November 23, 2008

Slot Canyons in Zion’s East

Category: National parks,Travel tips,Utah,Zion Nat'l Park – NidaP – 4:05 pm

If you enter Zion National Park from the West entrance, after crossing the Virgin river you find yourself doing switchbacks, back and forth until you reach a much higher level and can really enjoy the big picture of Zion mountains. There are some pockets by the road there for you not to slow the other traffic. And then you reach a tunnel which was exploded and created around 1928. Before that people would send mail or logs for houses on a cable connecting the top part of the area to the bottom of the canyon. Therefore one of the mountains here is called Cable mountain. So this tunnel was of great help for locals as well as travelers. Its length is 1.1 mi and it is pretty narrow. It has two lanes for sedan cars, but once those houses on wheels try to get through – they stop the traffic on one side. So sometimes when lots of people who can’t part with their houses travel here, there is a wait period before you can enter the tunnel. It is not so bad if you don’t rush because the views are magnificent. And then the tunnel has three holes-windows in the rock that are supposed to ventilate and give some light. But don’t plan to stop your car and look around through them. Once you get from the tunnel – there is a parking for a really cute trail – Canyon Overlook. I highly recommend it to everyone, it is only 1 mi round trip and is very diverse. But this time we decided to drive further from the tunnel and check the slot canyon on the right from the road. When it rains that canyon becomes a force of nature full of water. But as it is a desert here and it rarely rains, it is mostly a dry exotic path on the bottom of imaginary river with real fantastic walls:

The passage is sometime very narrow and those types of formations are called slot canyons.

At some places the canyon is so dark, gloomy and still have some water in deeper pools, that you have to find your way out to the top top and walk around those unpleasant places:

But then they open up again and there you can see trees growing and turning into fall colors:

It is usually much cooler in those slots than in the area around. Here and there you can notice the signs of the force of water when it rains:

Water and wind have created different forms in slots, arches being one of them.

There is a feeling of being a dust in the vastness of our Mother Nature:

Meanwhile on the high up walls winds are sculpting another arch. I am not sure how many millions of years it takes them to finish their job:

Those little maples are not the regular ones we are used to. And I am sure they are not the sugar maples, ether. They grow in the bottom of the canyon by this imaginary stream and have the form more like bushes, than trees. But nothing can beat their redness in autumn:

Once you get enough of slot canyons you can look for a less vertical slope towards the road and climb you way to there, to your car parked in one of the pockets. The other side of the road has also several interesting trails, which are not designated and are left wild for various wanderers to improvise their walks. It is usually by following the bed of a dry stream, tracking the waterways. One of such walks is called Many Pools trail. We didn’t have time to do it that day, just a little portion of it. It is late autumn and the sun is setting pretty early. Just two images of Many Pools:

For the end – a little pine that grows in a sandstone rock as seen from the road on this same Eastern part of Zion NP:

November 21, 2008

Kanaraville Canyon in its splendor!

Category: National parks,Travel tips,Utah – NidaP – 9:09 pm

We read about this canyon in our local newspaper three years ago. It is about 50 min drive from us – to Rt 15 and then a little North, one exit after the Kolob Canyons of Zion NP. Once you get off the highway on the Frontage rd. – head North for 4 miles till you see a red nicely painted barn where you turn Right and head towards the canyon. There is a parking there, but nothing else. It is on public lands so no WCs or information is provided. Therefore it is more wild, and you can experience more solitude. The only time we met several groups of people there was the time after the article was published about it. All of them were locals and all of them came because of the article. But the next year we met only a couple of photographers or romantics. This is the most spectacular of all the canyons I have seen, but that doesn’t mean in absolute sense. I still haven’t seen a lot. We visit it each October, closer to the 20th-24th, when the trees are turning into red and yellow hues. Here is the entrance to the canyon:

Though it is not in a National Park, but the path is pretty good, evidently – still popular among locals. It goes by a stream, we don’t even know its name. The stream has an interesting feature – sometimes it looks like a normal stream and sometimes it disappears and leaves a dry bed. It completely disappears very soon after you enter the narrow part of the canyon which makes it easier to walk.

At this time of the year the Rabbit brushes are finishing their yellow blooming. Behind my back there is an entrance to the Narrows. It takes 40 min to walk there:

The pictures are taken in three different trips this year and last year. So some trees are still green and others are already in their full autumn colors. Some are already naked…

Sun or cloudy – those colors were so divine that I can’t resist to share more and more with you:

At some point the canyon becomes very narrow and sun never gets to its bottom, so it is cold there.

Then again it widens and lightens until you get to a place I called “meatgrinder” – an analog from Tarkovskyj’s movie “The Stalker” which at some point was very popular in previous Soviet Union where I grew up and learned to understand the world:

HOw long does it take to go deeper into the canyon – as long as you want. We walked for a hour once the Narrows started and there was no end to be seen. The walk becomes harder, more boulders and trunks to climb in order to proceed, but at the same time it becomes more dramatic. You can feel the force of flash floods that happen when it rains – huge trunks of trees are brought and stuck in the middle of the canyon. Going out is also nice for you see the walls of the canyon in a different angle and it seems it is a different path. You start noticing smaller things:

And once you get into the sun again – it seems so warm and nice…

Out walks usually last around 3-3.5 h. But it is your choice.

When we returned home I took a picture of our Mexican sunflower by the kitchen window together with Chrizantemums:

August 1, 2008

Zion Narrows

Category: National parks,Travel tips,Utah,Zion Nat'l Park – NidaP – 11:52 am
Summers are deadly hot here. Or so I perceive them. The only thing one can do in the park, to my opinion, is hiking the Narrows. Well, there are people who enjoy the heat after spending long and cold winters in the Midwest e.g., so I don’t argue with them. I am happy they can do some other trails in addition to the Narrows. But not me. In the temperatures of human body my body refuses to move… Zion Narrows is the only place you can expect to get some relief from summer’s sweltering heat. Not as much for the reason they are narrow, as the name says, and the sun is not baking the bottom all day long, but because first – you have to walk in the water, and also – there are plenty of places where ancient water that was rained long long ago is soaking through the sandstone walls and creating a natural swamp cooler. But before you get into the Virgin stream you have to suffer a little. You have to get onto the shuttle which is not air conditioned and though the drivers are very interesting in telling their stories about Zion NP, at the end of 45 min ride you start feeling sorry for them – to work all day in this heat…Good they manage not to turn into dried prunes.
Then you get out in the last stop which is called Temple of Sinawawa because there is a natural rock pulpit and an altar in the middle of the square surrounded by tall walls. Good thing there is a toilet there. After that – no water, no toilets, you have to think and organize your life around it. So you start walking from that point towards the depths of the canyon on a paved path – quite a comfortable one. It is 1 mile to the end of the path called Riverside Walk which ends with some stone steps landing to the rocky shore of the river. This is where crowds gather. The ones who prepare themselves for the hike, change their shoes if they have the better ones for river walk, or take off their shoes they are sorry to get wet, and the ones who don’t plan to hike into the river, just watch the hikers or sit on the bigger rocks and have their lunch:

Having that in mind and being already hungry we had our lunch before the very end of the path:
Lunch in Zion
Lunch in Zion

As you may see we were using our ski sticks for support in the water as well as gaining more speed on the even path.

Squirrels are spread out all over that path. They are not afraid of people and some are pretty fat. Which leads to a thought that maybe not all visitors sustain from feeding them which is forbidden…

Here is the beginning of the trail in the water. Yes, very crowded even on a regular weekday. I guess main reasons being school holidays and kids like water. But nevertheless there was enough space for everyone. No accidents, peaceful strolling up and down the river, with some kids swimming in deeper places. We tried to find shallow passages so that our butts don’t get wet, though the water wasn’t cold at all.

This is a very popular place for taking pictures – the stream rolling down the slope is very cute and refreshing. Sometimes you can even see the canyoneering people landing down the stream in zigzags while attached to ropes. This is also the place where the barefooted hikers finish their hike into the canyon.

But on that particular day the crowds proceeded further. And it was beautiful, but not as beautiful as getting far more deeper into the narrows of the canyon as you will see.

As seen in the pictures the sun was especially bright, which is usual here, but because it was July, not September, there was practically very little shade, it was beating us or caressing us (depending on perception), and a hot wind was blowing all through the canyon. So at that point I gave up, as never before, my body refused to walk further…way too hot even in the water. Thanks God my husband proceeded and he took those beautiful pictures of the narrows:

Isn’t it like in a fairy tale? And yes, there are no crowds any more, only the strongest can get a glimpse of the best views -fair like in fairy tales…

The view on the way back:

My sole advice for travelers in summer – try to start you day as early as you can. There is some though very little morning coolness, freshness. Try to capture and use it.

The end.

July 11, 2008

Wahweap Hoodoos by Page, AZ

Category: Arizona,National parks,Travel tips – NidaP – 4:46 pm

We did this trail on May 6th, 2008. The beginning of May was very slow with guests at our B&B, so we used one of the days off. It took the whole day. To drive to Big Water from us, Zion NP, is more than 3 h. Then we parked the car at the end of a dirt road which lead deeper from Big Water and ended by a very wide and almost dry river. The hard duty cars, I guess, could drive further. But we proceeded to a 9 mile walk. At first it was confusing – the mountain lines were wide apart and two almost dry rivers were meeting somewhere here. We took the road which lead to one of the streams and towards the mountains first, but after meeting very disappointed Austrians, who were confused about the map BLM gave them and after having wondered for a couple of hours in vain -we decided to cross the desert towards the previously seen wide river bed and follow it.



Though it looked attractive and led mysteriously to some hills and rocks, it was the wrong road, one has to turn left from it, cut the desert and follow the wide river bed at wetter places covered with white salts.


We had our lunch sitting in one of those rock holes, listening to the silence and looking into the vastness of nature:


Here are the very few delicate flowers sticking from the desert floor:




even the lupins:


Those are the views we saw walking further and further – it seemed endless…


But the hoodoos we were striving to see were much further…over there in the distance to the left:



At last, here they were. We saw some immediately by the river bank and some behind a corner to the left. A big group of mushroom like rock formations that happen to be sculpted by nature forces in certain rocks:




Due to occasional rains the area gets some of them are gone forever…only their dark brown heads are still sticking from a melted stem:


Some are still standing erect:


but already quite a difference in comparison with pictures we saw in galleries which enticed us to come and check for ourselves. I mean they look very different, very much melted:






That was it. We headed back all the same way in this wide space of the river which apparently has had water once upon a time… The trip took us totally 5 hours.


June 8, 2008

A trip to the Big Hole, Zion NP

Category: National parks,Zion Nat'l Park – NidaP – 6:41 pm

This was on one of the first days of May. The spring here was wonderful, the main factor being the temperature- it was not too hot. Well, except some 4 days in the middle of May which caused some people heat rashes. But the beginning of May was fantastic and a group of locals as well as some visitors collected for a trip on the upper part of Zion NP. We parked the cars on the right hand side of the road approximately half way from the tunnel to the East entrance and proceeded down to the dry wash. And then up and towards a pass in between two red typical Zion peaks. Here is how it all looked:



Lines of Zion…


Towards the pass…


Our group on the pass:


A small stream on the way down to the other side of the pass towards the Big Hole:


Still not the Big Hole, but a small one…


At last – here is she!


On top of the Hole we had our lunch:




The leaders of the group – Adrian and Delores. Adrian’s way of getting his water during the trip…