Realizing I have crammed too much into two days, I have a hurried drive to Zion National Park, a quick camp set up (I feel like a pro at this point), and an early morning jump on the trail shuttle with very little preparation. Sore from my previous day’s hike, and desperate to see a more lush landscape, I opt for the ‘easy’ hike along the river. Walking down the trail, I was immediately befriended by a kindly older woman and her son, and they invite me to hike along with them. Since she’d done all the research on the trails, I thought it would be nice to have her as a guide.
We get to the end of the riverside walk and she tells me that the real views are at ‘the narrows’ up the river, “If you don’t mind getting your feet wet, that is.” Reminding myself that I have travelled 1,500 miles for just these sorts of unexpected adventures, I decide to continue on with her. Very soon, I realize I’ve made a mistake.
She plunges chest deep into water and I start to hesitate. She yells back, “Come on! It’ll be a wet t-shirt contest!” Grandma just called me a wimp! I follow along. The path ranges from deep currents to rocky trails.
Grandma’s son Roy helps us across increasingly difficult currents through the narrowing canyon. We go on, and on, and on. After about an hour, I ask, “How far up are the narrows?” To which she answers, “About two hours out.” Recalling the explicit warning signs about flash floods in the narrows (12 foot surges preceded by a wall of debris), panic sets it as it starts to RAIN. Son tells Grandma, “You know, maybe that’s a sign we should turn back.” To which she replies, “Just around one more bend.” Knowing I can’t return across the currents without his assistance (hiking alone is discouraged), and that they will turn around soon, I decide to stay with them, despite the now unrelenting rain. We continue around the bend and son is also very worried about the flash flood and wants to turn back, but Grandma is determined to go on. You know that bad gut feeling you get when you feel you are in real danger? Well, I got that. I feel scared and sick and stupid. We’ve now hiked out for two hours and I realize they are not going to turn around. I have two options – continue on in the rain up the increasingly narrow canyon with them, or try to make the two hour hike back through the river currents alone. I opt for the latter.
Before I turn back, Grandma offers to take a picture of me. So, here is a photo the terrorized hiker before we parted ways….
I hike back alone for two hours. (I’ve now been gone for four hours.)
So, enough adventure for one day. It’s been a long one, and I don’t have the energy to tell about the warnings about the ‘very aggressive’ squirrels in the campground, eating a peanut butter sandwich in my tent, and my screaming and flailing at a very scary squirrel who somehow made it under the rain fly and onto the interior screened portion of my tent. Jeanne, I will never make fun of you again.
(I did finally break open that emergency bottle of wine.)