Thursday, June 26, 2014

City of Rocks

We owe a huge THANKS! to the Dalpias family for planning and inviting us to tag along on a super fun climbing trip to City of Rocks over Memorial Day weekend.

I hadn't been climbing in City of Rocks since high school, and I had forgotten what a beautiful, unique place it is.
The kids loved running around the granite rocks with their friends and cousins.

It was sooo pretty!

As were my lovely ladies.

And we had a big group with lots of great friends and family.

Of course, the climbing was impeccable.  This is the view from the top of one fun climb, "Delay of Game," that many in our group climbed.

Suzy, conquering "Delay of Game."

 This was Tenny's first official climbing trip, and he was a natural.

And the below picture is probably my favorite of all, because it shows my youngest sister Heather half-way up "Delay of Game."  Look carefully--and click the picture to enlarge, if needed--and you'll see her almost dead center of the picture, making an impressive ascent up the spine of "Delay of Game."

Cute, but crazy.

Sunsent over our "Twin Sisters" campsite.

And this is a super fun climb that we set up near our campsite and spent the weekend trying to climb.  We named it "Mean Mama," and we all left a little pride, sweat and blood on this one.  In this picture, uncle Tom is showing off his mad skillz and remarkable upper-body strength.

Super fun trip, and one we all hope to do again!

4MM - Yesterday was hike day (3.1)

OK, so it wasn't yesterday.  But the third season of the Four More Miles Hike Club is officially underway.  We kicked off our third season with a delightful little hike to Donut Falls up Big Cottonwood Canyon.

This is a popular, family-friendly hike that ends up at the aptly-named falls.  It's a little hard to see in that picture, but Donut Falls consists of a river that drops down through a hole in the rock and then runs out the bottom.
And, evidently, this is what happens when "forever" doesn't work out but you advertised on a Quaking Aspen that it would.

We're looking forward to a great new season of hiking, and, as always, all are welcome to join!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lady Mountain - ZNP

Suzy's brother Jason has been talking up the "Lady Mountain" climb in Zion National Park for over a year, and I finally had a chance to climb it with him.  It lived up to the hype.

It's less than 2 miles to the top of that mountain (from the Zion Lodge parking lot), but you climb 2,675 feet in that short distance.
And I do mean climb.  Here's Jason navigating one of the climbing sections.

And, of course, this is Zion National Park, so it's stunning from top to bottom.

OK, mom, maybe don't look at this next picture.  Jason took this of me climbing the "ramp" section about 1,500 feet above the valley floor.  Exhilerating.

And, evidently, falling deaths are much more common on other Zion hikes, like the extremely easy, and mostly paved, Emerald Pools trail.  From the Zion National Park FAQ page:

Q. How many fatalities from "falling" have occured in Zion National Park?A. Below is a list of fatalities from "falling" in Zion National Park, dating back to the parks establishment. The info below is incomplete. The below list includes only incidents where suspicious activity was not involved.
Angels Landing 5
Cathedral Mountain 1
Emerald Pools 7
Lady Mountain 2+
Mt. Kinesava 1
Mt. of the Sun 1
Observation Point 2
Watchman 2
East Rim Trail 1
Checkerboard Mesa 1
Crazy Quilt Mesa 1
Deer Trap Mountain 1
Hidden Canyon 2
Canyon Overlook 2

OK, those stats may be a bit deceiving, since it doesn't show how many people hike those trails.  Compared to the thousands of people on the Emerald Pools trail, and the hundreds on the Angels Landing trail, we didn't see anyone else on the Lady Mountain climb, and evidently that's typical.
The Lady makes you work for it, but boy is it rewarding.  (Below: looking down the canyon.)

This one is looking up the canyon.  For those of you familiar with the Park who want the orientation, Observation Point is the ridge on the horizon, and Angels Landing (half as tall) is the ridge in front of that.

This is a picture I took 6 years ago from Observation Point looking down the canyon.  In this picture, Angels Landing is the first ridge, and then Lady Mountain is the tall one behind that (on the flat-looking ridge, the fourth bump from the right).

Anyway, this is a super fun climb and definitely one I'll be doing again.  In a nutshell, I would describe it twice as tall as Angels Landing, 4 times as hard, 100% less European tourists, and 7 times as rewarding.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Retreating with the family in Phoenix


 This year, Jeremy's firm's annual retreat coincided with the end a long trial, which was proceeded by months of single parenting by Suzy while Jeremy prepared for the trial.  And this meant that the whole family was in need of a retreat, and a chance to spend time together.  And what better way to do that than drive to Phoenix and back in the family mini-van?

We took the long way to Phoenix, and the long way back, and we were rewarded with beautiful views, lots of adventures, dozens of potty breaks, and many, many DVDs to entertain the kids.
And, while it wasn't quite as relaxing as just having the two of us in a nice resort for a few days, we were so glad that we took the kids on this one.  They loved the food.

They lived in the pools.

And they even slept much better than they normally do because they were so exhausted from the long, adventure-filled days.

The only problem with these kinds of road trips is that you discover so many places you would love to explore, but just don't have the time to do it.  Like Marble Canyon, where we only had 5 minutes to explore but were treated with a show of California Condors scavanging around the cliffs of the headwaters of the Grand Canyon.

And we would have loved to have explored more in and around the Navajo and other reservations--located on stunning desert lands--but there just wasn't enough time this trip.
So, we added about 10 more destinations and activites to our ever-expanding bucket list, which is probably the mark of a good trip.  And it was a good trip, especially because we finally got some much needed family time.
Who ever said law firms don't bring families together?