Saturday, April 23, 2011

Deb on a Kayak

Yesterday I convinced Debbie to try kayaking the town section of the Virgin River during high spring runoff. I have been taking various friends and family down different sections of the Virgin River over the past few years using the sit-on-top creek kayaks that I purchased. Some sections are rocky and challenging and other sections are more relaxed and less technical. The section through St. George is considered the easiest section of the river and with the recent floods the channel has been scoured and cleared of a lot of tamarisk trees. We put in at the fish dam straight south of Pine View High School and floated to the Man-O-War bridge into Bloomington. It took us a little over an hour and we had a good time. The first few miles Deb struggled a little bit, spinning around and around out of control, until she got the hang of handling the kayak. The sand waves were particularly good this year and they were quite fun as the river is running very high for just a spring runoff.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fifty Years

The day has arrived! I am half a century old. So long to my forties and hello to my fifties. Actually I am content and looking forward to the next decade of my life. Thanks to all those around me such as my wife Debbie and my children and grandchildren. To my parents for giving me a great start in life and my brothers. The Lord has given me so much and I try to thank Him every day! I live in an awesome place and have a great job and get to enjoy the outdoors often in the canyons and mountains of the southwest. Sure, I would like to work less and play more, but I know I shouldn't complain too much. I'll continue to work hard in the ER and then play even harder on my days off! This past week I was off duty at the hospital so I decided to try and do something outdoors every day with as many friends and family that could join me. I started the week with a multiple pitch rock climb with my friend John Tully at Red Rock Canyon on the west side of Vegas. The next day had me carving down snow slopes with Deb at Brian Head Resort on my snow board. It was a sunny spring day on great snow requiring sun screen and sun glasses. That evening I joined Eric and the scouts on a service project around the neighborhood. Wednesday had me in Zion National Park again with Tully climbing Ashtar Command a classic two pitch climb on Ataxia Tower. We then put the ropes in the truck and jumped in our kayaks and floated the Virgin River just as it emerges from the Narrows. We had to don wet suits as the water temp was 44 degrees. Zion is heaven on earth for me. That evening Deb and I took the sister missionaries in our area out to dinner to Ahi's my favorite local place to eat. Thursday morning Angie and I went mountain biking west of Bloomington on the Desert Bear Poppy Trail (formerly the Green Valley Loop). We then grabbed the climbing gear and headed over to Chuckawalla for an afternoon of climbing. We were joined by Deb, Sheri (yes....Sheri!), Hailey and Tully. It was one of those nice sunny afternoons at Chuckawalla that combines camaraderie, warm sunshine, challenging climbing and a great physical work out. Friday morning my friend Chad Farr and I went crack climbing above down town St. George at the Bluff Street Cracks on the Red Hill. Beautiful morning! Sunny but cool and crisp temperatures and again challenging climbing. Home for lunch and then we took the Mastercraft boat out of storage and went out to Sand Hollow and took our first wake board run of the year. The water was smooth and understandably cold but again the wet suits let us comfortably enjoy the day. I only took two wake board runs as my endurance is not yet developed but each run was great. My grand daughters joined us on the boat and loved playing in the red sand on the beach. That evening we had a grand party at our home. Deb and my girls cooked up a delicious cafe rio style dinner for all those who came. We had fun playing basketball, visiting, jacuzzi ing , and playing Kinect on the X-Box and looking at photos on the I-Mac all evening. Today has me riding my mountain bike again and attending Eric's Border League basketball game. We then will be canyoneering down a canyon near St. George. More birthday presents and of course cake. Love you all!!! (The above photos were all taken during this past week)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Pinecreek & Waterfalls

Yesterday Nick agreed to go canyoneering with me in Zion. We chose to do Pinecreek, a slot that I have done over 30 times over the years. April assures us that we would have the canyon to ourselves as the slot is usually full of cold clear water after the winter snows and rains. Few canyoneers venture into the slots this early in the year because they are so cold. I personally enjoy the canyons early because it is more of a challenge and the lack of other people. We made a stop in Springdale to rent Nick a dry suit as he is too big for any of my gear and then I visited with my ranger buddies at the EOC where they have their offices. It was there that I convinced one of the rangers (Craig) to give us a ride through the tunnel thus avoiding having to hitchhike a ride back through the tunnel after finishing the canyon. Peering down into the drainage as Craig dropped us off I quickly realized that the canyon was flowing with a considerable amount of snow runoff. In fact the flow looked like it rivaled the time I went through with Marty in 2005 when the big snows and floods hit last time. I was suddenly very excited and nervous at the same time. This was going to be a much bigger challenge than I had planned on! It was a good thing that we both had brought dry suits. Soon we were putting on our gear at stream side as we listened to the roar of the water as it dropped into the slot before us. The first rappel station was tricky to get to because of the high water and I had Nick belay me over to it. Then we began. The second drop we chose to jump instead of use the rope. That was exciting and very chilly! Our biggest challenge came at the "Cathedral Room" rappel. The 70 foot drop provided a big water fall and the pool was deep and churning. Swimming under the waterfall was crazy. Nothing like snow-melt cold water pounding you downward as you try to swim through it! The rest of the canyon went well. We essentially floated through the narrow sections as the rush of water pushed us along with the occasional toe touch on a sand bar or rock underneath. After the last rappel we took off our dry suits and began the hour long boulder hop out to the road. The sun came out and we warmed up. Another great trip through Pinecreek and the second most difficult experience for me. Purty crazy huh Nick!?