time reversal

the stories of four physicists separated by the whims of fate

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Zion: Hop Valley and Kolob Canyon

April 5th, 2009 by william

Kolob Arch

On our drive into Zion, we stopped at the rangers station to get advice on trails and weather conditions. Initially, we had planned to do a 40 mile trip from Lee’s Pass in the northwest part of the park to Angels’s Landing, but the middle region of the hike was covered in three feet of snow. Neither of us had snowshoes or the inclination to use them, so we decided to break our trip up into smaller multi-day hikes.

Starting from the Hop Valley trailhead, we began hiking toward Kolob Canyon and a horse camp where we would spend the night. The trail began in a large field on the plateau above the canyons; we dropped into Hop Valley after a couple of miles of underbrush, mud, and mixed snow. Our initial descent began in one of the smaller tributaries, but it quickly became impressive. The walls are impressively steep and the bottom relatively flat.

It looked just like a scene from some old western movie. One would imagine cows being driven through the valley, which makes sense as it is one of the more popular areas to ride horses in the park. Even without horses, the entire valley was stunningly beautiful and I dare to say it is the most beautiful place I have ever been. There is no doubt that months in Illinois have left me wanting for any place with hills, but I stand by this opinion, regardless of bias.

We realized we had forgotten to bring matches, and this left us quite distressed that we would be unable to prepare dinner. Luckily, some hikers traveling in the opposite direction gave us a lighter, and dinner was saved. I was in charge of the cooking, so we ate jumbalaya the first night.

On the second day we woke half frozen and ready to start moving. So, we hiked the few miles to Kolob Arch (pictured above) and had breakfast. It was impressive, but the views are mostly obscured by vegetation. A few trails head to overlooks that provide better views, but they have erosional problems and are not easily passed.

In the afternoon we headed upstream along LaVerkin Creek. It was a great trail the meandered along the water, going higher and higher toward the surrounding plateau. Matthias wanted to travel down one of the tributary canyons, and this turned out to be a great idea. The path was mostly covered in snow but was easily passable without getting too wet, and at the end we found a nice waterfall. The picture following picture of me was taken in part of this canyon.

Throwing my hat in a slot canyon in the north-east part of the park.

We camped near the arch that night to clear skies, but when we woke the following day it started snowing. Originally, we had hoped walk downstream along LaVerkin Creek for a few miles before heading back to the car, but we decided to skip this as all of the views would be obscured by the storm. So, we headed back through Hop Valley with the snow falling heavily enough to shroud the walls of the valley almost completely. The storm was beautiful in its own right, but it was a shame to miss the vistas again. Once we made it back to the plateau, it had stopped snowing and we were afforded one last view of the valley.

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