Hiking in Zion National Park (2 of 2)

>> Monday, July 10, 2017

My first post was a week ago with just some fun pics of my wife and I in Vegas. (Sexy pics of my wife, I might add. What a babe.) Here are some photos from our 3rd day in Vegas when we got up early to drive to Zion National Park.

On a highway outside of Las Vegas around 4:30 a.m.

Good morning, Arizona!

Driving up and down through some fun sights in Arizona.

Hello Utah!

She's not good about staying awake on car rides. I don't mind.

The long line waiting for a shuttle to take us through Zion.

Getting into Zion and parked was easy, but we had to wait 45 minutes in this line to catch a shuttle to get through Zion. Cars aren't allowed through Zion for most of the summer months, but there's a shuttle that comes quite often (every 7-15 mins) to pick up and drop off at the 9 stops throughout the park. We planned to get there when the shuttle service started at 7 a.m. (so we got up at 3:45 and hit the road for the nearly 3 hour drive just after 4 a.m.), but we weren't aware that we would be crossing a time zone, so we REALLY got there at 8 a.m. Oops. Oh well. It really wasn't a big deal, just worth noting if we ever come back with the boys.

The shuttle ride was nice as we got to hear a bit about the park and take in the sights:

Landscape from the bus.

Selfie off the bus at stop #6. We were about to hike behind us.
We were loaded up with snacks and water.

We were going to hike "Angel's Landing." We heard it got scary/steep near the end (and my wife does NOT do well with that), but that the hike up to that point was still worth it. So we headed off:

The AMAZING sights of the park as we started our hike.

We didn't know where we were headed. SEE THAT GIANT CLIFF OUT-OF-SIGHT ABOVE
MY WIFE?!? *THAT'S* WHERE WE WERE HEADED! But we weren't aware of that
when I took this photo!! (Seen to the left in the previous photo as well.)

The North Fork Virgin River cutting through the rocks.

Looking up, wondering "will we be hiking all the way up there?"

Edit of the last photo: look closely to see 8 people walking across a ledge with 2 more
in front of them. That's where we were headed. And that was only about half way up.

My wife is a bit afraid of falling, so she always walked on the "safe" side of the trail.

After turing left up ahead, we were on the cut out
in the rock seen in that edited photo 3 photos above.

At this point, we headed back "into" the rock through a narrow canyon. It was nice to be in the shade for a while. It was nearing 100 degrees, but as I mentioned in my first Vegas post, the phrase "yeah, but it's a DRY heat" is really true. It wasn't bad.

Back into the rocks through the little canyon.

Cool rock formations.

Climbing "the wiggles:" 21 short back-and-forth steep climbs to get us up in a hurry.

Looking back down the wiggles.

After that, it opened up a bit. (I guess that's an understatement.) We were still about a half mile from the true end of the trail, but it had views like THIS:

Nearly 1400 feet above the river.

Two steps backwards meant certain death.

Here's a video I took looking over that edge. My wife can't even watch this:

Please, make this full screen. (Direct link: youtu.be/RMSRuRqb81c)

I left my wife there, and I went on farther. She joked that one of us needed to stay alive to raise the boys. (She was actually comforted by the fact that "only" 6 people had died doing this hike since 2004.) I didn't know it, but she took a photo of me as her "one last photo" in case I fell:

Me in the yellow, about to tackle the scariest part of the hike.

Waiting my turn for the nearly straight up section with the chains.

Pretty steep, with a fall back down into that narrow canyon that we just hiked through if you slip.

Farther up. Still climbing.

A selfie my wife took as close as she wanted to get to the edge as I hiked up ahead.

I didn't make it all the way to the end of the trail. I got through what everyone called the scariest section (and yes, my heart was pumping) and called it "good enough." It was amazing. All these photos don't do it justice.

I started back down the chains and helped some families get through. At points I stopped to let people come from the other direction. A grandma basically bear-hugged me to get by, and then she had 3 teenage or 20-something granddaughters behind her. The last granddaughter paused and said "Ummm... I'm... I think I'm going to... Umm..." And I stopped her and laughed and said "Just grab a hold and get around me however works for you! No worries! I don't have any personal space issues." She laughed and climbed around me.

A selfie with my wife at her highest point after I was frisked by a teenage girl.

Heading down the wiggles again.

One of the last wiggles.

Heading back through the narrow canyon. See my wife to the left?
Above her would have been the fall had anyone slipped from the chains.


This wasn't a cave - there was a fracture in the rock,
and I could have climbed straight up (if I was 60 lbs).

Heading down.

We just hiked to the top of THAT!

We hopped back on the shuttle bus (not having to wait even a minute) and headed to the last stop (#9). We wanted to hike the other famous hike here: The Narrows. My wife was wearing her Chaco sandals (seen in photos of her above) and I was wearing some very "airy" slip-on Nikes that I've used as water shoes for the last 12 years or so because we knew The Narrows was mainly hiking in a river. In fact, it's not uncommon for that trail to be closed if there are flash flood worries or high water.

On the mile-long easy hike to get to the start of The Narrows.

Around that cliff up ahead is the start.

LOTS of people in The Narrows!

Ready to hike...

... and we're off!

There were a LOT of people, but it wasn't annoying. We both sort of agreed that less people would have made it more "magical," but it wasn't a big issue. We were impressed with the variety of people: lots of older people, lots of kids, and ALL kinds of footwear (old running shoes, flip flops, Keens, Red Wing work boots, etc!)

Me (hiking up my shorts a bit).

There were "weeping walls" all around.

A super narrow waterfall starting at the upper right.

She's got strong legs. And they were necessary walking through the current over wet rocks!

Notice her wet skirt as she just had to go pretty deep to get over a big rock.


I like this pic of us.

We took a break so she could teach me how to Dougie.
(Mom, it's an old pop-cuture reference; I'll explain it to you later.)

Selfie before turning around to head back.

Here's the only video I took in The Narrows. It shows how carefully you had to walk, along with how fast the current was (I mean, it's not extreme, but this just shows what the hike was like):

Direct link: youtu.be/Tyw6v8vwoRE

Cutie by a cliff.

This was the deepest it got for us.

Out of the water, and enjoying the views on the hike back to the shuttle.

We joked on the way back that we turned around at the right time because shortly after turning around, I felt my shoes "acting funny" in the current. I realized my sole was separating from my shoe on BOTH shoes:

Dang. Not bad for 10-15 year old shoes, I suppose.

Note to self: don't leave 2 perfectly good bananas in a hot car in Utah for 7 hours
because THIS will happen. For real. They were totally baked.

There's a cute little town immediately outside of Zion (and there's a shuttle system that runs through the town as well for when the Zion lots fill up - you can park in town and be shuttled to Zion for free), and we stopped at the first little cafe to re-fuel after nearly 10 miles of hiking.

Re-hydrating with Diet Coke, an Italian Soda, and water.

This cutie again. And a big ol' salad.

On the car ride back to Vegas. I mean, just HOW badly can you misspell "Maroon?"

The day ended as it began.

Because we spent part of a day in Zion and went on 2 hikes, we are now complete experts. <- That's sarcasm. Here are my tips for you (or for me to look back on if we do this again in the future):

• Get there early. We would have gotten there at 7 if we were smart. Maybe even sooner.

• Bring water and food. We brought a lot of water, and my wife said we had a "laughable" amount of food. Our 2 stops in the park both had places to refill water bottles, so we wouldn't have needed ALL that water from the start, and we ate nearly all our food (and then stopped immediately after our hikes at that cafe above).

• Kids wouldn't do well on Angel's Landing, but they'd have fun in The Narrows. And that's what we saw. I don't recall seeing anyone younger than 10-13 on Angel's Landing as they'd get tired on that 5 mile round-trip hike. But the Narrows had lots of 7-10 year-olds. They were all in suits and were floating down the chilly river. You could go as far as you wanted, and then just float back down. (In fact, you can get a permit to do a 1-way hike starting north and heading all the way through The Narrows, and we saw one camper who was doing that just floating down parts of the river on a small inner tube.)

• Wear swim trucks in The Narrows. I just had on athletic shorts and boxers, and I should have just had on swim trunks so I could have more easily gotten wet. Swim jammers would have worked well! (But I would have missed having pockets.)

• Wear whatever footwear you'd like, and pack a different pair in a backpack if you'd like. Like I mentioned above, we saw EVERY kind of footwear, so go with whatever you'd be comfortable with over wet rocks. We were happy with our choices. You want to walk in wet running shoes? Do it. Wet hiking boots? Cool. Old-school water shoes? Whatever works for you. (Sidenote: you can rent neoprene socks and special hiking boots if you want to. I'd do that if I went back when it wasn't warm out, because the water is CHILLY. I had a former student give me lots of advice [thanks Kyrie!], and she went in Oct and was fine in Keens.)

• Do the wet hike last. Unless you want to try to do that one before it gets crowded. The park ranger we talked with recommended doing that one last, and we were glad we did. And it's cooler in The Narrows, so as it was getting hot on Angel's Landing, we headed to a cooler hike.

• Try some smaller hikes. We overheard people talking about some of the shuttle stops where there was only a half-mile hike or so to an overlook or "point of interest," and they sounded impressed. There would have been a lot more to explore at this park.

• In The Narrows, bring a dry sack or a Ziplock. I had a dry sack in my backpack with my camera in it, and we both had our phones in Ziplock baggies in our pockets. Neither of us fell, but we both slipped a lot, and we saw some people fall on the slippery rocks.

Again, here was my first post of Vegas pics from last week. And if you're thinking about heading to Vegas and looking for "outdoorsy" options, check out this post from 4 years ago where we hiked a bit in Red Rock Canyon and then ran the historic railroad tunnel built to help in the construction of the Hoover Dam (which was AWESOME).


Anonymous,  9:32 AM, July 10, 2017  

Hi Steve! Hubs and I went to Zion a few years ago and did Angel's Landing--or maybe I should *he* did it, lol. I got halfway before my 'scared of heights' kicked in. Will be going back next year though so I still have time to make it right. Love the pictures and wanted to ask what brand of skirt is your better half wearing...have been looking for something more comfortable than shorts to hike in--thanks!

Unknown 9:41 AM, July 10, 2017  

My husband and I did the Angel's Landing hike in October with my then 9 year old and 12 year old. I am much like your wife with heights and almost stopped at the chains, but after watching my spouse take my 2 little babies without me, my desire to protect them from falling outweighed my fear and I did the entire thing. I'm pretty sure my heart rate was 300 the whole time. ;)

Thought you might enjoy the video we made with the kids on that hike.


Steve Stenzel 1:07 PM, July 10, 2017  

Smitty, it's a Sugoi "Moxie" skirt, and I like it. (I think she does too.) It's 7 years old - here's when I posted about it in a giveaway from long ago: https://iwannagetphysical.blogspot.com/2010/07/foxy-moxie-ryde-for-real-giveaway.html

Steve Stenzel 1:12 PM, July 10, 2017  

Christine, that's a great recap! That's awesome that your kids got up there! Walking that chain section in your video made my palms all sweaty again! :)

Merrilee 11:01 AM, July 11, 2017  

Geez! The pictures from Steve and video from Christine are insane- torn between wanting to do it and glad I haven't!

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