Archive for the ‘2009/03/22 Utah’ Category

Bryce, More of Bryce

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

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We spent the past few days exploring Bryce and the surrounding area further.  Chris took another motorcycle ride (had parts to pick up about 100 miles away) and Kim braved another solo hike, this time  along the rim of Bryce Canyon.  One day was devoted to checking out Red Canyon, not far from Bryce.  Although our high hopes of a mountainbike ride were squashed by our lack of skills, we did manage a nice hike on the Arches trail which gave a good overview of the Red Canyon area.  After a short visit we headed back to Bryce to check out all of the view points we hadn’t hit yet.  The southern part of the part offered grand  panoramic vistas while the northern end showcased the best views of the hoodoos.

Although we had already hiked several trails in the park, we heard good things about the Fairyland Trail and were looking forward to tackling the 8 mile loop.  On Friday we had a great afternoon hiking in Fairyland and taking pictures (something different).  Earlier in the day, a neighbor from a previous campground showed up and we had made friends with our current neighbors.  Dinner with our new friends and a fire were in order and made a nice ending to the day. 

Today is our last day at Bryce, and actually in the Grand Circle area.  We are looking forward to watching the sunset and moonrise over Bryce tonight.  It will be a fitting end to a very scenic and enjoyable month. Tomorrow we hit the road heading west  to California once again.

Bryce Canyon NP….WOW!!!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
View from inside Bryce Ampitheater

View from inside Bryce Ampitheater

Well, we came back to Bryce for the day like we planned.  We filled our day with a combination hike that brought us to Queens Garden, the Peek a Boo Trail Loop, and the Wall Street side of the Navajo Loop (6.5 miles of many elevation changes through the hoodoo’s).  We thought we were impressed when looking down from Bryce Point the other day, however being in the Bryce Ampitheater was even better.  After only seeing about 1/3 of the park and loving everthing we were seeing we decided to head back to the camper, pack up and move to Bryce for the next few days. 

 

Escalante and a hint of Bryce

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
Lower Calf Creek Falls

Lower Calf Creek Falls

The weather was supposed to be sour, however when we got up it was actually pretty nice.  We decided to try and hit several different highlights within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Our first stop was a 6 mile hike to Calf Creek Falls.  The walk to the lower falls took us through a canyon below the Hog Back section of route 12. It was a good walk and proved somewhat challenging with the sand.  We even encountered desert rain and some hail. The most memorable part of our hike happened on the way back when we heard loud cracking and sliding noises to our right.  As it turns out, part of a cliff near where we were walking let loose and a section fell. Pretty amazing to be so close to a major geologic moment and scary too!

Devil's Garden

Devil's Garden

After leaving Calf Creek we took the long way back to our next destination, Devil’s Garden.  There are several back country roads that cater to OHV’s and cars. We took the Hells Backbone route, which took us through the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness.  Although the road itself was fun, there wasn’t much picture action.  From Hell’s Backbone we hooked up with another backcountry route called Hole in the Rock Road.  About 13 miles in we found Devil’s Garden, which was very cool.  We had a great time taking pictures and scrambling around on the hoodoo’s.

Timer shot in Devil's Garden

Timer shot in Devil's Garden

Metate Arch in Devil's Garden

Metate Arch in Devil's Garden

Devil's Garden
Devil’s Garden

Devil’s Garden was a great way to end the day.  From there it was home for dinner.

Grosvenor Arch

Grosvenor Arch

On Sunday we headed out on the motorcycles to check out Kodachrome Basin State Park, Grosvenor Arch, and take a peek at Bryce Canyon National Park.  The state park was a bit less exciting then we expected so there are no pictures to prove we were there.  We did take a short hike to Shakesphere Arch, again not worth reporting.  Our ride, on dirt, to Grosvenor Arch was more rewarding.  The double arch was quite impressive. 

Bryce

Hoodoo you think your foolin'..... name that song

The “piece de resistance” for the day was definitely our first look at Bryce (sorry Diarmuid).  We both agreed that this may be one of the most impressive sights so far.  Chris tried to spice things up by pretending to throw me off the cliff to get a good smile for the timer shot of  the day (it worked).

Bryce

View from Bryce Point

This is just a taste of what we saw.  We can’t wait to come back and spend the whole day exploring the canyon and hoodoo views.

More of Capitol Reef

Friday, May 1st, 2009

After getting the trailer issue diagnosed we were able to relax and have some fun.  Knowing that the part is on the way and having an appointment for the new axle to be installed made us both feel better about the road ahead.

The rest of the week was filled with the usual activities of hiking and motorcycles. Capital Reef is on the Waterpocket Fold, an enormous wrinkle in the earth’s crust known as a monocline.  This geologic feature forms the 100 mile backbone of the park and creates what explorers called an “impassable reef” of rock.  The rugged landscape is a maze of brightly colored cliffs and canyons.  We took several hikes to see some of the highlights; Capitol Gorge, Hickman Bridge, Cassidy Arch (where Butch supposedly hid out), The Frying Pan, and Cohab Canyon were just a few. 

On Thursday, our last full day, we took a long motorcycle ride along scenic route 12.  We set our destination as Escalante (our next stop after Capitol Reef) with the goal of taking the Burr Trail on the way back to Capitol Reef.  The ride along 12 was scenic indeed and we enjoyed the dichotomy of elevations, rock formations, and geography.  After securing our campsite in Escalante for the next few nights, we headed back.  A stop at the Kiva Koffeehouse was in order.  Nothing like a cappuccino in the middle of nowhere, served in a house built into the side of a rock.  After our yummy and energizing stop we set out for the Burr Trail.  Kim was determined, even though there is a stretch of dirt for 19 miles.  It was a beautiful ride until we hit the crazy steep downhill dirt switchbacks.  Kim attempted a turn or two but then had to throw in the towel after she learned the road at the bottom was a bit sandy.  She flashed the “LOSER” sign and we headed back from whence we came.  Since our loop didn’t work out, and it was getting late and we were starving, we stopped at a local joint in Boulder for a quick dinner.  On the ride back to camp, we had to take it slow after happening upon a herd of about 12 Elk and 5 or 6 herds of Mule Deer.

Friday we woke up super early to get the trailer into the shop (6am is super early to us these days, boy are we spoiled).  While they worked on the axle, we patronized the local diner for breakfast and caught up on email. It is so strange to be without phone and Internet, even on the road.  We were on our way to Escalante by 11:00, trailer fixed and Chris’ motorcycle parts in the back seat, in search of our next adventure.

Capitol Reef National Park

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

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Capitol Reef Fruita Campground

Capitol Reef Fruita Campground

We arrived at Capitol Reef National Park and got the last spot in the NP campground with great views and only $10 per night. As we were setting up, which was all going so smoothly, Kim noticed one of the trailer tires was horribly worn.  Chris spent the next few hours changing the tire and trying to diagnose the cause of the wear. 

Measuring for the new axle

Measuring for the new axle

The next day we went into the nearest town to purchase a replacement tire. We asked some questions on how to diagnose the problem and, upon further inspection, it was determined that the axle was probably bent.  The next day we broke down camp and headed back to town with our rig to get measurements and order the new axle. Looks like our string of bad camper luck wasn’t over yet:(  We have been experiencing some minor issues resulting in a few booboo’s and some electronic anoyances.  Not to worry, Capital Reef is beautiful and there is plenty to do while we wait for the parts to arrive. 

 

Moab, Even more of Moab

Friday, April 24th, 2009

 

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

There is just sooooo much to do around this area. The past few days we found lots more things to amuse ourselves with.  After getting haircuts in town, Kim and Steph spent another day in Arches.  They took a 3 mile roundtrip trek to see Delicate Arch, one of the most famous and most photographed in the park.  It was also, by far, the most impressive.  After a few short jaunts to Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch (1 mile) they took their ranger guided tour of the Fiery Furnance (1.5 miles).  It was worth the ten bucks!  Julianna, the ranger, did a nice job of pointing out geologic and historic features, while guiding the group through rock scrambles  and thin ledges in the furnace.  They ended their journey with a short hike to see the North and South Window Arches and Turret Arch (1 mile).  It was a jam packed day.

While they played in the park, Chris took yet another great ride on his motorcycle.  He followed the southeast side of the Colorado, through Harrah’s pass, to the lower part of Canyonlands (Needles). Excellent views the whole ride, combined with challenging terrain, made this his best ride of the trip. 

Friday was Steph’s last day and she wanted to get up close and personal with the La Sal Mountains that we have been seeing in the distance the whole time. What better way to do this than on the motorcycles. We all bundled up for the 67 mile roudtrip scenic ride into the elevation.  Steph was a good double up rider, even as we fought the wind and cold.  A relaxing afternoon of scrabble and sun ended our fantabulous week.

 

Moab, More of Moab

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Well… the past few days have been filled with some of the same but different activities.  On Tuesday, Chris enjoyed another solo ride through Kane Creek Springs and the La Sal mountains.  Steph and Kim hit the town to do a little shopping then went on a petroglyph scavenger hunt.  Petroglyphs seem to be pretty prolific in this area. 

On Wednesday, Steph rented a kayak and Kim and Chris dusted theirs off for a journey down the Colorado. It was the perfect day for a float/paddle, as it was hot and quite sunny. We all needed several layers of sunscreen, but a good time was had by all.  The day ended with snacks and stories around the fire.

Moab, Arches National Park

Monday, April 20th, 2009
Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

Day two in Moab and the weather is continuing to cooperate (FINALLY!!!!). We spent the day together exploring the Devils Garden area of Arches National Park. Steph picked the 7.2 mile loop with a smile and that’s pretty much what we did the whole way.  The rock formations, arches, and spires were awesome.  This was the 3rd arch on the trail but one of the most impressive due to its size.  In 1991, a 60 foot chunk broke off the right side while visitors captured the moment on film.  Glad we weren’t under it then 🙂  As we pushed on, we passed the remains of Wall Arch, another popular arch on the trail. Wall arch fell to the ground just last year.  It’s amazing to think a major geologic feature, that has been around for so long, actually bit the dust during our lifetime.

Partition Arch

Partition Arch

The next set of arches were slightly off the trail about a mile up.  Partition arch had a great view of the expansive valley below.  We stopped here to take a brief rest and have a snack.

Navajo Arch

Navajo Arch

Navajo Arch offered yet another perspective on the arch theme, tucked into the hills and rock.

Kim and Steph on the trail in Devil's Garden

Kim and Steph on the trail in Devil's Garden

The trail offered a wide range of conditions. We were met with sand, slickrock climbs, walks along thin rock formations, some ledges, and dry streambed or wash crossings. No matter where we were, those beautiful La Sal Mountains were watching us.

Double O Arch

Double O Arch

Midway through our day we happened upon Double O Arch.  This was quite impressive.  Try as we might we couldn’t figure out how to get on the upper part of the arch. 

After this, we checked out Dark Angel then continued on the Primitive Loop Trail. We stopped one last time for a break and snacks at Private Arch, which  actually was  pretty private. We were the only ones there for at least 20 minutes.  We cranked out the last few miles and our water ran out as we got back to civilization.  Over 8 miles in the sand and ups/downs was a fun, full day so we decided to head home and have a quiet evening.  We spent the evening checking pictures, working on a post, and eating some dinner.  Tomorrow is another day:)

Moab, Canyonlands National Park

Sunday, April 19th, 2009
View of the White Rim trail from Grand View Point

View of the White Rim trail from Grand View Point

We arrived in Moab by about 7:30 on Saturday night after an uneventful journey from Grand Junction.  The campground was quite tight and we had a mini adventure trying to get settled in.  We were having dinner by 8:30 and all was good in the world.  Our first day, we decided to divide and conquer Canyonlands.  Kim and Steph headed to the Island In The Sky section on foot while Chris chose his motorcycle.  Moab is a mecca for ATV, motorcycles, dirt bikes, rock crawlers, mountain bikes, etc… The first hike was Grand View Point, which actually overlooked the trail Chris was riding on.

View from the White Tim trail

View from the White Tim trail

Chris had a different perspective of the same view.  He enjoyed it from the White Rim, which is a trail at the  halfway point in altitude between the Colorado river and the Island in the Sky.

Steph hangs ten above Monument Basin

Steph hangs ten above Monument Basin

It was a beautiful day and Steph got into the spirit.  Here she is surfing above the canyon.

Kim and Steph at Grand View Point Overlook

Kim and Steph at Grand View Point Overlook

As with each adventure, you can never forget the timer shot.  Steph caught on fast and was a ham for the camera making it easy.  The views from Grand View Point were quite impressive.  We couldn’t stay long as we had several other hikes to fit in.

View from Mesa Arch

View from Mesa Arch

We stopped at Mesa Arch next, the largest in Canyonlands, for a short hike.  We couldn’t get a blog worthy shot of the arch itself, but the view from that point was incredible. From there we checked out Upheaval Dome from both overlooks.  All told, we trekked about 5 miles.  It was a good start to Steph’s visit.

Colorado river from the Shafer Trail

Colorado river from the Shafer Trail

Chris continued to have a love affair with his bike and managed yet another centerfold photo.  We just can’t get away from that Colorado river!  The White Rim trail was over 100 miles long, a fact Chris was not aware of until he went to the vistor center for maps. Having just completed the Shafer Trail to get into the park, it was already after noon when he started the trail. No worries, we all met back home about 6″ish” to enjoy stories of our day around the campfire.  Can’t wait for tomorrow when we head for Arches.

Zion National Park, Utah

Friday, March 27th, 2009
Campsite at Zion National Park

Campsite at Zion National Park

We arrived at Zion National Park on Sunday. We were looking forward to the new scenery and also wanted to get set up for our first visitor.  We got the last campsite in Watchman campground inside the park, and were pleased with the view. 

Chris prepares to take a shot on the way up to Angel's landing

Chris prepares to take a shot on the way up to Angel's landing

On Monday we decided to take a hike (now there’s a surprise).  Angels Landing is one of the most popular hikes in the park, which surprised us.  It was 2.5 miles up with plenty of switchbacks.  The view from the lookout however was outstanding. 

On the way up to Angel's Landing, notice the trail over Chris' shoulder

On the way up to Angel's Landing, notice the trail over Chris' shoulder

The last half mile is pretty intense and traverses a thin rocky ridge with chains to help with balance, as you can see in the picture.

Finally made the Landing

Finally made the Landing

We enjoyed the challenge and the reward at the top.

Kim takes a break in a cave on the way down from Angel's Landing

Kim takes a break in a cave on the way down from Angel's Landing

The trail meandered through some very interesting rock formations.  Kim found a cool cave to take a break in as we made our way back down. 

Upper Emarald Pool in Zion Valley

Upper Emarald Pool in Zion Valley

On Tuesday afternoon, our friend Diarmuid (pronounced Deer – med) flew in for a visit.  We spent the day preparing his 5 star accomodations and gathering firewood.  We also managed a quick mountainbike ride before he showed up. On Wednesday we set out to cover as much of the park as possibe, as Diarmuid only had a few days.  We hiked the Lower, Middle, and Upper Emerald Pools, The Riverside Walk by the Temple of Sinawava, the Canyon Overlook, and a short silly hike by the campground.  We had about 6 miles on the day.

Diarmuid looks for new mountains to conquer

Diarmuid looks for new mountains to conquer

Our goal was to spend the second day at Bryce Canyon National Park.  The best laid plans of mice and men… As we made our way there, the weather deteriorated significantly. 50’s gave way to 20’s and blue skies to snow, bummer.  We made a game time decision to go back to Zion and found another really cool hike.

The end of Hidden Canyon. Yes, that is snow.

The end of Hidden Canyon. Yes, that is snow.

Hidden Canyon offered strenuous switchbacks that led to some great narrow cliffs (again with chains), and finally into a narrow canyon.  We had a blast scrambling up rocks to make our way through the canyon.  All good things must come to an end and finally we got to a point in the canyon that turned us back.

A view of Wildcat Canyon from Kolob Terrace

A view of Wildcat Canyon from Kolob Terrace

We ended the day with a drive on the Kolob Terrace Road that led to another section of the park.  The views were well worth the drive.

Diarmuid will be leaving early on Saturday so a trip to Vegas is in order.  We wouldn’t want him to miss his plane.