed in the wrong direction, we turned around and decided to explore one of the side washes.

We found a wash that contained an old culvert that went under the road as prescribed by the ranger. We thought sure that this was the right trail and we went through it to the other side of the road. We were met with a large open wash and very few walls that might contain petroglyphs but we searched high and low anyway. The wide wash was beautiful with colorful sandstone, potholes with frogs and towering cliffs ahead. However, the treasure was not to be found here and we finally gave up and began returning to the car.

When we were almost back to the car, we discovered yet another small wash that contained an old culvert which led to the other side of the road. Aha! We followed this one again to the other side. The hair on the back of our necks stood up and, following our nose to a nearby wall below a 1000 foot cliff, we found what we were looking for all along. The petroglyphs were protected by a wooden fence and the area held a sign-in register. The carvings were along the very bottom of the wall for about thirty to forty feet. We were thrilled and took many photos.

There were petro- glyphs that were usual and petro- glyphs that were unusual. We called this one "Shopping at Target." The next one, resembles school children riding the bus ... okay, maybe not. And the petroglyph below, reminds us of the song, "I'm a Little Tea Pot." Of course, these probably mean something a lot more profound but no one has been able to interpret them with surety.

We got back in the car and drove further east to see the Checker- board Mesa. Here, we sat on the wall in the shade and ate a snack while drinking in the amazing surroundings. When we started back, K2 noticed some snow still lying at the foot of the mesa not far from the road so we took a small excursion up to the frozen dirty white stuff and K2 slid down from the top on the seat of her pants! Then we returned back to the campground for a nap.

The Virgin River Inspection

Sunday afternoon, Howard and K2 took the town shuttle into the interesting little town of Springdale for a shopping tour and Kay took the canyon shuttle up into the canyon to examine the state of the flooded Virgin River. The Narrows had been closed to hikers four days before due to the high waters and a picture of the trailhead had to be taken. In the photo to the left, you can see the scene at the end of the Riverwalk Trail and the beginning of the Narrows hike. Across the river, you can see the trail coming out of the water. It crosses this short piece of land then goes back into a pool of the river above this. This pool is often the deepest section of the trail at around four to five feet deep. This changes due to the travelling sediment of the steep rushing waters.

Howard, K2 and Kay enjoyed delicious phish tacos at Oscars Sunday night. Monday morning, we shook the caterpillars off of EVERYTHING, packed up and went home.

Until next year, ....

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