All the pictures I had seen of Zion National Park had me all excited as we planned a trip there. As the days to the trip got closer and the more research I did the one thing that stood out was the ‘Narrows’ hike. A must do they said.
The Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon, 16 miles long, up to 2000 feet deep, and at times only 20-30 feet wide
says the website. So one can start at the top, where the river enters the canyon and actually hike down all the way till the river exits the canyon. We did not have enough time that we could do the complete hike, so we decided to start from the bottom and go as far up as we could before turning back.
The day of the hike, we caught a bus to get inside the park (cars are not allowed beyond a certain point) and got down at ‘Temple of Sinawava’. From there about a mile long paved trail leads to the mouth of the canyon.
As we took a step in, we were greeted with sand, rocks, trees, river. But the one thing that made an immediate impact was the canyon itself, with it hues of red and orange and it’s tall reaching high up walls that dwarfs everything else. From then on forward about 60% of the hike was done wading water with short breaks when our feet hit the sandy shores or rocky boulders.
As we walked along the twists and turns of the river, we could not help but look around in wonder. Each bend brought new breathtaking views. Sometimes the two of us would stop and start arguing over who gets the camera for a picture to be captured, ending in both of us taking pictures of completely different things standing at the exact same spot. We just did not know whether to look up and the new canyon sights that unfolded or at the bottom at the various formations that the river had made.
A couple of hours into our starting out in the river we got to Wall Street, the narrowest part of the Narrows hike and it was a sight to behold. If one were claustrophobic this would be a place to feel a little scared. Tall, tall towering rocks, carved out by a river running deep at this (narrowest) point and water that reached my upper thighs.
We tried our best to capture the total awe inspiring narrows but alas the camera does not capture it all. In fact we had a hard time capturing the entire canyon wall from its base to its very top. And that task was all but impossible standing inside the Wall Street (with the camera we had at least).
Onwards we walked leaving Wall Street behind. Then came the fun part. Little upward climbs with fast rapids. D being very sure footed had no issues at all. I being the clumsy one had a number of near misses and a couple of falls with my backside in the water and me franticly trying to keep my head above the water while trying to get my footing on the slippery river bed with fast flowing water and me trying to go against the flow. D had a good laugh at my expense, with pictures to prove.
I got back at him by simply refusing to go any further. So we sat on the rock, in midst of the flowing river, surrounded by tall canyon walls and the sun putting a spotlight on us and had a small snack of sandwiches that we had brought along.
Finally we turned back and were again amazed at the sights in front of us. It is amazing that everything looked totally different on our way back. Maybe it was a factor of the sun position or may be it was a factor of the angle we were looking at the rocks but the colours were nothing like what we had seen till then, the canyon formations looked nothing like what we had seen on our way in.
We got to Wall Street again. Again we tried to capture the beauty of it. Again we tried to capture the narrowness of it. Again we failed.
There is an offshoot canyon just as we exited Wall Street and since we still had time before the last shuttle and we still had some energy left we decided to see what was in store there. The only promise D made me was no matter what 30 mins into walking to the offshoot we will turn back. So off we went.
Not too long into this new adventure our way was blocked by this mini waterfall (it may seem small but was about 20 feet or so high). We spend some time taking pictures before turning back, making our way to Temple of Sinawava and our shuttle back to town. With a promise to each other to return again and do the complete hike..start to finish.