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Posts Tagged ‘desert’

Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike (Day 128)

November 24th, 2009 1 comment

The last real trip-like thing I did: hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante. The payoff seems way to good considering what a short (6 mi. r/t), easy (not much elevation gain) hike it is. IMHO. I guess that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though — it’s a pretty great payoff.

Most of the hike heading up to the waterfall looks like this:

lower-calf-creek-falls 1

So, you know, red rocks, but with more stripes in them. This area more than most reminded me of a painting that used to be in my Grandpa Kimball’s house somewhere. There were horses involved (in the painting), but not the kind of horses that kill people.

The trail eventually started following alongside the creek (that would be Calf Creek).

Then I got to the waterfall. I’m not sure if it’s really all that cool, or I just realize at this point that it’s the last major natural feature of the trip and am therefore inordinately excited about it, but whatever. It looks different from every angle, has a bunch of cool colors in it, and is really high. Tough lighting though.

lower-calf-creek-falls 4

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Waterfall, yes!

The trail back had these trees on it:

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Seemed important to share them.

Then when I took off out of there, I was on Highway 12 again and took this picture:

lower-calf-creek-falls 10

I like denuded aspens.

Anyway, all-in-all a pretty good road trip lo these past four months. Maybe I’ll do an entry for the drive back to SoCal. That will be epic. Epic!

bkd

Categories: southwest Tags: , , ,

Highway 12 (Day 127, Part 2)

November 23rd, 2009 No comments

The weird part is that when I went to college in Utah, I never really thought the place was all that pretty. And I even went to some places in Southern Utah back then. Bah.

The driving from Four Corners all the way to Escalante was fantastic. The scenery kept changing (from one type of red rock outcropping to another, sure, but still) and was constantly interesting. To me. YMMV.

highway-12 1

And, IMHO, aspens rawk.

highway-12 2The foreground makes all the difference…

highway-12 3Because I’ve never seen snow before.

The pass tops out at 9,600 feet elevation. Kind of interesting to consider how wild 6,000 feet seemed in New Hampshire and then how mild that is in western-US terms. Anyway. Once I got to Escalante, I had a late lunch and found a place to stay, then headed out onto the Hole-in-the-Wall road. I was sort of hoping I could get to the hole before sundown, but about halfway there realized I wasn’t gonna make it.

hole-in-the-rock-road 1But I *did* get to see these rocks.

hole-in-the-rock-road 2And take a hero-shot of my truck. Boy *that’s* gonna look good on Craigslist one day.

hole-in-the-rock-road 3Then I took the obligatory battery of sunset photos.

And then I went to the hotel and ate pre-packaged cheese-and-crackers.

bkd

Categories: southwest Tags: , , ,

Capitol Reef: More Red Rocks (Day 127)

November 23rd, 2009 3 comments

Went on an actual little hike at Capitol Reef (National Park). It’s the national park in Utah that no one wants to talk about. Probably due to all the scandals and all.

Chimney Rock Loop, with about 3 miles of additional canyon thrown in.

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 1The rock they named the trail after. Curiously, it’s not much a part of the route’s scenery.

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 2

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 3Evidence I was there — and that the moustache was still alive and well as of Day 127.

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 4

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 5I’m always impressed by the trees that manage to make a living out here. And by contrails.

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 6

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 7Birds could live here. Or rock-climbing gnomes.

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capitol-reef-chimney-rock 9Just trying to imagine the wind that blew the pinecone (or whatever) here in the first place…

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 11The rocks also make me think of the U2: Live at Red Rocks video, which then reminds me that someone thought it was a good idea to put songs like “Party Girl” on the video/album, which then makes me remember there’s a reason I never owned U2’s Live at Red Rocks video.

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 12And do the trees get lonely?

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 14Looking west from the top of the switchbacks.

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 15

Yeah, I guess I’m mostly over captions.

BTW, another park with a ranger who gave good advice on a hike. She also seemed somewhat outraged that every photo of Bryce Canyon that she’d ever seen in a calendar pictured Bryce during winter with snow on the Hoodoos. It *is* an outrage.

Just FWIW in case you care etc. etc., I liked Capitol Reef. It’s more subtle and less in-your-face than Bryce or Arches — more just a place to hang out than to have to confront. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I know it’s true. FWIW.

bkd


Doesn’t “Moki Dugway” Play Outfield for Cleveland? (Day 126, Part 2)

November 23rd, 2009 2 comments

Seems like he should if he doesn’t.

At the end of Valley of the Gods, the road dumps you off on Utah Highway 261, which you then follow if you’re trying to get yourself on to Lake Powell and Capitol Reef. The speed limit changes almost immediately from 55 to 35 and then to 15 and then the highway becomes gravel and good luck to you from there.

Road goes up quickly. Photos didn’t turn out that great, but it was an amazing stretch of road. I have no incentive to lie to you about this, therefore I *MUST* be a reliable source of information in this matter.

This drive, btw, is called “Moki Dugway”. Named after the outfielder. It made a Forbes list of America’s scariest highways.

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At the top of it you get a view back over the Valley of the Gods, where my truck no longer is. Way cool drive, although the funnest part was being on one of the switchbacks and trying to figure out how where the road was actually going, cuz you sure can’t see how there’s going to be another ledge onto which it can switch back.

Lessee. Then I stopped by Natural Bridges National Monument and drove around their scenic loop. It was getting pretty late in the afternoon to try and take pictures, but oh well.

natural-bridges 1

natural-bridges 2

These bridges also had names. There were a couple others there as well. Would probably be a fun place to visit in the actual day-time so you could run out on the trails and check out the bridges from a vantage point other than the overlook on the road. Tja.

Then I got to Lake Powell.

lake-powell

The, uh, bridge goes over the lake. Camped about a mile away from here — last camping night on the trip! — at Dirty Devil River. Nice campground, $6, but fetchin’ cold.

All in all, a big day.

bkd

Valley of the Gods and My Truck (Day 126)

November 22nd, 2009 5 comments

Dirt road. Southeast Utah. A little to the right of Monument Valley. Did I mention dirt road? Aw screw it, just pictures and call it good. Hopefully you like images of reddish rock outcroppings.

valley-of-the-gods 1And road. Images of roads also.

valley-of-the-gods 2These rocks all have names.

valley-of-the-gods 3But the names aren’t particularly interesting.

valley-of-the-gods 4Or descriptive, imho.

valley-of-the-gods 5But, you know, having a name or not doesn’t really change the rock.

valley-of-the-gods 6I mean, if it’s a good-looking rock, who cares what its name is?

valley-of-the-gods 7And the names are just arbitrary anyway.

valley-of-the-gods 8So if you need names, make up your own I guess.

valley-of-the-gods 9Technically speaking, the road has a name as well.

valley-of-the-gods 10But name or not, it still just takes you where it takes you.

valley-of-the-gods 11I don’t know what the weeds are called either.

Pleasant rocks. By which I mean they were rocks that were pleasant. It was a sentence fragment.

bkd

Categories: southwest Tags: , ,

Blue Skies, White Sands , and Not a Mushroom Cloud in Sight (Day 123)

November 19th, 2009 No comments

They’re all basically the same photo. Most of them were taken from the “trail” that goes out to the alkali lake bed, which is why they have all the footprints and trail markers in them.

(And if you click on the photo, you’ll get a full-size version.)

It was as serene as it was surreal. The starkness of the sand was — stark. It seemed like it’d be a pretty bad place to get lost.

And, unfortunately, they weren’t testing any missiles. And I wasn’t there on one of the two days a year that they give tours of the Trinity test site. I did, however, get to see a few F-22s and Luftwaffe Tornadoes circling around, though.

bkd

Big Bend National Park Zone 3: The River (Day 121, Part 2)

November 17th, 2009 No comments

Best zone for last, I guess. Big Bend is so-named because it’s situated on a large bend on the Rio Grande. Clever naming, yes. Anyway — the river goes through a gorge and, um, I think I’m back to where I should start these posts with the second paragraph again.

Except that I don’t have any material for a second paragraph. Maybe it’s too early in the morning.

big-bend_santa-elena-roadThe gap in the cliff is Santa Elena canyon. And the cliff to the left of the gap is in Mexico.

big-bend_santa-elena-opening (1)The canyon’s gaping maw.

big-bend_santa-elena-canyonCanyon, river.

big-bend_santa-elena-canyon-visitorsIf they’re on their honeymoon, I don’t think it’s going well.

big-bend_santa-elena-wallThe walls, closing in.

big-bend_santa-elena-jungleThe canyon contains its own jungle!

big-bend_santa-elena-view-outOut the canyon and onto the flood plain. I think the river was low.

big-bend_santa-elena-ramps-downThe trail heading down from the cliffs’ giddy heights.

big-bend_santa-elena-riverbedThe river bed.

big-bend_santa-elena-touristsThe tourist hordes.

It’s sort of telling that this park only exists on the US side of the border. I went to a couple border parks on the north side of the country that both extended into Canada (Glacier-Waterton and Boundary Waters) and none that were on the Canadian border that didn’t.

OTOH, there were a lot more border patrol agents cruising around Big Bend.

I like rivers and canyons.

bkd


Big Bend National Park Zone 2: The Desert (Day 121)

November 16th, 2009 No comments

121 seems like a big number, doesn’t it? Anyway:

First thing I did when I got to the park was go to the Visitors Center to figure out what I’m going to do. I tell him that I’ve been to California, Arizona, and Utah plenty, so what I want to see is how this place (Big Bend) is different from those places. He proceeds to tell me that since none of those places are the Chihuahua Desert and that therefore I haven’t seen anything that’s at all like Big Bend.

Ahem. Deserts:

  1. They’re all dry.
  2. They’re all very hot.
  3. Except at night, when they’re all very fetchin’ cold.
  4. They all have tough, ugly, leathery plants.
  5. They all have a narrow assortment of small, crunchy animals.
  6. There are usually some barren, rocky hills around.
  7. There’s often sand.

Whereas the Mojave Desert has mule deer, we have Chihuahuan White Tail Deer!

Wow, that *is* big. If only I were a zoologist.

Whereas their rocks are between 100 and 450 million years old, ours are between 50 and 400 million years old!

Or a geologist.

We don’t have saguaro cactus like in the Sonora Desert, but we have the highest concentration of ocotillo in North America!

For one thing, lack of saguaro and glut of ocotillo aren’t exactly selling points. For another, I’m not a botanist either.

Plus, we’re the only national park with its own mountain range!

Listen:

  1. If a mountain range can be completely contained within a national park, it’s not much of a mountain range.
  2. Olympic National Park *is* a mountain range, so that doesn’t make you special anyway.

The more park rangers I interact with, the more I think that one lady ranger at Acadia in Maine deserves a medal for outstanding competence. Half a day? Good. Drive this loop, stop here and here, then you’ll have time to hike the second-best trail in the park. Write down these trail names. Now go! Go! They need more like her. A lot more. I should’ve got her name.

Oh well. Desert, and not very different from the Mojave or Sonoran deserts.

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Definitely no saguaros.

bkd

Big Bend National Park Zone 1: The Mountains (Day 120)

November 16th, 2009 No comments

See, because there are three main zones in the park: (1) mountains; (2) desert; and (3) river. Right.

And before things get too wild, I’d like to mention that this national park is in the middle of nowhere (which I guess is better than being at the edge of nowhere, because at least it’s in the middle of something). It’s a hard park to get to without meaning to be there. OTOH, (they claim) it has the darkest night sky of any NP in the lower 48. Would probably make it a good place to be a burglar — not that anything happened.

Hiked to “The Window”. Kind of a short hike (4.5 miles), mostly tourists. And most of the good pictures I got of the mountains were from the Visitors Center rather than the hike. Naturally.

‘Course, they didn’t have one of *these* at the Visitors Center:

big-bend_tarantulaA tarantula! Or maybe it’s a tarantulo. It’s hard to tell without flippin’ ’em over.

About the size of my hand. And then the trail (although, technically, the tarantula photo *is* a photo of the trail.

big-bend_window-trailHere’s the trail. Not bad-looking for a desert. Oh wait — these are mountains, not desert.

big-bend_windowThen this is “The Window” itself.

So it was kind of a dull hike — but at least I got to sweat a lot. Then I went back to the campground and visitors center to get some *real* photos. Relatively real. Two of them.

big-bend_casa-grandeCasa Grande from the handicapped-accessible trail.

big-bend_pink-cloudsA middling-quality sunset, with mountain silhouettes.

Then I decided that since I’d never gone to a National Park ranger lecture at a campground amphitheater before, I should try that. So I went, listened to a guy talk about how old rocks are for 20 minutes, then tried to leave quietly. There was a new moon, which made things especially dark, but I found these guys right outside my campsite.

big-bend_javelina-soloA javelina!

big-bend_javelina-bandAnd his merry band!

(It’s hard to compose wildlife photos interestingly when you can’t really see the wildlife so well.)

And then I went to sleep.

bkd

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