We stood there reading the plaque. The prior morning our shuttle driver Zach told us of a boy scout who died crossing Hop Valley. Erie and creepy is the feeling I felt. To be standing in a spot where a immense struggle came to an end. Tragic. We wonder what little overlooked details led to this person’s death.
It was like a portal. That spot, where it all ended for someone. Our journey was only a day and a half old but really, it was just beginning. And crossing over that portal it was a new journey. One that switched to personal wonder to the enjoyment of just being able to be there. And to be there with someone special.
And just like a portal the tunnel of trees opened up into the Lower Kolob Plateau. A total change of scenery. There were knolls, one named Firepit just to the left and Spendlove beyond that. We figured we were close to our water drop off of Kolob Reservoir Road. After what seemed like a eternity crossing a sage covered and extremely sandy valley we arrive at our stashed water.
After a hour break in which my partner proceeded to have lunch and I just snacked on water and one nibble from a pemican bar (Buffalo meat and cranberries) it was time to head down the Connector Trail. A trail from the Hop Valley trailhead to the Wildcat Canyon Trail. This section turned out to be much like a serengeti type of landscape. Totally beautiful and wide open. As the sun started to bring out the color in the distant cliffs I realized our daylight was dwindling. And we still had some distance to cover.
What made matters worse is that it made everything so beautiful that my camera was in overdrive. At some point you have to put the damn thing away and hike. I did have a slight advantage with my fitness. I could run ahead and gain enough time on my partner that it gave me time to take some pictures.
It was the sun that determined the end of my photo-taking-addict behavior. It left. Just dropped out of the sky. And just like that it was getting cold and dark. I snapped off one last shot and looked around for my partner. Then I started hearing coyotes.At first from a distance and then it seemed as though the were closing in on us. And my partner.
She was back there all alone and it sounded like the barking was right upon her. I sprinted back on the trail. I discovered her about a mile back starring into the hillside. She then looked back at me eyes wide.
“Are you OK”, I was trying to catch my breath.
“Yea … does the barking seem to be getting closer”
And with that the barking stopped. We were close to Wildcat Canyon and our next campsite. We had crossed the portal from Hop Valley and crossed the Connector Trail. A perfect segway to tomorrows rim hike.