Zion National Park is a place of immensity; huge sandstone walls tower far above the valley floor, the sheer magnitude is unreal. Alas, Germans and tour buses are the most common sight to be seen here, however there are places void of this distraction. Hidden within the shadows and corners of those great spires and pinnacles are some of the most awe inspiring places in the world, where the patience and persistence of water has delicately sculpted eccentric patterns and passageways into the rock. It is here where some of the true wonders of the world exist; hidden hallways, massive alcoves and soaring walls create a dark and surreal world that few will ever see. It is a place where beauty faults to logic, and I swear some of the walls shift and flow with the warm desert light, as if in a dream.
In a seamless sentence we rewind back to nearly a decade ago, when I first laid eyes upon one of my oldest lovers; delicate and methodical, caring but dangerous. Passionate and persistent. I was young and naive. She was so endlessly wise. We talked for hours. We shared our secrets. We slept together so many nights. Beneath the great walls of Zion I found her. Within the confines of the canyons I saw her. Amongst the fluttering leaves of a cottonwood tree I heard her. In every ounce of water I felt her. Inside every grain of sand I held her. The desert of the American Southwest is often personified as a feminine force of nature for a very good reason.
I came alone as I often do, as did she. The Left Fork of North Creek, commonly known as the Subway, was where we first met. For those who seek a more adventurous hike within Zion National Park, the journey to the Subway is an arduous but rewarding one as the creek beautifully twists and carves its way through the sandstone. It is, however, a popular route that requires a rather difficult permit to obtain. For those with back-country navigation and canyoneering skills, a short but sweet technical route drops you through a much less visited section of the canyon. It hangs just out of sight of where most of the tourists can reach approaching from the bottom, forward progress halted by a short drop off. A long sandy hallway with impossibly curved walls, soaring hundreds of feet above you, offers a moment of silence and often clarity. All too often the natural world has a habit of putting things perfectly in perspective.
The Subway of Zion’s Left Fork of North Creek highlights the immense beauty that can be found within the boundaries of Zion National Park and the great Colorado Plateau. As well, like many ventures into the wild, a lesson may be learned and a new love may be found. For the further you venture from the roads and the more lost you find yourself, the higher the reward. The journey to the Subway is certainly a stepping stone for further adventures and for many, including myself, it may be just the beginning.