The Subway–Zion N.P.

I’ve been wanting to hike to the Subway in Zion’s since I found out about it back in 06 while canyoneering down there with a friend.  We weren’t able to get permits for the Subway but we did do two other amazing slot canyons, Pine Creek and Keyhole.

My Mom and I lucked out and were able to get two walk up permits for the Subway!!.  We headed out to the Left Fork Trailhead in the morning after picking up some caffeine and pop tarts.  Packed up our stuff and headed off on the 6 mile round trip hike.

Now I’m not sure if you know what the subway is, but it’s probably one of the most photographed places in Zion N.P.  I have seen the pics more than I can remember and they always look soo damn cool.  So I was pretty damn excited for this trip.

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We had decided to do the Bottom up hike since for one we don’t have any of the gear for the upper technical sections of the canyon.  Plus Mom isn’t too keen on heights so I was not sure about the rappels that it requires.  So we left the trailhead and headed down to the creek bed.  You follow the creek bed for about 2.6 miles up to the Subway itself.  It was a gorgeous hike up the creek bed but takes some time since you have to do a considerable amount of boulder hopping, crossing the creek, and hiking up the hillside around boulders too big to climb.  Along the way we encountered hundreds of little tiny frogs that would scatter every which way from the trail as you almost stepped on them (I’m sure we had to kill at least one or two of them even though we tried very hard not to)

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After stopping to take quite a few pictures of beautiful waterfalls along the way, and playing leapfrog with a couple going up there to photograph as well we reached the Subway.  The couple we were playing leapfrog with had 8×10 camera gear, a 35mm film camera, a digital camera, and a big heavy tripod that made me thankful for my Micro 4/3 camera but at the same time made me envious of the quality of photos they would get compared to mine.

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On First Impression of the Subway I thought …. This is all?  For some reason I was expecting it to be a long tunnel.  But Most the pictures you see of the subway is all of the subway.  It’s probably under a hundred feet long.  It’s still pretty damn cool and quite the sight to see … but even cooler is the pools in there.  I swam up the slot canyon as far as I could (To the waterfall) which wasn’t too far back.

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We had to fight over space to photograph (not really any fighting …. more just waiting your turn)  But I got the pictures I want.  I learned a few things from this trip and hopefully I’ll make it back and not only get the photographs I want, but next time I want to do the top down so I can explore the slot canyons leading up to the subway.

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Backpacking the West Rim Trail in Zion N.P

I had 8 days of Vacation time built up so I decided I should start taking some of it before I lose it at the end of the year (New GEO company policy).  I took off three days not knowing where I was going to go.  I knew I would figure something out.  It turns out my mom was in the same boat and had a big stretch  coming up so we decided to go somewhere together.

At first I was planning on heading up to Yellowstone NP and the Grand Tetons since I haven’t spent much time up there and haven’t done any real hiking around.  But after looking at the weather and how cold it was going to get we looked south.  High of 87 and low of 50 in Zion NP  … GREAT!! So very early Friday morning we headed south.

We got to Zion around Noon after stopping to visit with Grandma in Salem.  It was HOT as Hell there!! (Turned out to be 97 that day).  Ouch!  We got a campsite and went and got our permit to do the West Rim hike and got a campsite up on the rim.  We asked about permits for the subway but of course there weren’t any available.  After that we were going to go for a hike but it was too damn hot out and I was feeling sick from the heat .. so what did we do … went and got some food and beer Smile

Later that evening once there was some shade and it started to cool down we did go hike up to the upper emerald pools.  I was thinking I hadn’t been there before .. but alas I had.

Early Saturday morning we headed up to the Lava Point trailhead (We took a shuttle from Zion Adventure Company)  We started on the trail around 8 AM.  Well going downhill most the way and only having to hike 7 or so miles .. it didn’t take us long to get to camp.  That was even taking our time to take pictures.  I think we arrived camp around noon that day.  Only 7 or 8 hours to kill till bed time (when the sun goes down).  What to do to entertain ourselves?  Wait … I broke my kindle last trip so didn’t bring it, forgot to bring a book or magazine, and those cards I had in my pack … they were thrown out since I thought Mom would have brought some (She didn’t).  I guess all there is to do is take a 3 hour nap.

I woke up from my long nap drenched in sweat.  Yuk.  We decided to hike around the rim and see if we could find the springs and fill up on water.  While we didn’t get any water we did get to see some pretty damn amazing views.

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Up along the rim of Zion Canyon you get a whole new perspective on the park.  The land looks surreal and alien like.  The tall sloping sandstone cliffs, domes, and cones.  Then there are the plateaus.  From the ground it looks like there are just the sandstone cliffs with nothing on top of them.  But from the top you can see they have a forest of their own.  It makes you want to get on top of them and explore them.  Also, it makes you wonder if there are any wildlife on top.  If there are any squirrels up there.

Sunday morning we got up and headed out early.  The trail takes you down to Boy Scout lookout (the lookout on the way up Angels Landing) then down to the Grotto’s trailhead.  We made it down just after noon on Sunday and headed straight for the back country office.  We wanted a second chance of getting permits to the Subway .. low and behold they actually had some left.  Looks like we were going to stay in Zion for another night …

Bierstadt to Evans over the Sawtooth Traverse

Last week Delaney and I decided we wanted to hike one of the 14ers.  We settled on bagging two of them in a day by hiking up Mt Bierstadt and then take the traverse over to Mt Evans.  I pulled the route description off of 14ers.com (A great resource if you want to climb a 14er)

After picking up Delaney and George (he wanted to go hang out in the mountains) Sunday morning we got up to the trailhead around 8 AM.  This is a much later start than I normally would ever do, but it turned out okay as the weather cooperated through the day.

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The hike up to Bierstadt though had most of the elevation gain took us under three hours to complete.  We hung out at the top of that Mt with the crowds of people.  It was very busy up top and you could see the steady stream of people climbing up the mountain after us.  Shortly after reaching the summit we decided to leave the crowds and make our way to Mt Evans.

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I have mixed feelings about the Sawtooth traverse.  It looks like an impressive traverse that could be very dangerous and has high exposures.  But, if you take your time it is really not that bad of a climb.  It did take us a lot longer than I would have expected to complete the traverse (Around 5 hours) but we were taking our time making sure to be careful.  That, plus I had one hell of a headache and the altitude was doing a number on my body.  80% of our trip was above 13,000 feet.  There were a few class 3 moves where you had to scramble up a rock (I would have to push Zip up to where Delaney was and then climb up myself since Zip couldn’t get up some of it).

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Once you reach the top of Sawtooth and look back at Bierstadt it does look quite impressive and it really doesn’t seem like it was the mountain you just came down.  I would hate to go up that section I can tell you that.

We made it to the summit of Mt Evans around 5 PM dragging our asses.  I kept getting dizzy from the altitude.  So, we didn’t linger long at the summit and descended down to Summit lake where luckily George was waiting for us.  As we had texted him when we got to the summit of Bierstadt with an alternate plan of having him meet us up at Evans instead.  Well, the road was closed to Mt Evans so we had to hike down to Summit Lake which was the farthest up the road he could drive.

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All in all it was a great adventure and hike.  The views are amazing up there.  But it sure was more than I expected and sure did kick my Ass.

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