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