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Up a Creek Without a Paddle

Written by Jared on October 28, 2011

The Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah.Start: Thursday October 20, Death Valley, UT
Finish: Sunday October 23, Zion National Park, UT
Days on the Road: 15
Days for wet boots to dry: 3

Three days in Zion National Park brought a never-ending highway of tourists, not-so-emerald pools, six wet boots and one amazing hike in a canyon.

If you're headed to Zion, The Narrows is not to be missed. Don't get me wrong, the rest of the park is spectacular, but hiking in a river through a slot canyon that can be 15 feet across and hundreds of feet tall is indescribable.

Runner up for the weekend: watching Real Steel on a six-story-tall IMAX screen at the Zion Canyon Giant Screen Theater.

In-N-Out burger in Las Vegas.

What's the worst thing about living in the Northwest? No In-N-Out. It really is the pinnacle of fast food, especially at 10:30am after waking up to a scorpion under your tent.

Welcome to Las Vegas sign.

After a delicious early lunch we hopped off the freeway and drove up the strip. Regardless of the fact it was Kobus' first time to Sin City, we didn't stop. Zion awaits.

Our campsite in Leeds, UT.

We setup camp in Leeds, UT after being rejected at several closer RV parks with WiFi and laundry. Apparently it was a four day weekend in Utah and everyone and their mother's extended families were headed to the park. The bad news was that we were 40 minutes from the park, the good news is we had a big patch of real actual 100% authentic grass to pitch our tents on, guaranteed free of scorpions.

Campsite laptops in Leeds, UT.

Friday morning we did some catching up - laundry, groceries and a few hours of work. Many people ask us how we manage to do work while looks something like this.

A view of Zion from the Emerald Pools.

That afternoon we headed into Zion using the handy free shuttle buses. Good thing too, there was no parking anywhere within the park borders. After checking out the visitors center and the lodge we went on a hike up to the so-called Emerald Pools. The views of the surrounding canyon walls was amazing, the pools, not so much.

A lizard on a rock.

This little guy surprised us when we left the lodge en route to the Emerald Pools trail.

Emerald Pools waterfall.

Emerald Pools is divided into three pools (puddles), the lower two are separated by an overhang and waterfall. Not pictured, the 200 tourists standing on the trail below.

The beginning of the Narrows hike.

Our last day in Zion we planned to hike The Narrows. Jessica tells us this involves hiking up a river, in a canyon, in possibly freezing cold water. No problem, right? We got up at 7, drove into Zion and managed to get a parking spot. After a 30 minute shuttle to the end of the canyon we walked the one mile paved stretch to the trail head. It was cold. And windy. Kobus and I were not looking forward to this.

Jessica testing out the waters of the Virgin River.

It started off easy enough. Ankle deep, 50 degree water. After a while you just sorta forgot you had feet. And then we got to the first deep spot. Considering the kind, trustworthy and generally caring souls Kobus and I are, we sent Jessica in first. Turns out the water was waist deep and my voice is capable of rising a couple octaves.

Jessica walking through the Narrows in Zion.

After a mile of repeatedly crossing the river we started to reach the narrows. Truly awesome stuff. Jessica blazes the trail and we walk for two hours and only see a few other people, all of who are wearing rented dry suits and special shoes. Pfffft. Wussies.

The narrows.

We walk for 15 or 20 minutes and stop to take pictures with cameras securely stored in zip lock bags inside our packs. It keeps getting better.

Sunrise reflection in the narrows.

At this point we start to get pretty cold. The sun taunts us, we catch glimpses reflected in wet the canyon walls but never does the sun reach floor.

A pocket of rocks in the narrows.

Occasionally we'd come across pockets filled with small rocks. Signs of flooding from earlier years. This one was eight feet off the floor of the canyon, we saw several that were easily twice that distance up. Luckily it floods in the winter, and not October!

Jess and Kobus trudge through the narrows.

The farther in we go, the narrower the canyon gets and the more water we walk through. Here, the canyon narrows to about ten feet wide and continues that way for several hundred yards. At this point, about three hours in, we start to get tired, can no longer feel anything below our knees, and think about lunch.

Jessica takes off her icky boots.

After lunch we spot some sunshine a bit up the river and take a break before deciding to turn around. Jessica takes this opportunity to take off her boots which, from the look on her face, seems like a mistake.

Jared in the narrows.

My trusty walking stick saved me from a certain wetness more than once. It took about two hours to get back out of the narrows and another hour to get back to Blue and change into dry shoes. We took the shuttle into town and had some delicious Mexican food and a few beers before returning to the park to watch Real Steel on the IMAX screen.

Zion scenery before entering the tunnel.

We opted to take the scenic route out of Zion. This shot was taken just before entering the Mt. Carmel tunnel which took us through 1.2 miles of solid sandstone onto the Colorado Plateau.

Up next: Moab, Utah for a week in Arches National Park and Canyonlands.


Vickey Mullett
#1 Vickey Mullett 2011-11-06 19:38
I know that had to be very cold. the water ways here in Missouri are ice cold from the caves and under ground springs we have here. the look of that water was chilling but the pictures were great. thanks for sharing. have a great trip

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