We drove to Springdale and parked along the main street. There's a shuttle to take you to the front entrance of Zion, and then there's a shuttle system to take you through the park. It's weird, like Disneyworld or maybe the Zoo. The park ranger out front asking for those with passes to go to the left might as well have been holding a camera and handing out slips of paper for us to check our photos at the visitor center after 3 pm.
We got right on the shuttle and went to the human history museum. It was not crowded; we watched a movie overview of the park. Then we caught the shuttle and went to the Lodge stop, where we went on a hike to the Emerald Pools.
A note about hiking. Brooklyn and I are hikers. London is becoming one. Bixby is good, too, not as many miles on his boots. And Niles is young. It makes for a hard time deciding what hikes to take. Go too hard and Niles wears out. Go too easy and Brooklyn and I wind up bored at the end of the trail. The rangers the night before said that Zion essentially had easy hikes (paved walkways) and strenuous hikes (5 and a half miles straight up a mountain holding onto a chain). There weren't many in the middle. He suggested the Emerald Pools-the first pool is easy, the other two are strenuous.
Not really. They weren't bad, I mean, for someone who pushed past her limits in the Smokies a month ago.
And the lower pool trail? Holy shit. It was jam packed with tourists in flip flops pushing strollers with crying babies, eating powerbars and telling Grandma to hurry up. If Brooklyn had had the means to make a rudimentary shiv...
The crowd thinned out after the first pool, leaving just tanned blond dads dragging toddlers behind them and their fitness conscious wives complaining that all they'd had to eat so far that day was a powerbar and he was a marine, but she wasn't, etc. One mom had a fight with her 8 year old son about whether he should wear his hat...it was one of the most passive aggressive arguments I'd ever witnessed, and remember, I teach middle school. Another mom stomped her foot and started pushing past people to get down and away from her children. It was classic.
The third pool had the fewest hikers, of course, but still far too many tourists (I say this as a tourist of course, but one who came to hike, not one who came for, I don't know why else you would come to National Parks, in general). Lots of people trying to feed a squirrel. My prayers for a vicious bite went unanswered.
On the way down, after the little spur trail to the pool, we noticed the Kayenta Trail broke off to the left. Talk about the road less traveled. We took it high above the canyon, descending quickly at the end to a bridge that crossed the Virgin River and on to the next bus stop—the advantage to having a park bus system is it is possible to thru-hike from one place to the next. That hike? That was perfect.
We went down to the last stop, where the Narrows begin. The hike I didn't take. We got there and I wanted to at least walk down along the river and take a look at the canyon as it started to get tight.
And instead, about a quarter mile in, it started to thunder.
We made the right choice. We turned around and caught a bus back to junior ranger swearing in and the bus back to our truck. On the way back, the bus driver announced that NOAA had declared another flash flood warning and the park service was closing all the slot canyons and the Narrows.
We would have still been on the other side of that closure at 2:30 in the afternoon. On a hike that is only in the water at some points.
The town of Springdale was still partly cloudy when we got back to the truck, which I had strategically parked in front of an ice cream place.
Back at the camper by 4:00 or so, kids swam for 15 minutes before the rain hit. I caught up on the outside world. Bixby started dinner and I started gathering up laundry for later.
Tomorrow I leave Utah behind and head to the Grand Canyon. I've been there before, when I was 12. For about 10 minutes. My father was terrified of it.
Brooklyn is tired of crowds. “Great, the Grand Canyon,” she said sarcastically when we discussed the upcoming few days.
“North Rim, hoping it won't be overpowering,” I reassured her. I really am hoping it won't be so bad. I plan to be...a tourist...at the Grand Canyon. Where are my flip flops and powerbars?