With crowds flocking to the national parks like never before — maybe the result of Ken Burns’ PBS special or maybe a sign of tightened belts for vacationing, who knows? — it’s been harder to find the solitude we crave when we hike, so when we happen upon a trail that isn’t well-trampled, where we aren’t constantly moving over for other, speedier folks to squeeze by, we consider it a gift from the Big Chief.
And it makes me pause before I write about those hikes because I’m not keen on attracting more crowds to the less-travelled spots we’re discovering. Thankfully, this blog isn’t read by thousands of people, so I shouldn’t have to worry about giving away any secrets.
Right? You’ll promise if you discover some great spots because of this blog that you won’t spread the word, won’t you?
Of course you will.
At Zion National Park, the Emerald Pools are a popular spot. Thankfully, getting there doesn’t have to mean being jostled by hundreds of other hikers.
We took the longer Kayenta Trail and were glad we did.
The trail winds along the Virgin River and gradually climbs in elevation, which makes it a great “off day” hike when resting those legs from a tougher trail the day before.
Hiking in mid-May meant plenty of gorgeous mountain flowers were in bloom, and of course I had to take photos of all of them…
The biggest advantage to looking for flowers to photograph is finding the occasional critter, and this one was no exception:
Now that I’m learning birds, maybe it’s time to learn the names of the critters.
And speaking of birds, here’s a cute little Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher:
And while a lot of people might not be thrilled with lizards, birds, and flowers, we found them much more captivating than the pools, which were shallow and (what else?) crowded. At least crossing the rocks was fun!
The water falling from the cliffs above was coming at a good gush this early in the season. No photo can accurately show how high up they really started, nor give you even a whiff of their fresh scent or a nudge of the cool breeze they created.
If you look closely, you can see the water pouring down in the middle of the photo, midway through its journey, and then again toward the bottom where it hit the Upper Emerald Pool.
Of course, this image has almost no scale, though the evergreen trees are a bit of a hint. So, to help out, here’s another photo of me standing on the near side of the pool with the falls behind me.