Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

A Narrow(s) Escape

This time I’m going in.  This time, when we’re there in September, I’m heading upstream, into The Narrows.  Not that that means I’m going to be doing anything extraordinary.  I’m not.  All kinds of people do it all the time, or at least when the weather (and river) are cooperating.  So long as there aren’t going to be any flash floods or high water levels and it’s relatively warm – that is, it’s not winter and the water isn’t around 40 degrees – it’s pretty safe.  Slippery, but safe.  You do, after all, have to spend about 50% of your time hiking in the river itself.  And sometimes the water will be at waist level.  So you’re going to get wet.  But all kinds of people do it.    Like these people.

Entrance to Narrows (2680)

This is the entrance to The Narrows (from the “bottom”).  You can also enter about 16 miles upstream (the “top”), although a permit is required for that hike.  Probably because you’re going to wind up camping overnight.  If you go in from this direction, though, no permit is required.  Just head upstream whenever you want to.  Which is what most people do.  And when conditions are favorable it can get pretty crowded.

Having said that, I’ve often wondered how far this little family actually went.  They aren’t exactly “dressed” for the hike.  Generally speaking, standard hiking shoes aren’t the best thing to wear.  They don’t grip well enough.  It’s been said that hiking the Narrows is like trying to walk across “greased bowling balls”.  These folks are about to find out if that’s true or not.

Anyway, I’m going to see how far I can get.  The canyon narrows considerably just up around the bend (hence the name).  It also gets darker as the cliff walls start to close in.  Assuming I manage to wear the right shoes (and maybe some kind of dry suit), I’m guessing my main problem will be finding a way to keep my camera dry.  I won’t carry my DSLR.  The OMD EM-5 should work just fine, and it’s a hell of a lot lighter.  What I need to find is some kind of backpack or case that’s easy to get in and out of but is essentially “waterproof”.  Just in case I slip on one of those greased bowling balls.  I know the OMD is “weather-sealed”, but that doesn’t mean it can go swimming.  Chances are that I’ll dry out just fine, but the OMD may not.

Why go in there?  Well, I’ve never done it.  And I ain’t getting any younger.  My new “hero”, by the way, is that 80 year-old Japanese guy who just climbed Mt. Everest.  I’m not suggesting that hiking the Narrows is like climbing a 29,000 foot mountain, but it’s at least a lot more adventurous than anything I can do here in western NY.

And it’s probably the world’s most famous slot canyon.  What more could you ask for?


2 Responses to “A Narrow(s) Escape”

  1. John - Visual Notebook

    Good luck, Paul – and be careful! I’ve walked on slippery bowling balls (not there though) and know how unpredictable that can be. One moment your standing the next you’re wondering why you’re looking at the sky…

    • Paul Maxim

      Yeah, me too, John. Must be a sign of old age or something. My wife seems sure that I’ll slip and fall, knock myself out, and wind up being found somewhere just west of St. George.


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