Utah - Bryce and Zion, Sep. 28 0 Oct. 5, 2008

Pinon Jay from Utah

We'll stay four days in a motel right in the heart of Zion with swim pool, since summer temperatures could prevail in Zion. Then we'll spend three days in a lodge right near Bryce Canyon. Comfortable lodge and motel.
Exploration with include canyons, buttes, hoodoos, rivers and so much more.

I have to say so myself, this was a great trip! The trip started by all the participants meeting in Las Vegas. We stayed in that gala city just so that we could all be ready to leave at 9:30 the next morning. We started out the next morning loading the two 12-person vans, which was appropriate for 16 people. There were 14 participants and two leaders. We were off to Zion. If you have never been to Zion, you just have no idea what to expect in that beautiful land.

All we had to do is take I-15 north to exit 16 and travel through the town of Hurricane. Make a right on U-9 at the second traffic light in LaVerkin and continue on U-9 to the south entrance of the park. It took us 3.5 hours to get to Zion National Park from Las Vegas. With the time change, it was 4.5 hours, because we had to add on an additional hour. We visited the Zion Visitor Center our first day, just to get pamphlets, see films and get a lay of the land.

View of Zion Valley from Observation Point

We started the next morning on an 8 mile hike to Observation Point. It was unbelievably warm in Zion, in September. We were not expecting the "hot" sun and high temperature. We still hiked! The hike climbed over 2000' to an altitude of 6,507' above sea level. With temperatures in the mid 90's, we got a full days work. On the way to Observation Point, we took in views of Weeping Rock and Echo Canyon.

The next day, we hiked the Zion Narrows. That is a water hike up the Virgin River. We rented some boots and poles. The poles are very important. The boots were very useful because sneakers can slip on the rocks. The Narrows in almost entirely lined with rocks. Occasionally, we would get the pleasure to walk on sand, but rocks and boulders were very plentiful. We made it to Wall Street before we turned back. The day for us was about 6.4 miles. We had time to go farther, but we were a bit tired and happy to go back into town.
The Zion Narrows

We stayed one more day in Zion where we hiked Angels Landing. The whole hike was going up switchbacks, including what is called "Walters Wiggles". The hike was steep, altitude was high, and sun was baking our backs. Out of 16 of us,
only five ventured to the top of Angles Landing. We were told the trail is about 3 feet wide with drop-offs on each side. Most of us, including me, decided not to hike the last mile. The five that did go to the top of Angels Landing said they met people from all over the world. They also commented on how they saw a California Condor from the top. Well, that didn't surprise us any because we all saw the same Condor from a lower elevation and we even saw the Condor flying around eyeing those busy chipmunks who were eying our lunches. On the way down, we visited Emerald Pools. I don't know if Emerald Pools is better in the spring or better five years ago, but the sights didn't impress me. I was much more impressed by the water dripping from the hanging flowers onto my head. Remember, it was 95 degrees there.
Checkerboard Mesa at Zion

The next day, we left for Bryce. Some of those roads out of Zion are a bit scarey. I would have loved to have said, "I'm glad I'm not driving". The only problem is I couldn't say that! After leaving Zion, the driving was flat and there was nothing to fear. At this point, we had the opportunity to see Checkerboard Mesa. The horizontal and vertical grooves give this formation its name, is caused by cracking caused by the slow change of pressure on the rock. Rain and freeze-and-thaw cycles force these grooves to appear. It's only 86 miles to Bryce National Park from Zion National Park, so we had some time to stop in between the journey. .Red Canyon is very near Bryce, we actually had to pass Red Canyon to get to Bryce, so we decided to stop there. The canyon was small, so I'm sure many people just pass right by it. But, boy is it beautiful. We walked the Pink Ledges Trail, which began next to the Red Canyon visitor center and winds around hoodoos and pine trees. Hoodoos are tall thin spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of the canyon. The dead Juniper trees were very twisted and reminded me of cloud formations, how they appeared as animals or figures.
Viewing the hoodoos from Sunrise Point at Bryce National Park

We started hiking Bryce in the morning, starting with the Fairyland Loop. Oh, so beautiful. Lots of Oohs and Ahhs all day with the colorful Hoodoos. We included the Rim Walk, so this was an 8 mile loop, which took us all day. The Rim Walk was not that exciting, a little boring matter-of-fact, but we had to get back to the vans somehow. We saw many animal figures in the rock. Bryce names some of them, like "Sinking Ship" and "Tower Bridge", but we also named our own, like "Ferocious Feline from Figi" and "Mother Teresa".

The Peek-A-Boo Loop, including Wall Street, was what we hiked on our last day at Bryce. Funny how both Zion and Bryce had a Wall Street. I guess it's just an appropriate name. Very high walls on both sides of the canyon. I actually really liked Wall Street at Bryce. I would have liked that hike to continue for the rest of the day. It really was only a short portion of the day and by lunch we were on the Peek-A-Boo Loop. I think the whole day was about 5 miles. If our breath wasn't being taken away by the high altitude, I think we could have done a bit more. The heat was not present in Bryce. It was probably 65 degrees Fahrenheit there, much cooler than Zion.

Petrified Sand Dunes at Snow Canyon

That night we ate at Bryce Canyon Lodge and had a fabulous meal. They really have a nice restaurant there. We left the next morning around 9:30 am, which was our last day of the trip. Well, our last day was a drive back to Vegas. This was going to be a five hour drive, so we were hoping to find something in between to break the day up.
We found something very cool, Snow Canyon State Park in St. George. It's not marked in many places. If it wasn't for some major investigating on the web, we never would have gotten the opportunity to visit this wonderful place. Snow Canyon is off UT-18 and Sunset Boulevard. It is petrified sand, hills and hills of petrified sand. Kind of fun to climb. Somewhat like a maize in that you can't get to the top of a sand hill by just climbing up, you have to follow the sand through sand paths to get to the top. We spent a couple of hours just running around and climbing to the top. A great way to break up the drive back to Vegas. I got many comments after the trip on how great it was. It really was a wonderful 9-day adventure!


Yoga & Hiking White Mountains - Sept. 19-21, 2008

Enjoy Hatha yoga and hiking daily surrounded by the mountains of Crawford Notch. Hikes will be 5-7 miles a day. Two night lodging at Shapleigh bunkhouse at Highland Center, two breakfasts, happy hour, and Saturday dinner at a local restaurant.

This trip is a combination of Hatha yoga and hiking nearby mountains. Both days, we start at 7 am with an hour of yoga, eat breakfast at the Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch. By 9 am, we head to the trails.

The first day, we start across the street from the Highland Center and hike up Mount Pierce ( elev. 4310'), over to the Mitzpah Spring Hut (elev. 3800'), down a bit and over to Mount Jackson (elev. 4052'). A pretty heavy duty day, doing two 4000 footers, but at the end of the day we feel good.

The second day, we hike Mt. Willard, with an elevation gain of 900', starting at 9 am and back to the lodge by noon.

The hikes were between 5-7 miles. 2 nights lodging at Shapleigh bunk house (at Highland Center), 2 breakfasts, happy hour and Saturday dinner at Fabyan's, a local restaurant. The servings are huge, you won't leave hungry. Fabyan's is very good and the waitress was very accommodating.

Hiking boots are a necessity, as well as, non-cotton socks and waterproof pants and jacket, hat and gloves or mittens for the chance of colder weather.



Planned Vacations, What a Concept !

Sure, there are maps and tour guides and the Chamber of Commerce, but wouldn't it be nice if we had trips already planned and we knew what we wanted to do at those locations by others recommendations. I have been leading vacation trips with OutsideNE and the Appalachian Mountain Club for over ten years.
Hiking the E4 Trail in Crete

Rockland Maine

Hope you are able to go on one of these trips and add some information! Happy Vacations and Weekends!

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