30 April 2009

Day Two ~ Zion

East Temple


Oh Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is thy name
in all the earth!
Psalm 8:1


Those were the first words I thought of as I entered Zion National Park. The scale and beauty of Zion caught me by surprize! There is no photograph that I have seen, that adequately captures the grandeur here, that provides you with the same sense of closeness yet majesty that resides here when you walk along the trails in the canyon bottom or scale the heights. It is breathtaking. (!warning! There are many pictures in this post and it may take a while to load!)

Zion
I entered the park on the east side. Here, the slick rock sandstone created by enormous sand dunes in ages past, glows with a golden inner light.

Tenacious
Trees, such as this ponderosa, grab tenaciously onto the rock and grow in what seems an impossible place!

Paintbrush on slickrock
Shrubs and wildflowers like these brilliant Indian Paintbrush cling to vertical rock walls bring beauty and life.

Tunnel Entrance
From the east, the road travels through two tunnels carved though the sandstone. This is the entrance to the first tunnel. It is short, but the second one is long ~ over a mile!

Tunnel windows
Along the tunnel, large arched "windows" are carved into the side of the mountain allowing a little light in and providing glimpses of the stunning scenery in the east canyon. On coming out of the tunnels, the road switchbacks down the canyon. From below, you can see some of the tunnel windows above.

Falls at Lower Emerald
In the morning, I hiked the trail to the Lower and Middle Emerald Pools. At the lower pools, the water cascades from above, over a rim of sandstone, falling down into the pool far below. The trail hugs the cliff side between the rock and the falling water, making it delightfully cool! The wildflowers love the cool damp as well! The Middle pools are up on top of that ledge.

Middle Emerald
The trail between the lower and upper pools was rocky and steep. Just when I thought I'd have to turn around, that my still healing ankle wouldn't let me go further, God provided a helpful man to give me a hand over a rough spot! I love the way that God provides the help we need, just when we need it, even if it's just a big step up a large rock! The view from the middle pools was well worth the effort!

Wild peas
All along the trail, wildflowers were blooming including these beautiful wild peas.

Penstemon
Brilliant penstemmon echo shade in the rock walls. I loved that beauty was present both in the grand views of the canyon and in close up as well.

Riverside Walk view 02
At the end of the canyon, I hiked the Riverside Walk. Here the trail takes you right between the cliffs, while the Virgin River flows along side. I was intrigued by the sage green opaque water of the river. Squirrels dodged my footsteps all the way! I'm sure they were looking for treats, though no one was feeding them. When I sat down for a rest, one came up and sniffed about my hands and watch (which were sitting in my lap!). A gentleman watching said, "he just wants to know the time!"

Hanging Gardens
Water trickles down the cliff faces, supporting an array of plantlife.

Shooting Star 01
The shooting stars were in full lush bloom. I've never seen so many of them in one place nor such large ones either. They grow right out the side of vertical rock walls!

Riverside Walk view 01
Everywhere I looked there was more spectacular beauty to be seen.

Canyon Walls 01
Along the Riverside Walk, the canyon walls are mostly blackened from moisture. The black walls were a stunning backdrop to the brilliant green of spring leaves!

Great White Throne
From one stop, the view is of the Great White Throne soaring above the other cliffs.

Weeping Rock
The last short (but steep!) hike I did was to Weeping Rock. Here the water cascades down the face of the rock from a spring high above.

Weeping Rock view
The view from Weeping Rock is a stunning look down the canyon!

Towers of the Virgin
Between the canyon and the visitor center, this view called the Towers of the Virgin (the Virgin River) dominates the scene.

The Watchman 01
Near the visitor center, The Watchman guards the south entrance to the park.

Desert Bighorn
Leaving the park for the day, I spotted these Desert Bighorn sheep scaling the steep sides of a sandstone butte. For an hour I was able to watch them eating and playing on the top! What a treat to end my visit to Zion with!
Desert Bighorn group

Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers, consider well
her ramparts,
go through her citadels that you may
tell the next
generation that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
Psalm 48:12-14

Isaac Jacob Moroni 01

With beauties such as these, to me it is no wonder that the park was named Zion. The splendors here bring to mind some of the verses in Psalms that speaks of Zion and I find them fitting.

The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the
perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
Psalm 50:1, 2

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