UT – Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Phipps Arch

Weather oh weather, you sure make being a traveler challenging. Following a fab hike at Red Canyon on the Losee Canyon Trail and a night of snow, a few hours in town made sense. When the morning turned to blowing snow with temps below 30, I knew I’d made the right decision. However, once the storm ceased, it was time to drive east on Highway 12. I chose not to stop at Bryce Canyon National Park as it was getting late in the day and I’d been there before during the off season. 

With fresh snow the drive was outstanding. I believe this is Powell Point. I stopped several times to take photos as the light was spectacular.

Someday I’d love to explore Powell Point’s Table Cliff Plateau.

It might have been a little chilly that night in my dispersed campsite with a view of Powell Point. Interestingly it was 34 outside when I arrived but the sun was shining in my window and warmed my car to a toasty 67 before bed.

After a stop in Escalante at the BLM Grand Staircase-Escalante Visitor Center to determine road and trail conditions, I decided to hike a nearby route to Phipps Arch. This is a WOW guidebook recommendation. It was great to be back in GSE. 

Being back hiking on slickrock made me even happier. Finding water from the recent storms made me smile. 

Did you just say WOW? I did! Is that a cat sandstone sculpture? 

Water magic. 

I mentioned earlier, this is a route not a trail, although most of the slickrock was marked with cairns. Soon enough it was time to drop into the wash. 

There were several dryfalls requiring detours out of the wash; this was the tallest with 150′ drop.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, I didn’t find the arch, which resides on this fin. I got distracted and kept walking the wash staring in awe at the canyon walls. 

Once I realized I’d passed my objective, I didn’t have time to continue on to find Maverick Bridge or find the route to the arch. Oh well . . . destinations for a future visit. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 19, 2018

Resources:

Links:

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UT – Red Canyon, Losee Canyon Trail . . . second chances

I landed at Red Canyon after a day of snowshoeing at Cedar Breaks National Monument. Will those black clouds develop into precip?

I’d been to Red Canyon previously and hiked the Arches Trail. This was the first WOW guidebook disappointment but I said I’d give it another chance some day. This seemed to be a great opportunity. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

The rock in this area is predominately reds, pinks, oranges which seems to be a challenge to my camera especially in less than ideal light conditions. 

This area has features similar to Bryce Canyon National Park, but much more subdued. 

Aren’t those colors gorgeous?

I hiked up to an overlook where the wind was frigid. It was 32 at the trailhead when I started my hike and 37 when I returned. 

I loved the mix of red and white. The trees gave me more reason to smile.

I always try to pack out trash. On this day is was an old dog water dish. It had been out there for a while. 

And then this happened . . . 

The tails from my snowshoes came in handy to clear the windows. 

The view from my car. Yep first tracks. 

A little cold? 

Nah, normal is overrated. I like being quirky, individual, off kilter, unpredictable . . . How about you?

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 17, 2018

Resources:

Tips:

  • The town of Panguitch is nearby offering options for WiFi, showers, laundry and resupply. Love this story about the town:

Panguitch is a Native American word meaning big fish. In March 1864 fifty-four pioneer families led by Jens Neilson arrived the area from Parowan and other settlements. They came over much the same route followed later by Highway 20. A fort was built on the present school square. Cabins were built around the perimeter, pens and corrals were included for cattle, horses, and sheep. Land was soon cleared and irrigation ditches and canals were surveyed and dug. However, crops planted the first year failed to mature; the settlers gathered and ate frozen wheat.

During the first winter, supplies ran out. Seven men were sent to Parowan for grain. They drove teams as far as the base of the mountain, then proceeded on foot. The snow was deep, and the men sank and could not walk. One man accidentally dropped his quilt on the ground and found that it supported him. All seven men formed a line, laying their quilts on the snow and then walking across the quilts. This procedure was repeated all the way across the mountain, and the trek became known as the quilt walk. Parowan pioneers came to meet the men, who were fed, sheltered, and given grain. The men and food were taken as close to Panguitch as possible, but the grain still had to be carried across the mountain to the waiting teams. A happy welcome greeted the successful adventurers.

On 10 April 1865 three men were killed by Indians in Sanpete County–hostilities which started the Black Hawk War. The Panguitch community was advised to leave, and the town was abandoned in May 1866. Residents left their homes and crops and sought safety in Parowan and other communities.

In 1870 Brigham Young made a trip through the valley and decided it was time to resettle. He called George W. Sevy, a resident of Harmony, to gather a company and resettle Panguitch. The following notice appeared in the Deseret News in early 1871: “All those who wish to go with me to resettle Panquitch Valley, will meet me at Red Creek on the 4th day of March, 1871 and we will go over the mountain in company to settle that country.” The company arrived 18 or 19 March, found no snow on the ground, the dwellings and clearings unmolested, and even the crops of earlier settlers still standing.

Links:

UT – Cedar Breaks National Monument . . . it’s a snowshoe adventure

Since I was in winter mode after experiencing a bit of snow the previous day in Cedar City and Parowan Gap, how could I resist the opportunity to snowshoe in fresh beautiful powder? 

I was super excited as I’d never been to Cedar Breaks previously. I knew I wouldn’t get the full experience with both the Park and road closed, but I didn’t really care. 

I was the first to snowshoe, so up to me to break trail. I love being first on a fresh white canvas.

Evidence of the temperatures. It was 19 when I arrived and not much warmer when I left.

I was hoping to make it to an overlook, but this was as far as I could make it in the foot or so of fresh powder. Of course the warming hut is only open on weekends. 

How could I not stop to take photos even in these frigid temps? 

Looks like another storm is a brewing. 

As I returned to my car I was thanked by several other snowshoers who were grateful for my trail. 

Red plus white equals ahhhhh so beautiful. 

Was I happy? 

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 16, 2018

Resources:

Links:

UT – Parowan Gap . . . sometimes you just need to chill

With rain imminent and my windshield wipers giving me warning signs of failure, after my colorful geology adventure in Dixie National Forest, I prioritized the repair and returned to St George. Well long story short, they didn’t have the part and couldn’t get it for several more days. Watching the storm at Gunlock State Park improved my mood. 

So once again I gambled and continued on my way. I drove to Cedar City. Thankfully only a little rain and wipers behaved. I hung out in town for a few hours working on blog posts and photos. Soon enough snow started piling up. When the storm took a breather, I decided I best make a run for it. I didn’t really have a plan but landed at Parowan Gap. Despite the cold temps, it had stopped snowing so I decided to explore. 

The rocks are so uninspiring . . . until you look closer. 

Extra Credit: colorful geology! 

Ah, is the storm over?

Nah . . .

It might have been a little chilly during the night. I’m always thankful for  a warm sleeping pad and bag. 

I was also thankful for my JetBoil which gives me a hot cup of coffee and cereal, as well as provides me with a hand warmer. 

It was a pretty morning. 

If it wasn’t so cold, maybe I would have explored this exhibit a bit. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 15-16, 2018

Resources:

Tips:

  • Check out the community of Parowan for eats, treats, etc.

Links:

UT – Dixie National Forest . . . in search of colorful geology

After spending a couple days exploring Snow Canyon State Park, I continued my travels northeast on Interstate 15 and on to the Silver Reef area where I spent the night and was treated to this WOWtastic sunset. 

I had an equally impressive sunrise.

These roads make me nervous after rain so I was keeping my eye on the sky and felt a little nervous about proceeding. 

With blue sky in one direction and black in the other, I decided to toss the coin and hope for luck. My goal was finding some WOW geology in the Dixie National Forest and Cottonwood Wilderness areas. Isn’t geology amazing? 

Extra credit was finding early blooms.

My luck held by forcing a turnaround a bit before I wanted. Others have dug deep ruts in the road after rains. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 14, 2018

Resources:

Tips:

  • Please practice Leave No Trace ethics
  • If you find trash, do your part and carry it out.
  • Be aware and knowledgeable of biological soil. 

Links:

 

UT – Snow Canyon State Park

I had so much fun at Valley of the Fire State Park, I decided to roll the dice on another nearby State Park. I crossed from Nevada into Arizona with nearly 1,400 miles on the odometer, and found dispersed camping near the Virgin Gorge. 

After a day of chores in St George and with rain in the forecast, I returned to the same campsite as to avoid those slipperier-than-snot-when-wet roads. Sadly the most important chore I’d hoped to accomplish, the replacement of my windshield wiper lever brain, didn’t happen due to the part not being in stock.

With intermittent rain showers, I spent another day doing chores but stopped by Snow Canyon State Park for a map. The white rock in the background (not the reason the park is named snow) captured my attention and I couldn’t help but say WOW! According to Park literature, “Snow Canyon State Park is a 7,400-acre scenic park tucked amid lava flows and soaring sandstone cliffs in a strikingly colorful and fragile desert environment. It’s located in the 62,000-acre Red Cliffs Desert Preserve.” According to the WOW guide, “The canyon’s name honors two Mormon leaders: Erastus Snow and Lorenzo Snow.”

Another night of dispersed camping, this time at Gunlock Reservoir. 

The Utah WOW guidebook, had a recommended route starting with the Red Sands Trail. 

The Park gets kudos for their excellent signage. At every junction the post included a map with “you are here” clearly indicated as well as reminders about dogs, bikes, and directional text.

I can’t say I was that impressed with the Red Sands Trail. There were views of red sandstone, but mostly it was a red sand slog.

The sand slog ended with this small pool of water from recent rains. 

Petrified Dunes was next on the list. 

It wasn’t quite what I was expecting as far as petrified wood, but I was now hiking on slickrock which made me a very happy gal. 

Soon enough I found myself roaming across the interconnected sandstone. 

The white mountains I really wanted to visit seemed oh so far away. 

These volcanic debris fields were quite interesting. 

After all my wanderings I was beginning to feel a bit cliffed out. How oh how would I get off this slickrock without stepping in any precious biological soil?

I sure was surprised to stumble across this large pool, especially since rain has been fairly elusive this spring. 

It’s 5pm and time to go . . . until tomorrow when I’ll need to return for more exploration of that white rock I’m craving. 

The next morning I had a slight change of plans after stopping by the Park Visitor Center. A ranger recommended a visit to nearby Red Mountain where I would get a view down into Snow Canyon and where I’d spent the previous day. 

The trail is heavily used by horses and begins on an old roadbed with plenty of ankle busting rocks. 

Finding survey markers are considered extra credit. 

The spur trail was well marked. 

Sadly the air quality was bad for photos and the sun was in my face. The geology was amazing and I wish I could have captured better photos. 

There was even a little extra credit geology eye candy. 

Finally it was back down to Snow Canyon where I needed to wander the white rock mountains. I met this elderly couple who were the cutest ever, so supportive by gently encouraging each other down the trail.

I decided to first visit the amphitheater. 

What you don’t see until you zoom in is the kids playground. When you don’t have a beach, this seems to be the next best thing. I wondered why I saw all these families in the parking lot with sand toys. They were using snow sleds to fly down the hill. So fun and even though I’m typically LNT, I’m really okay with this little slice or paradise. 

Then it was time for more slickrock walking. The views were spectacular.

Ran into this cutest ever family, with the young girls all decked out in colorful gaiters and hats.

Loved this sign. Yes, turtles are worth saving. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 12-13, 2018

Resources:

  • Snow Canyon State Park
  • Nice reminder of their LNT philosophy
  • If you find trash, do your part and carry it out. This was from my dispersed campsite. One beer even appeared unopened.
  • Be aware and knowledgeable of biological soil. 

Links:

NV – Valley of Fire State Park, Part 2

I began my previous post by saying how I avoid State Parks as I’ve had many less than WOW experiences after shelling out the entrance fee. Well Valley of Fire has given me cause to pause. I easily got my $10 worth of enjoyment and WOW on my first day (link to related post), so much so that I decided to catch sunrise and enjoy a few more hours of eye candy. I arrived early at Seven Sisters. Not sure thought I’d want to be related to this sister; I see a lot of ape resemblance. 

Two more of the gals?

I wanted to catch first light in the Park. For those who don’t hike or are limited to a short distance there is plenty to see without much effort. These photos were taken along the White Domes Drive.

I then took off wandering and found lots of colorful treats. 

 

The beauty of this landscape is beyond words. A photographer would be happy for a lifetime. It was by far the best $20 I’ve spent in a long time.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 9, 2018

Resources:

  • Valley of Fire State Park
  • Nice reminder of their LNT philosophy 
  • If you find trash, do your part and carry it out. 
  • Heat is a serious consideration when hiking in the desert
  • Be aware and knowledgeable of biological soil. 

Links: