Zion National Park Day 3 - Kolob Arch to WIldcat Canyon by Kenny & Kristen

Posted on 2019-05-12

We woke up bright and early (but then again we went to bed at like 8:30 the night before), made some breakfast on a rock by the river (oatmeal) and prepared for an early morning, super chilly, barefoot creek crossing. ![blogPics](/static/img/Zion3/Zn0.jpg "Crossing La Verkin Creek") We dried off our freezing feet, got our boots back on, and hit the trail. ![blogPics](/static/img/Zion3/Zn1.jpg "Starting Day 2 in the backcountry!") Before we got too far, we stopped at a much smaller, much clearer section of La Verkin creek and stopped to fill up on water. We have a small water filterer that allows us to filter about a water bottle full at a time. We packed in our camel backs and some other containers and then tried to refill at every safe opportunity. ![blogPics](/static/img/Zion3/Zn2.jpg "Hop Valley") The plan for the day was to hike through Hop Valley and over to Wildcat canyon. According to park signs, we were expecting this to take about 14 miles... it ended up taking us almost 24 according to our watches. We've had this problem a few times at national parks, where the posted distances seem to be way off from the actual level of effort. I'm no expert but there's an interesting article here that talks about where some of the discrepancies come from. Anyway, it made for a reallllly long day. This picture describes pretty perfectly how my shoulders and feet felt by the end of the day. ![blogPics](/static/img/Zion3/Zn3v.jpg "Feeling the hike") But it was all still worth it! We had some AMAZING views of Hop Valley Canyon. It was really neat to go from the rocky terrain of Lee Pass into the sand and meadows. ![blogPics](/static/img/Zion3/Zn4.jpg "Enjoying the views!") The other highlight of the day - there was pit toilet at the end of Hop Valley trail right before we jumped onto the connector trail. Once we finished the 4 mile section of the connector trail we ran into a short out and back option called the North Gate Peaks. By this time we were at about 18 miles (per Kenny's Garmin watch) and I was exhausted so I was a little skeptical about adding on two more. But we dropped our packs at the start of the side trail and headed off. It was a surprisingly gentle and flat 1 mile trek to a breathtaking view of the North side of the park. It was actually a nice break from carrying our heavy packs and I'm so glad we did it. ![blogPics](/static/img/Zion3/Zn5.jpg "North Gate Peaks") The last thing on the list for the day was to find somewhere to camp. This proved to be much more difficult than we initially expected. There are two areas that are available for camping in Wildcat Canyon. There aren't any signs that mark the areas, but it's pretty clear when you get to them because everywhere else is literally impossible to camp. ![blogPics](/static/img/Zion3/Zn6.jpg "Wildcat Canyon Landscape") Our goal was to make it to the further section to set ourselves up to finish the hike at a reasonable time the next day. We ended up growing frustrated, hungry, and overly tired (and not just me for once), and we stopped at a small jut off of the trail way closer to the main road than we would have liked. We literally cooked our dinner of beans and sausage in the middle of the rocky trail and were asleep within 30 minutes of cleaning up. It was a tough day on the trail physically, but the experience was totally worth it!

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