For several years I had wanted to make the hike necessary to get this picture of Kolob Arch. Truly the world's second largest free-standing arch, second only to Rainbow Bridge. There are those that would argue that Kolob is the tallest. I don't believe even to this date the dispute has been definitively settled. During September 1990, I finally got the opportunity to take the hike and invited a non-hiker to go along with me. He was hesitant at first, but I convinced him that the round trip was only 8 miles of mostly flat terrain, and limitless beautiful scenery. We arrived at the ranger check-in about 6:15a.m. after driving for about three hours to get there. The ranger asked if we would be spending the night on the trail, to which I replied, "No, we'll be coming back this evening." The ranger looked a little perplexed, and asked if we were up to such a hike. I inquired "Why?" and was informed that the actual distance round trip was closer to seventeen miles!! If I remember right, it was at this point that my friend went back out to the car to wait for me. I was a little quiet at the time myself.
On returning to the vehicle, conversation immediately turned to my calculation of 8 miles round trip. I am sorry to say most of the conversation was from my friend. We both finally decided that since we were this close, we should at least go to the trail head and look at the departure point. We drove the 4-5 miles in heavy silence. At the trail head I parked the car and looked out into the cold, misty, cloudy air, and consoled myself that the weather wasn't right for the photographs anyway.
While the two of us were sitting despondently in the vehicle, another vehicle arrived. Looking over to the next vehicle, I observed that it seemed to be full of geriatric males and females, dressed in what could only be described as clothes suitable for a local band that plays on our Mount Charleston, called the Dumbkopfs. Swiss Alpine designer clothes, head to toes, shorts included. They all exited the vehicle. The trunk was popped, they grabbed their walking sticks, and over the rim and down the trail they went. You could have heard a pin drop for the next two minutes in our closed, heated vehicle.
I finally looked at my partner and said something stupid like, "If they can do it, we can do it." My partner was apparently suffering from the same malady that I was enduring, because his immediate reply (a non-hiker) was, "Let's do it!"
Well I am sure your conclusion is that we 'did it', and made it, but not without continuing to suffer from the same attacks of stupidity which set us off down the trail to begin with. We never once saw the people in front of us, even when we got to the Arch. They probably went down a side trail to a pic-nic bench 200 feet from their car. We tried to catch them all the way there to the Arch. Commenting to each other along the way on how great of shape they must be in. We not only faught their ghost, but we had threatening weather all the way to the Arch. Arriving at LaVerkin Creek (pictured on this site also)a little more than the half way point to the Arch, we both entered into debate whether to continue, or turn back. Look at the picture of LaVerkin Creek with particular attention to the sky. Looks less threatening than it actually was. When we got to the Arch, I had twenty minutes of clearing sky, took one roll of film, and then the weather got real bad and socked in. We raced a snow storm back to the vehicle. The last 1500 feet of trail back to the trailhead is straight up with switchbacks. I thought I was going to die on the trail, and my partner had caught his second wind (a non-hiker) and was taunting me with questions why I couldn't keep up (he finally realized he was going to survive). He was carrying himself, I was carrying everything else! Talk about ill prepared. I had packed like I was going for a walk in Central Park. One water bottle for myself, a few snacks, and what seemed like 400 pounds of tripod and camera. Along the last climb out, I would stop about every twenty feet to catch my breath.(I still smoked then too!) I told my partner if I didn't get any better that he would have to get the ranger with either a chopper or a mule to get me out of there. I was serious. At 5.45p.m. that evening my feet again hit pavement, and I had to rest before I could walk the last 25 feet to the vehicle. By the time we had both returned to pavement, it had been sleeting and snowing for about one hour. Someday, I may go back again for better shots, but for now these will do.