Zion – Part Duex

We began our planning for a return trip to Zion on our drive back from the first trip (for reference, see a couple of posts back where we went and it was so packed we couldn’t get a parking space). So, the night before our return trip we had packed backpacks, chilled plenty of water and Gatorade and packed several Cliff Bars.  By the way, the Pumpkin Spice Cliff bars are out and quite yummy!  The day of our return to Zion we got up early, walked the pups, ate a good breakfast, and were out the door in the hope of a good parking space.

The drive to Zion wasn’t too long, but we did lose an hour crossing a time zone.  Sherry was frustrated because she has a watch that has decided it won’t always let her set the time when she tries.  It likes to choose whether or not it is going to work.  It did not work this time, so she was stuck looking at a watch that was an hour behind the actual time in Zion.  Annoying, but what can you do with a finicky watch?  When we got to the entrance, we were stuck in a long line of cars waiting to pass through the gates.  No worries, we had planned for this.  If we couldn’t park at the visitor’s center, we would head back a few miles to town and catch the excellent shuttle bus into the park.  The shuttle service at Zion is really very good and consists of two loops.  One circles into the nearby town of Springdale and the many areas for public parking.  The other loops from the visitor’s center along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.  That road is essentially closed to all traffic but shuttle buses.  Fortunately, we got one of the last spots at the visitor’s center and were able to catch the Canyon Loop Shuttle to our first destination: the Temple of Sinawava which is where the trailhead for the Riverside Walk and The Narrows begin.  The ride is about 40 minutes long with stops along the way at various trailheads and scenic views.low res-2380

One of our ‘must do’ hikes on this trip was an area called The Narrows.  We had heard from several fellow RV’rs about how unique this hike was and we were looking forward to it.  The ride on the shuttle was enjoyable. The park service has a good audio presentation that hits some of the highlights along the route.  Our driver was also kind enough to point out several deer as we drove past.

The hike to the narrows begins on the Riverside trail.  This is a paved and moderate trail with one early side excursion off to see the river.

See mom, the flood warning was “not expected” that day. 🙂

Before the trailhead there is a warning sign regarding the dangers of flash flooding.  Tragically, just a day before we arrived in the area in September several hikers were killed in the narrows when they were caught in a flash flood.

It had rained the two days prior to our hike, but we checked the forecast that day and double checked the warning signs at the park and were good to go.  The Riverside section of the trail is lovely. It is easy to forget one is going through a desert.  There is even a small swamp along the trail!

The cliff face overhung the trail in several areas.

The cliff face overhung the trail in several areas.

In several areas ground water is forced through permeable layers of the cliff sides creating ‘weeping’ walls and hanging gardens.

Heading into the narrows.

Heading into the narrows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Riverside Trail abruptly ends where the Virgin River cuts through the Narrows.  The Narrows is a steep sided gorge cut by the river; cliffs rise hundreds of feet on both sides.  The day we arrived was warm, but with the sun blocked by the cliffs and the cold river water running through the gorge, there was a definite chill to the air.

Sherry hiking through the Narrows.

Sherry hiking through the Narrows.

It only got colder when we stepped into the river to begin hiking up the narrows.  BRRRR.  We knew this was coming and had planned on how best to approach our shoe situation.  Many people along the trail had rented water shoes, some went barefoot, others in sandals….  We decided to stick to our Keen hiking shoes.  They had great traction, even in wet conditions and were waterproof (although with water getting knee deep in some areas that didn’t matter).  Sherry also brought along a pair of hiking sandles for after and several pairs of socks (Sean would later borrow a pair of dry socks).  The water was frigid, and we couldn’t imagine how some people had open shoes or no shoes at all!  Too cold!

In the Narrows.

In the Narrows.

The hike was beautiful and surreal.  We were amazed to see so many other hikers with us on the ‘trail’.  Stopping every so often, we would gaze up at the sky overhead, framed by the rock walls.  Small falls occurred in several areas along the trail and always, the constant sound of water over rocks.

low res-2689

The photos cannot capture the scale of this place.

We were glad to be able to add this very different hike to one of our adventures.  If you visit the park, this hike is a must see.  The total hike is 10 miles round trip and is estimated to take 8 hours.  We only hiked into the first mile of the watery trail, but Sherry keeps saying that we should go back and do the whole thing just to say that we did it.  Who knows, we might write another blog in the next week sharing that we traversed the whole thing.  We wouldn’t bring the good camera this time, and we might rent some water boots and poles this time.  We were not aware ahead of time how deep the water actually got in some spots.  This may have been because of the rain two days earlier though.  In any case, we are still thinking we have several days in the area.  We wouldn’t want to “shoulda, coulda, woulda” the opportunity.  There’s also a hike called Angel’s Landing that is supposed to be spectacular.  It was closed for repair while we were there, but it is supposed to reopen this week.  We may have some items to put back on our list.  Lol.

Zion is a wonderful national park with many sites to see.  We have several other places in this area that we want to see before we move on, so stay tuned for more adventure!

If you would like to see a full gallery of the photos from Zion, click the link below:

Zion National Park Photo Gallery.

Advertisements

Vegas and Sean’s Birthday!

We have been very busy the past few weeks. After we left the Yellowstone area, we travelled to Provo, UT for a couple of days.  They have a really nice Paleontology museum on the campus of BYU and a gorgeous trail to Bridal Veil Falls.  We took the opportunity to visit both of these spots while we were in the area.  The RV park, Lakeside RV, was nice with a dog park and walking trails.  It was also close to the Provo State Park and lake.

low res-2536

50?!? That can’t be right!

We headed out on September 15, the day before Sean’s BIG birthday – the BIG 5-0!  We made our way to the Arizona/Nevada border and set up at a nice RV resort with a pool and LOTS of luxury amenities.  We spent the day of his birthday lounging by the pool and eating whatever he wanted.  (NORMALLY we eat vegetarian meals, but Sean wanted bacon for breakfast, so bacon we ate!)  Sherry made a cake (if by made you mean bought); Sean’s favorite is German Chocolate.  Sherry also made a favorite for dinner – tofu stuffed pasta shells and asparagus.  Nom Nom!

 

On September 21 we headed to Vegas to celebrate even more!low res-2224  We boarded our furbabies at the Animal Inn in Vegas and we stayed at New York New York.  Sherry had never been to Vegas and Sean had not been there since he was a teenager with his grandparents.  Our room was great and the atmosphere at New York New York was fun.  We joked that for the last several months we have been in quiet, forested, park areas, Vegas was a shock to our senses.  The lights, noise, and sea of humanity was overwhelming at times.  We enjoyed spending time touring the inside of New York New York.  low res-2627They have “streets” indoors that are similar to those in NYC (Greenwich, Times Square, Broadway, etc).  Vegas has the feel of a theme park like Disney – it is designed to be visually appealing and make you spend money.  lol.  This whole trip has been about decompressing and decluttering our lives, so maybe Vegas was not the obvious choice for a getaway.  We felt the whole place was a little anti-climactic.  Sherry wanted to see the Gondolas at the Venetian, but was disappointed that they weren’t as grand as they were on TV and photographs.  We both enjoyed the fountain show at the Bellagio – they played “All That Jazz” from Chicago, one of Sherry’s favorites.    Sean wanted to see some of the old hotels that were there when his grandparents took him there, so we trekked down to Circus Circus (on the monorail that Sherry thought would be a good idea – it wasn’t…) and it was not the fun, bright hotel of yesteryear.  It was a little “house of horror” looking.  It looked run down and tired.  We think the appeal of Las Vegas that is shown on TV did not come across while we visited.  Maybe we just aren’t Vegas people…

low res-2235

An “old school” selfie – taken with our good camera propped up on the ironing board in the room.

However, the big excitement was the show that we booked!  We saw Zumanity, a Cirque Du Soleil show at the New York New York.  It was a sensual, funny, heart-stopping type of show.  There was a little person who did a stunning aerial silk act that we couldn’t believe!  It is only for 18+ though, so don’t think about going with kiddos – or if you tend to be offended by sexuality and language.  We had a great time.  😉  Sherry was disappointed, however, that people didn’t seem to dress up as much as she thought they would in Vegas.  Being involved in theater, she always follows the rule that you dress for a show.  Sherry wore a nice dress and heels and Sean wore a suit.  low res-2659The ticket person at the door commented that he loved to see attractive people dressed up for the show, and no offense to Sherry, but he prefers a nice looking man in a suit (wink wink).  Sherry felt pretty lucky to have such attractive arm candy.  It was odd to see many people show up in what they probably wore all day – shorts, tees, and athletic shoes.  Maybe a different show or hotel draws a different crowd.  It was also disappointing to see not many people dressing to go out at all.  low res-2652We spent two nights visiting the dueling piano bar in the hotel and other restaurants around town, and people were dressed casual or less than casual.  Sherry assumed Vegas would have more pizazz and stylish people roaming around in the evenings – it understandable during the day because of the heat and amount of walking, but at night it’s supposed to be glamorous and sexy time! Lol.  We guessed we just weren’t visiting the right places.  We sure didn’t want to spend the money for that kind of style either.  We did have a little luxury by the pool one day when we rented two cabana chairs.  They came with cushions, iced drinks, and a pool raft.  Even though we weren’t gambling at the tables or shopping at overpriced stores, we still had fun eating, drinking, and people watching.  Sherry thought the food was the best part of the whole Vegas experience.  We didn’t have one bad meal!  We also visited the aquarium at Mandalay Bay.  We realized as we were visiting hotels that many of them have selfie booths that take your picture and send it to you through email.  Sherry decided that it was a mission to find as many as possible and get a picture.  These are from all the ones we could find (minus the one from Linq because their machine had a window directly behind us that whited out the picture…):

All in all, Sean had a fun birthday and we added another experience to our adventure.  We still think that we prefer what mother nature has to offer over the man made stuff.  We are still considering going back to Vegas one more time before we leave the area to see another show.  We would both really like to see Book of Mormon while it is there.

Many (but not ALL) of our pictures from this trip were taken with our phones.  We really didn’t want to lug the good camera around while we trekked the streets of Vegas, so if you would like to see what we got, visit the gallery on our website:

Las Vegas and Sean’s Birthday Photo Gallery

 

Hidden Lake — Awesome, Inspiring, Gorgeous….

How many of you have been to Glacier?  Any favorite spots you would recommend as must see areas?

One of our hopes for this extended adventure was to be able to spend time in one area and see as many sites as possible.  Sites that most people on a ‘vacation’ wouldn’t get a chance to see.  The last few weeks in Glacier really have us wondering if we will be able to see and do all we want.  The park is the size of several states and is a true hiker’s paradise.  That is, very few roads and a lot of short (6 to longer mile) hikes to get to something ‘big’.  We’ve joked that we love this area so much we may end up living here, at least that would give us a chance to explore to our heart’s content.  We might also be able to keep up with our Blog posts. 🙂

Right now we are quite a bit behind on our posts.  Over the last few weeks we have visited Two Medicine, Lake Mary, several falls, Polebridge, Whitefish…  We have plans to get into the trails around Bowman Lake and definitely Many Glacier, as well as several other spots in the Park.  Forgive us if we run out of adjectives to describe this area.  Beautiful, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, each is appropriate and will surely be overused by us over the next several posts.

Setting Moon over Mt. Oberlin.

Setting Moon over Mt. Oberlin.

Sean has even begun trying to remember some of the positive adjectives used in his favorite TV show, BBC ‘Top Gear’.    We have often found ourselves at the end of a trail just awestruck by what we are seeing.

Sherry's new favorite photo.

Sherry’s new favorite photo.

On our second trip to Logan’s Pass, we decided to leave much earlier in the hopes of finding a spot in the parking lot or at least in the smaller pull off area about a half mile from the west side of the pass.  We entered the park, from the West Entrance near Apgar at about 8:30 AM.  There was already a fairly long line at the check in station and we were concerned about finding a spot.  Regardless, it was a gorgeous day, a little cooler than the last several and relatively cloud free.  For this trip, we planned pretty well and had our backpacks loaded with some hiking snacks, water and a change of clothes, if needed.  We also planned out two trails we wanted to explore.  The first was the Hidden Lake Trail, the other was the High Line.  Our priority was Hidden Lake, with a thought that we could do a little of the High Line depending on time,  Sean was looking forward to getting some great photos of waterfalls and mountain vistas.  He was bringing along two lenses and a tripod to get really steady photos.  Unfortunately, he forgot the tripod and had to stand very, very still for some shots. : )

Our drive up the Going to the Sun Road was gorgeous.  This time around, we decided to skip the turnoffs and try to make good time to the pass.  We found ourselves in a long line of cars weaving up the road. Many bicyclists made the going rather sporadic and a bit scary as we reached the narrowest parts of the road.  Still, a fun and scenic drive up to the pass.  As we got closer, we realized our chances of finding a parking spot in the lot were going to be very slim, so we did use the lower area and spent some time photographing Bighorn Sheep at the trailhead before hiking to the pass.

Big Horn Sheep near the entrance to Logan Pass

Big Horn Sheep near the entrance to Logan Pass

The park rangers at the Visitors Center were very helpful with all the visitors, answering questions and also giving ranger talks on a variety of topics.  One of the things we both have commented on is how helpful all the rangers have been.  On an earlier hike, we had one walk with us for a stretch, talking about the park, places to see and being very personable.  I wish we had gotten her name so we could have passed on a positive comment to her bosses.  Anyway, the visitors center was very crowded and we only took a short time to look around before hitting the a Hidden Lake Trail.

low res-8289The trail starts behind the visitor center and is another very well traveled trail.  In fact, most of the trail, to the lake overlook, is a wooden board walk.

low res-8282From what we gathered, this helped to protect the delicate ecosystem at the pass from tramping feet.  Periodic signs along the trail asking visitors to stay on the path helped reinforce our thought. : ).  The start of the hike we were greeted with tremendous views of ‘Alpine Flowers’, and wildlife from Marmots to Prarie Dogs and Sherry’s other favorite, Mountain Goats!

Marmot under part of the boardwalk.

Marmot under part of the boardwalk.

We first saw several goats standing on a snow field along the side of the Mountain.

Big Horn on the snow field on Mt. Oberlin.

Big Horn on the snow field on Mt. Oberlin.

low res--13

This little one started bleating for mommy just a few seconds after we took the photo.

It was amazing to see them walk along the steep rocky face!  It was even more amazing when we rounded a bend to see one munching on some food just a few feet away.  Fortunately, there was a family between where we were standing and the goat.  They were trying to get their children in close for a great photo opportunity.  OK, yes, that was sarcasm. : ).  It was this hike that gave us some great examples for our future ‘snarky’ post about some of our fellow tourists.  But, later for that.  This hike was just too beautiful.

As I said, most of the trail was a boardwalk.  There were several places where we walked over stoney ground and even some snow!  Crazy, snow on the ground in the middle of July!  Beautiful little ponds created from snow runoff, waterfalls and tremendous views.  low res--14

Small waterfall and snow field along the hike to Hidden Lake.

Small waterfall and snow field along the hike to Hidden Lake.

When we arrived at the lake overlook we learned the rest of the trail was closed.   The Grizzlies were feeding near the lake and doing other bear stuff that made it dangerous to hike near them.  So, we stopped at the overlook for some photos of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

It was well worth the hike.  Our hope is that the Bears settle down enough for us to do the complete hike before we have to leave the area.

Gunsight MTN and Sperry Glacier in the distance.

Gunsight MTN and Sperry Glacier in the distance.

After lingering for a while, and eating a light snack, we headed back for the Visitors station.  Along the way, we decided to check out the first mile or two of the High Line Trail.

Another angle on Hidden Lake

Another angle on Hidden Lake

We didn’t go far this trip.  Just far enough to know we needed to come back prepared for a long day on the 6 mile, one way, hike.  Another must do hike for us.

For more photos from this post, go to the following link:

http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Hidden-Lake-and-Logan-Pass/

At the Trailhead for the Highline Trail.

At the Trailhead for the Highline Trail.

Avalanche Lake… and observations on the human condition.

Well, let’s start with a quick update.  Good news – our RV is feeling much better now. No biohazard problems to report! 🙂

After spending the past couple of weeks touring the main areas of Glacier National Park, we think our RV neighbors put it best: the park sometimes feels like a theme or amusement park. There are some high “touristy” areas that are packed with people, the main road through the park can have long lines, and sometimes there are too many cranky/annoying/unmannered children (and parents). We have been hitting the more popular and easily accessible areas of the park recently which probably explains some of the crowding, and no doubt they are popular and crowded because they are absolutely stunning. Don’t get us wrong, we are fine hiking with 20-90 or more of our fellow nature enthusiasts to get to a view like this one:

Gorge along Avalanche Creek.

Gorge along Avalanche Creek.

However, the park does sometimes feel a wee bit crowded and anxiety inducing. Driving along the ‘Going to the Sun Road’ we actually had a guy honk at us because he wanted to go faster… We were doing a hair over the speed limit while going around one of the trickier bends in the road. Go figure, it made the T-Shirt we saw at the gift shop make sense. The short version was, ‘Thanks for speeding around curves and passing on the Going to the Sun Road’.  Yours truly, GNP Paramedics.  Those who have experienced the white-knuckle driving of the Going to the Sun road will understand.  There are some areas where our full-size, extended bed 3500 pick-up feels like it will mash the wall or go over the cliff.

We plan to create another blog post to comment and elaborate about our top tourist “types” later, Types like the “Hurry Up, Get Out of My Way So I can See Something”, or the “The Rules Must Not Apply to Me” tourist. We have a whole list of the people we have categorized along this journey so far, so take it as a fun tongue in cheek commentary. Oh, we did not categorize ourselves. LOL. Humanity is interesting.

Now the fun stuff:  We have had the opportunity to witness a lot of beauty while we’ve been here. The hike to Avalanche Lake is no exception. The trail is very popular and easily accessible from the Going to the Sun Road. In fact, there are several parking areas specifically for this trail. We did have difficulty finding a spot, even on a Tuesday! We consider ourselves pretty athletic people for the most part, but Sherry especially had to stop a few times along this hike.

Sherry 'resting' by the creek along the Avalanche Trail.

Sherry ‘resting’ by the creek along the Avalanche Trail.

low res-8177It is only 2 miles from trailhead to the lake, but it climbs over 500 feet. The trail is very well marked and defined. It passes through some remarkable ‘ecosystems’ and has an amazing stretch near the start where the creek runs through a rocky gorge.

This deer (darling) just walked along the trail feeding.

This deer (darling) just walked along the trail feeding.

Absolutely breathtaking. The upward climb was exhausting at times, but when we saw families and children passing in the other direction, we knew that we might be over-exaggerating the difficulty. The view at the top was remarkable.low res-8174

Waterfalls feeding Avalanche Lake.
Waterfalls feeding Avalanche Lake.

The lake was fed by runoff from Sperry Glacier, most of which dropped into the valley from three waterfalls on high cliffs. We had to sit and soak it all in once we arrived. One of the funniest things, there are tons of chipmunks in the area and none seemed afraid of the people. Unfortunately, too many people ignore the signs about feeding the animals and these little guys have lost all fear of people.

Too many people are feeding these little guys.

Too many people are feeding these little guys.

We had several come right over to the rock we sat on to ‘talk’ with us.

low res--3

Avalanche Lake

The lake was spectacular and well worth our little hike.  We stopped across the lake from the falls but could still hear them crashing down the rocky cliffs.

Hard as it is to believe, we keep hearing that these parts of the park, while gorgeous, don’t compare to the harder to access areas.  Over the next few weeks we plan on hitting some of those spots.

Last note.  You can always go to our Lovey Photo website to see more photos of our hikes and travels (the link is below).  In order to save on bandwidth and our storage capacity, we have been uploading photos in low resolution format.  If there are any you see and would like to see in a higher resolution, please let us know.  Sean may do a post later (on a rainy day) about our cameras and the equipment we use both for studio and nature photography.  🙂

http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Avalanche-Lake-Glacier-Nationa/i-PXpmQ3c