Just north of the main part of Zion National Park is Kolob Canyons, a much less visited part of the park. There is a hike that takes you to a spot where you can view Kolob Arch, the 2nd longest natural arch in the world. Andrew is a very seasoned hiker and has hiked nearly every one of the possible trails in Zion – except Kolob Canyon Arch. It happens to be at the very bottom of the strenuous list.
While I was nervous about the distance and how well my body would hold up, I knew Andrew would be willing to turn around at any point if it got to be too much. I forgot about my own determination to finish what I started.
We tried to get an early start so that Andrew could get some good sunrise pictures at the overlook.
After getting said pictures, we started hiking at 8 am. The trail begins by descending 1,000 – which means it ends by climbing 1,000 feet. It was an all terrain hike: meadows, forest, beach, desert, dirt, and rocky boulders. This kept things interesting and helped the time and the miles pass by quickly. Plus looking up, we were surrounded by the most beautiful canyon walls.
The first part of the hike was in the shade because the sun had not yet peaked over the canyon wall. It was beautiful. We were surprised to find about 2 hours in to our journey a constant attack of flesh biting flies that would not leave us alone, although Andrew was their first choice. There might have been a moment of insanity that included taking our can of sunscreen to try and kill the flies by spraying them… Then he switched to a more useful tactic of taking the red t-shirt he wrapped the camera in and turning it into a fly swatter.
Around 5 miles I began to feel pretty tired and what I thought was sore. We took our first break to sit in the shade and contemplated turning around. At this moment we saw our first humans of the day. They said we were about 1 mile from the part where the trail split and another 1/2 mile to the arch. I figured if we had come this close we might as well keep going! We began moving toward the arch, although it was at a rather slow pace. I was still having a lot of fun!
When we got to the start of the .5 mile trail, we ran into our second group of humans. They warned us that there were “some rocks” to climb over to get to the arch, but it wasn’t too bad. I think we spent an hour on that .5 miles. The trail looked like it had once been nice, but now it was full of boulders, rocks, and fallen trees that had us performing some pretty interesting maneuvers. Andrew graciously let me use his hand to help take some of the weight off my knees, but I was slowing way down. Andrew was truly my knight in shining armor!
About 100 feet from the arch with only one more obstacle in our way (we did not realize this at the time) we stopped to eat our delicious lunch of bagel sandwiches. This was very needed as I was DRAGGING!
After finishing, Andrew scoped out the rest of the trail and helped me over the final obstacle. It was a pretty incredible site, although I did not go the last 100 yards up a hill to see the whole thing. My little view was plenty. The arch is above Andrew’s head; the lighter colored semi-circle is the bottom part of the arch.
After exiting that crazy .5 miles, I began to feel a second wind. We went a short distance and filled up our bladders with cold water from a stream (we filtered it). We then decided to charge as fast as we could through the sandy beach part that was fly infested. For about an hour we moved like there was no tomorrow!
At about 9 miles I hit a serious wall, which was around 2 pm. Andrew quickly realized the situation and wet his fly swatter with cold water to put on my neck. He also took over carrying my backpack. I was too worn-out to let pride even think about getting in the way. We began trudging on after another break. My main view during the end of this hike:
And we trudged for 3.5 more hours. It felt like the hike would never end. Every time we would go up a hill we would get really excited thinking this was the end. We had a lot of what we though were exciting moments before we got to the actual exciting moment! But even though my limit had been passed and we were both quite sore (as in I’m not sure I will walk again), it was so exhilarating to accomplish something that huge. And be surrounded by so much beauty! My body might be a bit upset about hiking that distance and crazy terrain at 23.5 weeks pregnant, but I am so glad we did it!
Our dirty and tired feet after a full 9.5 hours of hiking!
We had a great plan to go out to eat for dinner but that was quickly replaced with cold cereal and ice cream and as little movement as possible. A perfect end to a great day!