Monica & Andy’s Trans-Zion Backcountry Adventure: April 24th – 27th, 2018
Day #1: Andy and I woke early and drove to the Zion Visitor’s Center to meet our Red Rock Shuttle ($40 each) we had scheduled for pickup at 8am. We would not be seeing MoZee again for 4 days…..or any of Monica’s red wine bottles! Another couple from San Francisco accompanied us on the shuttle out to Lee Pass Trailhead in Kolob Canyon. The 7 mile hike started as almost entirely downhill, then leveled out before arriving to our campsite, La Verkin #10. Our campsite was secluded from the other sites and we even got to cross a log over the creek to get there. Since we arrived early in the afternoon, we were able to relax, read, and nap in the tent all afternoon. It was amazing. No humans. No city noise. Just nature. Before dusk, we hiked a mile roundtrip (according to the sign) to the Kolob Arch. The hike seemed longer and the arch was underwhelming. It was still a beautiful evening for a stroll through the woods though. We filtered water for the next day out of Beatty Spring, which was much clearer than the greenish/brown La Verkin Creek nearby. Day #1 Status: Thankful for a beautiful morning of hiking. Relaxed. Energetic. Prepared for more miles of hiking. (Click on images to enlarge).
Day #2: Slept in (big mistake for the strenuous day ahead). The relaxed vibe from Day #1 ended after about 10 minutes of hiking into Day #2. We expected the hike to start out decently flat and moderate as the previous day had ended. We were wrong. It seemed like an endless amount of uphill switchbacks. We hiked the Hop Valley Trail to the trailhead at the halfway point for the day where we stopped and ate lunch with the other hikers. We all agreed that the posted mileage was less than the actual miles our GPS watches showed. We were half way to our campsite, and we were all beat! Hop Valley area was so pretty, but the trail was sandy which tired us quickly. Continued our hike with the Connector Trail, and then the Wildcat Canyon Trail. The ranger had shown us on the map a “meadow” area off of the Wildcat Canyon Trail that we could set up camp. There were not designated sites in this area, so first come, first served. Andy hiked up onto a hill and found a nice site overlooking the canyon. We set up our camp there, then continued our hike to the Wildcat Spring to refill our water supply. The spring was a little trickle of water inside a rocked in mini-cave. It took forever! But it was cold and refreshing! 16.1 total miles. Day #2 Status: Exhausted!
Day #3: Woke up early to start our hike at 8am. Yes, that is early for us! Lol. Everything takes longer without modern amenities. Making breakfast, brushing teeth, getting dressed, packing up the tent and gear, etc. This was our favorite day of the hike! The beginning was through a magical garden. So cool! We hiked the West Rim Trail next. Stopped and filtered water at Potato Hollow Spring. Hiked a total of 11.5 miles to campsite #3 on the West Rim. Arrived mid-afternoon. We would have been there earlier, but Andy took a thousand (or 70, to be exact) pictures of the beautiful views. Perfect time to enjoy our amazing secluded site overlooking the canyon. The sunset was beautiful casting shadows on the canyon walls. We loved this campsite. Day #3 Status: Thankful. Optimistic. Relieved.
Day #4: Woke to a beautiful sunrise. Andy braved the chilly morning air to snap one photo, then finished taking inside the tent. Ha! We hiked out of the canyon via the West Rim Trail down to the top of Angel’s Landing. The downhill switchbacks on the side of the canyon walls were amazing. We had outstanding views the entire way. Started to make our way out to the Angel’s Landing point, but there were soooooo many people! Ugh. A lot of inexperienced hikers, kids, and elderly that made it not enjoyable (and risky!). We turned around and went down the many switchbacks to the shuttle waiting for us at the trailhead to take us back to MoZee. Total of 7 miles. Day #4 Status: Beat! Not looking forward to seeing all of the tourists in Zion. Pleased with our 4 day hiking experience and the fun people we met along the way. Ready for a cold beer and a hot shower!
We did not hike the last leg to the East Rim. The logistics of this part discourage most hikers from doing the East Rim. Our total mileage was 42 miles for our 3 night/4 day hike. We saw spectacular canyon and valley views, grouse, one snake, an owl, peregrine falcons, deer, birds, large black beetles, canyon treefrogs, weird snakelike/eel/snail creatures in one of the streams, ants and flies. The temps were warm and sunny during the day, chilly at night. We should have brought heavier jackets! We had an amazing adventure together and enjoyed this hike immensely! This hike showed us a side of Zion that the every day tourist would not get to experience without going backcountry!