Hiking the Narrows II: The Wrath of Zion

Overnight version of the Virgin River Narrows, undertaken July 23-24, 2016. The weather was warm. River flow was somewhere in the 40s, whatever that means. Ranger said there were no expected thunderstorms but that that could change at any second, and probably would, especially if I didn’t give him the exact license plate number of my brother’s truck*. Ranger was kind of, I dunno, flighty though, so <shrug>. We verified the weather forecast before setting out. And we’re sure glad we did! Although it didn’t really change anything; it’s good to have a good process.

Anyway, the weather was warm and dry for the two days of the trip. We eventually would stop at Campsite #5, which I had reserved back in May, somehow 30 minutes before the reservation system was supposed to be available. Let that be a lesson to you.

Fine. Photos, then some notes I guess.

Five intrepid, leaning adventures, having accepted the risk of instantaneous death by river. (I was also in the vicinity.)

Five intrepid, leaning adventures, having accepted the high probability of instantaneous death by narrowness. (I was also in the vicinity.)

The first part of the trail isn't actually all that narrow.

The first part of the trail isn’t actually all that narrow.

After an hour or so. Still not that narrow, but narrowing.

After an hour or so. Still not that narrow, but narrowing.

Ever narrowing. Kind of like that ride they used to have at Disneyland (which was apparently called Adventure Thru Inner Space Presented by Monsanto). The one where you got shrunk to atom-size.

Ever narrowing. Kind of like that ride they used to have at Disneyland (which was apparently called Adventure Thru Inner Space Presented by Monsanto). The one where you got shrunk to atom-size.

Father and daughter, contemplating the value of eventual tight spaces.

Father and daughter, contemplating the value of eventual tight spaces.

We took the one more traveled by -- since our only other options were scaling rock walls or going in reverse.

We took the one more traveled by — since our only other options were scaling rock walls or going in reverse.

My brother's wardrobe malfunction.

My brother’s wardrobe malfunction.

Narrower.

Narrower.

Sometimes, the narrowness could only be addressed through close-proximity hiking.

Sometimes, the narrowness could only be addressed through close-proximity hiking.

Narrowness, extended upward. How high you think that is? I dunno, 500 feet? Looks like more. Fine, what number you want, 1,000? 2,000? Anyway.

Narrowness, extended upward. How high you think that is? I dunno, 500 feet? Looks like more. Fine, what number you want, 1,000? 2,000? Anyway.

Even the trees: narrow.

Even the trees: narrow.

We'll just tie up a rope and rappel down the (narrow) waterfall. No, no, that's not a trail over there that goes around it. Don't be foolish, I've been here before, you haven't.

We’ll just tie up a rope and rappel down the (narrow) waterfall. No, no, that’s not a trail over there that goes around it. Don’t be foolish, I’ve been here before, you haven’t.

Helpfully, Craig indicates the direction of the sky.

Helpfully, Craig indicates the direction of the sky.

Narrow, but also kind of wavy in spots.

Narrow, but also kind of wavy in spots.

Dusk falls at Campsite 5.

Dusk falls at Campsite 5.

Next morning, Garry and Craig make a narrow escape. But not *that* narrow.

Next morning, Garry and Craig make a narrow escape. But not *that* narrow.

Knee-deep in narrow. Also, it turns out that backpack waist belts are not slimming.

Knee-deep in narrow.

(Slight) evidence that I also was present.

(Slight) evidence that I also was present.

Further evidence of narrowness.

Further evidence of narrowness.

It gets wider.

More straight than.

But then narrower again.

Less straight, narrower again.

'Nother picture. Same hike. Still fairly narrow (the canyon I mean).

‘Nother picture. Same hike. Still fairly narrow (the canyon I mean).

Narrower still? (Trust me, I'm getting tired of putting photos into this post as well as coming up with not-even-pun captions.)

Narrower still? (Trust me, I’m getting tired of putting photos into this post as well as coming up with not-even-pun captions.)

Point being, I guess, that the second day is, on average, narrower than the first. And the further you go, the more impressive+imposing the whole thing gets.

Point being, I guess, that the second day is, on average, narrower than the first. And the further you go, the more impressive+imposing the whole thing gets.

I dunno, narrow-ish I guess?

And then sometimes the water is a nice color.

And then, the river choked with day-hiking tourist hordes from below, you stop taking pictures -- no matter how narrow the scenery -- race to the bottom, take the bus back to the parking lot, then drive back to the trailhead so your brother can pick up his truck and, while you're waiting for him to use the bathroom, you take a picture of your own car because, I dunno, you can I guess.

And then, the river choked with day-hiking tourist hordes from below, you stop taking pictures — no matter how narrow the scenery — race to the bottom, take the bus back to the parking lot, then drive back to the trailhead so your brother can pick up his truck and, while you’re waiting for him to use the bathroom, you take a picture of your own car because, I dunno, you can I guess, plus you’ve taken over 300 photos in the last 36 hours so that by this point it just seems like it’s what you do.

See, ‘cuz the whole thing is called “The Narrows” and… eh, you wouldn’t get it. Had to be there probably.

Some other thoughts (numbered, because this WordPress theme handles bullets badly):

  1. Stupid captions aside, this is still probably my favorite overnighter on earth.
  2. Wish the other invitees would have made it as well, but ended up with a great company.
  3. Last time we did this (2005), the water level was a little higher. This time seemed a little more easy-going as a result.
  4. Plus, last time none of us had ever done it before, so there was some uncertainty about whether certain death lay around each narrow corner. It didn’t, it doesn’t.
  5. I wouldn’t have minded having an earlier campsite (i.e., number 1–4). #5 was fine, but you’re pretty exposed in some pretty hot weather for the first couple hours of the hike, so a shorter Day 1 wouldn’t be the worst thing. Plus, the mid-way point is probably somewhere around campsite #1, Day 2 seemed a little too easy, and it felt like we ran into the tourist hordes way too soon.
  6. And I don’t understand driving all the way from LA to Zion National Park and walking four miles upstream just so you can throw rocks into a river.
  7. Zion NP is *packed* on a July Sunday. Next time: May or September, midweek, hope for the best.
  8. And maybe try the shuttle.
  9. I’ve gotten better at lightweight backpacking, although I’m questioning whether the TarpTent Notch is really overall preferable to my old Lightyear.
  10. Osprey makes faulty bite valves. Stupid Osprey.
  11. Mounds bars are a lot better solid than semi-melted.

I think that’s most of the important things.

bkd

* I gave him the correct license plate number for the truck, which was still on the road a couple hundred miles away, then decided to give him the wrong one for my Jeep (located 50 feet away), cuz what the heck do you even need license plate numbers for dude? Anyway.

3 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *