This post is about two weeks overdue, but so it goes. In mid-November, Travers, Kristen, and I took a 4 day trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion. My only regret is that we weren't able to take an entire week and spend more time in Zion and add Bryce and Arches. This will be one of my future domestic vacations, for sure. There are very few places left on my US bucket list anyway, and about half of them will be complete after our post-IM vacation next year. But back on track....here are a few snapshots from this vacation.
The first day we took the bus to several different lookout points inside the park. The second day, we spent the entire day hiking the Bright Angel Trail. Travers and I went out to the peninsula, while Kristen made it most of the way, to the garden. I wouldn't say Kristen loved the hike back up (did you, Kristen??) but she did pretty well. Next time she goes on vacation with us I'll give her a training plan :) Here are some snapshots of the Grand Canyon.
From the left: (1) Photo from vista points on Day 1, with Travers standing way too close to the edge as usual. (2) If you look really carefully, you can see me running. I'm pretending I'm a trail runner! (3) We made it to the edge of the peninsula, where you can look down at the river. (4) Me on the way back up, carrying some extra baggage :p (5) Driving out the east side of the park the next morning. It was chilly.
Overall, the Grand Canyon was amazing and I'm so glad I went. Personally I'm probably not that interested in returning since there are lots of things that I haven't seen that I'd rather see first. But once is a must.
We arrived in Zion mid-day on Saturday, so we didn't have the time to do any of the longer hikes (plus, admittedly we were a little sore from the Grand Canyon the day before). We did a bunch of the small hikes though. Zion was INCREDIBLE, and I think we chose the right season. All of the trees were colorful reds, oranges, and yellows. Zion Lodge inside the park was pretty awesome, as well. The second morning, Travers and I decided we were going to attempt the Narrows. On the first day Travers had decided that the water was 55-60 degrees, to which I thought: "No problem. I open water swim in that shit all the time. Sure, it's cold, but it's not too bad." That morning, the air temperature was in the 30s. "No big deal," I thought, "the water will feel warm". We walked a mile from the bus stop the the Narrows and started trudging in the water. At first it felt cold, but I figured it would get better like it does for open water swimming. After a few minutes, it was getting worse, not better. I was laughing hysterically at how freaking cold it was. About 0.1 into the Narrows, I made Travers turn around. Getting out of the water I wanted to walk quickly back to the shuttle bus. I couldn't feel my lower legs or feet. At one point I stopped to take my shoes off so I could put my leg warmers back on, but I couldn't untie my shoes. The laces were frozen. It took me about 4 hours to recover from this. We couldn't hike for the rest of the day because I refused to put on soaking wet freezing cold shoes. When we checked out of the lodge, the guy at the counter told me the river water was 45 degrees. Zion fail.
From the left: (1) Zion and the Virgin River. (2) Hiking through rocks to the Emerald Pools. (3) Incredible fall colors. (4) Do NOT hike the Narrows in November, or any other time when the water temperature is < 55. (5) Neat rock formations in Zion. Can you see Travers?
Overall, I think I will return to Zion two more times. This seems plausible since it is only a 2 hour drive from Vegas, where Kristen lives. One trip will be in the fall again to hike 1 or 2 of the longer more challenging trails with awesome views. Another time will be in the summer, to conquer the Narrows. This trip is highly recommended during a training off-season.