The Subway in Spring
As we told people of our plans to hike The Subway in Zion Nation Park in early April, the response was quick and consistent, “You might die.” So despite the dire warnings, we were determined; and yes we were prepared, with our wills in hand (okay we left the wills at home) and a determination in our hearts to not allow a little cold water to thwart our adventure we set out. At the top of the mountain just before the decent one of our party decided to back out for fear of freezing to death (she was one of our parties wives, so we were actually a little relieved because we were honestly concerned for her).
The decent into the canyon is pretty amazing and often overlooked as people generally think only of the subway part of the hike, but the massive red and white rock formations that guard the way of the canyon are spectacular and a daunting reminder of how small we really are.
When we reached the canyon floor there was a pool of water that you can’t get around that marks the beginning of the subway. There we found some people from Montana preparing to enter the canyon as well, (consequently they had dry suits to brace them from the cold, as we had shorts and tee shirts).
One of our genius ideas to outsmart the cold of the canyon was to bring an inner tube that we could use to float past the swim parts, which actually made the hike a little more adventurous but in reality did little to stop us from having to get soaking wet from water fresh off of being snow.
Canyons are exciting places to be, where you look at rock formations and your mind just cannot comprehend how they were built. How could wind, water, and sand create such drastic formations? Or even at times little slivers of rock that were cut perfectly parallel to the canyon, and had rounded corners as if pointing the way.
We soon came upon the first swim, so we tied a rope to the tube and sent our first friend through. Being who we are we couldn’t resist holding onto the rope a little tight just so we could watch him flounder in the freezing water below. After a few girlish screams we let go only to witness him flailing about thinking we still had hold of the rope. So you see our attempts to bypass the cold water were largely thwarted with only ourselves to blame.
We kept hiking and soon we came across the iconic subway tree that everyone’s seen so many pictures of, knowing that right after that the actual subway part of the hike (the part that’s shaped like a tunnel) was near. When we arrived there we found some other hikers and quickly became friends, knowing we weren’t the only ones daring enough to chance the canyon was comforting (it’s easy to become friends when they find it so amusing that we did the hike with an inner tube to protect us, when they had on wet suites and neoprene gloves).
After eating a brief lunch we continued into where the canyon begins to open up to the cascading waterfall section of the hike. Here is also where our inner tube came in handy as we descended some of these waterfalls with the tube.
What was actually remarkable was the fact that halfway through the hike another stream fed the water and it surprisingly turned the water lukewarm. So what we thought was going to be a freeze fest, actually turned out fine and the times where we were legitimately cold were actually pretty low. So our decision was a good one as we braved the canyon and had a fantastic time seeing everything we could see.