This is an announcement of how terrible of a person I am when it comes to blogging. This just goes to show how EVERY time we go somewhere, I tell myself “Enjoy it now… write later.” I tell myself, “I’ll do it all when we get home. It’s no problem.” Then when we get home all that actually gets done immediately is laundry. So, I guess the good news is that I at least get our laundry done.
I can’t even tell you, off the top of my head, when this actually happened. Stark and I managed to arrange my last follow up with my narcolepsy specialist around the coveted new moon so we could star gaze in our favorite place together, Zion National Park. It is only with the help of Google that I can tell you that during that the full moon was the last week of May. So this must’ve been then! In fact, it is coming back to me now.
After so many visits to ZIon, we’ve pretty much hiked everything at least once from the Southern side of Zion National Park. What we hadn’t done yet was hike The Narrows. You can either get a permit and hike a 24 hour hike from the top of The Narrows, down. Or, if time isn’t on your side and camping equipment isn’t anything you have on hand, you can do the top-up hike for 10 riveting (or should I say… rivering?) miles in the water.
For us, May was still pretty cold. Most of the water was from the later part of the snow run off. So we needed legit dry suits and proper wet shoes that are also made for hiking. Thankfully the Zion rental shop handed us hiking sticks. We would have never thought about hiking sticks, but I can tell you now, you’ll die without one!
Although the river looks calm, don’t be fooled. The reason the video is so calm is for no other reason than we hadn’t yet bought a chest strap for our GoPro, so we could literally only hold the camera when things were easy going. The truth is, you’re going to break something, slip, fall, and land very unpleasantly if you don’t have a walking stick to brace yourself against the flow of the river as you cross back and forth.
With a bag stuffed with homemade protein bars, we were well prepared. In fact, it even got a little warm despite the shadows of the canyon. We had a late start for anything suggested when hiking The Narrows, but we still dedicated a hard 6 or 7 hours to the task. We stopped at what we thought was the Orderville turn off for a light lunch and some snacks. Other than that, it was fighting the current all the way up and then turning around very quickly to come back.
You see, it had been raining the two days before. This hike is closed when even the slightest indication of rain is within miles of Zion as you’ll pretty much always experience a flash flood in the deep set of the canyon. We were so worried we wouldn’t be able to hike, but conditions cleared up just for the day… until it was time to turn around. You could hear an increase in rain water coming through springs and down small waterfalls. It quickly grew colder. We could piece two and two together to determine that rain was washing down from far away, but it didn’t seem too concerning. But things change swiftly when in the middle of the river. By the time we felt a drop here or there without even any real serious rain, we could tell that the current was significantly stronger than our hike up.
Thankfully, hiking down is much faster. We were able to book it out of the entire canyon – 5 miles back, in just 2 1/2 hours – a little more than half the time it took us to get up there. The tricky part about hiking down, is keeping your step. When you hike up, against the current, you can take your time to secure your foot and brace yourself aerodynamically into the white water. On your way down? Not so much. As you hike down, the water is constantly threatening to sweep you off your feet. You’re hiking from higher ground to lower ground. Every inch counts, and every inch makes you feel like you’re going to fall into the deep swimming holes that were less obvious now that the entire river was moving.
That’s exactly what we did. With a whirl and a twirl, there was one section on the way down that Stark went under and I nearly went with him trying to catch him by the back pack. Even he noted at the time that if one of us had to get soaked and freezing, at least it was him. I had a lot more layers packed on and probably would have gone into full on defeatist mode if it were me. We were so close to being out though. So in the end, it wasn’t a terrible problem.
In the end, we pried off all our wet gear and discovered just what a full day of water socks and boots will do to your feet. (Let’s just say, it took until about a month ago for us to heal entirely).
Embedded, you’ll find a short video that doesn’t even describe the adventure, but at least it gives you a teaser. If you want to hike The Narrows, you can visit The Narrows website here: http://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/narrowsbottomup.htm
Written October 2014 and back dated to May 2014! Forgive me…