Well, the bugs didn’t carry me off during the night; that was good.
My husband made his rockin’ homemade oatmeal with lots of dried cherries and nuts – a good breakfast to get us through lots of rocky mileage.
It was then that the reality of really hiking all day set in. We have four kids; I am a minimalist packer. The two don’t always go hand in hand. In the end we managed to put all the kids’ water and their bag of trail mix in one backpack that was manageable for them. We adults had the backpack with our waters, lunch for the family, the first aid kit (band-aids, mostly), and a camera. We each carried our own sweatshirt of jacket, and Handsome had the ergo to carry Dimples. The kids were able to share the duty of carrying their pack, so it worked nicely. They all were responsible to share the duty, but they all enjoyed not having something the whole time.
Vacation Rule #1: Kids can carry their own stuff, no matter how many times they tell you that they most assuredly cannot!
We drove into the park and found parking spaces that were convenient to a shuttle stop. The joke came when every shuttle that came was full, full, full. We finally just smashed our ten selves onto an already full shuttle. We were literally smashed in, but we made it to our destination stop, the Lodge where we sprang out of that shuttle like one of those snake-in-a-can practical jokes!
Before heading up the Emerald Pools trail, we thought it best that we took a restroom break. While doing that my children ran around and played – that is, until one of them fell off the stone wall and damaged himself. Little Man managed to scrap his underarm from his armpit to his elbow as well as his torso. What a way to start a hike!
Vacation Rule #2: Keep moving. Someone will get damaged, if there is too much waiting.
The path to the first pool was noticably uphill but the perfect illustration of why Zion National Park was the perfect vacation spot for our young family. The kids totally didn’t care about the uphill factor; they were fresh and ready to roll! Before we knew it we were standing in front of a huge waterfall, then walking under a huge waterfall! It was cool – literally! The shade felt good after the walk.
A couple of turns later we were at the second pool. From this pool ran a crystal clear stream of water, over the rocks and off a ledge. It was so pretty, and because it ran along the rock the kids were able to get right up next to it without getting muddy! The kids had a blast there, and we all had a snack there too! It was such a picturesque spot that I could have stayed there all day; I think the kids could have stayed there a long time too . . . yet we wanted to make it to the third pool.
The climb to that pool was said to be a little harder, and by this time the sun was a little hotter. We redistributed weight (meaning I took the kids’ backpack), I took charge of the three big kids, and we set off. It was so fun to be with the three bigs during this part of the hike! They stayed relatively far ahead of the rest of the pack, just picking their way up the steps. They named plants and birds and talked about the view as they picked their way up the stairstep-like path. Little Man hikes like a man on a mission, and I kept having to tell him to “wait up!” There were a couple of times that I had to work to stay calm as he bounded over rocks perched right at the ledge of a cliff, but he did just fine (meaning: he didn’t plunge to his death).
We climbed up and up and up, the sun beating down on us all the while.
Finally, we reached an area of the path that went between two giant boulders. It was narrow enough that only one person could fit through at a time. When it was our turn to head through, I was absolutely dumbfounded by what I saw. The bright sunny path entered into a shady area full of tall trees and giant boulders and, at the far end falling from a very tall cliff, a huge waterfall and a pool at the bottom of it. It was absolutely amazing! I seriously thought, “Fairies are going to start fluttering out from behind the trees at any minute!”
Handsome and our friends were not too far behind, and by this point we were all hungry.
We found a good spot, parked the children on rocks, and pulled out the lunches. Peanut butter and jelly has never tasted so good to me!
We played for a while; the big kids enjoyed climbing and exploring.
We took quite a few pictures.
Eventually we were compelled to leave, because, of all things, we were cold!
The hike back down was rather uneventful, except for the fact that Gus told me half way down that she needed to go potty! That is a bummer when the place you are hiking is resplendent with waterfalls! Near the end of the hike, I needed to stop with a couple of the kids, but I asked Handsome to go ahead and walk ahead with Gus. I thought we would catch up in a minute or two. A half-mile later, and they were still not in sight. Eventually, we found them at the Lodge, sitting outside the restroom. Apparently Gus had run that last half-mile or so! I laughingly asked her if she felt better, and I don’t know that I have ever seen her smile bitter!
Vacation Tip #3: Always go potty before walking the long trail with all the waterfalls!
At this point my friend had the most wonderful idea: “Let’s get ice cream for snack!” she said. So we did.
We sat in the yard of the Lodge and ate our ice cream cones. Imagine sitting on a green lawn in the shade of a ginourmous tree, surrounded by the walls of the canyon, kids playing nearby! It couldn’t have been more perfect!
A minute later, as I got up to take a little walk, I looked over just as my friends’ three year old decided to “water the lawn.” I yelled her name and pointed in the direction her offspring, then laughed my head off! I think I will forever laugh at the thought of that moment – and the notion that kids always pick the funniest times to do these things!
We ended up hiking a short but sweet trail to finish off the day, then found our way back to our vans and our rental house where my genius friend had thought to cook our dinner in the crock pot. Upon entering we were greeted with the smell of curry chicken – perfect for after a long day of hiking!
We ended the evening with a magic show. Our friend has learned a bunch of magic tricks as a hobby, and he did the most wonderful job distracting the children and entertaining them for a long time! He did such a good job that I still haven’t figured out how he did some of the tricks!
Greeted several more bugs just before bed. As a matter of fact, I asked Handsome to reach across to my side of the bed, because I am such a chicken that I didn’t want to reach my hand over to the light. Just as he reached, I looked over and screamed! There WAS a big bug – right there on the light! Ew!
So yet again, I thanked God for my big, strong, bug killing man and went to sleep!