Friday, June 1, 2012

Hiking the Zion Subway

Life can be stormy, but every once in a while the clouds part and you end up with a permit to hike the Subway in Zion National Park, one of the coolest hikes ever.  Our Memorial weekend adventure turned out to be even more epic than we expected...and a lot colder.  We're talking falling snow at the trailhead and freezing winds buffeting us at the end of each bitter cold slot canyon swim.  The unseasonably cold weather caught us a bit unprepared and to some extent turned my attention from photographing the beauty to getting out of the canyon and getting warm again.  But here are a few shots from the journey, mostly from the top section of the hike before we got wet and too cold to operate a camera.

Near the trailhead in the Kolob area.

Descending toward the canyon.

The Sandstone River

The entrance to the Subway slot canyon.

Braving the first water crossings.

Descending into the belly of the beast.  This is one of the three or four places where full submersion and swimming was unavoidable, and where our bravery quickly morphed into humility.

The Subway

The Canyon and hike are named after this short section of the slot canyon, where the walls curve up and create the appearance and feel of being in a subway.  Freezing or not, you pull out the camera here because it's so magnificent, and you never know if/when you'll be lucky enough to come back.  I tried to take some quality shots of this area, though the wind was blowing so hard that my tripod was shaking and the waterfalls were blowing upstream and spraying water all over my lenses.  Hopefully I'll be able to salvage some of the photos, but until then, here's a shot of the waterfalls starting to turn back upstream in a big gust, just moments before that water covered my lens.

Looking back into the Subway.

 It took a couple hours of hiking after leaving the wet/swimming portions of the hike, but eventually we warmed up enough to sit down, have a snack, and think about what a great adventure we were having.

Despite the weather on this particular day, this has to be one of the most unique and beautiful hikes of all time.  I can't wait to go back.  But next time, I'm shooting for August.

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