Zion National Park - Walking on the Wild Side

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Packed up after 3 days in our free park and headed to Zion National Park, which to this day is one if not our most favourite place in the USA. We only had 50 miles to go, and this time we booked ahead to stay for a week just inside the Park.   After settling in to a great spot, we rode our bikes to the visitors centre to find out a few things about the area.  We then continued down the Pa'rus trail along the river, stopping and sitting on the rocks to just relax & reflect. Every corner, every bridge, every little rock pool of water just evokes feelings of grandeur and magnificence of this part of America ... simply put - it is breathtakingly sensational. 

There are so many 'easy'  hikes we could do, even many  'a little difficult' but Michael was adamant that we do a  'strenuous'  hike along the trail called "The  Narrows".....I think because he has walked from the couch to his bed in the van, he now feels he is the extreme hiker of all ravines, chasms,  canyons & mountains!!!      'Move over Sir Edmond Hilary'. 

To do this hike during winter, we have to hire 'dry suits', 2 pairs of 'neoprene' socks & special shoes & a use a stick for stability.  60% of the time we will be in water, that can at times get to chest deep.....hmmm that means for me, it is neck deep or higher!  Mike has assured me, that  if I disappear under the depths of the Virgin River, he will give me a piece of the RV water hose (hopefully not sewer hose),  that I can breathe through, and trust that he will hold it aloft into the pristine clear pure air of Zion National Park, to ensure that I don't drown!    Also take note that the water temperature is only 35F  ( 1 degree C).  I get cold in a sauna, so this should be great, spending a whole day in this water!    And to add to that, this is not an organized tour where we have the comfort of a guide,  I have Mike, who thinks he is Bear Grills, and can save anyone from any situation!   He may think that, but I know that he can trip over any small insignificant pebble, and here he is taking us both into the depths of the unknown!  HELP!!

WOW!!  I was not sure how I was going to cope.  I still have recollections of sore muscles, knees & aching bones after our Kabaib hike, in the Grand Canyon. It was now only a week later, and we were going to push ourselves to the limit again!   We had to  have at least 1 litre or gallon of water each, food,  & camera, all in a waterproof bag in the  backpack, that Mike will carry.   We will then proceed to walk 1 mile along a trail before descending into the watery canyon for about 5 miles ( nearly 9 kms) ..... If we really want to, we can go further, camp overnight on the side of the river, in the canyon then return the next day...it would be a  walk of 16 miles or more!!!   The thought of sleeping under the stars, and having to carry all the extra stuff needed to do this, then get up the following day for more walking in the river didn't sound too thrilling, so we decided to stick to the one day!   As it was,  I knew I had to find some extra energy!

The evening before the big walk, we went to Zion Adventure Co to get our things organized.  We watched the orienteering film, had suit, shoes & socks fitted, and learnt the signs to look for if a flash flood is going to occur!! Just the thing I wanted to hear!   22nd March ( my beautiful mums birthday and a day that will be deeply etched into my brain and my muscle system!!)   Alarm went off at 7.30am.  NOOOO!  I just wanted to stay where I was! But Michael was out of bed jumping around like an excited Jack-Rabbit that had a heap of fireworks tied to its tail ... There are those moments in life when a good punch is needed and this was one of those moments  .....  Had breakfast, put everything into the backpack, then drove to the 'Temple of Sinawava', (or was it the "Temple of Doom") where we put all our gear on over our 3 layers of clothes, necessary to keep warm .  The suits were tight around our wrists & ankles to stop the water getting in,  it was quite a mission getting it all on.   

We walked  one mile along the 'river-walk'  path till there was no path, other than the river bed going into the depths of the canyon. We felt like intrepid pioneers,  about to go into unchartered waters to map it out,  venturing where no man had ever been before and discovering some amazing archaeological artifacts and places.   We just ignored the few other people walking along the path as well!!    Actually most of the time we were on our own, which sort of made it even more adventurous and scarier ... just how Michael loves it!!!.

Mike had the  backpack, which was quite heavy.   The dry suits worked so well, and we were quite surprised that we really didn't feel too cold.  Our feet got wet, but the  neoprene socks ensured they weren't cold.  I lost my bottle of water in the first 5 minutes, it was washed out of my bag, so now we were down to 1 bottle between us.  (we actually found it again at the end of the day wedged under a rock on the side of the river ... what's the chances??) You probably think with all the water around, it wouldn't matter, but the water is not real clear, even though it is flowing,  it has a lot of debris, washed down from further up the river.  There was no way we wanted to get poisoned by drinking unknown microbes!    Yes, I know,  Bear Grills would sieve it through his used hanky, and the water would be totally pure!! (Yeah right!!)

The scenery of this gorge is breathtaking, the extraordinary beauty of the high 1000 feet + canyon walls against the brilliant blue sky,  certainly has unique character.  The  colors again are just gorgeous, complimented by the foliage, bushes & trees that seem to effortlessly  grow out of the sheer walls,  which at times are only about 10 feet apart (3 meters).    We were 
constantly overawed by our surroundings,  taking photos & films, then quickly brought back to reality  as we became aware of our circumstances, of standing in the turbulent waters of the Virgin River in the canyon, and every step we took further into its depths,  we had to eventually retrace! 

Underfoot were very smooth slippery rocks,  from years of water & sand constantly moulding and shaping them.    With the water & rapids  flowing quite fast in some sections, we had to negotiate the best way to cross over to the rocky paths on the side of the river that sometimes offered a short reprieve.  The stick I had picked out was only short, like me,  so when the water got deep, it wouldn't even reach the ground, without my hands getting wet, & cold. Our $2.99  gloves got wet early in the day, so we removed them & surprisingly our hands didn't suffer too much. 

At times it took all my effort not to fall  over & as I previously mentioned the water was not clear,  so when it became deep  we had to take it very carefully.  When walking up river, we were constantly pushing against the fast flowing water, and also had to climb over large rocks & tree stumps, which had been washed down during a flash flood. Hopefully if you watch the video clip you will see what we mean.

We stopped  for a quick snack, then had a well earned break for lunch.  We continued our walk as far as the junction just before 'Wall Street', where it diverts to 'Orderville'  Canyon.  Just amazing!!  Up in this little canyon, the water was perfectly clear and the canyon was so narrow with now over 2000 feet (650 metres) of sheer cliff taking you to an ever so small glimpse 
of the blue ethereal sky above
. It is truly a humbling experience to be in the presence of this creative masterpiece.  Time was subtly getting away from us and at about 3pm we thought we had better start our walk back, which usually takes less time than going in.

We had left the car at 9.15am,  and arrived back to it again at 5pm, so a BIG day.   We are sure, the water was deeper, and flowing faster on our return trek.  On the walk back along the path, our ankles & toes were so sore, the rubber cuffs constricted around our ankles  & felt so tight, due to being in the cold water all day, then out of it again, so we were both in agony by the time we got back to the car.  (yes, and I was in pain & anguish with my knees again).

That night we were sooo tired, like we have never felt before, and every bone & muscle ached. The morning Jack-Rabbit had within 12 hours evolved into a slow moving sloth that almost had to crawl along the floor to get into bed ... It wouldn't have mattered if you had tied the entire Sydney New Years Eve fireworks to this sloths tail ... he wasn't going anywhere fast ...  Ha!!

...  but we were pleased that we had achieved this amazing adventure. It was a fantastic experience, and a lot of fun,  and we would recommend anyone going to Zion National Park, to definitely do this walk,  (if you are fit like we are!!).

 I just wished I could have slept well,   All night, I was clambering over rocks, and stopping myself from falling under the water!  The next day we were still aching, but it was nice to just sleep in, and re-live our previous day!! 

We love Zion National Park, the scenery is awesome, and our camp site looked out over the enormous red colored cliffs.    When we first arrived, the trees were bare, but  by the end of the week, we could see the green tinge of the leaves,  and  the  white & pink blossom on many of the trees, which is natures way of announcing that winter is  past & spring is on its way.

How amazing is Gods creation, as we see how the different seasons change the 
palette of the landscape, especially in these magnificent national parks.
Back to Grand  Canyon for a moment....while we were there, we met a lovely couple from Minnesota...Bob & Ursula Lanners....they later arrived at the same park we were staying at in Zion, so we went out for dinner with them at The Lodge.  Ursula gave us some photos of Grand Canyon,  taken 2 days after we left, covered in snow,  (they were on the last blog)  She also kindly gave us a dvd of photos she had taken and put to beautiful indian music!! We enjoyed their company and had a great chat & lots of laughs round our fire with them.  They have since returned home to Minnesota and we hope they are going well

Anyway, we spent the rest of the week, driving or walking through the park. (my bike has a puncture, so needs some repairs)  Some days we just sat  & relaxed outside in the sunshine.   We went through the one mile tunnel that was carved out of the mountain starting in 1925 and finished in about 1930, an amazing feat of engineering.  We also saw some mountain  climbers that looked like ants against the sheer walls of the canyon. Really don't know 
how they can do this.....maybe that is what Mike has in mind next!! 

Zion National Park is a great place to visit, next blog:   Las Vegas, Lake Mead & Hoover Dam.   

Anyway thats all, Bye for now, thanks for reading the blog, and for your comments,   keep safe and well,  God bless....Miss you all
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Comments

yanocrf
yanocrf on

What an amazing experience you are having - LOVE the way you write, so detailed & we can just imagine what it is like. Miss you both heaps & glad your having the time of your lives.....xxxx

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