Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Zion National Park - lots of fun until someone chooses the wrong path

Hi everyone,

We woke up in our private campground.  There are good and bad things about private versus public campgrounds – at least in the minimal experience I’ve had so far.  For one, we’re definitely more out in the open.  Basically we’re in a parking lot with a few trees.  Our neighbors are really close by, but so is the bathroom!  Our campground is part of a motel, RV and tent camping complex.  The absolute cool part of this is we get to use the swimming pool.  Trust me, this is a very good thing.  There are also decent laundry facilities, also a very good thing. I wouldn’t let anyone bring too many clothes.  We’re already on Day 6 and running low on clean shirts and shorts (but not underwear!).

We ate breakfast and caught the shuttle into the National park.  There’s a town shuttle that brings you to the edge of the park.  You get off and walk along a path which brings you to the Visitor Center and the entrance gate – where you must pay to enter, unless you’re clever like us and have already purchased your Annual pass.  Once you walk through, you catch Zion’s internal shuttle buses.  The buses run every few minutes and take you to all the stops within the park.  The system is relatively new and works like a charm.  On the way in, there’s a recording throughout the shuttle bus telling you what to look at and what stop with what trailhead is coming next.  We went to the opposite end of the park and got off for the Riverwalk trail. Loved it.  The walk was easy and there were a lot of shaded parts of the trail.  It ended where the Narrows trail begins.  The Narrows is a more difficult trail with a lot of hiking done through water.  On hindsight, I wish we would have done a little of that trail.  It’s really pretty and interesting. Instead we caught the shuttle a few stops back and took the Weeping Rock trail.  It’s very short but all uphill and it brings you to a lovely little overhang of rock where the water gently comes down and gets you wet.  This would be positively wonderful except for the sign which warns you not to drink the water because it could be infected with a bacteria called Giardia.  Fabulous.  There we were admiring the scenery and I’m a nervous wreck thinking the kids are going to swallow some of it.  “Wipe it away from your mouth” I’m practically screaming at the kids.  The other tourists were looking at me like I’m nuts while I’m pointing to the sign to prove I’m not and if they were decent parents they’d be doing the same thing as me.  Okay, none of that actually happened except in my mind because I decided to panic internally and closely watch my children for possible ingestion.  I wanted to shout out but I really was worried about embarrassing myself and the family.  I knew if I took it too far they’d start pretending not to know me and run away.

After our nice two trail hikes, we had lunch under the trees – basically because there were no tables left in the outdoor eating area.  Hundreds of people come to visit everyday and they have like ten tables outside the cafeteria.  Who planned this?

Okay, we’ve hiked about 3 miles total and had a nice lunch.  That would make a good day with lots of happy memories, right? Nope, mommy had one more hike planned.  I had the Lower Emerald Pools, Upper Emerald Pools, Kayenta  Loop on the itinerary.  Everyone eagerly agreed and we headed off to the trail which started right outside the cafeteria. How convenient.  We continued on and after a while we made it to the Lower Emerald Pools.  We were expecting more than three greenish large puddles of water.  Emerald was not the color name I would have used to describe these “pools”.  More like puke green or scum green or even ugly toad green, but emerald, not so much.  Not to be daunted, I insisted we continue on to the Upper Emerald Pools.  Surely they are much more “emeraldy” and interesting.  Oy.  The trail was all uphill with lots of rocks and things to climb over.  I had to stop every few minutes for water and my kids were screaming to turn around.  However, this was no longer a hike, it was a quest.  We had to make it to the top.  We kept asking hikers who were coming down and they all assured us we were almost there.  That was a load of c^*p. Finally my husband insisted I stop and that we should all turn around.  For some unfathomable reason, my son threw a fit and insisted we continue to the end. He ran on ahead so my husband and daughter went with him, leaving me in a fit of heat exhaustion.  But from somewhere deep inside I pulled together all my strength and rose from the ashes – or the rock I was sitting on – and began climbing. Bit by bit I climbed, willing myself to go on. Finally, just shy of hallucinations and heat stroke, I made it to the Upper Pools.  They weren’t emerald either but at this point they could have been Technicolor and I wouldn’t have cared.  I found the nearest unoccupied rock and threw myself down, thanking G-d and praying I wouldn’t faint since I was really dizzy.  The kids were thrilled to see me – yay kids.  My husband was mad that I forced myself up – boo husband. We hung out there for awhile – it was shaded and eventually I noticed how pretty it looked.  Eventually we began the climb down.  It took us 1/10 of the time to go down as up and the whole way all I heard from everyone was how we can never do trails like this again and what was I thinking.  I was thinking that they should all shut up and finish the damn hike.  We made it to the bottom and then to the end of the Lower Pools trail and to the Lodge where the cafeteria was.  We collapsed onto some chairs and vowed to never move again – except to get up and buy the ice cream calling our names from the cafeteria.

We were truly exhausted so we made our way back to our campsite and went in the pool.  That helped a lot.  My husband and I practically passed out but the kids got their second wind and splashed around.  We got out, got dressed and looked for dinner.  However, I insisted we stop for a bottle of Ibuprofen and quickly took two pills to stave off paralysis the next morning.  I decided we’d go to the restaurant that was actually slated for the next morning.  The Park House CafĂ© is a great local joint and a perfect choice for four tired hikers.  The menu isn’t unusual – burgers and sandwiches for the most part – but everything was delicious.  My husband and I had Buffalo burgers with avocado which were juicy and tender.  The kids had grilled chicken sandwiches with bacon which they ate right up.  An excellent casual choice.

After dinner we bought supplies for my husband to cook breakfast and then we tumbled into bed.  Oh, actually the kids tumbled into bed. My husband and I did laundry and then tumbled into bed.  A great but exhausting day.

Next: Cooking at the campsite and our arrival at Bryce Canyon.