Personal Journeys


August 21, 2005|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

A splashy hike up a 'slot' canyon

By Scott H. Krieger


My family visited Zion National Park in Utah last fall. Because thunderstorms threatened during our first two days there, we postponed what many consider the park's signature hike until day three. Our destination was the Narrows, a "slot" canyon carved by the north fork of the Virgin River.

Armed with a nearly perfect weather forecast and fueled by a hearty breakfast, we visited an outfitter just outside the park to rent special boots and socks, and walking sticks (all recommended for hiking in cold water across slippery rocks).

Then after riding the park shuttle to the last stop in Zion Canyon, five of us marched along the paved River Walk in our bright yellow and black boots to the canyon's end. At what is a final destination for many visitors, we entered the shallow river, and the true hike up the narrow, 16-mile-long canyon began.

We were almost immediately engulfed by rock walls that rose from the riverbed to a height of 1,500 feet and narrowed to as little as 22 feet across. The river itself was the trail, and it led us on a windy course off and on its narrow banks.

The chilly water was generally restricted to the area between the soles of our boots to the tops of our knees. However, as we entered "Wall Street," the most picturesque section of the canyon, our shorts got wet as the water deepened and there was no longer any beach,

After nearly three hours of delightful sloshing, we turned around about 4 1/2 miles from where we had begun and retraced our steps downstream. The current was now flowing with us, making the going a lot easier. The change in direction also rewarded us with fresh canyon vistas transformed by new light conditions as the sun made its way across the afternoon sky.

On the way back, we detoured into Orderville Canyon. Navigating about a mile up this branch of the river, we scrambled over three sets of small waterfalls. When none of us could quite figure out how to scale the much taller fourth set without soaking ourselves above the waist, we concluded that hiking more than 10 miles in and out of water was a pretty respectable day's effort.

We enjoyed the rest of the stroll back downstream and took particular pleasure in the warm shuttle ride back to our lodge and the hot tub that awaited us.

We had a great family trip in three wonderful national parks, which also included Bryce Canyon and Capital Reef. There were still several exciting days to follow this one, but Zion was our favorite park, and this hike was the unanimous highlight of the trip.

Scott H. Krieger lives in Bel Air.

My Best Shot

Elinor Spokes, Pikesville

Thousand Islands lookout

My family recently attended a wedding in the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. The resort where we stayed had a marvelous terrace overlooking the river -- that's where I saw this majestic heron swoop down and claim its perch on top of a gazebo. I think this image captures the beauty of the region.

Readers Recommend

Stone Mountain, Ga.

Lynn M. Barnes, Ocean Pines, Md.

The daisies at the top of Stone Mountain bloom only once a year, at the end of August. I turned around just as a storm cloud was overhead and saw a beautiful patch of daisies (shown) on a granite dome.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Edward Hullett, Sykesville

On a recent trip to Rio de Janeiro, my wife and I took a train ride up the steep slope leading to the platform where the famous Christ the Redeemer statue is mounted. This awe-inspiring figure can be seen from all points of the city, and it's a most memorable attraction.

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