Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kolob Finger Canyons


I figured that while I was still feeling obese (Dr. told me I was 1 point away from that designation, whatever that means I also read that George Clooney is in the same boat!) that I might as well get some exercise by participating in my favorite past time, hiking. Renee wanted to accompany me even though she is getting pretty pregnant, so I began to search for an easy/moderate hike. To my surprise the hike to double arch alcove in the finger canyons of Zion National Park officially is considered such and even a good hike for kids. So with the thought of an easy hike for Renee and myself I decided to make things more interesting and invite Emma Thompson (my 8 month old niece) to come along so I could break in my child carrier backpack. The hike was much more intense than I had planned(for a pregnant woman and me carrier a 35lb pack) and I had to persuade Renee to finish the final stretch to make it to the alcove. Luckily for her, Emma and myself she toughed it out and made it to our end destination. I was very proud of her and other hikers were amazed she did so well. The arch alcove was one of the most amazing things I have seen in Zion National Park and even though there were several other hikers basking in the beauty I was still in awe of what forces could have created such a place, surely the good LORD must have some hand it!

For a trip report the trail starts off with an immediate descent of around 100 feet and for the most part is a gradual ascent from the floor of the canyon to the arch alcove. There are nearly a dozen times in which you must cross the river/stream (also part of Congress' Omnibus Wilderness Act designated parts of Taylor Creek a Scenic/Wild River and enacted protections on such parts) but the crossings are quite simple and most people will have little if any difficulty with such crossings. Along the hike, about 1 1/2 mile, Larsons Cabin provides a good spot to rest underneath several shady pine trees. The scenery also improves once past the cabin as you begin to enter between two of the fingers of the finger canyons. This hike would be a beast on a hot day so start early. Once you arrive at the double arch alcove you will be in the shade for what looked to be most of the day, atleast until the early afternoon, so it is a perfect place to just sit and enjoy such an amazing place!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness Area

Last week I met with my Doctor for an annual checkup (I do this because if I dont my insurance deductible will go up) To my dismay I gained 13lbs last year and basically was chastised by the doctor. He informed me I was a fatty and was darn near considered to be the O word (obese). Even though I am now officially fat, I left quite happy, that meant I have even more excuses to go hike for the "I need to lose weight excuse." I quickly used this excuse when my good friend Collin and his wife Michan came to visit. We (Renee, Collin, Michon, and myself quickly decided, well mostly me, to explore the Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness Area (CCWA) in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve (RCDR) The CCWA I believe was part of the much needed Omnibus Wilderness Bill that passed through Congress and was signed by the President earlier this year and surely deserves such recognition.

Good ole Colin Cleaner climbing up on the red slickrock

This was a cool bizarre deep red rock in the middle of the not so deep red slickrock

Hiking in the CCWA is something all solitude seekers should do. While initially we found ourselves almost surrounded by other hikers (various trails start and end in the same place) we quickly left behind civilization and found ourselves immerged in tranquility! One of the coolest aspects of this hike was the amazing rocks, and when I say rocks I dont mean red, sandstone cliffs, but actually small rocks. Unique colors and patterns graced our eyes as we, well only Michon and myself (Renee and Collin may have enjoyed them but didnt express the same emotions for rocks) hiked along the wash. After several miles it became time to turn around and instead of hiking back the same way we took an alternate trail up, around, down, and through the wilderness area. This was a more exciting method of returning to our vehicles and provided great views of the RCDR all around us, Zion, Hurricane, and LaVerkin to the east and Pine Valley to the north.

(Above) The view of CCWA

This rock had all these crazy perfect circles(above)

I didn't mention but the wildflowers were out of control. It was very pretty, and I know if my brothers read this they will make fun of me but hey whats wrong with a man enjoying flowers?
Cool little arch

All and all a relaxing day in a fun wilderness area! Someday I would like to hike further up the wash to see what is up canyon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Observation Point

Observation Point

Originally the plan was to go fishing at Lee's Ferry with some friends, but due to unstable weather that plan did not happen and instead I was blessed with the opportunity to hike to a holy mountaintop. Some of my favorite places, ones where I feel truly at one with nature and its Creater come from locations with high panoramic views, which is odd because I am somewhat afraid of heights. For this pilgrimage I was joined by Dean and Cory. Little brother Trevor was invited but turned down the invitation due to his semester nearing an end and the need to attend classes. Because I had to work in the afternoon we left early, and that was the best thing that could have happened. Due to our early departure we were the only ones on the trail and once at the top enjoyed a solitude that is hard to find in busy Zion National Park. Be advised for any adventurous hikers wanting to reach the point. This is a strenous up and down hike. Out of the 8 miles atleast 6 are either going up or down. It is hard on the body and the knees but is one of the best hikes in Zion. Besides the views of the canyon below one of the most enjoyable, although in the morning it was extremely cold and windy, parts of the hike is wandering through echo canyon. We made great time, didnt stop for breaks and quickly made it to the top. Once at the end of the trail, when I say end I mean it, any further hiking would lead to a 2,500 foot fall. I have hiked to Cable Mountain, and Deertrap Mountain which both offer high views of the main canyon, but because of the location of Observation Point one has the best view of the main canyon. The view is magnificent, and because no one else was around a very quiet feeling of peace and reverance reigned in all of our hearts!

Dean cautiously peeking over the edge. Angels Landing can be seen far below!

Remember that little fin sticking out in the bottom left of the picture.

Angels Landing can be seen in the middle/right of the picture

Echo Canyon

Hiking through Echo Canyon

Remember the mental picture of the fin looking down on it from the top? This is the same fin from half way down the trail.

From the bottom of the trail one cant see the Observation Point. This is from on the trail, so not even at the bottom, looking up to Observation Point.

Same fin this time near the canyon floor