Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Road Trip Day 1 - Tears & Zion Narrows

So, I'm going to take a break from my previously scheduled catching up on posts about 52 peak hikes and what you'll soon learn was the most epic summer ever, so I can do a bit of current blogging about a drastic change that's happening right now.  I'm moving to DC.

I knew this time was going to come.  I knew that I was only in Vegas for two years.  I just didn't realize it was going to fly by so quickly.  I didn't know how much I was going to love my job.  And, I didn't know how many amazing friends I would meet along the way.  Today was really hard.  Ok, really, the last few days have been really hard, to the point that I feel dehydrated from all of the crying.

So, not only am I moving to DC, I'm currently doing so by way of road trip with my car full of my belongings, my mom, and my dog (is that a country song? probably).  To ease the pain of moving from so many people that I love dearly, and to ease the pain of driving 2000 miles, we're making a few stops along the way.
After an extremely teary farewell on Sunday night and a tear-filled morning, I left Vegas.  Monday was a short driving day (3 hours) to reach our first stop: Zion National Park.  (If I'm being honest, I wanted to cry the whole drive, but my mom did a good job keeping me distracted in the car)

My mom had actually never been to Zion, which is just criminal, so I decided this was something that I needed to correct pronto!  We first dropped Maggie off at Doggey Dude Ranch outside the park and headed to the Zion Visitor Center, where we parked our car and boarded the Zion shuttle toward the trailheads.  Because we're a couple of ambitious girls, we decided we'd conquer a few miles of the Zion Narrows from the Bottom Up.
Blue Skies, Narrow Canyon, Perfect Day (minus the puffiness under my eyes from all the crying)
Several of my friends had done this hike, so I knew what to bring and I knew what to expect.  What to bring: water shoes (salomon techamphibians), trekking poles, waterproof camera, and a dry bag to store a long sleeved shirt and my cell phone.  What to expect:  walking in somewhat chilly water that was up to 2.5-3 feet deep in places.
Knee deep water in calm water? no problem
Knee deep water with a current? I think she was glad she had those poles
The hike starts out with a 1 mile walk along the paved River Walk trail.  At the end of the mile, you enter the Virgin River, and begin hiking in the river through an increasingly narrow canyon.
The canyon started out reasonably wide, which allowed for some sun to shine in.  However, the walls of the canyon are so tall, there really wasn't that much sun.  I'm not even sure how hot it was in the rest of Zion, but in the Narrows, the weather was so perfect.  It was warm enough that the water felt good, but not so warm that you felt gross.
It really is amazing to me how the power of water and wind can shape rock into such beautiful formations.  Of course, at the same time, I had terrifying thoughts about all of the flash floods that must have come rushing through the canyon to aid in creating this magical place.
Eventually the canyon got even more narrow and more dark.  This was my favorite portion of the canyon.  Sadly, we were reaching the point in the afternoon when we needed to turn back in order to check in to our cabin for the night.
As we hiked back through the canyon to the trailhead, we found that river crossings had almost become second nature and we moved at a much greater rate of speed than we did on our way in.  

Although this was not the most challenging of hikes that I've done, it was truly spectacular.  This is a great hike for hikers with modest skills (I would NOT do this without the trekking poles, they were so helpful for walking on the uneven rocks below the water's surface).  You can hike back as far as you'd like, but I highly recommend spending at least 2 hours hiking back to the more narrow portions of the canyon.  During this portion, I continuously thought to myself "I never thought I'd be in a place like this."  
How could you be anything but at peace in a place like this?
Thanks to the wondrous Zion Narrows, my sadness from leaving Vegas vanished for fleeting moments throughout the day.  At the same time, hiking the Narrows made me even more sad to be leaving an area of this country where natural marvels like this are basically in your backyard.  I certainly plan to come back when I have a permit to do the more technical Top Down route, a 21-mile route that starts in the back of the canyon and hikes one-way to the mouth at the end of the River Walk Trail (where my mom and I started this time around).

Once we finished our time in the Narrows, we boarded the Zion shuttle back to the Visitor Center.  Once we got to my car, we drove the 40 minutes to our cabin at Zion Ponderosa Ranch.  We were starving!! 
Bighorns on the side of the road in Zion National Park.  I was so hungry, I alms wanted to stop and have a meal with these guys.  I opted to wait and have a bacon cheeseburger at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch restaurant.
We checked in to our adorable Cabin Suite at Zion Ponderosa Ranch, ate dinner, spent some time on the free wifi (so happy to have wifi!) and went to bed.  Tuesday is an EARLY morning with a lot of exciting plans!!

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