Saturday, September 12, 2020

Grand Canyon - North Rim

We're in southwest Utah where John has started a project installing solar on a huge utility-scale solar farm (over a mile per side!)  He had a couple extra days off for Labor Day weekend and suggested we might drive to the north rim of the Grand Canyon?  I love the big ditch, and especially loved the idea of going up to 8000' elevation during a heat wave.  Let's go!

Our first morning, catching sunrise from Bright Angel Point, ah yes, always amazing.  And from a new vantage point for us:


Sort of including the moon in the shot:


Looking down into the Transept valley, with the North Kaibab reentrant on the left, and the main part of the canyon toward the back:


I had no idea there is such a neat little trail here, including a walkway across a very narrow ridge:


John and I had been to the north rim previously on several occasions, but almost all of them had involved a rim-to-rim-to-rim (R2R2R) run and none had involved taking the time or energy to explore.  We were excited to take a day just to drive around, do some short hikes, and see everything for the first time.

You can imagine how we giggled when we saw the warning sign - "Under no circumstances..." - and repeated that phrase often during the weekend:


Our comfortable sleeping quarters in the back of the truck, plus a new "kitchen" setup that John created for cooking breakfast oatmeal:


As expected, the North Rim lodge is as impressive as other National Park lodges, although this one is temporarily limiting which areas we can visit (to keep indoor traffic down).  We did get to see into the dining room to glimpse the masked burro, old photos, and interesting sculpture - I love it:


Wow, now this dining area view beats anything I've seen on the south rim, as far as I recall.  We should eat here sometime.


Awesome scenery from a little outdoor outcove tucked away under the building (just keep following paths and stairs around until you find it):


One of several overlooks within walking distance from the lodge (and the nearby cabins look like wonderful, peaceful places to stay overnight):


We took a walk on the Transept trail to get a better view into this colorful side trench:


The other thing we've never done on the north rim is drive out to the overlooks to the east.  Even though it was a holiday weekend, there still weren't too many people around.

Views across the river to the plains beyond, at Point Imperial:


Mount Hayden - and every once in a while I have the thought, "good thing that's not a state highpoint":


Down at Cape Royal, we found a "wedding chapel" which would be an absolutely stunning place to get married.  Love you, John!


My favorite spot was the Angels Window, first the view from the side:


Zoomed in so you can see the Colorado River through the window, plus the people on top of it!  So cool.  Of course we walked out there too.


We boondocked in the National Forest every night, and I had a bead on a spot at a "rim".  Totally worth the 5-mile drive up a slightly-bumpy/dusty gravel road, hoping we could find an open place amid all the other campers with the same idea.  Got lucky with a pull-off, complete with a lovely view down to the next "platform".  I have no idea what's up with those humps of rocks:


Trying to get a picture of Tug and the view, but I think we would need a camera mounted on a drone to capture it:


The next day we decided to hike down the hill a ways.  Not to the bottom (because, "Under no circumstances" and also because, 100+ degrees F), but we were each aiming for the Manzanita rest area/water fountain.

John trekking toward the Old Bright Angel trail at dawn:


He took some pictures of his adventure, which involved a lot of route finding and bushwhacking.  For example, this is (or used to be) the trail:


This too:


He eventually made it to the confluence and the red rocks near Roaring Springs, then crossed to the North Kaibab trail to ascend.


Meanwhile... (quarantine-while!)

I stuck to the more-travelled route and ran down and up on North Kaibab.  It was nice doing a leisurely hike down for once.

Especially since it was already getting warm in the sunnier spots.  The first overlook was still in the shade the first time I came through:


In the middle of the Supergroup rocks, a large layer that tends to be easier to move through than the steeper cliffs of the Kaibab limestone and the Redwall:


Except that the daily mule rides have ground the dirt up into fine sand, so there's a couple miles of soft trail at the top:


The tunnel is so cool:


The trail switchbacking below:


I remember the traverse along the Redwall as being a bit more harrowing the last time I was here (10 years ago) but didn't have any psychological issues with it this time.  I don't believe I've gotten any braver, so I'm guessing there has been some trail work done since then.  There's still the drop-off of course, but the trail is plenty wide and flat.  Very nice.

I can't remember if I knew this once or not, but Roaring Springs is a creek that just comes right out the side of the hill.  Quite a lot of water appears out of nowhere and drops down over pretty waterfalls.  Wow.  I think a lot of the drinking water in the whole area gets piped from this springs (hard to see, so you should go check it out for yourself when you get a chance - just remember, "Under no circumstances..."):


Something we haven't seen in a while:


I enjoyed my climb back up, admiring the rocks across the way:


It was a bit warm on the ascent, but at least we're pretty well heat-acclimated after Moab.

Super fun weekend, thanks for the great idea, John!

And one more fun sighting along the way - we almost did something like this, but elected to keep our trailer and wait for a Rivian electric truck instead.  Nice to see a proof of concept:


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Moab part 2 - trekking and rafting

Greetings from...


John was still away on his rafting class (despite the above photo suggesting otherwise), so I busied myself with more early-morning trekking/running.  We'd previously been to the Amasa Back trail area but I could only remember that we liked it.  Should be a good place to go explore more.

I started up the dirt road, pausing to check out the Birthing Panel with interesting rock art:


Someone adjusted the % grade number - the road does not really drop quite that precipitously:


A closer look - the truck appears to be carrying COVID, with the captions "mask up or belly up!" and "wealth before health":


A beautiful amphitheater of red rocks along Hunter Canyon:


Over onto bike trails, another funny sign:


These trails are wonderful for running (and I'm sure real mountain bikers enjoy them too), fun curves and dips, along with great views:


This might be Whale Rock, although from this angle it reminds me more of a many-humped camel:


The view of the Colorado River, with some haze from Colorado fires:


Now for a different perspective - some pictures from John's rafting class.  They put in at the Potash area where the water starts out calm:


Camp setup on a nice-looking beach, with colorful umbrellas for shade:


Petrified wood, always a curiosity:


Physical distancing (one of several protocols put in place to make this trip happen successfully):


Rafts loaded up and ready to set off for the day:


It must have been awesome to float through Canyonlands:


View of the river from one of John's hikes:


Rafting training in a gorgeous setting, called the Dollhouse:


Getting into some easy rapids, working on steering (John is on the back of the raft taking a picture of a classmate, with their instructor up front):


John's turn - with a little video, cool!


Another amazing view of the canyon:


John took several pictures of rocks so the class geologist could explain them - these are apparently concretions:


One of the more-rocky rapids, which the guides probably handled themselves:


Enjoying a relaxing float:


What the heck?  Human-made or natural?  Even the resident geologist could not come up with an explanation.  If you have any ideas, please let us know!


Red rock towers:


There's no limit to the beautiful scenery and views, especially when John is motivated to hike uphill:


Geology rocks!


Native American granary in the cliff:


And... the voyage is coming to an end, with the sight of the first bridge since Moab:


Back in civilization, John debated taking his bike out on the slickrock trails; I was interested in running the loop and John ended up doing some hiking around/through the area to explore instead of biking.  What a great place to run!

We started out in the nice cool hour right about dawn.  The bike path across the rocks:


It took me a bit to get accustomed to it all - the slopes, following the white dashes around, watching out for bikes.  But then I got the hang of it.  I started running off to the side and aiming for sections of rock near (but not on) the bike route, and that was a lot of fun.  I could bounce off features and take lines that bikes normally wouldn't do.  Plenty of views off to the side to gawk at.  And I wouldn't have to worry about a bike coming up behind me unexpectedly.

I love the scenery (even though the horizon is hazy from wildfire smoke):


Great views down into the nearby canyon:


Yep, it's a nice overlook!


John and I both took a picture of sunrise through smoky haze; at least it was a bit cooler without such direct sunlight on the open plateau:


Hey, there's John!  Barely visible as he walks up a wash:


Another funny sign:


One of several bikers I saw that morning:


Apparently this is the universal symbol for "cliff":


Shrimp Rock:


Fuzzy vegetation:


A view of our campground where Howie was waiting, with Arches on the horizon (barely visible):


More swoopy, fun "trail":


Overlooking Moab and the portal beyond, where the Colorado River heads southwest:


An excellent morning, and we'd love to return and run/hike in that area again sometime.

One last hike before we go, up Bill's Canyon to find a natural bridge:


It's about impossible to capture this on camera, but it sure is an amazing rock structure:


Admiring the scenery - hope we get to come back again soon!  Thank you Moab!