Sunday, August 09, 2015

Day 6: Mt. Carmel Junction, Utah to Cedar City, Utah via Zion.

We were not impressed by Zion National Park the last time we were here.  That was an error.  Maybe it was the crowds, the heat, the annoying kids on the busses that don’t follow the rules because the parents are enabling myopic assholes that don’t want to bother.  Whatever it was, this time Zion was a treat. 
We left the hotel at 6 a.m. with the intention of hitting one favorite trail we had from the last time before darting up to the north end of Zion for something new.  Once in the park we got stuck in traffic. 
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My kind of traffic jam.  We had to slow to a crawl in areas of central Zion as Bighorn Sheep roamed the mountainsides and roadways. 
Zion is not a huge park so it took no time getting to the Visitor’s Center and catching a bus (the only transportation in Zion Canyon) to our trailhead to the Emerald Pools.  Without a doubt we will be returning to Zion in the future.  However, like Yellowstone, it might be a long way down the road during the off-season because there are just too many people.  The 7 a.m. bus up the canyon was already half full and while the Emerald Pools were not packed with people, there were enough loose kids to make the return trip a bit annoying.  My wife and I were lucky enough to be alone, at about 8:30 in the morning, at Upper Emerald Pond for a grand total of about three minutes before a steady stream of people poured into the area.  The three minutes were sublime and I highly recommend a trip to the three tiered Emerald Pools but we were already done with people and head down to catch the return bus (less crowded) to the Visitor’s Center.
We took off up I-15 to the northern end of Zion called the Kolab Canyons region.  We were excited to take a 5.4 mile hike to a place called Double Arch Alcove along the Taylor Creek trail, a meandering and mellow hike along a creek that you crossed about 50 times (no exaggeration) during the hike into the canyon.  Alas the highlight was the hike as the Double Arch Alcove had a nice alcove but no arch, and definitely not a double arch.  Too bad. 
After a quick drive through the Kolob section of the park we headed to Cedar City, Utah and checked into the smallest room ever at a local Best Western.  It sucked.  We strayed from the usual Cup-O-Noodles and had pizza from a local wood-fired joint.  It was ok.  It couldn’t make up for the awful room but it made it manageable. 
Hikes:  Emerald Pools, Taylor Creek Trail
Miles hiked:  7.5
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