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  • Izhar Bar-Gad

The great parks of Utah - part 3

We left Bryce NP (altitude ~8000 feet) and started our descent to the lower and hotter areas of Utah. A very short drive away we stopped in the Red Canyon resembles the general scenery of Bryce NP with its eerie looking hoodoos but in this park, they are made of completely reddish stone instead of the multi-color ones in Bryce. After we drove into the park through an arch carved into the rock, we went on a short hike which also included one of the toughest geocache searches on a steep hillside. As the temperatures started rising, we continued our way to Zion NP. Once out of the mountains, we made a short pitstop in the strangest coffee shack in a middle-of-nowhere with a very weird owner who greeted us with Shalom and served excellent homemade croissants which can compete with ones in Paris.

The road to Zion NP, both outside the park and within it, was winding back and forth through narrow mountain passes and breathtaking views. We finally made our way to the park where we decided to brave it and camp in the park itself. The showerless camping ground was immersed in the surrounding nature. We set up our campsite and hopped on the shuttle which took us into Zion Canyon which is closed for other vehicles. The weather was still steaming hot so we decided to hike the narrows, a long trail which starts on an easy trail whose main attractions were the ultra-bold ultra-fat squirrels which were trying to squeeze food from the hikers. We escaped the killer-squirrels and entered the river in the narrows (i.e., where the two side of the canyon are close to each other) and continued hiking in knee deep water through the towering canyon with waterfalls dropping from the canyon walls. This was a perfect hike as the canyon provided shade from the blazing sun and the river was reasonably cold but not freezing like some of the rivers we previously encountered. As the sun started to set, we got back to the camp and after a short BBQ and a stick-light/light-sword fight thought that we would seal the day with good sleep. Sadly, this was not meant to be for some of us, during the night the wind grew stronger, shook the tent, and kept all the non-Yoav’s awake throughout most of the night. An anecdote: nineteen years earlier we planned to camp in the same campground, but the strong winds forced us take down our tent, pack in the late afternoon and find a motel. This time, we stayed all through the night but packed our tent in the morning cancelling our camping for the next day in favor of a wind-proof hotel.

The next morning, since we did not really sleep and since we wanted to avoid the heat, we went on a short hike along the river behind the campsite bright and early. We than hopped on the shuttle again to tackle the emerald pools trail which was supposedly a long but shady trail. The emerald pools are a series of three pools, not surprisingly named: lower, middle and upper pools. The trail to the lower pool was pleasant with a reasonable ascent and partial shade, and the view of the waterfalls into the pool was beautiful. Sadly, the continuing trail to the next ones included a steep ascent combined with no shade at all and Israeli summer temperatures. While the pools themselves were reasonably nice, the effort was definitely not proportional. We descended back to the lodge and compensated for the hard trail with some ice-cold beer and coke. Refreshed we headed back with the shuttle, and Yoav completed his Junior Ranger chores and got his badge. We sat down for some excellent curry dishes in the neighboring Thai restaurant and waved goodbye to Utah’s great parks.

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