It would be more than enough for a park like Zion to boast a trail as spectacular as Angel’s Landing, but it’s not the one I’m here for – today.
Travel as far into Zion Valley as you can on the park-operated shuttle to arrive at stop nine: Temple of Sinawava. Here, the rust-coloured valley walls have enclosed, narrowing to just a few hundred feet apart, hugging the banks of the Virgin River and soaring thousands of feet overhead to form a natural amphitheatre.
From the Temple of Sinawava, my husband and I set off along the 1.5-kilometre Riverside Walk, gateway to The Narrows trailhead.
“Trail” is something of a misnomer.
The hike follows the snaking Virgin River’s banks, but it’s early spring and higher-than-average water levels mean that the river is the trail.
As such, we are outfitted in water repelling Gore-Tex suits with feet pressed snug into two pairs of neoprene socks which have been laced into canyoneering boots. We shuffle up Riverside Walk, overdressed and awkwardly maneuvering six-foot-long wooden hiking poles.
At the end of the path, a short set of steps deposits us on the riverbank where a crowd gathers, forming a sort of ceremonial send-off. For onlookers, it’s the end of their jaunt. For Narrows hikers, it’s merely the beginning of an unforgettable journey.
the fast-flowing Virgin River, bracing for the icy water to flood my boots. It’s not as cold as I fear. We wade out into the knee-deep water, gauging and steadying ourselves against the current. The water is the colour of sand with the opacity of milk. We round the first corner, and the onlookers fall from sight.
What’s around the river bend? Who knows? The urge to find out compels us forward. The landscape, the intrigue, the Indiana Jones vibe – it all blends into an intoxicating and sublime adventure. An hour-and-a-half elapses.