Vacation Continued

April 25, 2007

mossycaveOn Thursday, we woke up and got in the car and did our last hike at Bryce Canyon. It was a short, one mile round trip hike to Mossy Cave and a small waterfall. Mossy Cave was interesting. The cave was quite cool and there were huge icicles. There are icicles in the cave for 10 out of 12 months. The weird thing about the icicles is that they appeared to be attached to the ground instead of the ceiling of the cave. After pondering this natural phenomenon, we walked over the the waterfall which was more of a trickle due to less than average snowfall during the winter. It was a quick excursion, but a pleasant way to start the day. We climbed into the car for our 2.5 hour drive to Zion National Park, the fifth most visited national park. We didn’t know this until we got there. It was a park I added on since it was “in the neighborhood.” Zion was a different experience; mountain hiking versus canyon hiking.

zionWe arrived at Zion in the early afternoon and headed straight for the visitor’s center. Let’s just say that the visitor center is nowhere near the east entrance of the park. You enter the park, go through a short tunnel, and then go through another mile long tunnel. This is the darkest tunnel I have ever been in. Built in 1930, there are no lights in the tunnel. There are a couple of “windows”, but it is dark. Also, traffic occasionally gets held up because the tunnel is narrow. Traffic has to be stopped to let oversized vehicles (RVs) through. Then you drive down the mountain, switchback city. It is very nervewrecking. Poor Bill had to do this drive five times, including once at night. But as passengers, Claudia and I enjoyed the view. Our plan for the afternoon was to hike the Emerald Pools Trail. It was a nice, moderate hike. We ended up going twice the distance we planned due to our excitement and going out of the order we mapped. But it was a nice day and we didn’t mind the extra activity. We ate dinner in Springdale, the town right outside of the south entrance (very cute town). The park and town have a great shuttle system from town to the park, and you have to shuttle most places in the park.

wigglesFriday was the day of our big hike. We were on the trail by 10am and the plan was to hike up to Angels Landing. Well, from the start I did not have it. I hadn’t had as hearty a breakfast as I had before other hikes and I was feeling every ounce of water I carried in my pack. I off-loaded a bottle of water to Bill, took a goo pack, and ate some trail mix. After a short break, I gave it another go. Those three things worked a miracle and the hike turned enjoyable. It was beautiful. Refridgerator Canyon was gorgeous. And then we hit Walter’s Wiggles, a series of about 10 switchbacks. They weren’t as bad as they looked, or maybe it was the we stopped frequently for pictures. At the top of the wiggles was Scouts Lookout and we took a snack break. The plan was to continue on another half mile to Angels Landing.

angelslandingI should have taken the hint when the sign up for Angels Landing said “Strenuous hike. Do not attempt if you have a fear of heights or if it is wet or dark.” I have a fear of heights but it had really not been a problem. Well, they were right about the fear of heights on this trail. This part of the trail was insane. I felt like I was walking on the side of the mountain, which I actually was. There were chains so you could have a hand hold, but it was precarious. There was a point at the end of one section where it took all my upper body strength to get across and that scared me. I made it to a “landing” and thought I was at the top, but then I looked ahead and saw the rest of the trail. I told Bill and Claudia I wasn’t going another step further and to have fun. The rest of the hike took them about an hour roundtrip. I was ready to get off the mountain by the time they got back. After waiting an hour, I had worked up a good amount of fear for my short trip back to Scouts Lookout. When I made it back, I burst into tears. I was so unbelievably relieved to have made it back alive. I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared. Once I calmed down, the rest of the hike was wonderful.

elkWe finished hiking in the early afternoon and we headed to Springdale and our favorite dining establishment, the Pioneer Lodge. I believe we ate all our meals at the Pioneer Lodge. After refueling, we fed some elk at a domesticated elk farm. They were so sweet and they have big tongues. I felt like a little kid, I was so happy to be feeding them. (The whole trip I had been dying to see an elk.) I even got to pet their noses. We also did a little souvenir shopping. After that we went back to our hotel where we relaxed and packed for our trip home. We had been hoping to do a short hike on Saturday morning, but couldn’t fit it in. As it was, we had to leave by 8am for the three hour drive back to Vegas. We caught our flight home and vacation was over. (Sadness.)

More pictures can be viewed at our gallery. Overall, it was a fantastic trip. I did things I had never done, I pushed myself physically and mentally, and I addressed some fears (though I can’t say I conquered them). I saw really beautiful things and I made great memories with my husband and friend. In looking back at the whole trip, the only things that I could have improved upon were to have had more time and to have stayed in Springdale. This was a really great vacation.

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Did You Miss Me?

April 10, 2007

Did you even notice I was gone, because I know I’ve been quiet in March?  But for the last 11 days I was on vacation, and then recovering from vacation.  My husband, friend and I went on a whirlwind tour of Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.  What an amazing trip!  Vegas was fun, fun, fun. We had two full days in Vegas - Friday and Saturday. The Cubs were in town so we saw their last spring training game.  We saw Legends In Concert, a great celebrity impersonator show.  And the rest of our time was spent on a wildlife tour:  big cats and dolphins at the Mirage, butterflies at the Bellagio, flamingos and turtles at the Flamingo, lion cubs at the MGM Grand, and sharks, fishes, and other sea creatures at Mandalay Bay.  This was a kid-friendly activity for those of you with little ones.  And of course we gambled a little bit.

gcsunsetOn Sunday we left early for the Grand Canyon.  Wow.  It is huge.  I knew it was huge from flying over it, but when you actually stand there you feel pretty insignificant.  Amazing.  We hiked part of the Rim Trail after we arrived on Sunday, and then hung around to see the sunset.  On Monday morning, we woke up to see the canyon at sunrise.  The change in colors of the canyon and the sky were fantastic.  After a hearty breakfast, we hiked the Bright Angel Trail down to 3 Mile Resthouse, a descent of approximately 2000 feet over 3 miles.  And then we hiked up.  It was tough.  I did pretty well up to 1.5 Mile Resthouse.  From about mile 1.5 to .5 I think I stopped at every switchback.  Finally I turned a corner and could see the lodge and I knew I would make it and I did the last half mile without stopping.  That might have also been about the time my goo pack kicked in.  But I did it, in 5 hours and 52 minutes (including breaks), and it was a feeling of accomplishment.  We rested for a little bit and got up to take a ranger led walk to view the canyon by the light of a full moon.  Tuesday we stopped to see the Watchtower and then started our drive to Bryce Canyon.

brycecanyonBryce Canyon was spectacular.  Completely different from the Grand Canyon.  We saw Bryce at sunset (Tuesday night), by the light of the full moon (Tuesday night, after we did laundry), and sunrise (Wednesday morning).  If we hadn’t seen the sign for the full moon walk at the Grand Canyon, we never would have thought to take in the view at either park, and was it something to see.  I was surprised by how much I could see, and it was like having the park to ourselves.  At Bryce, we really did have things to ourselves since we did the walk on our own, without a ranger, and I was very relieved we made it back to the car without having met up with a mountain lion.  After sunrise, we decided to take a spontaneous hike on the Rim Trail from Inspiration Point to Bryce Point.  Not the brighest move since we hadn’t eaten breakfast (or anything, for that matter) and we left our packs (with water and food) in the car.  After our 3.2 mile excursion (1.5 hours), we ate a hearty breakfast and prepared ourselves for our planned hike of the Navajo Trail to the Queens Garden Trail to the Rim Trail.

navajotrailGood thing we read our tour book because we knew to descend the steeper Navajo Trail and come back on the easier Queens Garden Trail.  Going down the switchbacks on the Navajo Trail, we were happy to know we didn’t have to dread them on the way back.  A portion of the Navajo Trail was closed due to a rock slide and we broke about seven different regulations to hike and see it.  Obviously we don’t recommend doing this, but the pictures do not do it justice.  The “rocks” were at least six feet tall and six feet wide.  It was nature having her way, but a shame because it blocked a very cool part of the trail.  We doubled back and caught the Queens Garden Trail.  Overall, it was a wonderful hike, actually walking among the hoodoos.  The trip back up to the rim was a comfortably challenging hike.  The total excursion took us a little less than 3 hours, including breaks.

This brings us to Thursday, which I will continue with in my next post. 

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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

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