Root Family

Root Family

Sep 22, 2009

Zion National Park Day 3

Day 3 I woke up a bit sore and anxious to get back to my baby girl. But I knew the Emerald Pools was a short trail that give us a chance to stretch before sitting in the car for 5 hours.

We hit the trail at a perfect time in my opinion, early enough that it wasn't yet too crowded or very hot. We did the whole thing, adding the upper and middle pools, still just getting in over 2.5 miles.

A peaceful morning at Zion
09.14.09 Zion 077

The Middle Emerald pool is just behind me in the picture, but I like the view with all of the greenery this way the best.
09.14.09 Zion 084

And of course when April and I found this bit of machinery we knew her boys would love to see it:
09.14.09 Zion 082

In my opinion, the Emerald pools is definitely a hike worth taking. I've done it a number of times and it honestly delivers on being short and sweet.

09.14.09 Zion 091

09.14.09 Zion 090

I already can't wait for a new adventure with April next year!

Zion West Rim Trail Day 2

We woke early and got on the trail just after having some instant oatmeal. It was less than a mile before we starting seeing more spectacular views. And what surprised me was that I knew these canyons we were seeing were not the main Zion canyon, but numerous ones mostly unexplored, or more accurately probably too remote and inaccessible to see much traffic. I was overwhelmed thinking of all of the space and curious features of the land that I never knew about and that so few people actually see. There's so much more than I ever imagined to Zion National Park and Utah in general.

I really like the juxtaposition of the greenery on the one side and the rock walls on the other.
09.14.09 Zion 018

Here's a picture of Rim springs, looking cleaner than Potato Hollow springs did and by that time it was getting pretty warm out. We filtered a couple of bottles.
09.14.09 Zion 030

We actually came down quite a bit from the rim so that we could get on top of a different outcropping of rock. I didn't expect as much up and down as there was along the trail which would explain why I was sore a few days afterward.
09.14.09 Zion 035

Our first view of Angel's Landing: If you're not familiar with Zion National Park it's the spiny rock in the foreground, it has chains to hang on to as you hike up onto the top part that flattens out.
09.14.09 Zion 040

Closer up on Angel's Landing, another contributing factor to the soreness in my legs in the days following this hike, thought my running and stairmaster sessions would have nipped this in the bud. Other peaks haven't made me so sore, but again, probably it was the up and down with a pack that did it.
09.14.09 Zion 041

View looking up the canyon from atop Angel's Landing
09.14.09 Zion 043

Once we were headed down from Angel's Landing we knew we were home free. Just a couple more miles all downhill and we could take off our packs, get a cold drink and relax in the Virgin River for a while before setting up camp at the Watchmen campground.
09.14<br />.09 Zion 047

Or that was the plan anyway until we accidentally stumbled upon the sweetest swimming hole ever while driving through the old tunnel. I can't say exactly where this $%#@&@# GEM OF A WATERHOLE is, because I'm going to treasure that information from this day out, but let me just show you how sweet it was:

09.14.09 Zion 056

Yes, that's right, we had it to ourselves after just a few minutes. The rock at the back was perfect for jumping off of, not high, but just enough to be tons of fun. Needless to say, it was absolutely refreshing and a complete surprise considering the number of times I've been to Zion and not known this pool was there.

So we abandoned other plans of getting in the Virgin river that day, set up camp and did the easy Riverside walk to the entrance of the Narrows. Beautiful. Yes, I forgot how beautiful that simple little paved trail is when all the plants are in their prime. Lush and beautiful.

Into the Great Wide Open: Zion West Rim Trail Day 1

April and I used to belt out that Tom Petty line on various road trips from Provo to Missoula when my parents were still living there. I really think it's been that long since we took a road trip together sans children.

We planned a trip to Zion National Park for a quick weekend getaway. April had been once years ago and though I'd been a number of times, I'd primarily seen the main tourist circuits at the southern end of the park, aside from my Kolob Arch hike a few years ago. So we settled on hiking the West Rim trail from Lava point, a 13 mile trail that meets up with the Angel's Landing trial at the saddle. We'd drop our packs to summit Angel's Landing and then explore some of the shorter trails.

I'd honestly been kind of burnt out on Zion having gone a few years in a row at the end of football season. The whole idea was usually that it would be a warm getaway, but late November isn't really that much warmer in St. George area than it is in Salt Lake. Warmer, but not significantly so to base a vacation around warm weather. This time was different though and I credit that to the awesome hike and it being earlier in the year so all of the greenery was still abundant. That being said, we were subject to hiking in over 100-degree weather on day 2.

We started out on Friday, September 11 driving down to the south visitor's center park and getting our backcountry passes. We met up with Tyler who was doing some work in St. George for the day and willing to be our shuttle driver to the trailhead. He dropped us off around 3:30-4 pm and we got started.
09.14.09 Zion 001
It was an easy 4 miles to our campsite that night, and I wasn't expecting much as far as scenery until we got further along the trail but I've attached samples below of what we saw that first day, I was pleasantly surprised:

Endless canyons
09.14.09 Zion 010
Tree graveyard in the meadow
09.14.09 Zion 013
Campsite at Potato Hollow springs
09.14.09 Zion 014
There we stayed our first night. The spring was not very promising, more like a little mud hole, and we only filtered 1 bottle of water, knowing we had enough to get by until we met Rim Springs the next day. But I really thought it was the best campsite after seeing all of the other sites along the trail. A friendly deer nibbled on grasses the whole time April and I were eating our dinner. We went to bed just as it got dark because it was much cooler up there than we had anticipated, but more deer joined our friendly one and we both heard them about the campsite for a long while before falling asleep.

Sep 8, 2009

Farmington Canyon

Alene and I were hoping for a big hike on Labor day, but we failed to plan on finding a baby sitter (which would have been hard anyway) and since Alene is taking this weekend to do a backpacking trip with her sister April, we decided to do a smaller hike with Bailey (Caiden was at his mom's).

Alene found a nice little hike up Farmington Canyon at the Sunset campground. I had no idea this canyon existed and went back as far as it did. The road that takes you up the canyon actually goes up into some beautiful country and you can take it all the way into Bountiful. I was a little disturbed by all the OHV's, but they have the right to be up here too I guess. The campground (Sunset Campground) was about 5 miles up the canyon and it had a small, almost un-noticible trail leading down into the canyon bottom.

The trail didn't look very heavily traveled as the brush around it was very narrow in some spots. The campground also had about 10-15 spots, but only one person still set up for camp that day.

We hiked down about 5-10 minutes to the canyon floor. On our way down we passed a father/daughter that had been doing some geocaching and found an old abandoned gold mine. We tried to find it when we got down there, but had no luck. The creek that runs along the bottom is beautiful. As we worked our way down stream we came across a family that had backpacked down there and set up camp along the creek. We also worked our way down to a small area that bailey could play in the water. Just below that was a nice little water fall. Getting to the bottom of the waterfall was doable, but not with a baby (too steep). Bailey had a blast getting wet and soaking her face in the peach we brought for her to eat.

It was a nice little hike. Someday I'd like to go back and explore the rest of this area. I'm told there are some beautiful lakes along the way as the road brings you back to Bountiful.

Here are some pictures and video:

Mommy and Bailey all ready to go


The skinny trail


Awesome view of the Great Salt Lake


Our first sign of water


An old wrecked car. It must have been rolled down to this spot. Pretty amazing how far it must have gone


The waterfall from a distance


The only way down to the base of the waterfall


Bailey loved dipping her feet in the water


She also loved finding rocks at the bottom of the creek


Looking down from the top of the waterfall


Bailey enjoying her peach


A pool in the creek


Another picture of the Great Salt Lake from Farmington Canyon


Bailey rode home with only her diaper on as she soaked her clothes with creek water and Peach juice


She also got tickeld a lot


Jul 19, 2009

Uintas Confession

Bailey and I snuck up for a night of camping in the Uintas with my sister's family last weekend. They already had plans and it wasn't too hard for me to throw some stuff together and meet them. I was excited about the impulsiveness of it and the chance to actually get out with less than a 2 hour drive. But the truth is I just don't get as excited about going to the Uintas as I do the desert. Despite growing up in Montana and still loving the beauty there, somewhere along the way I fell in love with the desert, most likely when I did my two-month dig there in 2001, but I"d had it coming long before then too.

When I first moved to Israel in 2000 I couldn't believe how brown most of it was. Just brown. Not exactly how you might have pictured "the fertile crescent." But I loved it, I never minded it, it was full for me because of all the mysteries there, all the passion there, all the godliness there. I remembered a quote from reading "the Little Prince" earlier that said: "What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well." (I'm sure I've said this somewhere before, but hey, I feel passionately about it.)

So heading to the Uintas is a nice change when the desert is too hot or when I need a quicker getaway, but doesn't quite fulfill my hunger. And I have to also confess that I couldn't stand the sense that I hadn't really escaped at all when I am driving and its as busy as a Japanese train station there. Lots of waiting behinds lines of vans, cars, trucks, campers, etc. Packed campgrounds (I'm not fond of campgrounds in general, but when you're sort of planning on doing that kind of thing it sucks when they're all full).

Lucky for me, my sister and her husband had scouted out ahead of me and decided to scrap the campgrounds altogether. They waited for me to meet up with them and we quickly found a site not much further that was off the main drag.

We set up camp and proceeded to battle the mosquitoes full force. We drove to a nearby spot and ate dinner, played in the water, and saw just how dirty the kids could get.

By bedtime Bailey had done the best she could to dirty up those jammies of hers.

I caught my nephew putting a rock in my cooler, but later on I found that he had snuck in many more than just that one. I consider his little rocks signs of endearment.

Next morning we went for a short hike. Truth was as much as I like a good hike, I was not sure I was up for carrying Bailey for another 5-miler so after having just done it the last weekend (I need to toughen up a bit), coupled with the mosquito problem, we all decided to play a little and head back. We had only done a little over mile from the parking lot to Cliff Lake and slightly beyond. A sort of reverse version of the Clyde Lake loop Tyler and I had done a few years back.

Bailey was having a good time just standing by this little log.

It started drizzling just before we reached the parking lot and then Bailey had a solid car nap the whole way home. I think she was making up for not being such a good sleeper in the tent and helping me out since nothing sucks like driving alone with a crying baby.

I would have liked it if Tyler had been able to come to, but I did enjoy the benefits of buying fig newtons instead of oreos and pastrami instead of turkey.

Bill took some great photos of the lake and all of the kids. See his set on Flickr here.

Jul 5, 2009

Silver Lake

View 07.03.09 Silver Lake in a larger map

On Friday I took the day off from work to do a hike with the family and Alene's sister, April, and her kids. We endedp hiking up to Silver Lake. Now, I know there a million Silver Lakes in Utah, so to avoid any confusion, this one is located up American Fork canyon.

You start off by making your way up to Tibble Fork reservoir, then you keep driving on the switch-back road (still paved) beyond Tibble Fork. After a few miles there is a dirt road that veers off to the right (right before the Granite flat campground), and you follow that dirt road for 6 miles or so up to Silver Flat reservoir. From there the trailhead starts and you work your way up the mountain. It's a 5 mile hike round trip, but doable for families. I'd HIGHLY suggest not bringing your jog stroller on this path like a family we saw attempting to do. There are a couple of stream crossings, one of which requires rock-hopping. As you get closer to the top, it gets a bit more grueling, but it really isn't a bad hike. If you're out of shape (like me) you'll feel it when you get up there and the next day for sure.

Here are some pictures and video clips of this hike:

Heading up


A few of the 3-4 streams you cross


Bailey knows how to hike in style


Caiden's getting so big


This tree has been expecting me.....


Blue bells (lick on the large version of the picture to see the details of the inside of the flowers)



As we got closer, we could see two waterfalls cascading down from Silver Lake


Looking back down toward AF Canyon with Timp on the Right side of the picture


Finally at the lake. There were about 5-6 other groups of people up there too.


Bailey with her mommy


Bailey with her brother


The family


Bailey LOVED splashing her feet in the water


Video of the entire lake

Jun 16, 2009

Eardley Canyon (lower) June 2009

It's been close to 3 years since I did this trip, but I'm re-vising the blog post because I realized when I first posted it I was in a hurry and only had time to post links to the sets of pictures on flickr. Here is the revised post:

Ever since I had read about Eardley Canyon in the Kelsey guide I had been fascinated with wanting to attempt this canyon. I had never been canyoneering before in my life. I had done some rappelling down some cliff faces in camp, but that was the gist of it. To prepare for this trip I did a lot of reading and studying of pictures and videos on-line to figure out the basics to it. Being that Eardley did not feature any insanely long rappels (i.e. multi-pitch) and some relatively non-keeper potholes, I figured I'd risk it and give it a try. I brought along a few of my brothers and a brother in-law for the trip, all of whom had never done any canyoneering either, so it was looking like a recipe for disaster, but it turned out to be fairly tame (except for the hiking and one of the potholes; story to come).

We headed down to camp at the straight wash area on a Friday afternoon. I'd never been to this area of the reef before, oddly though my first experience to the San Rafael Swell was driving down the road that leads to here, only to stop at the section that drops down to the Tamaracks and turn around (we had met up with some friends who were coming back from there).

Drive out to camp area

Setting up camp

06.12.09 Straight Wash Camp

Our camp mate

06.12.09 Straight Wash Camp

After setting up camp, we ran over to Goblin Valley to ding around a bit.



Goblin Valley heisman pose

Nate, climbing through the cave

Nate, riding the turtle rock


Billy, enjoying the view


Jeff, playing "punt the football and we'll head in that direction" game


My punt

Tyler, trying to kick over the hoodoos

Jeff, trying to kick over the hoodoos. Check out my holder skills (very dramatic)

After Goblin Valley we ran to Hwy 70 to meet up with my brother Russ who had to work that day. I took a few light painting shots of the Hwy while waiting.

06.12.09 I-70 and Hwy 24 Jct

06.12.09 I-70 and Hwy 24 Jct

After meeting up with Russ, we ran back to camp and set up a fire.

06.12.09 Straight Wash Camp

Messing around with the light

06.12.09 Straight Wash Camp

06.12.09 Straight Wash Camp

06.12.09 Straight Wash Camp

The next morning we got up early and prepared for some major hiking. We headed up straight wash and checked out the petroglyph panel

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Arriving at the mouth of Eardley Canyon, we looked up to see what we would be coming out of.

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

It was after this that we were in for our LONG ascent up the reef face along the right side of the canyon.

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Looking down on the last pool we'll hit (longest rappel)

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Looking back at straight wash

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Zoomed in shot of my truck waiting for us at the trail head

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Making progress - Did I mention how horribly out of shape I was in??

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Looking down at some pools we'll be passing through

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

More progress being made - Did I mention the hike up the reef was LONG?

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Finally at the descent area of the canyon. We took a break for some pictures and lunch

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Above the reef

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Russ, the Karate Kid

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Looking down at the descent into the canyon. It was STEEP and very rugged/loose

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

About half way down. If I recall correctly, it was an 800' descent

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

So grateful to hit canyon bottom, I had to give it a kiss

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Eardley Canyon was pretty wide through here filled with HUGE boulders. It was a lot of rock hoping for quite a while before it narrowed up

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Starting to narrow up

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Our first taste of water

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Time to get wet - There is a section of 10 wader pools to cross through before you hit the technical section

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

More wading

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Billy, wondering what he was thinking joining us for this trip

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Jeff is liking the trip so far

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Rappel 1 - Probably could have down-climbed this one

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Russ' rap

Nate's rap

Billy's first ever rap

My rap

Rappel 2 - This one was a bit of a Keeper.

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Prepping to go in

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Russ on Pool 2

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Nate on pool 2

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Billy on pool 2

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

My rap on pool 2

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Trying to work my way out of the keeper

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Rappel 3 was a jumper (no rap needed)

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Billy went first - We were kind of mean to him, yelling at him where he needs to go. I think the cold water disoriented him :-)

Russ and Nate went next

Rappel 4 - Jeff went first but was nothing more than a climbers crack to go up to get out (see behind his right shoulder). The rock was so slick that he had a hard time pulling himself out as the pool wall was straight down. I went after him and had to give him a boost to get out, then toss a hand line down for the rest of us to pull ourselves out. I was a bit nervous on this one

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Jumping in from the lower spot

Rappel 5

Rappel 6 (last one) into the large pool. This one had a somewhat dead man anchor under the water wrapped around some large rocks. I re-inforced the webbing on this one. Since it was the last rappel and the longest, I went first to test it out. Looking back on this I feel like such a wuss using my 70mx11mm rope. We could have done the 30m down to the first pitch, then slid down the other section. Give us a break as it was our first time :-).

Billy coming down

Nate coming down

Russ on the last pool

Pool 6. I'd imagine this is a nice swimming hole in the dead of summer, but we were still in early June and it was cold

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon


06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon


06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Nate (the nerd)

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Me, with my "I own this place" sign

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Group shot

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

One last look at what we came down

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Last look at pool 6

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

Finally met up with Straight Wash

06.13.09 Eardley Canyon

We slogged the 1+ miles back to the trailhead and we were all beat by this time. I think the trip took around 8 hours to do. We all showered with our solar water bag and hung around the campsite that night, then packed up and headed home the next day. I had toyed with the idea of doing Zero G canyon (aka little Iron wash), but we were so beat by this time I didn't even want to think about it. That will be on another trip.

I have a few regrets from this trip. First, I have to confess that it's something my wife has always wanted to do and I regret not doing this with her first. I'm hoping to get out with her on some canyoneering trips soon. Second, I wished I had worn better shoes/socks. Since we were going to be trudging through dirt and mud I figured I would wear an old pair of socks and some old worn out tennis shoes. I was regretting it by the time we worked our way down into the canyon.

Over-all, I loved the trip and loved the experience and look forward to more trips like this in the future.