Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Emerald Pools

(Continuing the recap of my mid-October trip to southern Utah...)

Already in love with Zion National Park, a short hike down to The Narrows  had me absolutely smitten.  After spending a few good hours exploring and photographing the Riverwalk Trail's lovely canyon, I didn't think anything else could top it.

Then I hiked the Emerald Pools Trail.

Virgin River view

A short, but very popular path, Emerald Pools Trail leads visitors up from the Virgin River's valley floor into a narrow canyon where seeps from the sandstone walls feed three unusually green ponds.

Fantastic light on the canyon

After spending most of the morning around the Narrows, Emerald Pools was our next stop.  Crossing the Virgin River on a sturdy footbridge, Roger and I followed a narrow trail perched on top of a tall ledge.  From the start, views up and down the river's canyon were incredible.  As I began lagging behind to take photos, Roger left me in the dust.

The trail followed a narrow shelf

Knowing he'd wait for me ahead, I continued snapping away.  Then, I became distracted by the sound of heavy footsteps tromping across the bridge below.  A party of four young couples, loudly yelling and laughing began approaching.  These people were totally obnoxious, clogging the trail and shouting crude jokes.  I'm not a prude, but loud, rude people in wilderness areas really annoy me.  Not wanting to be followed by these idiots the entire way, I stepped aside and let them pass.

As I climbed, the views kept getting better

The obnoxious hikers now out of earshot, I could again enjoy the jaw-dropping scenery in peace.  My trail continued to follow a rocky ledge above the Virgin River's banks.  The higher I climbed, the wider its canyon panoramas unfolded.

Green trees lined the river

As expected, I took way too many photos.  But with scenery like this, how can you not?

The Virgin River framed by mountains

Although heavy clouds obscured the sun, our hike continued to be dry.  I lamented the lack of blue skies, but did appreciate the even lighting these cloudy conditions created.

White-topped canyon

I was by no means alone.  Emerald Pools is one of the more well-populated paths in Zion.  A steady stream of people passed by heading in the opposite direction.  One lady ominously warned me "there's a tarantula ahead on the trail."

Tarantula sighting!

Ugh!  I hate spiders, especially huge hairy ones.  About this time I ran into Roger, patiently waiting for me to catch up.  I mentioned the lady's warning, and he said "Cool!  Let's go find it!"

Eeek!  (this is Roger's photo)

Uhhh.....I wasn't so sure about this.  As Roger eagerly trotted ahead, I timidly hung back.  It wasn't much farther until we came upon the spider, sitting off to one side of the path.  And, yeah, it was gigantic and scary.  Roger and another young man held their cameras practically in the tarantula's face.  But me....well, let's just say I'm thankful for zoom lenses.  The above photo is courtesy of Roger, and just editing it gave me the willies!

One more canyon view

Our giant spider encounter now thankfully behind us, Roger again rocketed ahead.  No big deal, I was enjoying taking photos of this wonderful landscape.  Then the trail led through a narrow crack in a  huge rock cliff.  And there in the middle of the crack, were the obnoxious idiots again. 

Through a crack in the rock

Four of the group were posing for photos smack dab in the middle of the passageway.  Because the canyon was so narrow, they effectively blocked the trail in both directions.  Hikers stacked up on both sides, and I silently steamed as I watched the group pose for one silly photo after another.  After five minutes, the rude folks appeared to move, but when I found them standing in a bunch at the opposite end, I very grumpily told them to quit blocking the trail.

Colorful cliff above Lower Pool

Shortly beyond the narrow crack I came upon a trail junction.  One path led uphill to the Middle and Upper Pools, while the other led past a tall rock overhang to the Lower Pool.  Roger, who up until then had been good about waiting for me, was nowhere to be found.

Middle Emerald Pool

Which way did he go?  Thinking maybe he'd show up, I waited at the junction for a few minutes.  But then I heard the obnoxious group's raucous voices echoing off nearby canyon walls.  Not wishing to encounter those jerks again, I made a snap decision to try the upper trail.

Wispy waterfall above Lower Pool

Although it wasn't far to the Middle Pool, the trail was steep and rough.  Not a problem for me, but I passed many folks who appeared to be having a tough time.  I arrived at the Middle Pool with no sign of my hubby.  The Middle Pool was kind of a disappointment.  Just a mere shallow dribble in the rock, instead of vibrant green it was a dull brown (don't know if the lack of sunlight had something to do with this).

Looking down into Lower Emerald Pool

I knew there was another path that led to the Upper Pool.  But the trail's continuation wasn't apparent and about that time, the rude people came stomping up the opposite side.  Time to move on!

Sturdy footbridge over the Virgin River

So I descended back to the Lower trail.  Still no hubby.  I followed this path past a tall sandstone cliff, where wisps of water dripped from it's very top.  Lush green foliage dangled below and I saw a very tiny green water body amidst the trees.  It was an amazingly gorgeous place, but worries about finding my husband overshadowed it's extraordinary beauty.

Muddy river from the footbridge

Maybe Roger got tired of waiting for me and hiked ahead to the bus stop?  Now quite annoyed, I hurried down the trail, hoping to catch him.  The rest of this path was glorious, with more tall red canyon views, but I wasn't in the mood to appreciate any of it.  The closer I got to the trailhead, the more I began to worry something had happened to my hubby.

Looking upriver at the cliff walls

I ended up at the bus stop - and still no Roger.  Now extremely worried, I turned on my cell phone and as a last-ditch effort, sent him a text.  To my surprise, not only did I have service, Roger texted right back, and said he was at the Lower Pool waiting for me!

Reuniting at the hiker bridge spanning the Virgin River, Roger enjoyed a snack while I prowled around the water's edge with my camera.  We determined our separation happened when Roger hiked on to the  Upper Pool, and I turned around at the Middle one.  Although we both experienced a few worried moments, we could now look back and laugh.

Serene river scene

Although the pools were not very green, and had very low water levels (surprising after the previous night's rain) and I had to contend with crowds, giant spiders, lost husbands, and obnoxious people, I still loved the Emerald Pools Trail.  An extremely scenic 2-plus mile loop, it provided a lot of bang for your hiking buck.

By now it was late afternoon, and the overcast skies still hadn't produced any moisture.  But that was all about to change......

Check back for the next installment of my southern Utah trip!

Sharing with:  Photo Friday and Scenic Weekends


  1. Mais um belo passeio por estas magnificas montanhas.
    Um abraço e bom fim de semana.

  2. Hello, another great hike and awesome photos. I even liked the cool tarantula. The views are gorgeous. I do not like coming across loud people on the trails, especially if I am birdwatching. They scare the birds away. So happy you and hubby found each other, I am surprised you had cell service there. Now, I ready to go back to Zion. Great post and awesome photos.

  3. Okay, so that's exactly why I've not yet hiked the Emerald Pools trail...the potential crowds! Maybe some day I'll manage it if I arrive very early. It sure looks lovely.

    As they say, our National Parks are being loved to death...

  4. Lovely photos, Linda! I cannot fathom that some people actually have tarantulas as pets. They make me nervous! LOL! :)

  5. that sure is some gorgeous scenery. we visited once but could not spend much time.

    gaaaaaccccckkkkk i'm with you on the spiders....the further away the better.

  6. Water certainly makes things green!

    NO. THANK. YOU. I would've had an episode and needed to be airlifted to the nearest hospital. Tarantulas aside, though, I'm enjoying my vicarious trip through Zion with you and Roger. Keep 'em coming!

  8. Fantastic photos! The shots of the canyon walls are spectacular. I'll pass on the tarantula, too! My friend, Mary, and I hiked Angel's Landing and did a secondary hike to Emerald Pools coming down. It was funny because coming down from Angel's Landing we passed 2 Japanese couples on their way up. They stopped in front of me and bowed deeply congratulating me on doing the hike. When I caught up to Mary, I said, "I must truly look ancient!" I see that your mountains are getting snow - happy skiing (and holidays)!

  9. Wonderful scenery. It's asking for trouble when you call something "Emerald Pools"; if they'd called it "Steep, Rocky Trail Infested With Giant Spiders" you'd've had the place to yourselves.

  10. That scenery is magnificent. I don't understand why loud obnoxious people are attracted to such places. Pleased you were reunited with your husband without having to call out the mountain rescue crews.

  11. Spectacular shots! What an amazing place to visit.

  12. Wow! I think I may just use your blog to find places to visit the next time I get to the States! As far as I can tell spiders and snakes are the reason people invented zoom lenses!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  13. Breathtaking images, outstanding views, and loved the fuzzy tarantula. (I like tarantulas!)
    Glad you found each other again... been there, more than once. I'm not much of a people person, that photo session stopping traffic would have driven me nuts.
    Loved your post!

  14. Looks like suchm awesome scenery! Sorry about the various stresses you suffered!

  15. Just loving your visit and wishing more than ever that we hand had more time there on ours.
    I can relate to your frustration with the 'obnoxious people'. We had a loud couple on our Chia trip. They were always 1st off the bus and took forever to take all their posy shots. I was forever running to catch up as I didn't want people in the pics of such ancient buildings and places.

  16. What a beautiful place; it all worked out in the end. I agree about loud, rude people in the wilderness (or anywhere), they're completely oblivious to the effects their actions have on others.

  17. ugh, loud annoying people on the trail. I avoid them too. That's a beautiful trail.

  18. Another fine adventure that you have shared with your fellow bloggers. As usual Linda your photography is outstanding.

  19. OH! I LOVE the colours and patterns in the rocks. But I could do without the noisy crowds and the Tarantula! lol

  20. Wow, you got some good shots of an amazing place. The spider.. eeeek!
    *M*E*R*R*Y* * *C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S*!*
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  21. What a scenic hike. The varied views are breathtaking. I agree. Loud people in places like this seem the damage the beauty and I too would be avoiding them as much as possible.

  22. What no arrows in the dirt or little rocks pointing the way? You will have to learn to communicate your trails...maybe make him a little sign so you know which way he went! :) But maybe you are supposed to read his mind:)

  23. The scenery is gorgeous! The spider is really big and scary. I'm glad we don't have spiders like that here. :-)

  24. This brought back a thrill of excitement as I remembered hiking this trail with my own hubby back in spring of 2010. Zion is incredible and you captured it so, Linda!
    I was starting to worry.. I recall signs saying people have fallen from some of the high places at Zion. Also, I have a low tolerance for rude, loud idiots, too. I'm glad you spoke up to them, but sorry they were present at all.


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