Couldn't let a whole year go by without a trip through the Subway, so I (easily, for those of you struggling with the permit system, sorry folks) grabbed some last minute permits and set off for a stroll through the canyon. Since my mom had never been down Russell Gulch before (and I had only ever soloed it a couple of times), I invited her to join me and take that approach. Little did I know how weird it was going to get. First off, we met a solo canyoneer at the drop into Russell Gulch. He had rigged a rope to rappel in instead of just walking around to get down into the canyon... okay, whatever, right? Started talking about how he used to do this canyon back in the day with his wife, who he divorced and all, sure, good to know. He offered to team up with us, but that isn't really my style, so off we went. When we got to the first rappel in Russell, we suited up before a little pool of water, knowing that a much bigger pool awaited us below. He caught up as we rigged the rappel, and trying to be courteous, I offered to let him use my rope to pass by, since I figured a solo canyoneer would be faster. He immediately got somewhat combative, chiding me for rushing him, saying that he didn't move as fast as he used to and would get there at his own time. Okayyyy. He wanted to know how we climbed around the small pool of water, and when we told him we went through it, and it didn't matter since the water below was totally unavoidable, he wasn't happy. He hadn't planned on getting in any water, and didn't think the Subway had any swims, and least, not when he had done it. Then he decided that maybe this was his first time down Russell and he wasn't actually going to go down Subway. He had camping gear and said maybe he'd just spend the night camping down there instead. Considering the illegality of that and all, it was becoming obvious he didn't have any permit for the canyons. At this point I very much wanted to be down the canyon away from him, so I rappelled down to the ledge halfway down the rappel. Did I mention there was a really cool and somewhat disturbing log perched precariously over the drop? Up above this character was definitely confused by the single line rappel I had set up and was confusing the heck out of my mom, trying to get her to change her rappelling setup. Finally she ignored him and rappelled down safely. She was still concerned for him however and asked if he would be okaying in the canyon alone. Again he got edgy, stating that he was a member of the American Alpine Club and very experienced and didn't need anything from us. And so down canyon we went. Later we would meet several other groups that had encountered him along the way. To one group he said that he lived in Zion itself. The odd encounter would seem to color the rest of the day. We almost lost a rope in a pool in the second rappel, a first for me really, but had no trouble completing the rest of the canyon. At the bottom of the last rappel in Russell, we stopped for lunch, but I had to stop a group of canyoneers that were about to rappel down a crack system down to us. Looking closer, I could see that someone had rigged up several poor looking anchors down the drop (I mean, who is going to trust the anchor-building skills of someone who can't follow the Subway trail???). The drop, I believe, is the end of the last wash you cross on the normal entry route, and people are walking down it instead of following the trail out, and when they find anchors, down they go, totally missing the walk down. I've seen a couple pictures people have recently posted rappelling this drop. If anyone happens to be doing the normal Subway route, perhaps it would be a great idea to visit this drop and remove the anchors at the top that are leading people down this, before someone messes it up and kills themselves for absolutely no reason. Down in the Subway, we had ourselves a pleasant little time. Right up until we reached the final rappel and ran into this. Apparently every single group in the Subway arrived at the same time. An enormous group of tourists was mucking things up. They had only a few harnesses in between them. and little to no experience rappelling. Several of their group could barely move once on rope. At first they would not allow anyone to pass them, so folks started leaping across the falls to use the anchor on the other side. Eventually the large group was convinced to let some folks pass by. Wait time was over an hour. And the best part... a guy from another group ahead of them offered to help them out and belay from below... a good thing since many of the group liked to take their hands off the rope. And that guy helping them out was none other than one of the guys I bailed out of Spry a couple of years ago. He looked up at me and said "hey, I know you! Spry, a couple of years ago, we were totally unprepared and you saved our asses!" Small, small world. It was good to see that now he had an opportunity to help some folks out. This was my 18th time through the Subway, and I might need a little while before I'm ready to hit it again. What a day. Oh, and @ratagonia the large group said there really should be more anchors available on that ledge. Obviously they meant it as the park should install some more, not knowing that it's your anchor there. So I'll pass their request on to you if you want to get cracking on it.