Home > Uncategorized > Narrowly missing The Narrows

Narrowly missing The Narrows

September 15/Day 60. I wake up to cloudless skies for a change. It’s rained every day I’ve been in the desert, including Death Valley. I hope it rains soon at home or that too will soon be a desert, with all the unpleasant attributes and none of the good.

I walk across the park boundary about 100 yards into Springdale, where there’s a small café called Sol Food that has an internet connection, and catch up on my blogs.

The mouth of The Narrows.

After a leisurely start, I decide to hike The Narrows in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon, where the Virgin River has cut down through 2000 feet of sandstone, in some places only 20-30 feet wide. I put my driver’s license and iPhone, to use as a camera, into a zip-loc bag and fill the Camelbak with water. Since much of the hike is actually in the Virgin River, I don an old castaway pair of hiking boots, knowing they could be ruined by the time it’s over.

I catch the shuttle and take the 40 minute ride to The Temple of Sinawava where the trail head is. By now it’s close to noon and I notice dark clouds starting to form upstream. Not a good sign. There are a lot of people at the end of the first mile of the trail, where it crosses the river. Previous hikers have leant their walking sticks against the canyon wall as they leave, for others to pick up and use. It’s a good idea to have a third leg to probe the river bottom because water is opaque as creamed coffee. I choose one and wade into the river.

The water is about knee deep, cold and running swiftly. The bottom is made up of loose, slippery, rounded boulders, some the size of basketballs mixed with many smaller stones. The river is only about 30 feet wide at this point and I make it across quickly. But it is starting. I hike the path 200 yards to the second crossing and by now the rain is heavier. Most everyone is turning back, a good decision. In fact, the only decision. We can’t see how threatening the storm is by looking up at the narrow slot of sky above us, and flash floods can occur from storms that are miles away.

I’m disappointed, but have to face the reality of the situation. So my old boots go squish-squishing all the way back to the bus stop. And what didn’t get wet in the river is now soaked from the rain. I’ll have to wait for another trip to hike The Narrows.

Tomorrow I leave for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the last official stop of my journey.

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