The water may only be knee deep, but the current is fast and slick rocks on the bottom of the river make it difficult to find my footing. A sign we passed earlier in the day noted that the water was 45 degrees and flowing swiftly, which makes sense given the fact that much of it is snow melt coming out of Colorado.
Walking upriver is like traversing a maze in the dark. It doesn’t necessarily mean walking straight up the center of the river. I’m constantly looking at the step in front of me, calculating depth by the color of the water and with my walking stick. I look for banks on either side of the river and try to determine what the shortest, least resistant path is between them. It often feels like the route with the shallowest water and least number of rocks is longer than what I’d prefer to walk from Point A to Point B, but this hike isn’t about getting to the end fast. It’s about the challenge, the strenuous push of one leg after another through an environment few people will ever get to hike.
At first, the river is relatively wide, and the water only hits my shins with the occasional brush of my knees. It isn’t like any other average hike but, despite the cold water, it isn’t particularly taxing. Certainly walking against a current isn’t a simple task, but it’s a manageable trek. About two-and-a-half miles upstream, another canyon joins the Narrows. Shortly thereafter, the walls narrow and the sunlight fights to slip into the canyon. This is Wall Street.