Saturday, December 13, 2014

Finding Castor Canadensis

I have located my little buddies here in southwest Utah! Well, I have not located them, exactly, but I have found clear evidence of their existence. Now it is just a matter of time before I catch the little rascals in action. And just who do you think these little rascals might be, industriously re–engineering their short stretch of the Santa Clara River?
Santa Clara River -  more here than meets the eye!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Riprap, Slickensides, and a Thanksgiving Walkabout

I went for a walkabout yesterday, two days after eating my way into a holiday food coma. That spiral cut ham–scalloped potatoes–pecan and cranberry dressing–vegetable medley–cranberry sauce–two pieces of pie–champagne and wine Thanksgiving dinner needed to be dealt with. So after nibbling on some leftover ham and forking my way across a hefty slice of breakfast pumpkin pie, I headed over to the Santa Clara Reserve to spend a few hours with friends, hiking and socializing in the great southern Utah outdoors.

I have enjoyed hikes with these guys for several decades

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lesser Known Yellowstone –Shoshone Geyser Basin

How many footsteps are in a mile? If I had a nickel for every step I have taken getting into and out of the geyser basins of Yellowstone over the past four summers, I would be a wealthy individual. Include the eighteen round trip miles involved in accessing Shoshone geyser basin and I could retire comfortably right now. I would spend my golden years driving across the geology of the continent while towing the glamping camper of my dreams.

On the way to Shoshone geyser basin, hiking buddy Brian (aka "Tater") poses and points.

Monday, November 17, 2014

View from the Handlebars

The blistering heat has dissipated. The jostling summer crowds have disappeared from the trails. Shuttle buses still whoosh quietly up and down the main canyon, but only on the weekends. The sun casts its lengthening shadows on the towering cliffs of Navajo Sandstone. There is a definite chill in the air. This is Zion National Park in November, and it is a perfect time for a bicycle ride.

View from the handlebars

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lesser‑Known Yellowstone – Red Mountains

When I was hired as a seasonal interpretive ranger at Yellowstone back in May of 2011, I knew few details about our first national park except that most of it is in northwestern Wyoming, it encompasses a ginormously snoozing yet still active volcano, and its yearly visitation numbers average somewhere in the bazillions. Fortunately, I quickly discovered that there is much more to Yellowstone than simply geysers and tour buses. There are also mountains, and many of them were here long before the volcano showed up. Furthermore, at least one particular range happened to be in the way of at least two of Yellowstone’s ginormous explosions. This range is the Red Mountains and it has its own peculiar personality.

IMG_8123 RedMountains
View of Red Mountains across Riddle Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lesser Known Yellowstone - A Remarkable Fault Zone

There are certainly many extraordinary natural features to see in Yellowstone National Park, but I will bet there is one hillside in particular that might not have caught your eye. In fact, you could have driven right by this seemingly innocent slope on the road between Madison Junction and West Yellowstone without even giving it a second thought. After all, it looks just like any old slumping, eroding hillside.

IMG_7395 FaultZone
Not just any old hillside

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Few Easy Hours On The Kolob Plateau

This past weekend I found myself at loose ends. I am the proud owner of a new pair of birdwatching binoculars but had become weary of looking at flocks of house finches from my backyard patio perch. I wanted to go on a hike, but not one that was too strenuous or that involved packing much more than a bottle of water and an apple. With these simple criteria in mind, I decided to drive up to the Kolob Plateau area of Zion National Park and have a look around. It has been years since I’ve been up there and I was overdue for a visit.

IMG_8141Kolob Reservoir
Getting to Kolob Reservoir involves weaving in and out of a corner of Zion

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hiking Along the Headwaters of the Virgin River

It was a crisp October morning as we zipped up Cedar Mountain in our three–car caravan, bound for an eight–mile hike around Navajo Lake and along the Virgin River rim trail. Interspersed with the grayed skeletal remains of Engelmann spruce (victims of an endemic beetle population and a dubious forest management policy of the past century), the aspen leaves blazed their burnt red–orange and golden yellow brilliance against a cloudless sapphire sky. As we cruised I noticed orange–vested people near the side of the road, parked in camp chairs and peering through binoculars across the meadows. A suspicious little voice inside my head told me they were probably not just admiring the leaves.