15 June 2015

Emerald Pools

Zion National Park

Getting off the shuttle at The Grotto, there are quite a few trails to choose from. Across the street and the bridge, there is a trail heading up to Angel's Landing and one to some shallow pools. The one I really want to do is on the right to climb the cliffs, but the time barely allows for the one on the left. I turn onto the Kayenta Trail, apparently named for the rock formation it travels along, toward the Emerald Pools. Various pieces of park literature point out that these are named for the algae growing in them giving them a green tint, which sounds downright mundane to me. Much more interestingly, these are hanging pools.

view down the canyon
Looking down the canyon in the late day. One of the trail choices from The Grotto follows next to the river.

The Great White Throne
The Great White Thrown right across the valley.

The trail is wide and flat and climbs slowly. The river bottom drops away below, also quite slowly. It is nice to get up the canyon wall, even if only a little bit.

trail curving around toward some cliffs
A little bit of the trail as it curves around to head toward the cliffs.

waterfall from the ledge the middle pool sits on
Water falls over the ledge from the middle pool.

The trail splits by some large rocks and I head for the middle and upper pool rather than the lower pool. The middle pool is soon after the split as the trail crosses the stream. It is much more shallow than I am expecting.

far lit rock wall reflects off the shallow water
The still sunlit far rock wall reflects from the middle pool.

more shallow pool
A little more pool above the trail as it crosses the stream.

There is another junction, this time with the upper section on the trail that travels back to the lodge. I turn to take the spur trail. This continues upward a little more steeply to get to the upper pool. The cliffs get closer and closer and one couple asks me how much further it will be. I can only point at the cliffs and say it is probably at the bottom where the water seeps can be seen. It looks like it is just around the corner and it turns out it is.

the upper pool and the cliffs above
The upper pool of the Emerald Pools is the largest.

just the upper pool
The upper pool is still quite shallow although can be deeper than it is this year.

I had sort of wanted to take the upper trail back, but also want to see the lower pool, so skip that trail on the way back and go all the way to the second junction and start down. On the way, there is a short spur of use trail to another small pool. The water rains down from overhead, although not much onto us on the trail since we are under an overhang. The lower pool is also quite nice.

upper trail
The upper Emerald Pools Trail follows a higher rock ledge down the canyon.

water falling from the huge lip of rock above
Water drops from the lip of rock above as the trail drops more kindly from the same.

underneath the waterfall and looking out
Tucked under the waterfall and looking through it.

the full waterfall from within
Just watching the water fall.

lower pool
The lower pool from beside another rain of thin waterfall.

I continue to the lodge along the lower trail, since that is the one I am on. It is along here that one hiker tries to sell me on the idea that the canyon shows much glacial activity. It is a rather unexpected assertion. He points to the thick grooves in the high walls as proof, calling it glacial scaring. I point at the narrow canyon, just 30 feet wide not too far upriver, and claim no glacier was ever near there. Even at the very top, it is quite narrow. It must have been too long since slipping on some glacial polish in Yosemite or seeing the fine silt in an Alaskan river that is still not dropped even after hundreds of slow moving miles, because these do not occur to me. Sometimes, I am not too quick on the uptake. The grooves on the walls are interesting, but not from glaciers. Down at the bottom, there is a sign pointing out the upper trail is close in one section due to rockfall, so I just would have had to turn back had I taken it. One last quick drop brings me to the river again, where another bridge crosses over to the road.

valley looking up
The upstream view of the river from the bridge.

valley looking down
The downstream view of the river from the bridge.

It is quite a bit later on my return than I think. Sunset is not until nearly 9 PM and it is fooling me quite easily. Everyone else is quite ready to be away from these crazy crowds.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 25 July 2015

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