Hiking Zion's - Pine Creek Canyon (permit only)
I've been meaning to blog about this for quite some time, however, I just haven't sat down to write.
Hiking Zion's Pine Creek Canyon - this is a permit only canyon. Don't risk being caught if you choose not to get a permit - heafty fines await those that don't. One of the best parts to covering adventures like this come from being able to document the journey for someone that hasn't ever had this kind of opportunity, as I did here.
Getting there is a short drive along Highway 9 through the switchbacks and ultimately through the tunnel where you park on the opposite side (assuming there's an open space) by the guard station. We were lucky enough to find a parking space. Once there we all took turns getting ready, which included a wet suit, harness, booties, water shoes, gloves, gear bags (ropes, etc.). Myself, I had a dry-bag that I used to carry my 5DMKII and 24-70mm f2.8L lens. For the most part, this canyon is fairly wet and COLD in the spring months. However, we were lucky enough that we didn't have to swim at any length, wade yes, swim no.
Dropping in is a short rap (20ft) into a little pool of water - nasty non the less. With the camera I'm typically shooting in Av and wide open around f4 to f2.8 and high ISO (1600 to 3200), it does get extremely dark! As you get deeper in the canyon and loose more light I start to crank up the ISO.
From there, a short hike into some log filled narrows leading to a tight little crevice with another drop, this time a 15ft free fall.
Perhaps the most notable rappel is a drop of 55ft into a cavern known as the "Cathedral". It's truly spectacular the wonders of nature.
Here we did have to wade over to narrow opening (seen on the left) and the water was VERY COLD - enough that it takes your breath away and you know that you have to do this.
After the Cathedral, you hike again through some very dark, tight narrows. The sand is like that right out of some exotic beach.
This last little hike takes you out of Pine Creek. You can just start to see the glow up there.
Finally out, you're presented with some of the most amazing views. There are two more raps from here, one about 50ft and the last one, a 90ft free fall. The hole in the side of the rock that you see in the images is one of the "windows" in the tunnel on Highway 9 along Zion Park Blvd. Just gives you a little perspective.
This is the final rap (90ft) to the floor.
From there it's a strenuous hike out, make sure you have enough water left! Seriously, this is not a hike that you want to underestimate when the temp is nearing 100. If you can, take the high route out. It will drop you out at one of the first switchbacks here. The entire hike out is probably two miles and one Ex-Marine said, "this is harder than anything I did in the Corp". DON'T underestimate the hike out!
As a photographer, I truly enjoy covering these adventures because it challenges me. If you have an adventure that you'd like covered, or perhaps you're coming to Zion's from the UK for the first time, give me a call. 801.703.3297 I'd love to provide adventure coverage for you!
Keywords: The narrows, Utah, Zion Narrows, Zion National Park, Zions, adventure photography, pine creek, pine creek canyon, slot canyon, utah adventure photography, zion adventures
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