Southwest Trip 2021

Zion Day 3: The Expedition of Sally Headcold and Limpy McGee

One thing I have yet to disclose in this blog series is that I have been fighting off a pretty rough cold since the day before we left New Hampshire. Again, I am vaccinated, and I tested negative for Covid. Twice, actually. And, in addition, I tested negative for strep throat as well, as this particular malady seems to be sore-throat-focused. Despite this, I’ve spent the last couple of days fighting off some kind of illness that seems hell-bent to make me feel like I’ve swallowed a hot coal. 

Go figure, that as the world is in the middle of a historic pandemic, I would catch the great American summer head cold.

And then there’s Daniel, who, after his first time on a horse, has had a rather substantial pain emanating from his right knee. It turns out you use weird muscles when you ride a horse up and down a canyon path.

Time for a commercial break. This blog entry is sponsored by: Ricola cough drops, Dayquil Cold and Flu, IcyHot and Amazon Brand knee braces.

Anyways.

We woke up a little worse for wear. And, as this was our last full day in Zion, we had plans to take on a pretty long hike at one of the park’s more famous trails.

Considering it hurt when I breathed, and it hurt for Daniel to step, this sounded like a bad idea. But we carried on anyway. You only Zion once.

Of course if we were going to take any ventures beyond our hotel room, we needed to caffeinate. So we investigated one of the highest-rated coffee shops in Springdale, Deep Creek Coffee Co. We each grabbed a nitro cold brew and a chocolate raspberry scone. Both were tasty, and made even more so by this lovely view.

From there we headed to the Springdale Market, a mini grocery store near the park entrance, to grab some hiking necessities: cough drops and icy hot. Just like Sir Edmund Hillary upon his historic 1953 ascent of Mount Everest. Probably.

Upon completion of our preparations, we boarded the Zion Shuttle Bus to the Temple of Sinawava stop, the very last stop on the shuttle route. From there we would be hitching onto our hiking trails, the Riverwalk, and the Narrows. The Riverwalk followed the path of the Virgin River, the trademark water feature of Zion. The Narrows Trail was one of Zion’s more famous trails, and followed the route of the Zion Canon at its widest point.

Hah. Kidding. 

It’s the canyon’s narrowest point, hence the name.

And lucky you guys, we figured out the photo technical difficulties, so Daniel’s “fancy camera” pictures were uploaded this time!

The good thing about these trails, considering our less-than-ideal physical condition, was that they were mostly flat. What made the Narrows difficult–but also charming and unique–was that much of the trail required crossing the river.

The way Daniel described it, before we got there, was that the water would be “shin deep” in some areas. Which was fine. I was mentally prepared to get my feet wet. However, while some crossings were shin-deep, others were “hip deep.” Thank god I took my phone out of my pocket.

I’m also really thankful I ordered a hiking pole last-minute before the trip. You can all thank this hiking pole for making sure that I didn’t float down the Virgin River, never to be seen again. Or at least to keep me upright and not in the water, killing my phone and covering all of my other belongings in cough-drop goo.

Jokes aside, this hike was probably my favorite hike I’ve ever done. The canyon was unreal from this angle, all of the striped curves of sandstone that had been carved by centuries of wind and water were like multicolored strokes from a paintbrush. The little caverns and inlets were dark and mysterious and probably full of terrifying creatures like snakes and tarantulas (in my mind), but fun to observe from the outside. Even just the massive scale was impressive. It’s no wonder why this place was deemed worthy of “National Parkhood.”

Also walking through the water made me feel like I was in the Oregon Trail computer game, without the possibility of drowning or catching dysentery.

The hike was crowded, but the energy was lighthearted and fun. We came across a few families and took pictures for them, and a couple did the same for us. We even saw a lady trip and land butt-first in the water, laughing hysterically at herself when she realized she was happier in the cold water than she was standing in the sun. A few people went over to help but she waved them off saying “I’m fine, I’ll sit here for a minute!” I feel like the hiking crowd is usually a nice, happy crowd.

We knew we wanted to hike a good amount of the trail, but were mindful about forcing ourselves too far. But every time we drew ourselves a stopping point, we kept saying “nah, let’s keep going,” until we finally did turn back. At the end of it all, my apple watch clocked us at about six miles, and about 18,000 steps. Not bad for us, considering how broken we were.

By the time we got back to our hotel room, it was about 3:30. Taking off our wet hiking boots and socks was both heavenly and disgusting at the same time. At least we could leave them outside in the 102 degree heat to dry out fairly quickly.

Considering all we’d eaten today was a scone and some trail mix, we were starving, but it was also too early for dinner. Thankfully we’d saved from leftover pizza from our first dinner in Zion, so we scarfed that down. We also showered up and watched some tv before venturing back out.

Around 5:30 we headed back out into the world to grab some dinner at another Mexican restaurant, the Bit and Spur. We started off with a margarita each, and then for our meals Daniel got tacos and I got a chicken flauta. Both were good.

On our way back to the hotel, we hopped into a souvenir shop and I bought a tank top and a sticker for my water bottle. I just can’t stay somewhere for three nights and NOT come home with proof that I was there.

It was another early night, but it certainly felt like we’d conquered the world today, considering all of the odds against us. Fingers crossed we wake up feeling better tomorrow. I may be thankful for a restful day in the car. Traveling may be tiring, but perhaps not as tiring as a six-mile hike.

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