Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sandstone Cliffs, Rushing Water, Huge Arch, Backpacking

After spending a couple of days celebrating our wedding anniversary hiking and relaxing in one of our favorite places, Zion National Park, Juggy and I decided to finish up our long weekend with a quick backpacking trip. La Verkin Creek Trail winds through Kolob Canyons, which lies in the less traveled western edge of Zion.



The trail begins at 6,000 foot Lee Pass, and quickly descends into this colorful valley.



In about 3 1/2 miles and 1,000 feet lower, you come to La Verkin Creek, which was brown with high water during our visit.



A recent snow storm followed by warm spring weather left some parts of the trail quite muddy.



The park regulations limit all overnight camping to designated sites which require a permit. This helps to maintain the parks pristine conditions, as too many visitors would surely destroy what nature has so painstakenly created. We enjoyed a leisurely 6 mile hike to campsite 12, which is surrounded by Ponderosa Pines and sandstone peaks.



After setting up camp, we decided to venture up a nearby canyon to see the famous Kolob Arch. The trail follows a small creek for a half mile.



We took our time and really enjoyed our surroundings. We actually totally missed the arch and went about a half mile past it before we realized we had definitely gone farther than the half mile the sign had stated.



Kolob Arch, neatly tucked away in this thickly vegetated canyon, was at one time thought to be the worlds largest freestanding arch.



On our way back we stopped for a quick game of backcountry chess.



Our campsite was on the far side of La Verkin Creek, which had risen about a foot while we were gone. After sliding down the embankment and falling on my butt, I celebrated saving my camera from a watery death. Juggy decided to find a better place to cross, but shortly after this shot I feared for a moment that she would be washed away as the rushing water went above her knees, but she held strong. I found a shallower place to cross.



Fortunately I had enough forethought to put a beverage in the freezer the night before, so we treated ourselves to this ice cold beer when we returned to our campsite...Miller Time!



Cooking dinner is always a pleasure using my Trail Designs .9L Sidewinder.



My famous (in my mind) Moroccan Delight is currently our favorite backcountry home cooked meal.



Perched on a large boulder, we enjoyed this view while consuming our well deserved meal.



The next morning I savored a hot cup of coffee from the same place while Juggy slept in, then we shared a hot breakfast of couscous, nuts, berries, brown sugar, and powdered milk (I need to come up with a name for this). Then we packed up camp and hit the trail. Apparently the beavers have been busy in this area...unfortunately we didn't get to see them.



One thing I neglected to mention earlier is that there are probably a dozen stream crossings between the trailhead and La Verkin Creek from smaller tributaries. I attempted to grab a shot of Juggy falling in, but she wouldn't oblige.



Making the climb out of the canyon, we heard a distressed chirping sound and stopped to figure out where it was coming from. Looking up we saw this little squirrel stuck high in a nearby tree. We didn't get too close so not to scare him in fear that he might fall.



One last shot just before returning to the trailhead...some of you may see an anatomy lesson here.



Juggy and I are very lucky that we share this passion for the outdoors. Or should I say I am lucky that she enjoys my obsessive backpacking habit!

6 comments:

  1. Great report and photos. I will be passing through eastern Utah this summer...but I really want to go to Zion. Too far out of our way. I think we will hit canyonlands NP instead. But I bet it isn't this cool.

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  2. Looks like another great adventure. Boo to the Miller though. The hops in something like an IPA are my call for the backcountry, even if you can't get it icy cold it still tastes great. Lagers taste like warm urine unless they're ice cold.

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  3. Utah is beautiful for sure...the more I explore it, the more I want to see!

    Chris, I would normally agree, but this was a last minute decision, not preplanned. I didn't want to take a glass bottle of Polygamy Porter on the trail. Lots of times on super easy hikes like this one we'll bring a bladder of red wine, or a small (plastic) flast of some Makers Mark. The Miller was good though since it was cold.

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  4. Do you have a remote release or how did you take that first photo of you two ;) ?!

    Lovely landscape. I still want to come there in the future. Though this talk of permits is scary, I need to say - I camp where I want, when I want - Everyman's Right ftw!

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  5. Hendrik,
    The first photo is of some other hikers...if you look closely you will see they have quite large packs.

    Permits aren't all that scary, especially at Zion. They do have a purpose and help to preserve our natural resources from their worst enemy (us). You can reserve Zion Backcountry permits online 3 months in advance for 5 bucks. When you make it out this way, let me know and we can plan something together.

    John

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  6. An excellent looking trip. That arch is very impressive, as is that shot of the river crossing - I'm not sure I'd ever venture into water looking like that without some sort of safeguard though...!

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