Hiking the Subway in Zion (Not if there is a flash flood)

Rain has never stopped us before. If we are traveling and want to hike, we go, even if we occasionally get strange looks from the locals.

The Subway got it's name because parts look like an actual subway.

The Subway got it’s name because parts look like an actual subway.

So when we got to Zion Visitor Center to pick up our permit to hike the Subway, we were conflicted when we saw there was a 60% chance of rain the day of our hike. We had taken rappel classes and invested in the equipment (helmets, harnesses, rope, carabineers and more rope and carabineers) we would need along the way.

It turns out 60% chance of rain doesn’t mean there is a 60% chance of rain like I always thought. It means that 60% of the area in question will get rain.  And on the Subway in Zion that means a probable chance of a flash flood.  When the ranger informed us that she wouldn’t even consider hiking anything with over a 30% chance of rain, and we called Matt’s dad (an atmospheric physicist who can serve as a meteorologist) we begrudgingly decided not to go. We don’t have a death wish.  Make the wrong choice, you never hike again.  Make the right choice and you live to hike another day.  We both agreed that we would be paranoid the entire day if we decided to go for it.

Then we woke up the day we were supposed to hike to a spectacular sunrise. (Ugh.) By 1PM when it was raining, I was thrilled.  We’d made the right choice.  There were flash floods.

Hiking the Narrows through the Virgin River

Hiking the Narrows through the Virgin River

That made for exciting hiking in the Narrows. The Virgin River was flowing at over 1600 cubic-feet-per-minute during the night.  They suggest not hiking over 120 cfm.  When I asked the ranger if it was safe to hike, she said, “Well, we’re not allowed to use the word ‘safe’.”  Thank you litigious USA.  Turns out the river was at 120 cfm.  She would be willing to go.

I have not found an activity that used my stabilizer muscles so much (which is saying something since I teach Pilates and basically eat, sleep and breathe stabilizer muscles). The water was fast.  All the silt was turned up so you couldn’t see where you were stepping.  Sometimes you stepped on silt and sank to your knee (that was fun to work your way out of).  Other times you hit wet, slimy, slippery rocks of varying sizes and shapes.  You had to balance while the water fought to knock you over.  It was a fabulous challenge in stability and steadiness.

We were lucky enough to get a new permit to hike the subway, and lucky again that it didn’t rain. It only rains about 15 days a year around Zion, so, really that’s not surprising.

And we were off to a new adventure. It’s hard to keep me from moving when it’s in my plan, but sometimes waiting is the best choice.

2017-10-25T14:26:04+00:00

About the Author:

Maggie Downie
Thank you for giving your time to stop and read my blog. I hope it encourages you to keep moving. Move and the body will be happier. And when you're moving you can hike, run, swim in Jell-O, race over non-Newtonian fluids, travel the world or build igloos--if that's your thing. If not, you can watch me do it. This is just a spot to try and feel good about life.

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