Friday, June 26, 2009

Photo's of Bryce and Red Canyon

Arches Trail in Red Canyon

Balloons in Panquitch, Utah

Balloons in Panquitch, Utah

Arches Trail in Red Canyon

Why people come to Bryce

Going down the trail into the canyon

There are thousands of these cairns in the canyon

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kodachrome and Red Canyon

Thursday, June 18
We moved a little west today, from Calf Creek to Kodachrome SP near Bryce NP. As expected the CG was full, but we were able to snag the ADA site for the weekend.

After lunch we drove to Tropic to get a few groceries and we found rain. Not good. There were three short showers. This on a day with no rain in the forecast.

The sky was bright blue and it had not rained during the night, so we decide to try Cottonwood Road and see it had recovered from the light rain shower yesterday. It had.

The first 25 miles of the drive was close to spectacular. The terrain and colors are quite varied. We got to Yellow Rock around noon. [We had covered 25 miles in three hours] We could not discover the trail to Yellow Rock. Yes, there was a road-side cairn and we followed the trail for 50 yards to where it went into a wash. There were no footprints in the baked mud. Ahead it was thick with bushes and we just did not want our legs scratched tripping through the heavy foliage to the wash we could see just beyond. I tried several approaches but finally gave up in the heat. This was a place I really wanted to access. Another time perhaps. Whine.

We elected to continue down Cottonwood to US89. That was a mistake. The last 15 miles looks like the moon and the road was only good for 5 to 15 mph. We sure did want to go back up the road to the CG, so we drove ALL THE WAY around making the total mileage for the day of 190 miles. That’s more miles than we normally drive KoKo in a day. It was a 9 to 5 drive, but we did have a delicious burrito in Kanab that filled an oversize plate.

On US89, before we got to Kanab, we heard a noise, then saw an F18 flying about 150 feet above the ground maybe 300 feet to the right of us. He must have been having a ball. He wagged his wings and was gone.

The number of cheesy tourist places close to Bryce is rather intensive. Perhaps more than near Glacier? I had not noticed it being so tacky before.

While I am on a rant, we are tired of Harley’s. LOUD BLAT-BLAT-BLAT has gotten old. Sorry Mike, but it’s less than tranquil being passed by a herd or noisy bikes.

The sky was gloomy with clouds at 6 and stayed that way until 2, when abruptly we were sun-drenched. The solar panels went from 2amps to pumping in 20amps.

We saddled up and went to find Willis Creek Slot on the Skutumpah Road. We found a yellow-walled canyon, but it did not look like the picture we had. Some rain drops appeared and the clouds to our west did not look friendly. We decided to escape before the road went to mush. Happily, we had no problems. By the time we got back to the CG at four, the sky was completely overcast again. And so it goes. We read other descriptions for the slot and found we had stopped about a ½ mile too soon. If we had found it, I doubt we would have stayed with threatening rain. Next time.

PS, by 5, the rains came - hard and longer than just a few minutes. I wonder how many days it would take for Utah to wash away? Say two inches every 24 hours. It’s such a beautiful place, when the sun is out. If it’s not out, wait a few minutes.

Sunday, June 21
Another long driving day, about 40 minutes from Kodachrome west to Red Canyon. This is a FS CG. We got a site on the hill as far as possible from the road. Our neighbors are over 50 yards away. Plus, we have a concrete patio for grilling and fires. $6 a night.

We went to the VC to get orientated with the area. We have traveled through here 2 or 3 times before, but never had time to stop. This time we will be here for a week or so.

We had not planned to go or not to go to Bryce. It’s 10 miles east of us. Last night we decided to get up early and be at Bryce soon after sunrise. And so we did. We got obsessed with it again and we will go back several times early in the morning, while the hordes are still getting ready for the day. Maybe cocktails there one evening. The CG in Bryce is chock-a-block full of teeming masses.

We checked out Kings Creek CG down the Sevier River Road. Great looking lake, but the CG is covered in ATV’s and tobacco-chewing rednecks.

Tuesday, June 23
Lay Day – Washing clothes and marketing in beautiful downtown Panguitch, Utah

This guy looks to be on his last leg to us

Taken on the eastern side of Bryce

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wonderful Utah

Along Cottonwood Road - Looks like The BLOB bubbling up to us.

Along Cottonwood Road - No, I am not standing on the steep slope

Along Cottonwood Road - They call it a 'strike' valley

Everyone's favorite

Beautiful Utah

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cap Reef and Escalante

Monday, June 8
Lay Day – washed clothes.

Forecast for rain today is 60%. We did a two mile walk down the Grand Wash for exercise. The sky was dark and a few raindrops fell on us, but still no rain by mid-afternoon. You don’t want to be in a canyon when it rains due to the very real possibility of sudden high water. I was looking at the gazillion holes in the canyon walls today; almost every one has small stones in them. I tried to consider the force required to keep fist sized, and larger, stones elevated in a flash flood so they lodge in a hole on the rock face twenty feet above the wash. Being on the floor of the wash during a flash flood is not on my bucket list.

We saw pictures of a Jeep’s tires coated with mud, Bentonite they call it. It sticks like glue to the tires. It was at least three inches thick all around the tire in the picture. Traction and control of the vehicle is zero in that stuff.

The day ended without rain. At least around here.

Decent sky at 6:30. Forecast for rain is 30%. So we started out on the Notom-Burr-UT12 120 mile loop. I had pondered doing this road for years. I could never make up my mind if it was worth it. Yesterday, Betty Wood told Dorothy it was a must do.

We had not gone 20 miles before dark clouds appeared south of us – our direction of travel. We drove through some light rain just when the road surface became all dirt coating the sides of Pelli with red dirt. We look like locals again.

Our first destination was Surprise Canyon, just south of the Burr Trail junction. We could see the canyon from the road and it looked good to us. After we got into the canyon, it was better than any canyon we have encountered so far. The going, however, was not so easy. At one point, the side of the canyon had recently fallen blocking our way. We managed to scramble over the large boulders and get farther into the canyon. All too soon, it got over our heads. What we saw was great, but going deeper into the canyon did not seem worth the risk of a sprained or broken something.

The hillsides in this area have the best colors we have seen in Utah. It’s called the Waterpocket Fold, which is a geological term whose meaning is lost on us. We have seen the drawings. We heard the geologist explain it. We don’t get it. We can see that the rock formation pushed up into the Reef does not match the rocks around them. That’s as far as we can go. Great colors tho.

The Burr Trail is one of the fine scenic roads of Utah. It was much better than I expected. It starts with a series of switchbacks that climb through a break in the Reef. At the top, we found the unmarked overlook down a road that only a short wheelbase vehicle could manage. From the overlook, you have a good view of Waterpocket Fold and the Strike Valley below.

We continued west on the Burr Trail through some very unremarkable terrain. I thought great, we will have 30 miles of nothing until we get to UT12. However, after 10 miles, we descended into one fine canyon that was about 12 miles long. It reminded me of Zion. Not everything magnificent is within park boundaries. When the canyon ended we were driving through miles of pillow rock.

When we got to UT12 things changed from rock to green. Trees! As we went up Bolder Mountain into Dixie NF we climbed to over9,000 feet and were in Aspens. Every so often, there was an overlook to the canyons 4,000 feet below us.

It was a long day, 8 to 5, and we were tired before we got back to the CG.

Lay Day – Marketing in Loa, napping, doing a few chores. Dorothy cooked a fine dinner; chicken enchiladas and napolito salad. The enchiladas were cousin Pam’s recipe. Thanks Pam!

I have written before that most people only stay here one day. This is our tenth day. I suppose that having six major national sites so close together get people in the mood to keep moving to “see it all” before they have to return home. We have seen most of Cap Reef and yes we would come back.

We are parked under some old cottonwood trees and bordered by fruit orchards planted by Mormon settlers. We have partial shade all day. It has been in the mid-70’s all week with a nice breeze. We can use all the 12v we want and we are still fully charged before noon every day, even with the usually constant overcast sky. Plus we have fresh water and a dump. Life is good.

We started out this morning to hike Cohab Canyon from the UT24 side. I recalled a red rock ledge that I though was attractive from 2006 and wanted to return to it. When we got to the split in the trail to go into the canyon or to continue up the Frying Pan Trail, we opted for the latter. We could see the canyon below and it did not look all that great to our now jaded eyes. Besides, we had not been to the top of the Frying Pan Trail before. And so we did. And we are glad we did. Combined with our foray to Cassidy Arch last week we have hiked all but a ¼ mile of the Frying Pan Trail, which we deem most scenic.

We only saw one other party on the trail, a young family, who had camped on the trail. The kids were about 5 and 8. We often remark how much fun our grandkids would have on the trails. We think most of the west is made for kids.

A ranger told us Cohab Canyon is so named because when Utah declared polygamy illegal and sent the law into the area, the settlers would hide in the canyon.

We could not resist going to Café Diablo one more time. It was divine.

On our last day here, we did the trail to Hickman Bridge. It was better than we expected, as so much here is. We did the two miles real slow, taking 2.5 hours for the round trip.

We are planning to spend one night in the mountain tomorrow and then try to get into Calf Creek Falls.

It has been warmer yesterday and today and we may have to gain elevation soon as the cool temps of the last week or so seem to be going.

We went to the ranger talk of coyotes last night, which was not all that great. But we did enjoy looking at the stars through a telescope afterwards. Factoid of the day. You could fit one million Earth’s into the Sun. You could fit one million Sun’s into Arturus.

We saw a really neat electronic toy, the Star Scout, only $179. You point it a star and it tells you name and other information.

Sunday, June 14
On the road - We stopped by the Best Western at Torrey and mooched some more bandwidth. We do appreciate their excellent broadband; six routers no less.

We also filled up the gas tank - 21 gallons. Our last fill-up was 179 miles and three weeks back. Our good friends are writing to us about the wonders of Alaska. They left home two days after we did. They have already been to Denali. Of course, they are traveling at warp 3 and will be heading home before we make it north of I70. They are happy to be moving, we are happy to be parked and exploring in the Jeep or on foot. They are seeing all sorts of wild animals along the road, some that are use to people. We are seeing Robins, Yellow Tattinger’s, jack rabbits and lizards along the trails and cattle on the side of the road.

We took the long, long drive, 40 minutes, from Capital Reef up Boulder Mountain to the agreeable FS Singletree CG at 8,600 feet. I thought why not spend a night in the forest before we head down to Escalante for more rocks and canyons The aroma of the pines is quite pungent. The CG has water a dump and paved sites.

It will be another grueling travel day tomorrow. Maybe 30 minutes down the mountain to Calf Creek Falls. We will stay there three or more days, if we can get in.

Dorothy did not feel spunky today. It must have been the cherry pie she bought yesterday. She improved late in the day.

It was seriously overcast all morning, but at 1:30, presto blue skies. I took a short hike and saw some fine pillow rock formations just behind our campsite.

Life is more fun when it’s like a scavenger hunt, rather than a surprise party
Jimmy Buffett

We did another tiring 40 minute drive from Boulder Mountain to Calf Creek CG, which is just east of Escalante. We pulled in the parking area around 10:30 and it was a hot bed of activity for hikers for Lower Calf Creek Falls. This CG is low at 5,300 and the temp was already approaching 80. Not the time of day for a hike for us. We will get up early in the morning and try the 6-mile RT hike.

In the afternoon, we decided to drive the Hell’s Backbone scenic road. This is one drive we could have done without. It is just a 45-mile drive on a good gravel road through pine trees. The road ascends to 9,000 feet to the advertised feature – a short one-lane bridge. The bridge is built over a narrow ridge. The sides of the ‘H’ are parallel canyons and the bar of the ‘H’ where the bridge is will someday be gone and the parallel canyons will be connected. We consider the drive was a waste of time and gasoline.

Now there are good days and bad days. Today happened to be my (Dorothy) bad day. First thing was nearly knocked myself out getting into Pelli, the Jeep. Guess I just didn’t duck. Next I smashed part of my left thumb. The one thing I hate to see is lots of blood, especially mine! But I will consider these two instances as learning experiences. Remember to always duck and watch where you put your fingers.

It’s 2:30 and we have not even seen a peek of blue in the sky today. That has kept it cooler - only 75.

We started on the trail to Calf Creek Falls at eight. The air was cool. It took us 2.5 hours to hike the three miles over a mostly level trail. The falls were delightfully cool and that invigorated us. The return hike was in a slightly warmer temperature. We were both walking dead the last mile. We learned last year that four miles is good limit for us, but this was supposed to be an excellent destination and like I said it was mostly level. So we tried it. We did it. We are glad we did.

The Calf Creek Canyon is different than most canyons. It has a river. With water in it! Back home, it would be called a stream. But here, it’s a rarity. The floor of the canyon is green with vegetation and that attracts birds. We don’t know many birds, but we saw some of every color except green.

As opposed to yesterday, today was a good day but tiring. I would celebrate the six-mile hike, if I weren’t too tired. Now it’s a sad day when I (Dorothy) am too tired for a toddy! Resting up now for a ranger lead hike into a slot canyon tomorrow.

Today we drove the Hole in the Rock Road as far as the Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Canyons – 26 miles. This is a destination, as there were already 14 vehicles in the parking area when we arrived at 10 and two more vehicles showed up before we could get on the trail.

Peek-a-Boo is hanging slot canyon, meaning you have to climb up to get in it. You had to ford water holes and a rowdy Boy Scout group that loved yelling. [They were all named Joseph and Robert] We passed on Peek-a-Boo quickly. Don went up on top of the hill to Spooky, but I stayed back. Then we walked in a dry wash canyon with high walls. Ever since I have been aware of slot canyons, I have wanted to walk in them. So today was my chance.

There was a short distance across a slick rock ledge at the beginning of the hike that scared me and detracted from the total enjoyment of the canyons because I was very concerned about getting back out of there and not killing or maiming myself. [It was a narrow ledge that sloped down sharply] Luckily we met a family at the beginning of the trail and she had a difficult time also. They caught up with us coming back and Joel, the father, helped me. He was in front providing foot support with his hand and Don was behind holding on to my back-pack straps. I did it and wasn’t as tired as from the previous day’s hike.

There are those of you that have known me for a long time and cannot believe that I do such things. Sometimes, I can’t believe I do it either. I consider what we do fun although there are those that would not. My vacation home goes with us wherever we want to go. We have most of the amenities that we have at home. Since we live in Koko half the year or more, why not have a good kitchen and bathroom facilities? Although we do look forward to campgrounds that have good showers, so we don’t have to clean ours. Also, life is short so we want to enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer that we are able to enjoy.

On the return on Hole in the Rock Road we stopped at Devil’s Garden for a late lunch. This grotto has some excellent looking hoodoo’s - better than those at Little Egypt or Kodachrome in our opinion. I was really too tired to get the pictures that were there for the taking. I winged it.

We also tried to find the arch in Cedar Wash, but the directions were not explicit and we were too tired to risk the effort for even short walk if we were in the wrong place.

Dorothy baked some chicken for dinner. Yummy! Thank you Jeanne for the Rosemary!

It was overcast until after 5. Just like yesterday. So the color in the photographs suffered.

We need another day here, but the weekend is on us and if we are going to get into another CG, it will have to be either tomorrow or Sunday. So we are going to move in the morning. Besides, the cooler temps cannot hold forever. It should already be hot here. Also we want to be in Panguitch next weekend for the balloon rally We have been slowly crossing southern Utah for a month. We will finish the trek in another two weeks.

Water Pocket Fold - Cap Reef

Calf Creek Falls

Devils Garden along Hole in the Rock Road

Spooky Canyon

Dry Gulch

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Goblins and Arches

The first two are from Goblin Valley. How bout them goblins?

The others are from Cap Reef.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hite, Goblin Valley, Capital Reef

Sunday, May 31
We got up before sunrise and went to the other side of the canyon to watch the sun paint the mesa and goosenecks below us. After breakfast we all piled into the Jeep and went down the Moki Dugway and drove through the Valley of the Gods. We stopped frequently for photographs.

We tried to drive into Johnson Canyon. We could see the road below us from Muley Point and I saw places where we could get to the edge of mesa and look down into the San Juan River. Unfortunately, we found the road gated and posted ‘Keep Out’.

The odometer reads 26,725 less than 2,000 miles so far. About 80 miles a day. Ed and Jeanne enroute to Alaska are averaging 542 miles a day.

We drove an hour north to the Colorado River. I had heard Farley Canyon was a good place to paddle the boats. We first stopped at Hite and dumped and took on fresh water. The CG here is not up to our usual standards. It is not scenic, plus we are at 3,700 feet and it’s 90 in the shade.

We heard that the road to Farley Canyon was high clearance. Maybe. The road to the camping area was first class. The road that may or may not go to the river from there was not appealing. Plus the canyon was all on dry land. I wanted to paddle a narrow canyon, not the river. The yaks stayed on top of Pelli.

While dumping I noted the fellow ahead of us had several fiberglass boxes on his trailer, each stenciled with the contents. For example, Utensils. One was marked Lizard Box. I had to ask. He said it was his name for his ex-wife’s attorney. He said the attorney and his ex were full of shit and that he carried his sewer hose in the Lizard Box. Satisfaction is sometimes easy.

My good friend Walter writes: “Where are you in Utah? What city are you near? Why lack of water? None in the parks? Don't put so much in the scotch, then you will be OK.” I am never sure if Walter reads the Blog or just the emails. I am not sure if he knows to click on the Blog link at the bottom of my email notes.

I will try to address his questions. We are in and will be in the southeastern and south central part of the state for sometime. We will gain elevation as necessary to keep cool. Cities? There are none, just a few very small towns.

On lack of water. If you bisect Kansas north to south and extended the line to the Canadian border and south through Texas, the area west of the line is mostly desert - an area lacking in water. Without the mountains to capture the moisture from the clouds drifting east from the Pacific, it would all be like Nevada. Utah has vast tracks of land without nearby high mountains and so little rainfall.

In re water with my scotch, I have enough water for that, but not enough really good whisky.

Today. we drove about 90 minutes north on UT95 and UT24 to Goblin Valley SP. We stopped along the way for a short side to Little Egypt. [See pictures]

After lunch and a nap, Dorothy wanted to check out the facilities, specifically the showers she plans to use tonight. I said I would walk with her. Bad idea. On the way back, I noted that Jim and Gayle, parked next to us had their awning part way out. I also noted how well not only the awing, but both rigs, looked with the Entrada and Navajo sandstone behind them. A great photo op! So I unrolled the awning, but did not bother to put in the support arms. There was not a breath of breeze. I got the pictures and went inside to see if I could get on the internet. Almost immediately I heard a rattle outside. In a second we had a blast of 40+ plus wind. The awning acted like a sail and broke both arms. One arm came crashing down and put a small hole near my ankle. Good thing we seldom need or use the awing.

There are 24 sites here. Only two are occupied by rentals. Most every RV we see on the road is a rental. It does not compute.

We said goodbye to Gayle and Jim who headed north today, first for a much needed Wal*Mart shopping binge in Price. We enjoyed our short week with them. The damage. KoKo broke their windshield and they broke our awing. Jim has the same cell amp and Verizon modem that we do. He connects when ours will not. We offered to trade.

We headed back south to Hanksville and turned west to Capital Reef NP. We arrived about 11 and that was fortunate as the CG was filling up fast. It was full by 2PM. It is nice to have water and dump, plus big red rocks, fruit trees and green grass for $5 a day. We have stayed in many National Park campgrounds, but I think is probably the best. May have to stay more than four days because we like it so much.

Our neighbors are Don and Elizabeth from Montrose, CO who are here for their 29th anniversary. We both plan to dine at Café Diablo. We picked up a menu this afternoon on the way back from marketing in Loa – the closest grocery. [The grocery also sells vacuums and yard goods]

Dorothy slept until 7:45 and I was real quiet to not wake her. We had wanted to get away early for a hike in the early slant light and before the heat arrived. However, the sun had other ideas and it hid behind full overcast until almost noon. So we lazed around until almost 10.

We took the scenic drive to Capital Gorge. When we got to the parking lot, we realized that the last time we were here, the gate into the gorge was closed due to high water. So we enjoyed seeing new wonders even under overcast skies.

We got back for lunch, napped and lazed away the afternoon mixing in a few maintenance chores.

Note to file, nylon deteriorates in sunlight. Replace annually. Dorothy noted one of the tie-down straps for the yaks on top of the Jeep was hanging down. The strap had parted in the middle, rotted by sunlight. Kindly the yaks had stayed in position.

Tonight we dined at Café Diablo. We decided to order starters and forego an entrée. I ordered the starters: Rattlesnake and Empanadas. Dorothy selected Duck Mariachi and Painted Salmon. Each dish has multiple flavors. We each tasted the others dish. I though Dorothy’s were even better than mine.

Back at the CG, we stuffed down a small strawberry-rhubarb pie with whipped cream.

We got away at 8 with Don and Elizabeth to Cathedral Valley. This is a 60 plus mile all day drive on dirt roads to areas most visitors to Cap Reef never see. We saw two vehicles all day and one was a NPS vehicle. This sort of drive is the reason we bought the Jeep.

The weather was not all that cooperative, it was overcast all day. The forecast for coming days was worse as a new Pacific front is coming in. Still, it was enjoyable and incredibly scenic. The topography changed more times than we could tally.

The goal was in the middle of the loop drive, the massive cathedral rock formations - monoliths 500 feet tall. We captured the images, but the pictures do not come close to describing what we saw in the valley. It’s all on such a large scale.

Catheral Valley

There are other ways into Cathedral Valley, we took the long way today. We hope to be able to enter from Ten Thousand Lakes Mountain when we move there. The decent from the 10,000 foot mountain to the 7,000 foot desert is supposed to be spectacular

We were tired puppies before we made it back to the CG. The wind picked up mid-afternoon – remember that front. Happily, there is NO dust blowing in the green CG. The temps for the weekend are forecast to be 10-15 below normal.

Dawn brought bright blue skies. We joined the Ranger led hike into Cohab Canyon. This hike started from the campground and went up 400 hundred feet to the mouth of the canyon. We had done the canyon before from the other end avoiding steep slope. It was chilly when we started at 8, but by 9:30 the sun was warm and we were over-dressed. So when the ranger left us, we returned to CG to change clothes.

Other than going into town for mail, we lazed the rest of day away. By cocktail time, the sky was overcast.

Sunday, June 7
Dawn again brought bright blue skies. Dorothy was up for a hike and suggested Cassidy Arch. Since this is listed in the park brochure as ‘Strenuous’ - 3.6 miles with a 950-foot elevation gain – I was delighted and challenged with her selection. The first ¼ mile goes UP from the floor of the wash. The trail then begins a more gradual ascent following ledge walls. At all times you have good views.

At the turn to gain access to view the arch, it’s still a half-mile. The trail is not as kind here and Dorothy elected to snooze on a rock while I tempted death crossing the slick rock. At one place I almost turned around. You have to cross slick rock going down steeply. What gave me pause is if you fall, you will probably not recover. The rock is shaped like a funnel to the cliff edge. I reconnoitered it several times and talked myself into and out of it more than once. I finally did it. Funny thing, I did not even notice it on the return. Uphill is better than downhill.

Dorothy’s rest did not make her feet recover, but somehow she made it down the trail. She said her motivation was for a glass of ice tea and a pain pill.

We decided to stay at Cap Reef CG for another four days. This is one of the least visited parks and also one of our favorites. [Glacier is number one and Cap Reef may be number two] Since it is sandwiched between Zion and Bryce to the west and Arches and Canyonlands to the east, perhaps people are just in a hurry and bypass one of the most scenic parks?

On our hike this morning, we saw three other couples, four Italian men, a back country ranger and gal (off duty ranger?) who ran over two miles up the trail to give him a message and then ran back down. That’s only 12 people in 4.5 hours. From the overlook, we could see all the cars on the Scenic Road. A quick drive through of ten miles of a huge park is about all most people see of Cap Reef.

Tonight is our 360th in KoKo. Figuring a low residual value for KoKo, this night will be $166. At this rate soon KoKo will be dispensing Grants to us every morning.

I have heard the average RV owner drives 6,000 miles a year. That means most owners use them for weekends and vacations. We are doing 15,000 miles a year and over 200 nights a year.