Sunday, September 28, 2008


After an early start, we arrived in Zion mid afternoon and the first thing we did was to go to the back country permit desk at the visitor center to seek a permit for the Subway. Our luck continued to hold as there were permits available for the next day. Check out the link here to learn just what the Subway is. After setting up camp at the Watchman Campground inside the park, we fixed a great dinner of Halibut using our new camp kitchen. It is going to take some getting use to camping this way, with the hardest part, just remembering where you put something.

We’re up before dawn so we can get to the trailhead as it gets light. We’re hiking before sunrise thus avoiding some of the heat. It’s been in the low 90’s by early afternoon. The first ½ mile is easy through pinion pine, then it’s downhill into a deep canyon for the next ½ mile. It’s really steep with part of the trail on the edge of a cliff. We realized right away that the worst part of the hike will be the return up this potion of the trail in the afternoon heat. Once in the bottom of the canyon, it’s just a matter of following the stream up canyon until you reach the Subway. The going is not too strenuous, but there’s a lot of crossing and re-crossing the stream and boulder hopping. Total distance to and from the Subway, 9.5 miles, a piece of cake, right?

After about 3 hours, Cathie started having some difficulty due to a bad head and chest cold. She complained of difficulty catching her breath and of being dizzy. She was taking some medication with a side effect of dizziness. We figured we had another hour of walking before reaching the Subway, and Cathie didn’t know if she could make it. We decided to wait for a guided group of hikers who were behind us. When they arrived, the guide told us our estimate of another hour was pretty close to being correct. We decided due to Cathie’s condition it was probably best to turn around, knowing we had at a minimum a 3 hour hike to return to the trailhead.

As we walked down canyon, Cathie continued to get worse. We were stopping frequently for her to rest, dreading the steep climb out of the canyon. As we reached the bottom of the climb, Cathie told me she didn’t think she could make it. I told her we would take all the time she needed, but staying at the bottom of the canyon was not an option. We started up, walking very slowly, stopping to rest about every 20 to 30 yards or so. Cathie was really having difficulty and told me on several occasions that she thought she was going to pass out. She described everything turning white, with her head spinning. We would stop when ever we found a shady spot with shade being at a premium on this the sunny side of the canyon wall.

After 1-1/2 hours to climb the ½ mile up the side of the canyon, we finally made it back to the car. Cathie told me later that she was really scared and at times thought she would never get out of that canyon. As for me, I was also scared about the possibility of having to leave her under a tree and going for help. There was no cell phone coverage in the canyon or at the trailhead, so she would have been alone for a long time.

Oh well, we didn’t make it, but it’s another adventure and a story to tell. I will return and complete the hike in the future. Any takers?

1 comment:

Erin said...

Bummer not making it! Is Cathie feeling better? I hope everything is okay.