Airstream and Saguaro

The third day of the Zion Epic

Richard Charpentier hiking, Notes from Rich Leave a Comment


Heading up the Virgin Narrows

Morning two, day three Tom and I set out to South Campground.  The evening before we’d walked up the Watchman Trail and saw South Campground.  Everybody agreed it looked cooler than our current campground.  On the river, sites with multiple tents going beyond two, Airstreams in the campground, Sportsmobiles, climbers, folks with heavy hiking gear.  Clearly South Campground was the “cool kids” campground!

So Tom and I cruised the campground at 7 a.m.  Vultures circing campsites in a Nissan Titan.  There were several nice spots right on the river.  Many nice spots.  Heck, the spots not on the river were nice too!

After two passes through the sites we settled on one really close to the river.  We popped a tag on the site as two other folks were checking out the site as well.  They didn’t look happy.  Ah well, should have gotten up earlier.

While we finished filling out the form caretakers popped by.  We talked to them about our tents and guess what.  More than 2 are acceptable.  They just wanted to make sure we didn’t camp on anything growing.  The 2 tent limit isn’t hard and fast.  It’s dependent on the size of the tents, etc.  Rational folks using their ability to think.  Hmmmm…….few and far between.  I should have gotten their contact information!  🙂

After letting everybody know we’d secured a new site we broke camp, lost out on 2 nights of our old site ($32 isn’t a big loss) and headed over to the new river side site.  We were all happy.  No “camp Nazis” patrolling in their little golf cart threatening tickets to the quietest folks in the park (i.e. my truck alarm did not go off once on the trip).

The new site made me happy.  So happy that once we set up we all jumped in a shuttle and headed to the Virgin Narrows.

The ride up to the Virgin Narrows is the final stopping point for the shuttle buses.  Nice ride, great views, good temperatures.  It was all good.  And with the over dosing of the allergy meds and the rest I was feeling more than 50% human, so that was great too!

The initial river walk into the narrows is nice and paved.  We hiked with a giant pack of people.  Everyone seemed to be at that particular part of the park for the day.  A Friday too…..and the place was mobbed.

I struck up a conversation with 2 people walking ahead of us.  They had waterproof booties, and as I learned, the wife had waterproof pants too (wet suit style).  The Virgin River is still chilly, and once you leave the river walk you get to walk in the river.


One of my favorite photos from the trip

While the bulk of my party prepared themselves I decided to walk up stream a little way.  My Chaco Sandals on, I was ready for anything.  Well, almost anything.  That water was COLD.  Somewhere in the 40’s I’d say.  And in a shaded Canyon.  Oh yeah, I wanted a wet suit as well.

All of us hiked up several bends, then I saw people getting much deeper into the water ahead of us.  No hypothermia for me.  I wasn’t going to go that far in if it meant really getting wet.  I had already hiked with water over my knees.  And I couldn’t feel my legs.  No thanks.  I told everyone to go on ahead.

As I started walking back to take pictures I heard an ominous sound.  A clap of thunder.  Shortly afterward, another.  Not long after my friends could be seen coming back toward me.  Something about being in slot canyons with thunderstorms just doesn’t seem like a good idea.

We made our way back along the river walk under gray skies.  Not long before we reached the shuttle stop the rains started.  Cold rain.  Cold rain on cold people who had been in a cold river…….cold.  🙂

After returning to our campsite the rains let up for a while.  I decided to head into town for a while, some sat by the river reading books, Tom came along for the town ride.  We checked out the local outfitters, poked around shops, and saw the heavy storm clouds in the distance.  The rain resumed.


We all know how much I like lone dead trees.....

Heading back to camp we discovered it hadn’t started pouring there yet.  Not long after the return though the downpours began.  And they were downpours!  We all headed into town, a Mexican restaurant was selected, and we waited out the storm.

While camp was soggy on our return it was still manageable.  So, a damp night in the tents for all.  Definitely a water filled day all around.

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