15 June 2015

Zion Narrows

Zion National Park




Zion in the late Spring is crazy, but here we are. Attempts at parking extend well into Springdale, lining every street with cars that only want to be near there, not actually there. We manage a spot by the Visitor Center, but only after foolishly looking for something "closer" to the Floor of the Valley Road where private cars are not allowed. The Visitor Center parking is large while everything else is not. Once walking access to the shuttle buses is had, things go smoothly if a little claustrophobic. The bus goes along as long as the canyon is wide enough to hold a road. When it is no longer so wide, we start off on the trail.

Great White Throne
Looking down the canyon to the Great White Throne, where things are sufficiently wide for a road.

not so wide at all
Looking up the canyon, things get very narrow.


The walkway is paved and generally quite flat. It is advertised to gain just over fifty feet in its mile length. Signs talk about the springs that ooze from the walls and the walls happily demonstrate the phenomenon. The very, very high and rather vertical walls.

vertical walls
Somewhere up there, there is a top.

puddle of water
One spring fills a pool beside the trail.

things growing in the walls
A green crack with moist rock below shows more springs.

yellow columbines
Yellow columbines blooming overhead.

When the canyon gets too narrow even for a walkway, that too ends. A few people are playing in the river here, many turn around, but most seem to continue on. Many people are wearing rented shoes and holding onto rented wood staffs. I pull off my socks, but keep my shoes on. The reviews for neoprene socks seem to be all about how cold someone's feet got while walking the Zion Narrows, but today there is no need. The day is warm and the river feels perfect. Well, maybe a little bit cool, but not uncomfortable.

people starting to get wet and looking satisfied
People as they take the plunge into the Virgin River or finish up with their wading.

At first, there is usually a bank to walk along. The crowd just crosses the river and walks along the bank until the next crossing. Soon, there is no bank and it is just pushing upriver in mostly knee high water.

one of the slot areas
The walls close in and there is only river.

waterfall, or at least a steep cascade
The tributaries do not cut down as fast, so there are waterfalls where they enter.

overhangs and the starts of blind arches
Surrounded by more structure than is expected, and more trees.

upstream to downstream via the sky
Only a segment of sky can be seen above between upstream and downstream.

From time to time, a bit more shore has been left beside the walls of the canyon. Sometimes these are marked as a restoration area, but most the time there is a trail beside the water that the crowds are tending toward. The track is marked not only by the passage of feet pushing the dirt, but also darkened by the constant addition of water from the dripping walkers.

track in the dirt where there is a bank
Banks form on the insides of curves and the travel is much easier along these.

large, curved overhanging rock
Of course, every turn launches the crowd back into the water.

a rougher section
A short, deeper spot as the canyon becomes rough above.

The crowd tends to particular routes, even in the river. Watching them wade into a spot that brings some people up to their hips in water, I decide to try a route along the side of the wall that stays in the water much longer. The rocks under my feet are more slippery as moss has been given a better chance to grow. At least the wall is there for stabilization. I have one follower, who happily tests the last twenty feet as I hesitate in a deeper spot, saying it was the least he could do after I tested so much of the route for him.

the river narrows and rushes along beside rocks
A narrow spot lets the water rush by as the crowd safely keeps to the rocks.

rock as the river curves again
Endless curves keep the views short. Extreme curves keep the actual distance traveled low.

In spite of the sign at the start saying there is little chance of flash flood today, there is a little bit of thunder. There seems to be a surge in the traffic returning as it starts, but that is probably just the usual fluctuation in number of walkers. Plenty are continuing on. A light rain eventually follows, but still they continue on. So do I.

raindrops in the river
Raindrops falling in the river.

very tall cliffs
And everything just keeps on getting taller.

many people still strolling up the canyon
Still plenty of people continuing up the canyon.

Getting to some caves, there is a group trying to climb inside. They are a bit over head high, so require a little bit of rock climbing to enter. It seems that only one is actually inclined to make it, although others try based on his advise.

short caves into the rocks
A network, of sorts, of caves in the canyon wall.

It is just about my turn around point, and after a few "just a little further" moments, I actually turn around to head back. The route is mostly the same, but sticks a little more closely to the rest of the crowd for this direction. I do accidentally send another couple down the same way I went, but they have the warning about the moss.

waterfall from the other side
Back to the waterfall.

sun in the canyon again
Here comes the sun again.

red columbines in a crack with a tree above
More columbines growing in a vertical crack in the wall. A tree occupies the same crack above.

Back on the path, I pull my socks back on and return to the shuttles. The walking really is much faster on the pavement.

walking back in a crowd
Still in a thick crowd as I walk back along the path.




©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 23 July 2015

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Awesome! That is on my bucket list for sure. You are living the dream. Thanks for sharing!