Occasionally, I look through travel books or magazines searching for ideas. There are often photos of beautiful locales and listings for resorts, expensive hotels, eateries, and other aspects of luxury travel. I can’t generally afford luxury travel and I am not a big fan of pretending to be a member of the bourgeoisie with servants dancing around me. Earlier in the year, I stumbled across two books catering specifically to adventure travelâ€”trips where you learn about yourself and get dirty. Thanks to The Rough Guide to Ultimate Adventures I was informed of something I never suspectedâ€”there are many reasons to visit Utah.
Slot Canyons, deep and narrow gorges, abound in Utah. They are spectacular. My Rough Guide highlighted one in particularâ€”The Zion Narrows in Zion National Park. The itinerary: hike 16 miles (mostly in a shallow river) through the Zion backcountry within the confines of a slot canyon over the course of 2 days. The particulars: The Narrows were formed by the Virgin River. Over the 16 miles we’d be walking through it, its depth would range from ankle deep to waist deep with the occasional hole requiring swimming. Water flow would vary from mostly stagnant to somewhat powerful swiftwater. When not in the water, the hike includes a lot of rock hopping and scrambling. The walls of the canyon often rise over a thousand feet on either side. Nearby rain can cause flash floods (a few occur each year) so the weather must be monitored preceding and during the hike. Once inside the canyon, you must commit. Hiking is your only feasible way out as rescue is relatively difficult and time-consuming. I love climbing and scrambling. I love water (especially moving water). When water and climbing are combined, I am truly happy. From the moment I read about the Narrows in the Rough Guide, I knew I had to go.
Zion is a 7-10 hour drive from L.A. greatly dependent on traffic running through Las Vegas. Erika and I did a number of things this year, but visiting Zion had not fit into any of our plans conveniently. As fall approached, it became clear that our chances to hike the Narrows were dwindling. The waters would grow colder and dry suits (not just wet suits) would be required. Erika is not made for the cold. Labor Day weekend was our last hope. I logged onto the National Park Service website a month prior. Only 40 people are allowed through the Narrows each day as overnight hikers. Luckily I was able to reserve the last four spots for Sunday, Sept. 6 at Camp 2. Thankfully, our posse was only four people: Erika, Al-Insan, Steven, and me. Now, we just needed to wait for the weeks to pass.