Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Walk Through The Zion Narrows...

... will teach you how an ant feels on a sidewalk in Wall Street... if it was thigh deep in water!

This is gonna be one of those Rare Short posts. Yesterday's journey Celebrating The Box Canyon Blogger's Birthday beat this ol' crip to mush! ;) At least I Thought that's what we were sorta doin'. I wasn't Really aware they was all snickerin' and conspirin' to see how the old Cowboy Biker was gonna hold up in a Foreign en-Vi-ron-Ment! :)

Like I've said on more than one oh-K-shun... I don't swim... at least what I do can't be called that... so... wanderin' up trails where the only way is IN the River... and the River is littered with slickery round rolling rocks... and the water is trying to push you to New Orleans... is an event of sorts.

I'll only post a couple of pics this morning to whet your whistle maybe... until I have time to sort through the 365 :) photos I made in the Largest Slot Canyon in the World.

First thing I did was use my 7P's and get properly geared up. Being wet for hours is bad enough... bein' wet and COLD is not something that toots my whistle or any other part of my Oh-Nat-uh-mee.

Them others claim toughness... yeah... well judging by their red knees and crossed eyes and the occasional comment...

... I dun it right! :)

We traveled 8 or 9 miles up and back. Clear up to the end of what they call Wall Street in the Zion Narrows...

Along the way, like I said I made juuuuuuuuuust a few photos... I'll be posting probably a day or two of the Narrows. ;)

*The Zion Narrows*

We've got to move today; Used up our 14 days of convenient campground... and I'm behind gettin' loaded up and road ready... something about being STOVE UP! :)  But... as soon as I get moved... Dry out... and get where I can move something like a healed up cripple would... I'll start to sharin' the trip in more detail.

I got SO MANY good pictures of this journey... and one magical awesome Video!!!

*Somewhere in the Zion Narrows*

Till then... let's just say... The Zion Narrows are... a Stone Cathedral... and a River Runs Through It. Pure and simply, a Gorgeous, Stunning place. It is one of those places where a photographer struggles to capture the scale and the Depth of the Spirit that lives here.

He sees his photographs... but keeps going back to make just one more try to Get It Right... and every time he does... the light has changed... the Canyon has changed... and he learns some more.

I'll be back with the story

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In Utah is a Hidden Canyon

We've been to Zion quite a bunch of times now... and there's still plenty of hikes we've not taken and plenty we've not done the whole route! ;)

Heidi ain't truly fond of high narrow places... and a touch of vertigo makes things interesting for me! People look at you funny when you're hanging on the chains wobblin' and weaving. :) I've learned to mostly wobbly and weave the right directions at the right times. Ha Ha!

... and like that guy on the North Rim said; "Life is better on the edge."

I've heard the Indians say that Ravens are a bad omen? ... I wonder what a Woodpecker is when you're just leaving the rig for a Canyon Hike?

That Ol' cottonwood must have been fairly buggy. Lil' Woody was workin' it over for at least a half hour 'fore we left.

I gotta say, I don't have a high fondness for Woodpeckers.

Back on the ranch in Cherokee Park one of my battles was maintaining a set of cabins that was under constant assault by a team of flickers... Some looked like they'd been chewed on by a chain saw.:(

and it bein' a Federal Offense to use extreme prejudice on the wood choppin' buggers makes defense a difficult proposition. But, I did however finally succeed and routed the noisy peckers! ;)

We got on board to head up canyon. The tram let us off at the Weeping Rock stop and up we started up the mountain...

The Canyon is starting to change color this week... All up the trail you walk past bare slick rock and then through leafy retreats hanging on the cliff face...

 We stopped in one spot for a bit; having a conversation with a young couple that were climbing up to observation point...

... while Heidi caught her breath :)

I'm not one for crowds, not even a little... but... the people you meet on high trails are generally the best sort... too bad we can't figure a way to get them to "run the show"!

They have a truer and more balanced view of what's proper and balanced. Maybe that's what we need! Like for the army... a "Political Draft" ... Draft Hikers and Wanderers for two years service... "This won't fit in a rig... can't afford that... Can it!" Ha ha...

The first part of the trail is easy enough if steep. But from my perspective, it's wide and secure... Heidi might have a differing opinion though... gauging from the bruises on my hands. ;)

When you're in the mountains it's a good idea to look back on occasion... It helps the country look familiar so you don't get lost on the way back... but you also get a different view of the same scene. Two for one!

This was another of those difficult days... We had miles and altitude to conquer... but I couldn't make much progress. Take a picture; turn the camera off; take two steps; "Look at that!"... turn the camera back on - take the picture; Rinse, Repeat.

:) It's hard to get anywhere sometimes.

There are difficult times, obstacles and windy trails brewing up ahead. They weigh on my mind. It's places like this that keep me moving. High mountain trails... Canyon paths... desert breezes keep me focused on what's the proper priority.

What comes... comes. There's not a thing I can do to stop it. I'll deal the best I can when the train pulls into the station. Till then I'll live... and THIS livin' is what gives me the strength to endure the times that aren't Shining Times.

Having pictures of Glorious times and places engraved on your brain and in your heart are the Rocks you can hold on to when the winds are roaring and the streams are raging in your world.

Ask guys that have been in hell on earth situations for a time; What they did, how the handled it to keep on moving... many, most even will tell you they had a place in their minds they could go off to... The joys and peace of Home in their hearts... a picture they could hold up behind their eyes... That was the lifeboat that carried them through.

This... is my Home... My lifeboat.

We'd climbed as far as Heidi was willing to go and stopped to have a late lunch... While we ate, up behind us, soaring over Observation Point were a pair of what we believe are those rare Condors...

Just a black speck in the sky... This awesome Nikon P510 was able to zoom in and capture a decent shot... From just a tiny black line up over the mountain to being able to actually see the bird; pretty amazing, hand held and all.

*California Condor Soaring Over Zion*

*California Condor*

If you had a hankerin' for such a travel camera they can be had pretty easy... Nikon Coolpix P510 16.1MP Digital Camera with 42x Optical Zoom - (Google Affiliate Ad) Just tell 'em Brian sent you! :)

Well, Heidi told me that was as far as she was goin'... but it was cool sitting in the shade of the canyon so I "shouldn't take too long scouting what was up ahead on the narrowing trail."

Like on the trail to Angel's Landing... where the way gets narrowest... chains have been hung on the sandstone walls for the faint of heart to clutch on to.

Just don't wander too far off the trail ... Ok? :) The trip is a lil' quick and the landing is pretty rough!

This is where I turned back... The "trail" continues on up that narrow slot between the walls, scrambling over boulders and deadfall... Sometime I'll have to come back and finish the trail.

But for today the Mountain Fix was sufficient for my needs... so I began the return...

*Beauty that makes your heart ache... In Zion*

*The way can be narrow in Zion*

*A Zion Wall Hanging*

Your heart lifts... your spirits rise, you can't stop it. These mountains have been here forever, and will be here long after we've gone. They've weathered unimaginable storms... our little difficulties pale... It's a place to restore and fill your soul...

... and tell the lil' old lady; "I'll stand over here so you can pass...

... if you promise not to push me off!"

She promised...but that lil' giggle she made at the end kinda gave me pause. :)

I guess she kept her promise... seeing as how I didn't do any high country ricocheting.

*Hidden Canyon Trail in Zion*

*Zion Nat. Park Autumn*

*Big Bend in Zion*

*Canyon Maple in Zion*

*Another view of Big Bend in Zion*

Heidi and Betty took a stroll up the Narrows last week... Heidi wants a return show... and she's talked me into it... Mark and Bobbie are nearing our camp this morning...

Tomorrow, the way things stand... a claustrophobic, acrophobic, puss gut army crip that swims like a leaky bowling ball, and walks kinda gimpy... is supposed to go on a hike... wading up a river through a pretty near slot canyon... in October...

Oh Lordy... maybe I did take a fall to many?

Come back and see if I survived...

Friday, October 26, 2012

To a Bridge Over the River Virgin

We got up yesterday to a low of 15 degrees, after running a bottle of propane dry during the night. Yes sir... it was time to retreat to a softer camp.

*How does a HOT Bike, get that cold?*

Uh Huh... time to run south 'fore my scooter gets frozen so solid she fossilizes!

The Box Canyon artists are wandering their way toward Zion, so we just retreated to there ahead of  'em hopin' to link up before we pull farther south ahead of 'em.

One of the definitions of Zion is; "an imaginary place considered to be perfect or ideal" ... So Zion is imaginary... and Yamaha is Real... curious. ;)

Only, the Zion we know sure ain't imaginary. The feeling we get here is for sure and for certain. It brings us back again and again. Just 80 miles or so south of that frigid camp in Red Canyon... and we're back on sunny slopes...

*The Grotto in Zion*

... and warm leafy sanctuaries...

Wanting to chase the chill of last night away we went up to the emerald pools for an afternoon walk...

It's been a fairly dry summer I guess. The falls into the basin are much reduced from the storms that came through in the spring when we hurried to get here from Ash Creek in Arizona.

It's a routine we seem to be falling into... wandering along some familiar trails... seeing the land in different seasons... and over the years. You can't learn a place in a single day... or a single year... you have to keep coming back to see all it has to give.

The fall up higher is well advanced. The cold there has been strong enough to bring out the sharp color in the maples and the oak brush... here in the sheltered canyon, I don't think the color will be as vibrant this year.

It's staying too warm and turning cold too slowly... and this Ol' drifter ain't complaining! I can do cold, I've proven it over the years... But being Able to... and Wanting to are two VERY different things! :) Yes Sir... and Ma'am... I have become a lover of the Sun as I gain in years.

I park the rig in the sun... I point my radiator in the direction of where it's gone... when it fades away from the camp I'm in...

Chasing the sun on a ribbon of highway... Kind of has a nice ring to it.

Coming down away from the pools the trail runs along below the canyon walls leading you back toward the Virgin River.

You walk along, passing through a few thickets of canyon maple, juniper and canyon scrub that shelters a quiet and peaceful place...

Your feet move slower... not wanting just yet to continue south. trying to hang on to what is...

You try to resist the change, wishing the good things could last longer... working hard to engrave the visions, and scents and sounds of the canyon on your brain... like a photograph...

But... Like it or not... you've no choice... continue you must... and down the canyon through the trees toward camp you go...

All the way to the river... to another bridge you must cross...

*A bridge over the Virgin river that leads to...*

... always moving toward Zion... that imaginary place of perfection and sunny slopes...

Life on the Road... in Search of Zion

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When the Weatherman Says Go... Sometimes You Should GO!

Yesterday, we took a hike up around the end of the ridge we're camped up against and up the drainage on the other side.

*Our Red Canyon Camp*
I collected this pic as we climbed up over the ridge coming home... much to Heidi's discontent ;) and just before this sunset...

*Kind of an appropriate Sunset for Red Canyon, don't you think?*

We've been watchin' the weatherman's reports for a couple of days. He kept sayin' it was gonna get less than prime 'round here. Buuuuut I've been waitin' on one of my lil' checks to get put in my bank... so I could hop on the bike and run over to Escalante... where they've got one of a certain brand of "other" bank so I could just pass it on. :)

So... this morning that deposit was confirmed so I rolled the Raider off the truck and hopped on to ride east into the sunshine...

Riiiiight up until the point I turned around and headed back... and rode through the misty rain and spittin' snow... buuuuut I broke back out into the sun again, so all was well... outside of it still bein' durn cold at 65 mph!

Well, we'd been talkin' of pullin' out a day earlier than we'd planned. Heidi's weatherman been sayin' a low of 13* Thursday night!!! and mine was sayin' only 28* ... still gettin' chilly for my southern lovin' bones.

Thought we'd take a walk when I got back from the bank run... and consider our options... so we walked south around the end of the ridge again... herself refusin' to make a rerun over the top ! :)

*The next drainage east from our Red Canyon Camp*

It's a pretty valley over there. The bottom is filled with that Giant sage that stands 6 foot tall and better. Down through the middle is a deep cut dry river bed that shows signs of bein' pretty nasty in rainy weather! 8 foot deep sheer walls and not so many places to climb out if you got caught down in there in a gully washer!

*I wouldn't be the first lone waddy to get buried in a dry river bed!*

Not to mention plenty of evidence of how silly it'd to go strollin' along the top ~ too close to the lip! WHOOOEEEE! a carnival ride. You just have to hope you land on the top!

We went pretty near as far as yesterday... after all the sun was shining again... right?

*A Sagebrush valley in Utah*

And like i said, it's a pretty valley so a walk through the sage is kinda nice...


Just a few more steps and it was beginning to look like we've hung around this camp toooooo long!

'course... as soon as we crossed back over the riverbed and made the turn coming around the end of the ridge nearing home... It was back to blue sky. If you don't like the weather in the west, give it twenty minutes, it's likely to change.

But it purty much made the decision for us... Camped up here at nigh 8000 feet the nights are gettin' cold! Back down there in Zion, near 4000 feet lower, bald headed old busters can sleep without the furnace turned on! ;)

So,come the dawn, we'll roll back south again for our last visit in Zion while we wait to see if the Box Canyon crew makes it south 'fore we have to run for our NASCAR commitment.

Headin' South Again ~ Before the Winter Snows Arrive in Force

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Put Your Boots on the Trails to Find the Power of Bryce Canyon

One of the things that makes Zion so striking in your eyes and heart is that you are IN the canyon; not standing on some overlook looking down into it. You are in the picture. You are part of that life... not just observing it.

That said it still takes more than just walking through it. You do have to make the conscious effort to open your heart up to the possibilities of a place.

Now... don't go gettin' all foamed up worryin' that the ol' buster has gone mush brained! That's nothing new anyway. The canyon lands, the high lonesome and far country have always been spirit lands to me. They have always been the places to restore my faith and peace. They are the air I need to breathe.

The Grand Canyon and Bryce are more difficult to both get the feel of and photograph for that same reason. If you stand apart you will never get to know them. You can't remain aloof and learn their secrets.

With each of them you start, standing above and somehow separate from them. To really experience the spirit and soul of such places you have to get away from the paved trails and guard rails. If you want to gain the power of the land that Thoreau, Emerson and Muir wrote about you've got to put your boots on the trail.

You've got to move your concentration away from maps, Ipods, gps's and your IRA... and just go quiet. You won't hear a thing if you leave all that noise screaming between your ears. Put it aside and let something pure and real take seed.

Again this isn't earth worship... it is walking in the purity of creation... without all the distracting and useless noise of soh-sigh-uh-tee blocking out a clear and joyous "conversation". This is where I go for a conversation with the Boss. No intermediaries required.

Getting IN to the Canyon, we started at Sunset Point on a three mile hike. I'm thinkin'... considerin' the only way out is UP... it likely equals six or seven miles of flatland walkin'!

That first section you wander along the rim of the canyon toward Sunrise point and then drop off the edge down a dirt path headed for Queens garden. No worries... I saw some fellas older and more stove up than me!

In places the trail passes through doorways cut into the crumbling stone... and opens new vistas as you walk through. Here inside the canyon there is beauty that many... maybe most even... see only as barren and tortured rock...

Life struggling to survive...

*The Beauty of Bryce Canyon*

I am sometimes saddened by the people I see on the trail. Their focus is on the paper map in their hands... Where have we come from and Where are we going? ~ and in the process ~ miss so much.

Too often they can't answer that question... because they pay so little attention to Where they Are... and yes I'm talkin' about a lot more than the dang map, or a walk in the park...

I can't tell you what to think. Ok I could but I won't :) I don't know the answers for you... just... think on it some... Things like; What is the value of something offered to you that is free?  Zero plus Zero = Zero... Nothing is ever free. There is Always a price. If you sacrifice true treasure for a valueless "Gift"... who has won the deal? ... and what is the true cost of the free "gift"?

What lights up your heart? What feeds your soul? It's those things of value to spend your life pursuing... not careers whose only benefit is corruptible dollars. 

*The Queen? and an animal... ?*

Walking in such places as this... or straddling my motorcycle in the wind... that's where my mind wanders.

Down in the bottom of Bryce Canyon is The Queens Garden. It's named for a rock formation that most see as the likeness of Queen Victoria. If you crank up your imagination a lil' bit more... you can see her standing on a camel. ;) Can you see it?

I'll help out a bit...

Does this help a lil'?

I personally don't see that it takes that awful much imagination. A little mascara and lipstick and it'd be lifelike! :)

*illegal Rock cairns that keep coming back in the bottom*

Yeah, they don't want everyone piling rocks in the canyon... that opens a can of worms they'd have trouble stopping... but every time they knock these down... they come right back. These popped up in just three days... We were showing our pics to a ranger in the visitor center to get our "pins" for walking the Hoodo trails (you'll have to go to the park and hunt that up yourself!) and he spotted this pic as I was scanning through for our "Proof" pic... "WHOOOOAAAA! Go back!" he said.

"I just wiped those all out Thursday!!" He sounded a mite frustrated. So... I'm bettin' the "ringleader" culprits are gonna find their purty faces on a trail cam or two. ;)

We had a guest join us for lunch.

He/she flitted about and landed on the log bench right behind me a couple of times. Brazen lil' beggar.

I got lucky and managed to get myself in gear to actually be able to catch the portrait as it zipped around us...

The personality of the canyon is completely different to me... when I am looking at it from within. When the canyon is all Around me, when I feel it's breezes on my face and can taste its scents in my nostrils; Looking up at it, in awe... rather than staring Down into it... and seeing too little.

It ain't just Bryce... it's the plains of Wyoming, the beaches of Oregon, the high mountain valleys of Montana...

Climbing back out of the canyon at Sunset point takes some ambition. They've cut a trail that seems to have used Walters wiggles in Zion as an inspiration.

Only here, they call it Wall Street... It's sort of a Walters Wiggles on Steroids!

It sounds kinda silly I suppose, but it struck me that this tree and me hold something in common. Both of us stretching and reaching for what we need.  Something a ways from where we are. ;)

This was the section that hollered out WALTERS WIGGLES!!! :)  Don't know if this old boy is named Walter... but he came sizzlin' past... his walkng sticks clicking on the path... He didn't look left, he didn't look right ~ up or down... just stick a foot out in front and click, click, click, go!

This section was only part of the climb. There was quite a lil' bit more before and behind!

*Looking back down into Wall street in Bryce Canyon*

With not so many breath catchin' breaks we made it back to the top. 'course, that trail racing Ol' boy was long gone... Click Click Click!

On the way back to camp after the obligatory stop at the Bryce Lodge for a granddaughter post card we made a quick stop in fairyland canyon and then took our rejuvenated spirits back to camp.

There's a lot more to see where ever you wander than you can see from the road. You don't have to make a ten day expedition. There's trails just about anybody can make it across if you take your time. Hell if the guide says it will take two hours there's no law that says you can't go slower and take four! Fill a ruck with water and snacks... and go.

You aren't gonna regret it... GO! Click Click Click! :)

Just Do it... One Day at a Time