Guided once again by Joe, our favorite Zion National Park expert, we headed through the amazing Carmel-Mt. Zion Highway tunnel to the east side of the park, a topsy-turvy world of swirling slick rock. We selected a trail unofficially called Many Pools from Joe's website, and followed his excellent, detailed directions. After parking in a smallish roadside spot we found a sandstone culvert under the road that we thought must have been the trailhead.
Above is a glimpse back at the culvert as we walked north, away from Rt. 9 along the wash. It was an easy walk through the wash until we came to some steep slick rock. But Joe had warned us about that and we had our nubby soled shoes on for climbing.
We sure needed them as the trail progressed. "Slick rock" is the name for these eroded petrified sand dunes that make up much of the east side of Zion NP. No, we didn't climb this one:
The wash continued north until we could see a white and red sandstone cliff that is so typical of Zion. We had a hunch that was probably the end of the trail.
Then we started seeing the many pools that this trail is named for. This is my favorite picture of the pools and the cliff with the arch in it at the end of the wash.
And this is the last of the pools, where we thought we would have to turn around and head back...
…that led to a surprise slot canyon! Joe hadn't said anything about that!
We explored the canyon for about 200 yards until we came to a rock fall we didn't think we could get safely over or around. We never did get to the foot of that beautiful cliff. The hike back to the road was even better than the walk in. It got a little bit cloudy so our pictures got a little bit better. This was our final look back over the slick rock toward our secret canyon.
When we got back home we looked up Many Pools Trail again on Joe's Guide to Zion National Park, and guess what? Nothing about our walk looked anything like his pictures of Many Pools Trail. (Joe's pictures are fantastic - no big surprise that ours didn't look like his.) Yes, it had many pools, but there was no mention of any slot canyon.
Where the heck were we, Joe?
An incredible place, that's where. This was our last hike in Zion, as we are heading north to Cedar City tomorrow. We've spent a couple of days getting travel-ready again. We dismantled the folding kayaks because the roof rack is loose and we can't figure out how to fix it. So the kayaks are in the RV basement. That took most of the day and reminded us again why we kept them assembled and on top of Ms. Subaru. (Anyone want to buy a couple of great folding kayaks?)
Rick and I usually feel ready to roll after a month in one place, but both of us are feeling kind of sad about leaving Zion. It is truly one of the most remarkable places on Earth, and though we got into it more deeply this time than we did two years ago, there is still so much more to see. I think we'll be back.