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The Narrows - The Hike In

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  Arches National Park
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      Devils Garden - Arches
      Devils Garden - Hiking
  Grand Canyon
      The Plunge
      Bright Angel Campground
      Clear Creek Trail
      The Ascent
      Indian Garden Campground
      Tonto West Hike
      The Great Snake Battle
      The Final Ascent
  The Narrows
      Gearing Up
      The Awakening
      The Hike In
      Pee / Poo
      The Hike Out
      Places We Missed
      Meteor Crater
      Airport Mesa
      Thunder Mountain

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

After an hour ride, we emerged from the shuttle to a brisk morning. And by brisk, I mean bone-numbing. Frost coated the grass. It had to be in the mid-thirties. For the first time on the trip, we meant it when we said, "Thank god we brought our fleece." According to Brendan, we could avoid getting our feet wet for the first two to three miles, so we originally planned to hike that part in our Tevas. Not wanting to lose toes to frostbite, we scrapped that plan. Robyne and I put on our lovely neoprene socks and water shoes. For comfort, Elaine went with cotton socks under her Tevas (an enchanting look that we sported throughout the trip). Twenty yards later we reached our first river crossing. Despite his vast experience hiking The Narrows, Brendan was wrong. Feet were going to get wet. Elaine depacked to put on her river socks and shoes.

Field Cows
Hike began through farm land See... cows

As I said before, neoprene socks are made from the same material as wetsuits. They are not designed to keep your feet dry, but instead they hold a small film of water against the body, your body heats that water and your feet stay warmish. With the chill of the morning, I was not confident that my body could produce enough heat to warm even a drop of water. I rock-hopped across, only wetting my right big-toe. Elaine followed suit, lifting her pants legs as she went. But Robyne - being Robyne - plunged right into the ankle-deep water and sloshed across. And so we began a series of crossings through privately owned farm land, hop-hop-hop; tiptoe-tiptoe-tiptoe; slosh-slosh-slosh. After an hour of hiking, we covered two miles and reached our first marker, a broken down shack. Feeling was begining to creep back into our feet.

Rose and Elaine Shack
Rose and Elaine trying to keep their feet dry Broken down shack

We left the farm land...

... and entered the canyon itself. A sheer cliff wall would appear on one side and then the other. Before long, we entered one of the passages dubbed The Narrows. The walls towered above us on both sides creating a tunnel-like feel. Throughout the day, we continually crossed back and forth over the stream.

Cliff on one side Cliffs on both sides
Cliffs reared up on one side Then on both

The most dangerous part of this hike was not the possibility of twisting (or breaking) an ankle on the many submerged rocks and having to wait hours if not days for aid. The most dangerous part was the risk of flash floods. A storm in a far away county can trigger a wall of water to carreen down this and other canyons, hurling logs and rocks in its path. In the heart of the narrows, there is no "high" ground in which to escape. The danger of these floods is not drowning, but being beaten to death by the debris.

See the huge up-rooted tree? Pile of "debris"

Only one part of the hike concerned Elaine and that was the descent down the waterfall. The guide book said there was a path to the left of the falls. When Elaine reached this point, she looked down at the dangerous rocky descent right next to the raging water with footholds few, wet and far between. Her eyes widened as her fear of heights took hold. Robyne stepped up next to her and pointed further to the left, "Is that the path?" I have never seen such an expression of relief.

Waterfall Rose & Elaine Path to bypass the waterfall
The waterfall Rose & Elaine safely on the other side The super-secret path to bypass the waterfall

We were about halfway in when disaster hit. My brand-new camera was secure in a waterproof bag. Any time I wanted to take a snap, I had to open the clasps, retrieve the camera, turn it on and take the picture before returning it to its case. Time consuming! So, Robyne was taking most of the pictures with her brand-new camera (we were having a camera competition). At one point, she yanked her camera out of her pocket and promptly dropped it in the water. She snatched it out of the water, but the damage was done. The decision was to let the camera dry out before trying to power it up, which placed me in charge of picture taking. I didn't want to miss whatever stunning scenery had caught Robyne's eye and caused the demise to her camera. I glanced around, but was at a lost. Trying to be helpful, I asked, "What were you going to take a picture of?" With venom in her voice, she responded, "The damn flowers."

They weren't exactly flowers, but leaves changing colors. In the long run her camera repaired itself. By the end of the whole trip all the features were working except the flash, which was touch and go.

Fall Leaves
Isn't it pretty?
Copyrighted by McDoten Wachowski Enterprises @2008