Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Arches NP (Delicate Arch Trail)

Posted from Moab, UT    (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

For a complete look at the pictures related to this blog post,
please click HERE to view our Google Photo Album.

On Saturday we returned to Arches National Park to hike the Delicate Arch Trail.  You can actually see the Delicate Arch via two routes.  You can drive to the end of the paved road and take a short hike up to the Upper and Lower Delicate Arch Viewing Points or you can hike 3.0 miles roundtrip up to the arch across slickrock and steep climbs.

Of course, you probably knew which route we chose already.  There were a bunch of folks out on the longer trail on this Saturday.  Actually, a bit more than I like when hiking, but hey, when you start midday that's what happens.

The first half mile or so really wasn't too taxing, but then it got a bit steeper.  I'm not doing any type of photo effect in this picture.  It really was this steep.

The hardest (read heart-pounding) part of the entire trail was the uphill climb across a pretty large expanse of slickrock.  We stopped to take lots of pictures in this section.  (That's code for stopping to catch our breath.)

We finally made it to the top after walking along a narrow ledge area.  The first glimpse of Delicate Arch was truly impressive.

Here's a bit closer picture of the arch. Notice the size of the people nearby for scale.  I believe this is the arch used on the Utah state license plate.

It's hard to express what a "neat" area this is up here.  Just below the arch is a huge basin area. It's not really "hikeable" from this position as the slickrock is steep and there is no real way to safely traverse it.

This is the view looking north from the rocks surrounding the arch.

Here's a better look at the arch from rocks slightly higher on the north side.

This is the area where the previous picture was taken, and also the rocks where we decided to stop and eat lunch.  The temperature was in the lower 80's and there was a nice breeze blowing.

We finally pulled ourselves away from this beautiful location and began the walk back to the trailhead.  On the return trip, there is a small detour trail which takes you to a rock wall showing some Ute petroglyphs. Interesting to look at, but the nearby sign could only narrow down their origins to between 1650 and 1850. It would seem that a better estimation of creation would be possible.

Excellent hike!  We really enjoyed this one.  The next post will include an even "neater" hike. Stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dead Horse Point State Park

Posted from Moab, UT  (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

For additional pictures on this park,  click HERE.

On Friday we decided to take a break from Arches National Park and branch out a bit to see other attractions in the area.  We had been referred to Dead Horse Point State Park by several blog readers, so off we went. This Utah state park is located off of Rt. 313, the same route you'd take to enter the northern  section of Canyonlands National Park.

Ok, before I get into today's blog and pictures, you're probably wondering how this park got its' name.  I know I was.  Let me just cite the Wikopedia origin of the name.  This is also the story put forth in the visitor's center at the park.

From Wikopedia:
According to one legend, around the turn of the century the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up these horses, herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only 30-yards-wide, was then fenced off with branches and brush.
This created a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs straight down on all sides, affording no escape. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and let the culls or broomtails go free. One time, for some unknown reason, horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

First, a trip to the visitor's center was in order to get an overview of the park and pick up a trail map.

We initially decided to just hike the East Rim Trail and return the same way to the visitor's center because it was only 1.5 miles each direction. By the time we got to the Point, we changed our minds and took the 2.5 mile West Rim Trail back.  I'm glad we did because of the different views. Here's Karen starting out on the trail.

The first views we had over the east rim were pretty impressive. The blue ponds in the distance are potash ponds.

As we neared the Point, a re-created brush line has been set in place to show how the cowboys closed off the area to enclose the wild horses.  Remember, the area is separated from the main plateau by an area only about 30 feet in width.

Rather than show multiple pictures looking off the edge of the Point I shot a short video to give everyone a better feeling for the depth and distance of this area.

           (Video best viewed in full screen and 1080p resolution.)

Of course, if not interested in hiking, you can drive all the way to the end of the Point.  There were a couple of tour buses which had just "unloaded" prior to our arrival.  There was a pretty neat looking restored RV in the lot.  Anyone have an idea who made this?  All of the identifying decals and maker marks had been removed.

Here's a shelter up near the observation point.  It was a nice shady place to eat lunch.

Soon it was time to begin the trek back to the visitor's center. We chose to take the West Rim Trail for the different views.

We encountered only one other couple along the entire hike back.  The views were excellent.

Here's a picture of Karen with the Colorado River far below in the rear.

The next two pictures were taken from the West Rim Overlook.  This was a HUGE solid piece of slickrock overlooking a great expanse.

This strange rock formation was positioned on the edge of the slickrock.  I'm not sure how it was formed, but interesting to look at nonetheless.

I'll end today's blog with a panorama view of Shafer Canyon.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Movin' On to Moab

Posted from Moab, UT      (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

Click HERE to check out our Google+ Album for MANY additional pics.

Last Tuesday we left Capitol Reef NP (Torrey, UT) and traveled to Moab, UT.  Our intention while here is to visit Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and possibly Canyonlands National Park.  Quite a tall order in the number of days we have allocated.

As we always do once arriving in a new area, we first make a visit the Visitor's Center of the park we intend to explore.  We've never been in this area of Utah at this time of the year, so we didn't realize how busy it would be.  There are a lot of folks visiting during this cooler time of the year.

The first day here we just went inside the Visitor's Center, watched a video, picked up some maps, and made a drive thru of the park without taking too many pictures.

The first mile or so is a steep drive.  The first pullout shows the Moab "fault line" and allows you to take a first look at the surrounding cliffs. The Visitor's Center is located near the center in this picture.

Ok.  It's now Day2 and time to do some hiking. We originally decided to do the trails in the "Windows Section" of the park, but later added the Park Avenue Trail later on the same day.

We didn't even get to the first trail when it was time for a pullout.  We're stopped here at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint and looking at a formation nicknamed the "Three Gossips".

Here's a closer view of the "Three Gossips".

Our first stop was to visit one of the park's more famous formations called "Balance Rock".  This was a short 0.3 mile walk from the pullout to the formation.  "Balance Rock" has a total height of 128 feet and the boulder at the top is 55 feet in height. The rock holding up the large boulder at the top is eroding faster than the boulder, so eventually the "Balance Rock" will fall and be gone forever.

Moving toward our first hike we parked in the "Windows Section" to visit "Double Arch".  This rock formation is 0.5 mile from the parking area and a very popular point for visitors. This was a pretty cool formation.

Walking directly from "Double Arch" we headed toward the "Windows" via the primitive trail. This trail leads behind the "South Window" (on the left side) and the "North Window" (on the right).  It was a lot quieter behind the rocks because most folks just take the shorter hike from the parking area to the front side of the "Windows".

We also found this a quiet place to take a lunch break. Not one person passed by on this trail during the entire time we stopped for lunch.

Continuing along the trail, we next came to "Turret Arch".  Some of these formations need a bit of an imagination to visualize.

We also decided to hike the Park Avenue Trail before calling it a day.  This trail is listed as 1.0 mile in each direction as has trailhead access at two different points along the park's main road. We decided to begin the hike at the "Courthouse Towers Viewpoint" lot and we were glad we did. The first half of the hike is slowly uphill, so the return trip was much easier.

The area was first named "Park Avenue" because early explorers thought that the towering walls and formations reminded them of buildings in New York City.

Much of the hike is along a wash which runs thru the area.  There was absolutely no water present today, but the movement of the water on the rocks is beautifully evident as you hike.

Another view of the walls along the trail.

Our view at the end of our "out" portion of the hike was stunning. This was also near the other parking area for the trail and quite crowded with tourists.  The good thing is that most don't hike the trails, but only take pictures from the top, so the trail wasn't crowded.

It was a good first day of hiking in Arches National Park.  Don't forget to take a look at many more pictures in our Google+ album which didn't make it into today's blog.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Day 3 at Capitol Reef

Posted from Moab, UT    (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

To see additional pics for the Grand Wash Trail click HERE.

Saturday 9/20 turned out to be our last day of doing any real activities in the park.  We had anticipated going on another hike on Sunday, but it rained on and off most of the day and we just didn't feel like venturing onto the trails in the rain.

Saturday found us hiking the "Grand Wash" trail.  Although this might sound like a boring day of doing laundry, it turned out much better.  The Grand Wash Trail is approximately 2.2 miles each way and the trailheads can be located from either the side of the road in a parking area along US24 or you can access the other end from the Scenic Drive and traveled on a dusty, gravelly 1.3 mile drive at the end of Grand Wash Road.

We decided that the Fit was filthy enough already, so we decided to enter from the US24 side. The elevation change is very little throughout the entire hike. The trail is wide at this point.

After a short distance the trail begins to narrow and the canyon walls close in on the wash.

As always, the scenery along the trails is amazing.  The colors of the rock are constantly changing throughout the hike.  Really nice vertical striations along the walls here.

Here we are following the wash not too far from parking area mentioned earlier off of the Grand Wash Road.

Here's a picture of the parking area taken from a rock ledge across from that area.

This side of the trail was in total shade and because we were out hiking in the hotter part of the afternoon, we decided that this would be a nice spot for a lunch break.  Cool, quite, and beautiful views!

After a short rest it was time to start the hike back toward our start along US24.  Here's a picture looking back in that direction.

It's amazing how different the rocks and features look on the same trail when the route is reversed. Here I located a nice alcove for a breather.

Along the same line of thought, we never saw this formation on the way in.  Doesn't it look like a skull?

I guess a few rocks had shifted since we entered, so Karen was put to work clearing the trail.

I'm not a geologist, so I won't even begin to talk about rock formations, but I do like the results which nature provides for us.

We saw many examples throughout the park of rocks like this one.  I just thought it was a "cool" rock, so I took a picture.

We were really sorry not to be able to hike another trail on Sunday, but we were very impressed by this lesser known National Park.  If you are ever in this part of the state you might want to spend a few days here.

Onward to Moab as of Monday (9/22).

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!