Trans-Zion Trek, early December

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joggingfinn

 
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Trans-Zion Trek, early December

by joggingfinn » Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:01 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm heading to Zion from about December 2 - December 7, and am planning to try for the west-to-east traverse. I'm fairly experienced in cold weather hiking and camping, and have reasonably good gear.

What can I expect?

It seems like there'll be a pretty good chance of snow on high. How about ice, and the general difficulty of travel?
I'd probably be aiming to use just microspikes and poles --- would that be sufficient?

Finally, what is the water situation like this time of year?

Thanks in advance for any tips!

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Scott
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Re: Trans-Zion Trek, early December

by Scott » Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:30 pm

In dry years it can be done with little snow, but wetter years will have more snow.

Be aware though that the Kolob Canyons road is currently closed. You can't hike the road during the closure either:

https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/news/kol ... ojects.htm

I'm not sure if it will be open by December.

Although the Trans Zion Trek does have some lovely scenery; it does miss most of the best parts of the Park, so be aware of that as well.

I'd probably be aiming to use just microspikes and poles --- would that be sufficient?


Microspikes are OK if the ice is over dirt or sand, but are frowned upon where the ice is on slickrock. They scratch up the rock.

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Re: Trans-Zion Trek, early December

by asmrz » Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:02 am

I did this way back in 2007. We started on November 25th. Temps were very pleasant in the low 60s. What I remember most was the occasional but total lack of water. We carried water couple times as there was none to be had. My advice would be to research the water locations before hand and be prepared to carry extra between camps.

I thought that the fall colors were absolutely fabulous at that time of year and the ever present huge walls along the trek we incredible.

Hope you like it. Cheers, Alois.

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Re: Trans-Zion Trek, early December

by joggingfinn » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:44 am

Thanks for the replies, folks.

@Scott, I'm expecting there to be some snow along the way, but hopeful that I don't encounter really deep stuff. General question: in a "wet" year, how much of the Traverse would you expect to be under snow in early December.

@asmrz, Did your camps always have reasonable water? Also, how cold did it get at night?

Thanks!

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Re: Trans-Zion Trek, early December

by asmrz » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:46 am

No, at least two of the camps had no water. We pre-placed water prior to the trek in one place (did a lot of hiking to do that) and on couple more days carried gallon of water each.

The lowest temp we had was less than 20 degrees. Both my wife and I had 20 degree bags, I was ok, she was freezing.

Check the water sources carefully in advance, they change almost yearly. Missing or not finding water can make or break your trip. The rangers at Zion had some good ideas about water sources as well.

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Re: Trans-Zion Trek, early December

by Scott » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:24 pm

@Scott, I'm expecting there to be some snow along the way, but hopeful that I don't encounter really deep stuff. General question: in a "wet" year, how much of the Traverse would you expect to be under snow in early December.


Snowfall at higher elevations in the area is extremely variable, more so than most areas, so it is hard to say. Last January there was no snow on that route. One Thanksgiving we were down there, the West Rim was covered with 3-5 feet of snow. It's too early to tell how much of the route will be under snow. Expect anything from 0-100% of the route being under snow, but it would be rare for the lower elevation of Zion Canyon to have much snow just as it would be rare for the elevations above 7000 feet to have none. I'd say there is probably a 50/50 chance of having a foot or more snow at the higher elevations of that route.

As mentioned though, the road to the northern trailhead is closed and you can't walk it. Have you checked if it will be open yet? The Kolob Terrace Road is also usually closed in December, so it likely won't be an alternative.


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