Most visitors to Zion have heard about the Narrows, a deep, narrow canyon along the North Fork of the Virgin River extending 16 miles, with rock walls towering over 1,000 feet high. When the gang was discussing the hike I quickly said to count me in. Jim had no interest, not being much of a water person, and not crazy about the idea of trying to hike for miles on slippery rocks in a cold canyon with wet feet.
We decided to rent some gear to try make the hike more comfortable, planning a late afternoon stop at Zion Outfitter the day before to try things on for size and have them in the car ready for the next morning. I was beginning to have my doubts about whether or not I even wanted to go based on the air and water temperature (46!) There are few places in the canyon where the sun even reaches, and I would much rather be too hot than too cold, so did I want to spend $41 (actually $44 with tax) on shoes, neoprene socks, and dry pants and still be miserable, cold and wet?
Well, we had so much fun trying on the gear, I decided I just had to give it a try. I would wear lots of warm layers and if I couldn’t make it very far, so be it. Thermal underwear tops and bottoms, my warmest insulated cycling jersey, nylon hiking pants, and a windbreaker. Also in my backpack were gloves, ear pops, and my biking arm warmers, all of which I ended up wearing. The dry bib pants actually kept our legs warm and dry, and the boots and neoprene socks kept our feet surprisingly warm even though they were wet. I was really impressed.
And weren’t we stylish? All except Mark, that is, with his denim shorts! Laurelee, Bobbie, Debbie, Mark and Suzanne.
The clarity of the water made it easy to see where we were stepping, and the boots gripped the rocks so well it was not as hard as we thought it would be to walk through the river. Except where the current was really strong and made it hard to put a foot down. I was glad I brought both of my hiking poles.
In order to get to the Narrows you first have to hike a mile on the paved Riverside Walk from the Temple of Sinewava, the last parking area/shuttle stop in Zion canyon. Laurelee, Debbie and I carried our gear and changed shoes and put on the dry pants at the end of the paved trail. Mark, Bobbie and Suzanne put theirs on at the cars. I was concerned about walking a mile in those boots, which were a bit too big, and that way I was able to get out of the wet boots and socks and put my Keen sandals back on for the last mile to the car after getting out of the river.
I’m guessing we hiked in the river at least 50% of the time, with the rest being on the sandy, rocky banks. The water was ankle to knee deep for the most part, although we did have to go through a few mid thigh sections.
Debbie checking the depth.
Our only casualties were Mark taking a little slip and fall and dunking his camera, and Suzanne letting go of her hiking stick, which floated away in the fast current never to be seen again. Here is just a sampling of the many photos I took. I left the Lumix at home and used our old Nikon with the non-functioning zoom just in case I took an unplanned swim.
We hiked in a little over two miles to Wall Street, and took a little detour through Orderville Canyon on the way back. We spent about four hours in and out of the water. I have a hard time picking favorites, but this is definitely one of those hikes I will always remember.
I would highly recommend renting the boots, socks and pants, unless you go in the heat of the summer. It was worth every penny, and the scenery is priceless. Thanks to the gang for encouraging me to go along!