Our first day at Zion National Park was pretty close to perfect, but luckily there is nothing in the book of life that says you can’t have two perfect days in a row. While we spent yesterday climbing to the top of a summit, we spent today trekking through the very bottom of a gorge. The Narrows of Zion is a long gorge formed by the Virginia River. The gorge is named so because the river is narrow – only 20-30 feet wide at some parts, but the rock walls oneither side soar hundreds of feet upwards. This distinguishing geological feature, along with the fact that you have to wade through water during 60% of the hike, makes hiking the Narrows one of Zion’s signature experiences.
This time of year, the river is expected to be high from melting snow and the rainy winter. But, because it has been a dry season, the river is lower than usual. The portion of the Narrows that people are allowed to walk through had water that rose mostly to my knees, with a few sections rising to my waist. Althoughthe water’slevelwas lower, it was still freezing cold. This is not a hyperbole; the Virginia river temperature in Fahrenheit was in the low 30s. We had to rent dry suits to stay insulated during the hike. Although I have been emphasizing coldness in the last few sentences, I know that ten years from now I will forget about the river temperature andwill mostly remember the incredible experience of wading through six miles of teal waterways between towering walls of rocks carved and painted by nature. This day was one for the books.
After six hours of getting our breath taken away and looking dorky in the Narrows, my friends and I took a coffee break in the bordering town. Still high and happy from our recent adventure, the down time was wonderful. I think big activities should be followed by relaxation as much as possible so that one has time to absorb all the magic. We then picked up dinner supplies at the grocery store. Because our cabin had a grill pit outside, we decided we would cook ourselves steak and peppers over fire. If you are thinking that steaks sound too fancy for an outdoorsy trip, don’t worry – we ate them on plastic plates with plastic cutlery. The simplicity of the meal was just right to finish the day, though, and to top it off there was agorgeous sunset while wetold stories aboutour other adventures by the fire and over dinner.