Last week while living off the grid in Utah, I spent a day hiking in Zion. The majority of the park is shuttle only, which usually makes me nervous as I’ve spent my life living in two cities with public transportation systems that leave much to be desired (I’m looking at you, Rochester and Austin!). But Zion does it right. The shuttles run continuously and I never waited more than a few minutes. They are comfortable and it creates a much quieter, zen experience without all the rest of the traffic in the park. That being said, if you plan to visit, get there early enough to get a parking spot. They usually run out around 10am.
The weather was mild by my Texas blood standards (high 80’s) and I hopped on board a shuttle to hit the trails. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and my only regret of my trip so far is not accepting the invitation of two girls I met to hike Angel’s Landing with them. A few days later when I was having dinner with a friend in California, she asked if Zion had been a spiritual experience. I think if I’d hiked Angel’s Landing it would have been. I know what she meant though. Nature has a way of reaching in and tugging at deep parts of our souls. Zion National Park is largely in the canyon rather than on the edge looking in. Standing with the canyon walls towering above me was profound, but not spiritual. Spiritual, at least for me, has to be earned. Hiking Angel’s Landing would have been earning it and really connecting with the soul of the land. Except it looked scary and I chickened out. Someday I will go back.
Instead I hiked to the upper, middle and lower Emerald pools. I looped back on a Grotto trail for a nice, solid hike. The views were stunning and hiking felt wonderful after days of driving. I hopped back on the shuttle up to the north end of the park and walked the riverwalk trail. It is a paved trail so it is densely crowded, but it ends at the start of The Narrows and I wanted to check it out. Hiking “The Narrows” isn’t so much a hike as a slow wade up river. There is no trail. It is simply a trek into a canyon by way of water. I went about a quarter mile just to check it out. It was a lot more crowded than I’d anticipated but I got a feel for what it’s like. Perhaps I will hike the whole thing one day.