**At the beginning of October Kyle started riding his bike to work. Just a few weeks ago Kyle and I went on a week-long trip to Zion national park and, among other things, completed a sixteen mile thru-hike of The Narrows. The week after we got back we started climbing again. This week Kyle had an ultrasound of his knee and received the best news possible, that his blood clot is completely gone. His doctor gave him permission stop using blood thinners. For us these are huge milestones after a summer of medications, hospital visits, doctor appointments, and huge lifestyle changes. Ultimately, I did not write all summer because this blog, for me, was supposed to be about the outdoors, about adventures and inspirations, beautiful places, funny stories, all the best nature has to offer. I am so excited to be getting back to the things that we love and to share it with you.**
The night before heading into the Narrows in Zion National Park I had a hard time sleeping. The Narrows is one of the most famous hikes in the park. It is a sixteen mile long trail that runs alongside, through and in the Virgin River. And I mean in the Virgin River. A narrows is defined as a section of river where the canyon narrows and there is water stretching from wall to wall. The Narrows hike features a number of stretches, some up to two miles long, where your only option is to walk in the river itself, sometimes in water that is waist-deep. Sometimes you have no choice but to swim. But of course you always have a choice, a choice not to do the hike at all. There are three ways to hike The Narrows. The most popular option is do a short out and back starting from the bottom of the canyon. Hundreds of people a day do this hike, starting at the end of a paved trail called The River Walk they venture a mile or two up the river, snap some pictures and turn back around. The second most popular option is to enter into the permit selection process and get an overnight permit to hike it from the top. This allows you to start at the top, hike about eight miles or more to your designated campground, stay overnight and head out the next morning. Or you can hike all sixteen miles from top to bottom in one go. In order to do this you either have to get a permit three months in advance online or get one by waiting around at six o’clock in the morning until the wilderness permit desk opens at the visitors center. Due to our travel plans we decided that if we were going to do it, the last option was our only option. That is how we found ourselves on a shuttle heading up to the top of the canyon at six in the morning.
When we got out the sun was just starting to come up and it was bitterly cold. We were both wearing rented neoprene socks, waterproof canyoneering booties, shorts and a thousand layers on our top half. We had waterproof backpacks, snacks, extra clothing, and our trusty walking sticks. Off we went, freezing cold, nervous, and excited. We had cause to be nervous, we did not know what to expect. Usually when the National Park rates things as strenuous Kyle and I find them to be more moderate. But everyone seemed to be looking at us like we were crazy people when we said we wanted to thru-hike The Narrows. Partially because the only way to get back to camp from the trailhead was by getting on Zion’s shuttle bus system, which stops running around six o’clock. The estimated time it takes one to hike through The Narrows is twelve hours, which, if you start at seven-thirty, like we did, does not quite leave you enough time to get back before the last bus come through. We took that risk and assumed that it would not take us twelve hours to complete the hike… a risky assumption perhaps but it paid off in the end. We did the hike in an easy eight hours and the things we saw… the complete beauty that is The Narrows… well, I’ll let pictures do the talking from here on out.
One last thing, you are probably maybe possibly wondering what a Riverlope is? Riverlope is the name Kyle gave to me once he (and, quite frankly, I) discovered that I happen to be really good at walking around in rivers. I am attributing my new found skills to the time I spent this summer walking around in rivers at work, looking for Purple Loosestrife, Knapweed, Hawkweed, and other invasives. Whatever the cause I was continually blasting by other people struggling to slowly cross the river and occasionally I would turn around to find Kyle with a look of utter amazement on his face, asking me with his eyes, how the hell are you going so fast? I don’t know, and even if I did, a Riverlope never shares her secrets.