Friday, 22 April 2011

Utah/Arizona 2011

Landscape Arch. Truly a wonder full bit of nature. From a distance it seems so delicate but when you are near it,the mass of the structure is amazing. Easy to walk to

Finally arrive after 2 days of driving. Left BC on the 20th of April and arrive the 22nd and stop off at Arches NP visitors centre. First time we have been in this area and I must have taken a thousand pictures of the red rock. Things are hopping around the Landscape Arch because of the holiday. Doesn't matter to us. CG is totally booked, no chance of a spot says the attendant. We were just hanging around the parking area catching some sun after the short hike and the attendant came around and said there is a spot for us due to cancellations because of the snow and cool weather.                                                 

Head out next day for a hike into Devils Garden where a number of arches are found.

Pass by Black Arch and Private Arch before arriving at Double"O" Arch. Heard about the slickrock and how it is like sandpaper. You can climb on really steep surfaces with out slipping

Mrs Crosscheck exploring some of the mini canyons on the trail.

Take a side trip to Dark Angel. No trees around here to impede your views of the red rock. It's everywhere.

Crosscheck seeing how far he can climb up on the Dark Angel before she gets PO'ed and trashes him.

We were supposed to meet friends in Moab to go MTBing but decided that it was pretty cold at this time of year and we are going to go south and come back to Moab later.. It is a record year for snow in the mountains and that might have some bearing  on the weather. First stop is Natural Bridges NM.

Supapu Bridge. Weather is cool and windy. Hiking down in the canyon is a real treat with all of the varnished  stained canyon walls.

Very few people as we gaze up into this monster bridge. Decide to hike to the three bridges in the park tomorrow.

Drive out on a BLM road and pull into a little spot. Firewood is within 5' and in minutes we are setup and ready for happy hour.
Set off passed Sipapu Bridge and head downstream to Kachina Bridge. Meet some backpackers who are passing through to another canyon.

Kachina Bridge. Takes 1.5 hours from Sipapu. Thunderstorms drop some rain on us and we follow the creek which is pretty shallow most places.

A small granary and some dwellings. Lots of pictographs on the canyon walls. This is where we made a mistake. instead of turning left and following the Armstrong canyon and on to Owachomo Bridge we keep going down the White Canyon where there seemed to be a lot of foot prints.

Walking was easy so we kept on motoring. After 2 or 3 hours we thought that the Owachomo Bridge should be coming up soon.

Well it's got to be around the next corner as the canyon walls closed in on us. Thunder clouds started to form and soon there was the sound of thunder.

We journeyed passed this monument for awhile longer, that bridge got to be around the corner. We are still following footsteps in the sand. Finally we say lets head back. 2 hours after we turn back, we notice a park boundary sign that is pointed down stream. We would have missed it going down stream. It is now 6pm and it is still 2 hours to get to the Kachina Bridge and then there is the 5 km hike back to our truck which is parked at the Sipapu Bridge parking lot.

Make it to the truck around 10pm. Rain is coming down as we head to the overflow camping. Turn off on a small road thinking this is the spot for RV's and the greasy clay stops us dead. Put it in 4X4 and barely make it back onto pavement. Head up the same road as yesterday and as we start to climb up the hill, my wheels start spinning. As luck would have it, found a small pullout just as I was slipping off the road and we camped for the night. In the morning, a small skiff of snow was on the ground around us but the sun was out and within an hour, things started drying out.

This is Hwy#261  which as you travel along a flat section, the road just drops a 1000' or more. Pretty wild geology.

Monument Valley. Lots of people setting up tripods for filming these spectacular columns and buttes when the sun rises and sets.

Drive to the Grand Canyon. Resisted stopping at the lookouts on the way but holy moly was that a big ditch. We decided instead of viewing the canyon from the rim, it was better to see it from within. Grandview point is the start of our trip. The Mesa is out on the point.

Ruins of Pete Berry's cabin. Grandview Mesa. The canyonwalls were so vertical descending from the rim.

Crosscheck dropping down the switch back route to the Tonto trail. Temps are rising as we drop.

Get our first glimps of the Colorado. We are now on the Tonto Platform.

Mrs Crosscheck pumping water from Page Springs. We have followed Hance Creek canyon with sheer cliffs dropping 1000' or more to the creek below since dropping down from the Mesa .

Bit of mining equipment left from the active days when mules would load copper concentrate from the mines and transport it to the rim for shipping to the refineries.

Mrs Crosscheck hiking up trail to the Mesa making it a round trip before heading back up to the rim.

Pretty crazy trail for the mules and miners to labour up and down.For our first canyon hike, we had a great time. A bit tired but as we are not carrying a lot of weight, the grades were not too bad.

Find a good spot for camping in the Kaibab National Forest just north of Tusayan. Lots of firewood around as it gets quite chilly at night. Elevation is 7000'

The official National Park literature says"Do not attempt to hike from rim to river and back in a day" Well that is as good a reason as anything to do just that. Mrs. Crosscheck skirts a tour group that is venturing at a guess a short distance down the South Kaibab trail. We leave the top at around 7:30am. Trail is in good shape compared to the Grandview.

Nice views of the Tonto Platform as we drop quickly into the chasm.

Catch site of the Colorado and the green area of the Phantom Ranch. Lots of people hiking down different levels.

Theres the bridge across the colorado. The dark layer of rock above the river is called Vishnu Schist.

The trail snakes down steeply through the almost vertical canyon walls

Crossing the old bridge.

It is quite warm at the Phamtom Ranch when we have lunch. Met a group of highschool students hiking down. They were enjoying themselves. Found out later they were to be picked up at the bottom in a large raft. What a neat trip.

Pretty hard to get lost isn't it?

These are the kids that were pick up by the large pontoon raft.

You can also ride down and back on a mule athough judging by the size of the people in the saddle, I bet the mules wished they were somewheres else.  Took 8 hours including lunch to do the hike. We were tired at the end but never had hiked much that spring so this for anyone who is fit is not a long day trip.

Lake Powell from above the dam

Find a nice boondock place just out of Rockville Utah. We will be exploring ZionNP for a few days. Still pretty chilly with the wind . Not a lot of wood around in the desert but I scrounge up enough for a few fires.

Heading up to Cable Mt. Many of these trails were built by men in the the 30ties during a make work program when the great depression was leaving people starving.

Crosscheck heading over to the cable head frame where the Mormons lowered lumber that they cut from trees from the higher plateau. It took 2 minutes for the lumber to drop 2000' to the valley

This is looking down from the cable head frame. Angels Landing is across the way and the Virgin river flows through the valley.

Mrs Crosscheck admiring the view on the way down from Cable Mt.

We are hiking up today to Telephone canyon. The trail starts at the Angels Landing trailhead. This picture is taken from the switchbacks that were blasted/hacked out of the solid rock cliffs by the young men in the 30ties. Unbelievable is all I can describe the trail. Where thousands hike by each month, you would need to be a climber to access Angels Landing if the trail had not been built.

Hiking up to the West Rim trail passing avalanche snow.

These trails were blasted out of solid limestone. We see no other hikers once leaving the Angels Landing trail. If the trail was icy, it would be easy to slide off and beat your screams down to the bottom.

Mrs Crosscheck on her way to Angels Landing.

Heading back down to the bus
Destination to is Kolob Arch through Hop Valley.

Have to jump the river to keep the feet dry. Canyon walls are not as spectacular as the the main touristy area but we see no one  during the long days hike.

We follow the small creek past a few campsites and then over a pass to the arch. Always the red rock canyon walls.

Find a nice camping site by a creek. Weather is warm and we haven't seen rain for awhile.
Find a boodocking spot out of Bryce. Air is warm at 8000' but as soon as the sun goes down, out comes the mackinaws and fire.
Get our first look at the canyon. Seems that this is the place to be if you are looking at one of those special pictures at sunrise and sunset. Colours are something.
We do a quick walk down into the Queens Garden or something like that.
Next day is going to be a 10 km or so hike linking a bunch of trails. Start off at Sunrise Point and include the Navajo and Peekaboo loops before heading back on the Queens Garden loop.
The Wall of Windows.
We meet horses at a few places. They allow a certain amount every day.
Heading back to Sunrise Point but still in the canyon. Climb out at Sunset Point and walk crosscountry to our start.
A quick stop at the Petrified Forest SP. Lunch by a lake that is damned. Not a lotta water in this state.
Next stop is Capitol Reef NP All of the campsites are booked so we head north and after crossing a small bridge, we spot a grand camping spot by a creek. Not a lot of firewood but still have a dandy fire.
First hike in the park is a strole up to Cassidy Arch. I guess as legend has it , Butch Cassidy hid away in this wild area of Utah.
Coming back and days end from Cassidy Arch. Valley where we are camped is below us.
Trail destination today is Navajo Nobs. This is Hickman Arch which is a short hike from the road.
We start to climb quickly out of the valley  and pass the Rim Lookout.
Mrs Crosscheck hiking along the rim looking at the knobs which are in the far hills to the left.
A great view of the surrounding area including the campsite at Fruita.
Looking west towards Torrey.
Have a birds eyed view of the castle on our way down.
The Outfitter parked
Big wind comes in that evening and although it is a long weekend, the locals with their family sized tents leave in a hurry. Next morning after getting blasted by the sand, we notice a few tents with broken poles. This is our first desert wind storm and I'm impressed. Sand seems to get in almost everywhere. Off to the see the goblins.
Lots of people around with all ages. I have to admit I took way too many fotos but this is pretty unique, all of the shapes of rock.
Crosscheck feeling his oats.The rock is softer than you think.
I ended up talking to these guys for a coupla hours and they had some pretty neat things to say.
Looks like a cover of a scifi book.
A monument on the way back to the CG.
Mostly hard side campers no tents after that brutal wind storm last night.
Meet up with some friends at the sand flats camping area near the Slickrock Trail in Moab.They have been coming to the Moab area for years so they were to be our guides for a few days. TC is dropped and we are ready to explore.
Our friends are all equiped with quad, MTB, canoe. Ready for anything.
Stop by some pictographs on the way to the Korona Arch.
Traihead for the Korona Arch with a good view of the Colorado River and camping spot.
Walked through a nice canyon area and we are comming up on the arch.
The last of three guys were rapelling down when we got there.
Last look at the spectacular geology of the area. No trees to hide the different rock formations.
Back at the campsite on the slickrock where the Jeep/Razors etc frolick.
Head up to Island in the Sky area of Cayonland NP and stop off for a short walk up to ancient granery on a mesa.
Nice view of the canyons that give the flat land above them"Islands In The Sky"
Trip today is the Syncline Loop. Drops down nearly to the Green River and then heads back up a steep narrow canyon back to the trailhead. See few people.
Just negotiating some large blocks in the steepest part of the canyon.
Meet up with a film maker from the Blackfoot reserve somewhere near the border with Alberta. Have a big feast and swap some lies. Getting to be the last days here in Moab.
Camped at a reservoir just north of Malad City ID. Temps are dropping as we head north.

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