Monday, 10 March 2014

Hiking Around Moab

Sadly, our road trip is coming to an end. We didn't get any more rock climbing in due to rain in the Sedona area and a sinus cold that kicked the crap out of me while we were in Moab. After our hike in Fish and Owl Canyons I did manage to drag my ailing body around several short day hikes in the Moab area in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and Dead Horse Point State Park. (Big thanks to whoever invented sinus meds and to Andrew for his patience!) These are a few random photos.
Potholes in Canyonlands
The rim hike at Dead Horse Point had fabulous views! 

And an interesting story . . . 

These ponds looked rather out of place. They are solar evaporation ponds for mining potash. 

At Arches National Park we did a guided tour of the "Fiery Furnace" area with a Park Ranger, hoping to learn more about the geology of the area. Unfortunately it wasn't as good as we'd hoped and there were about 20+ other people on the tour. Oh well, still interesting!
Tracks from a lizard?

Twin Arches
The tour route had lots of twists and turns and a few challenges for some people.

 After the tour we went to the Delicate Arch view point.

Photo yoga.
We splurged and stayed a couple more nights at the 3 Dogs and a Moose cottages. 

Bogie's Bungalow

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Fish and Owl Canyons Hike

After gathering a few supplies in Moab, we set out on a three-day hike of Fish and Owl Canyons near Blanding, Utah. Andrew got the idea for this hike from Classic Hikes of North America by Peter Potterfield. The canyons are 500+ feet high and the scenery is spectacular!

The first challenge was getting to the trailhead in our low clearance Toyota Prius over five miles of fairly rough road. At the Ranger Station we were told the road was muddy to start but got better and this was true. Luckily most of the ground was reasonably dry after the rain a few days prior and there weren't too many large dips or bumps/rocks in the roadway.

The loop is about 18 miles (28 km) and could easily be done in two days but we stopped early each day, set up camp and then explored some of the side canyons. Not to mention how many times we stopped to look around to try to spot some of the Anasazi ruins that are supposed to be here. They blend in very well with the surrounding landscape!

Near the start of the hike, heading down into Owl Canyon. Follow the cairns down the wash for about 3 miles to get to the bottom of the canyon. A bit of a scramble sometimes but mostly straightforward.
The first of the ruins we saw.
Looking back up the wash; not quite at the bottom of the canyon yet.
There's apparently lots of animals that frequent the canyon and we were quite excited about seeing these prints (we thought maybe wolf?) once we got off the rock but then finally realized they were dog tracks following his master's foot prints. 
Interesting swirl pattern in a fallen tree.
We saw several areas similar to this where rock had fallen away from the main wall.
Nevill's Arch and crazy shaped spires.
The top layer of soil dries and peels but underneath seems to stay moist.
Finally! We spotted another ruin only because of this nicely square window hole.
Seemed like a small storage area yet the roof inside was black as if they built fires inside.
This "window" was the only opening.
Patterns in the mud. Possibly made from ice or frost??
Patterns in the mud. Not made from ice or frost!
Love the red rock and different shapes.
More reflections.
The tough life of a hiker.
This huge boulder was so interesting!
Obviously it broke off at a weak point and you can see the rocky unstable layer on the bottom . . .
. . . and then many other layers from the side view.
Big rock, big sky.
Lovely pool of water and moss.
To get out of Fish Canyon there was a very steep 600 ft hike (took about 1/2 hour).
This is the last 15 feet that required some hands on scrambling and jamming your feet in the crack. 
Back at the top of the canyon. Great views!
The happy couple! :-)

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Devil's Garden

Back in Moab we decided to check out Arches National Park. We drove the scenic road, stopping at a few of the view points along the way, and then hiked the 12 km Devil's Garden Trail. Most people don't do the whole loop but we would highly recommend it!
Balanced Rock in the sun.
(Total height 128 ft or 39 m; boulder height 55 ft or 17 m; boulder weight 3,500 tons)
Double Arch
"Landscape Arch is the longest arch in Arches National Park, and the longest national arch in the world according to the Natural Arch and Bridge Society. It is 290 ft at its longest section. More recently, several chunks have fallen from it, and the trail leading below it has since been closed for safety reasons, but you can still get fairly close from the designated viewing area." (From

Landscape Arch - about the length of a football field.
Lunch with a view. 
Rows and rows of rock!
Double O
The first part of the Devil's Garden Trail is along a well established path. The second part, which comes with many dire warnings, is a "primitive trail" and involves a bit of hands-on scrambling and trying to follow cairns through a maze of rock formations. Lots of fun and great views!
More rows of rocks and a maze to get out of.

Monday, 3 March 2014

A Beautiful Hotel and a Cliff Dwelling

"Well, I'm standing on a corner 
in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see . . ." 

We were originally thinking of doing some rock climbing in Jack's Canyon, which led us to look at what was in Winslow, Arizona. Remember the line from the Eagles song Take It Easy?

We weren't keen on hanging around waiting for everything to dry after a couple nights and a day of heavy rain so at the last minute decided to start making our way back to Moab. But Andrew seems to be really good at finding unique places for us to stay and Winslow has a beautiful old hotel that has mostly been restored (some areas are still being worked on).

La Posada Hotel was designed by the famous architect, Mary Jane Colter. (If you've been to the Grand Canyon, you've probably seen some of her smaller building designs.) La Posada has a very interesting history connected to the Santa Fe Railway and was almost victim to the wrecking ball several times over the years before being purchased for the purpose of restoration in 1997.

Mary Jane Colter was not just the architect of the building itself but also designed the gardens
and many other features of the hotel. 
Looking at the map as we headed north from Winslow, we saw Canyon de Chelly (pronounced de-shay.) Having never heard of it before, we decided to at least stop at the visitor's centre and take a scenic drive. We got fabulous views along the south rim of the Canyon but it would have been nice to have taken the time to hike down to see some of the ruins and cliff dwellings a bit closer.

White House ruins can be seen near the centre of the photo.
A closer view of the White House ruins. At it's peak it housed 100 people in about 60 rooms.
Looking down the Canyon in the opposite direction from the ruins.