Posts Tagged “hiking”

Spring break was last week and just like every other time I have been in Utah, it was awesome.  The first half was spent camping in Capitol Reef National Park for a geology field trip.  A group of geology and geography students and professors hiked around the park for 3 days discussing whatever cool geology we came across.  It was super informal and very relaxing.  Best 2 credits ever.  From there I went to Zion National Park to visit some friends and get some information on a project I am doing for school.  Below are some pictures from Capitol Reef.

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This past Saturday Dan and I, fueled by mid-semester doldrums and the need to walk around in the woods, made a trip Crater Lake, Colorado.  This was not Crater Lake National Park (I would love to go there also!), but rather an awesome local treat in the San Juans.  While the names of both suggest that they are craters due to some large impact, this is untrue.  CLNP is a caldera, and Crater Lake here in Colorado is likely of glacial origin.  The hike was perfect.  A relatively short ~7.5 mile round trip allowed for lots of exploring and laid back wandering.  It was cool, with a touch of snow over much of the area.  Doesn’t get much better than that!  Of course, we couldn’t resist bringing up some juggling balls to continue our tradition of the ultra extreme sport–yes, ultra extreme sport–of alpine juggling.  The juggling pictures will be up soon, I just have to get them from Dan’s camera.  However, here are some shots from the hike…

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Crater Lake and surrounding awesomeness.

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A view heading back from Crater Lake

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This weekend Jenna and I went camping in the Weminuche Wilderness Area of the San Juan mountains just west of Alamosa.  With almost 500,000 acres, it’s the largest wilderness area in Colorado and for the most part, is awesome.  We just car camped the first night, then went onto the West Fork San Juan trail (aka Rainbow Trail) and despite it being Labor Day weekend, we didn’t see too many people.  By the campsite there were what we really went out there for: hot springs.  Essentially, warm, slightly sulphur smelling water came out of the hill, collecting in a pool created by rocks stacked up next to the river.  I didn’t get any shots of the springs (you just have to go for yourself!) but here are some things we saw along the way:

Weird looking mushroom covered in sap or something:

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A view of the San Juan River along the trail on the way to the hot springs:

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My computer was out of commission for a bit so the blogging essentially stopped…but I am now back in business!  The past few weeks have treated me well and have flown by in a scenic blur.  In an effort to escape the heat and see a new place, some fellow Backcountry folk and I went up north of the park, past Kolob Reservoir for a countryside cruise.  We raced away from storm clouds coming from behind us into thick, endless aspen forests which then opened up into huge, plush fields.

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Many of which were covered in tiny purple and yellow flowers.  On our way back we got drizzled on just a bit and as we came over a hill, were greeted with a double rainbow…always a good thing.
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Work also has been gettin’ me around the park.  From the East Rim:P1010481
to the West Rim:
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I visited probably one of the most famous logs stuck in a drainage…
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and have found loads of critters.
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There are really tiny baby lizards around now that are completely adorable and I saw my first scorpion (not in a cage) that was all of an inch and a half long.

Southwestern Utah amazing.  I urge anyone who has not been to this part of the country to get out here and see it for yourself!  With that said, I am missing the mountains, forests, and alpine country of Colorado more each day.  I look forward to being back in Alamosa but until then I plan on soaking up as much Utah (and 110 degree, sun filled days) as possible.

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Ahh…Great Basin National Park.  A true taste of the middle of no where.  GBNP can be found just across the Utah border in eastern Nevada and is home to the second highest peak in Nevada: Wheeler Peak at 13,065ft.  I went out there for a few days to escape the heat and check out some parks in the area.  It’s a very small park with only a few trails but it was worth the 4-hour drive.  After being in the desert for a while, it was great to see and feel a rock glacier and the renmants of a receding glacier.  Also, being able to visit a 3200 year old tree was quite humbling.  The hike to Wheeler Peak provided some great views from the top and it was great experience battling 70mph gusts going up it.  And believe it or not, I actually ran into someone there that I met at the Zion backcountry desk who helps with medical stuff here at the park….small world.  Heres a view from the summit…
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Since then I’ve been able to explore some new areas of Zion like the Right Fork (right), a creek walk style hike in a canyon, and the East Rim (left), a higher elevation eastern portion of the park.  Both totally different, and totally gorgeous.
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And best of all, Tuesday I went to see my girlfriend.  Her family was vacationing in Moab so I went up there to see her and check out the Fiery Furnace in Arches with them.  This is an area where you kind of just scramble around through the sandstone fins, finding your own path while making sure to follow LNT principles).  Sorry, no pictures yet!

Finally…Today I just got back from an overnight trip in The Narrows here at Zion but that will have to wait for another post but in summary…it was awesome.

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Last week I took a break from Zion’s canyons and went to visit our National Park neighbor, Bryce Canyon.  It’s about 2 hours away from Zion and not a very large park…perfect for a day trip.  Bryce tends to be fairly cooler due to its higher elevation so it was also a nice escape from the heat Zion was enjoying at that time.  It was recommended to me to take the Fairy Land Loop, an 8 mile loop that dips into some very cool features of the park.  So I did just that.  This loop was amazing and had some of the coolest landscapes I’ve seen.  It truely was like stepping into another world.  Huge hoodoos were all over the place with a sort of cemented, eroded sediment that looked like blended water colors below them.  If you get a chance you should definitely check it out.  However, because the park is so small (you can see everything in one, maybe two days), make sure you have some other places to go like, oh I don’t know, Zion!  Here are a few select pictures from the trip.  As always, the rest of the pictures are available on the flickr stream and I have now made links to each set on the right pannel of this blog.

Hoodoo 5-ball:
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The view from Bryce Point (not on the Fairy Land Loop…but quite awesome)
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I also just got back from Great Basin National Park yesterday and I will have a short write up about that soon!

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I’d like to start off by giving a heads up to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis.  Due to the fact that sometimes I may only take a picture or two a day that don’t really warrant an entirely new “set” on flickr, I’ve decided to lump all of the Zion pictures into one set.  If there are some that stand out I’ll probably put them on the respective post but otherwise you can just access the flickr stream from the link located in the, you guessed it, “Links” section on the right hand nav bar of the page.

This summer at Zion keeps getting better, and simultaneously, hotter.  Daytime temps are pushing past 100°F on the regular and tourists are pouring in by the RV load.  Despite being here for a few weeks, there are still places in the park that I haven’t been too.  This is kind of nice because it still means there are places to be explored.  In a few days I’m going on a patrol that is somewhat exploratory in that we are going to find out how much snow–yes, snow–is still in Echo canyon.  It’s a canyoneering route and large amounts of snow can make rappels impossible.  Due to this hazard it’s currently closed to the public.  In order to make sure we don’t get stuck, we will leave ropes behind.  So, rather than finishing out the canyon at the last rappel (if we get that far) we will go backwards, up canyon and ascend the ropes we left.  It’s pretty amazing there are all these little microclimates in these canyons.  The main canyon is roasting, yet in some canyons there is still LOTS of snow and ice.

And now for a few pictures:

This one is a view from Watchman Trail.  I live in the loop of houses in the lower left.  Not a bad spot!
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Here is a snow arch in Hidden Canyon.
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The end of the spring semester came and went and now, finally, I am at Zion.  Zion National Park to be precise.  For those who may not know, I got a position as a volunteer backcountry permit ranger at said park.  The job consists of working 50% at the permits desk selling permits for people who wish to go into the backcountry and 50% patrolling trails and canyons in the park checking for permits, helping visitors along the trail, and checking up on trail conditions.  Zion is home to some great canyoneering routes and I will have to patrol those as well.  These canyons and the canyoneering are the main reason I really wanted to come to Zion this summer over other parks.  Other parks and forests I was looking at didn’t offer the same opportunity to learn new technical skills like I will be able to here.

So far we have just been doing training this week.  It started with some standard computer test stuff, then we had a day of presentations from NOAA, and other departments from the park like the wildlife division, the GIS division, etc, and then a day of some more technical rope work.  Today, however, was my first day of actual “work.” First I started at the permit desk.  People line up very early in the morning to reserve their spots on the trails and canyons so it was super busy.  Then, at around 11am, we went for a patrol on the West Rim trail which was amazing.  This was the first time I have been higher up in the main canyon so it was nice to finally have a different perspective of the park.

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I applied to a bunch of different parks and forests for a job/volunteer position last month with Zion National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park at the top of my list.  A couple of weeks ago I had a phone interview with both parks for the volunteer backcountry ranger position and then last week Zion called me and offered me the position!  I took it.  The job consists of %50 manning the backcountry office answering questions and issuing permits to visitors and the other half consists of monitoring hiking trails and canyoneering routes as well as helping with special projects and maybe a little search and rescue.  This should prove to be a pretty amazing summer.  I may end up blogging during the summer but I will find out details about that soon.

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The spring break destination decision came full circle and we ended up, thankfully, going to Utah.  The areas we were originally going to visit we covered in a lot of snow so we decided on some laid back car-camping around Moab.  A few shorter day hikes around Arches and a nice long full day hike in Canyonlands were just beautiful, providing a much needed hiking fix.  The nights were pretty cold, but the days were perfect: cool and sunny.  Here are some pictures from the trip:

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