Letters From a Bus
Above, we come out with a different view of the canyon. 4/22/08 12:02 p.m.
Right, then we climb a few more stairs through a second notch. 4/22/08 12:03 p.m.
April 2008: Springtime Desert
8th entry for April

Emerald Pools Hike

Hurricane, UT, Day Eight at Sand Hollow State Park, Site: 35

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 — Eleven Months

Tuesday, April 22.  We take a scenic hike in Zion Canyon.

Today is Earth Day. I woke up this morning hearing a strange birdcall.  I suppose it is some kind of prairie chicken.  It sounded like a cross between a bird and a rooster.  I don’t think quail make sounds, do they?  I looked out all the windows but saw nothing. 

We were supposed to leave this morning but we extended our stay. Now we’re scheduled to leave Thursday morning. There was no wind last night or this morning and it looked like a nice day.  I planned to go towards St. George in the morning to find a nail salon.  I was told exit 8 had outlet stores and a “beauty salon row”.  Exit 10 has the I-Hop where we ate the first day we arrived.  I told Dennis I could go myself but he wanted to come also.  My evolved nail salon method is to go to a populated area near shopping malls and restaurants and spot a Vietnamese salon.  Then I eat breakfast and wait until they open.  Then I present myself as a “walk-in” and I’m first in line.  So that was the plan for this morning.  I only need to have gel fills so I was hopeful that I would be finished by eleven or so.

I was on the computer until 7:30 AM and then I got ready to leave at eight.  That gave me time to find a nail salon, find a restaurant, eat breakfast and be ready at the door when they open at ten.  We got in the car at eight and the car clock said nine.  We checked our cell phones and they said nine.  Somehow, all three switched into Utah Mt. Time a week after we arrived in Utah!  They never switched so we didn’t think we had crossed over the time line yet.  We think our Saturday drive further east must have triggered them to switch and we didn’t notice on Sunday.  So now we are officially on Mountain Daylight Savings Time and I’ve changed my Mac clock.  However, I keep the clock in my bedroom on Pacific time so it will match the TV West programming that I watch.  It is based in Los Angeles.  So I go to sleep at PDL 11:00 PM or MDL at 12:00 PM after my last ten o’clock show.  But actually I often record it as I do Boston Legal on Tuesday night and turn it off early.  How confusing!

We went to exit 8 and found the outlet mall.  There was one beauty salon named “Beauty Avenue.”  So that was my beauty salon row.  As we were late, we didn't go to breakfast. We went to Starbuck’s next door and waited awhile and then presented ourselves at Beauty Salon at ten.  The gel nail lady wasn’t in that day but I got an appointment for Wednesday morning at ten.  Dennis wanted to get his hair cut and I decided to do that too, so we also have hair appointments on Wednesday.

As we were on the road early, we decided to go over to Zion Park, take the shuttle and go for a scenic walk.  This has been the plan since we got here but we haven’t done it.  So we left exit 8 at ten and got over to the Zion Visitor’s Center parking lot at eleven.  We put on jogging shoes and Dennis carried a daypack with two bottles of water.  We got off the shuttle at the “Court of the Patriarchs” and climbed up the hill to take photos of the four peaks named after biblical patriarchs.  After we walked across the street to look at the river , we caught the next shuttle where we got off at the next stop at Zion Lodge.

Dennis crosses the bridge and approaches the entrance to Zion Park. 4/22/08 10:02 a.m. I pause on the bridge to look upstream at the Virgin River. 4/22/08 10:02 a.m.
We get off the shuttle at The Court of the Patriarchs and climbed a short path up to a view point.
4/22/08 10:02 a.m.
Dennis reads about the patriarchs, (names). 4/22/08 10:02 a.m.
Across the road we stop to admire the beautiful river that had the power to cut through these sandstone monoliths. 4/22/08 10:35 a.m.
Elsa sits on a rock to watch the Virgin River.
4/22/08 10:42 a.m.
Zion Lodge is in a beautiful setting in the valley. 4/22/08 11:00 a.m.

This little hike was unexpected and unplanned so we went into the gift shop and bought heavy mountain sun block and some trail mix before we set off for the Lower Emerald Pool hike.  Marked “Easy”, it has “minor drop-offs” with “paved trail to lower pool and waterfalls.”  Round trip is 1.2 miles and takes an hour.  The ascent is 69 feet. 

The path climbed above the river and took us to a high cliff with a veil of water falling into the lower pool.  We spoke with another older couple on and off as we passed each other and then stood and talked at the overlook to the pool.  It turns out that they live in Palos Verdes very near the Calle Mayor fence that cuts into upper Hollywood Riviera where I lived.  They remembered the old Redondo Beach before King’s Harbor.  It was fun to talk to them.

Left, Zion Lodge has big lawns and many beautiful trees offer a shady setting. 4/22/08 11:07 a.m.
Above, we cross a bridge to begin our hike and I take a photo of the Virgin River looking down stream.
4/22/08 11:13 a.m.
Above, as we start up the path we have an upstream view of the Virgin River and the upper canyon.
4/22/08 11:19 a.m.
Right, just as we start up the trail, we see this leaning rock. They've tried to shore up the hill by the path so I guess they're worried about it. 4/22/08 11:20 a.m.
Dennis stops to look at bushes of white flowers.
4/22/08 11:21 a.m.
We stop to wonder what they are. 4/22/08 11:23 a.m.
Left, the path is paved and very easy.
4/22/08 11:30 a.m.
Above, the white drips on the rock face is called efflorescence and is caused by salt and minerals that naturally come out in brick or stone. Dennis saw this and said, "Someone call the mason and have him get out here to get rid of that. He screwed up!" He always gets calls about this. Water takes it off but water also brings it back. 4/22/08 11:31 a.m
We arrive at a viewpoint for the Lower Emerald Pool. The focal point is not the small, brown pool but the water falling into it over cliffs from the pools above. (Apparently the pools are called "emerald" from the collection of algae that will accumulate later in the season.) 4/22/08 11:33 a.m
We will walk under the falls (to our left) and over to the cliff face opposite. 4/22/08 11:33 a.m

The couple we were speaking to turned back but we decided to go up to the Middle Emerald Pool.  From Zion Lodge that is marked “Moderate” and has “long drop-offs.  This is the access to the Upper Pools.” Round trip is 2.0 miles and takes two hours.  The ascent is 150 feet. 

The path left the paved trail and went to a typical dirt trail with many stone stairs.  It climbed to the top of the waterfall cliff.  It wasn’t hard — but it was for me.  The elevation at Zion Lodge is 4,276 ft.  So we climbed 150’ to 4,426 ft. 

My evil, lazy ways have paid off.  I’m totally out of shape.  I was raised at sea level so I always get out of breath anyway.  Climbing to the middle pool had me totally out of breath.  Dennis was raised in the mountains and rarely gets out of breath.  Also he’s been doing some exercises and he is in much better shape.  After we reached the middle pool we sat and had some water and trail mix.  I told Dennis I would wait if he wanted to go to the upper pool above us.  We had been told by other hikers coming down that the trail was wet and slippery.  I was worried about my ankle and didn’t want to risk twisting it again.  However, Dennis thought we should get back because we hadn’t planned to leave the dogs for so long.  I thought we would be back by eleven and it was eleven when we got to Zion Park.  So we rested and then started down.

Above, the trail takes us right under the falls where we get wet from the spray. 4/22/08 11:50 a.m.
Right, Elsa stops on the trail that passes under the falls to look back. 4/22/08 11:52 a.m.
Looking back after passing under the falls. 4/22/08 11:55 a.m
We climb a path above the falls and stop to look back. A woman sits nonchlantly on the brick wall by the path under the falls and looks at Lower Emerald Pool below. 4/22/08 11:59 a.m. We follow a path of steps carved out of the cliff face with an overhanging cave-like face above.
4/22/08 11:59 a.m.
Left, we turn into a notch between the cliff faces and climb more stairs. 4/22/08 12:00 p.m.
Above, we reach a view where we can look down on Middle Emerald Pool and the top of the falls.
4/22/08 12:01 p.m.
Above, we come out with a different view of the canyon. 4/22/08 12:02 p.m.
Right, then we climb a few more stairs through a second notch. 4/22/08 12:03 p.m.
A last set of stairs brings us to an overview of Middle Emerald Pool. Then we have to climb down to this pool. 4/22/08 12:06 a.m
Left, we have a new view of the cliffs above the falls. Right, Dennis finds a shady trail under trees with big boulders above the Middle Pool creek where we can sit and rest.. 4/22/08 12:07 a.m
A well fed squirrel smells our trail mix and helps us consume some nuts. 4/22/08 12:07 a.m
Left, a scramble of trees in the creek bed where we sit. 4/22/08 12:02 p.m.
Right, Middle Emerald Pool is not impressive but the view from this elevation above the falls is spectacular.
4/22/08 12:03 p.m.

Coming down was very hard on my ankle.  It still hurts to go down regular stairs like the bus stairs or the stairs to the picnic table.  I favor my right foot. Coming down the uneven stones in the path was very difficult.  Dennis held my hand and went before me.  I faced right of the downward path and stepped down with my left foot and then caught up with my bad right foot.  I kept my feet pointed sideways not facing down the slope.  We inched down the 81 ft. descent, step by step to the paved trail at the lower pool.  It was very embarrassing.  I was out of breath and my legs were tired and my ankle began to ache.  By the time we got to the car and I could take off my jogging shoes, my ankle was slightly swollen, but not too bad.

What with stopping to take photos and resting at the Middle Pool, our hike did take us two hours, just as the brochure predicted.  The shuttle got us back to our car at 2:30 PM.  We stopped at Burger King in Hurricane for take out and got back to the bus by 3:30 PM.  I hadn’t turned on the A/C and the bus was pretty hot but the dogs were fine.  We sat at our picnic table to eat and our dogs were very happy to sit near us.

After going under the falls once again, we head back on the paved path.
4/22/08 12:39 p.m.
Two hours later we are back at Zion Lodge.
4/22/08 12:57 p.m.
We are back in the parking lot at the park entrance. Here we see a very odd tour bus. Clearly people can sleep on this bus as they travel. Later we saw it in an RV Park. 4/22/08 1:28 p.m.

Wednesday, April 23.  We get hair cuts and make a plan for our next destination.

In the morning, we drove back to Beauty Avenue and got our haircuts and my nails done.  After, we had breakfast at I-HOP and then we decided to come back to Sand Hollow and figure out if we’re leaving tomorrow and if so, where are we going and are there openings at an RV park? 

We did some research and chose Cherokee Springs Golf & RV Resort.  The quote from RVReview says, “Beautiful scenery.  Very remote.”  It has pull-thrus and 50 amp and level sites.  It’s in Hatch on Hwy 89 above the Hwy 14 turn off to Cedar City but below Bryce on Hwy 12.  It’s 30+ miles to Zion or Bryce so it’s not convenient but we can get the lay of the land and maybe move up closer to Bryce Park a few days later.  The guy sounds like a character.  He says to call him “Bandito.”  He says no one is staying there — still a little snow on the ground but mostly gone.

We've enjoyed Sand Hollow State RV Park. The valley is being developed. In a few years it will not be the empty area we see today. For RVers who might want to travel this way, I'll leave with some photos to show what it looks like now and what is being built.

Sand Hollow State RV Park. 4/23/08 2:21 p.m. White wildflower at Sand Hollow. 4/18/08 12:30 p.m.
Yellow wildflower at Sand Hollow. 4/23/08 2:15 p.m. There is a housing development across these fields by a small sandstone rock in the foreground.
4/23/08 12:15 p.m.
Sand Hollow housing development is just opposite the entrance to Sand Hollow State Park.
4/216/08 10:58 a.m.
Sand Hollow development. 4/16/08 10:58 a.m.
Sand Hollow entrance sandstones. 4/16/08 10:58 a.m. Another development is going in half way between the park and SR-9. 4/23/08 2:09 p.m.
This development is putting in fairly large homes. 4/23/08 12:08 p.m. View of Hurricane bluffs across the valley opposite the entrance to Sand Hollow Park from SR-9 on Turf Sod Rd. 4/21/08 2:29 p.m.
Elsa Walton, Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane, UT, Wednesday, April 23, 2008