• The Microtourists

Friend Week.

Let us preface this post a little bit. We recently returned to the Midwest to see our new nephew, Hudson, and to go to Northern Wisconsin with our family to celebrate the Fourth of July. If you follow along on Instagram I’m sure most of you have noticed. We are working our way back to Utah this week to pick up our camper and continue our journey. Here is what you missed the week before we returned home....

We headed south out of Cedar City to our high altitude campsite on the Kolob Reservoir Lake. The GPS told us to take the gravel road out of town that wound into the mountains 17 miles to the campsite. Seventeen miles, how hard could it be, right!?! Wrong. The route wound through hairpin turns and took us on a one lane dirt forest road where the passenger (Ross) could look over the side of the mountain, down toward certain death. With white knuckles gripping the steering wheel, Tara crept along as the road twisted and turned en route to the lake. Ross hopped out several times to open and close cattle gates that were blocking the road as we continued to drive. We even drove past threatening “no trespassing” and “surveillance cameras in use” signs along the way. We were just envisioning old mountain men peering at us through their cabin windows with their shot guns waiting to shoot out our tires… luckily that never happened. We were super excited to meet our good friends Aaron and Katie for a few days of fun at Zion National park, nothing could dampen our spirits, not even this mountain road from hell. So we pressed on. After driving what felt like an eternity through dirt, we finally emerged onto the main road from a small road we thought was someone’s driveway the day before. A very interesting route, one which we would not take again.

We had no service at the lake but we knew our friends would arrive around 10:30 that evening. We waited up in anticipation and just as we began to wonder if they were lost we saw headlights appear on the far entrance of the lake. We were camped on the opposite side so we watched as the navigated the winding road along the shoreline. Finally their headlights spotted us in our chairs and we cheered and greeted them with hugs and high fives.

We woke the next morning to find out that Tara had been drawn for a permit to the hike “The Subway” in Zion National Park. That was super exciting news. The Subway is an ultra cool hike that takes you down into a canyon, and then follow the stream, hiking over boulders and around waterfalls until you reach a canyon that resembles, you guessed it, a subway (think train station not the sandwich shop). At “The Subway” the river is the only option for walking further into the canyon. The water carved out the walls and the small emerald pools were formed by erosion. At the farthest reaching spot, a waterfall jumps off a 40 foot cliff and cascades down into The Subway. The Park Service does a great job of keeping this hike protected. Only 80 hikers a day get the opportunity to enter The Subway and 60 of those people are chosen months in advance. Only 20 spots are reserved for “walk-up” hikers and everyone who would like one of those spots is entered into a drawing that happens two days before the hike. Tara’s chances were 1 of roughly 240 people who wanted the opportunity and she nailed it! Lucky for the rest of us, it was four person permit and we all got the chance to go!

Dogs are not allowed into The Subway so we secured a spot for Olive at The Doggy Dude Ranch near the park entrance (she enjoyed socializing with other dogs and making new friends). We hiked into the canyon at roughly 10:00 AM and spent the day exploring all the wonders described above. The waterfalls were beautiful and there were several swimming holes along the way. The stream felt cool on the hot day and we could see the trout swimming around near our feet. The red rock cliffs stretched toward the sky funneling us toward the end goal of the actual “Subway” and the largest of the waterfalls, marking the end. It was truly one of the better experiences of our lives. A day that none of us will forget. When people ask us, “what has been your favorite part of the trip thus far?” We answer, “The Subway”.

Our last day together we went into Zion via the main road. The only way to get into the main part of the park is on the park bus. We chose to go on Saturday, and waited for roughly two hours to get onto the bus at the visitor center. We then rode the bus to the farthest stop (45 minuets) to the Narrows, arguably the biggest draw in the park. The Narrows are just that, a narrow canyon carved by a river creating massive canyon walls stretching to the sky. Once again the river is the only area to walk to get further up the canyon. It was definitely cool to see, but it was so crowded it was almost hard to enjoy. We were also a little spoiled from our Subway hike the day before where we went from seeing only twenty people, to now sharing the space with what seeming like 20,000 people. We hiked a couple miles in and tried to enjoy it, but decided our tired legs could use a refreshment instead of more hiking. We rode the bus back out and grabbed a beer as we chatted about all our adventures this trip had offered.

As much as we have been enjoying this adventure together, having some friends come visit us sure was a great change of pace. We loved seeing them and being able to share adventures with some new people. It renewed our spirits to have others around and we couldn’t be more thankful to have such great friends!