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|The Virgin River in The Narrows of Zion Canyon|
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This hike is similar to the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park (if you've ever been there) only with a river running through it and rock walls two to four times as high. The rock is different, it seems to be a much harder smoother rock. In many places within my reach along the river the rock walls were super-smooth like polished marble; no doubt polished by the river over millions of years.
I started into the river at about 10:00 am, August 28. There was a busload of people who had started just ahead of me. I passed them fairly quickly because most of the group were in tennis shoes or flip-flops and clearly had no intention of going very far very fast. I had a big grin on my face thinking about all these crazy people, me included, sloshing up a shallow river for fun. After I left the busload behind I saw small groups of two to four people every ten or fifteen minutes but had plenty of chances to take photos when no one was around. By the time I stopped and turned back after two and a half hours, the number of people had dropped to six seen in an hour.
Later, on the way out was a whole different story. As I got to within a half hour of where I had entered the river, I saw roughly 400 people. Most were in tennis shoes or flip-flops, some barefoot, old folks, young children, fat people, women in bikini tops; one guy was even carrying a toddler in a pack on his back. (Not recommended!) Despite the warnings about the inherent dangers of the hike, i.e., "wear heavy hiking boots; beware of flash floods," it was like a day at the beach. I expect the folks in flip-flops had very sore bruised feet when done. The water typically was about half to one foot deep. Several times I had to pull up my short pants to try to keep them dry, but eventually there were deep spots where I had no choice but to go in waist deep. I was glad I took my shoulder pack instead of the waist pack that I usually carry. The waist pack would have been soaked.
The Narrows was an amazing adventure over the course of five hours. It was great to go around each bend in the river to see a totally new view leaving the last one behind. I highly recommend it. Click here to view a QuickTime panorama captured in The Narrows.