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Day 2 of our stay in Zion National Park was fairly low-key.  After all, we were pretty beat after the crazy climb to the top of Angels Landing!  We started the day with a cold wait for sunrise at the Canyon Overlook, and then we took a leisurely stroll to see the Zion’s Emerald Pools.

The muddy path that winds behind the trickling waterfalls at the lower of Zion's Emerald Pools

Spoiler alert: It was somewhat disappointing.

Morning at The Three Patriarchs

After playing around at the Canyon Overlook and being a bit let down with the lack of show (read that story here), we ventured back down into the valley to pick up a straggler from our group who decided to try something different at the Three Patriarchs.  I snapped a few photos there, as well, but I didn’t have time to set up a tripod.  The light was swiftly bleaching the sky anyway.

The Three Patriarchs standing behind a river

I was quite shocked to bump into a whole flock of wild turkeys!  Their feathers are iridescently beautiful, but those ugly little heads made me glad I don’t have to see that at Thanksgiving.  They were so funny, perched all along the bridge.  I even managed to catch one in flight, though my camera wasn’t quite set up for quick wildlife shots.

The group was rushing me out to our next stop, so we continued on to the mystical-sounding Emerald Pools – a hike that promised to be a bit easier on the knees and lungs than Angels Landing from the day prior (read that story here).

The paved trail winding between trees

The Crowds

Trickling waterfalls falling from the middle to the lower of Zion's Emerald Pools

Sadly, the sun was high up in the sky and people were active on the trails – even in February.  The sun was warm and the weather pleasant, so I couldn’t fault them.  But it did mean we had lots of folks to contend with: families blocking the path to take pictures, kids running to and fro, gossipy teenagers spouting “like” every other word… you get the point.

A photographer shooting a small waterfall from the trail that wraps behind it

As you may have figured out by now, I’m not one for crowds.  After all, we selected February as our time to visit this major national park specifically to avoid them.  I like getting out early and having a quiet place to myself (or with a few other like-minded quiet individuals).  Besides, the early hours are home to the best light.  Photography has made me a morning person.

The middle of Zion's Emerald Pools, with a small waterfall feeding it

The Emerald Pools

The pools were far from anything I would label “emerald,” but that’s probably due to the season.  The lower and middle pools sat in far too harsh of light to even really bother photographing, but I did enjoy the upper pool.  Still shadowed by the expansive cliff wall just beyond, it also housed a slight hint of winter – just a faint remaining dusting of snow on the rocks.

The cliff face at the snow-fringed upper emerald pool

I didn’t bring my tripod, so I attempted a vertirama with Aaron’s GorillaPod.  We also took advantage of a little sand outcropping to have our photo taken (thanks, fellow tourist!).

A vertirama of the upper of Zion's Emerald Pools

Aaron and me posing in front of the upper emerald pool
Picture taken by a friendly fellow hiker

Our Take

Overall, the Emerald Pools hike was kind of meh.  Perhaps it’s because the lighting was too harsh for me to let my photographer out.  Perhaps it’s because the trail felt much more commercialized than the others we had been on (pavement, chain railings, perfectly carved stone steps); there was nothing really wild about this hike.  Perhaps it’s simply because it came on the heels of an unforgettable experience with Angels Landing (seriously, how could this little trail compete with that?).

Despite all this, in a place as mind-blowingly beautiful as Zion, my spirits wouldn’t be dampened.  My photographer gave way to my explorer, and I enjoyed just being in that refreshing place – even with the excess company.

Aaron peeking through a crack in a giant rock, with my silhouette on the surface of the rock
The only way I can get us both in the same photo!

The cliff wall behind the upper emerald pool in Zion National Park

Somewhat underwhelmed with the hike, but pleased with the environment, we called it wrap at Zion and meandered our way out of the park and onto Bryce Canyon.

Coming up: Bryce Canyon!

Stay tuned!  I have more stories coming from the second half of our trip to Utah.  Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss out!

In the meantime, here’s a preview of Bryce:

Snow-covered Bryce Canyon at sunset

Come back next week for more!

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