Monday, April 30, 2012

Hike to Calf Creek Falls

Tuesday April 24th – We got out to hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls. This is a mostly level 6 miles round trip hike out to the falls. This hike is rated moderately difficult due to the sand trail (sand is tough to walk in!) We decided to take Jade, to see how she would do on a longer walk. 


Jade, of course, LOVES to get out…..


She may not have appreciated the scenery….


And unusual rock formations……


Even some pictographs from the Ancient Native Americans…..but we did.

We had started out about 9:15 am, but the weather was warming up fast! Before long, we were HOT, and so was Jade!


Jade enjoyed a cooling dip in Calf Creek whenever we got close. The 3 miles turned into a bit of a slog….hike a bit… off….drink water…..hike on…..We were both thinking “I sure hope this waterfall is worth the effort!”

It was!


A BEAUTIFUL 126 foot falls flowing into a lovely basin. A sand beach cove with shade to sit in. The mist from the falls kept the whole area cool……It could not have been more perfect!



The wet rock had an emerald green algae growing on it……almost florescent.


And the water was a lovely blue/green.

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We stayed for an hour…..had our lunch…..people watched. We posed for a picture…..and Jade got her picture taken, too…..Then, reluctantly, we started back.

The trek back was hotter, but at least we knew what to expect. Jade got tired (so did we) and her back leg began to give out a bit. (Jade is 9 years old, and suffers from a bit of arthritis). We worried that we might have to carry her…..not sure how. But, we rested often, and Jade was a trooper……and we all made it back to the truck on our own feet.

When we got home to the camper, we crashed…..worn out from the heat and the 6 miles in the sand. By morning, Jade had recuperated just fine, but we had pushed her limits.

Like many good things, you have to work to see them. The hike had been worth the effort……and the waterfall was FANTASTIC……I am SO  glad the we had seen this! Jade, however, adds a worry while we are hiking. And, as for her enjoyment, she is just as content with a good walk around the campground. This is how things sometimes are……trial and error….and and a lot of learning ‘on the fly’. I think, that from now on, we will limit Jade to 3-4 miles or less.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shooting Stars

Sunday, April 22, 2012 – The weekend came, and with it came an influx of people into Zion NP. By Friday evening, the campground was buzzing with kids and families. On Saturday morning, the trails were crowded by 9am. It seemed like a good time to move on. We felt that we had seen most of what we wanted to see at Zion, so we hitched up and headed eastward on Hwy 12 to Escalante and the Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream Resort.

We had read about this RV Park in the Airstream Life magazine. The owners had indulged themselves in bringing back a bit of nostalgia, and blended their love of old classic films with their classic car collection,  and had found a place for their remolded Airstreams which they rent out. (More on this, later)

When we arrived, we found that we were one of two RV campers in the park. We had the place to ourselves. The accommodations were simple….electric and water….parked out in a field. No shade, but a lovely breeze to cool things down. And space…..and freedom for Jade! Finally, a place where she could chase her ball!


This was just the change of pace we needed…..quiet….peaceful…..a chance to sit outside and watch Jade ‘watching’ the world around her. No crowds ……just a lovely sunset…..



Saturday, April 28, 2012

The ‘Sanctuary’ of Echo Canyon….

We had hiked most of the popular trails in Zion NP, and though most were  impressive, we had not found that feeling that we had been looking for until we discovered Echo Canyon, a slot canyon on the way up to Observation Point.


When we entered this canyon, we knew that this was it. This place…. at this moment was just right…..We had found the place that would define Zion for us.


‘Zion’ means a place of sanctuary…….you could feel the serenity in this small canyon…..

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The rocks had been smoothed by the water……


Creating a sense of softness……reminding one of beaches and sea shells…..and of things worn soft by time.

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The sculpted stone and pastel colors……


Enveloped one……


Creating, not a cathedral...…but a chapel…..


Where a Canyon Wren’s solitary birdsong, accompanied by the sound of water trickling in the deepest parts of the canyon provided the music…….

And a feeling of hushed reverence was shared by all who entered…….

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beauty in The Canyon

There is such beauty…..especially at this time of the year! It seems that we cannot pass by the flowers without catching a picture or two (or more!). Fred has gotten really good with the camera, and seems to take most of the pictures of flowers…..


This patch of Indian Paintbrush was growing in a small niche in the canyon wall. This photo is taken looking UP.


Some growing a little closer to the ground……


Beautiful blue and purple flowers…… (We do not know the names of most of these flowers)


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These wild flowers were just so unique…..


We ‘spotted’ this spotted Towhee…..


And any number of mule deer. The mule deer seem to go blissfully about their browsing without even noticing us.


And this wild turkey was in no hurry……It looks just like the ones you see in the pictures at Thanksgiving.

We have plenty of deer and even wild turkeys at our cabin in Louisiana, but they do not stop to have their picture taken. They have to worry about ending up on someone’s dinner plate!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hiking Zion

We really did much of our sightseeing of Zion by hiking the trails. With the park Map and Guide in hand, we would catch the shuttle bus at the Visitor’s Center (which was a quick 10 min walk from our camper), get off at the appropriate stop, and hike for several hours….sometimes having lunch on the trail.


A number of the hiking trails were fairly straightforward. It surprised us to find a ‘hardened’ or mostly paved surface, like on this section of trail on the way to Angel’s landing…….


And some of the trails were pretty easy, not too steep… the trail to the Emerald Pools…….


Or this completely accessible trail, the Riverside Walk……


Other trails began to get a bit steeper and more challenging……This is heading up to Scout Lookout, on the way to Angel’s Landing.


Sections of the trail are built up along the side of the cliff face……


And make some pretty steep little switchbacks like here at ‘Walter’s Wiggles’.


Angel’s Landing is one of the most popular and certainly the most talked about hike at Zion…not particularly because it is the most spectacular…..but because the last mile of this hike becomes very challenging……It climbs up the red rocked cliff face in this picture, then crosses a narrow spine to the top of the whiter cliff just behind it (in the center of this picture). The flat topped cliff to the left of the picture is named the Great White Throne.


This section of trail climbs steeply. There are chains for hanging onto…..


But the footing can be very NARROW and the drop-off ….sheer. This is a picture that Fred took of his foot. This trail is noted to not be for anyone who is afraid of heights…….

I did not really feel drawn to this hike ….and I knew that I would not find it particularly enjoyable (that is a nice way of saying that I would be mostly terrified!). I did not feel that I would be missing anything….. so, I enjoyed the view from where I was, while Fred (who does not mind the heights) hiked on up just to see what ‘all the fuss’ was about.


This is Scout Lookout…….where I sat and waited for Fred to come back from the top of Angel’s Landing. (That is me, center right in this group of people, with a hat on. Fred took this photo from the top of Angel’s Landing. Pretty good zoom!)

While I sat at Scout Lookout, I listened to the bit of conversations going on around me….as people decided whether they would tackle the last mile…..Some people felt drawn to it….for the view…or for the challenge. Some with something to prove, or not wanting to miss anything, or just to keep up with others in their group. Some started up the trail…only to decide that it just wasn’t for them. Others made it to the top, and back…exhilarated with the accomplishment.

Later, while hiking a section of Hidden Canyon Trail……I encountered a bit of a challenging trail….


And managed to ‘hang in there’……getting through that section without any problem.

Zion certainly has something for everyone……and the beauty can be appreciated from the bottom…the top….and all the way in between!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Water in a Desert Canyon

I had mentioned that it was water that brought people to the Zion region…….but, before that, it was water that carved and created this landscape.


The power of water…….steady, flowing, relentlessly seeking the lower level….periodically bursting forth in flood….. scouring out the canyon ……Virgin River carved through this portion of the Colorado Plateau much as the Colorado River did at the Grand Canyon. Water in an arid landscape creates canyon walls with eroding edges….in a wetter climate, you would have just wide valleys.


Along the side canyons, water flows from tributaries across the plateau….


To cascade out over the canyon in  waterfalls…….more dramatic after rains or snow melt…but very pretty, here.


Tracing upstream to pools such as this …..named Emerald Pool for the green color of the algae which is more visible sometimes than others. (It did not look green to me, just sort-of muddy brown).


Ground water on the canyon rim also seeps through porous layers of sandstone to emerge (as much as 1,000 – 4,000 years later) as springs such as this one at Weeping Rock…… giving rise to wonderfully green ‘hanging gardens’.


Water was frequently, the destination for the hiking trails…..the Emerald Pools Trail, The Weeping Rock Trail, The Water Falls, The Riverside walk, etc.


Here, at the end of the Riverside Walk the river becomes the trail…..the Narrows… just wade right up the river as the canyon walls get closer and closer together. We were not able to hike the Narrows. It was, unfortunately,  closed beyond this point due to high water levels……the power of water is not to be taken lightly…….