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VOL. 131 | NO. 195 | Thursday, September 29, 2016


Lance Wiedower

Zion’s Majesty Seen From The Narrows

BY LANCE WIEDOWER, Special to The Daily News

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We had walked in the river for two hours already and weren’t sure how much longer it would take to reach the Wall Street portion of The Narrows trail.

Do we turn around, knowing we already had experienced a hike that I would call a life moment? Or do we keep going, knowing that surely we weren’t that far from the narrowest part of this narrow trail in Zion National Park?

I asked the next couple walking back our way if they had made it.

“Yeah, it’s about another 30 minutes,” she said, adding that we needed to be prepared for much deeper water. “Hold your pack above your head and you’ll be fine.”

Good advice, but it also meant a certain 9-year-old boy would find himself deeper than his head where his hiking pole wouldn’t do much good.

Just the day before, we were awed by the beauty of Grand Canyon National Park and had ended the day with a drive toward the setting red sun in the southwestern reaches of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We pulled into tiny Kanab, our base for visits to Zion and Bryce National Parks.

The Narrows

(Lance Wiedower)

I had seen pictures of the beautiful hoodoo formations of Bryce, but what had us most excited about visiting southwest Utah was the hike along the Virgin River to The Narrows.

As we drove to the park’s eastern entrance from Kanab, that anticipation was momentarily forgotten as we entered the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway early the next morning.

It isn’t for the faint of heart; after driving through a one-lane tunnel carved into the edge of a mountain, the road empties into the bright sun and a frightening switchback road that continues down into the canyon below.

Zion is a canyon, only this experience is based in the gorge below. The park is filled with a multitude of hiking adventures, but the one on our mind was The Narrows.

The shuttle dropped us at the start of the 1-mile Riverside Walk, a relatively easy journey along a paved trail that skirts along the Virgin River. Where it ends at a staircase to the river below begins the journey through the crystal-clear waters of the Virgin where it flows through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon.

The water reaches the canyon walls on both sides, stretching a thousand feet skyward in places where it’s only 20 feet wide. It’s about 2.5 miles to get to the Wall Street section of The Narrows, a journey that would require a little swim with our packs above our heads. In late July, it was past the season of snowmelt that causes flash floods in the canyon.

The memory of reaching the narrow Wall Street section where sunlight struggled to penetrate the canyon is etched in my memory. We eventually hiked out, making our way to Zion Lodge where a beer garden helped us quench our thirsts. We wanted to hike other trails, but another visit would be in order for those experiences. This day was all about The Narrows.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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