Date: November 7, 2014 Miles: 13.0 Elevation Gain: 3,500 ft Start Time: 7:58 am Duration: 5:00 hours
Angel’s Landing is the iconic hike of Zion NP. But due to my weight problem it was never even on my radar until two years ago when we attempted the hike but was stopped when my knee told me quite clearly that I wasn’t ready yet and I was still carrying too much weight. Sandy made the rest of the trip up that day but a year later we gave it another go. Continue reading “Angel’s Landing & Emerald Pools Hike – Zion NP”
Date: September 24, 2014 Miles: 8.2 Elevation Gain: 500 ft Start Time: 8:20 am Duration: 5:30 hours
This was the second time we hiked into The Narrows in Zion National Park. We learned a few important pointers from the first time we went. This time we took two hiking poles each rather than one. That makes all the difference walking more easily over unseen boulders under water and areas where the current is stronger. We also had better neoprene socks that kept our feet warmer and more comfortable. What I learned for next time is to wear hiking shoes that drain easily rather than hiking boots. All the hiking boots did was get very heavy and never drained.
The Narrows is located at the end of the valley. You first need to walk on a paved trail with hundreds of other people. During half of the year, the half of the year when it isn’t too cold to hike in water all day, you must take the shuttle. Although there are fewer people early in the morning the crowds are still unavoidable. Once you get off the bus you have your last chance to use a restroom for a while and then you hit the trail. Well, first there is about a mile long paved pathway that parallels the Virgin River that is generally pretty crowded.
Where the paved pathway ends there are stairs that lead down to the river. Once we got to the bottom of the stairs we sat down and slipped on our neoprene socks. As we walked to the river’s edge it was clear that we were going to have an audience. There is a viewpoint at the end of the pathway full of people as well as a couple dozen folks wandering around the river bank. Apparently no one had entered The Narrows for a little while because we could hear the buzz of the crowd as we nonchalantly walked straight into the river. Now I know how wildlife feels, I guess.
The first part of the hike has us walking through the river for a while, walking on the bank for a short period and then reentering the river again. Wait, that was the whole hike. There is a slight shock as the water rushes up your legs the first time but it’s not really that cold and you get used to if fairly quickly. One of the first things we come to as we hike up the river is a sheet of water coming off the wall to the right. As we make our way up the canyon its all about looking for the next piece of land to walk on and then finding the shallowest route to get there. The canyon turns constantly so some times we make it to the other bank only to immediately turn right back around and enter the river again.
About a mile and a half in we reach a section that is more narrow and turns sharply through some hairpin turns. I believe this part of the canyon is referred to as Wall Street. We then come to a junction with side canyon and it becomes more wide and there are more trees.
There are a few places where there is a large boulder blocking the river to some extent. We learned the hard way the first time we came through a year earlier not walk through the water next to the boulder. That’s is where is gets unreasonably deep very quickly. At about three miles in there as a large boulder blocking the way and the best way around was up against the cliff. After wedging past the boulder we then needed to hold our packs over our heads and slowly feel our way along a three inch underwater ledge with our feet just to keep the water at chest depth. This was a bottle neck for hikers so fortunately that allowed us to learn from the mistakes of others so we made it through without getting our hair wet.
Over the final mile the river didn’t seem quite a deep and the canyon walls became more shallow as well. The sun shown through more and more vegetation seemed to be more abundant. Of course this mean’t that the big show was over and this was as good a place to turn around as any.