Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kayenta + Emerald Pools Trails and Kolob Terrace Drive

Hi all, Dianne here.  We usually write these blogs inside, but today it is SO gorgeous (79 degrees and 12% humidity) that I'm sitting outside under our shade tree, 
listening to the river in the background, and trying to stay focused on the task at hand.  There is a cooling breeze, and it's darn near perfect here right now.  
I apologize in advance for yet another trail blog; but then again, this is what we like to do, and we use our blog as a virtual scrapbook for ourselves, so I guess I won't apologize for that.  As for the number of photos, we both feel that Utah is the most beautiful state in the U.S., so there will be lots of photos! 

Wednesday we packed a lunch, dropped the dogs off at Doggie Dude Ranch, then got an early start in Zion National Park.  After hopping the shuttle, we got off at the trailhead for the one-mile Kayenta trail and started off, using this small connector trail as a less-traveled hookup to the three popular Emerald Pools trails.  

This trail afforded some scenic views down into the valley as we headed up the trail.  As usual, I couldn't resist taking a few flower photos along the way.

And I finally was able to get a photo of one of the ubiquitous western whiptail lizards that populate this area. These large lizards are everywhere, including our campsite.  

They are fast, though, and up to now I've been unable to get a photo.  I Googled them, and found out they can run 18 miles per hour -- no wonder I've had trouble getting a photo!

Tequila has discovered that she can position herself at the side window behind the sofa and watch the lizards outside.  She has been on constant alert ever since.

Now back to the hike....

The Kayenta trail ended near the Middle Emerald Pools.  The trail was pretty crowded so we took a quick look at the small waterfalls and pool and moved on.

The trail to the Upper Emerald Pool was a hot and sandy quarter mile, with stretches of rock scrambling and steep steps.  Not difficult, but patience was required in juggling for position with faster or slower hikers.  

At the Upper Emerald Pool we found a shady boulder and ate our lunch. 

 We were entertained by the largest butterfly I have ever seen, as it landed here and there in the moist sand.

From the Upper Emerald Pool we retraced our steps back to the Middle Emerald Pool,
 then veered off through a crevass to reach the Lower Emerald Pool area.

The Lower Emerald Pool is the most popular of the three areas.  We arrived at it a little differently by using the Kayenta trail (to avoid some of the crowds), but the popular route is a short half-mile paved trail from the Zion Lodge.  

That paved trail is suitable for strollers, wheelchairs, and -- as we discovered -- school groups.  The trail makes its way along a tall alcove under two tall waterfalls and the pools below.  Even with the crowd, it was still awe-inspiring and 
the cool spray of the water sure felt good as the wind blew it onto the trail from the waterfalls above.  Here are two more photos of the Lower Emerald Pool area:

And here's a view from the alcove looking out through one of the waterfalls:

From there, we followed the paved trail the short hike to the Zion Lodge and caught the shuttle there.  Even this short, paved stretch of the trail had some beautiful views:

Since we knew how much fun the dogs were having at Doggie Dude Ranch, we decided to leave them there for a while longer and take the Kolob Terrace scenic drive. 

The opening photo is also from this drive.  I was too busy with my hands in a large bag of kettle corn to take many photos, but we enjoyed the pretty drive.  The road climbed elevation enough that the temperature on the car thermometer went down from 89 degrees at the start, to 65 degrees at the top. 

 At the upper elevation we passed large stands of aspen trees.  Two interesting factoids about quaking aspens:

They form individual clumps, 
comprised of numerous stems,
each with its own trunk, branches, leaves, and a shared root system.  That means the "trees" in the above photo are all the same plant!

Also, the beautiful white bark is alive and carries out photosynthesis, unlike any other North American tree.  The drive followed along the top of the mesa, where the hilltops were a lush green.  

We headed back down to the lower elevation, rolling up the car windows, shutting the sun roof, and turning the AC back on as we descended back into the heat.  

Then a quick stop at Doggie Dude Ranch to pick up our very tired doggies, and home for wine-thirty.

Did I mention our "kids" love Doggie Dude Ranch?  It is a great resource that we are happy to make use of while we're here.  I posted a link to their web site and Facebook page a few blog entries back, if you will be in this area and want more info. 

 The link below leads to their Facebook page photo album for the second part of May.  If you look at the photos, you might recognize a couple of familiar faces (and legs and tails) mixed with the others!  
Dog fun at the Dude Ranch

The pet photo of the day shows a key benefit of using the Doggie Dude Ranch while we're gone all day.  We come home tired and sore, and we can count on them being just as tired -- in fact, wiped out for the rest of the day!


westside mom said...

I've been to Zion many times and have hiked most of the "classic" trails. One that I am particularly fond of is Watchman Trail. It was my very first hike I took in the park. It has a lovely view of the park entrance. It's not too difficult, just a continual sloping climb with wonderful views.

Travelwithwhippets said...

We plan to hike the Watchman Trail tomorrow morning! Thanks for the comment; I'm looking forward to it. It will be a new one for us.

Gin and Syl said...

Wonderful hike and it's nice that the dogs had a day camp to go to.

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Just love that scenery!!

Diana said...

I was just finishing my post on the Kayenta trail and decided to check out what you were doing. Geez - sounds like I am copying you. But I was actually there 2 weeks ago, just very behind in the blog. Can't wait to see if you find the arch - I sure couldn't.