Alright so we are now getting to the canyon part of the trip! We left Las Vegas early in the morning on Monday, March 15th and headed out to Zion National Park in southwestern Utah.  After experiencing the desert for a few days, we were in for a very big change in scenery.  I don’t remember much about the drive but we finally entered the park and stopped at the Visitor’s Center to get some information about the different hikes available.  We decided on doing the Emerald Pools hike.

If you would like some background info on Zion:

Obviously Zion is beautiful. The canyons seem to go on forever and when you are perched at the top of a mountain, the expanse of the canyon and the  mountains rising up on all sides is overwhelming.  We were happy to see a lot of greenery, trees, grass, bushes, shrubs, all kinds of plants.  It was a nice change from the harsh desert.  In some areas, there were traces of snow but I think most if not all the trails were open for hiking.

We set off on the Emerald Pools trail. The Emerald Pools Trail begins at the Zion Lodge westward to Lower Emerald Pool. Built in 1932, it was created using only hand tools. An extension built the same year runs to the Grotto Campground.  Indeed, the Zion Lodge is located at the bottom of the trail, it is the only place you can stay at in the park if you don’t plan to camp.  We crossed the bridge over the Virgin River, the river that runs straight through Zion.  I’m not sure if the term “river” is appropriate for it.  It seemed more like a wide stream but whatever.

At this point, I thought my parents wanted to do the longer trail so I turned left when I read the sign that said “Lower Emerald Pools 1.2 miles” or however long it was.  Turns out they thought I was taking them on the shorter one.  As usual, I get blamed for things they forget to do, such as reading signs.

We started going up the trail and it wasn’t too difficult. However as the trail went higher and higher up the mountain, most of it ran along a sheer drop.  The trail was not very wide but it comfortably fit the size of a person.  Letting others pass by proved to be tricky and Mom kept saying she was scared which is why she was not walking as fast.  (Yeah yeah, blaming old age on fear of heights, that’s the oldest trick in the book, nice try Mom!)

I was mesmerized by the canyon walls.  They were an orange-red kind of color speckled with trees.  Waterfalls fell down them into ponds and streams below.  Snow still covered the higher peaks.  You get my drift, it was a very stunning sight.  There were also small cactus plants (cacti?) growing along the trail, even though we were clearly not in a desert.

We arrived at the Lower Emerald Pools, which is a fancier name than they deserve. The pools are more of a muddy green in my opinion.  They are the product of several mini waterfalls coming down the mountain.  The water congregates in the pools before sliding down the mountain again down the ledge to form some more impressive waterfalls.  Getting across the emerald pools to continue on the trail was tricky. The pools aren’t very deep but my hiking boots were not waterproof so I didn’t want to step in the water to get across.  I managed to cross over some rocks without getting too wet.  In fact, we all managed it without face planting into the Emerald Pools.

We continued on towards the Mid Emerald Pools and saw a lot more waterfalls.  We spotted a squirrel, the first wildlife we saw in the park.  I know that’s not that amazing, we have plenty of squirrels back at home.  However the squirrels in the park had different coloring so it was nice to see a different species.  We got to the Mid Emerald Pools and this time we didn’t have to cross the pools.  The path took us instead behind the waterfalls feeding these pools. While that was awesome, this part of the path was very slippery, muddy, and wet thanks to all the condensation in the air and the wetness of the rocks.  Our hiking boots definitely came in handy here!

We did eventually pass the sign for the Upper Emerald Pools.  We saw a lot of people coming down and asked if it was worth it.  Turns out it was at least another half hour up and down the trail and we wanted to get to our hotel before nightfall (it was late afternoon by then).  So we opted to go down the trail back to our car.  It was getting chillier by this point and we did not want to be outside when the temperatures really dropped.  I had taken off my sweater, but most of the hike ended up being in the shade so it was fairly cool the entire time we hiked this particular trail.

Once back in the car, we drove through Zion to get to the other side and exit the park in order to reach our hotel/resort.  The drive was breathtaking since the road was literally carved into the side of the mountain and allowed us to admire how deep the valley was and how high the mountains were.  We finally arrived at the tunnel that was literally built right into the mountain sometime in the 1930s (most likely blasted through with dynamite).  It was still daytime but Papa had to turn on the car’s headlights in order to see in the darkness.  The tunnel is not very wide so during the busy parts of the day, the park rangers supervise the tunnel closely and only allow traffic flow in one direction at a time.  During the summer, the line of cars must be soooo long as everyone waits their turn to get through.

We arrived at the Zion Mountain Resort, about 8 miles outside of Zion.  We were immediately struck by how much snow there was! Occasionally, we do get snow in the NY tri-state area in mid-March/April but it’s not something we are very used to.  We checked into our cabin–yes we stayed in a log wood cabin for the 2 days we stayed in Zion.  The resort was super cute and even had horses on hand that guests could ride.  However, I don’t think much horseback riding goes on this time of year with all the snow!

We also discovered the resort owns its own herd of buffaloes that they raise and I guess kill to feed to guests at the resort restaurant.  That night, Papa tried some buffalo steak and Mom tried the elk.  I was less adventurous and stuck to a pasta dish.

When the sun finally went down, Mom and I went outside to look at the stars.  Whenever we find ourselves in a remote area, we like to stargaze.  Living outside of NY, we really don’t see that many stars.  The city lights cast a glare against the sky and drown out a lot of stars.  I didn’t stay outside to long on the cabin porch though because it was pretty cold.

And there you have it! That was our first day in Zion.

The place definitely reminded me of science textbooks I used back in elementary school when we were studying natural environments and habitats of animals.  There was always a picture of a black bear or a moose in the middle of a majestic looking canyon.  I don’t actually think bears or moose live in Zion but being able to see such a place firsthand made me realize that the pictures in the textbooks were not fake.

Alright that’s a wrap for now about our first day in Zion.  In the next post, I will continue blogging about Zion.
As for updates on my personal life… well I already talked about my birthday right? Tomorrow night I will actually go out to dinner with some friends to celebrate my bday and another friend’s bday which was today (April 1st).  There’s some new Mexican place in Carlisle and the menu’s prices look cheap and affordable for the poor college students that we are.  So that’ll be something fun for tomorrow night!

And stuff that happened on campus: Mr. Dickinson, an event held every spring by one of the other sororities on campus.  The even in itself is silly.  It’s basically a male beauty pageant in which some guy at the end is crowned “Mr. Dickinson.” (However ticket sales go to Safe Harbour, a local shelter in the Carlisle community) Between rounds, the new member classes and groups from sororities dance.  I performed with my own new member class sophomore year and it was a blast.  I had so much fun and was so proud of my sorority. This year, I got to watch instead of dance. I enjoyed the Theta new member dance but I think I prefer dancing in the show as opposed to just watching.

I participated in Relay for Life on my birthday in the indoor track in the sports complex.  Relay for Life is an event that raises money for the American Cancer Association.  It lasts 12 hours (8PM to 8 AM) and the whole time, people walk around a track.  You join a team and you don’t have to walk the whole time, but someone must be walking from the team for the duration of the event.  Some people came with blankets and pillows, even tents! Those were obviously the more serious participants.  I stayed for a few hours but I had Networking Day the following day.

Networking Day was informative and useful but I did not actually network.  I went to a bunch of workshops about getting into grad school and successful interviewing and learning all about the art of networking.  It was definitely helpful but I didn’t bother going to the alumni networking event because as of right now, I’m still trying to figure things out.  Plus I think most alumni were there to network with each other… not much I could offer in terms of helping them get a job!

Oh and an amusing tidbit: walking back from a casual get together last Saturday night, I spotted a very agitated looking boy holding a pink balloon running down the street repeating “Where the (expletive) did he go?” I think it was a student but I’m not positive.  Here’s hoping he found what he was looking for!

And that’s all the news I’ve got for now.  Or that I’m bothering to tell you anyways.

Look out for another post soon!