‘Like the T-Rex, arms are pretty useless!’
I gave a wry grin at the message that pinged across over whatsapp from my friends back home. It was morning here on the fourth day of the #iTrekHere trip in USA yet it was already late afternoon in the UK.
So what was the message about?
It was about this:
Looks pretty awesome, right?
The sweeping valley of Zion National Park laid before me as I posed the strongman with the sun beating warmly on me. I just couldn’t believe the views I was seeing on my hikes in this National Park in the state of Utah and I couldn’t agree more with the response another friend gave when I originally sent them this picture to them back home:
‘Wow, looks like Jurassic Park!’
Did you remember the original Jurassic Park movie when the characters flew in the helicopter passing through green valleys and mountains?
It just looked exactly like that.
Only thing that was missing were dinosaurs.
But wait, to need dinosaurs, you need the definitely T-Rex.
Well, you’ve got a Rex in Zion National Park! Woo! So I sent them that definitive photo that attracted humorous comments about my arms being as useless that a T-Rex’s.
They are just jealous…
Why I was so happy on my second day of #iTrekHere.
Right! So, I guess I should talk about my time in USA and Zion National Park from the last few days?
Well, it all started with the most wondrous place in USA that made me sigh happily and keep grinning from ear to ear all day:
Stay with me.
After jumping in the Trek America bus in Las Vegas where we won a beauty contest the night before (See More: iTrekHere: Vegas) we hightailed it across the state of Nevada to arrive for a pit stop at Walmart to stock up on essential items and beer as Utah does not allow the sale of alcohol of more than 3% (crazy fools).
But Walmart opened my eyes to possibilities that made my eyes gleam like a kid with a winning golden ticket in Willy Wonka. And there was only one reason why.
Cheap, massive shoes.
As you know, I have ridiculously large size 14 feet. I was becoming more and more like my dinosaur namesake every passing day. Sometimes, I leave gigantic footprints every where I go. But my main problem back home is that there is a very distinct lack of choice for those kind of sizes, often bland, boring and unprofessional. If I wanted something better, then I would have to fork out a month’s salary to even wear a pair.
Luckily, for me, I discovered a wealth of size 14 shoes, trainers and sandals in the aisles of Walmart waiting for my screams of joy. They were even cheap from $10 (£6)! I didn’t go crazy as I knew I would have to lug them around with me. Maybe on my last day in USA, I’ll be a Valley Girl going mental on shoe shopping. But sandals was something I needed as the pair I had with me were already falling apart. So off went a pair in my basket that would only set me back $14.
Other than that, I bought shoelaces, American Budweiser beer and the refreshing taste of Mountain Dew that is extremely popular in the States. I posted a picture of this on Instagram and I couldn’t believe how many of my American readers went mental for it!
After a brief stop, it was time to jump on board the bus again but not before decking ourselves in Trek America merchandise to our glee.
Crossing Three States to Become a
In quick succession, we drove for the rest of the morning from Nevada through a corner of Arizona and finally into Utah.
Utah is a state known to full of Mormons that believes in polygamy and a different slant to Christianity. But I didn’t quite hear that when we pulled up at the Utah State border checkpoint, you see, because I’m deaf. And all I heard was:
‘Ed, pretend to be a ‘Moron!’
So I did at the checkpoint. Oops.
But luckily, this faux pas was avoided when all eyes were on this prize-winning horses that rocked up next to us on the bus instead. They were truly beautiful creatures indeed and there was no chance of any long faces today… (wahey!).
Soon, we were back on the move and soon enough we rocked up at Zion National Park.
The iTrekHere Video Update
Okay, I think you need to make a cup of tea at this point and watch this amazing video from Travizeo who filmed us during our time at Zion National Park:
Pretty sweet eh? Did you see the bit where there were long arms reaching out to the chains and looking out at the views of the valley? That was me! I had a GoPro strapped to my head throughout the long ascent of Angel’s Landing. It was really interesting to film whilst on the move and really made me think of POVs and to discover unique sights.
Hiking the Emerald Pools Trail at Zion National Park
Arriving in Zion National Valley, we stopped off for a bit of lunch and to take in the surroundings of the place. Everything was a sheer multitude of orange and yellowy sandstone colours that are layered on top of another signifying periods of the Earth’s history. As a Environmental scientist myself, it was such a pleasure to see in my own eyes, the results of sedimentary processes that has shaped the continents of the world.
But first, posing time.
After lunch, we set off on our first hike of the #iTrekHere trip. After all, we are meant to be doing some trekking!
We went on the Emerald Pools trail.
Emerald Pools Trail
Fun for everyone, the Emerald Pools hike is one of the many trails available in Zion National Park. So why did we choose this? There’s waterfalls, breathtaking scenery, gigantic monoliths of ancient rock and more. This is our first taste of the American National Park system and it didn’t disappoint. A three mile round trip, I was constantly amazed by the atmospherical beauty of Zion National Park and eagerly picked up the pace to reach the Upper Pools where its source takes 1000 years to trickle down to the Virgin River below. But walking behind the waterfall that poured serenely to the middle pools below.
Check out the pics below:
Camping in Changing Temperatures of Zion National Park
Still staying in the Zion National Park, we took a drive to our campsite, 18 kilometres away, to do some camping! After the tour guide gave us a demonstration on putting up our tents, both Steve and I named ours ‘Tentin Tarantino’ and promptly put it up before the changing temperatures arrived.
It’s amazing how you would think in the middle of such a hot desert that by night, it would plunge into freezing temperatures. I was especially glad that I was overzealous in packing my warm clothing and for my three season sleeping bag that I bought from Trepass.
A campfire was set up and soon we were all holding hands and singing kumbayah. No, not really. We were too busy pushing s’mores into our mouths.
Do you know what s’mores are? No? Check out this video which dutifully explains the procedure on what you should do:
After a couple of Budweiser beers and some pretty neat stargazing as we were away from city lights, I climbed back into my bed ready for my first night sleeping, literally, on American soil.
Scaling Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park
Today was the major hike day. I got my walking shoes prepared, I got my water bottle bought from the Zion National Park Visitor’s Centre (they don’t sell plastic water bottles in an effort to reduce litter and pollution) and slapped on some suncream.
We would be hiking hard. It would take four hours round trip to reach the pinnacle of Zion National Park: Angel’s Landing.
After taking the shuttle bus to the Grotto Trail Route, the first portion was easy walking on gravel trails but pretty soon you would be crisscrossing upwards on the side of the Zion Valley overlooking the River Virgin. Then, you’d reach the mountain face, which again you’ll be criss-crossing on Walter’s Wiggles (switchbacks). Overall, it was a hike you needed to push yourself to see.
But it would all become ever so harder as I reached Scout’s Lookout, which offered you the choice to keep going or tackle the summit that on top would be Angel’s Landing at 5,790 ft high. Again, I must stress that when I wasn’t born there *tuts*
This would be the most difficult portion of the hike as you pulled yourself on the chains that were drilled into the mountain face. At portions, you were more climbing than hiking!
But I loved it.
Especially as throughout the climb, I was co stately reminded of my dad who was an accomplished mountaineer himself throughout his life. Now, as he is retired, I couldn’t help remember the times I went climbing and hiking with him in my childhood.
With the sun beating in my face, it was thirsty and sweaty work, but we reached the top of Angel’s Landing! Check out the epic photos!
Sitting on top, I could see the mighty Zion Valley lay before me. It was such a memory that will forever will be etched onto my mind. The breeze sweeping through tousled my hair and chipmunks skittered around hoping for a morsel of my packed lunch. It was just that time to stop and stare.
It was like another world, stopped in time, from eons past.
So my friend was quite right.
It was like Jurassic Park.
And you know what?
The ancient sandstone rocks here can testify to this. They were around at that ancient period of the Earth’s history.
But just as we started to climb back down, I turned round to look at Zion again and you know what this Rex did?
He roared loudly whilst swinging wildly his useless arms. He was home.
Trek America Tour Recommendation
So, are you starting to fall in love with the South West of USA? You’ve loved Vegas and now you totally want to visit Zion National Park? Well, you can!
Trek America has a wonderful trip taking in the best sights on their Westerner 2 tour: See Tour Details
I had my eye on this for the last three years and I’m pleased to have done some of this tour that also includes Vegas and National Parks.
Zion is not to be missed! What are you waiting for? Check out Trek America!