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Connor Gustus in OGIO All Elements Backpack in Zion National Park
The Narrows in Zion National Park
Log In The Narrows, Zion National Park
Connor Gustus hiking the narrows in OGIO all elements backpack
What: Hiking the Narrows
Where: Zion National Park, UT
Long Description:
Hundreds of millions of years in the making, Zion National Park in Utah is a unique and stunning place. One of the most astounding segments of the park and a hike I was especially interested in, is the Narrows. What makes this hike so interesting is the fact that the trail follows the Virgin River, literally. For most of the hike, you are actually walking in water! For this reason, the Narrows is a trail without a trail. It is never the same, as erosion slowly digs ever deeper and flash flooding can quickly tear apart the landscape within the canyon. It becomes clear very soon that when hiking the Narrows, you must find your own way.
To get to the trailhead, we follow the path that meanders along the river’s edge. Despite the nearly 90 degrees weather and desert landscape typical of most of Zion, the foliage is dense here by the water, and hanging ferns grow out of the rock face as if by magic above my head. When we reach the end of the trail, I realize that to continue we must cross thigh-deep waters that span the width of the canyon walls that tower almost a thousand feet high. This is the Narrows, and there’s nothing to do but plunge in, one foot after the other. However, it’s almost impossible to know what is under the surface when the water is high, so we navigate around any unseen rocks with walking sticks (seriously, don’t leave without one!) and manage to keep a good pace.
After about two hours of zig-zagging from beach to beach, looking for the best way through the often balance-testing river water, we break for lunch on large boulders under trees where the dappled light creates just the right amount of shade, and the view is idyllic. We watch the waters rush around the bend as we eat the sandwiches I procured from my waterproof bag, a necessity on a trail where you could find yourself up to your chest in water either on purpose or by accident.
We begin our march again, passing  waterfalls,  huge boulders, and magnificent colored rock formations until finally reaching the last segment of our trek up the Narrows called “Wall Street.” Here all the vegetation has ceased and the beautiful Navajo sandstone walls of the slot canyon close in dramatically. Any sediment rising up from the water is merely sand, strewn over with rocks and boulders, or logs left behind from prior flash flooding. Eventually, the trail devolves to it’s narrowest so far. It is dark, and the water is up past our waist spanning from wall to wall. It’s serene here, punctuated by the sounds of rushing water and the faint echoes of human travelers, for few come out this far.
To proceed much more would require a permit so we are forced to turn around, but I instantly know I must come back. Without a doubt, the Narrows is a very different, incomparably beautiful hike. The Narrows is not only strewn with rocks, boulders, and debris but quiet places and hidden moments.
The most alluring part of this adventure will always be that here in the Narrows, there is no trail, but the one you make.

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