Zion Traverse: April 26-28, 2013

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

lostlandscapes

rope mule
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
328
When the opportunity arose a few weeks back to join a small group taking on the Zion Traverse, I had to jump on it. Having become familiar with a few of Zions technical canyoneering routes, I felt like I knew the Park relatively well, but not nearly well enough. This would be an incredible chance to see a little more of other side of Zion--the side I've only heard friends talk about. While much of the Traverse keeps you on the beaten path (and in some cases, very beaten), I discovered that there's still plenty of Wild left there.


View larger map.
We chose to go about the Traverse from East to West, mainly due to the fact that you get the biggest (by far) climb out of the way on day one. If we could just make it up to the West Rim in one piece after the 3,000 ft climb from the Virgin River up to our camp on the West Rim during the hottest part of the afternoon, it'd be smooth sailing for the last two days. Our route takes us from right to left on this elevation profile:

zion-elevation-profile.jpg


After some car issues and setting up the shuttle, we rolled in to Toquerville at the balmy hour of midnight to crash at a friend's place. With a fairly burly 18 mile day and "crux" 3000 foot climb ahead of us, we departed the arms of generosity and headed out early. A serious shortage of sleep couldn't oppress those smiles once we were geared up at the East Rim trailhead:

P1270772.jpg


The first 6 miles involved a somewhat sandy but very mellow ascent up through Clear Creek and around the head of Jolley Gulch. Views were bountiful:

P1270782.jpg


After quickly dispatching the first stage, we began our descent off of the East Rim and down into Echo Canyon. The route takes you past the junction for Observation Point and down into Tourist Land. That small, darkish orange shape in the middle of the image is Angels Landing. Our ultimate goal for the day was still well past that towering landmark:

P1270802.jpg


Jeremy admiring the view:

P1270809.jpg


P1270813.jpg


We encountered the best light of the entire trip in the heart of Echo Canyon. Unfortunately, this is also where we encountered the most people:

P1270832.jpg


Down the paved switchbacks towards The Grotto we go:

P1270843.jpg


P1270845.jpg


Instead of hopping the shuttle between Weeping Rock and The Grotto we opted to stay true to the route and huff the one mile of asphalt:

P1270848.jpg


Lunch in the grotto, with 10.5 miles under our belts. The only thing between us and our first camp on the West Rim was 7.5 miles, 3000' of elevation gain, and a litany of tourists staring oddly at our backpacks. Or was it our smell?

P1270851.jpg


Towards the West Rim we go. Taking a break to enjoy the view down Zion Canyon:

P1270852.jpg


Once above Scout Lookout, things quieted down a bit:

P1270859.jpg


Now we're making some progress. Rick pausing for a moment to enjoy the view from the divide between Telephone and Behunin Canyons. I believe that's Cedar Breaks in the distance?

P1270885.jpg


drclef hustling towards the West Rim spring. Water was getting low! Fatigue was running high! Where's the whiskey?

We'd get to that in a bit.

P1270891.jpg


The spring here provided some deliciously cold and clean water. We had to load up all of our water vessels here as our camp for the night would be a dry one:

P1270896.jpg


West Rim achieved! A look back to the east as we scurry towards camp:

P1270901.jpg


From near our campsite, looking south towards the daunting (yet alluring) Heaps Canyon:

P1270906.jpg


Every great camp has a great climbing tree. This one was no exception:

P1270937.jpg


First light hitting Inclined Temple on day 2:

P1270943.jpg


It's Day 2, and we're off. We've got a lot of miles to cover to get to the northern end of Hop Valley by sundown. 22 to be exact. But I honestly don't think you could draw up a more lenient 22 mile hike in the entire region. In the entire Wild West? This baby was, for the most part, a walk in the park.

P1270960.jpg


P1270969.jpg


Gazing down into the Right Fork environs, from the head of the technical Hammerhead entrance:

P1270978.jpg


The next leg would see us through the sylvan solitude of Horse Pasture Plateau. Most certainly not the Zion your mother told you about:

P1270986.jpg


The boneyard of Potato Hollow:

P1270992.jpg


P1280008.jpg


Towering Ponderosas dotted the plateau:

P1280019.jpg


Refilling at Sawmill Springs. This would begin the longest stretch on the entire route lacking water sources, a distance of 12 miles. The next available water wasn't until Hop Valley:

P1280027.jpg


An old plow sits quietly before Lava Point:

P1280032.jpg


Making our way past Pine Valley Mountain:

P1280036.jpg


P1280056.jpg


With tired legs and minds, the day yawned with us as we entered the Gates of Hop Valley:

P1280066.jpg


Down Hop Valley we went. Our camp lied at the end of this canyon, about a mile south of the La Verkin drainage (visible as the perpendicular canyon in the distance):

P1280071.jpg


An overgrazed affair, Hop Valley still held onto some nice aesthetic qualities:

P1280075.jpg


Phew. That was a grunt of a day. The following morning, we awake to renewed spirit and enthusiasm. The lush confines of La Verkin Creek (or was it the cold beer in the Jeep?) were calling. 8 miles to go!

P1280081.jpg


Fascinatingly (and luckily), when we arrived at camp the night before, our sleep spot marked the tip of Hop Valley Creek's diminutive flow. Overnight, it moved another 200 yards or so down canyon. Amazing!

P1280086.jpg


Evidently, there is a trail that circumvents Hop Valley's last boulder-strewn mile, but we missed it. Down the boulder field we go!

P1280116.jpg


P1280123.jpg


Filling up in La Verkin for the home stretch:

P1280140.jpg


La Verkin was a delightful romp through perfect cascades and red wall majesty. The perfect way to finish our journey:

P1280152.jpg


P1280161.jpg


P1280167.jpg


One last cool-down before we begin the final stage: a 1,000 foot climb up Timber Creek and to our Jeep at Lee Pass:

P1280173.jpg


No better way (or place) to end a trip!

P1280201.jpg


Cheers!

P1280202.jpg


Featured image for home page:
slide.jpg
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
.
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
2,993
perfect timing!! I am planning my traverse for mid June :)
How does it come that you started on the East Rim? Somehow everyone starts at Lee Pass. Any advantages/disadvantages for this route?
And 22 miles, that's quite a bit to go...

But absolutely awesome report and pictures. I'm getting really stoked about my trip. :frantic:
 

Nick

Spiral out.
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,658
Your alternate route through Hop Valley looks fun! Would you recommend that speedier than average 3-day plan or would 4-days be preferable if time wasn't much of an issue?
 

lostlandscapes

rope mule
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
328
perfect timing!! I am planning my traverse for mid June :)
How does it come that you started on the East Rim? Somehow everyone starts at Lee Pass. Any advantages/disadvantages for this route?
And 22 miles, that's quite a bit to go...

But absolutely awesome report and pictures. I'm getting really stoked about my trip. :frantic:
Thanks, Yvonne. You do indeed gain a few hundred more miles traveling from east to west, but IMO there are a couple of advantages. One, you get the *big* climb over with on day 1, when you're still feeling fresh. From the West Rim, it's a very casual waltz all the way to Lee Pass. The only other climb you have to contend with is the final 1,000 ft climb up to the car, which really isn't all that bad. Secondly, I feel like the scenery on the west end is a bit nicer than what you find on the East Rim above Echo Canyon, thus a more picturesque finale.
 

lostlandscapes

rope mule
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
328
Your alternate route through Hop Valley looks fun! Would you recommend that speedier than average 3-day plan or would 4-days be preferable if time wasn't much of an issue?
If time was no issue, I'd recommend 4 days. Although some of the other camps that we strolled by didn't look all that inviting. I think the only camp that could break up that long second day would be the Sawmill Springs camp (#9), or maybe a little detour up to Lava Point.
 
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
729
First time I hiked into hop valley I also missed the correct trail and followed the same wash as you! I knew eventually i would get to La Verkin Creek! If I remember there were some decent drops off the large boulders.
 

Artemus

I walk
.
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,306
Nice TR pal! You guys did some rather large mileage. Didn't get a chance to bag any peaks or explore much that way, eh? Pretty cool to end in Kolob instead of start.:twothumbs:
 

steve

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2013
Messages
2,140
We'll be recreating this trip this weekend. Thanks for the great TR to get us excited for this adventure.
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top