Day 28

Okay, wow.  One day doesn’t usually deserve it’s own post, but Day 28 sure did.  This day, I accidentally hiked for 8 solid hours.

I say accidentally because it was one of those days when I was so wrapped up in where I was and what I was doing that I had no idea how long I’d been gone.  I got up earlier than I had the day before, grabbed breakfast for the road, and headed out before the sun was above the trees.  Even though I got to Zion so early, it was still 9 by the time I stepped off the tram and started hiking.

My plan was to hike the short Riverwalk Trail to The Narrows, then head back down canyon for a couple of other short-ish trails.  That did not happen.

When I made it to The Narrows, I had no intention of hiking up.  The trail is rough. The water is 62 degrees- cold. The canyon is narrow and shadowed.  From everything I’d heard, this was a cold, wet, challenging trail, and I had no desire to spend the rest of my day in soggy shoes.IMG_3441

IMG_3443Man was I wrong.  It was too amazingly pretty, and something deep inside pulled me up, up, up river.

 

I can’t describe it.  Pristine water. High, sheer cliffs towering above.  Seep springs. Deep pools.  The reds and golds of the rocks, how the light made the canyon seem to glow, the way water has carved the canyon like sculpture… I was entranced in spite of the crowds around me.

IMG_3456The water was freezing, and within 15 minutes my feet were numb.  Every time I thought, “It’s been a while. I should head back,” something pulled me on.  I fell into a rhythm, almost zen-like as I walked, and time slipped away from me.  My only focus was on the next bend in the canyon.  Finally, after what I think was 3 hours, I realized my legs were wobbly and my steps uneven.  I made myself stop, eat a snack, and decided I should turn around when I was rested.  The canyon had narrowed even more, and for 10 minutes as I sat, barefoot, in the sun, on a warm rock, I was alone… the only voice I could hear or face I could see.  A relief, after the annoying number of people making the hike farther down river.

IMG_3509As I walked back, I remembered a side canyon I’d seen earlier, and up it I went. Scrambling over boulders and up cascades, amazed at the colors and sheer rock walls anew.  I climbed for an hour before a skinned knee and shaky legs told me I needed to rest.  I never reached the waterfall someone said was at the head of the canyon, but it didn’t matter.

By the time I made it back to the tram stop, it was 5:05pm.  Wide-eyed, I realized I’d hiked for 8 solid hours.  I was exhausted, but it was so worth it.

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