Lions In Zion
Trail Runner|July 2018, #129

RUNNING THE ZION TRAVERSE, A NEARLY 50MILE ODYSSEY THROUGH THE SAND, SLICKROCK AND CANYONS OF ZION NATIONAL PARK

Brian Metzler

It’s a cool late-October morning and my buddy Jason Smith and I have been running rhythmically and fast for an hour in the low light of dawn along La Verkin Creek Trail in the remote northeastern corner of Zion National Park.

We’re on a mission to complete the 48.4-mile Zion Traverse before sunset. We have fresh legs and know we have a tall task in front of us, so we haven’t talked much or even taken in the scenery, partially because the trail has been trending downhill for the first five miles or so.

But then, as the sun begins to shine on the upper portion of the massive stone buttes surrounding us, we encounter the magnificent Kolob Arch—a massive redrock structure that looks like a replica of a manmade bridge over a river and the sixth-largest stone arch in the world. Awed by its brilliant beauty, I find it to be a transcendental moment that immediately melts away any lingering notion of self contrived haste and brings forward a feeling of being selflessly present in the moment.

Although Jason and I had talked about running across Zion for years, this epic adventure came together only a few days earlier via a series of texts.

“Let’s run Zion next Tues!” Jason texted on a Thursday morning. “We can drive down Monday, run all day Tues and drive back on Weds.”

“OK, I’m in!” I texted back, barely thinking of the 10-hour drive and other pertinent details, except that I knew I had a flight to catch out of Denver on Thursday. “Let’s make it happen!”

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