Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Great White Throne

On a cool and breezy October day I climbed the Great White Throne in Zion National Park.  I teamed up with Ranger Andrew Fitzgerald for this back country adventure.  I have wanted to stand on top of this monolith since the first day I laid eyes on it back in the early 1970s when I was a young kid backpacking in Zion with my Dad.  The west face of the formation is a serious undertaking with 2,000 feet of climbing on vertical to overhanging rock.  The problem with this face is the soft, unreliable rock on the top several hundred feet and therefore few climbers have ever ventured up that side.  We instead approached the peak from the east (a two hour robust hike) and dropped down into a saddle between the throne and Hidden Canyon on the southeast aspect.  There we climbed a 1,000 feet of slabby, white, sandy rock to the top.  The route had been climbed before in the past and had a few scattered bolts and anchors.  We had difficulty in locating the start of the route and climbed  about 300 feet up before finding actually getting "on route".  The level of difficulty is not high, but the runout factor and risk taking is high.  The top of the formation is mostly flat with trees and thick brush.  There was lots of droppings and prints from bighorn sheep all over the summit mesa.  It was so cool to peer over the edge down into the main canyon of Zion.  Angels Landing appeared small way below us.  It took us awhile to rappel off the mountain and begin the hike out.  We hiked the last hour in complete darkness and cold temperatures but with a feeling of satisfaction.  It was another "great day in Zion"!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Our annoying black Chihuahua suddenly got sick and died yesterday.  Beanie was a cute little long haired Chihuahua that Debbie acquired for the family 11 years ago.  At first she was so small and lovable but like most dogs of her breed, she was only nice to the person they bond to and that was definitely Deb.  If I tried to pick her up she often would ferociously growl and bite me or at least act like she was going to bite me.  Even so, I was sad to see her suffering at the end and tried to be kind to her. This event caught us by surprise as we expected her to be with us for many years to come.  I still miss our other dog, Mookie who died prematurely a few years ago.

Senior Games

I competed in my second Huntsman Senior Games here in St. George.  I have decided to compete in at least one event in the Senior Games every year until I die.  Last year I did the Triathlon.  This year I competed in the cross country mountain bike race.  It was a 14 mile course over by the Green Valley Gap and the other riders were all quite fit and experienced.  Of course my category is the most competitive since we are the youngest and strongest of all of the "seniors".   Angie, Marty and Deb all came out to see me finish.  And Lexi was there.  She is growing so fast and is a cute little girl.  I placed 6th in my division (50-54).  I was most impressed with the men in the 70-79 division as some of them were in great shape!  Today we are headed out to the lake to get in another fall day of wake boarding and wake surfing.  October is such a great time of the year in St. George!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thunderstorms Over Powell

We made our annual trip over to Lake Powell this October.  If you recall from my blog entry last year, that our trip in 2011 was spectacular.  Warm temperatures, smooth water and calm star-filled nights.  It was also the first of our annual trips that we camped out for two nights.  So, with that memory still burning bright in my mind I began to plan and recruit family members to repeat that wonderful trip again for this year.  The plan was set and the dates picked carefully.  The first two weeks in October were hot, dry with day after day of blue skies.  In other words, perfect southern Utah weather.  As the weekend of the trip approached we watched the weather reports and to our dismay, the first winter storm system of the year spun out of the Pacific and passed smack dap directly over Southern Utah exactly during the three days of our trip.  In fact as I sit here writing this blog, the skies are clear and blue and the temperatures rising again with another week of perfect weather forecasted.  Therefore the spectacular trip of last year became a direct contrast to the trip of this year.  Ying & Yang.  As the storm approached and we began to pack the boat and buy the food, there we many in the family that questioned wether we should go at all, but Marty was set on going and I rarely cancel an outdoor trip due to weather issues as you all know.  Marty brought his wife Hailey and of course Deb, myself and Eric came along.  We endured rain, winds, cold temps and blowing sand with a few hours of sunshine to tease us.  The time around the campfire was good however, as we enjoyed the heat of the fire for a change.  Not much exploring as the slot canyons flashed with the rains.  The first night in our tent was exciting as a strong thunderstorm bore down on us with over 30 lightning strikes and strong winds.  We could hear waterfalls on the cliffs around us.  The weather cleared and the waters calmed just as it was time for us to leave.  We did get in some wake boarding nevertheless and we tried out the new "wake skate".  On the up side, there were few other boaters on the lake and we had our pick of beaches and calm coves to ski into.  There was lots of tent time to meditate and rest and relax.  I knew that someday our luck would run out with our fall trips to Lake Powell.  This year it did.