Friday, October 29, 2010

Back in Tucson

We have returned to Tucson. It's warm and nice. We're a little tired, and glad to be here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On the Way Home

We're at the Wahweap campground in Page, AZ. I'm running out of superlatives for this part of the country. If you haven't been here, you're missing out.

We expect to be back in Tucson on Friday.

Excursion Through Egypt One

Tuesday Kim, Jim squared and I went canyoneering with Escalante Excursions. It was an amazing experience. Here is the canyon opening. Before one canyoneers, one must get down there. One rappels into the canyon.

Play this AVI. I was first up to go over the edge.

I felt very ungainly - especially after watching Rick go down it gracefully and with twinkle toes.

Here is Jim.

Here is my Jim.

Here is Kim.

After we were all down, basic skills were taught. At this point, I still had no idea what to expect from the day. Basic skill instruction suggested this would be more than just a hike. This is a sitting bridge, it's used to get across something too deep or narrow to walk through. You press your butt against the wall with your feet, and then use your arms to help ooch your butt along.

This is a body bridge. Feet and hands move you along. I think it's less intimidating than the sitting bridge.

Rick and Mac were the guides. They were really good. Here is Rick helping Jim with foot placement. Note the mud on Jim's shoe.

This is when it really hit me that this was an outing with possible consequences. Slipping here would have been bad. Notice how Jim's backpack is dangling from his harness.

This is why one goes into the canyons. Just beautiful.

I had a fair amount of anxiety with this drop, at one point I thought I might freeze from fear. My harness was getting caught on the ridges of the wall and I was stuck. It took arms to get the butt away from the wall enough to move down.

Narrow! Really narrow. One foot in front of the other.

Rick was always ready to lend a hand.

Look behind us, see where we've been.

More narrowness.

There were 3 rappels. I like doing that, it's not scary and is fun.

Jim is having fun.

Mac and Rick are like lizards. Their feet are sticky. My goal right there was to keep my feet out of the water.

More canyon magnificence.

I'm not sure I would call this fun. It was challenging and exhilarating. It's a tough sport, both on your clothing and your body. At the end of it, I was dirtier than I have ever been in my life.

Thanks to Kim for photos.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Calf Creek Hike Movie

Kim did a cool movie of the Calf Creek hike. It can be found here. Click on the word here and be transported to a really fabulous place in Utah.

Chicken in a Can

Escalante is a very small town, blink and you'll miss it. They have a very small grocery store. Prices are still stuck on to each item, there is no bar coding here. However, they do have chicken in a can. I have never seen this before. Kim bought one. I should say now that vegetarians may want to move off of this page. I find the chicken strangely compelling.

The can was just a bear to get open. I think it's heavy duty metal. What you're looking at here are the ends of the legs and the chicken's butt. They really did put a chicken neck first into the can.

He looks somewhat forlorn in the pot.

Kim skinned and boned the chicken, shredded the meat, sieved the stock (it was actually low in sodium) and made what was unquestionably the best chicken and rice soup I have ever eaten. Jim and I kept trying to eat more, but we were too full. Who would have thought this would be the starting point for such a culinary tour de force?

Calf Creek Hike to the Falls

Sunday (10/24) we did the Calf Creek Hike, it was 6 miles round trip. It's a very nice hike, with lots to look at.

The black strips are called varnish. Rain dissolves minerals which streaks the sandstone. Bacteria also fix the minerals to the rock. The darker the varnish, the older it is.

There were pictographs across the creek from us.

Our first glimpse of the falls.

Kim, Jim, Jim & me.

I had to move away from the falls, there was a lot of wind and mist, which was making it cold. Look dead center in the photo, there's a gray bird. He would bounce for awhile, sing a little, and look around.

Then he jumped into the water and stuck his head in, looking for bugs I suppose. After doing that for awhile, he allowed himself to be carried downstream a little.

On the way back, we saw a snake.

The Calf Creek trail head is in the Calf Creek campground, east of Escalante.

Kodachrome Basin - Shakespeare Arch & Angel's Palace

This post is from our travels Saturday, 10/23. It's no wonder I've been confused as to what happened on a given day, I had the date on my camera set wrong.
This is Kodachrome Basin. More beauty abounds. Look at the hay bales foreground in the picture, see the little black blobs? Those are wild turkeys.

Our first hike took us to Shakespeare Arch. It is not the most impressive arch in Utah.

It was a trail with a lot of up and down.

There was a lot of side hill.

There was much scenery.

This was posted at the rest rooms at the base of another trail. I just love the part about mud swallowing vehicles.

Then it was on to Angel's Palace.

It was a fairly easy trail, which was nice. It climbed up to the top of a rock formation, and wound around for while with views of what was below.

There were fins we could walk out onto. It was pretty cool that I was out there at the end. I'm doing much better with the heights. My peripheral vision still flickers a little when there's nothing on either side of me, but it's not as bad as it has been. I think mountain biking side hill trails has helped get it back under control.

Look at this sky. Doesn't it look threatening? It's part of the weather system here that looks evil and then just sprinkles. More on that later.

Kodachrome Basin is another stunning park among many stunning parks.

Thanks to Kim for her photos of me and Angel's Palace.

Capital Reef, Petroglyphs, Hickman Bridge

Greetings. Here is my travel reportage from Friday, 10/22. It's only been a couple of days, but Jim and I are already forgetting where we've been. So sad, a brain is a terrible thing to lose.
There was a spectacular sunset on Thursday night. Kim and I stood outside and took many pictures. It was pretty dang impressive.

Friday we headed out to Capital Reef. It's another national park with stunning scenery. To get there, one drives east on Highway 12 from Escalante. We had given some thought to exiting the area via this route to avoid a 12% grade that lies in our path back to Tucson. After seeing this road, however, that notion was abandoned with vigor. It has a 14% grade and many more hills. I'll take the 12% thank you very much.
So, this is on the way to Capital Reef at about 9,800 feet. It was an atmospheric kind of day with clouds and mist contrasting with the brilliant color of the Aspens.

Look in the upper third of the photo, you can just make out the mountains in the distance.

Here we are at Capital Reef.

This is a hike through the Capital Gorge. Imagine you are a Mormon settler on your way west. This is part of the route you traveled. Those people were tough.

There is a flat section of a wall called the Pioneer Register, where pioneers would carve their names into the sandstone.

The weather here has been aggravating. Cold damp impulses come through, and one would swear the skies were going to open up and rain pigs and chickens; but then it only sprinkles. Fearing the pigs and chickens, we cut the Gorge hike short and headed out to see the petroglyphs. This is what we saw on the way to there.

Here we are at the petroglyphs. Fortunately these are inaccessible, and have not been defaced by the little taggers who feel they must write all over everything.

Then it was on to the walk to see the Hickman Bridge. Again we got psyched out by the weather, and decided to abandon before reaching the final destination. It was a pretty hike with massive scenery.

More scenery on the way out of the park.

So our key learnings from that day were as follows.
- Always take the hiking poles, no matter how benign the beginning of a trail looks, it can change
- Always wear the hiking boots, see above
- Always take the rain jackets, they prevent rain

I've also learned from Kim to take pictures of the park entrance signs, so that when one goes back to look at the pictures, one knows where they were taken.