A River Runs Through It
Took the plunge and decided to hike in the waters of Zion Canyon Narrow, for it is supposed to be a great hike. Most of the hike is in the river itself, and right now the water was at most upper thigh level to my short legs, just enough to touch the, er, privates and send a shiver through my body.
The Hike starts at the Temple of Sinawava and follows a paved path for about ¾ of a mile where you are forced to get into the water. The water, according to the Park information was a brisk 59 degrees. I wore shorts, a pair of neoprene socks and old hiking boots to help deal with the cold and grip, as some of the stones one has to walk on can be described as “bowling balls covered with grease.” Overall, it wasn’t too bad, but going up-current was a bit tough at time.
The Narrows cuts through the Navajo Sandstone here dramatically. 240 million years ago, the area was a flat basin near sea level, as time erode neighboring mountains, the sediments came to rest here adding weight to the basin, making it deeper and deeper as time went on.
Over 10,000 feet of sediments made their way here. Eventually, it was topped off by a huge dune field, similar to the present day Sahara, and then other younger rocks, but those were eroded away in this area.
Towering cliffs near the water, some verdant green around the water and growing from the cliffs themselves, tons of seeps throughout the hike, where the water in the rock meets an impermeable layer and creeps out of the rock instead of going further down.
This deep canyon was cut relatively quickly, and seems impossible for such a small river to have done this, but millions of years past, the climate was different, and add in ice ages and this river was probably ravaging through, scraping out its path as the land slowly rose . It is still cutting downward.
I got going before too many people invaded the river. The water didn’t feel bad at all, and once I went went numb, it didn’t seem to bother me much. The scenery around me took my mind off the cold anyway, as well as anything else. The Gloater kept a brisk pace as I wanted to get upcanyon as much as possible before time limited me out. One cannot really fathom the depths of this gorge until you are in it looking up at the highest rims 2000’ above you.
I really couldn’t get a good picture because the camera in my phone just couldn’t process the light way above from the dark depths where I stood.
One small falls came in from the East side, cascading down a ledge of seeps and handing ferns with some moss here and there. In some spots, the canyon walls were pretty straight, others, the river had scooped out the rock making a wavy pattern and undercutting the rockface. Only a few minor overhangs were present.
Walking in the stream was slow, but manageable. Met some good people and they told me their goals so I told them I would get ahead and see if I could find the spot. One was named Orderville Canyon, a very deep tributary to the Virgin River. If you blinked, you might miss it because it was so narrow at the mouth.
Just beyond Orderville Canyon, “Wall Street” came alive. It is so named for the towering, narrow canyon around you, like skyscrapers reaching upwards in a large city. By this time, the light was reaching further into the canyon, lighting up the walls somewhat and getting some yellow glow on some parts as well.
I took a side trip through Orderville Canyon on the way back, maybe a mile in. It was more of an obstacle course with some bouldering, climbing small cascades, more bouldering, scrambling, etc.. Someone had some fine marijuana ahead of me and it drifted back and hung in the narrow canyon. Ahhh, nature .
Not many were in this side canyon and it truly felt like I was alone. Nothing but the sounds of water rushing over some rocks, some birds chirping, and some frogs trying to sell some Budweiser. Well,not really, but I thought it was what they were saying. This canyon was very green, with Box Elders, moss, and some small shrubs that made it look like an oasis where Rivendale could exist.
Coming back, I gradually met more and more hikers making their way up as far as they dared. If you want solitude, this is not the hike for you. It is the most popular hike in Zion Canyon, and add that the next most popular, Angels Landing, was closed so more people funneled this way. Regardless, the hike was soothing. Such things, to me, restores the soul a bit and takes your mind off whatever ails you. Here in the cathedral of rock, there is peace of mind, and A River Runs Through it. (Title shamelessly stolen from Norman Maclain)