Friday, April 22, 2016

Fri 22 April - Hurricane, UT - more lovely hiking in Zion National park

Today we planned to do a combination of trails, hoping to get more than 10km to hike. 

We should first mention that we always seem to be the first at breakfast here at Super 8. They open at 6.30am and the nice Indian man from Mumbai has it all set up. We chat and make toast and waffles, which we know is a bit of a treat and we share one as they are too big for us after weetbix/cornflakes. The coffee is always hot and fresh. 

With our early start we were in the park and on a shuttle by 8am.  It was noticeably busier today, being Friday than yesterday. 

We get off at stop 6 the Grotto with most of the bus passengers. As you may recall this is the stop for Angels Landing and a group of 5 colleges boys were heading up there. They made us laugh but we figure that they will make it to the top by egging eachother on. Good Luck to them. 

Our intended trails were a combination of Kayenta, Upper Emerald Pools, Middle Emerald pools and the Sand Bench trail to the Court of the Patriarchs. Then along the road to Canyon Junction and back to the Visitors Centre via the Pa'rus trail. See map below of what we walked. All up just over 13km. The white squiggly line to the right is the road we drove yesterday. 

A cool morning and we were alone on the Kayenta Trail for a while and then met a group of about 10 Indians who looked like they were heading towards Angels Landing but not with much hiking gear. Oh well, again good luck to them. 

This balancing rock was truly just resting on this small pointy rock. Brave Hans!

The trail felt like a true hiking path and we were really happy as we wandered along. Of course the pace was slow as we stopped to take so many photos. 

We reached the junction of the trail from Lower Emerald Pools and towards Upper Emerald Pools. 

Clear signage at the junction.  No trail is very long but at least these ones had some climb and unevenness to them so at least we felt like we were hiking. 

The trail here was still cool and quiet, being about 9am. 

They are serious about trying to keep the park as natural as possible. It must be tough with more than 4 million visitors each year. Signs like this appear regularly. 

Neat Upper Emerald Pool we met 2 ladies from Minnesota and chatted for a while. They recommended if we ever visited to do some hiking on the north shore of Lake Superior. Good tip. 

We took a tea break at Upper Emerald Pools.  A friendly squirrel came close but was not aggressive. Several groups were here during the time we took our break but they seemed to be enjoying the peace too so were pretty quiet. 

As you lean back this is what you see above you. There was a tiny waterfall but we can imagine the water sometimes thunders down here. 

Heading back down the path towards Middle Emerald Pool it looks quiet but we met a lot of people coming the other way. 

We turned off toward the Middle Pool and came to a stop. The trail was closed due to "an historic winter". Some wise ass had written "Fix It" next to the sign. We agreed! 

It was getting warm so Di took the opportunity to remove her t-shirt (underneath her hiking shirt) by popping behind this rock. And the opportunity to have a little pee in private. Not with Hans of course. 

We then headed down to Lower Emerald Pool and the little stream Di has pee'd near now gently fell from this overhang. We had been just above here. Funny to think that Di's pee could be mixed in here looking so scenic!

And yes we had to pass under it to continue the trail!

The stream continues down here and joins the Virgjn River in the canyon below. 

No photos of the lower emerald pool trail as I was all concreted and filled with tourists coming end other way. 

We found the start of the Sand Bench trail, which horses use and were much happier. No people. But a good opportunity to practice our Monty Python horse imitations. But no coconuts unfortunately. 

So green and peaceful. No horses were seen on the trail but their evidence was scattered. The occasional horse shit smell did not deter us. Loved being on our own with the occasional "real walker" coming the other way. The trail was sandy rather than rocky which was a nice change. 

And the flora was quite diverse. Hans's favourite cactus were everywhere and some even had lovely purple flowers. 

It did make us sing a little bit of the Max Rabe song "Mein Kleine Grüne Cactus". Perfectly appropriate. 

The towering monoliths are awesome from every angle. 

We continued on for a few kilometres to the Court of the Patriarchs. Here the trails stop and to continue further you need to revert to the roadway. 

Di kept stopping to look up and around. She likes Geology. 

We were close to the road when we came across this guy - a real turkey - and not too smart. 
He kept seeing his own reflection in the shiny bumper of the car and putting on a show. Back and forth he posed, occasionally pecking at the bumper. 

He did look good... For a turkey.

We watched him for about 5 minutes before continuing on. 

The road Is not busy so it's no dangerous to walk along it but we did hustle as it is about a 2.5km stretch.  We stuck to the edges and stopped when the shuttle buses came past. 

This explains why there is no formal trail or path here. The river and landslides would remove it. The edge here was quite soft. One flood and it could go. 

We found the start of the Pa'rus trail without incident and continued along it. It's very easy, paved the whole way and Di included photos in yesterday's blog so nothing further... Except this photo from Hans. Yep, it suits Di. She's as blind as a bat and has some curves!

We arrived back at the visitors Center around 1pm after walking more than 13km. We were pleased with it even though it was pretty easy. We ate our ham rolls for lunch there and then came back to Hurricane. 

By 3pm we were showered and resting, with a load of washing underway. Nice to have some clean clothes. 

We headed out for dinner to a local highly rated BBQ place called Sonny Boy's BBQ. Apparently they had been voted best BBQ in Utah 3 years in a row. But we've been spoiled. Page AZ, Big John's Texas BBQ was so much better.  Here the beef brisket was ok but ribs and collard greens were not up to the standards we've recently received. 

For us it's noticeably better food this trip than in 2013, which is great that we've had so many high quality meals. 

Tomorrow we finally leave Utah and head west. 

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