Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Subway in Zion

As I have mentioned before, our family loves the outdoors and we try to take advantage of the unique opportunities here in the mountain west. This past weekend we enjoyed what may have been our favorite adventure to date: hiking the Left Fork of North Creek (A.K.A. "The Subway") in Zion NP. I have heard about this slot canyon for years. I have had quite a few veteran hikers/canyoneers tell me that this is their favorite hike anywhere. It is one of 18 slot canyons in Zion NP that require a limited availability back country permit. It is also the most sought-after permit and thus is one of two canyons that are on a lottery basis. You have to apply to a lottery three months in advance in order to get a reservation and they limit the permits to a maximum of 50 people per day. We applied back in March along with our friends, the Glaziers, with the understanding that we would both apply in the hope that one of us would win. We struck out but they got a permit for 12 people.

The following are some photos I took of the trip. The deepness of the canyon resulted in lots of contrasting shadows which made the photography a little tough with my little Canon. I have a Nikon D200 on order and all of the parts came (lenses, filters, flash, etc.) last week except the camera body (argh!). Oh well, that gives me a good reason to go back.

This is a shot of Spencer on the way in. We spotted a car at the bottom of the canyon and hiked from the top to the bottom. It is about eight miles total distance. The first three miles are in a beautiful pine forest with white sandstone from the Kayente formation gradually transforming to the red Navajo sandstone as you drop into the canyon. The canyon runs left to right in the back of the photo, just before the tall mesa in the distance.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Here we are dropping into the canyon. This is my wife and younger three kids. I like the backlighting on this one:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is Hannah Glazier rappeling over our first major obstacle. She is only seven years old but performed like a champ.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is my daughter at the edge of the first of several swims. The water was about 50 degrees. My poor wife about froze to death (she doesn't tolerate cold very well. At one point I looked at her and her lips were blue. Next time we go back she will have a full-body wet suit. She brought a shorty but surrendered it to my son.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

My son, Lance, at another narrow part:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

One of many gorgeous spots. The colors in the photo don't quite do it justice.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We found that inflatables were quite handy in getting the packs through the deep spots:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

One of my favorite parts:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The formations were incredible:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Nearing the "Subway" portion of the hike:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

One of the more famous spots in the hike. This is in the "subway" section. It is named the subway due to the rounded nature of the bottom of the canyon. You see lots of photos of this particular area on postcards, etc. for Zion NP.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

One of several short rappels. The adults just used a hand line, but we put the kids in harnesses and let them rappel down. They loved it.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The bottom part of the subway:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Mallory in a very cold "hot tub".

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yours truly.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Jones family.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

There were several spectacular falls over cascading red sandstone terraces just below the subway. The kids discovered that you could ride down them on the inflatables.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Another shot:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

On the way out, we found this rock covered with dinosaur tracks.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A closer look. It appears to be a biped carnivore from the late Jurassic. From the gait, I would say it was a female, about two weeks from dropping her eggs. It also looks like she had an minor injury on her left side.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It took us about 10.5 hours to do the entire hike. We did not see another soul in the canyon. From the cars in the parking lots, it appeared that there was one group in front of us and one behind. When we got to the bottom parking lots, the rangers were there waiting to check on our permits.

This is one of those cases where the reality matched the hype. It was a fabulous experience.

1 Comments:

At 9:10 AM, Blogger R. Jeffrey Davis said...

Way, way, way, way, WAY cool

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home