The least known part of Zion National Park is the Kolob Canyon formations at the NorthWest corner of the park. Locally, it is known as the Kolob Fingers for its hand-like topography when seen from above. Flying over the Kolob Fingers is something of a religious experience. Pardon the hyperbole, but the view from above is the most beautiful piece of terra firma on this Earth. Six West-pointing fingers and the South-pointing thumb pictured above, dominate a bewildering tangle of slot, crack, and sheer cliff. I have flown into His grasp several times, the wind in my face, soaring with the raptors on the magic carpet of my Powered Parachute. The spectacle evokes involuntary tears every single time. Its natural beauty causes the soul to recoil, as if transfiguration would be required to withstand the view.
I first disovered Hop Valley on a flight over the fingers. A beautiful narrow valley, lush with grass, and a meandering stream that seemed to emerge from the ground on the south end of the valley and disappear into the ground at the foot of a small mountain on the other. The fingers tower at the north end of the valley, rising 2500 hundred feet above, and across a chasm another 1000 feet below, where Hop Valley's creek re-emerges and empties into LaVerkin Creek. It is a choice peice of real estate surrounded by official park, but still private property. Generations of the Lee family of Virgin Utah have run cows in her verdant meadows. We met Alan and some of the family there last fall while on horseback and helped him round up some strays that had wandered into the Park.
This weekend's weather threatened rain, so we looked forward to our planned overnighter into Hop Valley with great anticipation. Riding and camping in the rain is good practice for our summer wilderness trip, and we love it anyway. Defying nature under hat and slicker is good, raw fun. So, prepared for rain, my two daughters, friend Bruce Jenkins, and I decended into the Valley.
The twin smells of wet pine and spring sage blew coldly against our faces as we rode between the myst-shrouded canyon walls. Weather barking more than biting, we got a few sprinkles on the way in, and a gentle, dry rain that sounded like cannon-fire against our tent the next morning. It spat just enough to discolor the vertical sandstone cliffs and scrub the already-pristine air. At bedtime, the sky cleared and we hunted constellations to the sound of a lonely blues harp and the warmth of a fire.
Life's stream wandering through the straight and narrow, a gateway to the very Hand of God--riding Hop Valley is an allegorical journey, rich with metaphor and spiritual overtones. No wonder the ancients feared and revered this place. I often wonder if the general decline in religiosity can be traced to the loss of our night-time sky and our addiction to pavement. Only the most calloused soul could miss the still small voice, or the lions roar of His love in this place.