Monday, June 30
The Narrows, wow.
Today, four co-workers and I got up bright and early, entered the park, and caught the Zion Canyon shuttle to the end of the line, the stop known as the Temple of Sinawava.
This stop has two trails, the first is the paved Riverside Walk, which as one might guess follows the Virgin River at the bottom of the increasingly narrow canyon. It’s 2.2 miles round trip and wheelchair accessible. If you go in the morning or in the evening, it’s even quite shaded by the surrounding walls. If you go when it’s warm, it’s perfectly legal to get off the trail and into the water, there are a few spots along the trail where the river gets deep enough to wade in.
When you come to the end of the paved Riverside Walk, the second trail begins, known as the Narrows.
Hiking the Narrows isn’t like hiking any other trail in the park. You’re walking, and wading in the river over 60% of the time, and possibly swimming occasionally if the water is high enough. Here the canyon walls close in to an impressive gorge that runs 16 miles long, up to 2,000 feet deep, and at times only 20 feet wide. Besides the soaring sandstone walls, it’s also got natural springs, hanging gardens, and waterfalls. It is quite frankly, one of the most visually impressive hikes I’ve done in my life.
There are a lot of safety precautions to think about. The water is cold, in the mid 60’s when I went, the current is swift in places, the rocks underneath can be slippery, and flash flooding is a very real danger when it rains upstream. Be sure to stop in at the Visitor’s Center to check water levels before you go, they do close it down if the conditions get too dangerous.
We did the day hike version, walking upstream from the Riverside Walk as far as we felt like going and then turning around and walking back. With a special park permit you can also get a private shuttle to the top of the canyon and walk all 16 miles down to the bottom, either in one day or with a two-day permit staying a maximum of one night.
I estimated that we walked about two, maybe two and a half miles up. We made it to the Orderville Canyon split, and followed this tributary up a couple waterfalls. This tributary is where I ended up getting most of my good pictures, because there were a lot less crowds. And what a lot of neat stuff to photograph. The tall canyon with overhangs, the trees growing alone the river, giant boulders that must have sounded like an earthquake when they fell, columbine flowers growing on the walls. If I hadn’t been with a group, I probably would have lingered longer, but some people needed to be back at a certain time. Luckily being here all season, I’ll have ample opportunity to come back!
Orderville canyon is also narrower than the main one, and gets deeper. The water level was lower today than it sometimes is, but getting to the last waterfall I had to wade up to my armpits, bag held over my head to protect my phone. I call it the last waterfall, because it was too tall to climb up, we’d found the end of the line. But it sure made a good end point with the blue water falling into a pool at the base deep enough to swim in. Ahh, how refreshing after a long hike.
Then we had to turn around and get all the way back out. Oh well, at least the current was on our side this time. Grand total, we hiked about six and a half miles in five hours, not bad! And what a lovely way to spend a day off from work.
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I’m a bit behind on comments and e-mails right now, so for those of you waiting for responses, they’re coming, thanks for your patience. I don’t get internet in the campground, and it’s not always running at work either so expect that while I’m out here in Zion responses won’t be as speedy. Speaking of work, some of you have been curious about it so let me give you a little more detail.
As I said before, I work at the Zion Mountain Ranch Trading Post, which is less than a mile from the park’s east entrance. It’s a gift shop and part of Zion Mountain Ranch, which includes about 12,000 acres of land with three distinct properties on it. The trading post also has an old fashioned two-pump gas station, a simple deli style eatery that offers sandwiches and pizza, and the campground across the road. I help with all of those except the deli, having no cooking skills.
I’m working 40 hours a week right now, and could be working more if I wanted to. I found the job through Workamper News, the ranch hires quite a few work campers, not all of which stick around because the work is physically hard. Well, I don’t think it’s harder than any other retail job I’ve done, but not everyone can stand on their feet for an 8 hour shift and not everyone can handle the fast pace of a tourism job in the busy season. At the Trading Post itself, the manager is still looking for one more person, possibly two, so if any of you reading are interested, I can put you in contact with her.
As far as jobs go, it’s not bad. I’ve gotten along with everyone thus far which I think is a very important in a seasonal job. The pay is $8.50 an hour, $26 is deducted from my paycheck every two weeks for the full hookup site which is better than a lot of places. The facilities are clean and showers are free, laundry costs $3.00 total to wash and dry a load. There is no meal plan, but employees do get 25% off items in the shop and I believe discounts at the restaurant up the road. And of course the real perk, being so close to Zion – employees get a free park pass, and from here it’s not too far to Bryce, Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, and several other beautiful places.
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And last but not least, thank you to everyone who reads IO, and contributes to this site by commenting, mentioning me on various RVing communities, and of course through donating through Paypal and using my Amazon affiliate link to do your Amazon shopping. Every one of these things helps keep me on the road, spending less time working and more time traveling and sharing the adventure with you. June’s income was $193.62, thanks!
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