For those who don't know, I've had a rough year. A really rough one. Sure I had a few fun trips already, but I also bailed on some fun ones because I spent all of August and September crying and too paralyzed to want to leave my kids. And despite the fun times I had, I would gladly trade them to have back the people I lost. But since trades like that aren't possible, I decided to keep living the way I always have, to try to get the most out of it, making memories all the way.
Finally I felt up to doing something again, and it was hard to find a window as always. April couldn't join me which really bummed me out, but my friend Laurie was up for something new and it turned out perfect!
Laurie and I have been friends for a couple of years now. Her family made their first visit to Zion National park in April this year and did some of the standard family hikes. Zion never disappoints and they loved it, but she was eager to see more backcountry action. I wanted to see some more technical canyons in the park and submitted a request for a number of last minute permits in the drawing. I also thought Keyhole would be perfect for Laurie because it's so beginner-friendly and a fun scenic slot.
So we set off for Keyhole. On our way into Zion we stopped off at the Zion Adventure Company to rent a wetsuit for Laurie and for me to pick up some warmer neoprene socks. (I ended up buying the 5ml because my feet are always the first thing to freeze.)
Keyhole was warmer than any of my previous trips (two times in May and one time in September) so I was pleasantly surprised. The water seemed just barely lower than my most recent trip, May 2014--you still had to tread water just for a sec off of that first rappel to disconnect from the rope.
As I guessed she would, Laurie loved it. Keyhole is so fun that it seems impossible not to love! The slot gets pretty deep in a few points and the walls climb above you and there's only a slit of sky and that's what makes it so awesome while you're swimming through.
We didn't see anyone else while in the canyon and just a few people as we exited. I think the entire trip from leaving our car and back to it took almost 2 hours. We spent a lot of time taking pictures and just enjoying it and a good 20 minutes for me to wriggle into my wetsuit.
We loved seeing the fall colors in the canyon just before going in and again when we came out, such a wonderful time of year to come! We headed up to Zion Ponderosa to camp and were set up by 6-ish despite switching our site.
Laurie made our fire while I made dinner and we had a great time talking and chatting about the canyon we had just done, the plans for the next day, and of course, everything else about our lives.
When we were at the backcountry desk earlier that day they didn't have any of the canyons open I wanted to try for the next day. They did however, have some cancellations for the Left Fork of North Creek, aka, the Subway top-down. I felt kind of silly doing it because Tyler had just been with his brothers a few weeks earlier and it felt weird that we would each take separate trips to do the same canyon.
(Plus I'd been just a little bit jealous of his trip, but just mostly because he's been gone a zillion times this year for work already in addition to a few other guys trips and also because hiking is my heaven, my Disneyland, my whatever you call it--it is and always has been the thing I love most. But I didn't want to feel like I was out for revenge doing the same thing because I don't do that, just worried it might seem that way to some.)
Silliness aside, after discussing other out-of-the-park options, the Subway seemed the best choice--I'd done it before, it was beginner friendly canyoneering, and of course, would have spectacular scenery. I ended the night feeling really fulfilled and excited for the next day's adventures.