We left Las Vegas around noon on Friday, the last session of the conference held no interest and so we were able to hit the road earlier than planned. One thing I must come back to is how we worked out how to establish an Internet connection using our Blackjack II phones, which saved the day for J who was unable to VPN out of the hotel… anyway the drive from Vegas to Zion Canyon was long (3+ hours) so we broke the journey at a town whose name escapes me but is home to the Oasis Casino, we did not stop at the casino, instead we drove through the town scoping out all the dinner options and decided to go for a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant called Mia’s, I had a chicken quesidia, followed by some combo thingy, the appetizer was excellent and the highlight of the road trip for both of us. We also visited the local Wal-Mart and stocked up on granola bars fruit and massive bottles of water, all essential for higher altitude hiking. Even after our break we still arrived at Zion well ahead of schedule, this was my third trip there and J’s second so we both knew what to expect. That said we were not expecting the lodge to be so nice (let’s just say we had fairly low expectations of state park accommodations). We had booked the most expensive room at the Zion Canyon Lodge, still not pricey by business travel standards, and frankly worth every penny, we had a suite with a living room and balcony. A small bathroom and kitchen, and a nice king size bed. Don’t talk to be about the pillows – they were the low point for me. Here is the view from our balcony:
Hard to beat! We decided we had time for a couple of hour hike and we had bought the Moon’s guide to Bryce and Zion so we choose the middle distance recommended hike which was the Emerald Pool Trail, this hike consists of climbing the edge of the canyon almost opposite the lodge to pass by three dark green water pools formed by a series of spectacular water falls. Unfortunately there was not much water falling, but the first water fall you hit is a wide one in a semi circle, the water has undercut the hard crust rock and so you walk behind and under the falling water, it was a great feeling seeing the water falling and getting sprayed as it hit the pool below, the temperature was in the mid 60’s and falling as the sun went down, but there was ice all around the bottom of the falls. There were a couple of families hiking this trail too, mostly descending as we went up the paths. The upper section had far fewer people and was considerably more rugged with the path no longer paved and in places indistinct. When we finally got to the top pool we felt it was a well rewarded exertion as we saw the fabulous 500 foot plus water fall plummeting down to a wonderfull pool.
We descended a different path, turning right (south) at the second pool which led us along a higher path back to the lodge. This path was less trodden and gave us a very peaceful way to return. We actually only saw one other person on this trail, which was a guy really limping along because he had knee pains. It made me very thankful that I had my carbon fiber sprung loaded hiking poles and had previously learned how to walk down hills and take the pressure of my patella tendon, otherwise I too would have been in a lot of pain by then, descending kills them without poles.
We decided to eat at the lodge that night as neither of us felt like driving, we both had fish, and neither of us were impressed, go to the lodge for the views not the food….