Zion is another popular National Park that operates a delightful shuttle service. The park is vaguely closed to private vehicles, yet you see them everywhere. But why drive when the bus covers everything you could want to see and passes every five to ten minutes? Yesterday we rode the whole route, bailing out at the Temple of the Sinawava to make the Riverside Walk. The paved trail is more like a wide sidewalk and it transforms a 2.2 mile march into a pleasant stroll, even for a guy with bad knees. Beyond that there is an upriver hike of three or four miles each way, but that trail is unpaved and much of it is underwater. To attempt this we’d need thermally protective waterproof pants and boots, and one more good knee. Even then people step into holes in the river’s floor hidden by the silvery currents, and after that you’re cold the rest of the day. No sir, not for me!
Kat took excellent photos of a mid-morning sunrise over our canyon, as well as some cool pics of what they call Zion’s Hanging Gardens – wildflowers clinging to the cliffside, irrigated by sprinkles from small springs emerging from the cliff’s face. Our sidewalk was crowded, and I spent so much time looking up we might as well have been in New York City. Except that is, for the beauty of those sandstone mountains punctuated by the greenery of our desert oasis.
Today we got off the bus at Zion Lodge, the park’s upscale lodging of choice, unless you happen to possess a MAN RV. For something like $400,000, plus the conversion to Euros, you too can drive, cook, and sleep in this eleven ton house on wheels. Its owner says it gets 13 to 14 mpg, but Dutchmen have been known to exaggerate, especially about things monetaire.
The Lower Emerald Pool is 1.5 mile round trip climb and descent from the Lodge. This trail is paved, but much narrower and a bit more dangerous than Riverside (there are few handrails but a lot of steep drop-offs). People in a hurry to see all of the park in a day or two brush brusquely past casual strollers, and it seems that everyone whose first language is not English feels compelled to converse, non-stop, at 80 decibels. But once in a while you will find a place to sit, and here and there interludes of quiet do break out. That’s when you’ll hear the sheep-like bleating of the canyon tree frog, and perhaps the splat of dripping water falling a hundred feet onto the sandstone below, or into the pool itself. It’s a beautiful sight, and the sounds of nature are well worth the hike.