By Michael Lanza

La Verkin Creek, swollen and bellowing with spring snowmelt, charges past us like a stampeding herd of bison—with a force and noise level that can make a reasonable person question the wisdom of stepping into its path. Deep in the Kolob Canyons in the northwest corner of Utah’s Zion National Park, it’s tearing enough dirt from its banks to turn the water muddy brown, making it impossible for us to gauge its depth. The pitch-darkness of shortly after 5 a.m. doesn’t help in that regard, either.

We need to get to the other side.

Seven of us are just two hours and a bit over six miles into an ambitious plan. If all goes well, our odyssey will culminate about 18 hours from now on the other side of Zion, with us hiking a bit over 50 miles—traversing the entire park in one day.

Read the full story about an outstanding backpacking trip—a 50-mile, north-south traverse of Zion National Park—done in one day.