Zions N.P. – Angels Landing and Backpacking down the Narrows.

Over the past weekend I took a trip with my mom and her husband down to Zion’s National Park in Southern, UT.  I’ve been there several times before but this time we wanted to hike down the narrows.  We got down to the park at 6:30 AM Friday morning so I could get in line at the back country office in hopes of getting one of the 5 remaining camp sites.  I was 8th in line but luckily they were all wanting to do different trips such as the subway or fantasy canyon (I want to do both).  So when I got up to the window I had a pick of the remaining sites.  I went ahead and chose # 11 since it was the farthest camp site.  I wanted to do the majority of the hiking the first day and then have a shorter hike the second day.  Turns out I should have gotten one of the other sites though since ours was one of the more open sites to everyone passing through.  If I had my pick again I’d choose #8, or anything but #10 or #11.

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After getting our spot and setting up camp in South Campground we decided to hike Angels Landing.  It is an amazing hike where you basically have to climb the spine of one of the cool rock formations (pictured below).  I was amazed that my mom decided to come along with me to the top since she’s afraid of heights.  But she made it up and it wasn’t as bad as either of us had thought it would be.

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After hiking Angels landing we went into town and grabbed a burger and beer at Oscars Cafe (I’d highly recommend it).  That evening we got outfitted from Zion Adventure Company and reserved the shuttle to take us to the top of the narrows Saturday morning.

We started the shuttle at 6:30AM Sat morning and arrived at the trailhead around 8AM (Not sure since I didn’t have a watch).  From there we suited up in a dry suit and wet socks and shoes that we had rented from Zion Adventure Co.  Then we threw on our backpacks and headed down the cold trail.  It was cold enough that morning that my mom’s camelback hose had frozen so she had to use mine which for some reason had not frozen yet. 

As we hiked down the canyon and into the narrows many of the leaves around us had been turned and were all sorts of colors.  It was quite beautiful and I must say we timed it pretty well for a full range of fall colors above but yet lush green trees and ferns towards the end.  The first day we only had to go through knee deep or so waters.  We reached our camp around 4PM and set up our tents then took a nap.  Later that evening one of the groups that had taken off the same time as us came through our camp on the way to their own.  Most of them were pretty miserable since they were ill prepared and most of them were wearing hiking shoes and regular socks.  Most of them were soaking wet and it looked like their gear was wet too 😦  I must say I’m glad we got outfitted at Zion Adventure Co.  It made for one pleasant trip.

The next morning we woke up at dawn and packed our things then headed out.  within a half a mile we were wading through waist deep pools of water.  Then we had to climb around and down a rock to get past a beautiful waterfall (Picture in the album below).  We also passed a spring that had waterfalls flowing out of it.  I ended up making it out of the canyon without getting very wet but both my mom and Richard didn’t fare soo fortunate.  Both of them had taken a tumble on the slippery rocks.  My mom made it within a block of the end of the trail before she had taken a dive.  It turns out her knee decided to give out on her since it was still weak from the total reconstructive surgery she had had earlier this year.

We made it out at around 1:30 PM on Sunday then headed back to Oscars for a celebratory beer and burger.  Then for the 9 hour drive back to Vernal.

Here are some useful links:

Zion Narrows – Information on the Narrows

Zion Backcountry Information – Information on obtaining permits/campsites

Zion National Park Homepage

Zion Adventure Company – Great place to rent gear and get the shuttle for the narrows.

Biking and Rafting in Moab

This past weekend I decided to join Doug in Moab for some mountain biking.

I went down Thursday and drove to Canyonlands N.P..  I didn’t get there till 10:30 so all the camp sites were taken up already 😦  I turned around and drove down the road a ways and found some side dirt road and ended up camping behind some tree for the night.  In the morning I woke up early and headed out to Mesa Arch to grab this shot:

Mesa Arch

After this I headed into town to the local book stores looking for some books on the trails (And a book by National Geographic Adventure)  I found both and decided to go up Amasa Back Trail.  Afterwards I met up with Doug and his friends at the Big Bend campground.  Then we decided to take a ride down the road and head up the Porcupine Trail (though we didn’t make it far .. it got too dark).

The next day we went rafting down the Colorado.  We didn’t hit many rapids since it’s late in the season.  But, we sure did have fun.  Afterwards we rode the MOAB brand trails (Bar M, Circle O, Rockin A, and Bar B) then had dinner at Eddie McStiff’s.

On Sunday we decided to take Zip out and go try riding with him.  I guess we maybe should have chose an easier trail, but he did surprisingly well.  He kept up the whole time and seemed to be having a great time.  Anyways, we decided to go on the infamous Slick Rock Trail.  Boy did it kick my ass though.  It was both strenuous and technical,  but, I sure did have a great time.  I don’t think I’ve ever sweated soo hard before.  I had salt soaked up in my shirt and helmet.

All in all a great weekend in Moab I must say.  48 miles of biking and having a great time with great people.  Can’t ask for much more 😉

Rocky Mountain National Park

I went on a trip with my Dad and Toni up to Rocky Mountain National Park for the weekend to take pictures of the Elk in the rut (Their mating season).  It was quite interesting and we also got to do some great sight seeing.  We ended up going on a hike up to several lakes, a car ride up a steep one-way dirt road.  Ended up stopping at the top of a pass for lunch at one of the parks visitor centers.  It was a great time topped off with a Bronco’s game in Denver which we won!  Anyways, here are some of my pictures from the weekend.

4-Wheeling up to Crystal Mill, Crystal City, and Lead King Basin

This past Sunday I went on 4 Wheeling on a rugged mountain road with my Dad and Step-Mom Toni.  Went headed up to the Crystal Mill, then stopped in the city of Crystal for a look (It’s a neat old ghost town).  We chatted for a bit with the author of a book about the Crystal Mill and city then bought a copy of his book from him.  After that we headed up the road, past several waterfalls, to Lead King Basin.  Then we went up over a pass and back down to Marble, CO where we had started the trek.

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Backpacking the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with Doug and Zip.

I guess I should actually finish my post for this trip seeing how it’s been a week since I went.

After looking at a bunch of different places and deciding against them for various reasons (Too many people,  Too hot, Doug had already done most of them) we decided to head down to the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountain range down by Westcliffe, CO.  We headed down Sunday after Doug got off work and ate at a killer pizza place in Westcliffe.  Then we drove up to the trailhead and camped the night there.  I bet there were pretty close to 50 vehicles total in the 4 different parking lots along the way.  At the Upper where we parked there were probably 20 cars.  After seeing them we sure did expect to see a bunch of people.  But we hoped they would mostly go home that day since it was Labor day and they had to get back to work.

IMG_2852On the hike from the parking lot to Upper Sand Lake we saw quite a few people.  I think we passed at least three scout troops and several couples/groups.  Hiking up to the upper lake we came across someone that had been up fishing.  He said that they weren’t biting up a the upper lake but had more luck down at the lower lake.  He asked where were planning on camping the night and when we told him that we were heading over to Dead Man lakes he said with a smirk on his face “Well that will be interesting!”.  We didn’t see anyone up at the Upper Sand Creek lakes as we laid down for a short rest.  After that we headed to the Lower Sand Creek lake where there were a few people fly fishing there.  After having lunch there we decided we better get on our way up the pass (The one we had originally chose was sheer cliffs so we had to find a different route .. and had to hope it would work and not leave us on a cliff ledge).  This was the last we would see of anyone until our way down music pass on the last day.

IMG_2866Hiking up the side of that mountain sure showed me how much more in shape I need to get.  That and I need to get adjusted  to the altitude here.  It was pretty damn difficult keeping up with Doug and Zip.  Zip kept looking back at me with the Hurry Up look in his eyes.  After we scrambled up the mountain side we skirted across another mountain side and over to a saddle.  Then we headed down yet another rock field where you would take one step and then slide 3 steps.  Once down to the bottom we crossed some marsh land and found a really cool boulder to take a picture on top of.  From a distance it looked like a perfect square.  But to get the right lighting we had to take a more realistic shot of us on it)  After that found Dead Man Lake up the next gully over.  We set up camp and soon enough Zip was making whimpering sounds in his sleep. (BTW … DON’T get the freeze dried Beef Stroganoff …. Even with a lot of salt and pepper it still tastes bland and hard to get down … I ended up burying part of mine)

IMG_2881The next morning after checking out our options we decided to go up what the author of one of Doug’s books called a rocky but passable pass.  Which is exactly what it was.  Though I’ll tell you what.  This pass was one hell of a lot easier to pass than the one we did the day before.  We were to the top of the pass around noon.  (If you look really close you can see Doug in the crack at the top of the pass)   Zip took a power nap at the top and Doug and I enjoyed being on top of there.  After we got down the pass and to the Lower Little Sand Creek Lake we decided to go for a swim.  I don’t think I lasted a minute in the water because it was freezing my nuts off!  But it sure did feel good and refreshing.  Doug even helped get Zip to take a quick dip and then he was crazy for a while rubbing up against bushes and in the grass.  Pretty damn funny behavior.  But he still liked Doug after that incident 😉

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IMG_2915 After out dip mother nature decided it was time to rain on us.  So we quickly headed down not wanting to get struck by lightning.  Looking at the map and noticing the trail went around the valley then down the gully we thought it would be better to just cut across the valley.  Big mistake as we got cut off by several big cliffs on the way down.  Finally we found a steep but doable route down next to the creek and some amazing waterfalls.  I tried to get pictures but couldn’t do it justice.  then it started hailing and we had to hurry and scramble down a boulder field.  But we finally made it down and back to the trail.  We hiked several more miles down the canyon the back up the main canyon to where we set up camp in a field for the night.  That night we both had better dinners (Doug had some pasta primavera with veggies and I had chicken breast with potatoes)  We watched the sun set over some amazing peaks then fell asleep listening to some Elk bugle.

The next morning we got up and made the final ascent then decent back to our vehicle (Where a mouse had made it’s home for a few days).  The whole trip was amazing and quite the adventure.  Maybe some day I’ll get better at writing so I can voice the fun/interesting/scary time we had.  But until then ……

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Sangre de Cristo Elevation 

GPS Tracks – Open file with Google Earth, Garmin Topo, or your GPS software 😀

A trip to Dillon, CO to visit Doug

I decided to head over to Dillon, CO for the weekend to meet someone that I’ve been chatting with online.  When I got here we sat at a park in Dillon and listened to a live bluegrass band.  Once we decided we couldn’t fend off the hunger anymore we went to a cool little joint called The Pub Down Under.  They sure did have great burgers there .. mmmmm.

The next day Doug had to work so I took Zip hiking up to the Tomahawk lakes by Breckenridge,.  We started at the wrong trailhead and ended up hiking an additional 5 miles.  So we went 8 miles total with an elevation gain of 1,800 ft.  The trail took us through a pine forests, meadows, past several waterfalls, and up steep mountainsides to a couple of lakes.

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Tomahawk Lakes

After Doug got off work we headed down to Old Chicago for dinner with some of his friends.

The next day he didn’t have to work so we ended up going on a 10 mile hike which starts in Vail and heads up to Deluge Lake.  It sure was pretty with the crystal blue lake and the jagged mountain peaks in the background.  It rained on us a few times during the hike but was actually pretty refreshing.  I ended up taking a short nap at the lake before we headed back down.  What a perfect hike.

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Deluge Lake

Deluge Elevation Profile

I do think Zip was pretty wore out from the evening since he pretty much laid around and slept all of Monday.  He has his energy back today though and is causing trouble with my dad’s dogs (He wants to play but they don’t)

And Now I’m back in Rifle for the day.  Then I’m off to Vernal tonight to switch out a UPS battery and get my dog neutered 😦

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IMG_1852I came home from my backpacking trip today and my sister told me I needed to come by for a surprise she had for me.  When I got there I found she had gotten me a dog 😀

It was a surprise for sure.  But, I really do like him and he’ll be great to take around with me.  He’s a blue healer mix so he’ll be great to take with me hiking and biking.  Plus he’s pretty relaxed and great around other people and animals.   Just the kind of dog I need 🙂

Backpacking in Lakeshore Basin – Eastern Uintas

I needed to take a break and get away from some things and so I decided to go for a short overnight backpacking trip.  I planned out a short trip with some advisements from my brother Spencer.  I started at Ashley Twin Lakes after a trip though rocky roads and crossing through streams.  While checking out Ashley Twin Lakes I did notice one other person on the opposite side of the lake.  I’m not sure where his vehicle was … he must have taken a different split off road since I was at the end of the road and no cars in sight.

This was the last sign I saw of anyone for the rest of the trip.  I hiked up 6 miles through pine forests, meadows, marshes, and along a few lakesides.  I only saw one deer the whole time though 😦  After reaching the point I had marked to turn off the trail (Wasn’t much of a trail though the whole way) I hiked up around a lake then had to climb through a boulder field.  At the top of the boulder field was a lake with one side surrounded by another grove of pine trees and the other side a rocky mountain.  It was quite the sight and I was content to set up camp there as I had planned.  I found a great spot with some trees surrounding it but still with a good view of the lake.

IMG_1838I set up camp here and cooked me my Mountain House lasagna with meat sauce … should have brought some pepper to spice it up a little.  Then shortly after I fell asleep in the tent with the rain fly off so I could view the stars.  It is quite the way to get sleepy.

I ended up sleeping in and so I had to just come back the way I went rather then attempting the longer route I was thinking of trying.  I got back to my Jeep around noon and headed home.

The whole time I was out I only saw that one person at the lake.  Other than that all I could see was some hoof prints from horses a few weeks old at least.  Talk about a perfect trip for solitude. 

Rafting With Connexion.org

A while back I got invited to go Rafting with a group of guys off of Connexion.org.  A Guy I had been chatting with (Solomon) invited me along.  So I came to Colorado a few days early so I could go to Grand Junction and do some shopping as well as spend some time in Rifle with my dad.

Friday came along and I got myself checked into the Caravan Inn which is a nice place for the price and I’d definitely stay there again.  After getting settled in I went down to the hot springs to finally meet some of these people I was going to go rafting with.  At first I thought I didn’t know anyone on the trip.  But then I found out that Bob, who I had met at a gay even in Grand Junction, and who it turns out just lives up the street from my dad, was also there.

So we played around in the hot springs pool for an hour or so then we went and grabbed some food from Juicy Lucy’s.  Great food there.  I had a delicious salmon with herbs.  After that we headed off to the Loyal Brothers martini bar.  Sad to say I had a few too many that night.  So, the next day I was pretty hung over trying to get to the rafting event.

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We went with Whitewater Rafting out of Glenwood Springs.  It’s the company Solomon is a guide for.  It’s a great company with great guides and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to go on a day rafting trip.

38 guys ended up turning out for the event.  We split up into five rafts.  I ended up going in a raft with Solomon as our guide and Ladd, Dave, David, Reed, Christopher, Ryan, and Steve as my raft mates.

I have to say this was one of the most fun rafting trips I have been on.  The river was quite nice and had some pretty good rapids.  But the crowd is defiantly what made the trip.  I can say I’m looking forward to it again for sure.

The trip starts up above Bear Creek on I-70 East of Glenwood Springs.  Then we stop for lunch at the rafting headquarters in Glenwood.  After lunch we took the rafts and some ducky’s ( 1 and 2 man inflatable Kayaks)  At the first set of rapids with these I ended up flipping over.  I was trying to get over to one side of the river and didn’t make it there in time and also didn’t get straightened out in Time.  I forgot the easiest way is to paddle backwards if you want to get pointed in the right direction.  So when I hit the first wave it just tumbled me over.  I was able to get  back to my ducky, grab my nalgene and get back up on my boat just fine though 😀

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We took out at New Castle and headed back up to the rafting building then headed out for a brew and some wings at the Brewpub.  After that I had a fresh eclectic cuisine at the Rivera.  I ended up getting the calamari and a baby bok choy salad with duck and a miso vinaigrette dressing.  Mmmmm.

After there and some interesting confrontations with the police and two of our group members, (they were being too loud and obscene with family and children around), we headed back up to the Loyal Brothers for some more drinks.  And we had another interesting event with one of the same guys from the police incident.  He ended up attacking one of the Cougars there at the bar.  A couple of the others in our group kindly made him get up and found someone to take him back to his motel room.  A little bit after this everyone started turning in and we ended such a great trip by midnight Saturday night.

Early Rise for a few pictures.

I woke up at 6 AM this Saturday to go out with my brother and take some pictures of him and Joel going off a few downhill drop offs.  Well, we got out there probably around 8ish.  They got all their gear on and went down and showed me the first drop they were going to do.  I have to admit it’s a pretty sick drop off.  So, I took my place and told them to make a run for it.  Here are some of the pictures I grabbed.  After this the two of them were too tired from the previous day to do anything more.  So we headed back into vernal.  Hopefully there will be more of these kids of shots to come.

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