Root Family

Root Family

Dec 12, 2014

Canyoneering Zion October 2014 Part 3 Kanarra Creek

Okay so Kanarra Creek isn't in Zion National Park, but it is just north of there and we were able to stop and hike back on our way home that Sunday.

Neither Laurie or I had been there before and it seems like everyone in Utah has, or it has somehow just gotten really popular the last few years?  Anyway we wanted to check it out.

This was our most crowded hike, lots of hikers and families but it didn't take away from the experience.  It's popular because it's fairly accessible, no permits needed, not a long hike, just a few hours, it's close off the freeway and number one, very very beautiful!

We hiked into the canyon and were immediately stoking on the tall walls and narrow pathway the water came through.  I really can't wait to take my kids here next year!

After the first ladder were a few pools that came about thigh-high on both of us.  Then there were more waterfalls and pretty rocks and the canyon stayed narrow to the second ladder--if you can call it that.  That second one was a bit sketchy, there was a few steps and then a log to walk on.  Some rope and webbing along the rock wall was there to help you make your way across the slippery rocks right in the waterway but even that looked sketchy, the rope was core-shot and some of the webbing fraying as well.  The canyon opened up pretty soon after that, I think less than 50 yards maybe.

I loved the hike, and definitely will be revisiting it with my family as soon as I can.

Dec 11, 2014

Canyoneering Zion October 2014 Part 2 The Subway

Painful as it was, Laurie and I got up at 5 am to do the Subway.  Since we camped on the east side of Zion we had at least a 1.5 hour drive to get to the trail head up on the Kolob Terrace road in the town of Virgin.  The hike takes a full day and we wanted to not only hit the trail early, but maximize our options for catching a ride from our vehicle at the exit to the upper trailhead.  When we got to the lower parking we still were packing our backpacks when the Zion Adventure Company shuttle came along. We weighed the cost and decided to just pay for the ride since we wanted to get started on our day and we hadn't seen any other groups come by yet.  

This would be my second time through the Subway, having gone in August 2012 Subway Trip.  I snapped a few photos of the route description to refer to on my phone.  Laurie and I kept leapfrogging a couple that was visiting from Florida doing the hike for their first time.  Occasionally they wanted to check if they were on track but it was fairly easy to spot cairns marking the path over the slickrock when the trial wasn't visible.  We actually leapfrogged them the whole day, and ending up recommending they spend their next morning going through Keyhole.  : )

This trip was very different from my first visit and I love how doing a hike you love again is always new and always fun--like Heraclitus' theme--you can never step in the same river two times.  The weather was perfect, it was a sunny day, and I think just 70 or so degrees.  The water was definitely much chillier (and colder than Keyhole had been), so I was grateful for my wetsuit.  There were brightly colored fall leaves throughout, decorating the sides of the canyon and floating in brilliant collections in pools.  But the biggest difference was how clear the water was!  I actually felt guilty that it was so blue and Tyler's trip had been muddy like our last one!

Fall colors and reflections in these photos:

Clear blue water in these:

compare to the same spot in August 2012:

This time no logs got in the way of going under the waterfall!

compare to August 2012:

We had some fun on the exit, well, Laurie had some fun sliding down these rocks and we loved the bugs!

On the long hike through the creek after the Subway section I got pretty drained.  I kept stumbling over my feet and was moving so slow.  I don't think I've ever bonked like that so bad before.  It just seemed like it was taking forever and we kept getting ahead and then falling behind the couple from Florida, and kept seeing hikers coming from the bottom up giving reports of how much farther.  I just got so tired of making my way through those rocks and then after one of our breaks I said to Laurie: "wouldn't it be awesome if the exit was just around this corner?"  Then we turned the corner and it actually was!  I practically sprinted up the hill, I guess I had the energy I just was starting to hate the terrain even though it was still so pretty.  : )

We had dinner in Springdale that night and headed back up to Zion Ponderosa.  I was really happy we did the Subway because it was so perfect and so beautiful!  We both had a great time and I might venture to say it was one of Laurie's favorite hikes ever.  

I decided to make a tally of my Zion hits and misses so far (this isn't all of the canyons / hikes in the park, just those I've been interested in thus far and are within my skill set).  I can't wait to get back there!

My Zion backcountry hits so far:
West Rim w/ Angel's Landing
East Rim w/ Cable Mountain and Deer Trap Mountain overlooks
Kolob Arch

Keyhole Canyon (4 times)
Subway (2 times) 
Jolley Gulch (1 time)
Englestead Hollow (1 time) 
Fat Man's Misery / Misery (2 times) 
Mystery Canyon (1 time) 

My Zion backcountry wishlist is:
Hop Valley (the only piece I'm missing of the full Zion traverse)

Pine Creek
Spry Canyon
Birch Hollow & exit down through Orderville (didn't get to when we did Englestead)
Dead Eye Dick

Canyoneering Zion October 2014 Part 1 Keyhole Canyon

For those who don't know, I've had a rough year.  A really rough one.  Sure I had a few fun trips already, but I also bailed on some fun ones because I spent all of August and September crying and too paralyzed to want to leave my kids. And despite the fun times I had, I would gladly trade them to have back the people I lost.  But since trades like that aren't possible, I decided to keep living the way I always have, to try to get the most out of it, making memories all the way.    

Finally I felt up to doing something again, and it was hard to find a window as always.  April couldn't join me which really bummed me out, but my friend Laurie was up for something new and it turned out perfect!

Laurie and I have been friends for a couple of years now.  Her family made their first visit to Zion National park in April this year and did some of the standard family hikes.  Zion never disappoints and they loved it, but she was eager to see more backcountry action.  I wanted to see some more technical canyons in the park and submitted a request for a number of last minute permits in the drawing.  I also thought Keyhole would be perfect for Laurie because it's so beginner-friendly and a fun scenic slot.  

Day 1:

So we set off for Keyhole.  On our way into Zion we stopped off at the Zion Adventure Company to rent a wetsuit for Laurie and for me to pick up some warmer neoprene socks.  (I ended up buying the 5ml because my feet are always the first thing to freeze.)

Keyhole was warmer than any of my previous trips (two times in May and one time in September) so I was pleasantly surprised.  The water seemed just barely lower than my most recent trip, May 2014--you still had to tread water just for a sec off of that first rappel to disconnect from the rope.  

As I guessed she would, Laurie loved it.  Keyhole is so fun that it seems impossible not to love!  The slot gets pretty deep in a few points and the walls climb above you and there's only a slit of sky and that's what makes it so awesome while you're swimming through.  

We didn't see anyone else while in the canyon and just a few people as we exited.  I think the entire trip from leaving our car and back to it took almost 2 hours.  We spent a lot of time taking pictures and just enjoying it and a good 20 minutes for me to wriggle into my wetsuit.  

We loved seeing the fall colors in the canyon just before going in and again when we came out, such a wonderful time of year to come!  We headed up to Zion Ponderosa to camp and were set up by 6-ish despite switching our site.

Laurie made our fire while I made dinner and we had a great time talking and chatting about the canyon we had just done, the plans for the next day, and of course, everything else about our lives.  

When we were at the backcountry desk earlier that day they didn't have any of the canyons open I wanted to try for the next day.  They did however, have some cancellations for the Left Fork of North Creek, aka, the Subway top-down.  I felt kind of silly doing it because Tyler had just been with his brothers a few weeks earlier and it felt weird that we would each take separate trips to do the same canyon.  

(Plus I'd been just a little bit jealous of his trip, but just mostly because he's been gone a zillion times this year for work already in addition to a few other guys trips and also because hiking is my heaven, my Disneyland, my whatever you call it--it is and always has been the thing I love most.  But I didn't want to feel like I was out for revenge doing the same thing because I don't do that, just worried it might seem that way to some.)  

Silliness aside, after discussing other out-of-the-park options, the Subway seemed the best choice--I'd done it before, it was beginner friendly canyoneering, and of course, would have spectacular scenery.  I ended the night feeling really fulfilled and excited for the next day's adventures.  

Nov 17, 2014

A Rolling Stone--Inspiration from Robert William Service

There's sunshine in the heart of me,
My blood sings in the breeze;
The mountains are a part of me,
I'm fellow to the trees.
My golden youth I'm squandering,
Sun-libertine am I;
A-wandering, a-wandering,
Until the day I die.

I was once, I declare, a Stone-Age man,
And I roomed in the cool of a cave;
I have known, I will swear, in a new life-span,
The fret and the sweat of a slave:
For far over all that folks hold worth,
There lives and there leaps in me
A love of the lowly things of earth,
And a passion to be free.

To pitch my tent with no prosy plan,
To range and to change at will;
To mock at the mastership of man,
To seek Adventure's thrill.
Carefree to be, as a bird that sings;
To go my own sweet way;
To reck not at all what may befall,
But to live and to love each day.

To make my body a temple pure
Wherein I dwell serene;
To care for the things that shall endure,
The simple, sweet and clean.
To oust out envy and hate and rage,
To breathe with no alarm;
For Nature shall be my anchorage,
And none shall do me harm.

To shun all lures that debauch the soul,
The orgied rites of the rich;
To eat my crust as a rover must
With the rough-neck down in the ditch.
To trudge by his side whate'er betide;
To share his fire at night;
To call him friend to the long trail-end,
And to read his heart aright.

To scorn all strife, and to view all life
With the curious eyes of a child;
From the plangent sea to the prairie,
From the slum to the heart of the Wild.
From the red-rimmed star to the speck of sand,
From the vast to the greatly small;
For I know that the whole for good is planned,
And I want to see it all.

To see it all, the wide world-way,
From the fig-leaf belt to the Pole;
With never a one to say me nay,
And none to cramp my soul.
In belly-pinch I will pay the price,
But God! let me be free;
For once I know in the long ago,
They made a slave of me.

In a flannel shirt from earth's clean dirt,
Here, pal, is my calloused hand!
Oh, I love each day as a rover may,
Nor seek to understand.
To enjoy is good enough for me;
The gipsy of God am I;
Then here's a hail to each flaring dawn!
And here's a cheer to the night that's gone!
And may I go a-roaming on
Until the day I die!

Then every star shall sing to me
Its song of liberty;
And every morn shall bring to me
Its mandate to be free.
In every throbbing vein of me
I'll feel the vast Earth-call;
O body, heart and brain of me
Praise Him who made it all! 

Oct 13, 2014

Pete's Rock - October 2014

With Alene and Laurie's up-coming trip to Zion to do a little canyoneering, we decided to brush Laurie up on her rappelling skills so they were better prepared. We brought our ropes and the kids along and spent a few hours on a Sunday evening rappelling off the rock. I even took a little time to practice using a prusik knot to use as an auto block and had great success using it. Pete's rock provides a good 100' + rappel opportunity, however I think I'm going to pass on doing it at this place any more because the jagged edges of the rocks put too much wear on my rope. 

Laurie, with Salt Lake city behind her

Bailey had practiced a little rappelling on a 45 degree slab on the back face of the rock and Waylon begged to "walk down the rock backward", so we rigged him up in her harness

Laurie was there to catch him at the bottom

Alene took some cute pictures of the kids up above Pete's Rock on the Mount Olympus trail

Sep 29, 2014

The Subway - September 2014

It had been a couple of years since my first trip through the Subway and I had been dieing to get back. I finally put in for permits back in June and was able to score 10 total. My intent was to get my brothers together (I have 4 of them), my son, my brother in-law Bill, and whomever else I could get to help fill the permit. A couple of my bothers were not able to make it, so I made room for my brother in-law Brock and his son Johnny. This was Johnny's 10th birthday so it would be a good time to break him in to some light canyoneering and a good day of hiking. 
We met up with Bill in the dark at a campsite about a mile off the Kolob Terrace road and quickly set up our tents for a short night of sleep. We were up by 5am, packing, then setting off to the trail head. Bill had scored permits to do Russell Gulch, so he and his cousin, Quinn, set out from the Wildcat trailhead around 6:45 in the morning while my brothers and I took his truck back to set our shuttle vehicle. By the time we set the vehicle and finished packing we were on the trail about 8am, which gave Bill and Quinn a good head start so they had time to do Russel Gulch. We planned to meet them at the bottom where it empties into the left fork. 

The hike in was as beautiful as I remembered it. Starting off in a high pine forrest and wandering your way down sandstone, you can't get much better views than that. I did not remember the approach being as long as it was and was thrown off a bit after you get down the slick rock bowl, thinking we were supposed to go more left and following a trail which ended up being the route to Das Boot. I quickly made our correction and found our way over to the scramble down into the canyon. 

We arrived at the pool at the bottom of Russell Gulch and only had to wait about 5 or so minutes for Bill and Quinn to join us (perfect timing). They both donned their wetsuits for the trip, which I eventually became a little jealous of, but I did fine without mine (likely because of the "extra" insulation I naturally possess). 

I was surprised at how little water there was in the upper left fork (just random puddles here and there). We made our way to the first official rappel and were all able to down-climb the crack on the right (LDC). We quickly made our way down the canyon and before you know it we were at the famous bowling alley. The last time we hit this part we had to bypass on the left because of the flow of water (it was the day after flash flooding the previous day), so it was fun to climb up on top and get down the other side for a swim. 

We then were at Keyhole falls quickly as well and we down-climbed this section as well. Unfortunately for me (for the second time) most of the great swimming sections were covered in sand, so it was a simple walk over these areas. I'm hoping someday to hit it in better conditions, but that wasn't going to deter from the fun we were still having. 

We spent time at the keyhole slot, then over to the Subway where we prepared for our short rappel. Bill belayed johnny down due to his inexperience, which I think made him more comfortable. Again, due to the previous months flash flooding, most of the pools were buried in sand, with only a little water going over some of the lips slowly washing out the sand over time.

We ate some lunch below the subway section, then packed up and worked our way on out, taking a bit of time for some pictures at the red waterfall sections below and this is where we began to see groups working their way up. I still cannot fathom doing this hike from the bottom up, missing out on all of that beauty above. 

The hike out was eventful at times. We saw a lot of brook trout in the creek in various spots and my son Caiden found a nice sized Tarantula as well. As we started to exit we began to get hit with rain and a bit of thunder. 

The remainder of the trip we had planned (with permits) to do Keyhole Canyon the next day, but that night the area got hit with some major rain storms and flash flooding. So bad that they had to close down the park on the east side, which is where we ended up camping (Zion Ponderosa). After doing the subway we killed some time out at the old downhill section of the Redbull Rampage and watched the amature bikers play around for a bit before heading to camp. We hung out Saturday to see if the rain would let up and it never did. We passed a bit of the time hanging out in the recreation barn before finally calling it a day and heading home. Bummed out about not being able to fully utilize the time we had, but satisfied that we were able to do the Subway. 

Caiden (my son), who rarely expresses if he liked a hike or not, was adamant that we come back and do this one again, which made me happy. I don't like to push things on him, but I truly hope he develops a love for the outdoors that I have. 

At the Wildcat trailhead

Dropping down into the canyon

The first are we got wet

Billy decided to go all in

Such a beautiful canyon

Caiden on rappel

Billy on rappel

Johnny on rappel

Brock on rappel

The Subway

Caiden and I below the red falls

The friendly Tarantula

Johnny, taking cover from the rain while we snack before exiting the canyon

Looking back on the canyon we came out of

Downhill biker jumping across a 15" section of road. 

Waiting out the storm at the recreation barn

It was coming down hard

Video from our hike through the Subway

Sep 8, 2014

The Living Room - September 2014

It had been a while since we had been up to this fun little place above Salt Lake City. We were looking for something to do with the family on a Sunday afternoon and opted to head back up here. It's located up above Red Butte Gardens. It's a bit of a climb, but you're there before you know it. Over the years people have been using the loose rocks in the area to create furniture. As you sit, you over-look the valley with beautiful views.

We hiked out as the sun had set pretty quickly and ended up back at our car with nothing more than a few cell phone lights and the moon light. Just as we got into our car we heard a large pack of coyotes howling not far from where we just came out of the small grove of trees near the trail head.

Hiking up the trail

At the Living Room

View from the Living Room

Sep 6, 2014

San Juan River Trip - September 2014

Growing up I wasn't exactly a river-rat, however I loved spending time down at the South Fork of the American River in Northern California. Our family didn't vacation a lot, but we played hard on the weekends, often bringing our inner tubes and floating various sections of the river. On rare occasions we were also able to take a few commercial trips down this class III river. 

Likewise Alene grew up in Montana, where the three forks met in her hometown of Missoula. She has fond memories of floating down various sections of the rivers there with her family in the commercial raft her father bought locally in Salt Lake City. That raft had sat in her parents garage for a long time with no use so when her sister April started to get the itch to get out and run a river, they decided to put in for permits to run the tame San Juan River.

April and Bill went in for the long-haul and invested in a really nice commercial raft they were able to purchase used, but at a great price. We weren't quite ready to bit the bullet yet due to money, so we opted to use the same raft Alene and her family would use 30 years earlier. We took it on a test run of the Provo River and it seemed to hold up well, so we were in.

Along for the ride was April and Bill's 3 children, Bill's sister Whitney and her beau Ethan, Alene, myself, and two of our three children. We put in at Sand Island just a few miles outside Bluff, UT, and took out at Mexican Hat, UT. Total trip was roughly 26 miles. The original plan was to spend two nights on the river, but due to some likely complications to the 30 year old raft (leaking), Bill applied an entire roll of Gorilla tape to our boat on day 2 and we pushed on to finish out the trip. Surprisingly the raft didn't allow one bit of water in. Gorilla tape for the win!

The river was not running very high or fast, so there was a lot of paddling and occasionally getting out to pull the raft over shallow sections, but it was still a great experience for us and bringing the kids along.

Rafting is an expensive commitment, but I'm looking forward to more trips and more adventures on the water. We had a great time despite the obstacles.

Stopping by Looking Glass arch on our way down (good place to stretch the legs)

Checking out Fort Bluff

Day 2, putting on the water

Petroglyphs along the river

April and Bill's awesome rig

Our campsite

Waylon was really quiet while playing down by the shore, then he finally asked for help. He was stuck deep in the mud

How Waylon uses his sleeping pad

2nd day on the river

Narrow sections on the river

Getting closer to the end of our trip. Mexican Hat rock in the distance

Alene's shoes broke on this trip and Bill's Gorilla tape job held up just long enough.

Video from our trip

Aug 18, 2014

Havasupai - August 2014

This place had been on the radar for quite some time, but always seemed such a big endeavor because of the distance to get there (Southern side of the Grand Canyon).

Alene was originally going to be going on this trip, but due to the amount of time she had already spent being away from the kids this year she ultimately decided to stay home. On the trip was me (Tyler), Bill, April, Bill's sister Whitney, and April/Bill's son Lanik. The drive down there was a good 12 hours with stops, gassing up, etc. We got out at Hoover dam to stretch our legs a bit before continuing on. We were in no rush to get to the trailhead, so we took our time. 
We arrived at the trailhead later that evening once the sun had set (around 10pm or so). We spent the time sorting out our backpacking gear and getting prepared for an early rise to avoid the heat hiking in. We slept on the ground next to our car and woke up around 4:30am. Packs were finished and we were off by 5am. 

The hike in is relatively easy, almost all down hill. We didn't see much of it due to hiking in the darkness with head lamps. About half way down we started to see a few groups here and there on their way out. By the time we arrived at the junction of the main canyon (where Havasu creek starts) it had become pretty light. From there it was a few more miles to the main village, then another couple of miles to our campground.

The campground area is a "first come, first served" basis and you just kind of find your spot. We picked a spot not too far from the fresh water spring they have set up. Since we arrived on a Thursday the campground was not too full. A few small groups here and there, then a couple of large boy scout groups (more on that later).

The first set of falls you see after passing through the village is 50' falls, then little navajo falls. Once you enter the campground area, you're first met with Havasu Falls, which is stunning. by the time we got to camp it was pushing close to high noon and it was hot. We quickly got our things set up and ran back up to Havasu falls for some soaking and swimming. The blue water there is so surreal, you look as if you're in the caribbean. We spent a bit of time jumping off some small rocks nearby, then headed back to camp.

After resting a bit we strolled about 3/4 mile down to Mooney Falls, which is also just as stunning as Havasu. This one required the infamous climb down a set of some really slippery rocks with nothing more than a slippier chain to hold onto. I'd venture to say the climb down was a good 200', if not longer. Kind of scary, but makes it worth it.

Mooney falls was beautiful and directly below it was a fun little set of falls with a small rope swing. Under those falls was a tiny alcove you could swim under and out of. We spent the rest of the day at Mooney, then headed back up to camp for dinner and some shut-eye.

The next day we trecked on down to Beaver Falls, which was about a 3 mile hike from our campground. The first part of the hike was pretty much down the creek, but eventually the canyon widens and you're wandering through lush greenery in scense many people have described like being in a tropical canyon. The trail crosses the creek one more time, then eventually you're at Beaver falls. We spent quite a bit of time there swimming and jumping off some rocks above the falls (jumping from the actual falls are restricted).

Eventually we headed back to camp and as we sat around and talked about "what else" we all kind of decided that there wasn't much more to see/do, so we planned to hike out that night, instead of spending another day there. I know many people would be just as happy to lounge around the canyon, but that wasn't something our group really cared to do.

We attempted to head to bed around 9:30, but a group that arrived that day decided it would be a great idea to set up their camp about 40' from us, which seems like a big distance, but in a canyon even a general conversation at that distance can seem loud. There were TONS of other available campsites in the area, why that close to us? When we went to bed was about the time they all decided they wanted to get really rowdy. We all kind of thought they would follow the campground rules about "quiet time" after 10pm, but being that the locals don't really seem to care about what goes on in the campground, we knew it wouldn't be enforced. We all patiently waited in our tents, trying to sleep, but when 11pm came around Bill decided to yell out at the top of his lungs about how people were trying to sleep, but it didn't seem to do much. I was sleeping in my hammock and witnessed two women in their group nuzzle up even closer to our campsite and decide to do their business not more than 20' from April and Bill's tent. Eventually I got out of my hammock and walked over to their campsite and assertively told them that I hated to be the guy to break up the party, but we had to get up in 2 hours to hike out and we are not getting any sleep because of how loud they were being. They seemed really cool about it and immediately broke things up and headed to bed. Honestly though, who are these people that have no regard for others when camping? I don't mind being loud and up late when I know there is no one nearby, but it's just basic consideration when you have neighbors, especially when you decided to camp close to them.

We awoke around 1:30am with intentions on being on the trail by 2. We wanted to hit the parking lot at sunrise and we knew we would be gaining elevation the whole way. On our way out we noticed a pack of dogs rummaging through a large pile of garbage bags that one of the scout troops had left behind (there were tons of feral dogs in the area). One of them saw us hiking out and casually just came up to join us. We thought it was cute and figured he would eventually stop at the village but he just kept following us. Hiking out in the dark was much different and there were a few areas where the trail would split. It wasn't as if we would get lost, but this dog would always stay out in front of us and end up taking the correct trail. We knew he had probably done this hike 100's of times. Eventually we started calling him Marcus (I have no idea where that name came from), but he was an awesome dog. Stopping when we stopped, snacking with us, just being a good companion. He was even smart enough to know where to fill up on water as the trail left the canyon next to Havasu creek.

As we headed out on the hilltop trail away from the main canyon I fell behind a bit because I was doing a little re-packing. As the group got about 1/4 mile ahead I heard a loud growl and started to double time it back. Eventually I heard Bill yell back to see if I was OK and I responded. As I came to this small climb next to a dry fall I looked off to my left and noticed one of the locals crouched in a fetal position off the trail about 10' from me, as if he was trying to hide from me. It was really weird and kind of scared me for a second. I caught up to Bill a few minutes later and asked if he heard the growl, he said he did and he was pretty sure it was a horse (which made sense after I thought about it). I then mentioned the dude crouched and hiding on the side of the trail and he said he did, but the guy was trying to avoid us somehow. It was just weird. We carried on, watching our back a bit here and there, but all was good.

It began to get a tiny bit light and with every break we took we were more and more tempted to just fall asleep right there; we were that tired. Marcus would continue to stop with us, then move as we moved. He was such a good dog and we could not believe that a local dog would be so nice to move along with us like that.

Eventually we came to the steep climb out. We trudged our way out, one foot after the other until we all made it out. Marcus was funny because he'd see us doing these long routes following the switch backs, then he'd just take the straight shot up the hill and cut off the switch back, looking at us like we were stupid for not following him. Once we made it to the top, Marcus ditched us for greener pastures (we assumed). We felt kind of used, but were happy he kept us company.

Getting back to the hilltop was a relief. It was nice to get back, high-five, etc. but we had a long drive ahead of us. We worked our way back to Kingman, AZ and made a well-deserved breakfast run at a Cracker Barrel, then began the rest of our long journey home.

A few comments on trash and I promise I'm not trying to be a blow-hard. I know I'm preaching to many in the choir regarding trash, but I was shocked at how much garbage there was the minute we reached the hilltop to prepare to go into the canyon. It was full of non-stop litter the entire way. Plastic water/gatorade bottles, cans, paper, plastic bags, cardboard, etc. everywhere. It was sad and overwhelming because I know I could have carried my own large trash bag and filled it up within a few hundred feet, but there was no way I would have had the strength to continue to carry it out without dropping and possibly ripping the bag again. In order to clean the canyon up you would definitely need someone to helicopter in large 30-yard dumpster after dumpster until it was done.

The question though is where is it coming from? These conditions persisted through the canyon and into the village. I have to wonder if it's just not a priority for the locals? I'm positive blame is placed on both (locals and visitors) so I hope that someday efforts can be made to improve this. I'd imagine due to the fact that people can pay to be helicoptered in or you could do the hike, but pay to have a mule pack your stuff in, maybe it's telling me that lazier people are dirtier?? I have no idea, but I had many thoughts running through my head about this.

One thing that impressed me and angered me at the same time. Two boy scout troops in the canyon and two different spots. The first group was preparing to leave the day after we got there. It appeared they were all from Arkansas and one thing I noticed was this HUGE pile of trash in their campsite, but I could tell it was not their trash; it had been trash they picked up in the canyon. Large piece of scrap metal, even a tire, along with bags full of trash. The next morning when they left the trash was gone. I was impressed that they took it upon themselves to live the true code of leaving the place better than when they arrived. This impressed me.

The next troop was from Southern California and being that many of them wore BYU hats or "Mormon Dude" shirts (in the shape of a Mountain Dew logo), I assumed this was an LDS scout troop. This troop packed in tons of stuff and decided it was a good idea to bag all of their garbage (about 4-5 large garbage bags full) and leave it behind in their campsite for the dogs to come through and rip apart and spread all over the area (which is what our beloved "Marcus" was enjoying). This angered me.

Overall the experience was awesome, but honestly the trash really left me with a bad taste in my mouth and somewhat of a downer. I really hope someone or a group can enact an effort to clean up the canyon. I think it would make the experience for everyone more enjoyable.

With that said, some pictures from the trip:

Havasu Falls

The climb down to Mooney Falls

Mooney Falls

Small waterfall below Mooney Falls. You can swim behind the falls on the left

View from under the falls

Small waterfall terraces further below Mooney Falls

Hiking back to our campsite. This is a picture of some of the campsites right along the river

The green hike down to Beaver Falls on day 2

Heart shaped cactus. Made me think about Alene and Bailey

Beaver Falls. We jumped off the falls at the very top (behind Beaver Falls)

A typical scene as you hiked back up from Beaver Falls

Trash in the canyon hike out. This was what you typically saw the whole way

Our dear friend Marcus.

Video from our trip

Aug 17, 2014

Donut Falls - August 2014

I had just returned from a backpacking trip to Havasupai and Alene was understandably jealous and needed desperately to get out and into nature. We opted to head up to Donut Falls located in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The kids love getting out, especially when there is a trail to follow and several "picture spots" along the way. This hike is short and quick and because of that you'll see more people than you would want if you like a little solitude, but still fun none the less. 
At the beginning of the trail

Several picture spots

Alene and Bailey hiking up closer to the falls. This place had changed a lot since the first time I hiked up here about 10 years prior. You could actually see the full falls from the bottom. Now you have to hike up to see them.

Jul 27, 2014

Provo River rafting - July 2014

In preparation for a family river trip on the San Juan in a month we joined April and Bill to test out our rafting skills on the busy Provo River. We put in just below the Deer Creek dam and took about an hour trip down the river before getting out at our shuttle vehicle. It was a fun day to spend in the summer heat on a lazy sunday. We ended up making two trips, just to make use of the time we had.
On the river

Russ and Bailey

Parker and Waylon

Alene and the kids

Getting photo bombed

Moki leading the way

Jul 20, 2014

The Fairy Forest - July 2014

Alene is always good about finding fun things for kids to do. She found a fun little place that both of our kids enjoyed, located up off the Mirror Lake Highway in the Uintas. I'm not always fond of people leaving their mark on nature like this, so I'm kind of torn, but the hypocrite in me has come out and for the sake of the children enjoying themselves, I'm letting this one slide. 

Jun 25, 2014

Fat Man's Misery (aka Misery Canyon) May 2013/June 2014

Click here for a Map of our route

Last year in May Alene, Bill, spent a couple of days down in Zion to get some canyoneering experience under our belts. Bill had done Fat Man's before and offered to take us through. It was a wonderful experience going through a more difficult, yet beginner-friendly canyon.

Being that I used my iphone to take pictures of our trip in 2013, and also being that I broke my iphone after exiting kehole canyon the next day (and never being able to recover the pictures), I'm combining this year's (2014) trip report pictures along with a video from 2013.

We all headed down from Northern Utah on Friday afternoon and met up at Zion Ponderosa for our basecamp. April and Bill got a much early start in the day so they took some time to hike over to the East Mesa viewpoint while we drove down. Alene and I arrived around midnight and we spent some time getting settled and making plans for the next day.

We slept in a bit longer than we should have and did not get started on the trail until around 8:20am. The hike in is beautiful, surrounded by many lush and green vegetation with the backdrop of the beautiful sandstone that makes the east side of zion so captivating. We followed a dry wash for about 30 minutes or so before coming to the steep and strenuous sandy hill to climb.

The ladies at the beginning of the trail

Bill, our fearless leader

Getting to the top of the sandy hill (it's a great feeling)

More ladies

The state flower (sego lilly) in full bloom

From the sandy hill we began our descent into the canyon, which had us go down and over about 3-4 minor "hills" before coming to the large upper portion of Fat Man's. We worked our way down the large slickrock and into the canyon and sat for a little break before venturing up a minute or two to the first rappel in the canyon.

One could bypass most of the technical sections in this canyon until you come to the last rappel, which is avoidable. By why miss the best parts? The technical sections come with all kinds of good beginner-friendly challenges. A nice 30' rappel, several down-climbs, an opportunity for some teamwork by using a meat-anchor, then partner assisting others down a few awkward drops. The upper canyon was mostly dry with a few pools here and there. The frogs were in full force.

Dropping into the upper canyon

Alene on the first rappel

A little down-climb

The first arch room. That piece of webbing is used to swing around and get on that ledge Alene is standing on.

Exiting one of the technical sections

Bill and Alene on the last rappel

I wore knee/elbow pads for the first time and I LOVED the protection they provide. Such a difference. Look who's smiling and look who's frowning.

We stopped for some lunch before heading into the tall/narrow section and the last arch room. This is where more water appeared, much deeper than last year's jaunt through the canyon, which made for some fun.

Alene and April waiting to head into the second arch room

Looking back at the second arch room

The ladies in the second arch room

Doing a bit of high-stemming to set a hand-line on a bolt so we could get down a drop a little easier

Alene and I at the grotto spring. It was so beautiful here and full of tiny frogs

Burst shot of Alene sliding into the last exit pool

We happened to run into some fellow outdoor message board aquaintances right as we came out of the canyon and spent some time talking with them before we went our separate ways. They had backpacked the entire east fork from Mt. Carmel, which was impressive. They were going to rest up before making the steep hike out of the canyon.

When you exit Fat Man's you get to see such a beautiful section of Parunuweap Canyon in the East Fork of the virgin river. It's like The Narrows, but without all of the people. We spent time swimming in deep holes and topping our water bottles off before heading down to the large rock fall and trying our luck at getting to Labrynth Falls, but we ran out of time because we had to get back to the Zion visitor center for our permits for the following day's canyon (Mystery).


Soaking up in the deep pools

Such a beautiful canyon

The Powell Memorial

Another section of Parunuweap

The slog out was hot and somewhat eventful. About halfway out my quads (specifically the muscles above my knees on the inside) started to cramp up badly. Bill and April pushed on so they could get to the visitor center in time while Alene and I made a SLOW exit. Going downhill was fine on the legs, but any sort of uphill motion brought on major cramps. It was extremely frustrating. I made a note in my phone to make sure I am conscious of plenty of salty stuff while hiking in the heat (I should have known better).

Here is a video of the trip we made in 2013. On this trip it was Alene, Bill, and I.