Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Day 1: Travel and Arrival
The drive to Springdale took about four and a half hours from where I was staying at the time and besides seeing a black Ferrari, it was uneventful. I met my aunt and uncle for dinner at the Bit & Spur, a Mexican restaurant within walking distance from our motel. We walked back together and decided to meet at 7am the next morning. Breakfast consisted of a banana and grapes and we were on our way. We left my uncle's car at the parking lot where we would end up if we were still alive and drove my car to the trail head. A ranger came to check our permit since they only allow 50 people a day on the subway trail and after verifying our paperwork we began what I like to call, the hike which kicked my butt. We asked him a few questions about the difficulty of the trail and he made a few jokes about the water being real warm and it not being that bad.
Day 2: The Subway
The first portion of the trail is sandstone, which absorbs the heat like the inside of a black car. We descended at what I thought was a fairly rapid pace. I would soon laugh at my naivety while sliding down a hill on my butt, grabbing wildly for something to hold on to. Silly me, I thought, that wasn't steep, this is. I would soon curse the day I thought I knew what steep was while having a 60 foot piece of rock climbing webbing burning a mark onto my shoulder while I was rappelling down a 15-foot drop. The first part of the hike consists of mostly walking. Once we reached an overlook of the stream below us, the descent became very steep.
The next part of the trail had about six inches of water but by stepping carefully we were able to keep our feet dry. The water became deeper and at six feet deep, we could no longer avoid getting wet. The water was shockingly cold and I let out an involuntary yelp when I jumped in. I had to swim for a bit and then found solid footing and waded through the water.
The next obstacle was a V-shaped rock which had a small waterfall with a five foot drop into four feet of water. There were some ropes that others had tied to the rocks to help lower yourself down and with the webbing I managed to get down without too much trouble. The rushing water made the rocks slippery and it didn't help that water was pouring over you as you tried to navigate your way down. I began to get very cold standing in the water so I swam through another very narrow pass that would make a claustrophobic person soil their underpants. I didn't enjoy the bugs on the surface of the water that bumped against my face as I swam through, but I soon reached a sandy beach-like area and warmed myself in the sun.
My aunt was the next one to go, but from where I was standing, I couldn't see what was happening. The sandy area was about 40 feet from the cavernous area so I could barely hear their voices over the sound of rushing water. I listened intently and heard my uncle explaining, "If you have the webbing like that you're not going to be able to support yourself. If you do it that way you won't have the support to...*SPLASH*." It wasn't the most graceful or preferred way to get down but in the end, it didn't really matter.
We trudged through water for another 15-20 minutes and reached the last spot where to rappel. It was a 20-foot drop to the subway (hence the name of the trail) so we decided to stop for lunch first. Eating lunch (peanuts, cookies and M&Ms) renewed our energy but my aunt and I were both a bit concerned about the upcoming rappel.
We saw dinosaur tracks embedded into the rock which made me imagine what might have happened there thousands of years ago. After admiring the dinosaur tracks, I decided to change out of my wet sneakers. They were making squishing sounds and my feet weren't particularly comfortable. The trail that ran along the side of the stream was more or less consistent, although there were a few times where it would have been much easier to have splashed through the water instead of carefully picking my way around the rocks.
As is the case with most canyons, it was a very steep climb. My legs were near exhaustion and I had to take frequent stops in order to recuperate and forge ahead. When I reached flat land again I was a bit ahead of my aunt and uncle and continued on what I thought was the trail. After a few minutes the trail died out and I saw my aunt and uncle walking along a trail about 50 yards away and 30 feet below. I had ascended more than necessary and to add insult to injury I had to blaze my own trail through heavy underbrush which was unpleasantly prickly. I reached the correct trail again, verifying that it was the correct one by their footprints.
Reaching the car was a glorious moment, especially when I was able to sit down and drink some water. We drove up to my car and drove back to the lodge. After cleaning up, we went to eat at a local pizza shop and my appetite was so large that I could have eaten the entire pizza without any trouble. After a dessert of bumbleberry pie and ice cream we returned to the hotel where I collapsed into bed and slept like a log.
Day 3: Observation Point
We got up at around 8:30am, though I could have slept much longer. We caught the bus to the trail head and began the hike.
Day 4: The Narrows
We slept until 9:30am, much to my delight and the hike was by far the easiest of the three. There was a full sidewalk all the way to the water, where throngs of small children were playing, attesting to the ease of the path. It was still very scenic and the water was cooling so that I didn't need to stop at all. We splashed through the stream for a few miles and reached a five foot waterfall which we could have scaled due to the low water level, but we decided to turn back so we would have time for other activities in the evening.
We were amused by a teenage hiker who had brought along an inflatable frog and was attempting to ride it down. He probably would have made better time crawling but he pointed out that he was more concerned about the quality of the trip rather than the speed.
I have never seen squirrels of such boldness. They kept repositioning themselves in order to find a way to penetrate my backpack. I even patted a few squirrel butts with my walking stick, but it didn't deter them for long.
Day 5: Drive home
I awoke at 6am and said good bye to my aunt and uncle. He was leaving for his 14-mile hike which I didn't feel like doing, given my difficulty with the 9-mile subway hike. It only took me four hours to drive back to my original destination and I was grateful the time went by quickly as I soon collapsed into bed and caught a quick power nap before my flight home.