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Subway

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Micklethwaites, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Micklethwaites

    Micklethwaites

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    Location:
    Tempe, Arizona
    We have a small group of us, maybe 2-4, that would like to make the Subway trek, probably top to bottom. We range in age from 30-60. We are all backpackers, so are relatively fit, but do not repel. Also being from the Chandler/Mesa area in Arizona, we are not familiar with the Subway and its terrain.

    I made this post on a Zion Yahoo group. I was told it might be helpful to make a post here, so here I am! I'm glad to have found this forum. The photos of all the canyons make me want to quit my job!

    I have known of the Subway for many years now, but have not had the opportunity to go north. We are making time to do this in August. I am at the beginning stage of planning and I'm sure I've got a lot to learn.

    What I do know:

    1. Permits must be obtained and can be difficult to come by
    2. Paid guides are not permitted in the National Park
    3. Take repelling lessons before attempting this hike
    4. The best route is top to bottom

    What I'm looking for:

    1. How do we handle vehicles
    2. Does one stay in a hotel or do we camp
    3. It appears to be approximately 9 miles, how much time should we allot
    4. Someone who might be interested in going with us
    5. Suggestions on attire for August

    I'm sure I will have more questions as I research. Any help/advice that might be offered would be greatly appreciated. We are VERY excited to experience the Subway!

    Thanks!

    Eva
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  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Howdy Eva -

    The first thing to deal with is the permit. Get in on the Subway Lottery, and put in for a couple different dates. Weekends are, of course, the hardest to get - but Sunday does fully count as a weekend day here in Utah. Get a couple extra spaces on your permit to accommodate the more-experienced canyoneer you hope to lure to your adventure.

    Generally, you leave one vehicle at the bottom and drive to the top. You can also hire a shuttle for the transfer.

    It is about 9 miles, but it is rough walking. It takes all day. You will want an early start, in August, to beat the heat. Leaving S-Dale at 6:30 would be my idea of an early start.

    You can camp or hotel. Hotels tend to fill up fast on weekends, so make reservations as soon as you can. For camping, I recommend the Watchman Campground, for which reservations are made on-line.

    Closer to the time, with a date selected and permit space available, you will have an easier time soliciting companions for the trek.

    August: quick-dry shorts and teeshirts, lots of sunscreen! If you do not have Canyoneer shoes, I recommend renting them in Springdale.

    Links for many of these items available here ( on the Zion-specific Tab): http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/links/

    Tom
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  3. Ram

    Ram

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  4. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Hey Eva,
    I'm not from the Zion area and only make it out occasionally and certainly Tom and others are more knowledgeable about the details, but will tell you what I've learned over the past few years. After failing to obtain a permit for three consecutive years our group finally scored some last summer. My advice, read up on the advance permit/lottery process www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/canyoneeringpermits.htm and don't wait about making a reservation (3 months advance of your trip). Apply for multiple days and you may get one (it was worth the wait). Due to time constraints we were not able to do a top down trip as we had planned but did a bottom up and back and was still able to see the "classic" Subway shots, including the North Pole area (will require a little partner assist to get there but no technical gear). Top down or bottom up it will be a spectacular trip.

    DSC01008.JPG
    Note: Scott in the back ground.

    DSC01006.JPG
    North pole
  5. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Let me clarify one thing; on the bottom up approach no technical gear was required, however a hand-line may be useful depending on the skill level of the group.
  6. Ram

    Ram

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    If you are coming down from the top, start super early. Those miles in the cool weather will reduce the stress of the day. There is spring water along the way, from half way down from Russell Gulch to the Subway proper. Some may suggest that hand lines and other methods be used for the drops. I think this is dangerous advice to dispense to people you don't know and who have freely admitted not a lot of depth of experience with the technical. Besides recruiting someone like Tom to go along and support, some practice of rapping would be prudent, at least for some members if not all of the group. On the job training 6 miles from the nearest road seems imprudent. I would also suggest bringing the helmets. No need to buy just for the one canyon. A bike helmet or something similar will do. I am excited for your adventure! Safe passage
    Ram
  7. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    In addition to the mentioned Watchman Campground, if you are doing the Subway in August, I'd suggest Lava Point Campground (if you are able to pick up your permit the day before). Lava Point Campground is small, but it's much cooler up there and it is usually less windy at night.

    If you camp in or near Zion Canyon in summer, it can still be in the 80's when you go to bed, making it hard to try and sleep.

    Enjoy the trip since the Subway is one of the most scenic hikes in the world.

    Also, keep in mind that August is peak flash flood season.
  8. Marlowe

    Marlowe

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  9. Micklethwaites

    Micklethwaites

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    Location:
    Tempe, Arizona
    Thanks all for taking the time to drop a note. This information is very helpful. I will immediately file for a permit. We have a small dilemma to consider, maybe ya'll will have some insight to this one. We will either have 5 people or we could have as many as 10. Based on what I'm hearing about how difficult it is to obtain permits, I would imagine the lower the number in our group, the higher our chances? Would this be the case? We'd love to bring the whole backpacking gang with us, but the core of us don't want to miss out.

    I have also found out 2 of the "definites" are repellers, so we will at least have two experienced people who know how to repel. Meanwhile, my husband and I still feel we should take a few local classes beforehand. I will take the advice and request at least one extra permit in hopes to find someone who knows the canyon.

    Campgrounds are great! Thanks for the two leads.

    One question we have is what happens with the rope when you repel down? Is there a rope there that is left full time, or do we bring our own? If we bring our own, how do we disconnect it? Silly question probably, but it was asked of me.

    Thanks Marlowe for the flash flood warning. For some reason, I expected August would be out of the flash flood period, but I forget about monsoons! I've also taken note of the Orderville canyon. From the looks of the photos on this site, we will be taking more trips up north for sure!

    Thanks All!

    Eva
  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The Monsoon up here is not like the Monsoon down there... well, it is in some ways. But we tend to get it two-three-four days at a time, then it goes back to Arizona where it belongs. The Subway is relatively safe to do with threatening skies, but only RELATIVELY.

    Perhaps your rappelling-competent friends can take the others out for ground school (cliff-school?) in the next couple of months. They should know how to get the rope back.

    Sliding down a rope under control is called rappelling. Repelling is something any good backpacker does naturally, after a couple days out in the woods. ;)

    Tom
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  11. Micklethwaites

    Micklethwaites

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    Location:
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    Hello Tom....I also understand if there is threats of flash floods, the Park Service will inform you of this when you pick up your permit.

    Thanks for the schooling....It was late at night, I thought I spelled it wrong, but did it anyway! Maybe because I'm a packer repelling is my first instinct! :D
  12. E. Risa

    E. Risa

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    Eva,

    The subway is beautiful, and I'm excited for your hike! The best people to answer your questions about the permits are the backcountry desk at Zion, here's their phone number. I'm not sure it does matter how many people are in your group regarding lotto chances.
    (435) 772-0170

    You should definitely practice rapelling before you leave. If you're not familiar with this story, check it out:
    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54933651-78/canyon-park-subway-zion.html.csp
    I'm not trying to alarm you, just let you know that rapping is serious, and the subway is serious.

    Camping at lava point is a good idea, I think there's also camping up by the kolob reservoir a little farther up the road. The hike out in the afternoon is HOT, so I'd definitely recommend an early start.

    P6110624.JPG

    If you don't have two cars, you can get a shuttle from any of the three or so places in town. A google search for zion hiking shuttle will point you toward them.

    The park service might warn you of flash floods when you pick your permits up, they've certainly got the weather posted, but you have to make your own decision regarding the risk you're comfortable taking. The days when it MIGHT flash flood far outnumber the days when it DOES flash flood. People end up in the subway in floods from time to time (there are youtube videos).

    Anyhow, plan well, then have fun!

    Elisa
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