Posted by: Jack | March 31, 2007

Epic Journey: Day 5 – Zion National Park

As the sun rose our sleep was disrupted by the sounds of large construction machinery in the distance. While the area we had camped in was a legitimate BLM campground, it was also under construction at the time.

We took some time to make breakfast and throw a disc around which I hadn’t done in awhile and enjoyed greatly. But not much later we packed up the cars and started on our way to Zion National Park. The drive up and into the park was quite scenic as the mountains became taller and more jagged. After a short stop at the visitor center for water and use of bathrooms we followed Tyler’s recommendation and drove further north to the Emerald Pools trailhead.

For a change of pace from the past couple days, the entire group set out on the trail together. In celebration of such an occurrence and upon reaching a scenic overlook we took the time to capture some group photos. This first one was supposed to be a tremendous 15 person pyramid plus myself front and center since I was taking the picture but due to a single weak building block (no names will be given) we had to settle for more of a piled human mass.

This next picture is interesting for a couple reasons. First, the silliness of the pose was enhanced by the failure of everyone to inform Steve that we were to be flexing for the photo. Secondly, I’m not sure if there was an unusual lighting but my camera managed to capture me flexing some pectoral muscles that I just don’t possess.

And all I have to say about this last group photo is that photography in full sunlight is just plain fun.

As we continued up the trail, we lost that full sunlight to high canyon walls. This was really unfortunate given the many opportunities which were presented for great action shots.

Childhood instincts took over while amongst these jumbled messes of rockfall. We spent at least an hour in search of large gaps which we then proceeded to leap across. We even managed to play some follow-the-leader with a climbing emphasis.

This trail came to an end at the high point in the canyon where the name Emerald Pools comes from. At some times during the year, a very tall waterfall flows down into a large pool which then trickles down through the canyon. While the waterfall was currently dried up, we still found plenty of excitement around the largest of these pools. A few of us attempted our first-ever submerged-start bouldering problems as seen in the many photos below.

After allowing the freezing water to air dry, which took way too long, we began our descent. Stopping only occasionally for a photo or boulder problem, we made our way to the canyon floor pretty quickly. By now it was late afternoon and everyone was showing moderate signs of fatigue which had likely been accumulating over the past few days. Upon reaching Zion Lodge most of us passed out in the front lawn for a nice nap.

As this was the last day of their trip, the group was motivated to seek out a dinner at an actual sit-down restaurant. Driving just a few minutes South we came across a tiny mom & pop diner named Blondie’s. The food, service and company were all great but I was a little sad knowing that the group would be heading home as soon as the meal ended. It was nice to find that the feeling was mutual among my old roommates as we went our separate ways. I might claim that this next photo, documenting my departure, is my favorite from the entire trip.

Driving North back into the park I found a site at the South Campground. I did feel a bit ripped off having to pay $16 just so I could have a place to park and put my tent down, especially considering that RVs which require water and power hook ups are charged the same rate. But I wasn’t about to drive around in search of a private campground that might be cheaper. After some dinner I had a great time juggling for a continually growing group of kids who assembled from various other sites in the campground.

Shortly after settling in for the night, a ferocious wind began gusting through the canyon and my entirely non-aerodynamic tent combined with its stakes driven into loose sand, were simply no match. For awhile I tried positioning myself on the windward side of the tent, knowing the wind was obviously not about to pick me up off the ground. But as the winds increased, the pressure from the side of the tent was enough to roll me over and needless to say this was not conducive to sleep. With no target to blame my frustration on I found myself growing more and more irritated with the situation. For a time I considered just sleeping outside of the tent but without my weight, the tent would literally fly away. So eventually I had to get up and pull my gear out of the tent while always hanging onto it with one hand and pack the tent into my car. After this ordeal I again tried to sleep but quickly came to the conclusion that a loud flapping and rolling tent was a far better option than exposure to sand-filled wind. Finally giving up any true-camper dignity I climbed in my car, put the seat-back down as far as it went and slept uncomfortably all night. I certainly feel I did not get my $16 camping experience. I also came to the conclusion that Anna and I need to purchase a new tent.

It was a great day with a terrible ending.

Continue to Day 6

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Responses

  1. Awesome photographic tale of your journey,,, That last night had to be so rough, torn between laying there and letting the wind sail the tent away or to give in and get in the car…

    Look at it this way.. better safe then sorry 🙂

  2. […] recent Epic Journey, I brought her tent along even though I rarely had need of shelter. After one particularly aggrivating night, I decided that we were in need of a modern […]


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