Thursday, November 19, 2015
Hikes 2015.080 and 2015.081: Zion National Park
Zion's visitor center is a little odd. Yes, there are rangers you can talk to. And, yes, there's a really nice bookstore / gift shop there to buy maps and books and what not. But what interpretive exhibits there are are simply signs in the courtyard outside the building. Also, there's no introductory video, which seems to be a mainstay of the NPS experience. Turns out that's at the Museum of Human History, a stop up canyon.
It leads to the foundation of an ancient grain storage structure. No, it wasn't pyramid shaped (Years from now, people will have no idea that this was a joke. Heck, I'm pretty sure that right now, most people won't get the reference!).
We then returned to the shuttle, and rode that up to the Zion Human History Museum. Not a lot there, either, but they did have the introductory video showing there, so we watched it. It mentioned petroglyphs, so we asked the ranger there if there were any we could visit, and she directed us back near the visitor center. So we hopped back on the shuttle bus and returned to where we had just been. Found the short trail to the petroglypths (probably another 1/2 of mile roundtrip, mostly just getting to the trail and back from the shuttle bus stop), then hopped back on the shuttle bus, to head back up canyon.
Although short, it is pretty, particularly on a fall afternoon. The cascading water drips over a wide cave mouth, and scatters the sunlight that shines into the cave. Also, there was a bit of fall foliage along the way.
We then rode the shuttle to the top of the canyon, then rode it back to the Lodge.
We returned to the Lodge. I used the restroom, then returned to the trail, heading across the bridge, then downstream, to Courtyard of the Patriarchs. This trail goes along the west side of the canyon wall, and passes under the three patriarchs (rock structures, obviously, overlooking the canyon). Shortly after passing them, it crosses a small creek. After another 1/4 mile or so, it reaches a split, with a short loop that would be walked, were one to continue. However, it was getting close enough to dark (this was the day after the switch back to standard time), so I turned around at the start of that loop, and returned to the Lodge. Probably four miles total on this segment of hiking (From the Lodge to Lower Emerald Pool, then to the Courtyard of the Patriarchs, then back to the Lodge).
Unlike the wild turkey I saw in Land Between the Lakes, these showed no fear. They did not run quickly and silently into the denser forest when they saw me. Instead, they just kept grazing. So I got plenty of shots of them. By contrast, I never got a decent shot of a turkey during my Land Between the Lakes hikes.
Food prices are, of course, a little pricey. Figure on $18-25 for most entrees, though usually with a $10 or $12 option hidden away, somewhere. In fact, on the first night, I went with the salad bar buffet, because it included chili as the "soup of the day." Between the chili and bread and all the veggies, I ate very heartily that day.
first, second, and third.
The Canyon de Chelly trip was a lot of fun. If I had to rank it, I'd say I had more fun on that trip than this one. But it also required 3 1/2 days of really serious driving, albeit broken up with some nice little surprises (the little mining town in western AZ, Winslow, and Meteor Crater) along the way.
Can't say I wouldn't want to do this, again. Yeah, maybe in the summer, I'd be willing to camp. But, by the end of October, man did it get cold at night!
And, in fact, the next week, the highs were down in the 40s, as opposed to the mid-60s when we were there. Also, the scenery is beautiful, including at night, and, especially, at twilight. So maybe again next year, or in the spring. We shall see.
So, a lot of short hikes on this trip, totalling 6-7 miles for the weekend. I made well over 30,000 steps on that full day in the park. My wife broke 10K, which is good, for her.