After three hours of "bouldering," we reach the final approach to Subway. North Fork canyon steadily morphs into the shape of a "keyhole." The oval bottom resembles a tube with graceful crescent walls... a sensual Rubenesque waistline, if you will, that steadily wraps around us like a corset.
Walls close in and force us to wade a wide, shallow creek. It ripples over red-rock with a surface texture resembling pine bark. Born from subdued reflected light, and things that grow in such darkness, an amalgam of salmon pink, radiant red and nuclear green casts an eerie glow out from under the wall's shadowed veneer.
The creek bottom is slick and treacherous... we must use hiking poles as third legs in order to stay upright.
Minor waterfalls must be negotiated on tired legs and empty stomachs. But it's too damn beautiful and intriguing to complain. Onward.
To one side, a deep, straight-as-a-pin groove carries miniature white water rapids... outracing surrounding ripples like some freeway HOV lane.
Another series of watery steppes lands us in Subway's wondrous foyer. It is ours alone... to take in piece by piece, wonder by wonder. The where and why of its Subway name is quite obvious.
How did this happen? Where's Mr. or Ms. Ranger when I have a valid permit, and need a few questions answered?
Around the bend in the photo below is a way deep pool of water. On the other side of the pool is a falls that requires ropes to negotiate. Most Subway explorations are done top to bottom, so it is only necessary to repel instead of climb. It takes a long day's hike, sunrise to dusk, to make the entire trip. It patiently awaits on our Bucket List. Soon, we hope... perhaps next year.
The "clock" ticks...
Finally, lunch... in Subway's foyer... followed by a long, arduous boulder trek back to the parking lot.