Thursday, September 16, 2010
Day 4: Zion NP
Day 4: Zion NP
Even though the National Guard and Army Reserve see combat today, it rankles me that people assume it was some kind of waltz in the park back then.
Pics: early morning walk on the road (including an unpainted utility box and THB‘s trash pick-up…now, not everyone includes a stylized trash composition), hiking to the middle, upper and lower pools (yes, sequence is right), and Weeping Rock.
We sleep in…okay, I sleep in until 3am, get up and look at the stars. Amazing, the lack of ambient light is giving the sky a sparkling we just don’t experience any more. Back to sleep and it is almost light when we start to stir. Since we are in a canyon, there are no early morn shots of sunrise orange. Instead you get a blurry pic from our balcony. We decide to hike the road, the park isn’t open to traffic until around 8am, so we walk down canyon. Another blurry pic, of Canadian Geese. WRONG!!!! Not-so-wild turkeys all over the road, on their way to the lodge lawn, theirs in the morning, the deer get it in the afternoon. No CG, not sure why…it’s a big lawn. We shuttle up canyon to the lodge, nice way to get around the park, walk down and ride up. Somehow we walk 3 miles to the junction of 89 and shuttle back around 2.5 miles, some sort of rounding error.
Breakfast at the lodge, and DB notices that the pancakes come in groups of 4, large groups. We decide to split a stack, the waiter brings us the bland puffy ones instead of the multigrain we ordered. Back he comes with bland puffy multigrain ones, which even sharing we can’t finish. A SMALL fruitcup composed of grapes and half a sliced strawberry (THB is not exaggerating here), $4.50, a free banana off the buffet for DB, coffee, total is $20.
Now we decide to hike to the emerald pools, the trailhead is right across from the lodge. We decide to avoid the “side of the cliff” portion, and off we go on it without realizing it. It is not that scary, and we end up first at the middle pool. It’s an Abbott and Costello routine, except the stage is heated to 90 degrees just to make the performers really uncomfortable. After that we head to the upper pool, our turnaround point so you get a picture of us standing in front of (you can’t see it, though I know the pool’s there, and do you like that fancy way THB wears a bandana?) upper pool. Then down to the lower pool, stopping at the OTHER middle pool. Two middle pools? Shouldn’t it be plural on the signs? Total hike is between 5 an 12 miles depending on which sections we actually walked and liberal use of the “round up” rule. It took around 1 hour 45 minutes, using the equally liberal round down rule.
Lunch at the lodge, we share a chicken and green chile and cheese sandwich (good) and chicken salad salad (very good). This is a no french fries trip, so I turn down the regular fries and the sweet potato fries, and only afterwards did DB (who didn’t see that on offer) tell me that maybe we hadn’t banned sweet potato fries. Hmmmmmm….I also turn down the potato salad and thus end up with beef soup as my side. True? As my loyal followers know, this blog is only about 23.5% non-fiction. Two Arnold Palmers, $26.
We ride the shuttle to the end. Here we see a helicopter conveying supplies up on to a ridge. Turns out they are getting ready to shut down the Angels Landing for a month and have closed it today to take the supplies up there. That’s a sign: they need a helicopter to get stuff up on this hike…the hike will be open the next three days, and I will be hiking it solo, for two good reasons:
1. After you climb a set of 21 switchbacks straight up the mountain, you get to finish the hike by holding on (I will be holding on) to rail along a half mile ridge, around 4 feet wide in most parts, with a drop off on one side of 800 feet and on the other only 1200 feet.
2. DB has developed a blister under the nail of the middle toe of her left foot (TMI?) and we went to a medical clinic where an ever-cheerful doc stuck a needle in, drained the blister, and wrapped her up. DB is also quite cheerful, it doesn’t hurt. She is one of a kind!!!!!!!
So, DB gets a day off and THB gets…gets…gets…..to use his airplane seat as an alternative to a flotation device.
Weeping Rock is up next, a very short steep walk to an inset alcove with water dripping over the edge. Up and back in about ½ hour, so maybe a mile each way, rounded up.
We move into the Desert Pearl Inn, this is a great spot (another reco of friends), for three nights. We have a river view, really a view of the red ribbed mountains behind the Inn. A pool, quickly used by THB. It is hot here, so back to the room, DB has got us a couple of local brewskies and cheese for balcony relaxation.
Dinner at a local converted gas station, we eat between where the pumps were and the cashier house: fire-hot tacos, beer and wine, $60 (expensive tacos!).
Oh, and for those of you wanting to know how DB is going to hold up with her toe, we have a cure: in two days we’ll be hiking the Narrows, where you hike up the Virgin river in near frozen water, through steep cliff sides (no banks); this will be an attempt to give her frostbite and get her toes to fall off, that should cure the blister problem.