We woke up the next morning to warm golden sunlight bathing the 2000-foot sandstone walls that surrounded us. If you don't get up, stand up, and stare in absolute awe, you're simply not human. We made ourselves a quick breakfast of oatmeal, powdered eggs (yummy…) and instant coffee (double yummy…), packed up our packs for the second half of this puppy, and hi-ho, hi-ho, back to the Narrows we go.
First order of business this fine morning was water. We were out of fresh water so our primary focus was to refill that. Instead of purifying river water, we decided to heed the advice of our shuttle driver from the last post, Chad from Rare Form Shuttle Services, and head to a natural spring that was supposedly just past campsite 12. So we started hiking through the river and after about a half mile, lo and behold, a natural spring shooting straight out of the sandstone walls directly into a freshwater pool…so not only were our Osprey and Gregory packs' water bladders treated to nature's Brita, but the added bonus of a refreshing bath in virgin Utah waters certainly helped start this second day off proper!
Second order of business? The highlight of the second half of this hike…"Wall Street," the part of the Narrows that marks the narrowest stretch of the canyon. This is a section in which you think what you're seeing is impressive, until you turn the next corner, and then the next corner, and then the next corner. It's simply insane. Wall Street begins soon after the campgrounds disappear and it goes on for about 2 miles. It was easy to get lost in here as our walk got much slower in response to our jaws dragging across the riverbed. You can't help but stand in the middle of this madness and marvel at how this was all created…this very river carving its way through this massive chunk of sandstone, over thousands of years, using gravity as its fuel…
After we finally peeled ourselves away and out of Wall Street, the crowds began to slowly thicken a bit, marking the home stretch of our hike. This is the point where visitors can make their way a few miles up the canyon to check out the portion of the Narrows that constitutes the day hike from the valley floor where the majority of the park's campgrounds and amenities exist. While that option would have been remarkable on its own, and much more practical for families and large groups, we knew that the 'Top Down' option was, for us, the way to go, simply due to the fact that through most of the 14 miles before reaching this point, we were on our own, all alone, save for the occasional run-in with fellow top-down hikers, and there's just something about being isolated in the wilderness that does something to the soul that nothing else in the world can match. It forces you to become incredibly present, an absolute stark contrast to what normal day to day 'life' has become - reactionary. Here, left alone to your own devices in the presence of one of Mother Nature's greatest marvels, you can't muster the audacity to just react to her wonders - you're almost forced to absorb, process, and take this with you - you learn about you, and, most importantly, you remember each second of each minute of each hour of each day. While I may have already forgotten what I had for breakfast today, I will never forget what I had for breakfast at Campsite 8.
The next portion of our journey was to commence in Bryce Canyon National Park. We still had enough time to make the 2 hour drive and set up camp, so after a shower at the campground (we saved our tokens knowing we'd need it now more than before…) and a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we hit the road. Through the park, up through the tunnel, and our timing could not have been more perfect. As we were leaving, the sun began its decent over the horizon and we were treated to quite the show. The Utah sandstone sunset sky just over Zion, painted with the softest, warmest array of colors silking and bouncing their way throughout the canyon, the roads, and the skyline in the distance. We pulled over to let these moments permeate our membranes. Simply stunning.
And now the sun was gone and it was time to close the book on this one…
When you drive miles with nothing in sight, then run across a sign that says "Kane County Fair," and a few seconds later, "Rodeo," and you're from Los Angeles, you HAVE to stop…donning board shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops, we weren't quite dressed for the occasion, but couldn't pass this up. We made it just in time to catch the closing event, the junior rodeo. We walked up to the fence and watched several dozen children running around a rodeo ring in their chaps and hides, trying to catch a herd of loose chickens. Yup, we gone done did it…the Kern County Fair. It was a perfectly heartwarming moment and end to this chapter of the trip.
An hour later we were in Bryce Canyon, found a campsite in the dark, set up, cooked up, drank up, and passed out, waking up rested up.
So below are a few images from the last 24 hours, and if you missed Parts 1 through 3 of "3 National Parks, 3 States, 2 Weeks, 1 Crap Bag," just click HERE to go to the beginning.