Hike Number 14 & 15, May 1-2, Zion National Park

Note: This weekend’s hike was a little bit different, as we decided to venture a little further than Malibu or the Palisades and into Utah for a weekend getaway in the mountains of Zion.

Abby: On Thursday morning, Sasha picked me up to begin our journey to Zion. After stopping in Larchmont for the best coffee I’ve ever had, we met two friends, packed up the SUV and made our way inland with plans to stop in Las Vegas for lunch. Prior to this weekend, I’d not made the drive to Las Vegas, so I was quite fascinated along the way. Five hours later, we were there. As an east coaster, this felt very reminiscent to when the train goes above ground as you arrive in New York. After a quick lunch at Shake Shack, and a (wasted) $100 bet on the Mayweather Pacquaio fight, we took off on the final leg of the drive.

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The road to Zion (is that a book?) took us from Las Vegas to Arizona and finally to Utah.

Sasha: After a few more delays to pick up a ton of food and booze we didn’t eat or drink, we arrived in Virgin, Utah (true) just as the sun was setting. From Virgin, we had another 30 minute drive to the house, which we knew from pictures was fairly remote. As we drove up the earie and secluded road to the house, we were grateful our friends, who had arrived before us, had dropped us a pin via text to point us to our destination. When we finally arrived, we were thrilled to be greeted by our friends’ craft cocktails, a telescope pointed at a clear sky and waxing gibbous moon, and a fire pit waiting to be lit. After a casual dinner of wine and cheese, and a lot of songs around the fire, we headed to bed, excited to wake up to our first views of Zion.

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The next morning, we woke up early and we were not disappointed. From our patio, we had a view of the incredible red and white sandstone cliffs of Zion against the bluest sky I had ever seen. We spent a few hours exploring the house, trying to find cell phone service and making our plans for the day. After we finished our breakfast (and most importantly, our coffee), we each packed ourselves a sandwich and got ready to hit the road.

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We had decided to spend our first day exploring The Narrows, the (appropriately) narrowest section of Zion Canyon. We didn’t know much about the hike, except that we would be hiking through and along some water and would need to rent appropriate footwear, so we headed into Springdale to the Zion Adventure Company. After watching a short video, we realized that we would really be hiking upstream through Virgin River, which would (at points) reach our waist. I quickly realized that my Lululemon pants would not keep my cell phone safe, so in addition to the canyoneering shoes, neoprene socks and walking stick that came in our rental package, I rented a waterproof sack and backpack.

After a short bus ride to the Temple of Sinawava, we walked 1 mile along the Riverside Walk to the gateway to the Narrows. After walking a mile on a hot day in neoprene socks, we were all eager to get our feet wet and we happily made our way into the river. We were immediately struck by the incredible views as we walked upstream in a valley between thousand foot high cliff walls. We depended heavily on our walking sticks, as the current was pretty strong and we couldn’t always see the rocks we were stepping on. A few times, I found myself slipping and ending up in water up to my waist, so I was happy I had packed a suitcase full of fast drying, moisture wicking clothes. Despite the cold water and warnings we could succumb to hyperthermia (I believe the water temperature was in the low 50s), the neoprene socks and hot day kept us warm. After a couple of hours, several hundred spectacular pictures and no electronic causalities, we found a sandy bank to sit down and enjoy our lunches. We realized it had taken us quite some time for our group of 9 to make it to our lunch spot, so we decided to turn around and head downstream and back to the Zion Adventure Company to return our equipment before they closed.

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Our initial plan had been to have dinner in town to celebrate a friend’s birthday, but after our long day outside, we decided to instead take advantage of our patio’s Jacuzzi and grill. After dropping off our equipment, we stopped in town and picked up some steaks, veggies and sausages and headed back up to our incredible retreat. Since we had arrived late the night before, we were excited to see our first Zion sunset, so we spent the rest of the evening outside, grilling our dinner and enjoying the Jacuzzi, fire pit and a few bottles of wine.

Abby: I realize Sasha just said this, but that water hike was absolutely incredible, so I figured nothing could compare to that on Saturday. I was wrong. On Saturday, after a delicious breakfast, the daughter of the owner of the house we were staying at took us on a trail hike to a cliff overlooking miles upon miles of bright blue skies over quiet mountains. After a brief photo shoot, we made our way to a cave to scale. Climbing up, into the cave, and to the edge of the mountain made me feel a little nervous as it was steep, with loose rock and nothing to hold onto. A fall could have really hurt. Fortunately no one was injured, and we were able to enjoy a quick snack break on top of the cliff before heading back down and to the house. That afternoon, we took in more views, snacked, and watched the Clips winning before making our way outside to see the stunning sunset. I wish these photos did it justice. It’s something I’ll never forget.

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When the sun had set, we watched the fight and enjoyed the rest of our time together in the house.

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Sasha: After a long Friday and Saturday, once the sun set and we caught our last evening views of Zion, we had a light dinner of leftovers and spent the rest of the evening enjoying each other’s company and losing money on the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. I headed to bed early, sad knowing we would have to wake up and leave our incredible vacation the next morning. When we woke up the next day, we quickly packed our things and hit the road by 9:30, eager to beat the fight traffic we anticipated catching up with in Vegas. As we left the house, the owner came by to see us off, and as he took our last group picture, he said “The home will miss your energy when you leave.” By some magic (maybe Zion’s), we managed to make it home in record time, and spent the rest of our afternoons texting each other our favorite pictures and swearing to go back as soon as we could.