Monday, April 14, 2014

Utah State Goblins

Everything around Moab was far more busy than I'd expected.  Any campground I'd wanted to stay in was fully booked.  Obviously a new plan was needed.

Some time was spent consulting the map and my several hiking books to find some place interesting that I hadn't been to before.

Eventually I settled on Goblin Valley state park.  After a quiet night out on the desert, I visited the park first thing in the morning.  No surprise, their little campground was full but I was able to spend a few hours wandering around the goblins.  It was fun for awhile.  It's a place that kids would really enjoy.

More of southern Utah.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Out of the Canyon - Recovery

Recovery from the Tonto Plateau hike started as soon as I reached van.  After the hike, the climb out of the Canyon and the bike ride, I was so tired and hungry I could barely stand.  One beer, cheese, crackers...they helped immediately.  Then on to a cola, then another beer.  Other than stepping down from the van, I was starting to feel almost normal.

After 3 days living mostly on home-made energy bars (see picture .. thanks to Andrew for that suggestion..) which were quite good, I enjoyed reheated pizza and more beer for supper, followed by honey curd muslei (something I learned about in Nepal) for dessert.

After a good, quiet night's sleep in the Kaibab National Forest, I started the day with sausage, turkey bacon and poached eggs.

In the coolness of a beautiful morning, I headed down off the Coconino plateau towards the Painted Desert, en route to Moab, with Toto's "Africa" playing on the iPod.  With admirable tech-gadget prescience, the iPod quickly moved on to Charlie Daniel's "The Diet Song", surely nothing to do with the breakfast I'd just had.

Recovery day is starting out well.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Below the Rim - Day 3

An early start today.  Underway by 6:10 am.  Morning is probably the best time to hike in the canyon.  Cool, quiet... Well, it's usually quiet down here....

It took an hour to reach the South Kaibab trail.  Still too early for the hordes.  Not a soul in sight.  Continued along the Tonto trail and made the 4.5 miles to Indian Gardens in 1:45.  A few people moving and hiking.  After a short rest, I headed up.  It took 3.5 hours to reach the top.  Along the way, many people, a chopper to rescue someone who fell off a horse, a few backpackers....  At least most of this trail was in the shade.

Took the shuttle bus to get my bike, stashed my pack, rode about 9 miles to where the van was parked.  My legs almost didn't make it.  Drove back, got my pack, rehydrating as I went :-)

A nice hike.  Interesting.  One area I've wanted to hike for some time now.  Quiet.  Very few people, considering the hordes on the rim, several condors flying past, warm, dusty, not much water, some challenges but easier than I'd expected.

Below the Rim, the only place to be in the Grand Canyon.

Below the Rim - Day 2

Night comes early down in the canyon.  I managed to read for awhile, but despite being tired and a bit sore, it took some time to fall asleep last evening.

About 1:30am I stuck my head out of my tent to admire the rim to rim star scene.

It was pleasantly cool in the morning and I was walking by 6:30 am.  The next water source was about 8 miles away but the hiking was fast and I covered the distance in less than 4 hours.  I don't want to trivialize the seriousness of this area for hiking, but it seems easy and I'm covering distance faster than expected.  The current plan is to be out a day earlier and go further, coming out on the Bright Angel trail.

The weather is about perfect, blue skies, nice gentle breezes and not too warm.

I stopped at Lonetree, a gully with water and shade.  Rested there for almost 4 hours before making the 90 minute walk to the "Cremation" valley where I planned to spend the night.  It was pretty warm when I stopped, one toe was complaining, but I can see the South Kaibab trail from here.  Less than an hour's walk should get me there. 

My plan is to continue on another 2 hours to Indian Gardens where there is water and an easier trail to the top.  With any luck, I could be at the top by lunch.

The sun has gone down and the half moon is above.  Should be back on the trail in 12 hours.

The trail continues...

Below the Rim - Day 1

After storing my bike to use at the end of the hike to retrieve my van, I drove to Grandview Point, the "jumping off point" of my hike.  By 9 am I was slowly making my way down, dropping hundreds of feet of elevation in a couple of hours.

By lunch, I had reached the Tonto plateau, along which I'll hike for the next 3 or 4 days.

It was warmer as I descended, pungent odors from some bushes reached my nose and tiny lizards dashing off the trail as I approached.

I stopped a couple of times for water and a rest, but it wasn't really hot and there were pleasant breezes along most of the trail.

At one point, I had views of the Colorado, still another 1400 feet below.

I stopped at one little seep of water and filtered some to top up, not being completely sure where the next supply might be.  Half an hour further on, I came to Grapevine "Falls" (actually Grapevine Springs), where there was more water and a good place to camp for the night.  My tent site is already in the shade as the sun drops behind a ridge.  It's been a 10 mile day and time for some rest.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Hiking preparations

I probably should have expected this, but our previous backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon lulled me into an obviously false lack of urgency.  Consequently, I arrived here today to find that it just won't be possible to do the trail I wanted to do.  All booked up.

A few minutes of head scratching got me settled on a good alternate, still involving 3 nights out on the Tonto plateau doing a loop trail from Grandview point to Yaki point.  I could have started on Friday but decided that an extra day for preparation would be better.  I can also rest, tank up on water, eat hearty and pack.  Some biking might be good too.

This trip I'm not taking a stove.  Just food I can eat without heating, including these energy bars that I made.  So, we will see.  There will be one night and the day I hike out that won't have water.  The other days will have reliable water.

Anyhow, I guess I'd better get at my preparations and planning.

Migration .. Not the Answer Yet

Part of my motivation in making the long drive to Arizona was to find some heat.  It's been cool at home and spring has been reluctant, to say the least.

Now, camped on the Colorado River,  two long days of driving south, I've actually driven thru more snow than we had at home.  Its been cold, too.

I will admit that its somewhat warmer here on the Colorado, perhaps +11C, but it's been cool all day.  Not much incentive to stop for walks.  More weird weather caused by climate change??

In any case, I'm within 2 hours of the Canyon so I don't need to press quite as hard tomorrow.  There won't be much sense in starting my backpacking trip until it's a bit warmer.