Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On the way to Lake Powell

We decided to combine our love for a good journey, our annual trip to Lake Powell, and our celebration of Pioneer Day into a 1,000+ mile mini-van tour of the great state of Utah.  There's so much more Utah that we want to explore, but here are some of the fun things from this adventure.

Dinner at Cafe Diablo in Torrey, where dad forced everyone to eat rattlesnake (among other savory and delicious entrees).

A grueling etch-a-sketch match.

Exhausted children after long days of exploration and even longer nights in a single hotel room with our adorable but teething Julie Day.  We spent this particular night in Escalante, which, in our humble opinions, is on the verge of being a really great outdoor-adventure town, like Moab.

Muscle-man posing at every scenic overlook along the amazing Route 12.

Spectacular views that reminded us that the average view in Utah is better than the best view in most states.

Boulder, Utah--which, for a city of roughly 200 people, has a really cool art scene.

Pueblo exploration at the Anasazi State Park.

Tropic, Utah--a great little town where we were exploring some middle-of-nowhere dirt roads, got caught in a huge rainstorm, and just about got stuck in the muddy aftermath to be discovered by the vultures and then by the local news.

Orderville--which has a great history, and where we kinda fell in love with a 1904 Victorian pioneer home that would make a great summer home.

And, of course, Bryce Canyon National Park--which has great sentimental value for us because of Grandpa Ross's connection to the park.  This is where our kids finally lost it, broke down in hysterics in front of all the European and Asian tourists, and where we finally decided it was time to head to Lake Powell--which has beat out Disneyland for three decades straight as the happiest place on earth (in our books).

If we ever get unpacked and bring some semblance of order back to our lives, we'll try to post some pics from the Lake Powell leg of our trip.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fremont Indian State Park

We decided to take the long way to Lake Powell this year to stop at all the sites we've just passed by the previous years and to explore Route 12.  That makes for a long trip, but literally three blocks from our house Tait yelled out "How much longer?"

But the boys forgot about the long ride when we made our first stop at Fremont Indian State Park.  Great hikes, 800-year-old drawings on the canyon walls, underground homes to explore, and lots of lizards to chase.  Super fun, and a great way to start a summer funcation.

Monday, July 15, 2013

4MM - Yesterday was hike day (2.3)

Thanks to everyone who showed up for hike day on Saturday!  We had a lovely hike through the family-friendly Meuller Park.
Unfortunately we also hit a few more snags than usual:  two of my immediate family members were sidelined with leg injuries, we got pounded with rain (beautiful, unless you forget to pack jackets for your kids), we got separated from the group, and then 2 of our original 15(or so) hikers made it to the Elephant Rock destination.  We're going to have to try this one again under better conditions.

Grandpa trying to keep up with Taiters.

Here's hoping there will always be four more miles!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lone Peak

When Suzy and the kids decided to stay an extra weekend in St. George a couple weeks ago, I decided to hike another mountain while I could do so without a child on my back.  And luckily, I found a friend--Nate Grover--who was also looking for a last-minute adventure.  The last time Nate and I hiked together was in the summer of 1999 when we hiked Union Falls starting at midnight (great story for another post).  We were long past due for another adventure.

So we decided to climb Lone Peak--the granite behemoth that hovers over the Salt Lake Valley and then, on the other side of the Point of the Mountain, Utah county.

It was not an easy climb, but it is by far my favorite mountain I've ever climbed in Utah.  It was so amazing that I can't even think of a close second.  That's not hyperbole.

Once you climb to the ridge above "Jacob's Ladder," the views are simply breathtaking in every direction for the remainder of the climb.  

Granite boulders presiding over Utah Lake.

With all the granite cliffs and spires, surrounded by snow and wildflowers, I truly felt like I was climbing in the Tetons.  The below picture is about half-way up the mountain.  Though it doesn't look like it here, the Lone Peak summit is the spire on the left of the other two peaks in the background.

I thought this tree was a great inspiration to keep going.

Though that didn't work out so well for this dude, who has been turned into a cairn.

I get paid for my use of words, but this summit truly left me speechless.  And breathless.  If you're interested, click on some of these panoramas to get the bigger size and see just how amazing these views are.  This is near the base of the ridge, looking northeast, complete with glacial lakes and amazing peaks.

Looking south along the ridgeline.

Another shot of the ridge to the summit.  Those are some great peaks on the left, and then Utah Lake on the right.  And that ridge to the summit is the first time I've ever felt afraid of heights.  You make a mistake on a few sections of that scramble and you're going to need some plastic surgery (among other things).

This is the 180-degree view from the summit to the east.  At the very far left, you can see Ben Lomond Peak (the bump on the horizon), and then on the very far right you can see Mt. Nebo (also a bump on the horizon).

Me at the summit, with Mt. Timanogos on the right.  I still get a bit sick to my stomach when I look at this picture and think of the size of the cliffs on three sides of me.  (But no, mom, I was not in danger.  And yes, I was very careful.)

Of all the amazing views along this hike, I think my favorite was actually below the summit in the "meadow" that is surrounded by the cirque.  If I could build a cabin anywhere on earth, it would probably be right there--right in the middle of the blow picture.  But I can't.  The most they'll let me do is park my tent there for a few days.  So that's what I'll do.  I'm already planning that adventure.

And now for a small confession:  Nate and I were enjoying such a lovely conversation on the way down the mountain that we accidentally lost the trail (OK, more of a series of cairns than a trail), and we couldn't find it again.  Not sure what happened.  I've stared at Google Earth for a long time trying to figure out where we went wrong, but it's a mystery.  We ended up bushwhacking for several miles until we finally found the trail again at the bottom of "Jacob's Ladder" (near the bottom of the mountain).  It's always an adventure when Nate and I get together.

But, our mishap ended up being a good thing.  Without taking that non-existing trail less traveled, we would not have found this cool waterfall, nor would I have been able to convince my children to rub lotion into my extremely scratched-up legs for the next week.

Don't underestimate Loan Peak.  But if you're looking for a real mountain to climb in Utah, this should be at the top of your list.