May 31, 2004

Page, AZ – Mesas and Slot Canyons

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 10:10 am by diandy2004

Unfortunately we did not have as much fun in the Lake Powell area as we had expected to. We spent a week there, and a very frustrating week it was. It took us a couple of days to realize why we could not seem to get good information on various activities from anyone. The problem was that there are too many agencies owning land in the Glen Canyon vicinity – Nat’l Park Service, US Forest Service, BLM, City of Page, Navajo Nation – and none of them provided info on any other agency, nor would they even refer you to them. We probably spent more time trying to get information then actually “doing” anything. Usually we don’t do much research until we arrive in an area – but this time, I wish we did come prepared.

We did still get in some fun activities: we kayaked the one day on Lake Powell (NPS); we hiked in Buckskin Gulch’s slot canyon (BLM); we biked around the Mesa Rim Trail in the city of Page; and we took a guided tour of Antelope Canyon (Navajo Nation).

Buckskin Gulch is in the Paria Canyon area. The hike offered great views of red sandstone and interesting erosion patterns: checkerboard, swirls, holes, and arches. Then, of course, it also offered the slot canyon – not one, but two separate ones. Andy, at one point, had his hands firmly planted on one side of the canyon, and walked his feet up the other side so he was horizontal – that’s how narrow some areas are.

Diane in Slot Canyon

Diane in Slot Canyon

Now, where are we?

Now, where are we?

The bike ride around the city of Page was amazing because Page sits up on a mesa and you bike along a single-track inches from the edge of the mesa rim. The drop off the rim was hundreds of feet. One bad bounce off a rock, and ouch! It still amazes me that the city actually built this thing – ha!

Where's the Trail?

Where's the Trail?

Views from the Mesa

Views from the Mesa

Antelope Canyon is a narrow slot canyon with sandstone walls that have fantastic erosion patterns – swirls, stripes, holes, etc. When the sun is straight up in the sky it creates beams of lights that make their way into this narrow canyon. Not only are these shafts of light interesting enough, but the colors that bounce off of the walls are yellows, oranges, purples, and reds. The picturess just don’t do it justice.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

The Ghost of Antelope Canyon

The Ghost of Antelope Canyon

Here’s a view from Horseshoe Mesa Overlook outside Page:

Horseshoe Mesa

Horseshoe Mesa

The other problem that we had with the Glen Canyon NRA was that it basically was a red-neck haven: ATVs, powerboats and waverunners; noise and stink of the boats; graffitti carved into the sandstone walls and trash. So we were actually looking forward to moving on to Colorado at the end of our week there. On any future return visits, we need to schedule our trip to not come over a holiday, and maybe visit another section that would allow for calmer kayaking opportunities up the fingers of the Lake.

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May 28, 2004

Page, AZ – Kayaking Lake Powell

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:27 am by diandy2004

We’re currently in Glen Canyon Nat’l Recreation Area, aka Lake Powell, and we finally got our ‘yaks in the water. Boy were they happy to get off the car! We put in at Lone Rock and paddled towards Wahweap Marina.

Kayaking Lake Powell

Kayaking Lake Powell

Hike to the Cave

Hike to the Cave

In that area there are two caves back inland. We took a hike to go check them out and realized one is an arch or natural bridge. As you may know, the Southwest is experiencing a drought. It is very apparent at Lake Powell which is about 150′ below normal water levels. Land bridges exist now where water once flowed deep. Marinas are closed because their docks no longer reach water. So boaters are limited to where they can put in and access. Being Memorial Day weekend, we’re expecting a lot of boaters and waverunners – in a ‘compact’ area (since we’re located in Wahweap, one of the only open Marinas). We hope to get our ‘yaks back into the water, but we’ll have to be more careful now that the weekend is here.

Overlooking Wahweap Marina

Overlooking Wahweap Marina

Maybe on our next visit we’ll try some of the other recommended kayaking spots for Lake Powell

We are scheduled to leave here on June 1st, and it looks like we may be heading into Colorado after this. Hope you all enjoy the holiday weekend!

May 25, 2004

Grand Canyon – North Rim

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 5:00 am by diandy2004

Well, we got lucky again – thanks to each of you who said your prayers that we would get permits and get to hike down into the canyon again. We got our first choice, which was the slow and easy route. First night in Cottonwood Campground, second night in Bright Angel Campground, and third night in Cottonwood again heading back out of the canyon. This schedule kept our hiking to 7 miles per day. Which, with the backpacks, is plenty for us. We met several other hikers who were hiking 14 miles down, camping one night, then hiking 14 miles back out. They were either very gungho or very foolish – depending on their physical shape and preparation. Either way, I can’t imagine that they came out of the canyon with the same peace, contentment, and fun that we had.

Getting Ready!

Getting Ready!

Hiking Down North Kaibab

Hiking Down North Kaibab

Our View from Cottonwood Camp

Hiking North Kaibab

Hiking North Kaibab

Hiking North Kaibab

Our Site at Cottonwood Campground

Our View from Cottonwood Camp

When we weren’t hiking we were reading, playing cards, or napping. But we would also walk around our campground, and put our feet in the 55 degree creek to cool off. One side-trip that we did (twice) was from Cottonwood Campground to Ribbon Falls, which was about 1 1/2 miles from camp. This set of Falls was probably one of the most beautiful and unique falls I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t the height, or the quantity of water, but the rock formation in which the creek cascaded upon. The rock was draped in a bright green moss and there were several holes in the rock creating doors and windows that the water dripped past. There were also falls that fell off the backside of the rock formation, that could only be seen from walking up and behind the main waterfall. Then, by accessing an alcove area down the creek further, you could see the multiple levels of falls that existed before it rained off the cliff. While we sat near the creek below the falls, with our feet cooling off and as we listened to the tree frogs baa-ing like big-horn sheep, we watched the falls dance as if performing a show for us with the changes in the wind. The hiking itself was also enjoyable.

Andy Inside Ribbon Falls

Andy Inside Ribbon Falls

Ribbon Falls

Ribbon Falls

The North Kaibab trail differed from the trails on the South Rim mainly for two reasons – it was more wooded at the top and it had large canyons that you had to hike through towards the bottom. We got to see critters surviving in nature – saw a raven capture and eat a frog; 2 whiptail snakes chasing lizards – but our presence foiled the hunt; and saw birds eating beatles and bats flying after insects.

The only ‘problems’ that we had during our hike were blisters (Diane – old and new; Andy – new ones) and breathing going back up the trail. Usually you can get into a proper breathing rhythm that keeps up your energy, but the mule “pies” where soooo stinky that you couldn’t help but hold your breath in spots (which is not a good thing to do when working out!). Needless to say, we did make it to the top, but a little out of breath. Afterwards we figured that we must’ve been breathing in, not only the dust from the trail, but dried, ground up mule p**p. Yuk!

After the Hike

After the Hike

View on the Noth Rim

View on the North Rim

Sidenote: We listened to two ranger-talks at Bright Angel Campground (one on each of our two trips) which were put on by the same Ranger. Unfortunately, I didn’t note the Ranger’s name. But if you find yourself at Bright Angel Campground with a petite female ranger, I *highly* recommend listening to the talk – whatever the subject may be. She’s THAT entertaining!

May 19, 2004

Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 4:56 am by diandy2004

After returning from our 10-day long side trip to Boca Raton & Philly, we flew back into Las Vegas. How weird was this? It was very odd to be flying to our car and “home” in Vegas. Don’t ask how, but Andy got into a conversation with the taxi driver about how our car was parked at the Tropicana Casino, we were staying at the San Remo Casino, our “home” was in the shop getting repairs done, we were flying in from Philly, but we lived in Florida. Needless to say she was willing to drive us all around town to learn the details of our situation – and to increase the fare. Vegas is crazy – all loudness and lights, crowds and chaos – but it is fun. We lost more of our “nest egg” gambling. We saw a great magic show at the Sahara. Eventhough we were in the second row, we couldn’t figure out HOW they did what they did. Andy wanted me to be picked to go onstage to learn some of their secrets – thankfully that didn’t happen.

We drove to my favorite park on May 13th – Zion National Park. We were here in 2001 and loved it. I wasn’t disappointed with our 2nd trip either…well, actually one major disappointment. Due to some large blisters on my toes, our hiking was very limited here. Ironically enough, the blisters were from wearing real shoes and walking around in Vegas! So we saw and did things differently here this time. We rode our bikes along the park road. We did some shorter hikes such as Hidden Canyon Trail.

Hiking Hidden Canyon Trail

Hiking Hidden Canyon Trail

We drove up through a different section of the park along Kolob Terrace Road to Lava Point lookout and saw volcanic debris, a crater, hoodoos, and cliffs that looked like the Painted Desert along the way.

Overlooking Zion Canyon

Overlooking Zion Canyon

Hiking Zion

Hiking Zion

Exploring Kolob Terrace Road

Exploring Kolob Terrace Road

Exploring Kolob Terrace Road

Exploring Kolob Terrace Road

We also hiked in The Narrows again. Due to hiking in cold, wet conditions my blisters actually were pain-free for the 7-hour hike. The water was about 55 degrees and was generally knee-high, occasionally thigh-high, periodically hip-high, and once for Diane too deep. Let’s just say, we were at the end of the trip (200 yards away from end), I was tired, cold, not paying attention, and I out-walked my stick. This means my foot went past my walking stick (which is your support and water-level gauge) and, of course, I went into a deep pool. Yep, the drop-offs are quick in the Narrows. My feet were no longer touching bottom, I was now floating downstream, and once that cold water surrounded my chest, my breathe was sucked out of me. Where was Andy are you asking? Where he usually is…way ahead of me. But now he turned towards me (he heard me cry out), yelling “What ARE you doing down there?” (remember, at this point he can only see my head!). Too much excitement for me at the end of a long hike!

Diane in The Narrows

Diane in The Narrows

Andy in Orderville Canyon

Andy in Orderville Canyon

One of the most peaceful spots on the planet has to be right under this tree…

My Tree

My Cottonwood Tree

…After a long day of hiking, this is where you’ll find me. Perhaps there’s a vortex here?

We’ll be moving on to the Grand Canyon – North Rim on the 20th. We are hoping to get another permit to hike down in – so cross your fingers for us! We may not be so lucky this time since the campground is full and we have to camp outside the park – not a good sign. After that, Page, AZ and Lake Powell. We’re looking to kayak some of the fingers and canyons, so if anyone has any helpful information on doing that please let us know.

May 10, 2004

Grand Canyon – South Rim

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 4:55 am by diandy2004

After leaving Sedona we went to the Grand Canyon – South Rim. We had been hoping to get a permit to backpack camp in the canyon so we started preparing days in advance. By “preparing”, I mean shopping – new backpacks, new hydration packs, new clothes, new walking poles, new sleeping pads, pretty much we had to buy new everything! Yes, we became the people we make fun of! We took a trip without testing out a lot of this new equipment. Ha! As soon as we arrived at the Grand Canyon we immediately went to the Backcountry Office and got our names on the waiting list. Fortunately we did get the permit (and all of our new gear worked out perfectly).

Our first afternoon on the rim allowed us time to walk around to take in the views and to learn about the California Condors. There is a 6-week old baby, with a 3-foot wingspan, that is the first condor born in the wild since the 1970’s. It’s not even tagged yet.

View from the South Rim

View from the South Rim

Our second day on the rim allowed us to take a bike ride from Mather campground to “The Abyss”. It took us awhile only because of all of the stops we made to take in the sites. What a great way to tour the Rim.

Biking the Rim

Biking the Rim

Our First Backpacking Trip Together:
Our hike into the grandest of canyons was a loop trail. We hiked down the South Kaibab trail, spent one night on the bottom at Bright Angel Campground, hiked half-way back up the 2nd day via Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens Campground, and then the final day we hiked back to the South Rim.

The hike down the South Kaibab was steep and we were experiencing winds of 25-30 with gusts of 40mph. We were very thankful for the walking poles since they kept our wind-blown and knee-aching bodies from being blown off the trail. Of course there was a learning curve – Andy was so intent on where to place his poles that he kept forgetting to think of where he was placing his feet. The campgrounds were beautiful with trees and creeks and canyon walls to admire. The vistas along the trail were breathtaking and we were surprised by several waterfalls. The Bright Angel trail wasn’t as challenging physically, but the number of day-trippers added a new hazard since many don’t know the hiker’s etiquette (uphill hikers have the right-of-way).

Starting our Hike Down

Starting our Hike Down

Andy Hiking South Kaibab Trail

Andy Hiking South Kaibab Trail

First Clear View of the Colorado River

First Clear View of the Colorado River

Bright Angel Campground - Our Site

Bright Angel Campground - Our Site

A Bridge over the Colorado River

A Bridge over the Colorado River

Hiking Near Indian Gardens Campground

Hiking Near Indian Gardens Campground

Our Site at Indian Gardens Campground

Our Site at Indian Gardens Campground

Almost at the Top!

Almost at the Top!

It’s too hard to appreciate the Grand Canyon (in my opinion) without hiking into it – even if only a few miles or few hours. Only when you are “in” it do I think you can see the variety of colors in the rock and many of the small beauties of the canyon. So, if you go, do take a hike – short or long – for a different perspective of this grand canyon. But don’t be a “touron” (tourist-moron) – be prepared with food, water, etc and not have all your gear be brand new (like us!!).

We had so much fun, we’re going to try hiking down from the North Rim. Cross your fingers we’ll be able to get another permit. After landing in Vegas, we’ll probably head to Zion, the North Rim, then on thru southern Utah/northern AZ.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our family and friends with children!