Zion National Park
When I travel, I ordinarily like to outline my entire trip so that I have an idea of where I’ll be on any given day. But that’s about as far as my planning reaches. As far as the details go, I like to fill in the blanks as I go.
But occasionally, I’ll have a very specific thing I want to do while on the trip. And sometimes I fall victim to the “I’m invincible!” mentality and don’t realize how overambitious (or just plain insensible) the idea is.
Case in point: I wanted to hike to ‘The Subway’ in Zion National Park. I knew that we had to obtain a permit beforehand (that should have been a clue that maybe this wasn’t the best idea if we had to register to enter the trail). I knew exactly where to go outside the park to rent these special hiking boots that would give us more traction in slippery rocks while crossing the river. I knew that we had to leave and re-enter the park on the other side to get to the trail head. And I knew that we wouldn’t see much of the actual park if we were to spend the entire day hiking down into the canyon, since this was our one and only day at Zion.
But this was something I had to get out of my system. After seeing several jaw-dropping images of this hike online from fellow photographers, it was the thing I was most looking forward to on this trip. Besides, good hiking is virtually nonexistent around NYC. I really just wanted to throw myself into a grueling hike and see what happened.
So we got our permit and left our contact info in case of an emergency (i.e. if we never emerged form the trail), grabbed a map, rented our boots, and set off for The Subway. All according to plan. It was a beautiful day out, and a longggg hike down into the canyon. The hike wasn’t as difficult as it was confusing – once we got to flat(ish) terrain, the path was unclear and we traversed the river back and forth countless times trying to stay on it. I’m pretty sure we hiked off the path for some of it. It didn’t really matter though, since all we had to do was follow the river in one direction. I have to say, the special boots we rented made it so much fun to cross the river! The whole point in getting them was to prevent ourselves from slipping and falling – and in my case, mainly to avoid getting my camera gear damaged in case of a fall. They were sturdy, croc-like shoes with holes to quickly drain the water out, and extra traction on the bottom. I felt like I could leap my way across the rocks and be ok.
The hike itself was fine. It was pretty cool being down in the canyon, but all I wanted was to get to The Subway. Yeah I know, enjoy the journey not just the destination, blah blah blah. Sometimes I just can’t contain my excitement for the destination!
We finally got to a point where the river started going uphill, with tiers of thin rock over which the water flowed. We tromped up the rocky steps – it was all very pretty, but I wanted my Subway, dammit! Soon we arrived at a clearing where it seemed like we stepped into a partial cave. I am so terrible at explaining what it looked like, but picture yourself standing in a river with the tiered rock ahead of you, and then on one side of the river is this concave rock wall. Pretty cool stuff.
We trudged further up the river and around the corner we found more of the concave rock wall – this time it appeared as if there really was a cave at the end. We figured this was the end of the road since the cave area looked steep and slippery and deeper (in terms of water coverage). I couldn’t help but feel dreadfully underwhelmed here. I had vague images of more colorful scenery and rock pools and this scene just didn’t move me like the photos I saw before the trip did. I didn’t think there was much beyond the cave, plus it was slippery and Lauren was chilly and waiting for me to finish up so we could head back. Not to mention we’d be losing light if we stayed much longer. So I left, disappointed, unsure of what exactly those pictures had looked like (it had been awhile since I saw them, and we didn’t have internet the night before so I couldn’t verify beforehand). But I knew it wasn’t what we saw there.
The hike back was long. My feet hurt so much after awhile that they went numb. And climbing back out of the canyon was less than comfortable. One water bottle’s worth of water for this hike was a mere fraction of what I actually needed to hydrate myself. I was tired, hungry, extremely thirsty, and forming blisters by the minute. We pretty much sang hallelujah and praised Jesus once we got back to the car (or did the equivalent non-religious version of that). Oh, my poor swollen toes! So unbelievably disgusting.
We were thrilled to get back into town. Lauren had already picked out a restaurant for us to have dinner at, a place called Bit & Spur. Awesome decor, awesome Mexican food. I had some delicious chicken and cheese concoction and we split a creamy dessert. It’s all a blur to me now, but I remember it being pretty stellar.
Until it went terribly, terribly wrong.
Immediately after dessert, Lauren started to feel a little queasy. Blame it on the cream-based dessert and lactose intolerance. I navigated us to an overpriced motel down the street, where we checked in and promptly flopped down on a ginormous bed. She pretty much passed out for the night. I did what I normally do each night: sit on my laptop and watch tv. No big deal. Talked to my mom, chatted online, nothing too crazy.
Next thing I know, I’m feeling queasy, too. A few minutes later, I’m running to the bathroom and the toilet is soon filled with remnants of my last meal. It all happened so suddenly, so immediately afterwards my first thought was ‘what the crap?!’. I sort of wrote it off as some random incident and figured I’d just sleep it off. Wrong! I woke up a few times during the night to vomit again. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was connected to Lauren’s bout of sickness…