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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Summer Wildflowers Along An Ice Age Relic

Two Ocean Lake is a gorgeous place for a hike. Tucked into a northeastern corner of Grand Teton National Park, it is a relic of the last ice age. During late spring and into summer, wildflowers are colorful and profuse, splashed across hillsides like an impressionist’s dream.

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Trail along Two Ocean Lake to Grand View Point

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another Side of Cedar Breaks

In the low desert of southern Utah these days, when mid–September temperatures not only approach triple digits but also have the audacity to linger there, it is time to head to the high country for a hike along the redrock near Cedar Breaks National Monument.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Watching for Falling Rocks – Timpanogos Cave

The summer begins, as it often does, with a hike. The summer ends, as it often does, with another hike. Looking back, I realize that two unique Wasatch Mountain trails have become the bookends of my summer.

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American Fork Canyon in the southern Wasatch Range

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Thoughtful Message on a Tiny Slip of Paper

One day last week I found myself feeling kind of punky. I woke up a bit dizzy, and found that my blood pressure was higher than it usually is. For that reason, I decided to take a sick day. Unknown to me, though, while I was laying about in my government housing unit worrying about my blood pressure, I missed meeting Mary and Brad.

When I returned to work the next day, my blood pressure was back to normal but I was still feeling a bit out of sorts. As soon as I walked in the door, another ranger said that there was a message for me taped to the bulletin board. Two people had come to the visitor center the previous day, and asked for me, and they had left this note.

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