Hiking the Zion Narrows, Bryce, and Cedar Breaks

This weekend I went hiking with four friends from church and my dad. The friends were Peter, William, John W. and John H. Hiday was originally planning to come, too, but had an emergency meeting for work, so he couldn’t make it. John W. almost wasn’t going to come because he didn’t want to drive by himself in a car without air conditioning, but luckily, my dad decided to come so that they could both join us.

We were planning to hike the Narrows from the north beginning of the trail, but the water speed was too high: 121 cfs (cubic-feet per second). It has to be below 120 cfs for 24 hours before they open the trail to hikers, and even then, most people agreed that it’s not really fun until it’s under 80 cfs. The ideal time to hike would be when it’s 20 to 60 cfs. So we couldn’t take that option. All of the other campsites were taken as well. But the south trail to the Narrows was open, so we went that route. On Friday, we checked out the equipment needed for the hike: dry pants or dry suit, nylon socks, and water shoes (“5-10”).

The water temperature was 45 degrees Fahrenheit, much colder than what I’m used to. Heck, I’m cold when the pool is 70 degrees. So I opted for the dry suit (an extra $10) to make sure I didn’t freeze. Everyone else chose dry pants. The equipment actually worked out very well. It’s a good $29 package. It’s not perfect, of course, but it did make for a pleasant hike.

We started out on Saturday morning, getting our gear and then leaving as early as we could bear. The trail begins with a mile of normal hiking, during which we just carried our dry pants or dry suit, until we reach the entrance to the river, at which time we put them on. Then we jump into the water and start hiking. I think John W. tripped shortly after entering. It was a unique experience: we actually hiked right in the Narrows, walking and “swimming” upstream through the river. Then, we hiked back down, going downstream.

Going back was definitely a new experience. There are multiple paths available (speaking in detail) and lots of decisions to make as far as where to step, where to place the walking stick, where to balance, how to distribute weight, which specific route to take, how quickly to walk, which rocks to step off of, etc. I wonder if training in these areas would make a significant difference. Certainly, making a few bad moves makes the whole hike much more difficult.

The next day we drove to Bryce National Park and hiked a day trail there. Interestingly, it started snowing. We were at some 9300 feet in elevation, but it is the end of May after all. According to the radio, however, Summer hasn’t officially started yet. It was really cool though, because it’s the first time I’ve ever seen snow fall, that I remember. It wasn’t heavy snow; it melted as soon as it touched our hands or hit the ground. Still, it was fun. From there, we went to Cedar Breaks, where we checked out the Visitor Center and listened to a presentation on the rocks (including the “breaks”), how they were formed, and how we know (hydrochloric acid, fossils, colors of rocks). It was an enlightening talk, and it was cool to see young children so interested in it too. William bought a couple of posters, presumably to decorate his new home. He really needs a large canvas to decorate this large wall that everyone sees shortly after entering. I wonder what will eventually fill that space.

2 Responses to “Hiking the Zion Narrows, Bryce, and Cedar Breaks”

  1. […] Summer « Hiking the Zion Narrows, Bryce, and Cedar Breaks […]

  2. Sounds like it was a good time. I like to see children becoming interested in hiking. We need to pass on these great experiences to the next generation of hikers because so many are becoming distracted by things like video games and the computer right now.

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