Uncovering Hidden Canyon

“Your safety is your responsibility” in Zion National Park

Photos courtesy of Luke Daniel Photo

Hidden Canyon has been described as an “adult playground” for those willing to sacrifice their body in the spirit of adventure. Fortunately, Luke and I are always down for some terrible fun and decided to make this our first big hike in Zion National Park.

Sunlight was just starting to break over the cliffs when we arrived at the Weeping Rock trailhead. Reaching Hidden Canyon involved slogging up a mile of steep switchbacks that leveled off at a narrow ledge.

Chains adhered to the stone walls offered a bit of reassurance that my body wouldn’t involuntarily fling itself off the side. I demonstrated a surprising level of sure-footedness while navigating the ledge by completely ignoring the sweeping views and steep drop-offs surrounding it.

Our path curved into a narrow opening in the rock. We clung to more chains and climbed a long staircase to enter Hidden Canyon.

Looking back from the entrance of Hidden Canyon.

We found ourselves between tall, water-colored walls. All outside sound was dampened and the morning light barely made its way down to the canyon’s sandy floor. Periodically, a faint buzz would break the absolute silence. We couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was, but it seemed to be following us.

A tight squeeze inside Hidden Canyon

Almost immediately, our hike involved tackling natural obstacles in order to advance through Hidden canyon. The first one involved hoisting my body over the trunk of a fallen tree. It was an ungraceful maneuver that involved both flopping and grunting. Luke gave me a puzzled look and sailed smoothly underneath.

We then had to scramble over a series of tall boulders. I have basic climbing skills and Luke is a natural billy goat, but each time we approached one, we’d preemptively declare, “This is the end of the line for us!” then surprise ourselves by climbing over it.

Luke was negotiating his way down one such boulder when the buzzing sound returned and materialized above his right shoulder. He doesn’t like bees, which were plentiful in the park, and was likely debating just how badly he’d injure himself if he jumped. I quickly intervened when I realized it was not a cicada killer, but a black-chinned hummingbird.

The curious creature was simply checking us out. Luke relaxed and made it down safely.

A scrambler’s paradise

One of the most important rules on the trail is to never get yourself into something you can’t get yourself out of. Going up is often a lot easier than going down, and our journey officially ended with a pile of boulders tall enough to require the use of someone else’s rope to climb over.

Lord knows what it was rigged to on the other side or if it would even hold our body weight, so we passed on this obstacle and made our way back out of the canyon – bruised, bloody and giddy.

Attempting a casual lean beneath this freestanding arch



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