Hiking with Holly

Zion Traverse: Day 3

15 Miles

It’s hard to wake up this morning, especially knowing that I do not get to have my precious cup of coffee.  We have very little water and it needs to stay drinking water until we make it to the next water source.  I take 2 Advil in hopes of keeping my caffeine headache at bay.

I pop my head out of the tent and see some very ominous clouds.  Oh no!  I get the weather from my GPS device and it says to expect rain and snow all day with highs in the 30’s. You have got to be kidding me! Seriously?!  Man, we cannot catch a break here. We rush to get everything packed up. We have our rain jackets and pack covers on at this point, with our rain pants at the top of our packs to access when needed.  We are praying that the storm will blow over and they won’t be needed. It starts to rain as we leave our campsite.

Not far down the trail, we find a little spring (and I mean very little spring, like a tiny bit of water coming out of a rock) to get some water from.  Right before it, is a nice dry area where a big pine tree is offering protection. We take our packs off and Cordlan proceeds to go back and forth with one of our water bottles filtering water from the spring and bringing it back to fill the bladders in our packs.  Several others that we have been passing also stop, including a young guy with 2 girls and another couple.  It is a mixture of rain and hail right now with a super cold temp.  My fingers are going numb inside my gloves, so I keep blowing hot air into them to warm them up. We estimate that we have enough water to make it through to our next campsite where there is a spring.  We decide to get our rain pants on as things are not letting up.  One of the young girls does not have rain pants and we are feeling really bad for her. They offer us a place to stay at their site and Advil if we need it tonight.  Our site is much further than their’s and they are super nice to offer up a closer place to sleep tonight.

Of course, about 1/2 a mile down the trail is a much better water source.  But there is nowhere to stay dry and we have enough to get through till tonight.  We move on in the “Dippin Dot” hail down the trail. We thought that if we could catch enough in our cups and put some of our Starbuck’s Refreshers on them, it could be just like having Dippin Dots. The weird things you come up with out here!

Now it is full on snowing.  Ok.  Well…it is better than the rain.  The rain is just getting us too wet. The snow wasn’t really sticking, but melting once it hit the ground.  We run into some day hikers after we pass a cutoff to another trailhead.  They paid an outfitter to drop them off at the trailhead and they were planning on hiking to the bottom of the canyon that day.   They are wearing shorts and did not seem like they were prepared at all for this type of weather.  They are hiking back to the trailhead to see if they could find someone to get them back to town. I am mad that a business would do that.  They could obvioulsy see that these people were not prepared for these conditions and still dropped them off.  Totally irresponsible.

We run into the couple again.  They offer us food if we need it (we declined) and we chatted about the weather.  They were very surprised about the rain and snow. When I mentioned snow all day, the woman looked terrified and just repeated, “Snow?”.  They also offer for us to stay in their site tonight if we would like.  Everyone that we are meeting is planning on finishing the hike tomorrow.  Our original plan was to go all the way to the other rim, but most people doing this traverse are only going to the canyon. Especially now, with the last few days everyone has had, no one wants to spend an extra day or so out here.  We told ourselves that we would make that decision tonight.

Lunch is our usual of PB&J (I barely eat) and we get going.  We have no idea what lies ahead of us and how many miles until Campsite #1.  Well….what lies ahead of us is mud. Thick, cement like mud!  Steep, slippery slopes of mud!  Mud up to our knees.  Cordlan mentions that he did not know we would be mud skiing on this trip.  It is very stressful and hard not to fall.  I actually do fall once.  We run into an older couple that are hiking uphill on the steep slope that we just came down.  They have a great attitude, “This will not last forever.”  I try to keep reminding myself of that as we keep trudging through it.  We hike by both of the other groups sites and are thankful that we are not staying in them. They are very wet and down in a damp cold valley.  Our site cannot be that far away now, as they are 7 & 8 and we are at 1.

Cordlan is thinking that we are not on the right trail.  Something has happened.  The junction for our shortcut trail is no where to be found.  We have been hiking forever.  How can this be? Good news is, the rain is fading away and the sun is starting to come out. We have a steep climb (again) and then walking on a ridgeline that is more or less rolling hills.  The shortcut trail is finally here and we eagerly take it to shave off some mileage for our day. Luckily this section is pretty uneventful.

We reach our destination, The West Rim.  Our campsite is not so easy to find.  We walk around and find some lady dayhikers and ask if they have seen it.  I cannot even believe they are up here. It is 5:00pm now. It’s a long hike down. They have not seen our site, so we know we have to hike up another trail to find it.  We also are low on water and ask them about the water. They tell us where it is and that there is not much there.  It is seriously down another trail about 100 yrds or so.  Let me tell you…we are done. Finished.  Have not found our site, we are soaking wet, covered in mud, and the last thing either of us can do is hike down another trail to find some water.

Campsite #1 is not too elusive and we make our way down into it.  It has a gorgeous view overlooking the west rim. It is getting overcast again,  so we had better hurry with our camp prep.  The tent gets up as the drizzle starts again. We are covered in mud and there is no way that we can get in our tent like this.  I tell Cordlan that we are in survival mode now and that we need to take off our pants and shoes, throw everything else in the tent, and get inside wearing only our underwear and shirts/jackets.  I am messaging Gannon on our GPS devise to change our hotel reservations by a night and leave tomorrow morning to come get us.  We have hiked 15 miles today in the snow and mud.  The thought of hiking down into the canyon, then hiking up another 2500 feet tomorrow was not something that either of wants to do.   To my surprise, my phone rings and I have service.  Gannon is asking us if we are ok and we assure him we are, but let him know about the treacherous day we have had.  He can’t believe that we are in our underwear inside the tent trying to get everything set up. We make a plan for where and when we will meet and now it’s time to get warm and dry.

We, again, are facing another night without much water. It is raining, snowing on and off now and neither of us wants to go outside. We are warm in our bags, but we don’t have gloves, because they got wet today.  We decide to eat snacks and some breakfast foods.  We set aside some food for tomorrow and eat what is left over.  We decide to treat ourselves to the Fritos that were supposed to go with a dinner.  They are amazing and taste soo nice and salty!

No one else shows up in our area or campsite #2 (I did find out after returning home that the people that were supposed to stay in #2, hiked down that night to the canyon, because they did not want to stay up there that night. There were supposed to be others in our site as well, but they never showed up).  When we got the permits, all the sites were booked up.  Now, we are the only ones here.  It continues to rain and snow.  We watch our show and try to sleep knowing that we will be in a warm bed by tomorrow night with yummy food in our belly’s.  What a crazy day we have had!


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