We awake hopeful for a nice, flat day of hiking. The sun is shining. We drink our coffee and filter more silty water. Cordlan eats his breakfast and I carry mine for later. I still have no appetite as per usual. We are able to get packed up and head out around 8:30am. We walk the same trail as we did yesterday to the Kolob Arch. Once past that junction, it is not too far ahead to our next junction…the Hop Valley Trail. But for some reason, we are having a hard time finding it. We kind of hit a dead-end and cannot find where are trail is. We do see a trail marker on the other side of the creek, but not sure that is the one we are supposed to take. After walking around a bit and consulting our GPS, we determine that is the correct trail to take. However, there is no way to get to it, except right through the water. We take off our shoes/boots and put on our camp/water shoes. Off we go into the 42 degree water. It is only about mid calf high, so not too big of a deal. But when we get out, our feet are throbbing. I forgot to ask Cordlan to take a photo of me, so I get back in to recreate our harrowing crossing. That is what you call sacrifice for the sake of the 10 people that read this blog. Haha!
We have quite the climb out of this canyon and I am very disappointed, as I was expecting a flat day. We make it up and over and now descend into Hop Valley. We are told that no matter how much we think the water is fine, we are not allowed to filter and drink it. Lot’s of cows are in the area and the water is very contaminated. Our filter can handle it, but we follow the rules, so no filtering the very nice looking water. It is a beautiful valley with thick sand as the trail. Yuck! Try walking on the beach all day with 35 pounds on your back. Not easy. We see a few people that we saw the day before and even a couple of day hikers. One of the dayhiker girls tells us that it is about another 5 miles to the trailhead with an ascent at the end. We think…”Ok… not too bad, we can handle that.”
Cordlan is having a rough go with all the water crossings we have to do today. He is wearing trailrunners and they are not good with how many times we have to cross back and forth over the creek. My boots are waterproof, so I can go right through most of it. One time, he has to take his pack off and I walk back and forth across the creek to take his pack, while he uses his trekking poles to pole vault across. We all knew that vaulting would come in handy for something else someday!
We have come to the ascent. It is the ascent from hell. It is no small ascent and I want to kill someone for not warning me about how bad it was going to be. Cordlan is not too happy about it either. We are both really hungry and trying to hold off on lunch till we hit the trailhead. Once there, we planned on eating lunch and throwing away all of our trash. But it feels like we are never going to get there. Climbing and climbing over lots of rocky trail. We are working up a pretty good sweat and it is very slow going. Cordlan is waiting for me and I need to take a break every so often. I am feeling very defeated.
At 2:00pm we reach the trailhead and find a nice shady spot next to the pit toilets to spread out and eat lunch. We have a little cell reception, so we check emails and I call Gannon. He is surprised it has taken us soo long to get here. We still have about 7 miles to go today. There is some water that people left here that is free to take. We take a little of it and leave some for others coming behind us.
Our plan is to make it to a spring that we see on the map, but are prepared to stop a bit earlier if needed. One thing about Zion NP, is that you can only stay in designated campsites or “at large” zones. It makes it a lot harder when you are tired or would like to camp near a water source.
We reach the first “at large” zone and decide that we cannot go any further. It is 6:00pm and we have already done 14 miles. We hike up the side trail and look for somewhere to camp. We now see others that we passed back and forth also coming up the trail looking for a place for the night. We are soo tired that we do not go far and set up next to a little grove of bushes. After the tent is all set-up, we hear rustling in the bushes and I just about lose my mind thinking about how that little animal is going to be doing that all night long. Cordlan throws a rock into the bushes and thankfully it runs away.
There is no water to be had in the area and we cannot have a hot dinner tonight. We decide to eat breakfast for dinner and conserve water until we can get some tomorrow. We used a lot of water today, so getting water tomorrow is vital.
We have an amazing view from our site and try to enjoy it as much as we can. We are dead tired though, so it is in our tent to watch our show and try to get some much-needed sleep. Praying that tomorrow will be a much better day.