The night before, we planned to get up very early and eat as soon as the hotel’s complimentary breakfast opened in order to get to the park before the Memorial Day crowds started making things a slow going. Claire woke up to a blinding light in her eyes. Actually, Pam woke up right before her alarm was to go off and flicked it on right beside the bed. Claire thought she was seeing the “bright angels” from the trail in the Grand Canyon yesterday and threatened Pam that if she turned on the light first thing in the morning again, she was going to get her. Pam thought she was saving Claire from hearing her alarm with her good timing, but, oh well . . .
So, we were off . . . early breakfast, early out of the hotel, early enough to sing “Marching to Zion” as we go into the park just a mile or two from the hotel . . . then we were met with a long, long line of people waiting for the same shuttle buses we needed. You can only access the part of the park with the trail-heads where we
were going by shuttle bus. Well, we thought that we had planned it perfectly, but then many of the multitude of hikers had 10-12-hour hikes in front of them. No wonder they were here this early. Even this early in the a.m., the park ranger announced those standing there had at least a 40-min. wait to get on the bus and, since it was Memorial Day weekend, we should expect to wait up to 2 hours at each stop to get back on the shuttle bus once off. So much for getting here early; apparently the place was already packed. While we waited, we met a guy from Belgium who was in the area for a conference and decided to come up to hike one of the strenuous hikes in Zion although not accustomed to the altitude. Let’s hope he did okay. With plenty of time to waste, we put together our heads and came up with a master plan to be the most efficient route to see the trails and scenery without waiting in lines all day.
Riding the packed bus ride to the very last stop, we scored big by getting seats so we could make pictures
along the way. People were packed in the double-shuttle buses like sardines with just as many standing as were sitting. We made hordes of pictures all day long in Zion and nothing you see here even comes close to the images we witnessed with our own eyes of those monumental rock cliffs and towering peaks. Words can’t describe them; they were so awe-inspiring! Back to the ride, we thought that people would get off the bus at various stops, but the serious hikers remained until the last few stops. They were probably looking at us (Claire with her leg brace on, Susan with her Achilles Tendon taped, and Pam with CJJ attached to her pack strap and thought, “What are these ladies planning to do out here?” But, that didn’t stop us . . . they don’t know us . . . we don’t let things like injuries get in the way . . . we’ll try anything (just like Mikey). We got off at the last stop for “The Narrows” listed under the “strenuous hike” category and off we went. True to its name, “The Narrows” is a trail that narrows to a point where the towering rock cliffs
part of the Narrows
nearly touch, only separated by the Virgin River in between, then from that point on the trail is in the river. Along the beginning of the trail it runs along the river bank and is a gentle, rolling, stroll filled with hanging gardens and trickling streams running down the rocks. We saw numerous deer walking right next to us throughout that section. At one point, Susan decided she wanted to sit down on a rock and when she did, she screamed out so much that everyone nearby turned to see what was wrong thinking that she had fallen. Nope! Just an ice-cold rock. If they weren’t certain before that we were in over our heads, they had evidence now. They snickered as they walked on. Eventually, the trail reached the water and Pam went in first. To say that is was cold was an understatement. It was frigid and since all three of us have Raynaud’s Syndrome, it wasn’t long before we were afraid that hypothermia would set in trying to navigate the slippery rocks in the nearly frozen water. And what would happen if we did fall? Sudden death. Then, Pam said she couldn’t feel her feet anymore and
was afraid she would break an ankle or leg and we’d never get her out of there, so we decided we had gone far enough on “The Narrows” and headed back to the trail-head. It was the best hike of the day by far but was cold (Brrrr….)
Back at the shuttle bus stop, there were no long lines, we actually hopped right on a bus as it waited for a few more people to get on before its scheduled time to leave. We got back off the bus at the next stop down, “Big Bend”. “Big Bend” is a famous spot in Zion for serious cliff rock climbing and the sheer cliffs surrounding the area were impressive. Just so Pam could say she rock climbed in the area, she climbed up one of the small cliffs that she could handle. We did see a skilled rock climber wayyyyy up on a towering vertical cliff wearing bright yellow. Then, we saw an eagle flying all around the rock faces with the deep blue sky in the background. Wow, oh wow! The whole time we were at this stop, no one else was anywhere nearby. Huh???? This is Memorial Day
looking up the side of the Narrows
weekend, isn’t it? Where are all those long lines the park ranger warned us about??? As soon as the shuttle bus came by again, we hopped back on.
Originally, we were planning to stop at the next stop down for another hike, but we changed our minds since Claire’s aching knee was telling her she better take it easy. So, we went to the Zion Lodge stop for an “easy” hike. We knew that the lodge area would be crowded and we’d definitely wait our 2 hours there, so we planned to eat the lunch in our backpacks on this trail.
This “easy” hike (the Lower Emerald Pool Trail) should give Claire’s knee its much-needed rest. This trail says it’s a 1-hr, 1.2 mile hike with minor drop-offs on a paved trail leading to the Lower Emerald Pool and Waterfalls. However, it went up-and-down, through dips, turns, and all around with large drainage ditches right across the trail causing many to stumble. We went slow and stopped to let Claire sit as needed, but it ended up feeling much more strenuous then an “easy” hike. And after having been on such a great trail with “The Narrows”, we
Susan and Pam following the trail into the river
were a little disappointed arriving at the trickle of a falls into almost dried up pool of water that wasn’t even emerald-colored. We did get some mist on us as we walked in the spray of the falls – refreshing since it was so hot. A guy who pushed a rugged stroller with two kids said they were going under the water because he earned it for pushing them up and down and all around that trail. Seriously, you did earn it! On the way back, we stopped and sat on a sloping stone wall to eat our lunch. Several people stopped to rest there, out of breath, and wondered how much farther it was to the end. A few younger people hiking the trail came by and one said, “Ooh, they have snacks!” Another one said, “Aw, we failed.” It was evident that the trail description misled a number of people who were hungry, tired, and hot by that point. Later, as we were hiking back, we met a man from central Missouri who was kind enough to take our picture together with the towering rocks in the background and we took his picture for him. He told us
all kinds of places to visit in Arkansas later in our trip.
Almost immediately after coming back to the trail-head, we were able to catch a shuttle bus back to the visitor’s center and our van. Apparently, we had things timed just right, because, except for the initial 45-min wait to get on the shuttle buses, we never waited again. Maybe the park rangers scared everyone and they made those “alternate plans” that he spoke about!!! At the shuttle bus station, we met Johnny, Ann, and several other Zion National Park employees who must have realized right away how interesting we were just by looking at us - this Hop-a-long Cassidy group (knee brace, taped ankle, and a stuffed monkey on a pack); they knew there must be a story behind us. Friendly as they could be, we were all laughing and swapping stories about travels and hilarious experiences.
From there, Cassidy drove us up and down through the driving part of Zion following the same route that Susan navigated in the dark the night before. So that each of us would have a chance to see the front seat view without driving, we came up with a
Hole in the side of the wall
plan. Up the canyon, Susan would drive and Claire would be in the viewing seat with Pam in the back. Then everyone would shift to the right. Down the canyon, Pam would drive and Susan would view while Claire set in the back. Then, in the morning when we leave out of Zion to head to Bryce, Claire will drive and Pam will view while Susan rides in the back. Worked like a charm and we all got to see Zion in its glory. Because of the timing today, we were able to navigate through the shuttle bus stops and through the driving part of the park and get back to the hotel with time to take showers. We even had time enough to get to a restaurant right as the doors opened (that perfect timing). No wait; and when we left, there was a 30-min wait. The meal was delicious and the view of the gorgeous rock face from the back outdoor patio, couldn’t be beat! Seriously! We had our timing down pat today!
Tot: 2.745s; Tpl: 0.067s; cc: 14; qc: 46; dbt: 0.0437s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb