The first day of hiking started at 5 a.m. for me. I wanted to take the 9:30 a.m. shuttle instead of the 6:30 a.m. one, but they need at least two people signed up in order to run the shuttle, and I was the only one (one minor disadvantage for us solo hikers). I also added half an hour to my start by staying at the Travelodge in Hurricane because that was a longer drive than sleeping in Springdale.
Zion Adventure Company runs two shuttles in the morning, and the 90-minute drive to the trailhead is pretty spectacular. It’s also very curvy and bumpy, so if you get car sick, ask to sit up front.
The hike started on a dirt road for the first three miles, and the morning air was chilly enough that I pulled out my fleece top and wore it until I was walking in the water a while. It’s amazing how small the river starts at the trailhead, and it was cool to see both the river and canyon walls gradually grow in size.
I took my time going to campsite, because I knew I would get bored being their too long. Even with my stop-and-smell-the-roses pace, I arrived mid afternoon (my best guess is around 2 p.m.). Once the hike started, I only encountered 5 groups of people: a group of 6, a group of 3, two couples, and two park rangers (one of whom I met the day before when she gave me my backcountry permit and instructions on how to poop in the bag).
Video recap of the day:
TIPS from DAY 1:
- PACK FICTION TO READ. The only book I brought to read was Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive. Excellent read, but I had a lot of solitude time to kill at the campsite, and after three hours of Drucker, I really wanted some fiction.
- LEARN TO SLEEP ON THE GROUND. I packed light and only had a sleeping bag. I need to find the right pad that is hiking friendly. I ached more from sleeping on the ground than from carrying 60 lbs on my back.
- SEAL YOUR FOOD TIGHT. Some sort of critter got in my backpack which was cinched but not sealed. Whatever the local wildlife was, it broke into my trail mix and devoured all my Power Bar Energy Bites.
- BRING FLIP FLOPS. Ahh… nice to be out of those boots.
- TAKE THE LATER SHUTTLE. Or get a campsite that is further down the trail.
- HAVE SOME COFFEE FOR THE SHUTTLE RIDE. It’s a long ride, and they have a trash can on the shuttle. If you’re a coffee drinker, sit back enjoy the ride with a nice fresh cup of joe.