Sunday, October 24, 2010

Snow on San Jacinto

Back in California, we headed for Palm Springs to prepare for re-entry into real life.  We took the tram going from 2,643' to 8,516' in 10 minutes.  We were surprised to find some big patches of snow and glad we had gloves and jackets, even though it was 80 degrees and sunny in the valley.  We could see the clouds, from top of Wellman's Divide where we hiked, that have been bringing premature cold weather to S. Cal.  This might be the last wilderness hike we have on this trip so we savored every single moment.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From Fall to Winter in a 40 minute drive

After leaving Zion we spent the night in St. George, UT then stopped into Kolab Canyon, the north entrance to Zion with very little tourist traffic.  We hiked Taylor Creek to a double arch and were treated to a full array of fall colors and mild autumn breezes.  Then on to Brian Head, through Cedar Breaks National Monument at 10,400 ft. of elevation - what a temperature change.  Snow everywhere.

So many colors

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Observing Zion from above - Hike

We spent the day (8 miles- 2200 ft. elevation gain) hiking to the top of Observation Point.  Whew!  Bring on the Advil.


Zion - Disneyland Wilderness

We arrived in Zion on a 4 day Utah school holiday.  Bad timing.  Every family had Grandma/pa, Mom/Dad, and their kids and a couple of aunts/uncles - so family units looked more like brigades. ANYWAY - we got on the shuttle buses, (so crowded, cars aren't allowed in the park) and got off at our desired trailhead.  Strange to be in the free transportation with multi-day backpackers, day hikers like ourselves, and just plain sightseers.  It's a great system since the scenery is fabulous and almost unbelievable and everyone gets a chance to experience it without traffic jams.  Our first day here, we decided to hike The Narrows - a slow slog up the Virgin River in a slot canyon.  Fun for the first 2 hours then, not so fun hiking out after slipping and falling in the icy water.

Who Knew! Hoodoos?

We had no idea Bryce would be so weird . . . 


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Playing (in) the slots

Another Escalante adventure:  Went on a guided expedition to Big Horn Slot Canyon.  This slot was completely full of sand only three weeks ago.  With a big rainstorm a few weeks ago, the sand which had been deposited four years ago was washed away and we were able to explore it.  We were finished early, so drove 10 miles out of town on a 4X4 road in the Subaru - noticed we were loosing air in a tire - got back to town by using our bicycle pump every few miles to keep the tire inflated.  Whew!

Shawn Miller (our guide) and Ron - into the slot

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Slickrock Scramble - on steroids

By on steroids we mean, clambering up sheer rock faces, defying gravity and even death...but not really. Exploring these canyons and arches is just amazing and it really helps to have a guide, at least in this case.  Nick of took us to some great spots.

Walking into canyon

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Slickrock Scramble

We hiked to Upper Calf Creek Falls today - a really steep descent down to the bottom of upper Calf Creek Falls.  Tomorrow - slot canyons with a guide - stay tuned...



Can you tell I'm shouting?  We spent the day hiking and exploring.  The geology here is amazing.  But what's even better:  this town is incredibly small (pop. 800) and nothing much is going on.   There are actually a few pretty cool restaurants to choose from and everyone knows each other.  This feels like a true outpost of the USA - in fact, mail service was by mule train to this area until 1940.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Escalante - Escalating Awe

The drive from Blanding to Escalante, UT was spectacular.  Unexpectedly, we spent a lot of the day in Natural Bridges National Monument - hiking to the canyon floor to check out the bridges from below.  Then, on through Capital Reef  to the Escalante/Grand Staircase Wilderness.  Every mile of driving is a different vista.  We've landed at a really comfy B&B in this tiny town and it feels like we could stay here for a while...

Anastasi Ruins in Natural Bridges National Monument

Canyonlands Saturday

We left Moab for the Canyonlands South.  The rock art was a highlight at Newspaper Rock.  Then we hiked in to see an ancient granary. The geology was breathtaking. The accommodations in this part of the country were pretty bad, though. We spent the night in Blanding - oh so Bland. Maybe it's because this Utah county is 'dry' - no booze available to us heathens passing through.

Newspaper Rock on the way to Canyonlands

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ab Fab - Moab

We've spent three nights in Moab and could spend another week - but alas, we're on our way to what we've been told is even more beautiful.  Hard to believe.  Yesterday we took a hike up a narrow canyon following  a stream the whole way.  The payoff was one of the largest arches in the world.  There was no way to take a picture of it all so the picture here is just a part of it.  The last two nights, we stayed at Red Cliffs Lodge, about 14 miles out of Moab right on the Colorado River.  Remote and peaceful.

On the trail to the giant arch

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Not your 'golden arches'

After leaving Ouray, Co, we had a stop in Telluride, Co. Great little remote town with a lot going on  We spent the night and remembered another time at least 10 years ago when we were here for the Mushroom Festival.  We woke up to snow on the mountiantops in the AM, then headed for Moab.  Today, Thursday, Oct. 7th, we spent the day at Arches National Park. Amazing.

Double Arches in Arches National Park

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's next?????

At Ingrid and Bob's we decided to drive south to Telluride, Co. instead of going straight to Moab, Utah.  Before leaving Aspen, tho, we took a short drive up to Maroon Bells, a National Park just a few miles from downtown Aspen.  All our past trips to Aspen have been in winter so this was the first time the road has been open to the Bells.  Sooooo beautiful!  We heard about a hot spring village near Telluride so decided to go there for the night.  Ouray (pronounced U-ray) is in a box canyon and our cheap little hotel had piping hot soaking tubs which we loved
Ron at the lake at the base of Maroon Bells.  Named by early settlers for the color and shape of the mountain.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Aspen Again

It's always so good to go to Aspen.  We spent two nights with Ingrid and Bob Greuter and had a great time, as always.  A highlight was going on an all day hike to Thomas Lakes  near the summit of Sopris Peak.  Their new dog, Mr. Darcy was a real love.

Sharon, Ingrid, Ron, Clauida at Thomas Lake (about 10,000 ft.)

On to Aspen

A day of driving...but not so boring as you would expect. We drove over Cumbres Pass in N. New Mexico. Absolutely beautiful in full autumn color. Then a stop at the Great Sand Dunes National Park - who knew??? It's the tallest sand dune in the US. From there we drove up to the top of the Continental Divide (on the way, seeing a mouse, no less!!!) and then dropped into Aspen.

The Great San Dune

Ojo (Oh YES!) Caliente

Hot tip:  If you ever want a really fabulous, relaxing experience in the middle of virtually nowhere (yet reasonably chic) you gotta go to Oyo (pronounced, Oh Ho) Caliente Hot Springs and Spa  It is fairly close to Taos and Santa Fe, but feels a million miles away.  We drove from Taos to Ojo Caliente and spent a few hours enjoying the various mineral pools then had a sumptuous lunch in the restaurant there.  We would definitely go back.  Then on to Abiquiu, New Mexico - home of Georgia O'keefe.  Georgia actually lived on Ghost Ranch, about 20 miles from Abiqui.  The drive there was spectacular...

Ojo Caliente - Oh so great