Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 4 & 5 - Zion National Park

On our 2nd day in Zion, we moved camps.  We couldn't get all three nights within the park so we spent one night at a private campground outside the park.  Our first day in Zion proper, we just lazed around and enjoyed a fantastic campsite.  We were right on the Virgin River so the kids spent a fair amount of time getting wet in the water.  Greg and I did a LOT of reading in the cool shade.  It's a beautiful park -- even if you just relax there!

We woke up early, had breakfast, donned swimming gear, and headed off to hike The Narrows.  This famous hike is both difficult and spectacularly beautiful.  The Virgin river creates a slot canyon in the upper reaches of Zion National Park.  You hike up the river bed, wading through the river.  As you hike, you are walking on boulders the size and shape of bowling balls that sometimes shift as you step on them.  You need to wear water shoes and use trekking poles to be safe. 

We did this hike last year and Greg and I did it on our honeymoon, 24 years ago!  We have never gotten pictures before but this year, we invested in a really snazzy dry bag for my iPhone so we were able to bring it up the Narrows without risking it’s destruction.  I'm amazed at how many people bring their cameras -- really nice big ones with tripods and huge lenses up this river when one misstep would mean it's destruction but maybe they are more stable on their feet than I am!  :)
Zion shuttle bus
On the shuttle bus going to the Temple of Sinawava to hike the Narrows.  Zion's shuttle buses are great -- they let everyone get where they need to go without the congestion and pollution that would otherwise be there.  Love them!
Heading off to hike Virgin Narrows
Getting ready to hike!
Heading off down the trail.  About 1 mile before we can get our feet wet!
Having a snack before we go
Having a snack before we get in the water!  We are doing this early so it's cool out and the water will be downright cold.  We need some good fuel before we get in that water.
Into the Narrows
The river bottom is mostly this kind of stone which is why keeping your footing is so tough and why the hike is so tiring.
Ruth and Gage in waterfall
Chilly waterfall!
Slot canyons are cool
Most of the hike is in the river so . . .
Our own little "island" - we had a nice break!
Spots of sunshine were important during the first part of the hike to keep you warmed up.
Gage got a little cold in the am
Gage had a hard time staying warm at first.  
Last year, when we went, it had been a much rainier year and the river had much more water in it (even though we did it in July).  This year has been pretty dry and the river was much lower.  We didn’t need to swim in any sections this year and navigating the faster moving sections was much easier, too.  
I made it much farther this year than I had in the past.  Greg and Gage went all the way to the recommended stopping point.  Ruth stayed with me and swam in a deep section while we waited just over an hour for the guys.  
Ruth swam in this section of river -- just for fun!
Resting in the sunshine
Such a beautiful place
We had a trio of ravens flying up and down the canyon as we hiked.  Near the entrance to the water, there are a lot of people but the further up the river you go, the fewer people you see.  We ran into a few sets of “through” hikers.  They had gotten dropped off at the upper end of the slot canyon and hiked down the 16 miles of the river.  It can be done in a day but is usually a two day hike.  I can’t imagine.  Doing the Narrows is so much fun and so beautiful but it’s exhausting, too.  You often can’t see your footing so you and constantly adjusting and readjusting your balance.  I did it with two poles this year which was much better for me -- no falls, this year!  
Is it a bird? a plane?  Nope, it's Greg's preferred "going downstream method"
Stunning beauty
Ruth . . . river bunny!
At least this year, we didn't have to swim . . . .unless we wanted to!
The canyon is so beautiful!
Deep water!
This was the deepest part!
When we were done, we were exhausted.  We collapsed in our campsite until dinner time and then roused ourselves enough to go find a mexican restaurant in Springdale.  It was wonderful!
Dry Case
My dry bag that kept my iPhone safe and dry and let me use it while we were hiking!

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