Sunday, April 19, 2015

Can’t Get Enough of Canyonlands

For someone who can’t get enough of a place, I certainly don’t go there very often. I went maybe thirteen years ago to visit friends living in Moab, Utah, and to watch the Perseid meteor shower on a moonless night in Arches National Park. It is not that far from my home, really, as far as western distances go – just over 300 miles away, barely five hours and change. My friends still live there.
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Shafer trail takes off near Island in the Sky visitor center - La Sal Mountains in distance

Monday, March 30, 2015

Skiing Bryce Canyon

Before the lamb of March turns into the showers of April, there are unanswered questions from my previous post that must be addressed.
1) Will we make it out alive before the amphitheater erodes completely?
2) When exactly does the sun go down over the yardarm?
3) Will we ever put on those skis?
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Monday, March 23, 2015

To Ski…Or Not To Ski?

Spring has sprung at last, but it seems as though it has been here for months already. Usually, snow can linger well into summer, up on the high plateaus of southern Utah. Several weeks ago, two friends and I hoped it would last at least through the middle of March. We wanted to ski, and we wanted to ski at Bryce Canyon. To ski you need snow, and there has been a noticeable lack of it this winter. Temperatures have been higher than average here in Utah, with conditions great for hiking but abysmal for skiing (click here for that story). The generally thick blanket of snow we know so well had morphed into slightly more than a veneer. We could only hope for the best as John, Cathy, and I stuff our skis, suitcases, and snack items into the back of my car and drive off in wild anticipation of the miles of cross–country ski trails that Ruby’s Inn grooms just outside the Park. We would spend two nights at the Inn and get in as much skiing as our little hearts desired.
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Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon National Park

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wild Weather on the Wildcat Canyon Trail

Generally, “February” and “Wildcat Canyon” are not words you hear in the same sentence around southwest Utah, except for maybe in this sentiment: “Wildcat Canyon? You can’t hike there in February. There’s too much snow!” Or perhaps in this little nugget: “Wildcat Canyon? On the Kolob Terrace road? You need a snowmobile to get up there!
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No snow on the Kolob Terrace Road in February?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rocking the Watchman Trail

I have never met a trail in Zion National Park that I did not like. Long, short, steep, level, paved, rocky, hard sandy slickrock or soft forest soil, it does not matter. I will hike wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself. A few weeks ago when I had to be in the Park for a 1:30pm volunteer meeting, just such an opportunity appeared. Dizzy and hyper after snacking on a German chocolate brownie during the drive over, I left my friend Lucy happily napping on a picnic table in the early February sunshine. When I exited my meeting two hours later, we headed for the Watchman Trail.
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Watchman trail


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Winter Road Tripping – Lost Palms Oasis

In the waning hours of my two–week “2014 Winter SoCal Adventure” last month, fate offered up a gorgeous southern California Christmas Eve Day hike. Barely 20 miles up the interstate from my condo in Indio, I found exactly what I was looking for once more in the fan palm oases of Joshua Tree National Park.
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter Road Tripping – Forty Nine Palms Oasis

On my recent “Winter 2014 SoCal Adventure,” I found myself in a dilemma. Should I pocket an easy $100 and burn some morning daylight by sitting through what should be no more than a one–hour time–share presentation, knowing that pigs would fly before I ever bought into anything? Or, should I just forget the quick cash and head for the hills of nearby Joshua Tree National Park? For a summer seasonal park ranger and barely employed geology adjunct, the decision made itself.
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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Winter Road Tripping – An Accidental Sea

During my “2014 Winter SoCal Adventure,” I took a leisurely winter solstice kayak tour in 75°F southern California sunshine wearing sandals and a Santa hat. Ten days later, at home in cloud–shrouded southern Utah, it is nearly 50°F colder and I am wearing sweatpants and two pairs of socks. A winter Pacific storm is blustering its way across the western U.S., so it looks like I will be trading that kayak and sandals for some cross-country skis and insulated boots.
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Feet on the Salton Sea - Winter Solstice 2014


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Winter Road Tripping – Balboa Park

It was billed as my “2014 Winter SoCal Adventure,” and I had been planning it since last spring. I would drive south for a week of urban camping in John and Cathy’s guest room, bird watch in lagoons, visit a museum, admire architecture, splosh around in tide pools and look for anemones to tickle, reconnect with Jo whom I have not seen in 30 years, be treated to dinner, leave the city, kayak on an inland sea, live a cushy condo life for five days, become familiar with the romance and sex life of dates, hike to desert oases, and spend Christmas Day bird watching once again. By the time it was all over I would have been gone for ten days, put away some serious fermented grape beverage, added 1,420 miles to my car’s odometer, and experienced the best vacation I have had in years while wearing a custom–made Santa Claus hat.

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Two poinsettia earrings hang from my "jade plant cuttings in plastic cup" Christmas tree