Catching Up Volume 2 – From Zion to Lake Mead

30 October 2011 in Trails/Hiking, Traveling

horseback rides, Zion National Park horses, mule ride at Zion National Park, horse trailsOctober 18 – We awoke in Zion and unfortunately could not get another site in the Watchman Campground and had to move to the South Campground. This wasn’t a big deal, but meant we would no longer have electric. So no microwave, no lights, no computer. After relocating we went out to Springdale to pick up my mom and headed back into the park. The plan was to hit some more trails so we jumped back on the shuttle bus and headed up to Weeping Rock. This is a nice trail that takes you part of the way up and out of the valley to a cove in the rock where water continually trickles and drips. After that we headed back down to the front lawn of the lodge for a picnic lunch. After lunch my mom mentioned that she would like to go on a horseback ride so we stopped over and signed her up for one later in the afternoon. We had a couple of hours before her horseback ride so we hiked to the Lower and Middle Emerald Pools. Unfortunately the pools weren’t very emerald and there wasn’t much to them due to the time of year. The emerald color comes from an algae that dies off when it gets too cold. After seeing my mom off on her horseback ride Lindsay and I decided to hike the Hidden Canyon Trail. Hidden Creek TrailThis trail takes you up out of the valley, around a very thin ridge, and back into a “hidden” canyon. The trail there is a little hairy at times. The path is narrow, steep and slippery and at times you need to hold onto a chain that is bolted into the stone for safety. But after rounding the last bend you see a deep canyon where you can venture back between two steep walls of rock. You can see where flash floods have torn through in heavy rain and at times you are forced to climb over the debris. Those few trails ate up most of the day and after meeting my mom back at our campsite it was dinner and relaxation for the rest of the night. I think I could spend a lot more time in Zion, but we had other places to see.

Golden Colors of FallOctober 19 – We awoke early, packed up everything and rolled out. After picking up my mom we were one our way to Bryce Canyon National Park. This was yet another beautiful drive. The scenery was almost amazing enough to drown out the yowls of our cats. Almost. You think sooner or later they’d get used to being in a car for a few hours everyday, but they haven’t yet. For the most part we’ve learned to ignore it. After a few hours of kitty serenades we arrived in Bryce and promptly found a campsite. The town just outside of the park was a ghost town so we figured we’d eat lunch, see the park a little and then go find my mom a hotel room. Bryce was gorgeous of course. Hoodoos, as mentioned in earlier posts, are quick amazing and unique. To me the whole of them creates the effect of a recently drained ocean floor. They are huge spindles of rock in large groups. The view out past the hoodoos and into the valley below is also quite astounding. It’s always interesting when you can see for miles. The clouds and shadows stretching over the land create wonderful patterns. Lindsay and I hiked the same trail as last time with my mom joining us for the first short stretch. Then we drove out the view points. This second time around I realized Bryce is a little bigger than I remembered. Last time we only had an afternoon and it rained part of the day so after our hike we returned to the trailer. This time we had nice weather and enjoyed several of the drive-to view points.

Good Morning Hoodoos!October 20 – We awoke for sunrise the next morning. Or I should say I did and after heading over to the rim and taking in the first dim glow of morning I headed back to the trailer to awake Lindsay and see when my mom would be up. While Lindsay slowly and hesitantly exited the warmth of the bed and trailer I ran down and met my mom at the gate. Then we drove over just in time to miss sunrise at Sunrise Point. After loading up we headed back over to her hotel to take a swim in the shabbiest swimming pool I’ve ever seen. It was an in ground pool with a greenhouse building built over and around it. 20 years ago it may have looked alright, but this greenhouse was no longer in it’s prime there were holes in the walls and roof as well as roughly thrown together patches over some of the holes. The long overhead halogen light fixates were rusting and I was glad I had gotten a tetnis shot before we left Wisconsin. After our swim began our drive over to the north end of Zion not accessible from the area of the park we were previously in. Unfortunately the road we planned to take was closed and we were forced to back track back to the original portion of Zion, cutting back through the park. We were running behind due to the detour and after having lunch we decided to skip this semi-remote, and now out of the way portion of Zion and head towards Lake Mead. It was a long day of driving, but we eventually pulled into a campground near Lake Mead.

Lake Mead National Recreation AreaOctober 21 – Last night we arrived in Echo Bay and entered a mostly empty campground. There were maybe two other campers and the camp hosts. We’d get the occasional boater loading or unloading, but for the most part it was quiet. This morning we awoke to blaring pop music and an excited announcer. Turns out this morning was the start of Ragnar. This is a relay race that starts in the northern part of Lake Mead and runs south, then over to Vegas, then out into the mountains and canyons and then back to Vegas. It’s 195 miles, 6 or 12 person teams. There had to be hundreds of runners so all morning they were starting new groups. As we drove out that day headed for another campground closer to Vegas we passed countless runners and vans full of their teammates covered in team names and slogans. Eventually we parted ways with the race route and made our way to Boulder Beach.

Boulder Beach was a little more populated with campers this time instead of runners. After setting up we headed over to Boulder City, about five miles away, for lunch. Boulder City is a nice little town with a quant main street consisting of a few restaurants and shops. We chose Tony’s Pizza and Tony’s Lounge for lunch. The Pizza portion was a small pizzeria, the Lounge was the bar next door. For $5 you could get two large thin crust slices and a domestic tap so that’s what we had. Then we headed back over to our campground and down to the lake. It’s an alright lake. It’s in the middle over the desert so it’s juxtaposition of the scenery is interesting, but  other than that there’s not much to say. It was a refreshing temperature to stand in on a hot cloudless day so this is what we spent part of the afternoon doing. After drying off and changing we headed over to the Hoover Dam. I don’t know what’s happened, but apparently my sense of scale is off. It might have something to do with my range being skewed after spending so much time in the Grand Canyon. Anyways the dam is big, but it didn’t seem that big. There is now a huge bridge towering over it and spanning the gorge of the river. This too was supposed to be an amazing sight, but it wasn’t. That is until you go down to the dam and look up at it. From there the bridge is really quite amazing. It’s huge, single arch stretches up and over the river gorge with gigantic pillars of concrete connecting it to the road above. The road above was troubling our hungry bellies as we watched Friday evening traffic crawl by. We were about join them and head back to Boulder City for dinner.

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30 October 2011 Trails/Hiking, Traveling

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