We have two days off... where should we go? Zion National Park is only six hours away. Sweet, we should go there. We can drive for half a day and then have a full afternoon and morning of adventure. Okay, let's start packing. And that's how we ended up on a short but exhilarating trip to Zion last fall. How we convinced two friends to accompany us for twelve hours of driving for a day of fun I don't now, but we did. I guess we have some pretty cool friends.
That next afternoon we arrived at Watchman Campground in Zion. Situated right next to the river in the heart of the park, it really is a lovely place. Tents set up and food stashed and we were off to hike iconic Angel's Landing. A five mile hike up a set of punishing switchbacks culminates in scrambling along a knife point ridge with dizzying drop offs on both sides to reach a perch with arguably some of the best views in Zion. Since I don't relish the idea of falling thousands of feet I decided not to venture onto the ridge since I was only wearing Sanuks (slip on shoes with about as much traction as slippers on ice). But even the view from where I stopped was incredible.
The next morning we got up early to maximize adventure time before we had to head back to work and school. We'd brought wetsuits with the idea of heading up the infamous Narrows - a long canyon that the Virgin River winds through on it's way to the valley. Because the canyon is so narrow you spend a lot of time wading through the water and in fall, that water is like ice thus the wetsuits. We knew it would be awesome. We wanted to be awesome. But let me say that it took all our will power to leave our cozy tents, gear up, and head into that frigid canyon just as the sun peaked over the cliffs. But as we suspected, it was totally worth it. The sandy turquoise waters of the river juxtaposed against the towering red walls of the canyon aren't an image one is soon to forget. And because of the chill of fall we adventured in almost total solitude as opposed to the summer when the Narrows are very popular. After awhile we even forgot about the searing pain from the water as our feet gradually went numb. So numb in fact that when we finished we discovered that Justin's feet had been rubbed raw by his shoes and were a bloody mess. He hadn't felt it at all.
Since that trip I've been longing to return to Zion to backpack the Narrows. You can do it in a couple of days with a night camped out on a sand bar which sounds like heaven. If you haven't been to Zion National Park move it up your list of places to go a few notches. You won't regret it.