A week in Zion National Park and Colorado Monument, page 3

Page 1: Zion Canyon
Page 2: Angel's Landing and East Zion
Page 3: Emerald Pools and Hidden Canyon
Page 4: Colorado Monument

Wednesday, October 29

Some of the best natural features in Zion are its slot canyons - very narrow canyons with tall vertical walls. We tried to hike one today, but our attempt failed. Most of the deep slot canyons are on the northern Virgin River and its tributaries, in an area called "The Narrows." Since the Virgin River flows all year long, hiking the Narrows involves walking through water. We walked to the beginning of the Narrows and put on our sandals in hopes of a daylong hike, but our feet couldn't tolerate the cold water. We stopped and turned around after just a few hundred yards. We needed waterproof, insulated socks, or perhaps fishing waders. Sunlight rarely reaches the bottom of the Narrows, so the water is always cold. What Kathy and I should try to hike is a dry slot canyon - one that only flows during rainstorms. We'll try that tomorrow.

Kathy and Maggie get ready to hike in the cold Zion Narrows.

The Zion Narrows. We didn't go much farther than this due to the cold water. Had we hiked a couple miles further, we would have seen a part of the canyon that is 40 to 80 feet wide and 1400 feet tall.

After giving up on the Narrows we went on a different hike that we wanted to see called Emerald Pools. The pools weren't colored emerald (algae turns them green at certain times of the year,) but the trees along the way were many shades of green, yellow and red. Autumn colors peak in late October in Zion, and most of that color is clustered around the waterways.

After dinner, Daniel and I went through our evening routine that we've used the last 3 nights. First I change Daniel into pajamas and put him in our bike trailer for an evening walk while Kathy is putting Maggie to bed. We park the trailer on the bank of the river and read a story, and Daniel throws one last rock into the water. After that I walk Daniel down a bicycle trail until he falls asleep, and then put him in our tent. There's no moonlight, but the many stars are bright enough for me to walk the trail in the dark (Daniel falls asleep sooner if I don't have a light turned on.) If only I recognized a few constellations, I might better appreciate the hundreds (thousands?) of stars that are visible during our walks.

Fall colors on the Emerald Pools trail. Daniel is holding up a red maple leaf.

This small waterfall feeds the Lower Emerald Pool.

Upper Emerald Pool, which isn't colored emerald this time of year.

Splashing Upper Emerald Pool.

Thursday, October 30

Distance: 13.1 miles
Riding time: 1 hour, 6 minutes
Average speed: 11.9 mph
Maximum speed: 30.0 mph

We finally explored a slot canyon today by hiking up to Hidden Canyon, a dry canyon that only flows during rainstorms. It's also a "hanging canyon" which means that the mouth of Hidden Canyon is on a cliff high above the Virgin River, so our narrow hiking trail wrapped around the face of a cliff. I warned Daniel not to wiggle much in my backpack, and Kathy kept Maggie content by letting her play with our keys. It never occurred to Kathy that Maggie could toss the keys over the cliff and make it impossible for us to open our bicycle lock.

The canyon itself was much safer than the trail leading up to it. The walls of the canyon were steep, sometimes going straight up for 100 feet or so, and the floor was mostly flat and covered with sand. It was like a big sandbox for Daniel to play in. I was surprised to see mature trees growing in the canyon, since I didn't think that they could survive the occasional flash floods.

After a late lunch, we hiked down and rode our bicycle back to camp, taking a last look at Zion on the way. Tomorrow we will pack up and drive east to see our friends in Fruita, Colorado.

Pancake breakfast at camp.

The sun rises over Zion Canyon's walls, with sunbeams enhanced by smoke haze.

Kathy admires the autumn colors while Maggie plays with Kathy's keys.

Hidden Canyon. It's important to check the weather forecast before hiking here - I wouldn't want to be in a slot canyon during a rainstorm.

Daniel asks Dad to explain how sandstone erodes (answer: "The water washes it away.")

Hiking Hidden Canyon.

Playing with sand.

Kathy, Maggie and Daniel look up from the bottom of a dry waterfall.

A small natural arch in Hidden Canyon.

The canyon was narrow in places, but never narrow enough for me to span it with my two arms.

Hiking down carefully along the edge of a cliff.

Daniel spotted these deer on our way down the trail.

This cliff in Zion Canyon is called the Altar of Sacrifice because of the red streaks coming down from the top.


Page 1: Zion Canyon
Page 2: Angel's Landing and East Zion
Page 3: Emerald Pools and Hidden Canyon
Page 4: Colorado Monument