Hi everyone! Sadly our awesome Utah vacation is ending 😦 We’ll be doing some shopping and eating at places we don’t have in Alaska today while we wait for our flight in Vegas, and tomorrow it’s back to work again. Honestly, I’m kind of excited to go back to normal temps and give my poor legs a break! But I’m going to miss being only 2 hours behind my parents time-zone wise and I’m definitely going to miss not having any responsibilities. Anyways, let me fill you in on how our last two days have been (if you missed my race recap, Bryce trip, or Angels Landing hike check them out now!).
Tuesday: We woke up and our legs felt HORRIBLE. I had expected my legs to feel bad the day after the half marathon and they were kind of tired while we were in Bryce, but the day after we hiked Angels Landing we both felt like we couldn’t even walk! We could both feel it on the the front of our thighs from the tough descent off Angels Landing – we probably took it too fast but I was trying to get off that mountain to safety as soon as possible! After we dragged ourselves out of bed and out to Zion, we decided to avoid any hikes that were labeled “strenuous” because we legit didn’t think our legs could handle it. We hiked the Emerald Pools hike (both the lower and upper pools) and then hiked the Kayenta trail to The Grotto and walked along the river until the shuttle came. We had some up and down portions to deal with, but overall we were okay. It was a really chill day and we needed it!
We also did the Riverside Trail to the mouth of The Narrows, which is a narrow canyon that the Virgin River runs through. It’s actually a hiking “trail” that you need to rent gear to complete, and after watching people walk out of the canyon I told Andrew that we totally had to try it! I used to love playing in creeks and rivers as a kid, but I’d never had the chance to actually walk up the middle of a river and I had to try it out!
Wednesday: We woke up super excited for our hike in The Narrows, although our legs were still pretty beat. There are a few outfitters in Springdale that will rent winter gear for the narrows including water shoes, neoprene socks, and dry bibs, and we were able to reserve outfits for the afternoon. I called to find out what we needed to wear underneath, and they recommended fleece layers because the Virgin River was only 41 degrees! It was in the 60s and cloudy, so I knew I was probably going to be pretty cold and wore my fleece-lined running tights and a long sleeved running shirt. We were so excited to get out there!
Once we reached the beach at the end of the Riverside Trail, there was no other option but to walk right into the river! I could feel my socks and shoes slowly filling up with water, but the dry bib kept my legs totally dry. Even though I could feel that the water was cold, it didn’t actually make me cold because I was nice and dry. We also had walking sticks which were great for finding our way along the river without tripping on any large rocks on the bottom of the river.
Honestly, I did fall a few times! The river was often too deep to see the bottom, and the combination of strong currents and lots of large rocks on the bottom made for a tough trail. I’ve never been in a river that deep and strong before, and it was pretty crazy! We walked upstream for around 3 miles, which took us 2.5 hours to do. Along the way we saw so many beautiful canyon views and rock formations. It was awesome!
The river occasionally left sandy areas on the sides of the canyon, and you could see a trail where people had walked on it to avoid some of the stronger sections of the river. I’d say that about half of the first 3 miles of the trail was on land and the other half was just on the river. I liked that we could give our legs a break by walking on land every once in a while.
The trail runs on for 16 miles and can take all day for experienced hikers, but the good news is that you can turn back at any time to fit your schedule and ability! After about 2.5 hours we turned back. Since we were going with the current instead of against it now, it only took us 1 hour and 15 minutes to get back!
We then had to wait for the park shuttle to take us all the way back to the park entrance. In our wet shoes 😦 But overall it was such an awesome trail! I’ve never done anything like that and it was a lot of fun. In fact, it was probably one of my favorite hikes ever! The scenery was beautiful and I’ve never had the opportunity to see anything like it before. I felt like a little kid playing in the river, and I was so distracted with strategically picking a trail up and down the river that I wasn’t tired at all. Zion ranks the trail as “strenuous”, which is what they also ranked Angels Landing. In my opinion, this trail was way easier and more fun. But there was a risk of flash flooding (which we would not have been able to survive) so it’s definitely still one to be careful with. I’m just glad that the Virgin River gets barely any rain, especially this time of year!
Have you ever done a river trail before? Would you rather hike tall mountains or explore canyons?