Zion National Park, Part 2

For our second day in Zion, we decided to try a canyon hike on the northernmost end of the park. Both our legs were slightly fatigued from a day of climbing, so we figured a nice, meandering walk along a creek would be best.

Entering Kolob Canyon

We decided on the 14.0 mile trail through Kolob Canyon to see the famous Kolob Arch – one of the largest natural sandstone arches in the world. We didn’t realize it at the time, but the trail also included 56 stream crossings (28 each way…and yes, I counted).

Allison crossing a stream

Before the rain started

The first 5 miles or so were great. The sun actually came out for awhile, and we made fairly good time. Around the time we stopped for lunch, however, it began to rain. We figured another 2 miles to the arch wouldn’t be a big deal, so I threw on a poncho and she pulled out a rain jacket and we set off.

Kolob Arch (and waterfall)

Matt: “Pop quiz. What’s the largest arch we’ve seen so far on this trip?”

Allison: “I think it was Landscape Arch, wasn’t it?”

Matt: “Incorrect. St. Louis Arch.”

Kolob Canyon

By the time we began our 7 mile return trip from the arch, the rain was really starting to come down fast…and it would stay that way until we made it back to the car. Zion has probably received two months worth of rain in the few days we’ve been here.

Trying to stay dry

Aside from being cold and wet, our progress was hindered by the muddy track that had once been a dirt trail. The real problem, however, was the rapidly increasing level of the creek we were following. What had once been a shallow, peaceful creek had transformed into a violent, churning river. Our stepping stones from the morning’s hike were all several feet underwater. These pictures should give you a pretty good idea of things:

Morning stream crossing

Afternoon stream crossing

Of the final ten crossings, only two were navigable by stepping stones. Another two were avoided by leaving the trail and cutting cross-country, though this provided challenges of its own. We were forced to scramble down several treacherous drop-offs, and my poncho was ripped to shreds by the undergrowth. For the remaining six crossings, our only real option was to hold hands and wade across – waist deep in the fast-flowing water. The picture above shows where we made the first crossing, but this was actually one of the mildest of the six.

Needless to say, we were both soaked and shivering when we finally made it back to the car. We were also pretty beat-up from hiking 25+ miles in 29 hours, so we decided to scrap our plans to ascend Angel’s Landing the next day and settle for a tamer hike.

After vacating the campsite Friday morning, we decided on a 3.0 mile hike to the lower, middle, and upper Emerald Pools. The pools were definitely scenic, but the trail was much more crowded than we’d seen on more “strenuous” hikes the previous two days (except for one other couple, Kolob Canyon had been completely deserted after the rain started).

Upper Emerald Pool

Nonetheless, this was definitely a nice break from our brutal hiking schedule. After another brief 0.2 mile climb to see The Patriarchs (3 peaks named Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), we ate some lunch and made the two hour drive to Bryce Canyon.

The Patriarchs

Approximate Total Distance: 17.2 miles

Published in: on May 21, 2011 at 12:54 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Lewis and Clark come to mind. Any blisters yet?

    • Not many, surprisingly. I give most of the credit to the wool socks.

  2. Try not to kill yourselves please.

  3. The power of nature must be respected! Certainly glad you made the crossing back OK and the post above says it all!

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