Awoke to the sound of thunder. The forecast said 0% chance of rain in the morning. After the whirlwind experience of securing the car, it was the last sound we wanted to hear. We got ready anyway, and packed the car. At 4:45 am, Ali and I were heading towards the trailhead. We decided that we would see what the Houserock Valley Road looked like when we arrived. It rained for the first 20 minutes of the drive. By the time was arrived at the primitive road, all rain had stopped. The road was rough. My car would have been eaten alive by the road. Bumps, rocks, washes to pass through. We would have broken down for sure.
Ali and I began our hike before 7am. It was cool at that time. The rangers had given us a guide to the region that had pictures and descriptions of the features along the way. The Coyote Buttes region is designated wilderness area, which means trails do not exist. Those without a keen sense of direction and spacial reasoning would be in rough shape. The hike to the Wave was 3.2 miles each way. With the guide, it was manageable to navigate. The view was beyond worth it. In fact, it was one of the best hikes I have ever taken. The limit of 20 people a day is incredibly smart, and necessary. Without it, the Wave section would lose what makes it so special. As mentioned in the last post, this hike was, and felt like, an extremely special privilege. We snapped lots of photos, looked around, admired the formations. The hike back was thankfully breezy. Overall, the temperature never reached beyond 85, despite warnings of 100+ degree air and 120 degree rock temperatures. We were very fortunate. We extended our hike by 2 miles to see the beginning of Buckskin Gulch, which is one of, if not the longest, slot canyons in the world. When we were done, the air conditioned car was a real treat, as we worked up a sweat despite the lower than average temperatures.
After driving back the 8 miles on the dirt road, we continued on to Page, AZ to return the car. First we filled up, washed off the car at a car wash, then headed back in the sand direction to reach the Zion area. As we passed the Glen Canyon Dam, I decided that a five minute visit was in order.
When we reached Zion, we stopped at the visitor center to check on the river conditions. It was probable that flash floods would occur the following day, but likely in the afternoon. (As I am writing this, it is pouring outside!) Ali and I stopped to get outfitted for our Narrows hike in the morning. We rented water socks, water shoes, and hiking sticks. After a nice bite to eat, we crashed early. Another busy day was in store for us.
With a 6:15 alarm, we had a much later start compared to the last few days. We had breakfast at our hotel, then set off for the hike.
Zion NP instituted trams many years ago to avoid traffic congestion in the park. It works so perfectly. After our 40 minute drive on the tram, we put our gear on our feet. We then hiked the one mile to the end of the Riverside Walk, where you then enter the Virgin River. For many, many years, Ali and I have brought kids and counselors to the end of this path, but never much further. For safety and insurance purposes, we were never allowed to hike the Narrows on tour. The water was cold, but felt refreshing. Using our shoes and sticks, we waded through the water towards as the canyon walls got closer together. It was incredible! (After taking my dad to 11 national parks in 15 days, I have always been on the lookout for a memorable hike my mother could easily do. Mom, get your bags ready…)
The flash flood potential never left our minds, and we hoped to hike in to a certain point, then head back as soon as we could to diminish that risk. I loved every moment of it. We had some nice interactions in the river, especially with a woman named Pat and a family from North Carolina. The mom teaches there, and tries to take her children to different parks every two years. (Ali even carried the little girl in her back for one of the river crossings.)
When we finished, we headed back to the visitor center to hop in our car. Ali and I returned the gear, and I got an iced latte to enjoy back at the hotel. We decided that resting would be great. I took a dip in the pool, and had a great conversation with a family we met at breakfast. They are from Seattle, and both are teachers. Their children have already been to all fifty states and all seven continents!!! That is my ultimate travel goal. He mentioned how they made a decision years ago to minimize expenses on their home and “stuff” in order to see the world. (I thought of my dear friend, Meredith, immediately.)
As I sit here writing, it feels good to relax. Enjoy some photos from the morning hike…
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There was a quote on the Zion tram that resonated with me. It sums up my feeling about the parks and being in this region of our country. For those who have never been, take the leap. You’ll never be the same…