If there is one thing that I have not outgrown and that I hope that I never do, it is taking spontaneous trips into the wild. It used to be overnighters in extreme weather warnings, broken gear and nothing but a dream keeping everything together. Now it’s more along the lines of, “hey, there are a couple of permits available tomorrow for the Subway, wanna go?” Which the answer is, of course, always yes.
KB showed up at the shop around 5:30 on Tuesday. She said she needed the National Parks pass and then headed out the door. The next thing I know I get a text saying that she scored some permits for the Subway. Her next concern was a rope. She procured one in Springdale and it was set. We were doing the Subway in the morning.
KB has been bugging me since I met her to do the Subway. Seeing that this is the summer of Kathleen’s Bucket List, I finally took her. This also coincides with checking Coyote Gulch and Havasupai off her list. Who knows what next year will bring…
We arose early Wednesday morning. She was up and ready to go before my eyes had opened. I wasn’t in a hurry seeing that the temperatures weren’t supposed to be over 80 degrees in Zion and knowing how cold the water was going to be. Eventually she dragged my ass out of bed and we packed, ate breakfast, coffee’d up and hit the road.
The Subway starts at Wildcat Trailhead right off of the Kolob Reservoir road. The Suunto said we were at 8,000 feet and the chill in the air confirmed that we were no longer in the desert. That along with all the Ponderosa pines that surrounded us. We hit the trailhead only to find about 30 scouts milling around, throwing rocks and doing the stupid shit that scouts do (if you didn’t already know, I kind of despise scouts). I imagined following all of them down and how bad that would suck. So we grabbed our gear, applied the sunscreen and hit the trail as quickly as we could.
And then we hiked as fast as possible. To get down to the Subway you drop and drop and drop and drop and drop. About half way down I knew that my legs were going to be really sore the next day as my knees felt like Jello and ever step was an effort to keep from falling. We thought we had left the kids behind, so we stopped for a snack and to take some pictures only to hear them coming up quickly behind us.
I probably would have taken more pictures of the top if they hadn’t been right on our asses. Luckily, once we hit the steep down climb into the canyon, they disappeared and were never heard from again.
We came to the first obstacle in the canyon which is a big boulder that one has to down climb and swim or rappel off. There was a group of people rappelling, so we lingered for a bit and then KB thought we could just slide down and off the rock and not get too wet. We tossed the packs and headed over the edge. About half way down the rock, I flipped around and was able to down climb until I was about 5 feet off the ground. I dropped, tripped and ended up soaked.
KB then attempted to make the drop. Of course, she wouldn’t listen to me and turn around so she could use the hand holds and opted to slide straight down into the water. Soaked.
Once past that group we made some great time and never saw anyone else until we dropped into the lower section of the Subway where people can hike up from the bottom.
The water was cold as a witch’s nipple in January. Even with the wetsuits on, my hands were numb by the time we finally found some sunshine. We were forced to swim a lot more than I remembered. I guess going in early June means you get more water…
I set up a rappel off the last drop so KB could practice and because she gets so anxious she makes me nervous. Once we had her heading down the rope, she did awesome even when the rope dropped over the vertical spot.
Once down the rappel, we had the rest of the time to hike down river to the exit. Those were some of the longest miles of my life. Maybe it was because I don’t remember it being very far or maybe I’m just a pussy now, but I was ready to be done about two hours before I was. And I mean Roller Coaster Kim done, not just ordinary done.
The exit from the canyon goes basically straight up.
This is a view from the top of the climb…
We survived. It was touch and go for a bit but nobody broke an ankle, got bit by a rattlesnake or got hypothermia. I don’t think there is anything anybody could have done to keep us away from the Pizza and Noodle as we were both starving and ready for some brews…
And now I am off to Wipple Valley.
P. L. and R.