My boys and I were familiar with Zion, as we had spent time there last year. But I was particularly excited to hike “The Subway” with them this year. If you don’t recognize this hike, it’s has 2-3 miles of the most unusual and beautiful scenery in all of Utah. An absolute MUST DO as far as hikes go. Being that this is mostly a water hike, July is a great month to experience this grand trail. But the permit system for “The Subway” is by lottery only, and they only allow 80 people on the Left Fork trail a day. Most hike from the bottom up and back, but top down is the best route… If you know the route. It could be easy to get turned around up top crossing the slick rock, believe me I know. I recommend going with someone who has hiked it before, at least your first time. That way you can learn the route.
I originally had a 12 person permit, but ended up giving away 7 spots because I couldn’t fill them all. Weird that I couldn’t even give them away, apparently I’m not as well liked as I might think. My boys and I arrived in Zion a few days before Jeremy and Erika were coming down, so we thought hiking the first 3 miles up the Narrows would be a good warm up for the 10 mile “Subway” hike. All that did was get me super stoked on my Narrows permit I have for later this month. decked out in my Vibram 5 fingers (my favorite water shoe), my Columbia Sportswear Omnifreeze shirt and Tetonsports day packs, we trekked up the Narrows with a light sprinkle of rain above us. Other than the Neanderthal “jocks” we encountered, who were not only bouncing a football of the slot canyon walls, but tried to sail a 30′ log down the shallow Virgin river, all was right in the world. The beauty of the Narrows is unparalleled, the Grand daddy of slot canyons. If you decide to venture up from bottom on a day hike, take it to the Orderville canyon confluence. Believe me, you will know when you get there.
Later that evening, Jeremy and Erika arrived at camp, and we began making plans for the “Subway” route the next morning. We set out around 9am, letting the other groups pass us, as we wanted the distance from separate hikers so we could enjoy the canyons beauty. Though the water in the “Subway” was really murky, and pretty much stained my brand new Columbia Omnifreezezero shirt, it was still another amazing experience. And even more memorable than hiking it the previous year, because I was able to share these moments with my 2 best buddies. My boys did great, no complaining, no whining, and even powered through the last mile with only 1 rest in the middle. High 5’s handed out all around, and smiles accompanied the beers back at camp last that evening. Couldn’t of asked for a better group to join me on this Epic hike.
The following morning, we said goodbye to Jeremy and Erika. Packed up camp and began the long drive to RMNP. I opted on taking the scenic route driving past Bryce Canyon, through Escalante, and Capitol Reef NP. This route took a an hour or so longer, but mileage wise, was shorter and much more majestic. We managed to break up the monotony of driving with a brief layover in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. A quaint little town, that other than my hotel being a POS, I rather enjoyed. The margarita I had with dinner had just the right kick and my waffle the next morning was amazing. We got back on the road by 9am, eager to reach RMNP and set up camp. I had extremely high expectations for this NP.
The first evening after camp was set up, we took a swim in the 40° Colorado river, and I spent some time teaching my boys to skip rocks. It was a father-son moment I will never forget. Amazingly, we were allowed camp fires in RMNP, so we went old school and roasted some weenies over the fire, followed by the ever classic s’mores. Early to rise, we took the drive over the Trail Ridge road, spotting a number of elk, deer and mountain goats. Taking the shuttle up the to Bear Lake and hiking around this awesome lake with mirror images. We opted to hike further up to Nymph Lake which turned out to be the high light of RMNP for me. The water was astounding, and covered with water-lilies, a sight I have never seen previously. Caelan even fell in at one point, “claiming” it to be an accident..? Very suspicious. We carried on to Dream Lake, after all how can you pass on visiting a place called Dream Lake? The vista was amazing, exactly what the name suggests… A Dream. The crystal clear lake settle directly below Hallet Peak, a sheer rock face that can be summited via climbing, or hiking. But you want to start that expedition early as late afternoon weather can quickly become a factor in your safety.
At this point, I was over impressed with RMNP, quickly realizing why Boulder, Colorado was such a sought after destination to live. It beauty for high altitude hikes is amazing. Then I saw to 2 boulderers descending the trail, packing their crash pads. My excitement began to build further. I stopped to talk with the next group of boulderers I encountered. They informed my RMNP was “world-class” bouldering, a top 10 destination apparently. My mind was made up, I would return to this breathtaking park. Crash pad and all. What more could you ask for..? Crisp, cool summer temps, gorgeous mountain and lake views, and world-class bouldering. Colorado, you have won me over. I forgive you for your sports teams, your landscape is wondrously stunning.
We exited the park via the east entrance, due to the fact the west entrance was closed for road construction. A bit irritated that the previous evening there was no signs letting people know this would be the case. But it turned out for the best. We got to see the astonishing Colorado sunrise from the Trail Ridge road. The highest continuous paved road in the USA, reaching 12,183 ft in elevation. And we also got to travel through the lovely town of Estes Park, a place I could definitely hang my hat for a while… Though it’s probably extremely expensive these days. I admit, my thought and views of Colorado were a bit swayed by my Utah roots. Strange because everyone I’ve met from this awesome state is extremely warm-hearted and wonderful. Finding now that the 2 are not much different. Aside from the marijuana laws in CO, and the predominant LDS population in UT. The states have more in common than most might think. The elevations of our major cities are both near a mile high. We share a love for skiing, climbing and MTB. The southern portion of our brother states are covered in red rocks, while the northern is mountains, lakes, quakies and pines. Even the liquor laws are fairly close (look them up). Colorado, I salute you!
Thanks to the awesome company TETONsports for their great support in all my adventures, these guys are amazing. Thanks for reading. Have you ever visited a place you had a preconceived notion about, and were proven wrong? I’d love to hear about it…