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RoseHiker Part 4: The Canyon Adventure

I kind of feel bad about dragging us back into vacation memories, but here I go.  This post has to happen because I have always needed for everyone to see how tubular I look in a dry suit, and also, I hope to inspire someone to hike the route I will walk you through below.  Because it will rock you like a hurricane.

Day 4:

The Gentleman and I got up early and drove 45 minutes away from the main entrance to Zion National Park to park at the "exit" trailhead of the canyon that we planned to hike through.  We parked and suited up in our canyoneering boots.

Sorry panty line police, I don't hike in thongs
Sir Sexy Legs modeling the neoprene sock + canyoneering shoes

By parking at the "exit", we required a ride to the trailhead that leads to the canyon "entrance".   We had the option of reserving a personal shuttle for $30+ per person.  Instead, we decided to test our luck, and did this.

We gave thumbs up signs to encourage all the cars for their good driving skill.

Caption lie.  We planned to hitchhiked.  It was quickly evident that we were on a very untraveled road.  After 10 minutes of standing there without a single car passing, we started imagining how this would be the big adventure that never happened.  Or that happened after 3 hours of standing by the side of the road.

oh hush, shhhh shh....wha-whats that?! Do I hear a car!?  We heard a car coming.  We got in ready position.  Thumbs out!

The car pulled over.  It was a young, post-college guy on his own private awesome adventure.  I think he thought we needed help, so he pulled over.  It isn't possible he would have pulled over if he knew we wanted a ride.  Why?  Because his little car was more crammed with stuff then any other car known in the universe.  It was like a clown car for sleeping bags and boxes and clothes and maps.  There was not a spare inch, from ceiling to floor.

Odd fellow that he was, he agreed to drive us up the road to our trailhead anyway.  We weren't going to turn that down--there might not be another car for an hour! So we crammed in, and it looked like this: I was curled up in a fetal position, smothered by blankets in every direction in the back seat.  The Gentleman sat in the front with 2 boxes on his lap and a box under his feet.  As we squeezed in, a big truck with empty passenger seats drove by....irony? 

At the trailhead, we parted ways with our chauffeur and started our 3+ mile hike towards the canyon floor.

My trusty rope, and 5 page map.  I got us lost almost immediately.  We backtracked a half-mile and were good, but it set the mood for us being very unsure whether we could pull this off.




The route is called the Subway Route.  We picked up our permit the day before.  Permits are limited to 80 per day, which may be necessary in the summer.  But today, not a single other person was hiking this trail.  Possibly because of the 20% chance of rain forecast....you are strongly warned to stay away from canyons when bad weather is forecast, because of flash floods.  The following day had a 60% chance of rain forecast, so we were feeling pretty good about our 20% chance.  Until it started raining.

At this point, we were pretty distressed.  We were unsure if we were lost, and it started raining. 
We trudged on and kind of decided to make a decision whether to turn back or not once we neared the canyon floor.  Get there and then see whether the clouds remained dark and threatening. 

Canyon approaches
 And suddenly, after a very steep descent--involving maneuvers down big rocks and clinging to trees to make some steps--we appeared to be in the canyon.  There was a big, still pool in front of us.  So we suited up.  Still unsure if we were in the right place.

The steep descent can be seen behind me.  I'm the one in a spacesuit with fabulous fly-aways


This was a PROCESS

The suit: wet suits (think surfing) are different from dry suits (see: above).  You keep your clothes on underneath, and it keeps everything dry with a super tight neoprene closing at the ankles, wrists, and neck.  It feels like you are cutting off your circulation in your feet, and you can hardly swallow, but you get used to it.  We needed these to avoid hypothermia from the snow melt we would be spending a lot of time in.  They worked.  Don't forget not to pee in them, because you have DRY clothes on underneath.

I tucked our trusty map in the neck at one point, and it slid down.  I patted myself down for a good 15 minutes before finding it near my calves.  Freakout #8 of the day.

Totally digging it.

We still weren't positive we were heading the right way.  We kind of completely forgot about the flash flood issue.  Once the dry suit was on, we were committed. 

 Get ready for some funny.  Here is what happens when you swim in a dry suit, with lots of air stuck inside.



The '80's shoulder pad look, for men

Haaaaahahaha.  Everytime I swam, my legs would flip behind me, and I'd put my hands up so that they wouldn't freeze.  I looked like an idiot, and swam about 2 inches per minute.  Good practice for my Alcatraz swim.

After scrambling through water and over rocks, we met our first big "obstacle".  It was a boulder with a 20 foot drop into water of unknown depth.  We looped our 60-foot rope through a "V-slot" that was anchored to the top of the boulder, and I scooted/rappelled my way down first.  Turns out the slot was so far back, our rope wasn't long enough.  I jumped the remaining 10 feet or so, into water that was deep enough to soak my hair, and had the Gentleman toss me our backpacks before he took his turn.  We were still under the delusion at this point that we could keep our backpacks dry the whole time.

A deceiving picture.  If I was in the shot standing in the water, my head would only reach that bottom shaded part.

Obstacle conquered! March on!

From here on out all I've got is pretty pictures.  We were too busy trying to keep the camera dry (in an empty beef jerky bag!) and rappelling down slot waterfalls without breaking an ankle to take pictures of the crazy stuff.  But there were a lot of "Oh. Shit." moments, where we came face to face with a drop we were unprepared for.  When I say "drop", I mean we had to navigate down narrow slots where water rushed out into the drop.  The water was high and flowing fast from all the Spring snow-melt!


Our absurdly fun hiking trail.


Water carves out the most extraordinary designs

This suit is RIDICULOUS!


Still pretending the backpacks might stay dry

We eventually reached a point where we had to swim for a long period of time in deep water, and then DUNK under a fallen tree.  So the backpacks met their doom.

Guys.  Nature is ridiculous.
Ok.  We're more than halfway done with the post, you're doing GREAT!

At maybe 3 miles of scrambling through the canyon, we arrived at the namesake of the hike: THE SUBWAY!

It looks like it makes a "swwoooosh" sound right?  It's the Nike symbol of nature

This "Subway" portion was right after the most difficult, and final, rappel of the adventure.  It was a 30-foot rock, down into a shallow and mossy-slippery floor.  There was also some log-walking over a 40+ foot drop.  Terrifying. 





This stuff was make over milllllions of years.  Its bombastic.

If you think it is taking a lot time to scroll through this post, I will tell you how long this canyon journey took: from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.  A long time.  It remained challenging once the canyon walls opened up and we entered an open valley floor with the river and a never-ending pile of rocks to climb over.  After 2+ hours of rock scrambling (wet suits taken off), we finally hit our exit route.  It was straight up the face of the sloped canyon wall.


The path is straight up the rocks.  I loved this part.

The day was so exhilarating.  Despite 9+ hours on our feet, I had energy to spare because I was pumped from the adventure.  I guess it's still spilling out here?

GO hike the Subway route if you are in Zion.  In the summer, the water will be lower and warm enough to avoid the dry suit.  Bring rope, canyoneering shoes, trail mix, and have the best time ever!!