Saturday, September 19, 2009

See Zion National Park by Bike!

Today, on our first full day back in canyon country, we decided to do something we have never done before and that is bike the length of Zion Canyon. We drove up from Kanab and when we got to the visitor center, the parking lot was completely full. We were forced to park outside the park and pay $10. We unloaded the bikes, hooked up Hilina's bike seat, and away we went.

We cruised up the Pa'rus Trail to Canyon Junction. But, as we went onto the road, we soon realized that it would be an uphill climb the entire way to the end of the canyon at 6 miles. It makes sense given we were heading upstream along the Virgin River. This wasn't steep, it was just steadily climbing and taking more effort in the heat than we were wanting. The first section is probably the worst climb since it crosses the old landslide that dammed the river 200 feet deep until the river over-topped it and ate a route through it.

The good news is that since the canyon is closed to vehicular traffic and only the park shuttles run on the road, it is a relaxing bike ride without the traffic. Well, upon reaching the first shuttle stop at Court of the Patriarchs, we decided to load our bikes onto the shuttle, ride it to the end of the road, and then let gravity help us on the return. That ended up being a very wise decision.

From the end of the road, we hiked one more mile to the Virgin Narrows. Here, Hilina got stripped down and went in to play in the cool waters. While Linda watched Hilina, I proceeded to hike upstream into the gorge. I did not make it very far before a section of stomach-high water stopped me. It was not that I was afraid to cross this 20 foot section, but I just did not feel like riding back in wet underwear. Many others proceeded further up the river.

After ample play time, we hiked back to our bikes and cruised effortlessly back down the road to the visitor center. An ominous looking storm formed in the mountains to the north and we head some thunder, but we did not get rained on. However, those are conditions to get out of the narrows in, because of the danger of flash floods forming miles up river.

What a great first day back in canyon country!

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