Thursday, we donned our very stylish water-canyoneering gear (which consisted of canyoneer shoes, neoprene socks, fleece tights [so sexy], and drysuit pants) and headed to the park. After a 45 minute shuttle ride to the northernmost stop in the park, The Temple of Sinawava, we hiked a mile on dry land on a very nice, relaxing hike called the Riverside Walk (because it was beSIDE the RIVER) and ended at the Gateway to the Narrows.
We grabbed our gear the night before at Zion Adventure Company. I reserved the equipment several months ago and I read that all you really needed this time of year was the dry pants. When we went to check out our stuff, the lady recommended full drysuits because the water was a little deep in a few areas and it was extra cold (43F water temp), but they were out of suits for the day, so we'd have to pick them up in the morning when they opened at 8 a.m. It takes about thirty minutes to rent gear from them because you have to watch this video about Narrows safety, which was informative. But, it also included a 10 minute segment of how to properly use a poop bag (for overnight trips). And, they demonstrated it for you on the video. It was...well, I'll be disturbed about it for awhile. We didn't want to start that late in the day, so we just grabbed pants a size bigger and hiked them up WAY high.
Gateway to the Narrows. You basically just keep on walking past the paved trail straight into the water. A lady asked me, "How do you get into the Narrows?" I pointed and said, "You just keep on walking." She looked puzzled, her brows furrowed, "Well, I know that...but how do you get INTO the Narrows?" Trying not to smile, I replied, "Well, that's the beginning of the Narrows. You just start. And the trail is the water. There is no other part of the trail. That's it right there." Still worried about this, she asked, "But, I don't see anything." Trying so hard not to sound like I'm making fun of her, "What are you looking for?" Innocently, she responded,"I don't know. It's called the Gateway to the Narrows." I explained that it's just the beginning of the Narrows trail and the end of the Riverside Walk. In order to go further, you have to get in the water and it goes up several miles. God bless her, I still don't think she understood it. I really think she was expecting to see some kind of sphinx gateway like in The Neverending Story with naked, winged lady things waiting to shoot lasers out of their eyes at those unworthy to proceed further.
Either way, this is where you started.
After this picture, we pulled our pants up as high as they would go and tucked our jackets into them. I got mine close to under my armpits. The area of the river around the bend behind me was the deepest section we had to go through and it went about an inch below my pants. Baaaaarely made it.
This waterfall is huge when it's rained. But, that also means the river is nearly impassible.
This is the beginning of Wall Street. In some places, the walls were as high as Angel's Landing's peak. Most of Wall Street had no high ground, so if you saw signs of a flash flood coming, you had to scurry out fast or, well, die. If you did make it to high ground in time, you'd have to wait it out on your own. They won't rescue you. And be sure to take poop bags.
This was wall to wall water.
This was a sub-slot canyon called Orderville Canyon that branched off from the main Narrows. We hiked up it for a mile on the way back down.
There were a few rock beaches here and there we scrambled over.
Stop taking pictures...let's gooooooo!
Three and a half miles up and we stopped for lunch. After this part, we'd have to wade/swim through chest-deep pools and we weren't up for that. The Narrows is the world's largest slot canyon. Everything we read said it was really strenuous, but it wasn't at all. It might have been because we were rarely in the sun and the water was so cold, but we were comfortably warm in our clothes, but it was very pleasant. I mean, it's not like walking on a flat road. Most of it is carefully stepping over huge rocks in a swift current. There were some sandy bottom parts, but it was just taking your time crossing back and forth from beach to beach or just staying along the shallowest parts in the Wall Street section. But, it really wasn't tiresome at all. We had a blast!
I'd say about 80% of the people we saw didn't have any kind of protective clothing. Most were in shorts and hiking boots. And all of those people were blue. They had snotcicles. A lot of the ones we passed we never saw again, so we assumed they turned back. It was way too cold to not have something warmer on. And their hiking boots would have been filled with water. The shoes we had allowed the water to pass through them and had great grip. The neoprene socks kept our feet warm. The only couple we saw that made it as far as we did without special gear ended up stripping down to their undies (not kidding) and sunning for a bit on a beach.
Mmmmm peanut butter and jelly never tasted so good.
It might be hard to see the guys on the rock down there. They were having a sword (walking stick) fight while their friend took pictures.
It's probably hard to see in this one, too, but in the shady part on the right, below the big rock, there are some people in drysuits (you can see the blue and red). They asked the best way to get to the beach in the sun. I told them to climb up to the top of that rock and go down the other side because there's a really deep pool right past that rock. That's where I took the previous picture. I don't know if they maybe didn't believe me or were just determined to go around the rock because they had full drysuits on, but they didn't climb up like I suggested. Every single one of them went under. I mean, they were okay, but they got soaked. Heh heh.
Heading back! The whole trail is like 16 miles one way (people do overnight trips from the top down to the Temple of Sinawava), but you have to have a permit and lots of climbing gear.
Heading up Orderville Canyon.
The cliffs' insatiable heights claim another innocent rodent life.
We made it as far as this little waterfall and then you had to turn back. You could continue on as long as you had a permit and rappelling equipment.
Back in the main canyon.