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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 10: Zion NP (Leg: 0, Trip: 1,129.8)

Mother Nature had a special surprise for us during the night. Several times after midnight there was quite a show of lightning and thunder. Because of the rock formations surrounding us, we could hear it echo off the walls and see the flash mirrored on the rocks. Very impressive. Of course, it was accompanied by some rain, heavy at times with hail too.

We slept in a bit extra this morning due to the rain. Had a leisurely breakfast and then drove to Hurricane, UT (pronounced Hurr-i-ken by the locals) to do some errands. Found some really neat water bottle holders with the bottles included that strap around your waist. These are like water jars with screw on lids and wide mouths, perfect for inserting ice cubes. There are two water jars and pouches plus two zipper compartments, perfect for cameras and stuff. Both Carol and I got one of these.

While on our errands, we each had phone calls to make. I needed to call Debbie at Montebello Unified because her sister passed away yesterday unexpectedly and I'm not in good cell coverage at the RV park, so didn't get the message.

We had lunch in Hurricane (quick pop up quiz: without looking, how is it pronounced?) and came back to the RV about 2pm. Then we decided to do the Lower Emerald Pool walk. This walk starts at the Zion Lodge, altitude roughly 4,300 feet and goes for 1.2 miles and you climb up to about 4,500 feet. The path is cement most of the way and about 4 feet wide in most places. The hike is considered easy because you can do it in 60-90 minutes. There are many up and down hills on this walk so you get some real exercise. Carol and I both have walking poles (which are collapsible and adjustable for height) and these help exercise your arms and shoulders while walking. You get about 25% more calorie burn using the poles when walking.

You walk across the road from the Lodge and cross the river using this bridge. (as always, click on any picture to enlarge it.)

As you look down into the river, the water is moving fast this time of year and is very muddy. This is the erosion that formed Zion over millions of years. In 1995, there was a major rock slide caused by this river that washed out the road below the Lodge and trapped 350 people in the lodge for a day. It took them 6 weeks to get a temporary road in place so that they could reopen the canyon.

Further up the path, you can see this cutout of a disc shaped area on the side of one of the large rocks. I would estimate that this disc is actually about 300+ feet in diameter. It was most likely made by moisture inside the rocks freezing and cracking the rock. Eventually the cracks removed all the support from below and gravity took over.

When you finally reach the Lower Emerald Pool, you find this beautiful waterfall (see below). There are actually three pools (upper, middle, and lower) and each is fed by a waterfall. Of course, springtime is the best time to see waterfalls due to the snow melt. And from what George told us over the weekend, they had more snow here than usual, so the runoff into the falls is really heavy. Our timing to visit here probably could not have been better.

As you continue, you actually walk in behind the falls. The water is flowing over a cliff and you can stand under it. Again, because the rocks here are sandstone, the water can actually percolate through the rock (takes many years) and drips come down from the ceiling and get you slightly wet. Of course, the majority of the water goes over the falls. I'm sure on a sunny day, the reflections on this water would cause rainbows and really be fantastic.

On the way back on the trail, as you cross the bridge again, you are treated to this view of the Virgin River flowing down the canyon. The trees were especially pretty today and the picture really doesn't show the vibrant green color they have now.

We came back to the RV for dinner and now are both working on our blogs. We are finding that the writing of the blogs takes a minimum of an hour a day, most often more. We both hope you are enjoying traveling with us this way. Remember, feel free to leave comments under the entry for any day. We always like to see who is reading these entries.


John Bardin said...

What you guys are experiencing is living history unfolding before your eyes. Very cool!

John Bardin

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