Thursday, April 17, 2014

Apr 17 – The Narrows

Today was the day I left Jennie at the RV and did the hike up The Narrows. This is a section of the Virgin River where the walls get very close together and just tower above you.

All of the hike is either walking on the rocks in the river or walking on rocky sandbars. As much as Jennie would have enjoyed all the scenery and water, the walking on the rocks for that long did not thrill her. After doing the hike I know she would not have enjoyed it.

Since the water can be quite deep in spots and it is still rather cold I went to one of the local outfitters and rented some water shoes, neoprene socks and dry pants. I had my own hiking poles, which are really a necessity to keep your footing on all the river crossings.

I got to the outfitters at around 8:30 am. By the time I got all my gear, took the shuttles and walked the 1 mile of the Riverwalk trail to get to the starting point it was 10:20.  All in all I think I then walked around 6 miles and got back to the end of the Riverwalk trail at 3:30 and back home around 5 pm.

Because I could have easily fallen in the water, I only took things with me that could get wet. No GPS and not DSLR. I just had our little waterproof camera. It did a pretty good job but it can’t create the HDR images that would have been nice since most of the canyon is in shadow and the sky is very bright.

It was great having the waterproof camera. I could just leave it slung at my side and not worry about it. I saw lots of people with “good” cameras that would have to stop, remove the camera from a waterproof bag, take the picture and then put it back. It was such a hassle that they took a lot less pictures.

Prepare yourself for lots of pictures of teeny tiny people and huge rock walls. Such an amazing place so it is a long post, again.

I asked someone to take my picture at the start.


Even this early there were a fair number of people starting the hike.


Off we go.



Your are going to see a lot of pictures with the girl, center left above, in them. She and I kept about the same pace which was just a bit faster than everyone else. Pretty soon it was just the two of us in sight with her several hundred yards in front of me.

Most of the hike was walking up a sandbar on one side of the river, then crossing the river at the curves when the sandbars changed sides.


There were some spots when you had no choice but to walk for a while in the water but it was never very deep. The current was relatively strong but not tiring.



The actual Narrows don’t start for about 1.5 miles into the hike but it was still pretty awe inspiring scenery.



I tried to put people in the pictures, for a size reference, whenever possible but for a lot of the time in the morning there was no one else in sight.








At one point a small creek joins the river via Orderville Canyon.


On the way back I went into the side canyon, on the right above, but for now I continued down the river.

Now I am in The Narrows. It was a tough spot to get any decent pictures because it was so dark,





At one point a couple coming back (already?) asked me to take their picture so they returned the favour.

With flash.






The girl at the rental place said most people stop at a spot where there is a deep pool with the water more than waist deep. This looked like the spot so I climbed up on the rock and had lunch with not another soul in sight the entire time.


After I was done I saw this group came from upstream. It turns out the water looks deeper than it was.


I hiked up the dry pants, held up the camera and backpack and plunged in. It was over my waist but not over the pants so I continued a bit farther.

Here I am foolishly trying to take a picture at the deepest spot instead of concentrating on not falling over.




I got to this spot where the canyon started to widen again and decided to turn around.



Heading back the sun was much higher in the sky so the lighting changed and some of the walls got brighter.




And more and more people started showing up.




When I got back to Orderville Canyon this little waterfall/rock showed up about 50 meters in.


The water in front was about 3 feet deep and it was quite the stretch to get up and over it. It turned out that it kept most people out of the canyon. As I went up I met only one couple and they said they had a nice long lunch there and had seen no one. On my way out I only saw two other couples.

You walk back in the canyon about 1/2 mile crossing a bunch of small waterfalls until you hits a bigger one that is very tough but not impossible to get above. You are supposed to stop there.

Another very interesting place.








Some deep little channels to wade through.


And the end on the line for me.


I think the log was placed there to help people scramble up but it looked pretty slippery. I waded in to the top of the dry pants.



Back in the main canyon it was getting busy. Lots of families like this one, all in full dry suits.



IMG_4797 IMG_4803

The kids in the picture above were jumping off the rock but I was too far away when they did it.





Back near the start I saw lots of people trying to do it in just shorts and flip flops. Not a good idea. I wonder how far they got.


I was pretty tired when I got back to the start and it took me a while to peel off the gear. By the time I had taken the shuttle and returned everything, I practically fell into bed for a nap.

But WOW! A day of feeling very small.


  1. Wonderful pictures of those magical sculpted canyon walls! In the mid-90's we tent camped with our teen aged kids and camped near the Virgin River. It was mid-July, quite hot and we have fond memories of swimming in the Virgin River and having our toes nibbled at by the little fish. We definitely need to go back there soon and do that hike. Your waterproof pocket camera did a great job (not to mention the photographer!).

  2. BTW - On Tuesday afternoon we flew from Phoenix to Seattle and we're pretty sure we saw Zion and then (for sure) we saw the magnificent Grand Canyon. Late afternoon sun rays casting their shadows on "the big ditch"! Amazing.