Two beds, three women (two post-menopausal), and a refrigerator that goes clunk in the night was not a great combination for restful sleep. What we lacked in rest we made up with coffee, and eagerly set out for Zion Canyon again. With the objective being the Overlook Trail, the free shuttle wouldn’t be an option so we packed the car for the day and hoped we would be able to find parking inside the park.
The drive to the Overview Trail snakes up a vertiginous canyon that appears to be a dead end; but the intrepid engineers who built the road, simply burrowed into the sandstone canyon walls and created a road inside the mountain. There are windows to the outside world in the tunnel walls, and years ago, when the park was more remote, motorists could stop and look out over the canyon. However these days there’s no stopping in the tunnel and frequently traffic is backed up at the entrance to allow one-way traffic to accommodate a motorhome to pass through the narrow tunnel. As anticipated, the parking area at the trail head was full so we continued up the road until we could find space along the shoulder to park. Being of the off-road ilk, I led the girls on a cross country hike back towards the trail head.
However, our path was interrupted by a the sheer cliff of a spectacular drainage. We backtracked a bit until we found a place where we could get back down to the highway. It was a short walk on the roadside and motorists were traveling slowly so, disappointingly (for blog interest), no one was killed or even maimed.
The Overlook Trail has the biggest bang for the buck in Zion. A short, fairly easy hike, ends with a view that makes one dream of wings.
And now for something completely different. Back down on the canyon floor, we joined the parade of people walking the paved trail to the Emerald Pools. Walking, talking, gawking, Karen lost track of her footing and suddenly slipped off the edge of the sidewalk, painfully twisting her ankle. The suddenness of the fall and the sharp pain momentarily left her stunned on the ground.
Someone told me that you know you’re old when people gasp rather than laugh when you fall. Thankfully, both Karen and I are better than average fallers. Statistically, people over the age of sixty fall about once a year while Karen and I have both fallen about three times already this year. This speaks more to our lifestyle (active) than our excessive clutziness, or so I prefer to believe. So, we neither gasped nor laughed, rather cursed silently at yet again being inconvenienced by injury. Undaunted, Karen limped along slowly to the lower pool, where she encouraged Kari and me to proceed to the upper pool while she made her way back to the shuttle stop (we had left the car at the visitor center inside the park). Being the concerned and gracious friends we are, Kari and I said, “Are you sure? Okay, bye.”
The crowds thinned just a little as the trail became steeper and more technical but by the time we got to the main pool, it was crawling with kids of all ages. Kari, was deeply disappointed to have the photo op completely ruined, but snapped the following shot anyway. I particularly like it because it depicts the utter degradation overpopulation of the canyon has brought.
We found Karen at the tram stop in good spirits and ready for dinner. I had been looking forward to a meal at Oscar’s ever since some mountain biking friends had turned me on to the place a couple of years ago.
I had remembered a turkey burger topped with chilis and guacamole that was so juicy it ran down my arm to my elbow, and so spicy it made sweat pop out under my eyes and my nose run. But, I’ve gone more and more vegetarian over time, as much for health as for consideration of the animals whose lives are so miserable before being sacrificed for my table, that I was compelled, or enticed to choose the vegetable enchiladas. It was disappointingly bland in contrast to the fiery burger of my memory. Thankfully, Kari had again volunteered to drive us back to St. George so I had a lovely glass of red wine which put a good spin on the whole evening.
The evening light over the canyon was nothing short of breathtaking. Kari and Karen went off in pursuit of curio shopping (a rather vain hope on a Sunday evening in Mormon country) while I staggered around town in search of photograph-able subjects. I’m a bit of a cheap drunk…one glass of wine makes any kind of shopping dangerous. On the other hand, a digital camera is a fairly safe mode of entertainment.
I had to lie down in the parking lot of the Bumbleberry Inn to get this shot, something no sober elderly woman would consider. Worth it, don’t you think?
Our last night at the Inn on the Cliff was perfect. Karen and Kari went down to the spa where they were joined by a couple of young men who regaled them with tales of rock climbing. They were gone so long, I thought perhaps they’d drowned. We unplugged the noisy refrigerator, had a glass of wine, and slept like teenagers.
Tomorrow, we knew we had to head for home but there was one more stop, Valley of Fire, along the way. It was inconceivable that we could possibly be impressed after the spectacular scenery of Zion, but we would need a break in the drive and it seemed like a reasonable detour from the interstate.