Heber City and Antelope Island, UT: 10/11 – 10/18/20

After saying goodbye to Durango, we headed west and then north into Utah. It was pretty cool to see the Delicate Arch on the welcome sign as we crossed the Colorado border. Utah has seven different welcome signs depending on where you enter the state. We have seen four of them.

After eight hours of driving, we arrived in Heber City. Once again, we stayed at Mountain Valley RV Resort. They just completed Phase II of their development by adding 56 additional sites. This is by far the nicest RV Resort we have ever stayed at. We were delighted to learn that they had two Pickle Ball courts on the premises. The last time we stayed here, we hadn’t yet begun playing the game. Now, it has become a favorite of Scott’s and mine. We enjoy the cardio workout and the bouts of laughter it brings to us. It’s also a little easier on the body than tennis.

There were two main reasons that we chose to stay in this area. First, I wanted to see the Great Salt Lake. Secondly, I wanted to visit Temple Square in Salt Lake City. In particular, I wanted to listen to the Tabernacle Choir. We had been to Utah on numerous occasions to ski, hike, visit National Parks, and even dine at a restaurant in Salt Lake City. This time, I wanted to do a few atypical things. While hiking in Capitol Reef National Park, we met two hikers from Salt Lake City. They both said we should visit Antelope Island.

It was just over a two-hour drive from our RV Resort to Antelope Island. Once you enter the State Park, it is another seven-mile drive across a narrow causeway to the island.

View of the causeway from Antelope Island
Bridget Bay walkway to beach

There was only one other car in the parking lot, and we could see two people near the water. I REALLY wanted to go swimming in the highly salty water to see how easy it would be to float. Although the sun was shining, it was no longer swimming weather. I did get my feet wet and posed for a photo op. We were both blown away by how beautiful the shot turned out. It was only seconds later that the clouds dissipated and changed the magical moment Scott had just captured.

Bridger Bay – Ladyfinger Campground in the distance

Later that day, we drove into the city. There was plenty of street (paid) parking near Temple Square. We entered the square on West Temple Street and picked up a brochure. None of the buildings were open, but visitors were allowed to walk around the square. Masks were also required beyond the gates. The temple was under construction and a border wall surrounded it. Following the renovation, the public will be invited to an open house before the temple is rededicated. This will be a historic opportunity as the Temple is sacred to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and entrance is only allowed to baptized members of the church.

Looking at the Temple
View from peering over the wall
Construction underway
Picture of planned completion

There are many great hikes to choose from in the area surrounding Heber City. Scott checks out the options, and I typically make the selection. We hadn’t been hiking much so he selected one that would give us some elevation gain, knowing that we could stop whenever we chose to. The drive was less than thirty minutes from Heber City. We hiked 7.88 on Mt. Timpanogos Trail and gained 2,454 feet of elevation.

The first mile of the hike was on a paved trails that crisscrossed up the mountain for an elevation gain of about 600 feet. A lot of hikers stop at this point to enjoy the falls before returning back down the path.

Timpanagos Falls
A closer view reveals the ice

For those of you who wish to continue up, the paved path ends and the trail becomes steeper and mostly comprised of dirt and rocks. We did continue up, but we did not reach the summit. I bailed not too far from it. Sometimes, you are just done for the day.

Gorgeous sunny day
A view of the summit
Let’s keep going!

As I mentioned earlier, there are many good hikes to choose from that are in close proximity of Heber City. A hiker encountered a cougar while walking on a trail in Slate Canyon, which is in Provo and not far from our location. He was able to record six minutes of his terrifying experience on his cell phone which was shared on National News and You Tube. The video is scary and the young man’s language is beeped out at times.

Next stop, Olympic Peninsula, Washington.

Capitol Reef National Park, UT: 9/30 – 10/1/20

After a short visit in Escalante, we headed north on Hwy 12 to Hwy 24 east to Capitol Reef National Park. .

We had hoped to stay in the national park. Guess what? Yes, the park’s only campground was full. Due to Covid-19, it has become very difficult to find places to camp. There are commercial campgrounds and motels in nearby towns of Torrey, Caineville, and Hanksville. Federal lands are located adjacent to the park. We found a lovely spot off Notom Road. It was quiet, free, and offered a great view. There were only two other campers, one in a tent by the Pleasant Creek and the other in an Airstream about fifty yards away from us.

Below is another view taken from Notom Road. You need to zoom in to see the two campers. The tent camper was down below us in the trees by the stream.

We got settled and headed for the National Park.

“Capital Reef National Park features towering cliffs, massive domes, arches, bridges, and twisting canyons. Over many years, geological forces shaped the earth, creating this rugged, remote area known as the Waterpocket Fold (a barrier of rock that obstructed early travelers like a barrier reef). Erosion creates waterpockets and potholes that collect rainwater and snowmelt, enhancing a rich ecosystem that is found here.”

There are several hikes to choose from that are rated as easy, moderate, or strenuous. There is also an eight-mile scenic drive throughout the park. If you don’t like the to hike or enjoy the hot daytime sun, the Scenic Drive offers breathtaking views along the way. We started out on the road and immediately picked up two female hitchhikers. They wanted a ride to the Grand Wash, and insisted in riding in the bed of the truck as opposed to the back seat. We parked in the lot and took a short .3 mile walk on Cassidy Arch Trail.

It would be nice to come back someday and finish this 3.4 mile round-trip hike. We got back in the truck and continued on Scenic Drive to the end of the paved road. Beyond this point is specifically for foot hikers and 4WD vehicles. We turned around and on the way back stopped at Petroglyph Panel, which is wheelchair accessible. We were able to see some of the ancient drawings from many years ago. Unfortunately, there was new “graffiti” added, too.

Although we were leaving for Moab the next morning, we stopped in the park again to hike Hickman Bridge Trailhead. It was a short hike but well worth the views.

We chose the counterclockwise path.
A view from the other side

Next stop, Arches National Park!

Arches National Park, UT: 10/5 – 10/6/20

We made a return visit to Horsethief Campground, which is about 30 miles outside of the town of Moab. This campground has immediate access to some great mountain bike trails with varying terrains for all levels. There are also trails for 4WD vehicles. We had fun here back in October of 2018 when we first came through this area. We started on Rowdy, which was a fairly easy trail. As I approached a slightly uphill, rocky patch, I decided to stop and consider my options. As I came to a stop, I lost my balance and fell to my left. I couldn’t get off my bike and the pedal left a few puncture marks on my calf. Then, I whipped my head on a rock that was jetting out below me. I never saw it, but the backside of the my head hit it. I could feel my brain get washed back and forth a bit, and I felt disoriented for just a few moments. Five minutes later, I decided to get off the bike and rest. The message here is to PLEASE wear a helmet…it can save a life.

Scott’s bike is placed where I fell to the left and hit that rock.
Bad Rock

Needless to say, Scott went off on his own for a bike ride while I rested and took it easy for the next couple of days. I did have a headache, which eventually dissipated within a few days.

Back in 2018, we tried on a few occasions to get into Arches National Park. “Water and ice, extreme temperatures, and underground salt movement are responsible for the sculptured rock scenery of Arches National Park. The park lies atop an underground salt bed that is responsible for the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths of this Mecca for sightseers.”

The ridiculous line of cars entering the park always deterred our plan. Here we were again two years later, determined to get in without waiting on line.

We woke up early and arrived at the park at 7:00 a.m. To our delight, there were only a few other cars coming into the park at that time. The guard station didn’t open up until 8:00 a.m., so we just drove in. There is only one entrance station to this park which is off Hwy 191 from the southwest and 128 from the east. There is one main road that runs from the Visitor Center to Devils Garden Trailhead, the end of the paved road. We hiked 7.33 miles with 626’ elevation gain in just under four hours. It was busy in some areas and yet we found ourselves alone at some arches. We chose to begin the hike in a “counterclockwise” direction. The beginning of the hike featured soft, sandy terrain until we began climbing rocks. We stopped at eight of the eleven arches for a photo op.

Pine Tree Arch
Tunnel Arch
Lots of soft sand
Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch from a higher angle
One of the many “dry” washes
Soft sand trails leading to large boulders
Private Arch
Double O Arch
Partition Arch

Scott walked through the “partition” and took a photo of the view on the other side.

Navajo Arch

The remainder of the hike was filled with boulders to climb down. There was a solo female hiker in front of us and she was carrying something on her back. Zoom in friends.

For some reason, she took off her shoes to navigate the steep decline. I’d imagine it had to be hot on her feet. P.S. – No dogs allowed on trail. This pup wasn’t exactly “on” the trail.

We had to stop for uphill traffic.

That evening, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

The next morning, we got up early again and prepared the rig for departure. Today, we would park the rig in the Visitor’s Parking lot and then drive the truck to Delicate Arch Trail. This is the famous arch that is depicted on some of Utah’s license plates. It is 3-miles, round-trip hike that begins heading uphill on a wide, paved trail. Although we had an early start, this trail was particularly crowded, especially at the arch.

Scott taking another couple’s photo.
Reciprocal Curtesy
Although I look pretty much alone, there are about eighty people sitting on the rocks behind me.
Other friends hanging out up to

Next stop, Durango, Colorado!!!!

Escalante and the Cosmic Ashtray, UT: 9/27 – 9/30/20

We headed southeast on Hwy 14, north on Hwy 89, and then west Hwy 12 past the entrance road to Bryce National Park, which we visited back in the fall of 2018. There was an off trail hike that Scott was interested in, so we spent a few nights boon docking just outside of Escalante.

We drove an hour from our campground along a dirt road to the trailhead for The Volcano/Cosmic Ashtray. It is a nine-mile out and back off trail offering scenic views and is rated as moderate. There is no shade and while the highest elevation gain is only 974’, the cross country hike is up and down and up and around and back up again. Our total elevation gain on this nine mile hike was 1,453’, and it took us just under six hours. Thankfully, there was a breeze most of the time under beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the mid 70’s.

A very sandy desert beginning
Is he always taking my picture???
Happiness is using line of sight coupled with Gaia APP to navigate the route.
“It’s right over there.”
So who calls this large hole home???
One of only a few cairns to show the way.
Making my way down and around to avoid the steep incline. Are we there yet?
Although I am usually out in front, the lack of trail markers made it impossible for me.
Finally, we are at the top of Cosmic Ashtray.
A still photo of the Ashtray. Zoom in to see the people on the other side.
A view from the other side. This is where you can lower down into the ashtray, but you will need a rope.

We saw a jackrabbit on this hike, but we didn’t get a photo. They are just too quick. This is only the second time that we have seen a jackrabbit during our travels. If you have a chance to visit Escalante, you MUST stop at Escalante Outfitters for their pizza. Amazing!! Next stop, Capitol Reef National Park!

Cedar Breaks National Monument, UT: 9/25 – 9/27/20

We were both quite happy to be leaving Nevada and heading towards cooler temperatures. This picture was getting old.

We drove northwest on Interstate Hwy 15 into Arizona. They do have beautiful welcome signs.

It wasn’t long before we crossed over into Utah.

Most states have Watercraft Decontamination Stations shortly after you cross a border. They are mostly concerned with motorboats, but if you have water toys it is smart to stop and get a clearance. We have stopped many times in the past two years, but this was the first time that our toys were given a power wash. This is a free service that is provided as a means to protect the spread of certain species of mussels. They ask you what body of water your craft was in and then, if necessary, clean it for you.

A few hours later, we arrived in Cedar City and then, headed east on Hwy 14 to Hwy 148 to Cedar Breaks National Monument. There is only one 28-site campground in the park and, of course, it was full. It is only open from mid-June to mid-September. We headed back south on Hwy 148 and got back on Hwy 14 east to Navajo Lake. We were very disappointed to find that all the campgrounds on the lake had closed and gated shut for the season. There was an access road to a boat launch, but we needed to find a place to stay for a few nights. We were able to find a beautiful spot (albeit dusty) off Hwy 14.

We took a stroll up the dirt road and looked back at our site.

Autumnal foliage in full force. Lots of yellows and forever greens out west. Missing the bright reds and oranges.

The next day we visited Cedar Breaks National Monument. This park is known for its colorful rock formations, bristlecone pine groves, and seasonal lush wildflower meadows. It was “National Parks Day”, which means free entry. We have the annual park pass so all national parks are free for us.

We hiked approximately four miles round trip from the Visitor Center to Spectra Point to Ramparts Overlook and then back to the Visitor’s Center. It’s all about going down and up and down and up. I wasn’t feeling so great and suddenly began cramping about halfway back. Unfortunately, I will remember this hike and its unpleasantries. The good news is that we took some great pictures.

Checking out the view
Standing by a bristlecone tree
Close up of a bristlecone
Can you spot the window?

The next morning, we took a walk across Hwy 14 from our campground to play on the lava fields.

Next stop, Escalante!

Skiing in Utah: February, 2020

What a difference a year can make! Last winter, we spent about ten days skiing with our Epic Pass at Park City and Canyons. The snow was plentiful as the resort was getting continuously dumped on. We had a blast skiing in multiple feet of fresh powder, and “Double Nickels” became our favorite mogul run at Canyons. Unfortunately, the conditions this year did not mimic that of last winter. While there was snow on the mountains from January storms, there hadn’t been much new snowfall since we arrived. Also, this year we have the IKON Pass which means we would be skiing at places we have never skied at before.

We reserved a site at Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City, which is about a 30-minute drive to the ski resorts.

We had stayed here last year, and it is one of the nicest RV Resorts that we have ever stayed in. It is perfect for families, and last year they completed an “Adults Only” section complete with Rec Hall, exercise hall, laundry room, pool and oversized hot tub. Scott arrived four days before me and spent his time familiarizing himself with our new rig. This year we have the IKON pass, which means instead of skiing Park City and Canyons, we would be skiing Deer Valley. We had a seven-day limit on our pass at Deer Valley, and Scott didn’t want to use up his days skiing without me, so he kept busy doing other things. How could he know that I would arrive in Utah not feeling well?

On Monday, February 3, I flew from Nashville to Houston. There was a short layover before I would board my flight to Salt Lake City. There was a winter storm warning, and I was convinced that my flight to SLC would be delayed or cancelled. The airline contacted me the day before offering to change my flight for free if I wanted to fly on Tuesday after the storm had passed. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous when the flight took off. It was a pleasant flight until we were about a half hour from our destination. It felt like our descent into Salt Lake was rushed as I experienced extreme pain my right temple. The pilot told me that it wasn’t the descent but rather my sinuses were not draining properly. Really, sir? Thanks a lot.

Scott had to drive a little over an hour to get me. The snow was intensifying and the ride back to the resort took even longer.

By the next morning, I couldn’t breathe through my nose and was experiencing a severe headache. Maybe the pilot was right? We chilled out for the day and decided to wait until the next day to ski. The next morning we headed out to Deer Valley. It was quite cold and windy. The conditions were not what we had hoped for. They were hard and fast, and in some areas it was icy. It wasn’t long before I decided to stop. I thought that the fresh air would make me feel better, but it was way too cold. The next day, Scott headed out to ski alone so I could rest. By Friday, we went to Urgent Care. I knew that I had a raging sinus infection, but the doctor would not give me any meds. He told me to come back only if I did not feel better in ten days, which would be another five days. Really, sir? It didn’t phase him that I am an asthmatic.

The next day I needed to get off the couch, so we took a short hike to Upper Falls in Springville, near Provo, Utah. It is a 0.6 mile heavily trafficked out-and-back trail that features a beautiful waterfall. The trail begins as you cross over Provo River.

The trail was snow covered, so we wore our micro spikes to minimize slippage.

We got a bit closer.

On Wednesday, February 12, we left Heber City and headed west to Draper, Utah. This would be our first stay at Mountain Shadows RV and Mobile Home Park, which is located about 30-40 minutes from the ski resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.

It was not nearly as nice as Mountain Valley, but it was closer to other ski resorts (Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird, Alta) that we planned to ski for the first time. Today was Day 9 since my symptoms began and they were getting worse. No skiing for me until this illness passed. Fortunately, I was able to reach my New Jersey doctor (who had been on a ten-day vacation in Aruba) to prescribe meds to put me on my way to feeling better. Skiing would have to wait.

By Saturday, I was beginning to feel like myself again. We typically do not ski on the weekend due to the crowds. Instead, we took a short, three-mile hike to Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge via Orson Smith Trail in Draper, UT.

As you can see on the above map, there are a number of trails with varying elevation gain to choose from. It was a warm, beautiful sunny day and most of the trail was dry dirt, with the exception of some muddy patches where the snow had melted. As we began the hike, I took a picture of our view above the parking lot, with the snow-capped mountains in the background.

On Monday morning, I woke up feeling only minor congestion. I was ready to get out on the slopes and felt like I had the energy to pull it off. We headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon, which brings you to Solitude and Brighton ski mountains. There was a LOT of traffic, perhaps because it had snowed Sunday night, leaving about 8” of fresh powder on the mountain. We also didn’t realize that it was a holiday, President’s Day. After an hour in the car, we passed Solitude only to discover that the lot was full. So, we continued up the mountain.

Brighton, another two miles up the road, was also full. It would be another hour of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic before we were turned away. This has NEVER happened to me before. These resorts are smaller than Park City but we would soon see why they are so popular, especially to the locals.

We went back to the ranch, changed our clothes, and returned to Orson Smith Trailhead. Scott stopped to take a phone call as I continued up the trail. Today, the trail had some snow cover from yesterday’s storm.

The next morning, we decided to go on a hike in Bells Canyon at The Wasatch Front Watershed.

The trail was completely snow covered and required micro spikes due to the steep incline. We ran into another hiker who was gracious enough to take our picture.

This was an intensive hike with continued elevation gain. We made it to the Falls, which was frozen.

Time to turn around.

On Wednesday, we drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon once again. This time we got parking in the main lot at Brighton Ski Resort.

It’s a fun, little mountain and the conditions were good. It was however, a very cold day.

The next day we drove up Little Cottonwood Canyon which will take you to Snowbird and Alta Ski Resorts. While there are trails for every level at these resorts, the bulk of the terrain is for the experienced/expert skier. It was a warmer, bluebird day with remnants of fresh powder in some areas as we spent the day at Alta.

On Friday, we weren’t able to get parking in Snowbird, so we drove up further and parked at Alta again. The two mountains are connected at the east side of Alta and the western side of Snowbird. Snowbird has much more skiable terrain than Alta, but Alta has some really great runs. Alta is one of three resorts in the United States does not allow boarders. Snowbird does.

We made our way right over to Snowbird where the skiing was steep, hard and fast. Eventually, we wanted to make our way back to Alta. To do so, you have to take a magic carpet ride through a tunnel.

Scott is forever filming me when I am not aware.

After you exit the tunnel, you make you way back to Alta.

On Saturday we chose to hang out and rest from an active week. Since we don’t ski on weekends, on Sunday we took another hike on Cherry Canyon Logging Trail. This five mile, out-and-back hike had an elevation gain of 2,451 feet, located off Orson Smith Trailhead.

The initial part of the trail was mostly dirt with traces of snow.

As we gained altitude, the trail was mostly snow covered.

The higher you go, the more intense the scenery below you becomes.

Truth be told, when we go on hikes with continual elevation gain, I constantly question why I hike. It isn’t until I get to the peak that I remember why. My favorite part, however, is going back down!

We returned to Alta on Monday morning. It was cold, windy and snowing. We didn’t last very long as visibility was compromised.

We headed back to Mountain Valley in Heber City for four more nights. Our dear friends, Brendan and Denise, arrived tonight to ski Park City. It was fun to be back on the slopes skiing together again. Let the fun begin!

Park City
Deer Valley
Deer Valley
My dear friend, Nils
Dinner at our place
Dinner at their place

On the last day of February, it was time to depart Utah. Brendan and Denise flew home to Brooklyn, and Scott and I headed north. Next stop for us is Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Park City, Utah: 2/3 – 2/12/19

We arrived at Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City a day earlier than planned, and we eagerly set up for our first winter RVing experience.  This resort is located just off Highway 40, about a 20-minute drive without traffic from the ski resorts.

6CDE8F74-B2A9-457E-AD21-DA0BE40501D1

900EB712-7145-4CC6-9BF3-F7E7C5620609

Scott had worked diligently back in Whidbey to prepare the hoses for cold, outside temperatures.

He also put together the skirt for the trailer.  Bad Larry offered his insight, I mean his help.  The skirt around the perimeter of the trailer helps to keep the cold air out.

FCF20626-E9AC-4F44-92B0-528AD1B175AA

It was about 1:30 in the afternoon when we arrived at the resort.  There was snow on the ground, but we were able to pull right into our spot.  There aren’t many empty spots, but I think that a lot of the RV’s parked here are vacant.  I haven’t seen many people, however, we have only been here for two days.  And, it is cold outside.

6B941B26-19D6-48B6-95EB-AA41896CAA96

It took Scott less than an hour to get the trailer all hooked up outside  – complete with skirting – while I got busy inside.  We wanted to watch the Super Bowl Game, so we did a quick food shopping in town.  Then we took our salad, frozen pizza, and beverages to the Club House.  The font desk manager left at 5:00 p.m., and then we had the entire facility to ourselves.  Great place to throw a party…but it was just the two of us.

238514F2-D89C-4FF0-A939-E7BBAEB1833D
View from kitchen

AD49E084-7A61-4EC7-8347-C5BD305F4E93
Preparing Dinner

88936F6C-3CD2-4AFF-9455-5343D610AFEE
Peek-a-Boo

4CABE74B-2366-4B10-88A2-AE2EB40AA9D5
View from TV Wall

 

EB548F5E-00C2-4659-A9C5-F43533228649
Half Time Super Bowl Show

This is the first year in a long time that I didn’t have football pool numbers to check each quarter. I’m not sure if that is why the game seemed boring to me, yet Scott felt the same way.   As soon as the game ended, we turned the TV off, not wanting to watch Brady accept his prize…again.  Sorry any Pats fans reading this blog, but I am a frustrated JETS fan.  We walked the 200 steps to our trailer and found it quite warm inside.  Scott had purchased multiple thermometers so that we could track the temperature inside, outside, and under the trailer.  He also bought an electric blanket, and it works like a charm.   Additionally, we have three small space heaters.  Two are 200 watt heaters, one is under the trailer and the other one is in the bathroom.  A slightly larger heater is in the kitchen/living area.  Unfortunately, we did have one problem this evening.  As soon as Scott turned on the water outside, the pressure caused the toilet flushing mechanism to snap, and water began pouring out until I screamed for him to turn it off.  There must have been leftover water in the tank that froze and the sudden pressure caused the break.  The next morning, Scott was able to buy the parts and easily make the repairs.  We are back in the game again…running water and flushing toilet.  Woo-hoo!

On Monday evening, Feb. 4, it was snowing/sleeting all night here in Heber City, which meant it would be all snow on the mountain.  On Sunday they reported 12” of fresh snow, and Monday another 12”.  Unfortunately, on Tuesday morning we got a late start, and by 10 o’clock most of the lots were full.  Not only were they hosting the 2019 FIS World Champtionships from Feb. 1-10, but we were told that the local “powderheads” come out in large numbers with the onset of fresh snow.  In the picture below taken from the parking lot in Park City Mountain,  you can see the colored flags in the distance that are set up for a race.

F035138A-885F-49EB-B0F7-7F629DFE462C

We were rerouted to Canyons Village Resort at Park City which was about another 15 minute drive away from the base at Park City.  I didn’t know that Canyons was owned by Park City, and therefore, part of Vail Resorts on our Epic Pass.  Actually, I had never heard of Canyons Resort until today.  We parked and waited for a shuttle bus, but by the time I got on, there was only one seat left.  So, I got off the bus and we walked.  Our first run wasn’t until 11:00 a.m.

The conditions were spectacular!  Lots of fresh, soft, fluffy snow to romp in.  Scott took this less-than-impressive video of me.  I need to work on my form.  I believe that I have the laugh down pat.

It snowed all day and everybody on the mountain was smiling and laughing.  Best ski day ever!

Our second day skiing in Utah was just as amazing as the first, if not better!  Since the morning traffic was as congested as yesterday, we nixed Park City and instead drove straight to Canyons Village again.  It snowed on and off throughout the day, and the trails were still soft and fluffy!  I am so proud of Scott and his progress with skiing.

On Thursday, we got up very early and was able to park in the Park City Base Lodge lot.  We were on the slopes at 9:00 sharp!!  It was five degrees and mostly cloudy at the start of our day, but the sun eventually came out and it warmed up to low twenties.  Here I am  coming down a steep, powdery black diamond trail…still working on my technique…still having fun.

On Friday, February 7, we met up with my buddy, Nils.  He works for Deer Valley Resort and was able to get us two passes to ski there with him.  (Deer Valley is NOT on our Epic Pass and the cost of a single day lift ticket is ridiculously expensive).  We drove to his condo, and then we took a free shuttle together to the mountain.  Look at the amount of snow that they got just in the last few days!

F16A7714-1C11-4D8A-A11C-FE0BA0D8E7A0It was a mostly sunny, windy day with great conditions!  We were halfway up the mountain on Northside Express chairlift when it stopped.  Nils starting sharing broken lift stories which led to a conversation about the movie, “Frozen.”  Just as I took out my camera to record this event, the lift, thankfully, began to move again.  I would say we were idle for about five minutes.  Long enough if you ask me.

Below is a selfie taken on the top of Flagstaff Mountain.

FAE9015F-073B-4A1E-8222-E2DCD3F6E876

The next shot is is a view of Bald Mountain from the top of Flagstaff.

6E9D5737-69D1-412C-9987-41F3B3EAEF42

Here we are at the base of Deer Valley Apres ski.  Thanks for a great day, Nils!

B7947191-AD1F-40A8-820F-CD0BD75C0DA6

That night, the sky was so pretty with a Waxing Crescent Moon shining brightly in the sky.

83975FCA-1A99-48A3-BAAF-9A850022F7CE

F8C60638-59FA-4634-A5DF-7498AC86D4C8

After taking a day off on Saturday to rest my aching knee, we took to the slopes again on Sunday.  When we arrived at Canyons Village, it was extremely crowded.  The Red Pine Gondola had at least 300 people on a very slow moving line.  The only other option to get up the mountain from the base was the Orange Bubble Express, which wasn’t running yet.  We were told by a mountain host that most lifts on the mountain were not running yet due to high winds, and that there was a heavy storm coming in by 11:00 a.m. that would limit visibility to 8”.  He suggested that we just come back tomorrow.  Was he practicing crowd control?  By 11:00 the sun was shining.  It was after 1:00 that the clouds began to move in, yet still no snow.  One of our favorite runs, Eclipse, was off the Orange Bubble and under Sun Peak Express Lift.  It was a blue trail with tons of fun moguls to ski in and out of.  Here we are waiting to get on the chairlift again.

3F06DD8E-BD65-48D6-B8AC-3F9F9EDE7C66

Another favorite run of ours was Double Nickel, another blue mogul run off Iron Mountain Express Lift.

9AEB7571-7032-422E-9E3A-036F605BD723

We quickly discovered that some black diamond trails were more like a hard blue (Sidewinder), while others were more like a double black diamond.  Sidewinder, with lots of fresh powder last week, was a hoot, but today it was skied off with icy patches.  Scott has become a lover of powder skiing, and we just may become known as “powderheads” before this ski season is over!  By the way, they got about 5-6” overnight…so much for a embellished forecast of 20”.

We were very lucky to have had some great ski conditions during our stay here in Utah. Another favorite activity apres ski was relaxing in the party-sized hot tub outside of the Adults Only Clubhouse.

09387D86-BD6E-4B68-814A-E28AA5FAF571

It was time to say goodbye to Utah and get our rig on the road again.  Even though Scott had placed a heater under the trailer, everything that we put underneath it had frozen. He had to use my hairdryer and an ax to unfreeze some items.  All in all, our first winter RVing experience was a good one.  We are quite comfortable with the temperature inside the trailer – roughly mid to high sixties, and our bed is very cozy with the addition of an electric blanket.  Our next stop is Breckenridge, Colorado.  Here are two of Scott’s photos of the sun rising on our last morning.

E32F2D26-BE06-4A1A-859C-F1BB83CD4A81

ACF93D04-6249-46B8-9A5F-FB9051D1C989

The weather was calm for our two-day travel to Colorado.  The view is quite spectacular, and Scott will often pull over to snap a photo.  He likes to capture the beauty that surrounds us.

EB3D6EA7-0466-45CE-9E53-169DAF0FF8AB

 

 

DBFA32D9-B058-4188-9B0E-0E9FBA4ED5E7

 

 

Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons Hike: 10/12/18

This was actually our last adventure while staying in Escalante.  My last post was so long that I decided to keep this hike separate.   This was a lot of fun!  The long, dirt road leading to these slot canyons was not far from our campground.  We did have to travel over an hour on “Hole-in-the-Rock Road” to get to the trailhead.  We experienced a little road block along the way.

6467876B-B2A5-4872-B03B-01E0676989C1F4CD3298-44A6-4CB5-B92A-D424130EE78CThat handsome, young rancher told the people in jeep ahead of us that we could ride alongside the cattle and eventually they would clear off the road.  Ok, no problem.  So glad that I was driving!!

75717193-8B5D-4D3F-B7CB-3A6FDEA40B1FC4920D53-0CA1-4D2D-904E-F5ADD64944F9There were hundreds of them!!  Fortunately, I didn’t clip any.  😐  This 4W drive road was 50 miles long from just outside of Escalante to Lake Powell.  Our hike today was located about 30 miles down the road. Besides passing a few ranchers with their cattle, there was limited traffic on this road.  There were some pull offs for overnight dry camping as well as more challenging dirt roads leading to more slot canyon trailheads.

As we got closer to the trailhead, there were about ten cars parked in the first parking lot, but we were able to drive another 1.2 miles to a second parking area.

11D700C5-437F-4812-8301-27D451A49E60  It was also pretty crowded, but we found a spot to park.

B20EFCBA-17ED-4908-8249-EE2D48640014

The start of the trail was wide open but soon after, it was so quiet and serene as you followed the path leading to the slots.

E0CD27BE-8167-4667-B1BC-8D37C6CC2683102C3CA3-7897-4738-A1C2-5AF148A3BFE0

130817BC-D884-49A0-96C6-0C68DD79EF7FWhen we made it to Peekaboo, there was a large group making a lot of noise, and we could see two women holding ropes for others to climb up the initial 15 feet.  Since it had rained the day before, the ground was muddy and the rocks were slippery.  A little help was necessary to get up into the canyon.  Instead of doing Peekaboo first, Scott suggested we start at Spooky Slot instead, and I reluctantly agreed.   I really wanted to go back and hang with the kids in the group we “heard” at Peekaboo.  We continued towards Spooky for about 15 minutes, and then I convinced Scott to turn around. When we got back to the 15’ wall, the two women from that large group we had heard were still just inside the start of Peekaboo waiting to assist the last two members of their group that had lagged behind.  We gladly accepted their support to get up into the first canyon.  It turns out that the “kids” we heard laughing were actually a group of 17 moms from a hiking club.  They were all in their late 20’s to early 30’s. Between them, they had 56 kids!!!!

6A1972B9-F479-483F-8C03-F10CA59BA50FIn the picture above the dark shadow to the right is the entrance into Peekaboo Slot Canyon.

Scott has been filming me on and off as we made our way they the crevices, but I didn’t take any still photos until we made it through to the end of the canyon.  Below is Scott coming out at the end.

91631B53-D1A7-4298-8DFD-15C5FB57E2EETime for a selfie before we got  to the next slot.

DADD84D8-04D7-44DD-A956-35F52158D56AThen, Scott led the way to Spooky.

083AE955-C8BF-446B-84B6-C7BC43B45483After we came down the hill, we sat to rest before entering Spooky, which is to the left in the above picture.  I took a shot of the large group of 17 women that were beginning to descend down the hill.  They had all caught up to us.  Here are some shots of Spooky Slot Canyon starting with the entrance and some of the beginning twisting  corners.

4DA48957-19EC-4EF6-B6DF-CC6F3A6D38D7

BC40F4C0-501A-47ED-9D03-A2CFBD69A9F3

B4966431-2020-4967-82AD-DFE003C318C1

40B6A01A-EF5E-4EDA-B74D-44B55642EBF5When you are navigating slot canyons, it is quite possible that you will have to drop through slots  without knowing how far the drop is.   There are also no “How To” signs explaining how to navigate.  We got to a tricky point where we had to wait for two parties ahead of us to get through. A few woman turned around and headed back the other way, however our canine friends were excited to continue on!

59CD320E-8F66-4A01-A829-CD6F4C80EACA

2880CE75-46A9-4A16-8EF7-4801EBA1DFB5We made it out and I would definitely do it again!  Scott made a video of the adventure, but we are having technical difficulties.  Check back in the near future.

 

Escalante, Utah: 10/9 – 10/12/18

On the drive from Goblin Valley to Escalante, we reached an elevation 9,400’ In Dixie National Forest.    Look what we saw.  The date was October 9th.

18BFB1C5-3E45-49E7-A442-4255C0D6C3C4

When we arrived in the town of Escalante, we checked into the sole RV Park and there was no sign of snow.

RVPark EscalanteOur first adventure was a hike at Box Death Hollow.

0147B24B-4F6B-4CAF-A6F2-51CC60DE68D0It was only about a 30-minute drive from our campground.  This was an easy, eight mile out-and-back hike that followed a stream that was flowing between the canyons.  It is mostly a level trail with only occasional slight inclines, and we had to cross over the stream at  least 15 times in each direction.

716CFD6E-D550-40AF-84D2-432A10E97D9C

C3427CEB-B8ED-4B66-B54A-A2F89A595F9BAt at the beginning of the hike, I was messing around with my phone when Scott noticed some animal friends just ahead of us.  They were gone in the two seconds it took me to look up.  He found it funny that I didn’t see them, and I didn’t know what he had seen.  We continued following the trail crossing the stream every now and then.

73174E54-08E0-498D-8016-6DA003EB9BB0It wasn’t long before I identified the prints in the sand.

B41E6016-3989-406E-A41F-729C42FB6CC4Less than an hour later, I stopped dead in my tracks as a stare off commenced.

4ACE6A95-65B5-45B3-8C8E-5CAF43D92F7EI was was a little afraid since the bull was looking straight at us as if warning us to stay back.  Scott calmly told me to keep going at the same pace.   I could no longer make eye contact and was happy when we crossed over the stream and began to lose sight of them.  I can’t believe I so was afraid of this big, black non-bear animal.  After two hours and approximately four miles of walking, we stopped to eat lunch.

C859D1DA-30B7-4BE7-A14C-325E8E51D1CDAfter a short rest, we chose to head back, instead of continuing on, which meant approximately two more hours of hiking ahead of us to return to or starting point.  We would cross the stream another 15 times!

The next day, we went to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

266B8F8E-172B-4024-A729-D02E8D3072AE

5E5876A1-2123-4D44-816B-B7613C6CA41FF8603E63-C13F-4740-88BC-42AAB3D6E5F3692A801E-71BB-4B90-B40A-E9B68725882E

56A38B98-AF03-4939-A2FD-AE7D28566405

CD117622-6A12-4D89-AE35-1EE01CAFD175

D1A62E8B-2ECB-4753-B948-E0B8D616FEC5As you can see, it’s another big playground.

On our way back to the truck, Scott called me over to where he was standing as he wanted me to see something.   I hesitated but slowly walked over to him.

This is the first time I have EVER seen a tarantula out of a viewing box and in its natural habitat.  OMG!

Our campground in Escalante was only an hour outside of Bryce National Park.  The following day, we made the short drive so we could take at least one hike.  Our timing was not going to allow us to spend more than one day there.

E721502D-AECF-4B30-B301-9D592C3E511BWe started at Sunset Point and hiked down Navajo Loop.  At the start of this trail, you get a birds eye view of Thors Hammer, the popular rock formation.  Here it is.

EB715E9B-940E-456D-9050-248614EAB164I very much much enjoyed this winding steep trail as it went down into the canyon.

636137A1-C177-47C0-A8BB-E7DE7013682BAt the bottom, we turned on Peek-a-boo Loop.

AA2A8B97-EC40-42EB-8E1B-9616D6BE2F2ANow, it was time to go up.

FEA96755-C5B4-4C69-B717-E510BEF749F1

88888D84-F7B1-4F11-91A3-8D87565A7069

Let’s just say that I am not that fond of hiking up.  Today was a bit harder for me with my coughing and irregular breathing.  Scott captured me live on the start of this hike.  I am quite happy!

Here is another clip an hour later after we climbed back up Peekaboo Trail.  My pace has slowed.

Even though I struggled with the uphill portions of this hike, it truly was spectacular.   Loved the switchback steps heading back to the top.

9F7D4BCC-E627-4F2B-9E14-AA484F18F236B8C41997-3661-4EAD-81E1-514CFCD87595

Glad we did it, and once was good enough!

 

Goblin Valley State Park, UT: 10/8 – 10/9/18

We traveled a little over two hours from Moab to just outside of Hanksville, Utah. We will spend one night at Goblin Valley State Park. 

DA3A3F9D-5E1F-4160-BCEE-9C1969A01E2CAs you can see from the picture below of our campsite, this is truly a unique place to stay.  It has a very different landscape from what we have seen so far.

The area had a lot of much needed rain for the past several days, and it left the campground with lots of large puddles.  You can’t see our picnic table and fire pit in these pictures, but they are sitting in flooded waters.  Guess we won’t be lighting a fire tonight or dining at the picnic table.  It has been pretty chilly during the day in the low 50s and still partly cloudy. Regardless, we are off to explore the Goblin Valley.  Here is the view from up top where day visitors park their vehicle.

93619F27-9135-47CD-A5DA-A05B09D96312 It looks like a bunch of little goblins from up top.   Once you travel down about 45 steps, they tower over you.

D5AAFAD3-1D68-4B20-A91D-33B1B976A435355D9062-6A9E-4502-927E-8A7136E8B5EA88DA5133-682E-47FF-BE9A-58ABE5A5D50F

DB078051-5093-4E0D-86BE-6C8F4CF756D0Yet another viewpoint while standing on one.  

We got back in the truck and took a ride to Little Wild Horse Canyon. 

55D8FB68-B427-428B-8E12-771900927FEAThe trail was partially flowing with a muddy stream.

CB32B5CC-CEDD-4ECA-B530-83DFE214B18FWe walked until we got near the entrance to the slots, and Scott was reminiscing about the last time he was here and it was completely dry and hot.  Scott had hiked this canyon with Molly two years ago late at night in the dark. This is one of his favorite shots of Molly from that hike in 2016.

5446B1C7-B96D-43AB-9CCB-B0495AF39E69

As we walked back out towards the truck, I couldn’t help but notice how this odd looking tree survived the floods and looks like it is thriving.  Isn’t the bark really cool?

Obviously, we will not be hiking here tomorrow since there could be a danger of flash flooding.  It also doesn’t look as though we will get to take our mountain bikes out anywhere in the surrounding areas as the trails may be too muddy.  It’s a little bit of a disappointment since this is a great place for mountain biking and slot canyon hiking.   We will just have to come back here again some day.