To accomplish one of your “bucket list” items is a noteworthy event. To do three in one week on the same trip is a bit of a miracle. That happened to me this week.


Kanarraville Falls


Kanarraville Falls

Kanarra Creek Trail – commonly referred to as Kanarraville Falls – is a very rewarding hike that takes you up a canyon just east of the town of Kanarraville, UT. This is a water hike and cannot be completed without getting wet. The trail crosses Kanarra Creek many times and eventually enters a slot canyon where you have no choice but to enter the 3-8 inches of water so you can see the falls.


The trail is lush with trees, plants, reeds – lots of green. Not really suitable for small children unless you plan to carry them a lot of the way. And there were plenty of people who did just that. Beautiful hike – definitely a great place to get out of the St George heat in the summertime!

Toquerville Falls


We attempted this previously, but the vehicle we were driving was not prepared for the exciting little climb. Experienced 4×4 drivers would laugh at that report, but for our rear-wheel-drive van, the courage needed to finish this challenge was more than it could muster.


Toquerville Falls

This time around, we were better prepared. Toquerville Falls is an oasis in the desert that is best found by truck, SUV, or ATV. The road is rough but well worth the trip.  The views are spectacular on the drive, and the waterfalls are beautiful and great to play in. The area is clean and great for families.


There is no hike required. You can drive right to the falls, but the road is ‘extremely rough’ (words from our brochure). Because of the popularity of the location, a good number of people make the necessary arrangements. It took us two attempts over the course of a couple years.


You won’t be sorry you made the trip!


Angels Landing


I’m not sure I was mentally prepared for this hike. Though Angels Landing doesn’t make the cut for the TOP 5 OVERNIGHT BACKPACKING TRAILS IN UTAH, it is one of the most majestic treks of my life. The hike is a mere 5 miles round trip, but the rating is “Strenuous; steep with exposure to long drop-offs.” And that’s no lie.


Angel’s Landing, Zions National Park

There’s no view more dramatic than what you see from 1,400-feet up while hanging onto a chain bolted into a cliff.


Angels Landing is one of the world’s most renowned hikes and is an unforgettable short adventure hike worthy of all bucket lists. The views of Zion Canyon’s 270 million-year-old rock layers will time travel you back to the Triassic period when this section of the Colorado Plateau was a flat basin at sea level.


The literature reports that anyone in an average physical condition can make this heavenward trek, but it’s a good workout and can be mentally challenging as well with its steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. Endurance is key. Thankfully, there are chains bolted to the cliff to provide secure handholds. People who have a severe fear of heights should not attempt the final stretch but can enjoy the trail all the way to Scout Lookout.


Now, this is a five-mile round trip with an elevation change of 1,488 feet, so the trail is steep…at times very steep. Part way up, we met a man descending the trail in a wheelchair. His friends had made the necessary arrangements to make this possible, and he had the guts to do it. Amazing.


For a first timer, I thought we were almost there, but the most challenging feat was yet to come during the final ascent. I was grateful for Emily’s help and patience. She walked ahead of us and waited periodically for us to catch up. On the Hogsback, she made sure I was safe and didn’t fall. It was much better with her help.


Refrigerator Canyon, Zions National Park

The trail begins across the river from the Grotto Picnic Area. It travels over pretty level terrain until you hit the switchbacks that take you up to Refrigerator Canyon.


Refrigerator Canyon is always shady and cool, with a comfortable breeze that can enchant hikers in the sweltering heat of daytime.


Walter’s Wiggles is a series of 21 switchbacks that quickly rises to the top of the ridge at Scout Lookout. From here you can preview the last half mile of the hike and is a common turn around point for those who consider it too difficult.


From Scout Lookout, you cross the Saddle and then climb the ridiculously steep and narrow Hogsback, using the chains that are bolted into the stone to keep from sliding over the edge of the cliff.


Once you’ve conquered the Hogsback, you are ready to mount the Angels Landing Summit. Hardy trees have made their homes clinging to the steep slopes of the Landing, offering shelter to birds, foraging chipmunks, and exhausted hikers.


As I climbed, I thought how much this experience is like life. We all journey along trying to follow the path as we proceed. At times, you think it is too much to handle. Exhaustion, fear, endurance, and grit are all part of the experience. I was glad I didn’t do it alone.


The Narrows, Zion National Park

Encouragement, help, and patience were valuable and welcome guests. I tried to remember how helpful these gestures were and reciprocate in kind when my turn was at hand. But when the going got really rough, the chain was my focus and the companion that I needed in that moment. As long as I held fast to the chain, I was safe.


Especially with drop-offs of more than a thousand feet on both sides of me, holding fast to the chain was comforting, wise, and safe. I couldn’t help but think of Lehi’s dream and the similarities between this experience and his description of our trek through life. I was living it. And so are you.


We are encouraged to hold fast to the iron rod, keep on the straight and narrow, and push forward amid dangerous and difficult circumstances. Continually holding fast to the rod of iron and enduring to the end is our security amid the dangers and difficulties of life.


Nevertheless, Lehi forewarns us that even some who made it to the tree and partook of the fruit failed to continue holding fast to the word of God. He explains it this way:


28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.


The 8th chapter of 1 Nephi tells us much more about the circumstances surrounding Lehi’s dream and the events that happened then. But we also see the fulfillment of his dream in our day and in our lives.



Mormon men

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He talks about those who did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree and remained faithful.



“And he did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent that they would hearken to his words.”


Who of us haven’t felt these very same sentiments for our children? We all have. Amid tough times and difficult circumstances, we hold fast to our faith in Jesus Christ, because we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Yet with that said, some of my life’s choicest opportunities came in the form of great challenges.


A strenuous hike and a chain fastened to the stone taught me that lesson even more clearly.

About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.

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