Monday, December 7, 2009

Shelf Canyon Ankle Roll

Trevor and Jessi were down from Salt Lake and wanted to do some hiking. We decided to go to Zion. Wanting to get several short hikes in, and have time to go to real church (well Micah and myself anyway) we left at 7:00 in the morning and arrived at our first hike before the sun even thought of rising above the majestic cliffs of Zion.

Our first hike was to the Upper Pool of the classic Emerald Pools Hike. I love this hike, as long as you start before the masses. The hike was a little more exciting then normal because around the waterfalls the trail was pure ice and we had to slowly, hanging on to the also ice covered rail, slide down the hill. This hike was also different because of the formation of icicles on all the overhangs. Photo taken Nov 08
Surely such a inspiring place proves the existence of a SUPREME CREATOR. I can not think of another outdoor location that leaves me with that feeling as much as the Upper Emerald Pool. It is tucked in the corner of two spectacular thousand feet cliffs. The reflection from the pool of the rocks around it is one of a kind in such a desert. No where else, that I can think of in the desert, can you find such a reflection. Add to that the solitude and utter silence and one can imagine GOD himself sitting in contemplation, and in awe of the beauty of HIS own works. And for that reason it is a must for all hikers to get there early before the sheeple arrive and start throwing rocks into the pool and ruining the quietness.

In the past i have tried to find Two Pines Arch a couple of times and never had success. This time would be different. We parked, crossed the road, and started down into the wash. After looking a little closer at my topo map I figured out why I have always had such a difficult time, I HAVE ALWAYS GONE SOUTH RATHER THAN NORTH!!! What an idiot I am! This time, after initially repeating the mistakes of the past, was different and we found the arch. Two Pines Arch is a cool little arch and I was glad we found it, and look forward to going back with my camera to take some "better" pics. Sorry Trevor nothing against you or your camera but I need mine! We wanted to hike to the top of Progeny Peak after this but Micah quickly reached his own personal comfort limit with slickrock scrambling so instead we turned back. While I was disappointed, my disappointment soon ended. For our last little jaunt we decided to hike to Shelf Canyon.

Shelf Canyon is a little slot canyon that starts soon after you exist the tunnel. It is an extremely fun hike for everyone with the reward of a cool slot canyon. The end of the canyon one wall is layered almost like a bunch of shelves.
The hike has a little bit of scrambling over and around boulders and pools(I dang near slipped and fell into the ice covered pool) thus making it an exciting hike for all. We hung out for about ten minutes as far into the slot as we could go before heading back. On the way back we made it to within eyesight of the car when I rolled my ankle. With my ankle injury I expect a couple week recovery, Oh well, it was worth it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Devils Well

After reading about a mysterious 70 foot deep tank on top of the cliffs overlooking Snow Canyon I decided it was something I would like to see. Something like that in the middle of a desert filled only by rain water would be extremely rare and impressive. Ryan Jensen and I set out to find this mysterious well. The day was beautiful as we started to hike on the three ponds trail in Snow Canyon. After about a mile and walking next to several hundred feet high vertical cliffs we split off the trail and began an ascent up a ridge of slickrock. Later we would discover this would be the only safe way down as well. After a long ascent we found ourselves on top of the cliffs overlooking much of snow canyon. The vistas were very amazing. The solitude of the place was something that I needed to recharge my internal batteries.We did not see any other person on top of the cliffs, nor any evidence of anyone being up there for some time. After sitting and enjoying the views and a brief moment of contemplation we descended from the peak to find the "devil's well." We found where the water had been but unfortunately it was no longer full. I am not sure if the author of my source hiked there before the current decade long drought or maybe it fills with spring rains, but there was only mud at the bottom of a very deep hole in the slickrock.

Finding the well was the beginning of our real adventure, trying to find a way down the cliff!Initially we hoped that there would be several ways down and as long as we were descending we hopefully should be able to find a route down, but we were mistaken as we repeatedly were forced to retrace our steps after finding our attempt stopped by high cliffs or dangerous scrambles.At one point we almost became rim-rocked but fortunately we were able to climb out of such places.Eventually after 4 or 5 failures we found a way down, which happened to be the exact same route up and possibly the only safe way up or down. I will publish some pictures if Ryan emails them to me. I forgot my camera

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Niah

Apparently more people are interested in seeing Niah than reading about my hiking. So in order to satisfy the 5 people who look at this site here she is! Hey at least the pictures were taken outside in the fallen leaves of AMAZING SOUTHERN UTAH!

Monday, November 9, 2009


Here are some pics of our sunday drive to the town of Grafton. All day I was dying to get out of the house. I was borderline going INSANE when Cory suggested we go to Grafton to see the fall colors. What an amazing place in the fall!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Capitol Reef

One of the worst moments in family reunion history happened several years ago. Renee's sister, in a charitable moment, bid on the use of a houseboat at Bullfrog Marina of Lake Powell. To make a long story short the houseboat and the reunion was pretty much a disaster but good came out of the trip. On the drive to Bullfrog we drove through a place I had heard of but never really had much desire to visit, CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK. After driving through the waterpocket fold, I was so impressed that I have had the desire to return and finally was able to with Renee and Niah.

Our first day we made an epic journey to Cathedral Valley. Please read about this and look at the photos in the Cathedral Valley posting. After spending most of the day in Cathedral Valley we drove the scenic 7 mile road into Capitol Valley and arrived at Capitol Gorge.

Capitol Gorge was a neat canyon with petroglyphs, and pioneer names that had been carved into the canyon walls decades ago.
Unfortunately it seems that hundreds of other people had the same desire since, and have also carved their names, or fake petroglyphs onto the walls. In fact I have never seen such desecration of a national park as I did at Capitol Reef and it is very unfortunate since it is such an amazing National Park.
The next day we, after a miserable windy night, we hiked to a very scenic natural bridge called Hickman Bridge. The hike was ranked as moderate and only 2 miles round trip. I would suggest it to everyone who goes to Capitol Reef. Not only is there a beautiful and photogenic bridge but also an ancient Fremont Granary, the remnants of a pit house and very colorful and uniquely weathered rock formations.

We picked a truly magnificent time to visit this national park. The leaves of the Cottonwood tree's were changing and we were all left in awe from the natural beauty.

One of my favorite things that we were able to see at Capitol Reef were the HUGE, ancient cottonwood trees that had been planted by Mormon Pioneers. These trees were by far the largest cottonwoods I had ever seen. They were awesome. I think I said in another posting that I like tree's and maybe that is why I was so impressed by these trees.

By far the best thing for me was to see 5 month old Niah totally acting like me! She would stare out the window of the car as we drove through Capitol Reef. It was hilarious! Even though she is only five months she was obsessed with cranking her head so she could see the high colorful cliffs and the bright fall colors.

Cathedral Valley

A large portion of our Capitol Reef trip was an excursion into Cathedral Valley. This is an iconic western scene that few people ever see live and the reason for its relative obscurity is its vast isolation from, well anything. There are only a few ways into Cathedral Valley and all of them involve one or more of the following; a long bumpy dirt road containing deep sand, washed out stream beds, a river ford or impassible when wet clay. For us bold adventurers we started the day fording the Fremont River. It was odd driving our Jeep through the river for about 20 feet. At its deepest point the water was probably one foot deep.

After the river fording/crossing we reached what are called the Benonite Hills. These mounds of clay were pretty amazing, especially the oddly out of place lava boulders.

Soon after we hiked to the overlook of our first glimpse into Cathedral Valley. The over 500 foot monolith Jailhouse Rock was the first of the impressive monoliths of the valley and all of us enjoyed sitting and admiring it from the overlook above.

After this there were several other overlooks looking at different portions of Cathedral Valley and the South Desert.

Even more impressive than the inspiring vistas was the descent into Cathedral Valley. Being upclose to the monoliths was amazing and very reminescent of driving through Monument Valley.

One of the neatest landforms was an odd shaped fin like barrier that we drove past. The odd thing was the almost perfect V shape in the middle of the barrier.

Niah was PERFECT on this 58 mile rough dirt road excursion. I do not remember her crying at all other than when she was hungry once and when after hitting a bump Renee jabbed her in the gums with her sharp nails. I am the most fortunate man in America to have a wife and daughter willing to make a 5 hour drive in the middle of no where to see some big rocks, and colorful clay!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Letter to the Governor of Utah

Here is a letter I recently wrote to Governor Gary Herbert
President Gordon B Hinkley said, “Here is declared the Creator of all that is good and beautiful. I have looked at majestic mountains rising against a blue sky and though of Jesus, the creator of heaven and earth. I have stood on a spit of sand in the Pacific and watched the dawn rise like thunder-a ball of gold surrounded by clouds of pink and white and purple-and though of Jesus, the Word by whom all things were made...what then shall you do with Jesus that is called Christ? This earth is his creation. When we make it ugly, we offend him.”

Please Governor Herbert I implore you to understand that as Bob Dylan said, “times they are a changin.” A new generation of citizens is beginning to take their place in the great state of Utah. Previous to this new generation members of the LDS faith carried on the traditions of their pioneer parents. For these parents the land was a hostile place that they always fought against for survival, they believed that the land needed to be subdued. This ideology of dominion is often why the older generation has such harsh attitudes towards today s environmental issues. On the other hand a new generation has begun to emerge. This new generation I refer to, of which I am a part, no longer believes in the practices of old. The land to us is nearly as holy as any temple or church, for many of us it is our temple and we agree with the writer of the Psalm who said “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” For us, just like Moses, Jesus, Enos and Joseph Smith, we need the wilderness to escape from the distractions of daily life in order to pray, and meditate. To end I pose a question if the Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ created the earth including its natural temples, and cathedrals shouldn’t we protect them from destruction just as we would the human made temples and churches?

Please protect God’s handiwork so that future generations can see the Creators creation.

Matt Anderson

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Like Trees

Because attendance is not required for Stake Conference, I dont think it is, is it? We (Renee, Niah, Cory Reese and Jackson Reese and I) decided to attend our own Sunday services. The Church of Beautiful Southern Utah! Worship services would be held at Cedar Breaks National Monument (CBNM). I have driven past Cedar Breaks numerous times, even stopped at some of the viewpoints, but have never really explored the monument. Luckily I decided to today. Cedar Breaks is a gem of the National Monument system. There is a strong movement to make it a National Park, but that would be unfortunate. Not because Cedar Breaks is not impressive, unique and worth the recognition but because with the added recognition it will quickly be run over by tourists and will lose some of its charm.

Cedar Breaks is a unique place. The combination of colors, unique formations and ancient trees make it unlike any other park, monument or any other place, and at over 10,000 ft above sea level the difference in temperature is dramatic. We arrived in shorts and tshirts, and quickly added several layers of clothing to our summer attire. After briefly stopping by the visitor center, which in itself is amazing sitting on the precipice of the colorful valley below, we decided to quickly hike to Spectra Point. The hike was only 2 miles roundtrip but was very impressive. This hike had everything from dramatic vistas to 1673 year old trees and all within 1 mile of the visitor center.

For me the best part of the hike was one of the oldest living things in the world, a bristle cone pine that has been dated to over 1,673 years old. I have seen other bristle cones and they are all cool but this one was amazing. Bristle cones are usually gnarled and look half dead, and this one was not any different, what was different about this ancient tree was its size! It was HUGE. I have realized lately that for some reason I like trees, and its not because I am a tree hugger. I just like trees. Anything that can survive in such a harsh terrain for nearly 2,000 years, for me, is hard to be surpassed.

Even though we were only in Cedar Breaks for a short period of time it was quite a trip. In Cedar Breaks, as the quote goes, you get a lot of bang for your buck!