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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Reference Hunting: The Narrows

In 2004 some friends and I hiked the Narrows at Zion National Park in Utah.  Of all the hikes I have ever been on, this was perhaps the greatest.

During much of the hike, the 100 foot vertical sandstone walls of the canyon close in so tightly that you must hike in the water itself, which is murky, and full of bowling balls, making each step a perilous lesson in jujitsu.

When I was working on the St. George illustrations, I kept coming back to this place in my mind, and in the end, I used it very closely for the images of the last showdown with the dragon.  Part of this, is that amidst all the natural splendor of the Narrows, there is an element of danger, depending on which time of the year you are hiking.

When we got into the park we were told that it would be very dangerous to hike the canyon because if it rained then there would be a good chance that it would flash flood in the canyon. This would result in either severe injury or death or both.  But only if it rained. And it was suppose to rain.

Also, there were cougars.

After looking at the forecast, my friends were justifiably alarmed that we might get rained on half way out in the gorge and then be overtaken by a chocolate mud-slide of bowling balls and angry cougars. I was only able to convince everyone to go by showing them pamphlets for the hike, which offered glowing, happy pictures of elderly couples and very young children hiking in the stream, unmolested by mud-slides or cougars. If they can brave it, being elderly and infirm, surely we can.

(Confession: The pamphlets were actually not for the hike we would be taking, but a separate, safer one with guided trails. I lied and I am sorry.)

But in the end it never rained, and we weren't caught up in a flash flood or eaten by the indigenous fauna.  Instead we witnessed one of the most amazing places I have ever seen on planet Earth and the most memorable hike I have ever been on.

If you ever get the chance, go to Utah, stop by Zion National Park and hike the Narrows.  You will not regret it.

(But check the forecast first…)

                                                                          Image: Jon Sullivan

Note: This post is a re-post from Muddy Colors. To check out the original post and comments visit: Muddycolors.blogspot.com.


  1. COLYGO?
    Like a COMOGIE?
    And like the GLYCO and GYMPTO ?
    All these word and name games getting these individuals in a lot of " troubles".
    Caron knows.

  2. Wow, so beautiful! Love how you used for one of your later works. And glad you survived the possible flash flood lol.

  3. Less likely to kill you (provided you drink enough water and don't get heatstroke) and equally awe-inspiring to THIS Utah native, is Arches National Park. So frickin' purty.

  4. i love the zion narrows, but about a thousand times cooler, in my opinion––and less crowded––are the slot canyons in the grand staircase escalante area and in capitol reef (the best of utah's national parks, if i may say). you should try those if you ever make it back this way again––like this coming week when you come to UVU for your lecture (i'll be in the audience)...

    awesome blog; your illustrations inspire me and make me jealous at the same time.

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  6. What is the name of that brown sketching paper you used at hutchmoot?
    I can't seem to find it.