|Emerald Pools, Utah
Location: Zion National Park, Utah
April 27, 2009
As the day in Zion Canyon wound down, I figured I had time for one last hike. So, instead of hopping back on the shuttle at the Grotto to head back to the campground, I walked south on the Kayenta Trail towards Emerald Pools. In contrast to the busy trail to Hidden Canyon, I had this trail mostly to myself, and I enjoyed the silence. The sun had sunk low on the horizon, and the entire Zion Canyon was shaded. The Kayenta Trail paralleled the Virgin River for a bit, then turned westward and began to corner into Heaps Canyon. One section of the trail wound through a very narrow corridor between very large boulders, and was pretty cool.
Closer towards the Emerald Pools, I began hearing voices of people at the pools. I encountered a group of about 10 people led by a ranger, and the ranger was explaining about the geology of the canyon. I was tempted to stop in and listen, but my urge to continue moving kept me moving. I came first to the lowest of the pools, and the greater attraction is the multitude of seeps and falls that cascade down the overhang where the trail sits, into a series of small, flat pools below. The pools themselves were not emerald, but clear, and hence the color of the reddish sand in the bottom of the pools. The moss on the rocks was emerald, however, so I guess the name isnít complete fantasy. The pools were railed off by a long steel pipe, which seemed very out of character for a national park. Iíd prefer a more natural look, but perhaps too many tourists were lost in the shallow water, so the park service had to do something. I walked the path under the overhang, then headed up higher to more pools on the ledges and then I took a trail up to the highest pool, a seep-fed body of water sitting at the base of an enormous cliff, surrounded by trees. About 2 dozen people milled about this small lake, picnicking, napping, talking. I didnít stay long, but returned the way Iíd come, splitting off when I got to another set of pools midway down. These were quiet, shallow tarns near the edge of a cliff that overlooks the lower pools. Itís a straight drop down 30 feet or more. I chuckled at the sign bolted to the rock at the cliff edge that read: Danger Ahead. From this perch, I could see down this side canyon all the way to the Virgin River, and the cliffs on the east side of Zion Canyon, still slathered in cloud-filtered sunlight. I pushed on down the trail, and enjoyed a nice, pleasant stroll back to the Virgin River, across a bridge, and into the Zion Lodge parking lot where I caught the shuttle for the park campground.
The park campground was perfectly suitable for
a quick sleep. I didnít find it particularly charming, as campsites were
stacked as close as physically possible. I opted for one of the walk-in
sites by the river, which at least afforded 50 feet between my pad and
the next. The walk-in was an extremely strenuous 80 feet, but I managed.
As the sun set, I enjoyed Ramen noodles with chicken at the picnic table
and the sounds of happy campers in the twilight.
Desert varnish on cliffs above the highest of the Emerald Pools
Looking down on the Virgin River from the Kayenta Trail
More nature pics at:
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