I set out late afternoon/evening with my sights set on Highway 50, the Loneliest Highway in America with high hopes for scenery. It did not disappoint, although I only got around 4 hours of daylight to enjoy it. Oh well it may have been smarter to save the pretty drive for daylight. No regrets though, I did get killer views, gathering clouds and showers plus an awesome sunset. Then it was hours of dodging suicidal jackrabbits, insane speed limits (I'm pretty sure I'll die if I actually go 75 in the dark, even if the road is straight) and a total of 10 whole other cars all night.
The drive was fine until around hour 8, and then it became endless. I finally crossed the Utah border and soon enough came to the park (all lies, it was almost 2 crazy hours later, complete with terrifying 80 mph speed limits and a very sore butt/hip, how do truck drivers do it?). Either way I officially made it to Springdale around 3 am and was more than ready to be done driving. Then came the tricky part, the visitor center opened at 8 am, I wanted walk up permits and had no idea what the line for them would be like. In my infinite wisdom and too many google searches I was thinking 5 am was a pretty logical time to wait at the permit office but sleeping for an hour or two seemed silly. So after more wandering and being unable to figure out how to pay after hours entrance fees I parked in Springdale across from the Zion Adventure Company and walked the 1/4 or so mile to the visitors center at a little after 4 am. This place is something else, I've never seen such a big fancy visitors center before! Springdale was 100% deserted as was the park, I milled around reading signs in the dark and realizing it was getting much colder than I was prepared for. Darn you deceptive car warmth. I stubbornly stayed because I would hate for someone to show up 2 minutes after I walked the twenty minute loop back to my car. Maybe an hour and a half later a couple showed up and we all chatted and moaned about the cold until we enjoyed sunrise and they finally cracked the doors at 8:01.
|one of the fancy shuttle stops|
|entrance into Zion|
|the view from my street parking spot, not too shabby...|
|looking back behind the library up the street|
|Welcome to Zion, have a rattlesnake on the trail|
|starting up the canyon|
|verdict on the watchman trail: totally worth it|
Back to the main road and feeling tired I opted for the easy Emerald Pools trail, 1 mile and a few shuttle stops away.
However I soon realized I was quickly reaching my breaking point. Turns out I picked National Parks Week, Easter weekend and the end of a few states spring break. Too many people for me and the busiest weekend of the season so far according to the shuttle driver. Poor trail etiquette and ridiculous numbers of people make me cranky, I dislike waiting in queues full of obnoxious people to just go up and down a trail.
|a small taste of the crowds|
Out the grotto and out of the park for the evening. Back to my car to organize food and gear and get ready for my 7 am shuttle to Lee Pass. High hopes for sure.