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Zion National Park

Backpackers:  John Gundry, Carl Fisher, Ed Tucker, Mark Williams

Photo Album

Saturday May 23, 1998 Memorial Weekend (miles 0) - Arrived in Las Vegas around 1pm. Got a rental car and tried to find a store to buy a cheap walking stick. Found a K-Mart and bought an expensive curtain rod for a walking stick.  Got to the park about 5:50pm and John immediately pissed off the park ranger by asking the same question three times.  Found the visitor center where we could get back country permits - it had just closed - so we could not stay in the park.  Went off the park to a private camping park that had unimproved (and I mean unimproved) sites.  We had to use the four wheel drive that we had rented to get to the site and then we had to pull up weeds and deer poop to find two semi-level spots to pitch the tent.  Uneventful night and an early 6am wakeup, with frost on the tents, so we could be first in line for the backcountry permits.Trail Head-  Lee's Pass

Sunday May 24, 1998 (miles 8) - We were first in line for the backcountry permits.  Took a shuttle to Lee's Pass where we started the adventure. Hit the trail at 10:50 behind a college group hiking for credit. Picked up a couple of tips before we got seperated from them. Weather for the entire day was bright and sunny. Two significant events in the morning - John found a bunch of moreal mushrooms (didn't pick since we had no way to prepare) and we heard a rattlesnake off the trail. At lunch Ed spilled Ramen. We stayed at campsite 8 where we evicted the previous nights group (well not really evicted - they moved) who was waiting for several members of their group to return. This group wowed us with tails of scorpions and of a rattlesnake that struck and embedded itself in a shoe (while it was being worn). Getting to the site required us to cross La Verkin Willis Creek which was very high because of snow melt. Water to our knees. Took off our boots and went across barefooted. Sure was glad for our walking sticks. Found a nice stream where we had our first experience in getting water and were able to clean up as well. Biting flies were pests. Took a side hike to Kolob Arch. Got there just as the sun was going down so we were less than impressed with the arch but the route to get there was very scenic.

Monday May 25, 1998 (miles 11.5) - The day that just about kicked our butts. Started at 8am by getting water from a small spring at the rivers edge and then did a 500 foot assent with numerous switch backs and steps. We were not in a hiking rhythm and did not take enough rest periods. After making the assent we began an almost immediate descent into Hop Valley. Ate breakfast along the banks of the Hop Valley Creek. Spent the next several hours walking in sandy soil on the floor of the valley with John stretching it out and getting several yards ahead of us. At the end of Hop Valley we filled our water bottles full just in time to make another 500 foot assent! At the top we were greeted with a controlled burn area that we walked through for the next 1-2 hours until we reached the parking lot where we all felt like we were dying! Took a 2 hour lunch and Ed spilled Ramen again. The long lunch and rest helped but Carl had his doubts about the ability to complete the day since we had only completed 6 of the 11 miles. After lunch we crossed a hard paved road (where we discussed flagging down a vehicle to get a ride) and immediately lost the trail. We kept heading in the general direction of the trail, looking for the cedar posts that the guide book said would guide us. Found it after spreading out. At this point Ed got us into a rhythm by keeping the pace count. After 300 paces he would holler out "Rest Stop" where we would stand in place for a minute or two. It is amazing how refreshing this was. Along the way we saw numerous animal tracks which, after much discussion, we decided must be cougar tracks. They were definately from the cat family. Finally made it to the area where we could camp at 6:30 pm. Set up camp next to a small spring (it was open camping and no one else was around) and we all went to bed early, especially Ed who was hurting from altitude sickness!

Tuesday May 26, 1998 (miles 4.5) - A windy, overcast day where we wore warm clothes almost the entire day. Started later in the day (10am) after a hot breakfast. Very uneventful day - just what we needed and wanted after the day before. Traversed around the end of Wildcat Canyon where we had some spectatular views. Arrived into campsite 3 near Sawmill Springs about 1:30pm into windy conditions. Set up a lean-to using Carl's boy scout lashing skills and Ed's tent rain fly for a wind break. Worked well for cooking and keeping us clean. Carl even got a nap in. Did not see any other hikers today.

Wednesday May 27, 1998 (miles 8) - The most beautiful and scenic day of the entire trip. Woke up to 25 degree temperatures, frost on everything, and ice in the water bottles. Quickly warmed up as we walked along Potato Hollow on our way to the West Rim Trail. Ate breakfast on the edge of a steep drop-off overlooking several peaks with two prominent ones. We all entered into a long discussion about the names of the peaks, either North Guardian Angel, Northgate Peaks, or South Guardian Angel. Ate lunch where the PoAngels Landingtato Hollow, West Rim, and Telephone Canyon trails met. Extremely beautiful and stunning views from the West Rim Trail where we had many Kodak moments. Stayed at a campsite where we overlooked the Narrows.

Thursday May 28, 1998 (miles 6) - Down, down, down.  The most dangerous day out of the five.  Two major dangers.  First, John leading us along the sheer cliff that got to be less than a foot wide before we decided to turn around.  We had miss read the cairns.  Secondly, Carl convinced the group to do Angel's Landing and he was the one that had the hardest time completing it. Angel's Landing is a narrow outcropping of rock that goes to the center of a canyon.  The park service has installed poles and chains to assist the climbers in doing the 1000 foot assent, sometimes with only a few feet on either side.  At the top we met a group of students (some older) from the Milwaukee Technical College on a two week class.  Did Walters Wiggles which is a series of short, severe, switchbacks.  Arrived at Zion lodge about 4pm.  Learned that there were no campsites available at the Park and had to go into town to camp again.

This hike was highlighted at Backpacker.com as one of the "secret" hikes of Zion.

And for those on the trip - Do you remember?

THE CRUNCH OF PINECONES UNDER FOOT

MARK’S BIG “EVENT”

MARK BEFORE THE BIG “EVENT”

 CARL’S BEEF JERKY

 ED’S USELESS UPPER BODY BULK

 “REST STOP!”

 BARE FEET RIVER CROSSINGS

 UNION WORKERS GETTING WATER

 JOHN’S PARK RANGER “BUDDY”

 OATMEAL, RAMEN, FREEZE DRIED, OATMEAL, RAMEN...

 THE RAMEN TRAIL ED LEFT IN CASE WE GOT LOST

 JOHN’S ANAL RETENTIVE TENDENCIES