Leaving Las Vegas we were once again traveling in “we will figure it out” mode. Oh, we knew where we were heading, Zion National Park, but had no idea whether we’d spend the night there, nearby, or move onto Bryce Canyon. Sluggishness had delayed our departure so we didn’t arrive in Zion until 4pm… much too late to snatch a camping site.
Thinking the remaining daylight was all the time we’d spend in the park, we hopped on our bikes for a quick tour.
The Pa’rus Trail is a paved path that begins near the visitor center, wends around the campground and along the Virgin River for 1.7 miles…
…ending at the intersections of Hwy 9 and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
We continued up (and I do mean up!) Zion Canyon Scenic Drive for an additional five miles, stopping to take in the scenes of Great White Throne, Court of the Patriarchs, ant-like hikers clinging to cables along the West Rim Trail…
…beautiful passages of the Virgin River, and wildlife.
At the road’s end, we were captivated by the towering Temple of Sinawava—the 3000’ canyon wall that entices hikers into its chasm, The Narrows.
Alas, we had figured it out… with hands on our breaks and feet off our pedals we sailed downhill and then back to the nearest town – Springdale, Utah – to find a hotel and prep for the next day’s hike.
The Narrows was the most extraordinary, and probably our most memorable, hike of this six-month trek.
It’s not really a trail, or rather, the trail (Riverside Walk) ends after a mile, and to continue into The Narrows one must enter and follow the Virgin River upstream.
The water was frigid, but the heat and blood flow generated from traversing over rocks helped our toes acclimate pretty quickly.
Water and mineral stained canyon walls were capped with plant life and fall colors. We’d entered a seemingly mystical environment, surreal, but not without lurking dangers.
The river is unpredictable in flow and depth, and I once found myself suddenly waste deep.
As we slogged farther into the narrowing canyon its rock walls grew higher and more solid.
Time passed, but without a sense of our pace in the water, we had no idea of how far we had traveled. There were no mile markers, probably because it’s not a trail, but when we reached an intersection with another canyon that broke off to the east, Trey correctly estimated we’d hiked about a mile and a half since entering the river.
We followed what ended up being Orderville Gulch for only a few hundred feet before turning around and heading back downstream.
At 6pm, we left Zion National Park via Highway 9 and with senses of accomplishment and regret.
The Narrows was an amazing hike, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will stay with us forever; yet Zion had many gifts and trails we were leaving uncharted. As the majestic beauty of Zion’s eastern border folded out around us…
…we concurred, we’d have to make a return trip.