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Help with Kolob Canyon question please?

Discussion in 'Utah' started by RossK, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. RossK

    RossK

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    I’ve heard the lower 2-3 miles of Kolob Canyon below the MIA exit are as scenic as the Narrows & wondered if it’s possible to see them without canyoneering from the top down to the MIA exit (partly because I’m not much of a canyoneer and also because I understand it’s an extremely long day or really a 2-dayer with a lot of gear).
    I know the other option is via the top or bottom of the Narrows, but that would mean going up Kolob a fair way and turning back, also making 2 days carrying overnight gear - and I’ve hiked the full Zion narrows before. So I wondered if, rather than canyoneering from the top of Kolob and exiting via MIA, would it be possible to enter at MIA and carry on down and out the Narrows? Is that shorter than going in and out from the Narrows and doable in a day?

    I know the MIA route is very steep - someone told me they though it was too steep to go down. But if you can get up fairly safely, surely it’s not a lot more dangerous to go down? Or could a rope not be used just as a back up to hold on to or even rappel for anything dangerous going down? Thanks in advance. (PS I was thinking of August time if month/heat/conditions then make a difference)
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  2. Ram

    Ram

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    Hi Ross

    It is relatively easy to descend the MIA and down thru Kolob to the Narrows and out and it is the only practical way for you to accomplish your goal, if I understand it correctly...seeing ALL of lower Kolob. Some advice below

    Make sure you know the exact spot where you leave the road, onto the MIA trail. It is a tad obscure. This next part is important, thus the all capitals. THE TRAIL REMAINS LARGELY STABLE ONLY BECAUSE EVERYONE IS GOING UP IT. IT IS SOFT SANDY SOIL AND WILL ERODE MASSIVELY WITH BIG AGGRESSIVE STEPS DOWN IT. TREAT THE TRAIL WITH CARE AS YOU CAN EASILY DO MORE EROSION DAMAGE THAN A 100 PEOPLE GOING UP IT.

    The area below the MIA is lovely, but not overly spectacular. It is often deeply forested and as such is different "feel" than other areas (Deep Creek also). The water is often underground and much of it is dry, especially most of the last few miles. But it does have a spot or two that likely require short raps into deep cold water (jumping possible but not recommended). Conditions vary and it has been a long time since I was down there, but unless it is high summer, I would carry some neoprene with me. These barriers are the reason I would not go in from the bottom. Getting up past them would be a real challenge and the best parts IMO are above, in the middle section.

    Because the area you seek has less traffic than other parts of the North Fork system, one will rock hop or travel banks without great trails or in places any trail at all. This will slow you down (Again unless it has changed dramatically in the last decade), so even as the distance seems reasonable, the day is markedly longer, time wise than the North Fork from Chamberlain. This is why I would think to do it in 2 days, which gives you more time for your picture taking, which I know you love doing. Enjoy!

    Ram
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  3. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    In the older guidebook, Exploring the Backcountry of Zion National Park by Brereton etc, I think the route down the MIA into Kolob is described and at the time, it was a semi viable option as a way to get into the Kolob drainage.

    I'd echo Ram above's concern about damaging the "up track". A few down slides and that track will be blown out. If you do decide to descend the MIA (if you can find the drop in point...ha ha), when the trail gets into soft dirt, turn around, face in, and kick in steps to keep from ruining the work a few folks have done to shore up that trail.

    I'll disagree with Ram on the canyon. It is overly spectacular. I've been down it a few times and it always blows me away how gorgeous and long that canyon is. You get Kolob on top of the Narrows. No finer hiking canyon route in Zion methinks. I think its better than Buckskin/Paria.

    A fit person, with an early start and some good route finding, could punch this out in a day. Its long. Which is partly why its so amazing.

    That said, I've always overnighted...(and I think you still need a Narrows permit either way).
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  4. Ram

    Ram

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    I agree that the whole Kolob/Narrows package is wonderful and better than Buckskin
    Per the Brereton book, the present route differs from the book in the lower section of the MIA. A landslide around 2000 eliminated the non tech entry (going down), after the Ponderosa tree part of the description and just before the cross over to the north side for the final slope down to Kolob. The route now (going up) goes to the pass and then slightly down on its way to Main MIA slot. The Brereton description is way to the south on the other side of the lower slot when you are at the pass and likely would require a hand line around a tree if not a rap to reconnect with the lower part of the route.
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  5. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Another option when you have canyoneering skills is to come down Boundary. I have wanted to go down Boundary and out the Narrows for a long time.

    Anyway, I have gone down the MIA and out the Narrows, but that was back in 1992 and before the route has changed.

    I remember the canyon being very spectacular, but I also remember there being lots of boulder hopping, so it can still be slow going even if mostly non-technical. We took a side trip up to Oak Creek and out the Narrows in two long days, but I was in a lot better shape then. I think even going down the MIA (assuming you can do so without messing up the trail-that would not be good) and out the Narrows would be two full days for most of us. Only the superhuman canyoneers can do down Upper Kolob and out the Narrows in one day. Two days for the trip down MIA and out the Narrows is needed for most of us average people.
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  6. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    Back in '15 I took my parents down Boundary. They had a permit for the Narrows campsite at the mouth of Kolob, I only had one day off from work so I hauled myself out the MIA and sent them on their merry way down Kolob. They encountered a couple of deep spots and one rappel. Despite solid flow when I left them the creek did soon dry up. Made it to their campsite with some daylight to spare (this was in July). The one rappel they had below the MIA:

    P1030606.JPG

    They enjoyed it quite a bit. Figure sooner or later I'll get to it myself, if for no reason other than to connect some lines on my map.
    But hike *down* the MIA... uhhh, can I have 1500 feet of rope to just rappel down the trail? Actually I guess in that case one could just go down Pipe Spring instead...
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  7. RossK

    RossK

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    Hi Ram - and Scott, Brian and er...Mr Death!

    Many thanks for the helpful and detailed answers

    The middle section you like best Ram.... is that from the MIA junction downwards and before the possible 1 or 2 raps? (in other words NOT needing to turn up Kolob in the direction of the end of the more technical upper section)

    And "Area below MIA (once inside Kolob, I presume?) is deeply forested" - so does Kolob open wide with trees and narrow a few times when heading downcanyon from the MIA/Kolob junction? Or perhaps I'm misundersting and after hiking from the road down a canyon (MIA), things open up before the Kolob junction which map seems to suggest

    (looks like I'd have to get an overnight Narrows permit then. Narrows spots will be in heavy demand - a pain when storms can wreck all that planning. Don't think National Park camping is possible in Kolob (although if I only went half way from MIA junction towards North Fork in a short first day it looks like it would still be just outside the park boundary for camping). Hope a Kolob permit doesn't specify where you enter too)

    BTW, my vacation plans are in the potential possibilities stage, but if anhyone in future reading this fancies doing this together second half of August please make contact. Seems anyone already familiar with the MIA route, or Pipe Spring if that's not too technical would be a big bonus
  8. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    It is, in fact it is preferred by the NPS that Kolob users camp in that drainage. Or so they told us a couple years ago.

    I assume that you know this, but planning wise, that that's the absolute worse time to plan for (other than perhaps mid-winter). Flash Flood season peaks in mid August. Are you really confined to mid to late August?
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
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  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I think the section MIA to the Narrows is very mediocre. I have only done it once, maybe twice. No, it does not "open up", but it also does not "narrow down". No there are not big trees, just small trees and bushes most of the time. Generally water free. Most likely sunny and hot mid-day.

    You WILL need a Narrows permit spot in any case, as you will be hiking down the Narrows above Big Spring, which requires a permit. If not camping in The Narrows, you would only need a day permit. Water may not be available between the Icy Pool and The Narrows.

    Your best bet would perhaps be to hike the Narrows to the Kolob intersection, camp there, spend a day or half heading up Kolob and back, then out the Narrows, perhaps.

    Without having gone UP the MIA, I think it would be very difficult to find the descent route.

    T
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  10. Amy K

    Amy K

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    Hi Ross! I have done Boundary and went up the MIA.. I'm not sure I would want to go down it. But if you wanna come do Boundary and down through Kolob Creek and down the Narrows I would be down, and I'm sure Chase would be too! I was with a very fast paced group when I did it and so I rarely busted out the DSLR and did not get the pictures I would have liked. We did it in mid June last year and I thought conditions were great. I wore a 5mm full and was never cold (though I think some of the guys were which is why we moved quickly). I'd definitely do that canyon again if you are coming back here and want to canyoneer! I'm open to Pipe Spring as well, but I've never done that one.
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  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Water conditions in Boundary vary widely with the snowpack and season. Pipe Spring has a tiny bit of water at times. Pipe Spring would be considerably shorter, especially if taking overnight gear. Even if doing Pipe Spring, you would still need drybags for your gear for the inevitable couple-a swims in lower Kolob.

    Tom
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  12. gajslk

    gajslk

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    I went down the MIA and out Kolob, years ago. Totally not worth it for the only OK canyon below. If you do go down the MIA, a pair of hiking poles will turn a complete suckfest into a minor suckfest. Unless you go off-route. :)
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  13. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    Honestly from what I gather from my parents' trip and how Kolob Creek is at the MIA exit, the most scenic part of the Kolob would actually be *up* from the bottom of the MIA. The section between the MIA and Boundary is quite scenic, though there are deep pools to wade (and possibly swim) through. Beyond Boundary it is more of the same, but before you reach Oak Creek you would hit the bottom of a rappel and that would end your hike. There seem to be a bit of workable spots to camp around the bottom of the MIA, which is of course outside of the park and does not need a permit. Not great spots mind you, but if you think small it should work.
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  14. RossK

    RossK

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    Thanks for input all Seems differing opinions over whether below the MIA Kolob is overly scenically spectacular. 3 No's/2 yes's. (mind you, if it's "better" than Buckskin that sounds pretty good in my book. Maybe once you've done many, many canyons the bar is now set pretty high! Which is fine for me when limited time enforces choices ).

    But I think the consensus suggests the most spectacular part of Kolob is from Boundary Canyon junction, or the rap a little ways north, & the MIA junction, or at least the first pool rap after MIA junction however far that is.
    (Perhaps for a sense of comparison, how would people rate Kolob against lower Orderville, or middle part of Zion Narrows?)

    So seems Amy's Boundary Canyon idea is good if it's much easier than uppermost Kolob, or the only other way to do that would be an in/out down MIA or Pipe Spring, up to just past Boundary, turning round & same way out back up MIA or down to Narrows.

    Thanks very much Amy for the offer. I'll definitely keep that in mind (not even booked flights yet). Do you think I'd be capable of Boundary at whatever flow? - only waterfall rappel I've done was bottom of Mystery & that's really a trickle.

    Yes realise it's not ideal, as lots of planning can end up wasted (weather enforced 4 attempts before doing Narrows & 3 to do Orderville, Fat Man's & Buckskin). Also considering my heat resistance as not ideal when thinking of going on to Canaan Mountain again (probably very stupid idea!) & less-visited parts of the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness (quite stupid!).
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  15. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    From what I remember, it's pretty similar to the Narrows, but without much water. Since you get to see the best part of the Narrows anyway, I thought it was a pretty good route. From what I remember, there was a lot of boulder-hopping though. Think of Lower Kolob as a more strenuous alternate entry to the Narrows. It takes more time as well. Lower Orderville is better, but shorter.

    If you want long overnight hikes, you might also consider Right Fork.

    Can you go mid-June to early July? The chances of having good weather are much better then (but of course never guaranteed).
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  16. bnwilso

    bnwilso

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    I was in a group of three a year or so ago that descended Boundary, hiked lower Kolob and out the Narrows. We did it as a day hike and I think it took us around 11 hours. It was a strong group that has been in the Narrows often enough that once in the Narrows the goal was getting out, not necessarily enjoying that part of the hike. Most groups would go slower I think. Going in the MIA route would be a bit faster than descending Boundary. I do think planning it as an overnight is probably more appealing to most groups. We all thought it was well worth doing and in fact one in the group who was reluctant about doing it ended up enjoying it so much that he has taken others through since then. Jeremy's picture of the one primary obstacle is good. That's a cold pool but we did it without wetsuits. I think we rappelled a short distance at one other drop before that too.
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  17. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    That time of year its not likely to be flowing at all, in fact theres a good chance it'll be totally dry.
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  18. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The winter has barely begun. It could still be a medium to high snow year, so... It is still very much int he air whether Boundary will be flowing in... May? June? July? August?... September is probably a safer bet. It is usually, but not always, dry by then.

    Tom
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  19. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Not even close.
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  20. Iceaxe

    Iceaxe

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    The picture below is from Middle Kolob (below the MIA Exit). This section of Zion is certainly worth seeing at least once. Enjoy....[​IMG]
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