July 24, 2004

St Regis, MT – Biking Hiawatha Trail

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 3:51 pm by diandy2004

We took the scenic route from Chatcolet to reach I-90.  Our final destination was St Regis, MT. We drove via Hwy 3 through white pine forests along a narrow, winding road. Surprisingly enough Diane saw a moose and calf drinking from a pond along the road – but not on Hwy 3, they were alongside I-90.

On this drive we left Pacific Time and went back to Mountain Time.  Just around 4:30 on our watches we started to wonder why we were both so hungry so early.  Then we realized that we turned our clocks *back* and not *ahead* – it was really 6:30!  That explained it.  Something tells me this won’t be the first time we make a time-change mistake…

While in St Regis we took our mountain bikes out for the day along the Hiawatha Trail. This Rails-to-Trails ($8 rider fee) is another famous one in the area. The portion we did is the most intriguing  – from East Portal to tunnel #28 – because you bike through 8 tunnels and over 7 wooden and iron trestles. The longest trestle was 850′; the tallest was 230′.  We could’ve done the 15-mile one-way, with a shuttle back up the mountain ($9), but nooooo, we wanted a work-out. So after 10 miles, we turned around and went back up the 1.8% grade, with a 900’ elevation change. It wasn’t too bad.

Riding the Hiawatha Trail

Riding the Hiawatha Trail

The Trestles of Hiawatha

The Trestles of Hiawatha

Crossing a Trestle

Crossing a Trestle

The most challenging aspect of the ride was biking through the pitch-black tunnels. One tunnel is 1.7 miles long. Try to picture it: pitch-black, your headlight doesn’t help much because your eyes haven’t adjusted from the bright sun for the first mile, you hear water dripping from the walls and running down the gutters on both sides, you feel cold water dripping from above and mud splashing up from below, and it’s probably 50 degrees inside. Now imagine it without a headlight – ha! Andy’s batteries were dead, but we didn’t know until we started the ride. He had to follow my rear red light to stay away from the walls of the tunnel. It was so damp and cold inside this long tunnel it felt more like 5 miles. Our fingers went numb and our teeth were chattering. In another smaller tunnel we came across a deer inside. The poor thing got so scared she tried to climb the rock walls to get away.

A Tunnel on Hiawatha

A Tunnel on Hiawatha

Diane at a Tunnel Entrance

Diane at a Tunnel Entrance

Inside a Dark Tunnel

Inside a Dark Tunnel

Along the trail they had interpretive signs posted about the railway and how it went from steam to electric to diesel, about the different types of trains, construction of the rail line, about a big fire in 1909 that the train had to outrun to save everyone on board, and some other interesting facts. A great ride that anyone can do – especially if you do it one-way down hill.

Continuing on our way to Glacier, we spent one night in Kalispell, MT. The main thing we did here was wash a very dirty Spirit. Our RV looks brand new again (well, for the moment). It’s amazing how dirty these vehicles get!!

July 21, 2004

Chatcolet, ID – Heyburn State Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:21 pm by diandy2004

It was an interesting drive from Moscow to Heyburn State Park.  There was a 7% grade downhill to contend with, then a single-lane bridge on a blind curve, and even a left-hand turn on another switchback.  Not easy driving for a 49′ vehicle!  There was also a moment when we were near the state park and saw a sign stating “Heyburn” – if we took the turn we would’ve ended up on a fire road going up a vertical hill!

But we arrived at the state park safely.  Our goal was to “get back into nature”. It was a great stepping stone for us. We hiked a couple of miles on the Indian Cliffs Trail through ponderosa pines, firs, hemlock & 800-yr old western red cedars to an overlook where we could see the lake and valley below. On the trails we got to see deer, with spotted-fawns, and wild turkeys (such tall birds).

Hiking Heyburn State Park

Hiking Heyburn State Park

Overlooking Couer D'Alene Lake

Overlooking Couer D'Alene Lake

The second day we rode our road-bikes on the Couer D’Alene Trail, a 73 mile Rails-to-Trails pathway (bisecting the Idaho panhandle from Plummer, ID to Mullan, ID). We started at the Indian Cliffs Trailhead and rode to the Medimont Trailhead for a 43-mile roundtrip ride.  It was beautiful since we were along lakes, creeks, or ponds almost the entire way. And, as it is with most Rails-to-Trails, the trail was wonderfully flat and easy.

Riding The Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes

Riding The Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes

Boat Houses on the Trail

Boat Houses on the Trail

The history behind this rail-to-trail is very interesting. This rail line was used during the mining days to carry silver. The rail bed itself was built on mining waste and tailings containing heavy metals. It was further contaminated by accidental spillage of ore. To contain this “superfund” site, they capped it with stones and asphalt to create the trail. It is supposedly a win-win situation. Right? Some local ranchers and farmers dispute this plan, I guess, from several signs posted on private property referring to it as “The Love Canal of Idaho”. Even the city acknowledges that leakage is still occurring – recommendations for being on the trail include: do not step off of the trail or stones; wash your hands before eating; do not drink any of the water in the area; no fishing; etc. Ironically, there were cows drinking water from this Love Canal and fields of wheat being farmed next to this toxic water. Makes you wonder where your beef is coming from…and what our farm animals are consuming…hhhmmm.

Idaho's Superfund Trail

Idaho's Superfund Trail

This ride, at 43 miles, is the longest we’ve ridden since our once-a-year Mt. Dora’s bike festival in October. A great ride, but our butts wouldn’t agree with that.

July 11, 2004

Moscow, ID – Biking the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 7:23 pm by diandy2004

We wanted to sneak in a bike ride before school starts for the week.  Classes start tomorrow, so today was the day.  We hopped on our bikes and rode the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail.  We rode *all the way* to Washington state.  Ok, it was only several miles, but it definitely sounds more impressive when you say that you rode to another state.  It was a nice trail with rolling hills and wildflowers.  There was a buffer between the path and the highway and interpretive signs along the way to teach you about agriculture, the two universities, and the history of the area.  We also rode around the town of Pullman, WA before returning to Moscow.

Bill Chipman Palouse Trail

Bill Chipman Palouse Trail

Later that night Life on Wheels asked RVers to hold an Open House inviting attendees to come by and visit with you and tour your rig.  It was a nice way to meet other students and check out other RVs.

July 10, 2004

Missoula, MT – Biking, Rafting, and trying to Relax

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 2:46 pm by diandy2004

July 2, 2004

When we left Yellowstone, we weren’t really sure where we were going to stop. Missoula, MT was 355 miles away, which we figured was too far to drive in one day so we were thinking of spending a night in Butte, MT. But we got up early and pushed through. Plus, I think Andy was trying to punish me for the last long trip when I drove, so he made this one longer. Eight hours in a car…a 49-foot long vehicle…made for a *long* day. We’ve gotten a little tired of the pace we’ve kept up recently, so we’ve been thinking about taking some time to settle down and unwind. We figured Missoula was a big enough town to let us take care of some things, but also be close enough to mountains, rivers, etc to still have some fun. But our plans may be changing again, since we recently heard from our friends Jim and Chris who will be in the area as well. We’ll update you when we know more about our plans. The RV Park we’re at now has WIFI so hopefully updates should be easy.  We started off our stay in fashion – trying the local Huckleberry ice cream!

Fourth of July in Missoula:

We took our bikes downtown to ride on several bike paths.  We enjoyed the Kim Williams Nature Area Trail.  It is a Rail-to-Trail and runs along Clark Fork River and Mt Sentinel.  Then we rode the Commuter Pathway – this is a great trail for riders to get from point A to point B, but it is not a scenic ride.

We did see fireworks here in Missoula on the Fourth. Here are a few pictures from that night. We do have to say that we were very pleased with the fireworks display – they had some nice large ones with good boomers, too.

Andy Enjoys the Fireworks

Andy Enjoys the Fireworks

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 8, 2004

It’s been hard, but I think we’ve accomplished some relaxation while here in Missoula. Diane has gone to Yoga twice and has gone running twice this week. Andy joined her in a run once (but kicked her butt). We went to the local Smokejumpers Center for a tour, visited the Farmer’s Market, walked around town, and have done some other touristy stuff without that go-go-go pressure we’ve put on ourselves more recently.  We hiked the “M” Trail, which takes you 628′ above the University of Montana.  Nice views of “Glacial Lake Missoula” – the town and valley used to be under water.

Our friends Jim and Chris made it into town yesterday and it was wonderful to sit and chat with them. We had lots to catch up on: our trip, their trip, and RVing in general. We’re really looking forward to spending this upcoming week with friends. Today we have an outing scheduled – we’ve planned a white-water rafting trip down the Alberton Gorge. Wish us luck! We’re still debating whether we should ask for wetsuits…water temp is about 60 degrees, current air temp is 60 degrees (but it may go up to high-70’s).

Can you tell we're friends?

Can you tell we're friends?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

We had a blast on our white-water rafting trip! Chris was the experienced one in our group, the rest of us were newbies. It was the four of us, the guide, and two ladies from El Paso, TX. We were worried about the Texans initially, because they had make-up and jewelry on and their hair was done up nicely…oh, and they didn’t want to get wet! Yikes! After just a few minutes with us hootin’ and hollerin’, they were having a blast too. As you can see in the pictures below, we all got wet. And very wet at that. You’d be proud of all of us since we opted NOT to get the wetsuits and just go with fleece jackets and nylon water-resistant jackets on top. Yes, our guide is in a bathing suit and nothing else – he thought we were wimps. Chris and I started out in the front row (we were the brave ones), but we switched with Jim and Andy half way through so they could experience the fun (and soaking) that we had. It was a great day.
(To help identify the paddlers in the pics: Jim is in his yellow Kayuba slicker, Andy is in the front also, Chris is behind Andy with a teal hat on, and I have my navy Temple Owls hat on, behind Jim.)

missoula100

missoula101

missoula102

Jim, Diane, Chris, Andy

Jim, Diane, Chris, Andy

Jim and Andy, In the Front

Jim and Andy, In the Front

The Survivors!

The Survivors!

June 27, 2004

Jackson, WY – Grand Tetons

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:42 pm by diandy2004

The drive from Manila, UT (Flaming Gorge) to Grand Teton National Park was another long travel day. It was about 285 miles and took about 6 hours. I finally got to show Andy how hard it is to be a passenger during these long rides.

Grand Teton is a beautiful park. The Teton Range lines the west side of the park with its black, jagged, snow-capped mountains. The valley is mostly sagebrush, but there are the Snake River and lodgepole pine forests as well. The animals that you can see in this park are incredible. Most are distant observations (so bring the binos), but occasionally you’ll see one up-close. We’ve seen lots of elk, mule deer, bison, moose, and pronghorn antelope. Then there are the squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, pikas, birds, hawks, and more. We’ve even gotten to see some babies.

View of the Tetons

View of the Tetons

Evidence of the Drought

Evidence of the Drought - Colter Bay

The Grand Tetons

The Grand Tetons

Mist Blankets the Valley

Mist Blankets the Valley

We were lucky enough to spot this bear from our car!

Black Bear in Woods

Black Bear in Woods - Near Signal Mtn

One day we took a long hike, 11 ½ miles up Cascade Canyon and into the South Fork. On this hike we ‘ran into’ one moose that preferred using the trail. When the legs of the animal are as tall as you, you give that animal the right-of-way. This hike took us to the western side of Grand Teton. We looked for climbers since this is supposed to be a popular route, but we couldn’t see them. Even though this mountain is “only” 13,770 ft high, it appears to be a formidable mountain. Can’t explain why. Perhaps it was the jagged peaks, or the black rock, or the clouds that settled on its point, or the snow and scree slopes, or a combination of all of these. We took a break at our turnaround point and just admired the mountains around us. One waterfall was fascinating because you could see it where it melts away the snow in pockets. So it would be visible, then disappear under the snow, then reappear, etc.

Baby Moose on the Trail

Baby Moose on the Trail

Hiking Cascade Trail

Hiking Cascade Trail

Hiking South Cascade Fork

Hiking South Cascade Fork

On another day we went biking. We rode our mountain bikes in the morning on a jeep road to Two Oceans Lake.  A nice rolling terrain through woods and past meadows to the lake for some birdwatching.  Then in the afternoon we went to Jackson, WY and rode our road-bikes on a paved pathway they have through town. The town of Jackson (a.k.a. Jackson Hole) is a neat town with lots of touristy shops, a microbrewery, and an elk refuge. We’re lucky to be here in June because the wildflowers are blooming. The wildflowers are so beautiful with all the colors in the rainbow. The bike path was lined with wildflowers. Unfortunately, it did hail on us that day we rode our bikes. The storms here are powerful. Thunder, lightning, hail, rain, winds, fast-moving…we thought Florida was bad in the summer. During one of these storms a little bird was trying to fly across the road. He was flapping his wings so hard, but he wasn’t moving an inch. Andy had to cross into the other lane to avoid hitting the poor thing! When we passed by, the bird stopped flapping and was blown backwards several yards. (Andy thought that scene reminded him of me kayaking in that terrible storm a couple years ago.)

Checking out the Wildflowers

Checking out the Wildflowers

We also went kayaking on String Lake one day. Actually we put-in at String Lake and then paddled north to a portage point that crosses over to Leigh Lake. The portage was about a quarter-mile in length – we felt sorry for those who were canoe-camping and had tons of gear and several trips to make. It’s amazing to us Floridians to be paddling next to snow-covered mountains. The water was cold, the air was chilly, but the sun was incredibly hot. So as long as the sun wasn’t behind clouds we were comfortable with the temperature. It was very peaceful paddling since no motorboats are permitted on these lakes.

Kayaking

Kayaking Leigh Lake

We’re almost sad to leave Grand Teton, but we were able to see a lot of the park.  We’ll definitely re-visit this park.  Loved it.

June 18, 2004

Fruita, CO – Colorado National Monument, Biking and Kayaking

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:32 pm by diandy2004

From Ridgeway we headed north to Grand Junction, CO. We stayed in Colorado River State Park in Fruita, a ‘burb of Grand Junction. A private campground across the street offered WIFI, which we were able to access. Unfortunately, they were having internet problems so we kept losing our connection. Not a huge problem except that I had tried several times to update this blog, and when I would try to ‘post’, it erased my text. So, if any descriptions seem abbreviated, it’s because I’ve written this previous section three times now.

Our first night welcomed us with a beautiful sunset from our campsite:

Sunset at Colorado River SP

Sunset at Colorado River SP

We drove through Colorado National Monument, which was an unassuming mountain range just outside our doorstep. Once we drove in however the scenery changed. There are canyons, red rocks, arches, painted deserts, and all of the western formations. We did some short hikes in here as well.

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument

Diane Sitting at an Overlook

Diane Sitting at an Overlook

Formations at Colorado Nat'l Monument

Formations at Colorado Nat'l Monument

Another day we put our kayaks in and did a 9-mile stretch of the Colorado River. Our GPS said we averaged 4.2 mph, and we didn’t paddle much! Paddling was only required to get through the little rapids and steer us around the bends. We got to see deer crossing the river and a variety of birds including “bank swallows”, which lived in holes bored into the riverbank.  Since this was a one-way trip we had to set up a self-shuttle system. We left our car at Blue Heron Point where we put in the kayaks.  Upon reaching the boat ramp at the State Park, we carried our kayaks back to the RV.  Then we got on our road bikes (which we left at the RV) to pedal back to Blue Heron Point to get our car. Just a ten-mile bike ride, except it started to rain on the way. Of course it rained. It hadn’t rained in how many months now and we hadn’t ridden our road bikes since San Diego. Oh well…It was still a nice day overall.

The next day we took our mountain bikes for a ride. Mary’s Loop was recommended as a first ride to riders new in the area. It is a 9.3-mile loop with about 4 miles of it being on Kokopelli’s Trail (a 142-mile bike trail from Loma, CO to Moab, UT). What a great ride. Challenging but doable. Gorgeous scenery: Colorado River, meadows, white sandstone, red rocks, a box canyon, slickrock, etc. Sometimes it’s hard to ride when there is so much to look at.

We also went into the town of Grand Junction. GJ has a historic downtown area with nice shops, restaurants, etc. One night they had a Farmer’s Market/Arts & Crafts Festival going on. They closed off Main Street so it was a pedestrian walkway only. They even had belly dancers doing a show (Geri, we thought of you!) and one intersection was ‘drumming’. A bunch of drums were provided and people could sit and join in on the so-called jam session. Everyone did a different beat, and the various drums made all different types of sounds. The result was actually very good, not what we would have expected. We also had to visit the Rockslide Brewery on Main Street, of course.

June 14, 2004

Ouray, CO – Million Dollars, Black Canyons, and Biking Telluride

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:29 pm by diandy2004

The drive from Silverton to Ouray was breathtaking, and not just because of the steep drop-offs. It is referred to as ‘The Million Dollar Highway’, which we know is because of the expense to blast the road, tunnels and water diverters out of the mountain, but it still is a deserving name. The view along this road is of snow-capped mountains, forests, a deep gorge, and waterfalls.  Somehow, it was my day to drive the RV again.  This was another segment we chose to drive separately, so Andy was behind me in the car.  We use walkie-talkies to communicate on these drives.  At one point Andy radioed to me that my outside dualie was hanging off the edge of the road.  Parts of the road were under construction and the white line was missing in sections.  My choice was to trust the inner dualie in order to avoid the semi-tractor trailer coming at me taking the curve in the road with a wide swing.  Tough choices on these roads without guardrails!

We are still adjusting to the multitudes of greens in Colorado. There is the deep-greens of pines, firs and junipers, the bright-greens of meadows, the light-greens of quaking aspens, and the gray-greens of shrubs. And usually they are all patch-worked together in one setting.

A Common Colorado Scene

A Common Colorado Scene

Our first stop in Ouray was the Box Canyon Waterfalls. A ‘box canyon’ has walls on three sides. The waterfall cut through one wall and roared between the other two. We took two hikes – one to the top of the falls and the other to the bottom. It was about 20 degrees cooler inside the canyon. The canyon walls consisted of the black and pink rock.

Andy in Box Canyon

Andy in Box Canyon

Our second stop was the Ouray Hot Springs. We soaked in the mineral springs for about an hour or so. The different pool temperatures ranged from 74 degrees (for lap swimming) to 106 degrees. Afterwards we went back into town for lunch and a little shopping. Downtown Ouray is very quaint. The Main Street is lined with old-style brick buildings and the residences are mostly Victorian-style. The town is surrounded by a mountain range referred to as “The Amphitheatre” and National Forests.

Downtown Ouray

Downtown Ouray

We stayed at Ridgeway State Park up the road from Ouray. That first afternoon we decided on a short mountain bike ride. The beginning of this ride was a little challenging with switchbacks and a slope noted as 32 degrees. Warning signs were posted in this area and with good reason. We mostly “hiked-a-bike” up and down this section. The rest of the trail was great though with rolling hills above the reservoir. We saw several deer jumping pasture fences and lots of birds.

From Ridgeway we day-tripped to Black Canyon of Gunnison NP. This canyon got its name because in one section it is more narrow than deep, casting continual shadows into the canyon. We liked the pink Pegmatite rock. Pegmatite was originally red-hot lava that was injected into fractures of the black rock during an eruption and turned pink after it cooled. This created some fascinating patterns in the black rock.

Pegamite of Black Canyon

Pegamite of Black Canyon

Overlooking Black Canyon

Overlooking Black Canyon

Another day trip from Ridgeway was to Telluride, the well-known ski town. We took a hike up to Bridal Veil Falls and another waterfall. We took the free gondola ride up Telluride Mountain to Mountain Village. During this gondola ride we talked with several people regarding biking options. All bike trails are rated “difficult”, but one just looked like a jeep road. We decided to try it anyway. We got our bikes and went back up the gondola. They have bike racks on the back of the gondola to get your bikes to the top of the mountain. San Sophia is the highest point at 10,535 ft and is the start of the trail. The Telluride Trail is a double-blue-square rated ski slope, which is “advanced intermediate” or one step below a black diamond. What made it a difficult bike ride was primarily the speed. Our hands ached at the end from gripping our brakes to maintain our speed. There was a lot of skidding and fishtailing due to gravel and rocks. The tight switchback turns required complete control. And, humps in the path could cause you to catch airtime if you hit them at too high of a speed. Overall, it was a complete adrenaline rush. But once was enough.  Note:  We were hesitant to do the ride after we arrived at the top of the mountain with our bikes and met another biker – in full BMX gear with all of the protective guards, including a full helmet.  And here we were in our spandex!

Overlooking Telluride

Overlooking Telluride

We went back into Ouray for an afternoon and visited Ice Park, a slot canyon in which they water the cliff walls in winter to create ice cliffs for climbers. We also hiked to Cascade Falls, another beautiful waterfall right on the outskirts of town. The stream below Cascade Falls was filled with Malachite – a green rock. I just can’t get used to the colors of rocks out west. Aren’t ‘rocks’ supposed to be boring brown or black?

June 4, 2004

Cortez, CO – Mesa Verde and More

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:19 am by diandy2004

On our drive from Page to Cortez, we had to make the obligatory stop at Four Corners.  It’s one of those things you have to do, right?  Get out of the car, pay $6 to the Navajos, and step on a small marker denoting the spot where you are touching four states in one footprint.  We think that this whole process took about one minute!

One of the first things I learned in Colorado was that the descriptions of bike trails are a little different. When they say “intermediate” I will now consider it an “expert” trail! We took a bike ride in the Cortez area (Sand Canyon’s East and West Loops) that did have some nice or manageable sections – rolling hills, sandy spots, fun downhills- but other sections had slickrock drops so steep I had trouble carrying my bike up or down, or sections of jumbled boulders I couldn’t imagine anyone crossing. The elevations are something else we keep having to adapt to as we move. This ride was between 5400 – 5900 ft. Quite different than our house at 13′. So, we keep on learning…and struggling to breathe. But the views on this bike ride were great – we saw arches, red rocks, cliff dwellings, and pinon pines.

Biking Sand Canyon

Biking Sand Canyon

We took our kayaks up to Dolores, CO and put in at the McPhee Reservoir. There is a side canyon called House Creek Canyon that we paddled up the arm until the water just ran out.

Kayaking House Creek Canyon

Kayaking House Creek Canyon

We spent a day at Mesa Verde NP touring the ancient cliff dwellings. We took two guided tours here – the Cliff Palace, which is the largest, and Balcony House which is considered an “adventure tour” because of the ladders to climb and tunnels to crawl through. Both were fun and very interesting. Two-thirds of the park have been burned by forest fires within the last 10 years, so it was interesting to see the various stages of life-after-fire and to learn just how long it will take before these high-desert trees reach any height.

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde

Climbing the Ladders at Balcony House

Climbing the Ladders at Balcony House

Don't Look Down!

Don't Look Down!

Navajo Dancers

Navajo Dancers

A panoramic view of Mesa Verde:

Mesa Verde

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.

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!

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