Monday, April 19, 2010

Rider on the Slickrock

Not having the net at home, I have to sneak in these short blog posts while I am poaching wi-fi.  I took this shot at sundown of a Spring-Breaker riding the Slickrock at Sand Flats Recreation Area.  

Soon I am going to post about the interesting fella' I hiked with in Zion.  He was recovering from a nasty   rock climbing fall where he broke his back, cracked his skull, had brain hemorrhaging, many other broken bones...the works.  This dude was hiking with a full pack 6 weeks afterwards too.....barefooted.  Amazing story & a great guy.  More later.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Little Colorado River Gorge: Boulder Scrambling & Route Finding the route finding was basically..."I just hiked down that wash, so to get back I have to hike back up."  Plus it is kinda hard to get lost as far as I hiked, which probably totaled <4 miles at the end of the day.

Let me tell you about hiking at the LCRG.  It is primitive.  There are no trails, no trail heads, no blazes, no cairns, no nothing but tons of rocks ranging in size from babies heads to a VW buses. Oh & a sheer cliff face whose terminus is the rocky shore of the Little Colorado River 2,000' below.  You can probably already guess.  This was one of my favorite places.

You need a permit to hike on Navajo Tribal Land where the LCRG is.  My conversation with the lady selling the permits went like this...
"Do you have a trail map?"
"No. There are no trails."
"So, no trailheads either?"
"No, it is just a canyon with no maintained trails."
"How do you get down in it?"
"Find a wash."

I took my photocopied topo-map & hit the road.  The LCRG feeds into the Grand Canyon & it is outside the park boundaries on Navajo land.  I found a wash on my map, right near an overlook off of the highway.  Perfect.

Although you can access unmaintained trails via GCNP.

Funny thing was walking though the vendors at the overlook. They were all selling dream catchers, Navajo silver jewelry, turquoise, toy spears for the kids, etc...I wanted to get Laura some earrings so it worked out perfect.

The hiking was stellar.  About a 1/4 the way from the beginning of the wash I hiked down & lowered myself down a sandstone shelf & set out towards the cliff.  Scrambling down a mess of boulders, lowering myself, hanging & dropping, hoping from one to the next was hard work & when I turned around to look at the ground I had covered all I could see was a wall of rocks.  It did not look the wash i was looking at from above.  Still with some way to go to the edge of the canyon, I decided to back track just to make sure I was going to get back up.  It looked way more difficult than it was, but for a second I started thinking about having to spend the night out there and that did not seem to appealing.

After building my confidence by making sure I could get out, I kept going.  It was such a change of pace from hiking at the Grand Canyon.  For one there was no trail, but the greatest thing is that I didn't see another soul the whole time I was out & the only thing I heard was the wind.  It was a beautiful day too. I have only had one day of bad weather & that was driving from Monument Valley, AZ to Moab in the rain & the snow & well, it snowed in Winter Park, but you want snow when you are skiing.

After I made it to the edge of the canyon, I explored as much as the edge as I could , then I stopped & had a snack, snapped some photos, took in the view until it was etched into my memory & started my climb back out.  I ended up hiking all the to the top of the wash which ended in this little sand stone cove that I imagine is a pretty cool waterfall during a monsoon.

If you are looking for some serious hiking & solitude near the GC, The Little Colorado River Gorge is
the place. It is easy to get in over your head, so you need to keep that in mind & be prepared for

The Little Colorado River Gorge

Looking up the wash I climbed through.

Adopted Navajo dog for the day (he adopted me, well, my cars shade at least).

Hostel Life: A Snapshot

Better label your food.  I took it a step further & actually labeled what was in my food sack. A burrito....mmm...burrito.  I had a good experience staying at hostels & will definitely be searching them out for a place to stay next time I travel .  I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed though.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Flagstaff, AZ & The ol' GC (pronounced cee-gee)

Long time, no words.
OK, so this is going to be a retrospective.  I am on the last few days of my trip Into the Mild.  I am currently  living it up (not really, but sorta) at Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway, CO.  I got a room ( a real room not a hostel, but I do have shared bathrooms) & plan on soaking tonight & tomorrow with a hike in Ouray thrown in...maybe.  It has all been great I need to soak it all in.

After Zion National I went south to Flagstaff (or Flag as the locals call it) Arizona.  Flag was by far my favorite city I went to.  I love that town.  Great outdoors activities in all directions, good beer, good pubs, good food, good vibes...just a nice laid back town.  My kind of town.  I want to live there some day.

I stayed at the hostel there in Flag & had a great experience there.  I met lots of cool people & even met up with a few in Sedona later on.  Flag was my base camp for about a week.

My first outing was to the Grand Canyon.  It was an hour drive north to the Desert View entrance of the park.  At this point my NPS annual pass paid for itself & then some.  It cost me $80.  I picked it up at Colorado National Monument, my first NPS stop.  The Grand Canyon is an experience.  It is big and lots of people go there.  From all over the world.  Most in Tour buses.  There is a highway that runs along the rim with pullouts so you can take photos.  I saw lots of older women having their picture taken with their dogs, most were wearing sweaters...the dogs & the women.  

I didn't get to see the Grand Canyon that I wanted to see.  I originally planned on hiking overnight & sleeping under the stars in the big ol' ditch, but it was cold.  Too cold for me sleep outdoors.  It was in the 20's...& yes, that is snow on the rim in the photos.

I camped with lows in the upper 20's in Moab but I had the car right nearby loaded with my extra parka, blanket, propane heater, etc...

I will plan better next time, because I want to the see what I can of the Grand Canyon that The Man Who Walked Through Time saw (book by Colin Fletcher, read it).


I hiked for a bit down a snowy & icy Bright Angel trail.  It was a crowded hike, but the vistas were outstanding.  After my hike I drove the length of the park like any good ol' American & even stopped & made a purchase at the grocery/souvenir mega-mart....a pair of nail clippers because I neglected to bring a pair & by this point I some wicked talons growing.

I drove back to Flag & made a loop by driving through the San Francisco peaks via Hgwy 100.  It was a great drive & I got to see how much snow they can get in Arizona....lots.  

I am glad I went & I will be back to do the ol' GC the proper way...backpacking to the bottom...when it is warmer.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Zion National Park

I love love love Zion.  It is one of my favorite places on this planet.  I spent a couple of days there hiking & exploring.  I hiked 12 miles with 3,000' of vertical one afternoon, explored a hidden canyon & hiked to Observation Point, which is one of the highest points in the park.  The views from up top are enough to give you chills & bring a tear to your eye.


How are you Milwaukee?

After a night of many beers at the Flagstaff Brewing Company with some hostel mates I have a road nickname....."Milwaukee".  I like it but I prefer Tennessee.  Oh well, I guess that is what I get for moving.

I owe you all lots of pics. I will get caught up soon.  Today I leave Flagstaff driving to Sedona.  I am giving a ride to a fella' I met here who is a musician on his way to Sedona also.  I have met so many interesting & cool people on the road.  It has been nice.  I will post photos when I get them dumped & uploaded.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hostels I have stayed at...

I have never stayed at a hostel.  Needless to say I was a little apprehensive about the experience being a married 32 year old.  It has been great so far.  I did my research & passed by the hostels that had sub par internet reviews.  I stayed at the Rocky Mountain Inn & Hostel in Winter Park, CO, the Lazy Lizard Hostel in Moab, UT & I am currently staying at the Grand Canyon International Hostel.  I recommend them all. 

Rocky Mountain Inn & Hostel has been, by far the nicest, but also the most expensive @ $24 for a bed.  This place is nice & the guests run the gamut of ages & backgrounds.  Most people are there to ski & snowboard so their is always a conversation about how everyones day was on the Mountain.

The Lazy Lizard in Moab is cheap & the accommodations are very, well...Moab.  It is a cool place & cheap.  I had a private room for $23 & dorm beds are $9.  It is a great home base for all your travels in & around Moab.

I am now at Grand Canyon and/or DuBeau Route 66 International Hostel  which is very cozy & has a great energy. Beds are $19 & the joints (they have two locations close to each other) are right across the tracks & Route 66 from downtown & all the action (nightlife, dining, shopping & drinking) in Flagstaff, although there seems to be lots do on both sides of the tracks.  They have a free "continental beakfast" that is a nice supplement to a real breakfast.

The great thing about hostels is the commons areas.  You can meet the most interesting people & have the greatest conversations hanging out, cooking your dinner, eating it or just doing laundry.  I have met people from all over the world & the US.

If I happen to stay in any more hostels I will definitely do a quick write up & let you know what I think about them.