Grand Canyon Trip – Day 5 – Capitol Reef NP

Capitol Reef Map

Having completed most everything we could do in Zion short of the hikes that require permits, such as the Narrows and Subway.  Our next destination was Capitol Reef.  It was relatively close, something new, and sounded like there might be some interesting hikes there.  It’s not as well known as Bryce, Arches, or a few of the other parks in that area, but we had already seen parts of those in past trips.

The park itself is a very long narrow stretch of land surrounding a waterpocket fold.  As we learned, the defining element of a fold is where the rock rises up gently from one side, but has broken off and forms cliffs from the other.  In the park, this means that if you approach from the West you see cliff walls and if you approach from the East, not so much.  Capitol Reef has a small area which is the Fruita Historic District where the remains of the town are preserved and the various orchards are still active and at the right time of year you can pick your own fruit.

We stayed at a hotel about 10 miles outside of the park in Torrey, got up relatively early and went straight to the Capitol Reef visitor center to figure out what we were going to do to make best use of about a day and half visit.  The weather which had haunted us thus far on the trip was not far off and the ranger warned us that if we wanted to hike any of the slot canyons we needed to be headed there immediately to avoid potential rain and flash floods later in the day.

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Grand Canyon Trip – Day 4 – Zion National Park

Kolob Canyons Sign

Clearly, a smart person would have categorized this entire trip as being to Zion with some side hikes.  But, I’m being stubborn and calling it the Grand Canyon trip because that’s what we intended it to be.

We had read some of the information on Capitol Reef National Park and it sounded like there was some good hiking and exploring to do there and it was within reasonable driving distance, so that became the evening plan, but first we had one more hike to do in Zion.  It was a more out of the way hike, and certainly one of the less popular as a result.  This was the journey to Kolob Arch, one of the two predominant arches in Zion, the other being Crawford Arch.  It’s also a 14 mile round trip to get to the arch, which probably has some impact on its popularity.  The fact that it’s a 30-45 minute drive out of the park and to a entirely different area also probably has something to do with it.

We started at Lee’s Pass Trailhead and descended into the valley wrapping around to follow LaVerkin Creek for a while and then following one of it’s tributaries up to the arch itself.  It was often obvious that this was a drier time for the area as there were lots of temporary riverbeds and a few would have been waterfalls had there been more recent rain. Continue reading

Grand Canyon Trip – Day 3 – Zion National Park

First order of business for day three was moving to the Zion campground, because 1) I don’t like spending money and 2) when we pack a tent across the country, I get very disappointed when it doesn’t get used.  The campground was full, but we got there early enough that there was just a small line and the ranger was letting cars in as people departed for the day.  This meant we weren’t going to get much choice on sites, but we lucked out and got a site along the river.

Observation Point

Since I chickened out on Angel’s Landing the previous day, our primary hike for the day was going to be Observation Point – a longer hike that starts a bit further into the canyon and ends up above Angel’s Landing, but with less clinging to rocks.

The trail starts out with a lot of switchbacks, then leveled out for a while as it and went through a nice little slot canyon section.  This was probably the coolest individual section of trail and we stopped for picture time on the way down.  After that, the switchbacks resumed and then a final long, gradual climb around the rim of the plateau to the point itself, which is the highest viewpoint in the park and overlooks Angel’s Landing.

I think we started up sometime after 11, which meant we were climbing during the hottest part of the day, which is generally a bad plan, but it was also early season, so we got away with it.  There is apparently also a trail to access the point from the top, so you technically don’t have to drive into Zion to get to the point and could backpack down into the canyon from there.

Observation Point is a pretty broad point – there’s a large area at the top where hikers kind of mill about, rest, have snacks, etc.  There is a geological survey marker at the point, so you know you’ve achieved something.  If you leave your backpack for more than a minute or two with food inside, the chipmunks will try to help themselves to your snacks as well. Continue reading

Grand Canyon Trip – Day 2 – Zion National Park

As mentioned previously, we decided to get up and head out in the early AM and try our luck getting passes for The Wave at the visitor center in Kanab, UT.  We made two mistakes in this adventure.

We arrived at about 8:50, just before the 9:00 lottery, except that we were still on Arizona (Mountain) time and Utah is on Pacific Time.  We were 50 minutes too late.  This was soon discovered to be completely irrelevant though, since they had also gotten rain recently and apparently a high clearance, 4WD vehicle was the baseline requirement for getting to the trailhead… We had a Prius.

So, armed with the advice of the ranger at the visitor center, we headed to Zion, which was reportedly going to be less stormtastic over the upcoming days.  There are definitely other cools things to see and do around the Kanab area, but we hadn’t really planned any and would have been playing a guessing game against the storms, so a return trip to Zion seemed to be the best option. Continue reading

Grand Canyon Trip – Day 1

Reporting on a recent trip that Janet and I took to the Grand Canyon…

Obligatory Moose

We flew out to Las Vegas on Saturday and, in the standard fashion, got a car and made a stop for food and other non-packed supplies, and headed toward the Grand Canyon South Rim.  We didn’t intend to make it all the way to the Grand Canyon.

Janet had found an incredibly cheap hotel, the Ash Fork Inn in Ash Fork, UT.   I think the realization that this might be somewhat questionable started when the hotel did not show up on in the right place on TomTom or Google maps.  Upon arriving, we realized it was exactly what one might expect for the price.  It was certainly the most rundown hotel I’ve stayed in in the US and maybe anywhere, but it was sufficient for somewhere to sleep.  I am also delighted that the most run down accommodation award is no longer owned by me, and not likely to be reclaimed unless we count making her stay in campgrounds. Continue reading

Murano Glass Shop

Glass Blowers

A different kind of picture from Italy.  Taken from Murano Island off of Venice where much of the fancy hand blown glassware that the place is famous for is made.  I didn’t make it out to the island when I was in Italy in 2001, so it was kind of my goal to get out there in the 2011 version of the trip.  I think it’s kind of a cool picture of the shop, and I’m entertained by the apparent lack of concern by anyone to the cigarette hanging out of the one worker’s mouth.

Pictures taken with Canon 60D, EF-S 17-85mm lens @ 66mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec, ISO 400

Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore

By the time we got to Riomaggiore it was pretty much night – we went into town and got a few beers, walked back out to the point to watch the sunset and drink our beers and then hiked up the hill over the town while waiting for the train.  I suspect Riomaggiore was the smallest of the towns and the least touristy, you can see the train station is pretty minimal.

Pictures taken with Canon 60D, EF-S 10-22mm lens @ 10mm, f/3.5, 1/13 sec, ISO 1600

Cinque Terre – Vernazza

Vernazza

OK, last one of Vernazza… Looking back as we were hiking out of town.  I’m not sure why I have a disproportionate number of pictures from Vernazza – must have been the most picturesque town of the five.

Pictures taken with Canon 60D, EF-S 10-22mm lens @ 17mm, f/16, 1/160 sec, ISO 400