Road trip – day 6 & 7 – Zion and home

I grabbed an early (~8 am) shuttle from the visitor center into the park to the river walk at the far Northern end of the shuttle run. I ate my pop tarts on shuttle. I wanted to get an early start to avoid crowds and some of the heat of the day. The entire hike up the river, as far as you can go without a back country permit is something like 8-9 hours, but what I wanted to see was the Upper Narrows which was only about half that distance. Once I left the paved path and headed into the river I did not see anyone for the next few hours. It was just me walking in or next to the river and 1000 foot high on either side of me. I had checked at the visitor center for the weather forecast before my trip to make sure flash floods were unlikely because in many places the river goes from canyon wall to canyon wall (which might only be 20 feet) and it is not the sort of place you want to be during a flash flood. The river level was lower than it would be in the Spring. I was wearing shorts (and a fleece sweatshirt to stay warm) and the level of the river only came to the bottom of the shorts on the section that I hiked. The walking stick came in very handy for probing the water depth as the river had a fair amount of silt in it. It also kept me from falling in the river on more than one occasion as I was crossing where the current was stronger. I did not realize how much I was using it until my right arm got sore (for the next day or so) from using those muscles in ways for which programming did not prepare me.

I turned around when I finally got to the first deep pool in the Upper Narrows and only then did I start to run into other hikers. At first the other hikers were as well-equipped as I was and in better shape. But the further I walked back towards the start of the hike the more rag tag they started to appear. I saw people using small branches and walking sticks and others trying to hike the river bare foot. I saw grandmothers gingerly crossing river as I slogged rapidly by them. It was a great hike and worth the cost of renting the right gear. I hiked for about 4 hours and it was 6 hours after I set foot in the river that I finally took off my neoprene socks. My feet were pretty waterlogged and my muscles were surprisingly tired.

I took the bus back to the lodge which had a reasonable looking snack bar. I managed to arrive at the same time as at least one tour group and was starting to get a little faint by the time I got what they euphemistically called a teriyaki beef bowl. Apparently you don’t have to get that far East from San Jose before chinese food starts to look dubious. I sat and watched the wild turkeys and the semi-domesticated tour groups which roam the grounds of the lodge. After returning my river gear I headed back for one last look at the park. I saw the movie about the park, rod the shuttle bus and struck up numerous conversations with my fellow travelers. I don’t know if National Parks just naturally attract nice people or if it was just my luck. I chatted with Australians, Brits, Germans and Americans. I met a father vacationing with his 3 grown (middle aged) daughters, I heard stories of hiking the trails of Tasmania. I met a young women from Cornwall who was on a two week guided tour of America that started in New York with a group of strangers and was ending in San Diego as a group of friends. It is amazing how easy it was even for an introvert like me to find something to talk about as we looked for rock climbers (above) or at rocks like The Great White Throne (of God) (above).
I had considered doing a hike to Hidden Canyon which is a hanging canyon (it ends half way up one of the sides of Zion canyon) but at this moment reached the point on my trip where that just seemed like “one more rock”. It was time to go home. I went to a campfire presentation on how bats were our friends and turned in for the night.
The next day I was supposed to drive back to Las Vegas and stay there with friends but decided that I had been away from home long enough. With the desire to return home to my family driving me forward I drove about 12-13 hours from Zion all the way home to San Jose. I was weary, but happy. It was a wonderful trip.

Author: chris2x

One man's view of life in Silicon Valley from Chris Christensen - a podcaster, blogger, programmer, entrepreneur

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