And the Visitors Continue To File In

26 September 2012 in Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling

 

Hiking the NarrowsWith a luxurious break of three whole days I once again put on my tour guide cap and headed to another airport. Our friend Mickey was flying into St. George for a visit of just less than one week. Again I would serve as tour guide, but unlike my Mom’s visit this visitor would be put through the rungs of hiking and camping—and as I later would find was perhaps more prepared for this than I anticipated.

Our first two night were to be spent in Zion National Park and knowing the benefits as well as the shortcomings of the first come first serve campground there, I left bright and early to insure we got a campsite. Arriving around 8 a.m. I promptly found a wonderful spot in the corner of the campground. We’d be close to the visitors center, the river and we’d only have neighbors on one side. It also had a nice, mature Cottonwood tree for shade.

With Mickey’s flight not landing until early evening I took a leisurely hike, followed by a brief dip in the river. Then I headed to St. George early, not wanting any unforeseen circumstance to prevent me from meeting him at the gate. Unfortunately the unforeseen circumstances developed at the airport. His flight was redirected because the plane that arrived before his got a flat on the runway and couldn’t be removed in time. This forced his plane to fly north to the nearest airport, refuel and fly back down. A two hour delay.

When it finally did land it was a surreal experience for us both. This is no knock on Mickey, but I’ve had trouble getting him to visit me when I was less than an hour away. For him to fly over a thousand miles to see me was something I was still having trouble conceiving as we drove to Zion. But it was just like old times. Like no time had passed, but we somehow found ourselves having the same discussions in a new place. And he seemed to thoroughly enjoy the scenery which I was pleased by especially knowing that the area around Zion was just the tip of the iceberg. I was eager with anticipation to see his reaction to Zion Valley.

I think it’s safe to say he was amazed. We had a quick and light dinner and commenced passing the Bushmill’s bottle and knocking back the Tecate’s. Pleasantries were exchanged, old debates rehashed and new frontiers of thought were explored. If you could keep us awake and the steady stream of drink flowing I don’t think we’d ever shut up. But eventually our day of travel wore us down and he retired to the tent and me to the top of the picnic table. I had aspirations of sleeping on the ground, in the open air, but the sprawling suburbs of an ant metropolis curbed that thought.

I slept surprisingly well on the table though—I’m sure the whiskey helped. And awoke to the predawn sounds of wind whipping through the valley and the marshy grasses by my feet. As I dozed in and out I was startled by Mickey inquiring about an early morning run. I didn’t even know he was awake, but he was and ready to run. After rubbing my weary eyes and pulling on my shoes we were pounding down the trail behind the campground. This was certainly my fastest transition from a horizontal state of sleep to a vertical state of running, but the beautiful burst of pink and purple clouds reflecting the glow of a slowly rising sun was encouragement enough to keep going.

After a three mile run we had a quick breakfast and caught an early shuttle up to the Narrows. The sun had yet to grace this slim crack in the earth and so the river water was cool and refreshing as we stepped in. The brisk nature of the water and the lack of sun was apparently a deal breaker for most. That and the early morning hour. So we had a pleasant hike up river with very few human interactions. I won’t go into the beauty of this area a second time. If you wish to here about it read the previously blog, Our Harrowing Adventure Up the Narrows, but this visit was equally as stunning. As always neither words nor pictures can do justice so if you can, don’t live vicariously, get out there and see these places for yourself. You will never be disappointed outside of the thought that you didn’t do this sooner.

We hiked about four miles in and had an eight mile hike scheduled for the afternoon (on top of the four miles we’d have to reverse traverse out) and so we turned around. On the way out the crowds were building and we were glad we got such an early start. This area, especially the first mile or two can turn into a bit of an amusement park later in the day. Sans everything an amusement park has to offer except for the people.

After a small lunch and rest we once again boarded the shuttle, this time headed for the trail to Observation Point. Again those who read the blog don’t need another account of the beauty of this trail or it viewpoint. Instead I will remark on the speed at which we hiked it. This trail is four miles one way, 95% of which is uphill. This usually requires about three hours to hike to the point. I think Mickey and I did it in two. We were determined and relentless. Neither willing to show any sign of weakness or fatigue. So while the sweat dripped from every pore and our lungs struggled to keep up with our determination we soldiered on and on and on. Only taking a few short breaks before reaching my favorite point in the park. And there we sat for a good long while taking in the majesty and breathtaking views afforded at Observation Point.

Our hike down was perhaps more challenging than the one up. What most people don’t realize is a continual downward hike is terrorizing to your knees. This would be enough if it were our sixth or seventh mile of the day, but it was our 17th or 18th of what would be a total of 19 miles for the day (3 running and 16 hiking, 8 of which were hiking in a swift river).

The tacos, Tecates and Bushmill’s was certainly earned that night.

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26 September 2012 Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling

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