Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

More Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Ive decided that the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve (RCDR) is truly underrated! My latest trip there was one of my hiking highlights of 2008 and this time I was able to share the experience with Trevor. Without any source of information whatsoever(is this a word?), I plotted our journey up the north face of Sandstone Mountain, and then down the south side of the mountain (we are not mountain climbers, we merely found a possible way up and down without any type of technical skills other than scrambling) Once on top we were able to see LaVerkin, with an stunning view of West Temple in the background, the city of Hurricane, Leeds, Pinevalley, and as far south as Sand Hollow. After spending some time contemplating on top of the mountain we began to pick, or slide down the backside of the mountain. The best part of our trip was found tumbling down the mountain! Amazing colors, rock formations, even windows in the rocks dazzled our eyes and minds. I was nearly as impressed with the sights and colors we saw, as when I first saw the Wave in the Paria Wilderness Area. After nearly rolling our ankles on several occasion because we couldnt keep our eyes on the trail due to the beauty of the area, we were able to cross the backside of the mountain and reach the arch that I wrote about it an earlier posting. This time I had time to actually sit and enjoy the little arch.

Today was a day not soon to be forgotten for either me or Trevor! Here are some pictures.

1/2 way up the north face of Sandstone Mtn.

I have no idea how I took this picture, but it looks like Trevor is traveling through some time warp.

Overlooking LaVerkin and West Temple (ZNP)

We saw some CRAZY weathering of rocks!

Even the moss was more artistic in the RCDR

Some of the differences in color of the sandstone was similar to the Wave.

Just the icing on the cake of a perfect day

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Red Cliffs Desert Reserve- Arch Trail

Due to the crazy amounts of snow the upper elevations of Southern Utah have received over the last two weeks I was left scrambling to find a new place to hike during the cold, snowy winter months and boy did I find it. In practically my back yard one can find peace, beauty and even natural free standing arches. During my research (thank you SCC for paying me to browse the internet) I found mention of a free standing arch. Basically all I found was one brief trail description and a couple pictures, but I decided that I would find this arch during my xmas break (thank you state of Utah and Washington County for giving me a two week xmas break this year!) Trevor and I made a quasi-attempt earlier this week but due to a snow/rain storm our excursion was cancelled. Luckily for me I did not give up hope but rather set out by myself on a cold December morning. Because of the lack of information of how to find this arch I found myself accidentally parking about 1-2 miles away from the trailhead, being lost for most of the time, finding myself somewhat stuck with the only option of sliding down a ten foot slab of slickrock, and scraping my knuckles up!!! But with a little determination I eventually found the needle in the haystack. While the arch isnt very large, it is still impressive, especially for southwestern Utah. It is somewhat reminiscent of delicate arch although on a much smaller scale. Once I found the arch, I also found the trail out, which was much easier and faster than my scramble down the mountain trail.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park-White Rock Trail Scramble

On the way home from celebrating Thanksgiving in Northern Utah, Renee's sister called and said that she and her boys wanted to do some hiking on Sunday and of course I was to be their tour guide. Now I was thrilled at the opportunity to skip church and enjoy the great outdoors, but I also realized that more than likely I would be stuck on the same lame trails I have often hiked where I have to fight my way through the crowds, you know the trendy hikes! As I contemplated whether or not I could find some solitude on such a hike I dreamt up the idea to find a more unique hike in the early morn with a small group and then later meet up with the rest of them for the usual. Due to not wanting to drive four cars into Zion National Park, we decided to go to a cheaper to enter but just as impressive Snow Canyon State Park. Cory, Trevor, Micah and myself would leave early and hike to the White Rock Amphitheater and the girls and children would come a couple hours later. The short hike to the Amphitheater was rather unimpressive but the almost U-shaped white valley of slick rock was inspiring. The reflection from pools was amazing, and my pictures do not nearly do it justice. Everyone in the group was impressed. Cory began finding changing leaves in order to frame a picture against the white sand. Trevor went off on his own, and nearly fell to his death, well at least a couple broken bones. Micah and myself though found one of the most beautiful off trail views within recent memory. Snow Canyon is a place I will surely return to!

Micah standing high atop the whiterock scramble looking down on Snow Canyon. While this was a semi-dangerous scramble to get to the top, it was well worth the risk.

Cory Darwin Reese climbing atop the whiterock.

Trevor nearly fell from the cliffs directly behind me!

Eventually we met up with the rest of the crew. Me, being an anxious being, quickly gathered up the youngsters and headed to the sand dunes. When I was a child I spent many an hour playing in these same dunes, and even as a semi-adult I still had a blast running as fast as I could in the shifting sand and jumping off the edge. After an hour or so of this we headed towards our last hike of the day, which happened to be a place I had driven by dozens of times, but never left the car to explore. Any visitor at Snow Canyon must stop at the petrified dunes and hike to the top of them. At several places the dunes form a type of stairway. It is pretty amazing. Perhaps the best part of the hike though, was discovered once we arrived at the top of the dunes. Countless moki marbles appeared as we arrived at the top it was a sight not soon to be forgotten.

Younger sister Kylee helping her older sister Danica down the dunes.

Renee and Mel on top of the once upon a time sand dunes.

Can anyone say Moki Marbles?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cave Valley Pictograph's

What may have been ancient vandalism, or tagging to me is something more spiritual. Today I set out with Renee, Cory, and Jackson to find the pictographs of Cave Valley in Zion National Park. To arrive at Cave Valley turn up the Kolob Reservoir road in Virgin, Utah. Drive roughly 1/2 hour up the road. You will enter Zion National Park (you can tell because the road is red) eventually you will stop ascending the mountain and it will level off in one of the most beautiful areas of the park. To find the cave art, park your car after the cattle guard, and simply walk towards Zion's red cliffs following the footprints in the sand. The cave is not hard to find, but isn't easy either. Once you arrive at the cliffs go towards the side facing across the valley.

Finding the petroglyphs and pictographs is half the fun and it is a true treat finding these former sacred places from civilizations of the past. When I do encounter paintings I always wonder, what were they trying to say? Was there some sacred meaning, or was it simply a way to record what they were doing there? Needless to say the experience is one everyone should experience. We also used the experience to teach young Jackson about the importance of treating such finds with respect so others can enjoy them for years to come.

After finding the ruins I sent Renee, Cory and Jackson to another cave, while I hiked up the slickrock exploring the back country away from any trail and possibly away from where any other person had been in years.

Like many things in this world, what is difficult and dangerous to find is often worth it and the views of Zion National Park and what I believe to be West Temple definately were. I could have stayed up here all day but due to the late hour I, and the setting sun, decided to climb back down the slickrock mountain.

"I had some terrific experiences in the wilderness-overpowering, overwhelming. But then I am always being overwhelmed. I require it to sustain life."-Everett Ruess

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Emerald Pools

When my brother in law approached me with the idea to hike to Zion National Park's Emerald Pools the thought of fighting through crowds of tourists immediatly entered my mind. Emerald Pools is one of the "must hikes" in the National Park and as such, one usually finds himself fighting crowds, listening to foreign languages, and in general not experiencing nature as it was meant to be experienced.
Fortunately, we had church at 11:00 AM which in turn caused us to wake up earlier than one should on a Sunday. Departing at around 6:30 and arriving at the trailhead at 7:15, we found ourselves the only ones in the parking lot. Quickly we arrived without any human distractions at the lower pools and waterfalls. Looking at the waterfalls with the fall colors in the background was majestic, but the lower pools was not our end destination, and we quickly moved on.

After hiking for a short time, and stopping to enjoy the changing leaves, we arrived at the middle pools. My brother in law told me of a spot he had found in an earlier trip to the middle pools that was off the main trailhead. We spent a considerable time at these hidden pools. My nephew, who came along with us on this hike, quietly played while I enjoyed the solitude and stunning beauty of leaves floating on the pools.

After spending 20 someodd minutes at the middle pools, we departed and eventually arrived at the upper pools. Only one word describes the scene we found, inspiring! The reflection of the fall colors and red rocks on the upper pool was one of the most sacred moments in recent memory. Only a Supreme Power could have create such an amazing holy place, one as sacred as any church or place of worship.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Great Basin National Park

I am often ashamed by the fact that while in the last 5 years I have traveled to nearly a half dozen countries, countless beaches, and Mayan ruins, I have not explored places much closer, cheaper and just as impressive. Great Basin National Park(GPNP) is only a 3 hour drive from Hurricane. In reality one could easily arrive much quicker, but on this expedition we happened to pulling a GHETTO trailer which would not allow us to drive over 55MPH. GBNP is truly a place solitude seekers can find just that. Because it is somewhere between the middle of nowhere and BFE one does not find the masses of people as is the case in many other National Parks in the West. As I speak of this alleged solitude, anyone with me on this trip is currently snickering. Our first night camping out a small group of rambunctious, and rowdy drinkers arrived and kept us up half the night. Luckily revenge is sweet, and as they attempted to sleep off their night of drinking we began making a commotion that they wont soon forget!

Other than this group who fortunetly left once I began singing, slamming shut car doors, banging pots and pans together, yawning as loud as humanly possible and laughing so loud as to wake the dead. After breakfast, Renee and I set out to hike to the top of the second highest peak in Nevada, Wheelers Peak. The peak itself lies at over 13,000 feet but the hike starts at over 10,000 feet. The hike is beautiful. The hike starts in an high elevation forest with quaky's and pines. As you gain elevation the trees begin to shrink until all that left are the ancient bristlecone pine that grow in the harshest of conditions. As we approached the treeline, even the bristlecone disappeared and the only plant life left were lichens and some low growing flowers. At 12,000 feet Renee was finished for the day and decided to stay back while I made the final push for the summit. Even at 12,000 feet the view was amazing and one could see for miles in several directions. Directly below Renee was the campgrounds and three glacial lakes.

The final push to summit was one of the best experiences of my life. My legs burned, my lungs ached and my heart has never beated as hard. Truly it was a mind over body moment for me and gave proof that if I am strong mentally I can accomplish much. The reward for putting my body through hell was also by far worth it. At the top of the peak I had a 360 degree view for dozens if not hundred of miles. In the log book I wrote, and meant, "some of Gods holiest places are found on mountaintops, this is surely one of them."

The next morning we woke and visited Lehman Caves. GBNP is worth the trip, even if it is only a day trip, just to be able to explore the cave. The formations of stalactites, stalagmites, shields, etc was unbelievable, and even though the tour guide was a little cheesy, his explanation of the history behind Lehmans Cave was very interesting. GBNP is worth the visit for any person and worth a return visit for me!

Pictures will be added shortly