Emeralds and Angels, Hiking in Zion (Part 1)

Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park, Utah

Researching Zion, I came up with an itinerary. In the morning, we would hike the Narrows and, in the afternoon, we’d go canyoneering.

Hiking the Narrows means hiking in water through slotted canyons. Even though large rocks line the bottom of the river, we’d be dressed properly, carry tall walking sticks, and be guided by an experienced hiker. We picked up our waterproof boots and Neoprene socks at Zion Outfitter the day before, so we’d be ready to roll at 7am the next day.

One problem. It rained overnight. A lot.

The Parks Service closed the Narrows because the water level was too high. The usually clear, shallow water was now brown, swirling, strong, and deep. Even if the Park Service opened up the Narrows later, which it did, we had to make a decision. We decided to hike Emerald Pools and Angels Landing.

One more problem. Back at home, when I showed Hubby a video of hikers on Angel’s Landing, his breathing turned rapid. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “It’s just a video.” “I have no interest in hiking that!” he replied. Yet, there we were.  With Plan A shelved, it was time for Plan B.

Look what we saw on the trail.
Look what we saw on the trail.

Here's another one.
Here’s another one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerald Pools waterfall.
Emerald Pools waterfall.

Blue sky and cascading water mesmerize.
Blue sky and cascading water mesmerize. Hubby took these Emerald Pools photos.

Our guide told us that some people rappel from top of the waterfalls!
Our guide told us that some people rappel from the top of the waterfalls!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hubby and Teen Daughter.
Hubby and Teen Daughter.

Hiking Emerald Pools was a great warm-up for the day. Our guide, James Milligan, led us to the lower and upper pools, then we hiked from the pools to the start of Angel’s Landing.

It wasn’t necessary to have a guide for the morning hikes but 1) we’d already hired him, 2) he knows the mountain so well that he efficiently led us from trail to trail (otherwise, we might still be consulting our map, wondering where to go!), 3) James could answer our many questions, and 4) having a guide gave Hubby assurance that he could hike however much–or little-of Angel’s Landing he was comfortable with!

Immense red rocks balance on top of each other.
Immense red rocks balance on top of each other.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Have you been to Zion? Have you hiked the Narrows? Emerald Pools?  Angels Landing?

Hon, I’d love to hear from you.

Sources:  Zion OutfitterZion National-Park.com, Joe’s Guide To Zion National Park

Canyoneering in Utah, Quicksand and Teamwork (Part 2)

Mt. Carmel, Utah
Mt. Carmel, right outside Zion National Park, Utah

“Is there really such a thing as quicksand?”

In my last post, Canyoneering in Utah, Harnesses, Helmets & Hooks (Part 1), Hubby, Teen Daughter and I got geared up. We hiked to the top of the canyons, listened closely as James Milligan, our Zion Outfitters guide, taught us how to rappel on vertical sandstone, and learned that friction is our friend.

Tip:  “Lower you butt until it’s in line with your feet, then ‘walk’ down the canyon.”

James informed us that the bottom of the canyons had been dry for the past four years, but it had flooded in April as well as rained the night before. We were going to have to jump into water. How deep was the water? Not sure. What was at the bottom of the water? Quicksand!

Ropes in the canyon.
Ropes in the canyon.

We rappelled down this canyon
We rappelled down this canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intense hiking.
Intense hiking.

Narrow canyon walls.
Narrow canyon walls.

Hubby rappelled first, then belayed Teen Daughter, me and James. When there was just a pool of (cold) water at the canyon bottom, Hubby would let us know where is seemed shallowest. Then we’d jump in and scramble to flat ground. Teamwork was essential!

James guessed (right) that there was quicksand at the bottom of one pool. I’d doubted if quicksand really existed. Hon, quicksand is real! Hubby went down first, hoisted himself out of the goop and made it to flat ground. Whew! He held the rope below while James held it above, creating a taut line for me and Teen Daughter to grab onto and, hand-over-hand, get us out of the muck. But the muck pulled me in!

Want to know what panic feels like?  It feels like quicksand sucking you in, drawing you deeper as you try to kick your way out. Help!

I used all of my upper body strength to pull up on that taut rope.  I hollered for Hubby to grab my arm and GET ME THE HECK OUT OF THERE!

Once we were all out, the feeling was fabulous.  WE DID IT!

The setting sun made the rocks even redder.
The setting sun made the rocks even redder.

 

Huge birds' nest in the crags.
Huge birds’ nest in the crags.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back and up.
Looking back and up.

What a day!

We weren't done yet. We crawled like Spiderman up a sandstone face to reach our car.
This pic was overexposed, but I adjusted it as much as possible.  Not on flat ground yet!

The only way back was up!

A fallen tree blocked the less steep path back to the car, so we had to change plans. “Huh?” I asked. “We’re going straight up?” Thank goodness James knew what to do. When we couldn’t find a foothold, he placed his foot sideways so we could brace against it like a step! We “Spidermanned” our way up the sandstone (which, I learned the hard way, you can’t grasp like rock because petrified sand dunes crumble when you grab them) and finally reached the car…Gritty. Dirty. Wet. Sooo happy!

When can I go again?

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