Tag Archives: The Subway

Trip Report: Russell Gulch and Subway, 9/9/2011

With beautiful weather and the upcoming ACA Rendezvous, many people may be planning a visit the Subway soon. The following trip report details the conditions I found on last Friday, September 9th. Springdale Forecast: Partly Cloudy, High of 90, 30% chance of Scattered afternoon thunderstorms. Group Size: Two 10:30: Started hiking at Wildcat (would have liked to start earlier to avoid afternoon rain) 1:30 Arrived top of Subway Slot (where Russell Gulch meets Left Fork) 2:30 Arrived Red Cascades at the end of the “technical section” 5:05 Finished Hiking at Left Fork We started with the Russell Gulch Variation at the beginning. There were 5-10 wades and one short swim in that section, before the “Subway Proper.” In the Subway itself, we encountered 5-6 swims. The swims were not that long (some as short as 3-5 feet long). We waded up to the waist at least 8 more times. The water was significantly colder for the first half of the hike, up until near Rappel 2 where the black bowling ball chockstone is. This is also where the water begins flowing in the canyon (no flowing water, only still pools up to that point). The water was a bit warmer after that … Continue reading

Posted in Canyoneering, Trip Reports, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

‘Tis the Season: Late Summer Adventures in Zion

Ahhh, August is here. The desert is still hot, the thunderstorms are coming and going, and for many it is the last chance for a summer adventure. I offer this post as a guideline on how to maximize this time in Zion and the surrounding area. Climbing, for me, is the most important form of recreation, so I will start there. There are few sports that offer such extreme physical challenge and such inspiring rewards. Even when it is 100 degrees outside, climbing in the shade is amazingly reasonable. Shady cragging opportunities exist all through the main canyon for those who can find the right aspects and times of day. One of my favorite summer climbing areas, Kolob Canyon’s South Fork of Taylor Creek, features cool temps and shade most of the day. Perhaps the most exciting and challenging summer climbing I have done is in Kolob on Huecos Rancheros (5.12c) and Namaste (5.12a). Also, Last Rites (5.10+) is a super-fun single pitch finger crack with a bolted start. St. George also has some fun summer climbing opportunities. Enjoy the novelty of Veyo’s Crawdad Canyon Climbing Resort; if you go, don’t miss “The Fly” (5.11c), right off the pool deck. Snow … Continue reading

Posted in Canyoneering, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Seasonal, Summer, The Narrows, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

A Portrait of Zion’s Dramatic “Subway”

ZAC client, Felicia Bicknell, was kind enough to send a few photographs along after her Subway descent last weekend, and I thought this image was exceptional. Her well-placed panorama captures both the micro and macro beauty of The Subway; from the marvelous “subway” tunnel to the clear, green pools and subtle cascading ripples, this canyon holds true magic. Felicia notes the spring floods have washed an enormous degree of sand from North Creek, making for much deeper and dramatic pools than has been typical in recent years. If you are planning to make photography a priority on your Subway descent, it’s a great idea to leave the trailhead early (5 – 7 a.m.) to get your best shot at having the canyon to yourself. Light conditions vary greatly during the day and with the seasons, however, so anyone serious about nailing the right conditions in The Subway might have to visit a number of times to get things just so.

Posted in Canyoneering, Photography, Trip Reports, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Two More “Overdue” Subway Hikers Emerge

Two more overdue hikers, Matthew Files, 35, and Nate Simon, 22, both from Massachuetts, found their way out of The Subway area yesterday morning after spending an unplanned stay overnight. From this report from Fox Channel 13, it’s unclear exactly where they were or how they got there. Evidently, they were separated from their party, but details are murky. I like how the reported spins it as an “unplanned overnight adventure” rather than something like a “near-death experience”.   All this overdue hiker business is causing a stir, and the St. George Spectrum called us yesterday to discuss the route and conditions. Our resident Outfitting Diva, Shelley Buckingham, offered reporter, Scott Kerbs, some thoughts on Subway planning and preparation for spring conditions in general.

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, In the News, Safety, Spring, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Recent Subway Trouble Highlights Dangerous Spring Conditions

While there are LOTS of fantastic ways to enjoy Zion right now, hiking The Subway is not one of them. Due to dangerous high water conditions and a flurry of “lost hiker” reports in the last two weeks, the Park Service has closed The Subway until further notice. While nobody has been seriously injured or harmed, this story from KSL Salt Lake City features video from the crew that helped out hikers who spent four days stranded in the Subway last week. While The Subway has a reputation as a moderate, beautiful hike which is appropriate for families and kids, risks involved in The Subway are VERY contextual. In mid-June, when rain is rare, temperatures high, and days long, The Subway can be exceptionally hospitable. Even then, however, you still need to have proper equipment and knowledge to manage short rappels, downclimbs, and cold water. During periods of heavy rain or snow melt, however, The Subway quickly becomes an intimidating and life-threatening place. Though some canyoneers do have proper equipment, experience, and training to descend The Subway in high-water conditions, most use good judgment by going elsewhere to better conditions, and returning on a better day or season.

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, In the News, Outdoor Leadership, Seasons, Videos, Weather & Climate, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Subway: A Classic Canyoneering Route in Zion National Park

I came across some wonderful images of Zion’s Subway route the other day, and the photographer, Daniel Peckham, graciously granted me permission to display them here. Above is the climactic “subway tunnel” after which The Subway takes its name. The colors in this section are dazzling; it looks like someone dumped a truckload of gasoline in the water, creating the shimmering, iridescent colors typically seen in oil or fuel. I asked a local botanist about this once, thinking the colors might be from a bacteria in the water. Turns out the colors come from chemical leached by a few different plants in the area. Either way, it’s nice to know these sorts of visual effects are completely natural (and nicely captured by Mr. Peckham). A little ways past the classic subway section, this micro slot creates a gorgeous whitewater flume and showcases the fault-induced nature of The Subway. The canyon, properly called the Left Fork of North Creek, runs directly above a minor fault line, creating the weaknesses that the water follows downcanyon. Over millions of years, water followed the narrow fault cracks through the harder Navajo sandstone and reached the softer Kayenta layer, below. Since the Kayenta layer erodes … Continue reading

Posted in Autumn, Canyoneering, Seasonal, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Injured Hiker Short-Hauled Out Of Subway Route

From the NPS Morning Report on 9/21/10: On Saturday, September 19th, a 20-year-old hiker from Boise sustained an unstable ankle injury when she jumped eight to ten feet off an obstacle along the Subway Route. Ranger/medic Ray O’Neil and Dan Hovanec hiked in six miles, stabilized her injury, and spent the night with the injured hiker. Rangers Kelsey Taylor and Derrick Fassbender hiked in additional equipment and escorted the rest of the hiking group out in the dark that evening. On Sunday, Grand Canyon’s helicopter and flight crew short-hauled the woman out of the Subway Route to a waiting ambulance. In the area where the incident occurred, a bolted anchor is available to rappel or hand-line down. Despite discouraging the practice, jumping to negotiate obstacles continues to be a frequent cause of injury while canyoneering in Zion. Contact Information Name: Brandon Torres, Canyon District Ranger I am absolutely certain the hiker in question here did not intend to interrupt everyone’s life so much on this day. My question always is, “Why did she think she didn’t need a rope?” Two possibilities: a) she simply didn’t know there would be vertical obstacles, and b) somebody suggested she would not need one. … Continue reading

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, In the News, Outdoor Leadership, Safety, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Trip Reports from The Subway & Mystery Canyon

Trip reports are a tricky business. How does one write and engaging account of an amazing rock climb, canyon descent, or mountain bike ride? I have certainly read some great accounts in novel-length format (see Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson, or The Way Out, by Craig Childs), but it seems impossible to include the emotion, personal narrative, or life-scope impact of such books in a 2 – 20 paragraph summary. I see many well-written and highly detailed trip reports in on-line discussion groups, but I often have difficulty getting through them without photographs to compliment the storyline. Personally, I like an illustrated story, one where I can see the cast of characters and have some context concerning the environment. While photographs certainly aren’t a silver bullet, they do help me get a sense of a place or a route, if not the experience of the author(s). And frankly, when I am searching future trips on-line, I am more interested in the route than anonymous adventurers’ trials and exaltations. To my point, this morning I came across these recent trip reports from descents of The Subway and Mystery Canyon by a blogger possibly named Marcy (?). If you haven’t visited … Continue reading

Posted in Canyoneering, Trip Reports, Zion National Park | Tagged , , | Comments Off