I was introduced to water hikes by a good friend and hike leader back in 2009, shortly after I began hiking with his group. I was hooked on water hikes after the Santa Paula hike, which was my first adventure with the group and my first ever water hike. My first trip to Zion and to The Narrows was with my friend and his crew, so I couldn’t help but think about him and the other good friends I lost in a tragedy years at Zion.
I didn’t plan to do this hike alone. My friend Neenah bailed due to concerns of the water quality and Jodi had to leave the trip a little early to get back home. Candice and her boys did the hike and started later, but I didn’t make it to the trailhead until 1:30-ish, so I met them briefly on their way out when I was about halfway into the canyon. I was never truly alone as the canyon was quite crowded for at least the first two miles or so.
This turned out to be a memorial hike of sorts and I carried the memories of my fallen friends in my heart the entire way. My first time in this canyon nine years ago was an indelible experience that I will never forget. This time it was different. Certain parts of the canyon felt vaguely familiar and I remembered places where we stopped for breaks or I turned to take a picture of one of my fallen friends as he made his way through the water with his stick. The water was his happy place. I felt comforted by those fond memories so I never felt truly alone, even when I had parts of the Narrows all to myself deeper in the canyon where the crowds thinned out.
Prior to this trip, I had seen so many posts of people complaining about the crowds in places like the Narrows and Angels Landing, Zion’s more popular attractions. Yes, there were a lot of people in the canyon. At one point, I found myself wondering just how many dang people could this canyon hold because as I was walking in, hordes and hordes of people were heading back. But then I realized we were in the middle of a dangerous heat wave with temps in triple digits all week, so why wouldn’t people head into a canyon where it’s 20 degrees cooler with lots of running water? For once, the crowds didn’t bother me. I was happy to see so many people enjoying that beautiful place just as I was. There was room for everyone who ventured in.
This time, I didn’t make it to Big Spring as I did on my previous visit. I stopped about a mile before that due to a section of high water that I didn’t feel comfortable navigating. I saw people coming through it holding their backpacks above their heads and realized that was going to be the turnaround point for me. The water would have been about to my chest. Plus, I knew I still had a ways to go and couldn’t move that fast heading upstream against the current. I needed to be back in time to catch the last shuttle at 8:15. So I turned around and enjoyed a peaceful walk with the beautiful sights and sounds of the Virgin River Narrows and fond memories of the friends I lost in my heart.
These pictures were all taken with my iPhone. The one of me was taken with my GoPro, except the selfies. I brought my Canon DSLR but kept it in the dry sack the whole time as it was just easier to use the phone and GoPro. Good thing I had the dry sack because I face planted in the water once. I wasn’t hurt, just embarrassed because I fell in front of a lot of people.