July Zion Traverse and Narrows Backpacking Itinerary

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Trying to gather as much beta as I can. My four-person group is doing a west-east traverse of Zion NP from July 2-7.

We will pick up our trans-zion permits on day 1 and take a 3:30PM ZRMG shuttle from the South Entrance to Lee's Pass TH, ETA 4:30-5PM.

We'll do a top-down Narrows hike after the traverse. We've secured permit and shuttle reservations. Our itinerary is as follows:



I'd appreciate it if someone could inform me if they see any holes in our plan.

1. How's the feasibility of day 4 - July 5? I have a feeling we'll have to cut out Observation Point or Angel's Landing due to time constraints. The concern is to camp that night close enough to the East Entrance so that we can catch our shuttle the next morning at 9:30am.

2. How long does it take to hike from Chamberlain's Ranch to Camp 9 in the Narrows?

3. Are we good to hike the Narrows w/out dry bags and wetsuits? I have a cuben dry sack for my down quilt and will be using a trash bag liner for the backpack.

Thanks a lot for the help.
 
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Nick

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#2
I hope you're a damn strong bunch of hikers. The full traverse in July and then the narrows top down would destroy me even at my peak of fitness. The worst part, in my opinion will be the summer heat for the traverse. Also keep an eye on the forecast. The monsoons should be firing up by then making exposure on the high plateaus a concern as well as flooding in The Narrows.

2. How long does it take to hike from Chamberlain's Ranch to Camp 9 in the Narrows?
Plan on most of the day. That shuttle should have you on the trail by 11-11:30. You'll probably get to camp between 4-6 depending on your pace.
 
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#3
I don't think you will need wet suits for the Narrows. We didn't use dry sacks. We just lined our backpacks with black plastic garbage bags. You can probably figure a mile an hour average for the Narrows unless you want to rush it. The first 3 miles can go really fast, but once you get to the water the views get better and better, and you may want to go slow and enjoy your surroundings.
 

Nick

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#4
Oh, I missed that. I second no wetsuits in narrows. You'll be plenty warm without them. You may need dry bags though. There are a couple deep spots on the second day but if you're careful you can usually get through it without getting anything wet. Lining your pack as Tres mentioned is a good plan. Trash compactor bags hold up quite well to the abuse.

With July heat, I'll bet you'll want to stop and swim about 50 times along the way. It'll be slow going, but very pleasant once the water gets deep enough to soak in.

 
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#5
Dry bags yes, wet suits no. Just in case you fall or want to float in the deep areas. Good luck with the Vegas thing after all those days in the wilderness. We did that after a Grand Canyon dory trip and were totally overwhelmed. Might work for you though. I'll be hoping for good weather for you!
 
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Dry bags yes, wet suits no. Just in case you fall or want to float in the deep areas. Good luck with the Vegas thing after all those days in the wilderness. We did that after a Grand Canyon dory trip and were totally overwhelmed. Might work for you though. I'll be hoping for good weather for you!
Thanks for the well wishes and the caution.

We flew into Vegas and are flying out of Vegas at midnight. So the Vegas day will be a very relaxed, hot day. I might check out Chinatown... actually I have no idea what to do in Vegas if I'm not:
1. gambling
2. strip club (nope)
3. edm pool or club
4. eating food

Not worried though. At least that day I can leave it mostly unplanned minus the Bacchanal dinner. If the few days after the week in Yosemite was any indication, I'll be happy gorging myself all day.
 

Ugly

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#7
First, the traverse is sweet, good on you and have a great time.

These are my humble insights, as I am not a speed or long distance guy.
Just back in Oct I did a slightly modified traverse, (I was more interested in staying a day longer in La Verkin instead of what I considered the trudge of wildcat... so I cut out wildcat...) You will have about twice the daylight in July, but time is a problem, even if the planned 20+ miles somehow is not. You cannot avoid the hordes once you get near the main canyon, especially on a holiday. The side trips to Angels and the not so-Hidden canyon are fantastic, but can have longer lines than an amusement park, and the same can be said for what should be a short ride on the tram down the canyon and back.
The elevation loss and gain is the killer. There was barely a trickle of water flowing in Oct from Stave spring, so we filled up good at Weeping Rock TH, and although the climb up to Echo was a calf burner, the real pain set in a couple miles later on the final climb up the white cliffs to the east rim. On the map, that climb is a jaunt, but at the end of a long day from rim to rim...
Your next day of hiking out the east rim and then getting through the drudgery of the initial distance along Chamberlains will either be cake, or your legs will be hating you for the previous day :)
Just say "Shut up legs", and enjoy the sights.
 
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#8
Starting next Monday I'm doing a modified version of your itinerary. I'm doing the Traverse but planning to skip the part from the main canyon to the E. Rim, instead catching a shuttle to Chamberlain Ranch. I'll be back after the trip and will post any thoughts/suggestions I come up with.

For the record, I'm not planning on a wet or dry suit for the Narrows.
 
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#9
  • The Hidden Canyon Trail Will be Fully Closed From June 1 to August 28
    The Hidden Canyon Trail will be fully closed from June 1 to August 28, 2015. Return to this website for more information.

From the Zion Website F YI
 
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  • The Hidden Canyon Trail Will be Fully Closed From June 1 to August 28
    The Hidden Canyon Trail will be fully closed from June 1 to August 28, 2015. Return to this website for more information.
From the Zion Website F YI
well that must be new... or I didn't notice it. Thanks. Chop off 2 mi or so to the intense day then...
 

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Ben

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#11
are you prepared for the heat? park web site says the normal daily max temp in july is 100 degrees. much of the west and east rims, and hop valley are very exposed to the sun. if you're only hiking nine miles, you could probably get up early, and be done before noon. but if you're hiking 15-20, i'm not sure how late in the day you imagine you'll be out. i imagine that there is a good chance the springs along the trail are dry that time of year. i've never done any hiking in heat like that. personally it doesn't sound like a lot of fun. additionaly, if 100 degrees is the normal, half the time it would be even hotter than that.
 
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are you prepared for the heat? park web site says the normal daily max temp in july is 100 degrees. much of the west and east rims, and hop valley are very exposed to the sun. if you're only hiking nine miles, you could probably get up early, and be done before noon. but if you're hiking 15-20, i'm not sure how late in the day you imagine you'll be out. i imagine that there is a good chance the springs along the trail are dry that time of year. i've never done any hiking in heat like that. personally it doesn't sound like a lot of fun. additionaly, if 100 degrees is the normal, half the time it would be even hotter than that.
I've hiked in June/July in the Phoenix area, I'll manage. Temps are similar. Plus I bought a light hooded long sleeve shirt to keep me covered. As for the other guys, they'll have to manage since we're locked in on our plans.
 
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#13
Not knowing what you hiked around Phoenix and whether or not temps and precip were well above average as is the seasonal outlook for Zion this year I'll respectfully suggest that "managing" your trip may very well include the need to bag it. I hope you have a great trip but your timing is awful in a normal year let alone this one. Great luck to you but be prepared to be very disappointed.
 
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Not knowing what you hiked around Phoenix and whether or not temps and precip were well above average as is the seasonal outlook for Zion this year I'll respectfully suggest that "managing" your trip may very well include the need to bag it. I hope you have a great trip but your timing is awful in a normal year let alone this one. Great luck to you but be prepared to be very disappointed.
Thanks for the caution.

If the heat makes it impossible during the day, we will hike at night. We will know for sure of our ability to withstand 110 deg F dry heat with the 15-mile Day 2 hike. Depending on the water report from the rangers at the start of the hike, I can carry up to 6 liters at a time. And the Day 4 23-mile day can always be shortened on a whim, with fewer side trips and more mid-day relaxation at the Red Rock Grill/Zion Lodge.

The traverse bail-out point is also on Day 4, about 40 miles in. If we have to bail out due to the heat, and we can't make it to the at-large camping on the East Rim, we'll take a room in the Lodge. The Narrows shuttle can then be rescheduled to pick us up at the South Entrance. I don't expect for the Narrows portion of the hike to be threatened by the heat.

Now if it becomes unbearable, death-inducing temperatures from Day 1-4, and night hiking becomes impossible due to all of our headlamps failing, then a storm rolls through on Day 5 and/or 6, then the trip will be a solid fail, and I will always remember how everything transpired against our Zion traverse and narrows itinerary.
 
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#15
Hop Valley and the slickrock area of the East rim trail will be the hot parts if the weather is as usual in July. I did the traditional TZ in 2012 in June. I took a nice dunk in the Virgin before heading up East Rim. Walked the road to make it all official. The one advantage I had was that the springs were running. Have fun and be safe!
 
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Is it advisable to take a rain jacket during this time, or will it be alright to have a wind jacket?

I think if it's so hot then the rain should be a relief, although I am fearful of somehow getting hypothermia.

I would buy an umbrella for sun/rain protection but that Euroschirm/Birdiepal Swing Liteflex in silver color is sold out everywhere and on a 1-mo+ back order.
 

cmgz

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#17
I'd just have something warm in case you got cold and wet. I'm a big smartwool or fleece person. Still warm when wet and lightweight. Also makes a great pillow at night. :)
 
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Hello,

Just wanted to provide a quick update since we got back from our trip yesterday.

We lucked out on the weather. I think it was mid-80s all week and overcast for all times except when going up Observation Point, when it must have been over 100 deg F. That was really difficult, especially since I had to go to the bathroom and resisted until I finally broke down and used the wag bag about 1.5 hrs into the hike from the Grotto. I think there must have been only one good hiding spot on the trail going up Observation Point (in the switchback section) and I was lucky to find it. It was my first time using a wag bag, and it was a perfect success. During this time, the sun was totally blazing, and I was very glad to have my silver umbrella. My friend hiked the entire week without even a hat, and I don't know how he could stand it. We started that day with 6 liters of water each.

It was nice that the park ranger gave our group the permits required for the trans-Zion and issued the Narrows permits at the same time. Previously when I called, they always said that I would have to go down to the wilderness desk the day before my hike.

The trans-Zion hike is very flexible with bailout points and luxurious free shuttles. On the third day, my friends were feeling tired of being in the wilderness and just wanted to increase our miles and get the hike done sooner. At 11am, we decided while being on the West Rim Trail that we would continue our hike past Camp 6 (which was, by the way, totally an amazing, beautiful campsite with stunning views), do Angel's Landing, then catch the southbound shuttle from Weeping Rock and sleep in the South Campground. We were lucky and found an open, tent-only site no. 126 available for us on July 4th night at 11PM. Our group's desire to leave the trail early was mostly brought on by fatigue from poor sleep... I slept poorly due to work and anticipation for the trip in the days leading up to the hike, then slept poorly while being on the hike. I really have no reason to sleep poorly as I carry a Fillo Pillow, a Thermarest, and a 50* Hammock Gear quilt, and earplugs. Just need to keep trying to get used to it. My other friend was getting tired of our masochistic trips and wanted to do normal things for a change, like drinking $6 diet cokes while watching movies at the AMC theater in an air-conditioned mall. After we finished the trip, he signed on for our next planned trip in the Wind River Range.

It was also lucky, too, that after we completed Angel's Landing, my other friend had bad blisters that prevented him from hiking the next day. He is an avid caver but this was his first multi-day trek. So the plan was for him to stay in South Campground the next day while we continued on for Observation Point and the East Rim. He had a glass of chardonnay in Zion Lodge while the rest of us baked going up Observation Point. After Observation Point and getting slightly lost on the East Rim, we had a bit of rain. By about 5PM we reached a sign that said we were 5 miles from the East Rim. My $6 diet coke friend suggested that we should just complete the trek in the same day. We realized that we could get our blistered-injured friend to shuttle us from the East Entrance to the South Campground. We reached the East Entrance by about 10:30pm.

My blistered-injured friend told me that the Narrows had a bit of flash flooding due to the rain we encountered. The shuttle company, Zion Rock Mountain Guides, canceled their scheduled pickup from the East Entrance to Chamberlain's Ranch due to the road being impassable. That would have been a huge nuisance if we ended up sleeping on the East Rim, then waking at 4am to catch our planned 9:30am shuttle at the East Entrance, only to realize that no one would be coming for us.

We slept that night in the South Campground. The next day we did a bottom-up of the Narrows. I was running on poor sleep for the past 6 nights so I was pretty tired. The Narrows was cool, but I was ready to find some good sleep and put on some clean clothes. Then I ran into a PCT internet hiker blog celebrity.

So we had two nights in the South Campground while doing the trans-Zion. This allowed for a much more balanced distribution of miles per day, and easily allowed us to complete both Angel's Landing and Observation Point. This also allowed us to have big breakfasts at Oscar's Cafe on each day before hiking (observation point to east entrance and the bottom-up Narrows day).

Also, my first night in South Campground was ruined by my damn NeoAir X-Therm being punctured. I woke up to my hips on the hard ground at about 3am. Then I desperately struggled to gain some comfort in a sleep-deprived daze, and decided to sleep on top of the metal picnic table, periodically re-inflating my punctured, expensive sleeping pad.

The next day I went to Zion Adventure Company and bought a cheap foam pad that cost me $17. I tried to sleep on it on my second night in the South Campground, but it was totally too hard for my hips, my heels, my back. I'd blackout and sleep for an hour, then wake up in pain and groaning, turn to my side and sleep a bit more, then flip over again. At about 4am I woke my friend to ask if he'd swap sleeping pads with me. He had a NeoAir ProLite that he didn't even bother to inflate, as he likes to sleep on hard surfaces. He stared at me for a few moments when I woke him up from deep sleep and agreed to swap pads. I fell asleep soon after procuring his pad. When I woke in the morning, he said he was never able to fall asleep after I woke him at 4am. He also said I looked like an elephant in his sleep-deprived daze (probably because I had my Capilene 4 hoody on).

This write-up turned out a bit longer than planned.
 
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#19
Hello,

Just wanted to provide a quick update since we got back from our trip yesterday.

We lucked out on the weather. I think it was mid-80s all week and overcast for all times except when going up Observation Point, when it must have been over 100 deg F. That was really difficult, especially since I had to go to the bathroom and resisted until I finally broke down and used the wag bag about 1.5 hrs into the hike from the Grotto. I think there must have been only one good hiding spot on the trail going up Observation Point (in the switchback section) and I was lucky to find it. It was my first time using a wag bag, and it was a perfect success. During this time, the sun was totally blazing, and I was very glad to have my silver umbrella. My friend hiked the entire week without even a hat, and I don't know how he could stand it. We started that day with 6 liters of water each.

It was nice that the park ranger gave our group the permits required for the trans-Zion and issued the Narrows permits at the same time. Previously when I called, they always said that I would have to go down to the wilderness desk the day before my hike.

The trans-Zion hike is very flexible with bailout points and luxurious free shuttles. On the third day, my friends were feeling tired of being in the wilderness and just wanted to increase our miles and get the hike done sooner. At 11am, we decided while being on the West Rim Trail that we would continue our hike past Camp 6 (which was, by the way, totally an amazing, beautiful campsite with stunning views), do Angel's Landing, then catch the southbound shuttle from Weeping Rock and sleep in the South Campground. We were lucky and found an open, tent-only site no. 126 available for us on July 4th night at 11PM. Our group's desire to leave the trail early was mostly brought on by fatigue from poor sleep... I slept poorly due to work and anticipation for the trip in the days leading up to the hike, then slept poorly while being on the hike. I really have no reason to sleep poorly as I carry a Fillo Pillow, a Thermarest, and a 50* Hammock Gear quilt, and earplugs. Just need to keep trying to get used to it. My other friend was getting tired of our masochistic trips and wanted to do normal things for a change, like drinking $6 diet cokes while watching movies at the AMC theater in an air-conditioned mall. After we finished the trip, he signed on for our next planned trip in the Wind River Range.

It was also lucky, too, that after we completed Angel's Landing, my other friend had bad blisters that prevented him from hiking the next day. He is an avid caver but this was his first multi-day trek. So the plan was for him to stay in South Campground the next day while we continued on for Observation Point and the East Rim. He had a glass of chardonnay in Zion Lodge while the rest of us baked going up Observation Point. After Observation Point and getting slightly lost on the East Rim, we had a bit of rain. By about 5PM we reached a sign that said we were 5 miles from the East Rim. My $6 diet coke friend suggested that we should just complete the trek in the same day. We realized that we could get our blistered-injured friend to shuttle us from the East Entrance to the South Campground. We reached the East Entrance by about 10:30pm.

My blistered-injured friend told me that the Narrows had a bit of flash flooding due to the rain we encountered. The shuttle company, Zion Rock Mountain Guides, canceled their scheduled pickup from the East Entrance to Chamberlain's Ranch due to the road being impassable. That would have been a huge nuisance if we ended up sleeping on the East Rim, then waking at 4am to catch our planned 9:30am shuttle at the East Entrance, only to realize that no one would be coming for us.

We slept that night in the South Campground. The next day we did a bottom-up of the Narrows. I was running on poor sleep for the past 6 nights so I was pretty tired. The Narrows was cool, but I was ready to find some good sleep and put on some clean clothes. Then I ran into a PCT internet hiker blog celebrity.

So we had two nights in the South Campground while doing the trans-Zion. This allowed for a much more balanced distribution of miles per day, and easily allowed us to complete both Angel's Landing and Observation Point. This also allowed us to have big breakfasts at Oscar's Cafe on each day before hiking (observation point to east entrance and the bottom-up Narrows day).

Also, my first night in South Campground was ruined by my damn NeoAir X-Therm being punctured. I woke up to my hips on the hard ground at about 3am. Then I desperately struggled to gain some comfort in a sleep-deprived daze, and decided to sleep on top of the metal picnic table, periodically re-inflating my punctured, expensive sleeping pad.

The next day I went to Zion Adventure Company and bought a cheap foam pad that cost me $17. I tried to sleep on it on my second night in the South Campground, but it was totally too hard for my hips, my heels, my back. I'd blackout and sleep for an hour, then wake up in pain and groaning, turn to my side and sleep a bit more, then flip over again. At about 4am I woke my friend to ask if he'd swap sleeping pads with me. He had a NeoAir ProLite that he didn't even bother to inflate, as he likes to sleep on hard surfaces. He stared at me for a few moments when I woke him up from deep sleep and agreed to swap pads. I fell asleep soon after procuring his pad. When I woke in the morning, he said he was never able to fall asleep after I woke him at 4am. He also said I looked like an elephant in his sleep-deprived daze (probably because I had my Capilene 4 hoody on).

This write-up turned out a bit longer than planned.
Glad you updated. I was wondering how you made out with our crazy weather. Sorry you missed the narrows from the top. Gives you a good reason to return though.
 

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