I am returning today after a glorious time in Utah and hiking the Zion National Park. My last day hiking with my son Jack was “The Narrows,” a famous river trail that takes you through some of the most truly breathtaking rock formations in the world.
The Narrows is a trail cut by the Virgin River that is some 16 miles long and up to 2,000-feet deep. My iPhone photos hardly do it justice. At points, the Narrows is only 20 feet wide and you have to crawl under or over rocks. The majority of the trail is in water that ranges from knee-level to chest-level. You go through canyons where you hear hundreds of nesting birds in the cliff face and other parts where the water between the massive sandstone boulders makes an eerie clicking and thumping sound.
Jack and I hiked the trail all the way up to the waterfall, which is where the rangers ask you to turn back. We also took a side river hike that was equally beautiful but even more challenging in climbing over small waterfalls. The water was 56 degrees. We opted not to rent the dry pants but we did rent special boots and socks. Frankly, you can get by with good boots. The rental boots ripped up our feet and in the end we were cursing them more than praising them. The use of the pants really depends on your tolerance for cold. The 56 degree water did not bother us though Jack (with considerably less body fat) was chilled when we were in the darker portions of the Narrows. We did run across one woman who needed help with what looked like hypothermia. Other hikers had wrapped her in special silver foil blanket and her friends were helping her out.
What was essential was a good watching stick. The hike is aptly described as walking miles in water on submerged bowling balls. We both took a couple of spills along the way. We were dead tired when we finally made it back but the hike was overwhelmingly beautiful.
Hiking Zion has been a lifelong dream and it did not disappoint. We hiked its peaks and its narrows. I can only recommend that anyone with the time or opportunity should visit this truly unique place. But, if you can, bring a friend or loved one. There are some scenes of such beauty that are so immense and so indescribable that you just need to turn to someone to help comprehend it all. I am very sorry to leave this place but I am so very happy that I was able to see and experience it firsthand.