The Road Home Through Zion

Trip Start Mar 10, 2007
Trip End Mar 21, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Monday, September 15, 2008

My last stop before returning to Vegas and then to LAX was Zion National Park. Actually I didn't have much choice as the route I took required me to pass through the park, or take a very long detour. I had been to this park twice before, once just to take in the sights within driving reach, and in late 2006 I did a hike in the Zion Narrows.

The biblical name of the Park owes much to the names given to the imposing formations contained within. For example, as you go pass the visitor centre on your left you will come across an imposing formation named the Towers of the Virgin, so named as the centrepiece of the formation resembles the Virgin Mary so often depicted standing with her hands clasped in prayer. A little further down three massive mountains form the Court of the Patriarchs - well actually they look more like the 3 wise men sitting down with their legs crossed.

Whilst not exactly the most aesthetic of parks, Zion is all about scale, and there is no better way to experience this than to brave the Zion Narrows. What this essentially involves is a hike through a river, sometimes involving wading up to chest high water, with tall canyon walls on either side. It's a humbling and exciting experience, though timing is essential as there are certain seasons when the water levels are dangerously high and one can be taking quite a big risk to hike the narrows. Before the trip I had rented rubber boots, a wetsuit, a hiking stick, and a dry bag for the camera - essential investments if one wanted to get the real experience without putting oneself in unnecessary risk.

All this was back in October of 2006, and I recall very vividly having to wake a very grouchy friend out of bed before the sun was out, and taking the very first bus to the start of the Narrows, fingers numb and hands still shivering from the chill in the morning air. Thankfully for the wetsuits, we were able to keep dry as within half an hour of hiking we had to do our first chest high wading exercise through a deep section of the river. With my friend consistently (read: every five minutes) reminding me how looney we were doing this in the wee hours of the morning, we pressed on toward our objective, which was to get to Orderville Canyon before turning back.

We met a couple of just as crazy hikers during our hike into the narrows, and as we went deeper, the sun began to shower its warmth into the canyon, and some sections began to reflect off a radiant orange glow. There were small waterfalls everywhere, from little trickles to fairly sizeable flows cascading from as high as a few hundred feet. The going in some sections was fairly slow, as a combination of the depth of the river and our less-than-comfortable wetsuits required us to make more stops than what we anticipated, in particular to adjust the wetsuits so as to prevent the water from getting in and slowing us further, which on hindsight may have seemed a bit silly as we were drenched in perspiration from increasing temperatures in the canyon as the morning wore on!

We reached our objective around ten in the morning, and as I recall the route back was a lot easier, as there was no need for any more trial and error crossing the deeper sections of the river, plus I had taken all the photos I wanted and didn't need to stop anymore. I won't blog about how smelly the wetsuits and our clothes were after we were done, or the constant "friendly" reminders that I keep getting from my friend to this day, who keeps insisting that she would never again wake up at such an ungodly hour on a supposed HOLIDAY and do this again, but you get the gist that this was one hell of an experience and unlike her, I'd do this again in a heartbeat if given the chance!

Fast forward back to March 2007 and I was in a hurry to get back so I gave the Narrows a pass. I did spend a bit of time in Zion doing a few easy hikes like the Weeping Rock trial but was in general distracted by the idea of getting back home. Perhaps the call of home will always ring in our hearts and minds, wherever one may be, and as clichéd as it may sound, there is really no place like home.
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