I don’t care what you do, how much you drink–a gallon of water, 10 liters of lemonade, 3 six packs of beer. YOU JUST AIN’T GONNA PEE! Not when you’re in Zion National Park and it’s 99º with virtually no humidity. That’s where I am now.
Greenery and sandstone on the way to Angel's Landing
In “Quiet Canyon”

Thank God there are things you can do to mitigate the stifling heat. Even when it’s 100º here, there are places here to escape. I call one of them Quiet Canyon. It’s a little oasis of cool and green on the trail to Angel’s Landing. It’s cool early in the day before the sun gets to it anyway. It’s also very quiet, at least if the other hikers heed the signs to be quiet which are at either end of the canyon. You can hear people talking in a normal voice when they are out of sight hundreds of feet away. You wonder when they are going to come into view. You wait and wait and wait, and finally they appear. That’s why I call it Quiet Canyon… because of the signs at either end and because sounds travel, and well, when other aren’t making noise it’s really, really quiet in there.

Coolorful sandstone contrasts with the greens of the trees in Zion canyon.
Contrasts in “Quiet Canyon”

Besides the coolness and quietness of the canyon–which by the way you could say is something of a slot canyon being narrow with roughly vertical walls of sandstone on either side–the contrasts of colors and textures found within it make for a banquet of visual delights. Swirling patterns of richly colored sandstone in a myriad of textures contrast against various bright greens of the transilluminated broadleaf trees and the tangy blueness of the evergreens. I lost myself in visual joy for an hour or so in this tiny little canyon and in its stillness and quiet coolness. Despite the baking heat just 100 yards away I actually found myself becoming chilled by the cool air–as well a thrilled by the all the eye candy. (Click the images for larger versions.)

Angel's Landing towers nearly1500' above the canyon floor
Angel’s Landing towers nearly1500′ above the canyon floor

Quiet Canyon was a joyful, serendipitous surprise on my way to Angel’s Landing, a peak that rises nearly 1500′ above the canyon floor and offers sweeping views of Zion Canyon in all directions. This 5.4 mile round trip hike includes a half mile section at the top where chains have been attached to metal pipe driven into the sandstone making something of a handrail with which to hold on… for dear life! The trail, and I use the word trail loosely, has steep narrow passages and precipitous drop-offs. It’s a vertigo inducing, dizzying affair which for people like me with a thing about heights makes for more than a few exciting moments.

Looking north from Angel's Landing
Looking north from Angel’s Landing
Looking south down Zion Canyon from Angel's Landing
Looking south down Zion Canyon from Angel’s Landing

Another cool trick, which is to say a way to stay cool, is to take a hike up The Narrows. This hike follows the Virgin River from the northernmost point of the park road. When I say it follows the river, I mean the hike is IN the river. When the water is low as it was during my hike there are places along the side of the river you can walk on dry land, but not all the way, not all the time. The best you can do is cross the river repeatedly in order to seek out terra firma. The hike goes on for

In The Narrows of Zion Canyon
In The Narrows of Zion Canyon

miles as I understand it, but I stopped when the water was getting about waist deep and some darkening clouds seemed to threaten rain. You really don’t want to be in the river when it is raining or when it may be raining anywhere nearby–flash floods and all.

As The Narrows hike follows the river upstream, besides the delightful coolness of the water on your body and in the air, you are treated to the visual splendor of the canyon through which the river flows. Here too cottonwoods and evergreens combine with the patterned sandstone to delight the visually inclined.

Stunning sandstone lines the Virgin river in The Narrows
Hiking The Narrows in Zion
I found one more way to beat the heat which is simply to amble down to the river and plunk yourself into it. Actually, all I did was to plunk my chair into the river’s edge, dangle my tootsies in the cool liquid, and soak my t-shirt in it too which made for a chilly treat. This part of my tale I shall not illustrate, which I believe for all those concerned is a good thing.

One thought on “YOU JUST AIN’T GONNA PEE!”

  1. The lovely photos of Zion canyons were well worth the dizzying climb up angel/s ledge! Job well done. Your descriptions of the heat made me feel hot and grateful for the typical Berkeley summer we are starting to have (time to dig out our old sweaters)! Glad you found ways to cool off and hopefully “pee” at some point!

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