No doubt, the best part of a trip to Zion is the early morning pilgrimage to the backcountry permit desk. We had assembled a group of six to tackle Imlay on Saturday, and fearing we wouldn’t get a permit, I drove down early to play the wait-in-line game. I arrived about 5:30 am, with only a handful of Subway hiker hopefuls around. Imlay would be ours.

Unfortunately, waiting in line also wastes the best part of the day to be in the park. With nothing to do until the rest of the guys arrived that evening, I loaded up the camera gear and went into the narrows, hoping for some nice early morning light bouncing around in the canyons.





Not bad for a morning half wasted. I never get sick of the narrows, it’s a relaxing walk to burn a few hours. About 1 I headed back to town for lunch at Oscar’s, and then met up with John Varn at ZAC to pick up some drysuits. The rest of the crew rolled in at about 6:45 to the Pine Creek entrance for a quick warm-up canyon.

John in Pine Creek, with the sunlight fading fast.

The plan was to descend Pine Creek quickly, be back to the shuttle car by sunset, and then bag Keyhole in the dark with headlamps. Turns out, it would be a nice exercise for the group before Imlay the next day.

Kat climbing out of a Pine Creek swimmer.

Chris “The Demon” on the last rap, as the day’s last light begins to disappear.

Routefinding by night.

Turns out, it was pretty difficult for our party to make it out in under 2 hours. After some adventurous routefinding in the dark, we made it back to the car by around 10:15, and decided to call it a night. A quick pit stop at the Bit & Spur for some food, and it was time to hit the hay.