Zion NP just outside the small city of Springdale is one of my favorite NPs to date. The air was fresh, the dirt was red, the hikes are beautiful and breathtaking. We got into the town of Springdale late in the afternoon (maybe around 2 or 3. The sun was still beaming, but A, being the cautious kind of guy he is, didn't want to do any of the more difficult trails like Angel's Landing in case the sun went down and hiking would be a lot more dangerous (ESPECIALLY on that one particular path).
Our FIRST stop was into the Visitor's Center so we could ask if they had any hiking permits for THE SUBWAY hike for the next day. THEY DID! This hike only allows about 80 people a day and you have to get permits for it. A lot of people book them in advanced, but if you get lucky and just pop into the Visitor's Center, you may be able to score yourself some permits. This hike, by the way, is not even listed on the main map of hikes for Zion! So we get our permits, head over to the rental gear store to get some canyoneering equipment (neoprene socks, waterproof shoes, and some waterproof pants). Tbh, the pants may not have been ENTIRELY necessary. The water is cold (about 40 deg), but if you even get close to knee deep in the Virgin River, it's only for a few seconds a few times during the hike.
Once we got our equipment, A thought it would be better to do a shorter hike just in case the sun set early (IT DID NOT SET THAT EARLY! COULD'VE DONE ANGELS LANDING! -- sorry, still kind of sad that I didn't get to do the hike... but I'll be back!!). We ended up doing the Upper, Middle, and Lower Emerald Pools hike which was only about 2-3 miles there and back kind of hike. Sorry, didn't take that great photos of this haha. It was a beautiful path, though! The red in the mountain and in the sand caused by iron is so rich in color. It was really a beaut.
FINALLY! THE NEXT DAY!! Woke up super early. Like 6am early so that we could get to the Leftfork Trailhead (the start of the Subway hike) and get started (at this point, we were still hopeful we could finish the hike in the minimum amount of time -- 6 hours -- and get back, change real fast and still do Angels Landing... this did not occur). It was still pitch black when we got there... so we sat in the car for a while and ate some snacks and slowly changed into our canyoneering gear so that we could hit the path right when sunlight broke.
By the way people... you know those cool stacks of rocks that people balance together? DON'T BUILD THEM IN RANDOM PLACES!! They are called "CAIRNS" and are used as markers to help hikers follow the right path. Usually they are built by park workers. So don't knock them down, and obviously don't build them unnecessarily. Feeling passionate about this because we followed one and it led us to the edge of a cliff lol. It did make for a beautiful sunrise picture with the mountains though!
Anyway, we had to back track and trekked on. We finally got to this steep mountain heading down. I was on my butt for a good portion of it. Thinking about having to literally climb back up did not even cross my mind at first. I guess that's why they call it canyoneering -- you're basically hiking through the canyons! As we continue our steep decline, we can hear the Virgin River calling us. To get to the actual SUBWAY, you have to hike against the river flow. There are kind of paths along either side of the river, but they eventually get blocked off by some giant boulders and shrubs, so you have to cross the river or just hike in the river for a little bit to criss cross from either side.
The halfway point was this GIANT broken off white wall on the left hand side of the river. It apparently has dinosaur prints on them. Oops, should've included a picture of it here. MY bad. But it's one of those 3 pronged dinosaur prints. We ate a bit on a snack at this point.
When we finally got to the SUBWAY entrance (haha), we could see the walls on either side of the canyon veering inwards. -- you know, like a subway tunnel. It was super neat! And the cascading waters in the middle was really beautiful. Snapped a few pics, met a son and mom duo, some crazy college kids, chatted up, and headed back to the trailhead. -- Remember that steep decline at the beginning of the hike...? YEP -- we had to CLIMB back up.. with soaked neoprene socks and all. I've never gone rock climbing.. but you are definitely going up pretty steep, bending your legs up, etc. I am not very flexible, people. It was pretty painful.
After we finished the hike (which took us about 7 hours total due to the LIE of a cairn and kind of not knowing how the paths worked since it was basically just wilderness, unpaved path), we drove back to the main park and decided to do OBSERVATION POINT. This was a 8 mile there and back hike... and again... pretty steep (but paved more or less). LIKE OUCH -- we just did 9.2 mi of wilderness canyoneering and put ourselves through another 8 miles... it's okay. The views were GREAT! WORTH!
And that basically concludes our Zion hikes sadly... I definitely want to go back and do some of the other hikes. This park has SO MUCH to offer. It reminded me of Yosemite.. but the colors were just different. Feel free to disagree haha!
Typing all this back in NYC. Back to the grind. Back to school. Back to starting my new job soon. Back to reality. I hope you all had a great break if you're still in school!
I ♡ nature!