Like many beautiful places, Zion National Park is frequently crowded with people, and it can be difficult to find the solitude that one needs to fully appreciate the awe-inspiring landscape.
But there is a secret that we have discovered, through the years, about getting away from people in crowded places: we call it the Quarter Mile Rule because the average person is reluctant to walk beyond 1320 feet, and if one is willing to do this, one leaves much of the crowd beyond.
While this is especially obvious on beaches, with many ambling sorts content to stay within sight of the public access entrance onto the sand, it is also works inland, and if the trail from the entrance is steep at all, the population of users drops off well before the 430-yard mark.
So it was at Zion National Park. The Emerald Pools Trail, one of the most popular in the park, is as crowded as a shopping mall on Black Friday at the initial level, but for those willing to climb to the third pool, 1.5 miles away, the crowd significantly drops off. Indeed, Last Light in Zion, captured just before sunset, takes place between the second and third pools, and the sense of quiet meditation is achieved because very few people advanced that far.
Life is like this: in any endeavor, the majority of people are content to stay at the initial level where everyone else is, and it’s difficult to see the surrounding clearly because of all the noise and activity. A goodly number are willing to advance up the trail to the first pool; far fewer go beyond that to the second; and remarkably few are willing to keep walking, keep moving, keep trying, until they reach the third.
There is comfort in the crowd, a feeling that we must be doing something right because everyone else is, but to truly see the beauty of a place, and to truly accomplish a goal, one must be willing to strike out away from the crowd, not worried whether anyone else chooses to follow or not.
Last Light in Zion is also available as a licensed print at Great Big Canvas, where it posts in the Top 10, sales, for the Zion National Park Category, where it is also a staff pick.