**WARING** Majorly inspiring and bad-ass photo overload below, thanks to Beth Olson Creative.
At 6am we collected ourselves and hiking gear as best we could in the glow of our cellphones and headed back to Zion, where, on this day, we planned to hike The Narrows, the narrowest section of Zion. This gorge/slot canyon guards the Virgin River with its 2,000 foot walls, and squeezes her tightly in places no wider than your arms length.
We parked at the visitor center and caught a shuttle bus to the last stop on the park’s route to Temple of Sinawava. Taking the shuttle allows you to gawk at your surroundings while the driver spots out wildlife, and points of interests. Once arriving at the Temple, a one mile paved path takes you along the banks of the Virgin River, past Jurassic Park-like vegetation, and hanging gardens growing vertically from the cliff walls. The commotion at the river’s edge was in full force– groups of people lacing up hiking boots, excited children running about, opportunistic ground squirrels sneaking into open backpacks.
With our dry bags secured and our walking sticks ready, we entered the river, unceremoniously, and started the journey upstream. Once we found the rhythm of walking over submerged river rocks, we looked around us and smiled wildly. A waterfall to our right, a small, lush island straight ahead, waist deep water, shocking yet refreshing.
My sister and I felt we were prepared as any amateur hiker could be– hiking boots, walking stick, water proof bags, water, snacks, cameras, and a weather report. Nothing can ruin your day like a flash flood in a slot canyon. We encountered a lot of people teetering slowly and awkwardly up river, people who did not bring a walking stick or decided not to put out the $10 to rent one for the day. Even more people, surprisingly, were attempting this epic day long experience in flip flops or barefoot!
Here is my simple advice if you go: Bring or rent a walking stick, or two!; wear tennis shoes, hiking boots, or rent water boots near the visitor center. That’s it. If you had the great idea of exploring The Narrows don’t ruin it by forgetting these two simple necessities!
Exhausted, we walked the mile back to the shuttle, and decided to stop at the lodge for a celebratory meal and margarita. Before heading back to our cabin for the evening, we drove through the surrounding town of Springdale, which boasts a good selection of restaurants and cafes, pubs, and art galleries. We ordered take-out for dinner and headed back to our lodgings, where a swimming pool and hot tub awaited us.
Later that evening we enjoyed a ‘movie under the stars’ put on by the ranch. We made ourselves at home in the adirondack chairs in the grass and ate our pizza as we watched The Goonies on a big white screen on the side of the rec barn. We giggled and held hands and sipped our whiskey, both silently deciding that a sister road trip would become an annual event.