Sunday, July 29, 2012

Heaps Canyon

On July 28th I took Eric & Marty down through Heaps Canyon in Zion National Park.  Marty did this canyon with me many years ago when he was just a kid.  This was Eric's first time down the most difficult and demanding of all the canyons in Zion.  We left our home at 6 am and began hiking up the Angels Landing trail at 7:30 am.  In my previous trips through this canyon I generally have made it through in 12-13 hours.  The morning was sunny and hot and we drank most of our water on the grueling hike in over several miles gaining around 3,000 ft in elevation.  Phantom Valley was again beautiful and the terrain some of the best in the Colorado Plateau in my opinion.  Soon we were suited up in our wet suits and harnesses.  The canyon had recently had a good flow through it after a thunderstorm thus the pools were all full.  We enjoyed the canyoneering and we made good progress.  The canyon is definitely demanding and the many log jams in the narrow slot proved strenuous throughout the day.  We arrived at the exit to Heaps in good time and took off the wet suits and got ourselves ready for the technical descent.  The last series of 3 raps dropped us around 500 feet to the Emerald Pools.  The last rap of 300 feet did challenge us as my new ropes become ridiculously tangled.  What should have taken us 45 minutes cost us 2 hours.  For the first time I had to do the final rap in complete darkness and we barely made the last shuttle out of the canyon.  By the time I reached our truck parked at the museum, Debbie had already alerted Zion dispatch that we were overdue!  I quickly called the search off as a ranger drove up checking on our truck.  I explained to them that we were perfectly fine (expect we were tired, thirsty and hungry) and that we simply had some rope trouble on the last rap out of the canyon.  We were tired puppies upon arrival home to St. George but all was well!  Another "awesome" day in Zion.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Muddy Water

We had some fun taking out our kayaks on the Fort Pearce Wash behind our house after some thunderstorms on the Arizona Strip caused a flash flood down the wash.  The water was redish brown and thick.  We  (Marty, Nash and Gordon) rode the boats all the way down to the Bloomington bridge.  The next day we took our Mastercraft boat out to the lake and did some wake boarding and surfing.  It was a fun, hot summer day at Sand Hollow and we enjoyed the water which was not muddy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rain in the Uintas

We spent the 4th of July in Midway this year.  Dinner was at the Homestead on the front lawn.  There were several fun activities for children set-up, but I guess Eric didn't feel like participating this year.  It may be his age or even more so it may be that he is 6 feet tall and bigger than most adults.  The fireworks on Memorial Hill were good, but only one small fire was started on the hill side and the fire department was on top of it very quickly so no dramatics there.  I think the days of celebrating the 4th of July in Midway might be coming to an end.  Several factors have come together that may lead to this conclusion.  Midway continues to grow and the small town village atmosphere is going away one building at a time. Our family continues to grow with a few of us brothers having grand children and families of our own.  It was almost 30 years ago that my parents moved to Midway and the tradition of celebrating the 4th of July in Midway began to be a family event.  While Debbie and I with Eric were celebrating in Midway the rest of our children and grandchildren were celebrating together in our home back in St. George. In St. George there were twelve people from my clan and that is soon to grow.   It will become more difficult for all of Lowell & Marilyn's posterity to convene upon their small home in Midway and celebrate together. Midway is the best during the summer and I enjoy the lush mountain valley atmosphere.  After the 4th of July celebrations we headed up to the Uintas to Ruth Lake to backpack, fly fish & rock climb.  It is sort of a yearly tradition for our family, but often other things dilute the experience.  For instance, last year it was "snowed out".  We literally couldn't get up there because the road was still closed from heavy winter snows.  This year the snows were long gone, but people's schedules prohibited complete participation and the fact that Dad can no longer hike far enough to make it in there with us.  Even so, there were several of us ready to go on the day after the 4th.  That is when the rains began.  After 38 days of no rain and hot dry weather, the thunderstorms arrived to the mountains.  We abandoned our attempt at the Ruth Lake trailhead while standing around our trucks in a steady rain.  The next day some of us made a 2nd attempt.  The day started out great, with beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures.  It was myself, Deb, and Eric.  Nick soon joined us as well.  Everyone else had to bail.  For the next two days we rock climbed, fly fished, hiked and visited around a campfire.  We just had to wait out the daily thunderstorms and time the activities.  Once again I was reminded of why we keep coming back to the Uintas.  The lakes, meadows and forest are so beautiful up there and the climbing is very good and the fishing can be quite fun.  Nice mountain temperatures compared to hot St. George as well.  Certainly something to think about.