Thursday, July 27, 2017

Take 2 of Zion Narrows!! - Utah, Day 6 {Sabbatical SW trip}

Hands down my absolute favorite day of the entire two week trip was our full day in the Narrows (the Virgin River hike) on Wednesday June 21.

We had visited the night before at the last minute. We only had about 20 minutes in the water and it was sad to leave, so we had made a plan to spend the entire next day here. It was hot yes (100+ degrees), but we would be in the water to compensate. We packed sandwiches for lunch, we packed sandwiches for dinner, we packed snacks, we filled up our five camelbacks, left our camper in Hurricane, and drove through Springdale, following the previous night's bus driver's tips and parked two stops up from the Visitor Center. We parked next to the highway just above the third shuttle bus stop called Canyon Junction and it worked absolutely perfectly, aside from the kids' whining that they had to walk one quarter mile in the heat. We caught the bus at Canyon Junction and rode it up to the last stop, once again, at the Temple of Sinawava. Once again we walked the one mile up the Riverside Walk until we could enter the Virgin River and begin walking through it for our day of hiking. Here are Noah, Samuel, and Evie nearing the end of the Walk.

This is what greeted us once we reached the water - crowds and crowds of people, which was the polar opposite of 8pm the night before. I could absolutely understand why my sister and dad suggested we go in the off season - the insane crowds and the heat. But we could do nothing about it since this was when Terry's sabbatical fell. We have talked about going back in the off season and enjoying ourselves more so maybe that'll happen. I was grateful to be there no matter what. This hike was on my nonexistent bucket list, and the number one on my actual Zion planning list.

Just getting into the water at about noon. There were about 100x more people in the water than the previous night...

...See? This was how it looked the previous night in this same spot. Everyone says to do The Narrows early in the day. I advised Steven and Prae to go after lunch or afternoon and spend the rest of the day there until they had to catch the 9pm bus because it is then that the crowds thin out! So what if it's hotter, you're in the water and it doesn't matter. Plus mid-afternoon light at 3 to 4pm was prettier when we turned around and came down.

Anyway, here we are passing the initial rock wall we had explored the night before (all the crowds were to the right on the rocks). The older kids were eager to to swim and get wet so Terry and I ended up carrying our camelbacks and one extra of Noah and Evie's. Plus I had the big camera. That wasn't the most fun, so good thing it was utterly and totally gorgeous in every direction and worth it.

Just up from the last picture was this rock in the middle of the river. We might not have even gotten this far the night before so it was fun for them to be able to explore more.

A deeper spot in the river.

With splashes. I tried to capture just our family, which took some patience. There were tons of people all around us even if they're not pictured.

Coming up on Mystery Waterfall. We did not come this far the previous night even though this is barely a half mile up.

You can see the water falling now. Very hot just here.

The water was refreshing!

Even more refreshing if you got your hair wet!

We passed the waterfall and looking back I took this picture.

Another crevice in the wall just past the waterfall. 

Walking upstream was pretty difficult with little kids. The progress was slow and was hampered by the walls of people on every side. But not too far from the last crevice we found another one in the shade on the opposite side. 

We were wearing out after only about 45 minutes so we had lunch here. 

Heading upstream from our lunch place were kids swimming and letting the river current push them along. Evie is our brave one so she tried it. It's so cute how the rocks sort of bump her along as she goes down. Ha!

Moving on after Evie's swimming expedition.

Shortly thereafter we came to our first real bend in the river where you could look up and down the river with a canyon wall separating the two. That's me on the left nearly falling down and Ezra with his butt in the air. Ha!

We were super hot by this point since there hadn't been much shade so when we came to this area that was a little deeper, we opted to jump in. Terry went first but I'll put his video of me because it captures the scenery better.

My video of Terry's jump.

That water was chilling at first but then it felt just so darn good and Terry and I swam in it a bit.

Looking forward up the canyon to where we would go next.

He looks so chill and cool just floating along with his sunglasses and toes pointing out of the water.

Evie and Samuel jumped into Daddy's arms and got a little more wet.

I had Noah take a picture of just Terry and I. 

Moving on up the river...

We got halfway up this next visible section and leaned against the wall. Notice anything funny below? Hehehehehe... :D

We found many more crevices in the rock walls here and spent some time playing in them.

Looking up where we'll go next.

Terry helped the kids up there.

This photo and the next one are some of absolute favorites from this day.


Daddy helped them jump down.

When we got to the top of this portion of the canyon, the river turned around another bend.

It was shady and deep right there.

We walked up this next section and saw some girls climbing a big riverside boulder and jumping into a deeper pool. It looked like amazing fun, but there was a line so we kept going to the end of this next canyon portion before the river turned another corner. We took a rest here in the shade and this is what it looked like from my place on a log.

Looking downstream.That big boulder behind Ezra is what Evie will climb in the next picture.

These next two photos are again some of favorites from the day. 

Daddy climbed up to join Evie. I mean, look at the walls so high around them! Just gorgeous.

Around the bend where we rested was another curved section of canyon that river had carved out - the whole thing was a lot like that, twisted like a snake.

Crossing another bend at the top of the straight section we just completed. Crowds were beginning to thin here.

Wonderfully shady right here.

Looking back where we had just come. Gah!!!

That little boulder in the river was as far as we went. I felt sure we had gone two or three miles but when I mapped it out at home, it was only 1.4 miles!

A bit further up and again looking back at where we had just come.

Even further back... That's me taking the following selfie...


We stopped at this point because nature called Samuel's name. There are of course no bathroom facilities along the river since they'd get washed away by the water. You're technically supposed to carry out whatever you "leave behind," but yeah, no one actually does. Terry and Samuel found a discreet little corner to do his business in and said that they weren't the first ones to "go" there. This is the picture I took of them from our little boulder as they were searching for a secluded place.

When they came back everyone climbed up the boulder.

Then daddy went to touch the algae wall and we turned around. We had been going for three hours and the kids were pretty tired out. I could've stayed all day and night and kept going for another 17 miles, but not the kids.

I spent like 15 minutes mapping out exactly where we did what. This exercise might be waste of time, but I sort of relish it because it's like reliving it. The blue dotted line is what we hiked in the water and you can see at the top of the map how far we got. I could actually see on google maps the boulder that marked where we turned around. The yellow star is where Terry and I cliff jumped from on our way back down, where we had seen those girls before. And then at the bottom of the map is where we entered the water. So you can see how the river carved out the canyon curves and that's what we went around, like a snake's body.

So that little yellow star is pictured below. This is the boulder the girls were jumping from. It was empty when we came back by so we climbed right up!

Noah took our pictures and some video.


...and me with my hair flying. Ha ha.

This is one of my many jumps. It was so fun!

Terry jumped from further and higher back. We had quite the little crowd of people watching us and some of them joined us. It was so fun!

Around the corner from our jumping rock. 

It was so much cooler now that it was about 3:30 in the afternoon. The bright sun was behind the western canyon walls and you could see the color of the cliffs much better. This was the time to be back there. 

See? Gah! 

Getting close to being done. 

Back to that waterfall and sad to be done. 

It was prettier without the bright sun's glare. 

Samuel tried it too. He pretty much only got his camelback wet. Ha!

Beautiful light and colors. 

Back at that first initial rock the kids climbed on except wonderfully shady now. 

We reached the "end" of the hike, where we had first entered the water, and we didn't want to get out. So we wandered around further down, past the Riverside Walk entrance. This rock cairn made me think of my brother and I sent him a picture of it.

Further down river.

Just to the left of the kids in the above photo. 

This photo is to the left of where the kids were. It was a little deeper and they were climbing the rocks. Terry is at this moment telling Ezra to pee his pants. Ha ha ha ha! That's what everyone had to do...

Climbing after peeing. He he. 

Nailed it. 

We kept exploring downstream even though there were some more significant waterfalls. 

A deep pool and waterfall we had to go around. It was at this point where I was wedged against the rock wall, trying to lower Ezra to Terry below me and I slipped, dropped Ezra, and scraped myself up pretty good. Now I can say I have some scars from our Narrows hike. But we decided to be done at that point.  

We turned around and played in the more shallow water. 

I set the camera up on a rock and took a family picture. Derpy leg. Let's try again... 

Better. Perhaps this'll be our Christmas letter photo. It will for sure be on our wall at some point.  

I love the one of the kids by themselves, probably because I was holding the camera and it's better.

The end to a perfect day. 

There were signs and warnings all over the park not to feed wildlife or you'd get a $100 fine. But people clearly must have been feeding them because the squirrels and chipmunks were super tame. 

They begged for food! 

Close enough to touch. The kids loved them. 

Walking down the Riverside Walk and looking back longingly.  

I loved this day most. 

Once we were back on the shuttle Ezra immediately fell asleep. He did that the entire vacation, poor little guy. 

We ate our sandwiches in the shuttle bus (probably breaking a rule we didn't know about), loaded back up in our van, drove back to Hurricane, got a pizza at Little Caesar's, and rewarded ourselves with some Dairy Queen ice cream. We let the kids swim more that night and then went to bed, pretty exhausted.

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