I lied. We did not get on trail yesterday (Tuesday), because of a bunch of reasons, but mostly because there were no available campsites anywhere in Zion for us last night. Other than that, though, our visit to the Kolob Canyon visitor center on Tuesday morning was largely a success: from Wednesday onward, we were able to reserve all of the campsites that we wanted. We are happy about this.
We drove from Kolob down to the (much much more built up and touristy) South Entrance in the hopes of finding a space in their non-reservable car campgrounds, but to no avail. Even arriving at what we considered a pretty prompt 9:30, we met a long line of cars at the entrance and several FULL signs posted at the campground entrances. We resolved to spend the night on public land nearby, administered by the Bureau of Land Management, which Nevan had gotten word of from his cousin (shoutout to Nevan’s unnamed cousin!). Reluctant to leave the scenery of Zion Canyon, we organized our food and gear and loaded our packs in a parking lot near the South Entrance visitor center, before departing to pick up some last minute supplies in town.
After a delightful lunch of $1 tacos (Taco Tuesday!) at Lupita’s Restaurant in Hurricane, we bought a few groceries, exchanged final words with our families, and headed for the BLM land. We found a campsite there, despite the best efforts of an unpleasant group of millenials who drove us out of a one potential site because we were “wrecking their view,” and had a nice evening hike/walk thing before dinner to re-teach our bodies what movement felt like.
This morning, we rose early, loaded the cars, and set off. Philip drove alone to the East Entrance, where we would emerge at the conclusion of the trip, while the rest of us made our way back to Lee Pass trailhead at Kolob Canyons, in the north. Bo then drove and picked up Philip, while Luke, Aidan, Nevan, and I ferociously guarded our parking spot at Lee Pass and intermittently played with the flat and green fuzzy balls (the frisbee and tennis ball). Reunited at around 1:30pm, we had lunch and began the hike, struggling under the weight of our undesirably heavy (40-50lbs?) packs.
The relatively brief three miles to our campsite was a good lesson in the frailty induced by a four-day car ride. We arrived tired and sore, feet already in pain, and immediately tried to resume the sedentary life we had come to know on our journey to Zion, sitting down with no intention of moving again. Despite our best efforts to remain in place, Philip coerced us into a 3.5-mile day hike (7 miles total) to see Kolob arch, which was allegedly really scenic, and allegedly “worth our time.”
It was— the arch was beautiful, though overshadowed, in my opinion, by the majestic ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa --its real latin name, though I understand that it sounds like exactly what I would have made up for its latin name) that stood near the end of the trail. I made everyone observe it up close (the bark was incredible!). We also ran into a few Amherst students, who seemed friendly, though clearly a little misguided. We made our way back to camp, arriving around 6:30 or 7, and Luke and I agreed to fetch water from a nearby stream for dinner. Though we believed the stream to be only a five-minute walk from the campsite, it turned out that a few hundred feet of canyon wall separated it from us, and we were instead forced to journey almost a mile to find it. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but with newly sore feet, we were unenthused.
We now relax at camp, waiting to feast on burritos stuffed with beans and rice that will almost assuredly be pretty crunchy--but everything tastes good outside, or so I’ve been led to believe, and we’re in good spirits.