20th Anniversary Trip {Zion post-lunch day 1 ~ the Grotto, Emerald Pools, Pa'rus and Archeology Trails}

Recharged after my chicken, pecan and blue cheese salad, Ian's Asian chicken wrap and a shared peach/pear/mango smoothie, we were ready to get on our feet again.  The temperature had risen significantly, so we quickly changed into more warm weather appropriate clothing, walked back into the park and hopped on the shuttle.  

We started at the Grotto and took the short, one mile Grotto trail to Zion Lodge.  Along the way we encountered several mule deer, including a mother and fawn combo.  The baby was adorable, but by this point we were somewhat in mule deer overexposure.   You could however easily tell who was new to the park that day as they stopped and made a big deal over the mule deer.  Kinda reminded me of our elk overload at Yellowstone back in 2009 on our ten year anniversary trip.  

Once we got to Zion Lodge, we crossed the Virgin river to pick up the Lower Emerald Pool Trail.  This 1.2 mile trail was not technically challenging but brought lovely views of the pool and the mistywaterfall.  

I suppose during other times of the year or after a rainstorm it was more impressive of a fall coming over the edge, but that afternoon it was just a refreshing mist.

I found myself wondering what stories trees would tell if they could talk.  What caused this one to grow in this particular way.
guess i truly am my dad's daughter...once again stopping to take a picture of "that tree"
(and the guy in the photo is easy on the eyes as well)
Between the two of us and our phones and the Canon camera I think we ended up with nearly 500 pictures of the red rocks of Zion.  The beauty was just compelling...

Once we looped back to the lodge, we hopped on the shuttle back to Canyon Junction where the trailhead for the Pa'rus Trail is located.  We kept up a quick pace on the 3.5 mile paved route that follows the Virgin river through the center of the canyon.

[I like to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if only we will tune in].
George Washington Carver
The clouds provided a staggering, ever changing view ahead as we walked back toward the visitor center.  This was one time I was thankful for a wide, smooth path so I could keep my eyes on the sky as we hiked.

At the visitor center we decided to add the 0.4 mile steep Archeology Trail to our day.  While the elevation change of just 80 feet didn't provide sweeping views of the canyon, there were outline ruins to several prehistoric buildings that were interesting to explore.

And on the way back from this quick hike I saved Ian's life.

Okay.  Maybe that is an ever so slight exaggeration.  But I did stop him from stepping on this baby snake.  (and we all know that required a HUGE amount of bravery on my part...I nearly passed out from 20 feet away.  Snakes are just not my thing!)

On the walk back to our room at the Cliffrose we realized just how used to humans mule deer in the area have become.  We dropped our packs and headed to dinner.

The choice of the evening was the Spotted Dog Cafe just a few minutes walk from the Cliffrose.  Springdale had a fun vibe and two things really going for it...restaurants with awe-inspiring views and the mindset that most folks were in town to hike, so you could go straight from the trail to dinner and not feel out of place.

if you find yourself dining at the spotted dog, try the pasta purses with sage butter and sliced won't be disappointed!
And of course the walk back to our room came with a sunset view.  The changing color of the mountains reminded me of the Belladonne mountains that occasionally turned purple in the evenings when we lived in Grenoble.

After dinner and hot showers to get the dust of the day off we spent about an hour on our patio enjoying a baked Bumbleberry bar from the Bumbleberry Gift Shop and decaf coffee while watching the moonrise.

What a day!

**fitbit dashboard: 32,370 steps, 14.34 miles, 291 active minutes

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