Epic adventures start with a 4am wakeup call. A 4am wakeup to caravan from Los Angeles to Zion. A 4:30am drive to head to the base of the Tetons. In the first few glimpses of nautical twilight, it’s easy for the excitement and anxiety to uneasily digest as you look out the dewy car window. I’m coming back in one piece, right?
Keane and I took 2 weeks off work in June to explore the Southwest and Rockies with 40 foot rope, technical and camping gear, cooler of Trader Joes, and an array of shoes (climbing, heels, canyoneering, trail, etc). Total #geargasm… don’t know how it all fit into my little Honda Fit 😮
We planned on camping in Zion/Capitol Reef a few nights and eventually getting to Jackson Hole, Keane’s hometurf, to stay at his parent’s. Mountaineering, rappelling down slots, makin eyes with a buffalo… I was ambitious! Here’s how the trip started:
Two caravans left LA around 5am to head to Zion. I invited my good friend Teresa, a Carbondale, CO native, who’s never been before. We get to Springdale around 2pm, and since the guys (Keane, Ryan, Brian, Joe, and Ivan) were planning on canyoneering the beasty Heaps canyon the next day, they needed to leave ASAP. Which basically translated to total girl weekend 🙂
Teresa and I decide to go up Angels’ Landing the first day, so we pack up the beers and take a hike up the sandstone switchbacks. When we finally get to the last half mile up the ridge, there’s some metal chains attached to the narrow fins, juxtaposed with the pantsh*tting cliff drops only a few inches from the path. It’s a fun scramble all the way up, and when we get to the top at 5700″, we find an amazing cairn garden that’s a downclimb to get to.
That night, we realize we have no where to sleep (campsites are FULL). After hanging out in the parking lot inhaling our canned chili (mmm), we try our luck driving slowly around the nearby campground to see if any families were down to take in two
smelly charming girls. No shame. Teresa tries her charm with an elderly couple, but they were not having our solicitor asses, so we leave in defeat.
Eventually, we stumble onto some BLM public land a good miles away, and my low-clearance vehicle putters onto some brush/we set up for the night. Teresa insists we sleep with a knife.
We wake up early since we’re attempting to hike to Big Springs in the Narrows today/Teresa needs to catch a ride back to LA right afterwards. Though I’m pretty
cheap thrifty, we rent sticks, canyoneering boots, and neoprene socks at the Zion Adventure Company to keep us warm/stable.
We head to the Temple of Sinawava, and when we finally get to the cool water, the neoprene does a great job keeping us warm (go 5.10!). We make our way down this world wonder, and as the cavernous walls get bigger, the emerald narrows get thinner. Before long, we’re in the jaw-dropping Wall Street portion of the hike:
We know we’ve reached Big Springs after the water gets chest-deep, and turned around after we have some lunch. The hike back is just as spectacular, and after I fall on a rock/Teresa pets a squirrel, we make it back just in time for Teresa to head home to LA.
I get reception in time to see an email from the Zion Wilderness Reservation: scored two last-minute permits for a top-down hike in Subway tomorrow 🙂 Canyoneering, oh boy!