"" Writer's Wanderings: The National Park Road Trip - Zion

Friday, October 17, 2014

The National Park Road Trip - Zion

We awoke to a beautiful sunny day. Except for some of the deposits of muddy red sand, you’d never known the day before had been so hazardous. Of course there were also several rock slides in the park that were still being cleaned up but our ride with the ranger was still on. Our bus sat right beside the flagpole that had been indicated to us the day before and soon our ranger arrived and informed us that she had a plan A and a plan B in case there was a road still impassable.

There was nothing to worry about. The rock slides and sand deposits and damage from the river and instant waterfalls only helped her to prove her points about how the canyon was formed. While those sorts of weather happenings needed thousands of years to erode and cut through the canyon we could all understand how it could happen.

Our ride with the ranger gave us some stops along the way that the regular shuttle didn’t do so we got to leisurely see parts of the canyon without having to hike to some of the spots. We ended our ride at the Temple of Sinawava at the end of the shuttle line. Given the option to ride back to the visitor center or stay and do a little hiking, we opted to stay.

The trail was already full of people but it was a fairly easy walk to the end where the trail continued to a more difficult one that goes through an area called the Narrows. It’s a narrow opening between two cliff walls where the river flows through. You have to wade through the river water to continue the trail. Because of the speed of the river plus its depth after the rains, the park had said it was closed. We did see three men who appeared outfitted (you were required to have some special equipment including some thick walking poles) and headed for the Narrows trail. We wondered if they were a search team looking for the people who had left a car in the parking lot that had a notice on it which read, “You are overdue. Please contact the visitor center or a ranger to check in.”

The shuttles are the only way to get through the main area of the park without special permission and they reduce traffic as well as emissions since the shuttles all run on propane.  Upon our return to the parking area, we caught the next shuttle to a place called Weeping Rock. While considered an easy trek, it was a lot of uphill walking. The good part of that was coming back, it would be all downhill.

We got to Weeping Rock and found it wasn’t weeping, it was crying a river. All the rain was still seeping through the rocks at a good rate. Lovely green maidenhair fern graced the rocks around the area and lots of moss softened the harsh lines of the rocks.

When Bob had originally planned our trip and tried to get reservations at each park lodge, he couldn’t get into the Zion Lodge. We decided to stop by and check out what we missed as well as stop for lunch. The lodge was rustic and comfortable looking and the restaurant had an inviting menu. Bob made reservations for us to return for dinner and he was handed a special red tag for the car. We would not be able to return by shuttle after dinner so we would have to drive.

Lunch was enjoyed at the outdoor café and then we trekked off to a trail that led to the Emerald Pools. Again the trail was said to be easy and it was, mostly, but we were getting a bit tired and sore from uphill climbs. We found a spot short of the destination to observe what were probably emerald green pools of water on a normal day but like all the other water ways they were chocolate colored with the mud stirred up from the rains.

The shuttle deposited us back at the Visitors Center which, with a short walk through the pedestrian entrance to the park, got us quickly back to our room at the Cable Mountain Lodge.  I left my backpack and camera in the room and we took a leisurely walk along the other side of the river where the campgrounds were. We thought often of a few of our friends who love to camp and decided that we would definitely leave the camping to them to enjoy. It was impossible to imagine what it would have been like in one of those tents in the rain the previous day.

Showered and dressed casually (dress code at each park is jeans and shirts), we drove to the park entrance and showed our pass and ID even though we had the red tag. The red tag got us through the area where normally only shuttles are allowed. Along the way we had to slow for some wild turkeys. We didn’t expect those here.
At the lodge, we enjoyed the view out the window of the huge cottonwood trees on the lodge grounds and the cliff wall in the distance. We weren’t seated at a window but were near enough to enjoy the view. While the view was nice, the dinner was even nicer. I had a pecan encrusted trout with garlic mashed potatoes and the vegetable of the day which included zucchini. I winced at the zucchini but when it came it was absolutely delicious. If zucchini were always that well cooked (not mushy) I’d always welcome it on my plate.

The sun had already set as we made our way out of the park. Not far from the Zion Lodge, we had to stop for a herd of mule deer. Unfortunately the pictures I took blurred but there they were, deer caught in the headlights. At least they weren’t at my house eating my flowers. You know, when they’re not eating your garden they are kinda cute.

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