Category Archives: Hiking

Zion and Arches National Park 12/08-01/09

Extra vacation days at the end of the year made for an opportunity to head to Southern Utah and check out Zion in the winter again. The snow had hit the area pretty good. The campground at the park entrance had all melted off, but once you got into the main areas of the park, there was a lot of snow. There was a lot of limited access on the trails due to ice and the risk of falling ice. We went up to the West side of Zion which typically is fairly accessible due to the sun it gets, but there was still a few feet on the ground. Checkerboard Mesa was buried, with no hint of the underlying rock. We explored a bit in the backcountry, but we weren’t dressed for it since we had just gotten into the area, and we could’ve used some snowshoes to get out a bit further.

Our second day we went up into the Emerald Pools. The lower pool trail was closed at the pool due to a sheet of ice on the trail, and an iced over railing. We had ice traction on our feet, so we got through that no problem. The water was flowing nicely in the waterfalls and made for some cool shots. As usual, the middle pool was unremarkeable…The upper pool had a few sections that were ice as well, making some difficult trekking for those without traction. The upper pool was mostly frozen, with a gorgeous waterfall coming down into it. After that we ventured down the river walk, by the Narrows a little until we hit the spot where it was closed off.

With the conditions we had, we decided to move on somewhere else, so we took off to Page for the night, and then on to Moab through Monument Valley. That’s always a cool area of the country to drive through. We had enough time to get up into Arches and hike to the tunnel I had heard about. It was pretty easy to get to, even with a layer of snow on the ground. There were a lot of other recent footprints, but we didn’t see anyone else. I only had a vague idea of its location from what I studied on Google Earth 4 months back, but we made it up there in good time. It’s really cool to see a natural feature like that, and getting into the Arches backcountry is something I have wanted to do for a while. I want to get back there a lot more in the coming year. The next day we visited Landscape Arch. There was quite a bit more snow in that area of the park. I still can’t believe that arch is still standing. It barely has any depth to it on the right side. I went there with the full intention of seeing it for the last time. Speaking of, I headed up the trail to see the remains of Wall Arch. It’s hard to tell that anything was there, except for the debris on the ground.

View photos from this trip

Zion National Park – Backcountry Stuff

I was really looking forward to getting down to Southern Utah, just hoping beyond hope that it would be kinda warm, and that I wouldn’t have to see any snow until I got home. Looking at recent pics of Zion showing huge icicles, and snow galore didn’t phaze me. I honestly realized it was gonna be cold part of the time, but I just psyched myself out to feel better.

To help with the cold I picked up the Kelty Light Stalker 5° sleeping bag. It’s made exclusively for Sportsmans Warehouse. It’s got a mummy hood, but rectangular bottom. You can unzip it all the way to make a blanket if it’s warm. The one I bought was 650 down. That bag has some crazy loft. There are hardly any draft tubes for the zipper, just an inch wide flap that covers it up, but I didn’t notice any exceptional problems with this. The advertised length is 80″ they don’t translate that into height tho. The regular size is sized for someone under 6′, and the long adds the standard 6″. The temps dropped to around 20° the first night. I had my light thermals, and a fleece jacket on. I ditched the jacket cause I was too hot in the bag. The bag was awesome, but my Big Agnes pad couldn’t provide enough insulation against the cold – it wasn’t bad, but it was enough to keep me awake. I’ve slept on it in colder conditions but it was in a synthetic fill bag which keeps more insulation on the bottom when it’s compressed than down. So around 4am I crawled into my truck cab and shivered for 10 min till I was warm again. Just when I started to get some real sleep, the alarm went off.

The meeting time for Saturday morning was 7am. Uggghhhh. It was still dark, and Springdale was still asleep, so no real breakfast, just protein shake. It started to lighten up a bit when we started across the bridge at the trailhead. When we were approaching Walters Wiggles we heard a horrible scream…not something you want to hear when the conditions are cold & icy, and the route to Angel’s Landing is straight above you. I was thinking, who would be up here this early? Seriously? I didn’t even know what I was doing out that early. We met the screamer and the rest of her group a few minutes later sliding down Walter’s Wiggles cause that whole section was iced over.

The route to Angel’s Landing looked very forboding with the ice and snow covering the whole stretch. I didn’t think anyone would dare try it without gear, but sure enough they started to later in the day. Word was that it wasn’t all that bad to get to the top, but getting back down was another story. I just think ice + cliff = bad time. I’m just thinking they’d better hold onto that chain really tight, and their hands better not get cold, and if they do, I sure hope their gloves have really good grip. Well, no one is dead yet, afaik.

Back to the trip tho. We continued up the West Rim Trail into the area behind Majestic Mountain. We crossed the bridge and dropped down into a creek then up the other side, and made our way up to the start of our ascent. Keep in mind we’d been on snow or ice since Walter’s Wiggles. The ascent wasn’t too bad. We had to look for a decent route in a few places, but nothing bad. Just when we thought we were going to hit the top it turns out there was a big gap between where we were and the real summit. I was happy with where I’d made it. I’d seen some of the terrain I wanted to check out, plus I was tired of snow, and my asthma was acting up despite the meds, which isn’t good, plus everything else. I was just done. On the way back I heard a huge crashing sound, and turned to look in the direction it came from, a second later I saw a 70′ sheet of ice break off of the waterfall formed from Cabin Spring. It broke into smaller sections on the way down. When it hit the bottom the crashing sound echoed back and forth in that valley. It was really cool to watch. The next morning I found out the other guys made it to the top, but it took a while to get up & back out – like it was getting dark – so I’m glad I did what I did.

The plans for the next day fell apart, so I went solo and did some exploring in South facing canyons on the East side of Zion. I went up and did a hike called Many Pools, and indeed there were. I went up quite a ways until a slot canyon started up. I chimneyed 7′ up & over a chockstone, and headed up a little ways. It looked really cool, but I figured I could spend all day exploring further, and I wanted to start driving home around noon. Looking at the map there were two canyons side by side where I was. I thought I was in the one on the East cause the features on the East matched up, but the canyon on the West had features on the West side matching up. It wasn’t until I was halfway back that I realized there could be a whole other canyon to the West of me – it looked like the canyon wall I was in continued straight up, but it was possible it didn’t. I climbed away from the canyon bottom maybe 100 vertical feet and sure enough there was another canyon down there, and it was deep! I followed close to the ridge between the two looking for a route down, but didn’t find one until I was fairly close to the highway. Once at the bottom, there was a little used trail bypassing short stretches of impassable slot. I turned back when faced with a tight 25′ scramble. I need to read up on which canyon that is, and what’s up there. When I got back to the highway, I didn’t know I was at the highway cause I was 25′ below it. There was a steep embankment and a dark hole, which turned out to be a drainage tunnel carved out of rock the highway goes over. Through there and to the East and there was a short section of slot canyon. I went upstream a ways, and decided I needed to climb out and start looking for my truck. Conveniently enough it was right there when I got to the top.

So now I realize the vastness of opportunities to explore the terrain there, and I don’t know where to start….or when I’ll have the time to drive down there enough to even make a dent, but I gotta start.

View photos from this trip

Little Wild Horse Canyon – Bell Canyon

I just got back from the San Rafael Swell – was planning on doing 4 canyons, Little Wild Horse, Bell, Ding & Dang, but only got to do the first two. There was some nasty looking weather rolling in after I got out of LWHC, so I had lunch, and waited to see if things would clear up, but they never did.

Unfortunately I started into the canyons about the same time as a group of 10 prattling high schoolers. And so it was like, well…I don’t think I can accurately portray 4 conversations going on at the same time about inane babble. I’m not even going to try. When the canyons split, I went up Bell which coincidentally wasn’t where the high schoolers went. Bell went by pretty quickly. LWHC took longer, but since I went the direction most people don’t I ended up waiting in the narrow section for huge groups of families consisting of usually 2 adults, and 10 kids between the ages of 4 & 6. It was weird.

These seem to be canyons that most people have done, and are insanely easy to get through, but that’s the kind of thing I was looking for this weekend, so it was nice.

I got to use my new Canon S5IS on its first trip, which I love!

View photos from this trip

So Many Trails…So Little Time

I recently sat down and made a list of all the trails I want to do. It turned out, there were a whole lot more than I thought there were. So now if I ever want to get out, all I have to do is check the list and pick one out. So here in it’s entirety (as of right now) is that great list.

  • Escalante River – From City of Escalante to Lake Powell – In Sections
  • Boulder Mail Trail
  • Coyote Gulch
  • Zion Narrows
  • East Rim – Zion National Park
  • Kanarra Creek
  • Kings Peak
  • Grandaddy Basin
  • Naturalist Basin
  • Mt Timanogos (yup, again – it’s awesome)
  • Little Wildhorse & Bell Canyon
  • Upper & Lower Black Box – San Rafael Swell
  • The Maze – Canyonlands National Park – Chimney Rock -> Pictograph Fork Loop
  • Dark Canyon
  • Owl & Fish Creek Canyon
  • Hackberry Canyon
  • Under the Rim Trail – Bryce National Park – the whole thing
  • North Bass Trail – Grand Canyon National Park
  • South Bass -> Tonto Route Loop – Grand Canyon National Park
  • Kanab Creek Canyon – Grand Canyon National Park
  • Hermit Trail – Boucher Loop – Grand Canyon National Park
  • Old Bright Angel -> North Kaibab Loop – Side trip to the mystic Upper, Upper Ribbon Falls – Grand Canyon National Park
  • Cascade Canyon -> Paintbrush Canyon Loop – Grand Tetons National Park
  • Death Canyon -> Alaska Basin Loop – Grand Tetons National Park
  • Open Canyon -> Granite Canyon Loop – Grand Tetons National Park
  • Cascade Canyon -> Teton Crest -> Valley Trail Loop – Grand Tetons National Park
  • Dogshead Trail -> Shoshone -> North Shoshone -> Delacey Loop – Yellowstone National Park
  • Fairy Creek Loop – Yellowstone National Park
  • Mallard Loop – Yellowstone National Park
  • Heart Lake Loop – Yellowstone National Park
  • Black Canyon & Rescue Creek Loop – Yellowstone National Park
  • Bechler River Trail – Yellowstone National Park
  • Telescope Peak – From lowest point in continental US to the summit – Death Valley National Park
  • Cottonwood -> Marble Loop – Death Valley National Park
  • Napali Coastline – Kauai, Hawaii

If anybody’s interested in doing any of these, let me know.

Mt Nebo

Just checked off another county high point. Took the North Route off of Mona Pole Rd. It’s a clean cut trail that slowly approaches the mountain while going up and down over a couple hills before you enter a basin on the North-East side of North Peak. The trail does a couple switchbacks before switching to a squiggle of a trail climbing directly up towards the ridge line. Once you’re on the ridge, the trail rises and falls on the East slope of North Peak where you get your first good view of Mt Nebo, and eventually curves around to Wolf’s Pass. Next is a 1200 ft climb up the North slope of an unnamed sub-peak. Once on top of that, you can see the final trek across a connecting ridge with steep slopes, tricky moves, and a use trail that’s very easy to lose. There’s a great view of Hell Hole Basin on your left as you cross that ridge. Once across, it’s a final push up to the summit of Nebo — officially 11,928 ft — with loose scree and plenty of exposure. Best part though, it only takes 4.5 miles to get there, and once you’ve had enough of a higher altitude experience, it’s a quick descent back to Wolf’s Pass. The clouds were building the whole trip, and once we were safely off North Peak it started to sprinkle on and off for the rest of the hike.

Maybe next time I’ll try it from Andrew’s Ridge and see what that endurance fest is all about.

View photos from this trip

Mojo Rebuilding on the Ben Lomond Trail from North Fork Park

I’ve always been curious about the trails out of North Fork Park. There are two that head up to the Skyline Trail, the Ben Lomond Trail and the Cutler Trail. I needed something where I was gaining some good elevation and covering some distance so I could get some of the mojo back that I left on Mt Peale when I had to abandon the summit attempt, and the Ben Lomond trail seemed like a good candidate. It starts out innocent enough — after you find it in the maze that is North Fork Park (follow the signs to the corrals and park next to them) — anyway the trail is nice and wide, and in great shape. After a couple miles though,

There’s a trail in there somewhere…

overgrowth from the surrounding brush encroaches the trail sometimes making it disappear almost entirely. After 3 miles the trail flattens out a bit and crosses a saddle where there’s some good camping and from there you get a nice view of Ben Lomond Peak, and Willard Peak View of Ben Lomond and Willard Peaks. The next two miles take you to the saddle right below the last big ascent of Ben Lomond. It was getting late and I didn’t have enough water to summit, otherwise I probably would’ve done it just cause most of the work to climb Ben Lomond Peak is simply covering the distance to get to the point where I was at. It was okay though, cause my only goal on this trip was to make it to the saddle, and I did that, and I felt I could keep going all the way to the summit which was even better. So I turned around, bushwhacked the trail, ran out of water with two miles left and when I reached my truck I realized the mojo was good. I now feel ready to go out and conquer another one of the ultra-prominence peaks again.

La Sals/Moab 2006

The only reason I’d go to Moab in the middle of July is to climb Mt Waas and Mt Peale, unfortunately neither of those happened. Halfway up a ridiculous route on Peale I started getting dizzy which is really unusual for me even at high elevations, and we were only at 11,500 ft at that point. I continued up another 100 ft or so and only got dizzier, so I made the call to head back (we made it to the red dot in the pic). It was really disappointing cause I’ve never abandoned a summit attempt before, and I’ve wanted to climb those two for at least 10 years now. Going down was just as hard as going up. The terrain was pretty steep and consisted of flat chunks of granite anywhere from the size of a book to the size of a poster, all of it loose, and in never ending abundance. That stuff is difficult to walk on, let alone ascend. I think I’ll try again when I have a couloir of snow to climb up and slide down.

The amount of bugs flying around up there was astonishing. I think all the flies from all of the surrounding lowlands came up into the mountains to cool off like we did, cause they were everywhere, even at the highest point of the trip, well above treeline. So we chose to spend the rest of the time exploring some of the cooler areas of Moab, like the fiery furnace in Arches, NP and the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands. We entered the WRT from Potash. The evaporation ponds are pretty cool, and below them there are some salt stalactites and stalagmites that have formed in one spot. Our final destination on the WRT was Musselman Arch. It was a fun ride out there. On the way back we went up the Shafer Trail Shafer Trail Panoramawhich I had previously mountain biked down, but have never driven in my 2WD Toyota Pickup (which turned 175,000 on this trip). It was a little nerve wracking negotiating a couple of the obstacles on the way up knowing that if I couldn’t get past any one point I’d have to back down what I’d just driven up in reverse and try to turn around with what little wiggle room there is with a pretty good drop on one side. It’s something like 1400 ft down from the highest point. A couple sections were sketchy, but the give it more gas method was a winner.

After that we headed back into the mountains to look for a site to camp, but the bugs were too bad so we just explored. I wanted to check out Miner’s Basin so we headed up forest road 65 which one book describes as a really rough road, while another more accurately describes it as saying that while a 4WD vehicle isn’t necessary, high clearance and solid obstacle negotiating skills are required. It wasn’t all that bad, but high clearance is definitely a must. The lake up top is nice, but again, the bugs were too much. We headed down to Onion Creek to camp. It was warm, but the lack of bugs made it tolerable.

View photos from this trip

North Skyline Trail – North Ogden Pass

So for the 8th time in the last month, I hauled my butt up the North Skyline Trail to the snowline. Twice I did it on my bike. That did wonders for my riding already. 5 times I hiked it, and this time I threw on a 40 lb backpack to get me ready for my 45 mile trip through Paria Canyon next week. This time around I made it up to 8260 ft, that was a gain of 2500-3000, not really sure, in 3 miles one way. That put me on the ridge that’s visible from North Ogden, the Southern-most part of the ridge.

The snow’s melting fast, a 300 ft glissade that I was able to do on Monday is now not doable, that was 2 days for 3 feet of snow to disappear. Glissading it was fun though. It was really steep, about 70 degrees and I had to find a curved stick to use for self arrest. It was great.

This is what I glissaded down on Monday, it’s all but gone now.

On the ridge looking at the rest of the trail under snow

Standing on the snow…again

Ben Lomond with the sun low in the sky behind it.

Lewis Peak Runoff = Waterfalls

Up until Saturday I had never seen any water flowing on a section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail I ride frequently in Ogden, but with the sudden warmup, the snow melt on Lewis Peak is coming down. This has created a couple different waterfalls, some right next to the trail which look really bad in my photos, and the water is discolored from all the sediment it picks up. I wanted to hike upstream to see if there was one huge waterfall coming down the massive cliffs that make up the face of Lewis Peak, but I was occupied with getting my ride in, so I passed it up. I couldn’t help but do a ride up to where the lower falls were, and then trek on up the creek to find some bigger and better falls. It was rough. There’s a trail that kind of disappears unless you know where to look, so I lost it and ended up making my way through the brush oak. It was rough, but it was worth it. The water cascades down several tiers falling off at different angles with each section. The light from the low sun was perfect for getting some good shots. On the way back down I stayed on the boulder scree for a good section, then made my way down to a dry section of the creekbed that is used as a trail. That was a lot easier.

View photos

Ben Lomond Peak via North Skyline Trail

I’ve hiked up the North Skyline Trail several times about 2 miles to the same point, even biked it once, but I’ve never made it to Ben Lomond via that route before, mainly because I didn’t want to hike 16 miles, but since I have a Grand Canyon backpacking trip coming up I figured it’s time to get some long hikes with significant elevation gains in them. The trail is pretty nice except towards the beginning where there are serious problems with erosion, and damage from motorcycles which result in a trail with a V shaped rutt. The trail is shared by hikers, mountain bikers, quadriped pooping machines, and motorcycles. The North Skyline Trail is also part of the Great Western Trail. Looking at the ridgeline going across from the North Ogden Divide to Ben Lomond you would assume that the trail just climbs to the ridge and flattens out until you get to the final ascent of Ben Lomond, but that’s not the case, you’re steadily climbing almost the entire time as you’ll see in the elevation profile included with the images. Sure it’s flat for some sections, but there’s not a 5 mile section of flat. Being Labor Day there were plenty of hikers up there and fortunately few of the aforementioned quadripeds. There were several mountain bikers, but I didn’t see any past the 1500 ft elevation gain and 2.5 mile mark. I decided to wear a Falke performance compression shirt I was given to test out last Spring, and it’s probably the first time I’ve worn it that it actually regulated my temperature better than not wearing it at all. The other times, it either made me overheat, or made me freeze. I wore it under a Nike poly tee. 

So the trail can be broken down into a couple different sections:
Mile 0-2 Climbing the canyon side of the N.O. Divide
Mile 2-4 Climbing the Eastern side of the ridge overlooking the Ogden Valley (Eden/Huntsville)
Mile 4-6.5 Hiking along the Western side of the ridge
Mile 6.5-7.5 Climbing the Eastern side of B.L.

In all it was 15.5 miles and 3,850 ft in elevation climbed

View photos of the trail