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.