Friday, July 9, 2010 (Zion Narrows)

Today we hiked part of The Narrows.  Wow.  Just wow. 

Lots of pictures in this post.  Click on any to make them larger.

The trail begins at the Temple of Sinawava, a massive cliff formation at the end of the Zion Canyon.  A paved path runs for a mile along the river before the trail itself becomes the river.  We hurried along this path and entered the river with about a dozen other hikers. 




It was almost 9 am.  For the next mile, we picked our way upstream.  The river bottom is rock, and it took a while to get used to feeling for each step.  We walked further into the narrows for almost 3 hours.  We climbed over logs, weaved through boulder piles, splashed through shallow corners, and swam through deep pools.




It was a slow walk because every step had to be made carefully.  Elizabeth is always cautious, and while she was excited and smiling most of the time, she was definitely nervous.  In her words, “I’m afraid of heights, and I know this isn’t heights – it’s just some other weird and dangerous thing.”  Julia started out over-excited about the water and fell down several times before the first turn – getting soaked and bruising her knees. She moved more carefully after that, but cold and wet clothes aren’t fun in a cool canyon.   Slowly, the rock walls got taller and narrower.  Eventually, the sun was at an offset angle and the temperature dropped.  Julia got cold, stopped talking non-stop, and felt a little clammy.  We actually got a little worried, so we took off her cold, wet cotton shirt and gave her Mike’s shirt, found a sunny spot for her to rest, and gave her some food.  As soon as she had a snack and warmed up, she bounced back and was ready to go. 

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Just after noon we reached the area called Wall Street.  Here the trail begins to earn its name The Narrows because the occasional rocky beds or beach-like areas disappear from the sides, leaving only the towering walls of rock that reach as high as 1500 feet.  It is here the outfitters warned people not to spend too much time today because with heavy rains and flash floods possible, there is no high ground to provide safety.  It’s a shame, too, that the weather limited our time.  We were only 2 miles down the trail, and The Narrows continues for another 14 miles (only a mile or so is the Wall Street area, but overnight hikers told us the scenery was fantastic further upstream).  Our ultimate decision was to leave the girls at the turnoff for Wall Street where it met up with a side canyon(they needed a rest) while Mike and I moved further down the trail just to experience the Wall Street area for ourselves.  We went maybe another quarter mile and then rejoined the kids for lunch. 



After lunch, we turned around and made our way back.  We reached the trailhead at 3:00 – just as the sky turned dark and the we heard the first roll of thunder.  Before making a decision to begin the hike, we discussed the threat of a flash flood with the ranger who led our tour last night.  Although Wall Street is the most dangerous section during a flood, we had seen many pictures of even the trickling, shallow sections turned to crazy torrents of water and debris because of a thunderstorm upstream.  We had timed our hike well and were lucky.  We knew it had been raining earlier upstream because even the section near the entrance to the river had risen almost a foot between when we set out and when we returned. Today’s storm was brief, though, so those still walking the river in the afternoon simply had a little more water to deal with.  


Fantastic hike.  Almost 6 hours to walk 5 miles.  My only concern is we spent so much time looking down to watch our footing, I’m afraid we missed some amazing things we could have seen if we’d been looking up.

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One Response to “Friday, July 9, 2010 (Zion Narrows)”

  1. Frait family says:

    Hey guys looks like you are having a blast! Enjoy it all. The pool is cool. We miss you! Looking forward to more pics!

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