Monthly Archives: August 2012

Day 42 – Utah rocks!

Who knew one state had SO MANY cool rocks?!  And I’m not just talking about the pretty little rocks we collect on the beach.  I’m talkin’ gigantic, awe-inspiring, breath-taking, billion year old rocks!  We’re back in Utah, camping among giant red rocks outside of Moab.

Note the inspired us of solar panel

Yesterday we did a cool hike at Arches National Park.  Since the hike was labeled ‘strenuous’ we figured it would be perfect!  The hike is along slickrock and fins with stunning views of the surrounding geology. To give you a sense of perspective, note the tiny hiker near the top of this formation.  The giant rock in the top left corner of the picture is roughly horizontal!

What trail?

We had lunch at Double O Arch after climbing through the arch and scrambling up dusty slick-rock.

Lunch at Double O arch

This morning we visited Fisher Tower, a BLM site that in my opinion should be a national park!  It’s visible from the highway, but you can’t appreciate it until you see it up close.  I won’t even try to describe it.

Big rocks!


The trail is fairly well maintained, but a little creative in places.

The trail’s down there

Can you find Robbie and C?

I think we all agreed that while this was one of the harder hikes we’ve done, it was by far our favorite place so far.

Last night we learned that the tiny little gnats that had invaded our trailer the night before were coming in THROUGH the screen!  We’d been SO careful to turn the light off before opening the door and minimize our trips in and out.  C swore that she’d seen one go through the screen, so we did a little test.  She was right!  So we zipped everything up, and that seemed to stop the onslaught.  Tonight we’ll zip up a little earlier, despite the heat.

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Day 41 – Things for which I am grateful

McDonald’s  – The last time I entered a McDonalds was when C and I made a pre-dawn run to Whistler to watch the Paralympics in 2010.  Before that, I couldn’t tell you how long it had been.  But McDonald’s has free Wi-Fi.  For the cost of a re-fillable soda, you get reliable, relatively quick connectivity.  And a play area.

NOAA Weather Radio – When you’re in a canyon with spotty cell coverage, you can rely on NOAA weather radio to tell you whether the incoming storm will keep you up all night or pass through quickly and allow you a relaxing evening.

Solar Shower – The thing I miss more than anything is a reliable shower…especially after a day of hiking in 90+ degree weather through red dust.  But a solar shower makes an acceptable substitute.  Just fill, put on the roof of the truck, put your soap container on the tire, and have your family hold up towels to create something resembling privacy.

Duck Tape – When your trailer is invaded by a thousand (literally) swarming little gnats, you can hang strips of duck tape from the ceiling around the light and catch a surprisingly large quantity of them.

Makeshift gnat trap


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Moonshine Arch, The Cairns Trail and the Plummeting Slot Canyon (Robbie’s Version)

[updating – fixing a blog bug, changing pics to a ‘gallery’ allowing for easy viewing]


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Day 38 – One canyon, two canyon, red canyon, black canyon

We’ve seen two amazingly beautiful canyons on our stay in Fruita.  Yesterday we drove to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  Ever heard of it?  Neither had I.  But, wow, was it worth the visit.  Deeper than it is wide in many places, the canyon is carved out of solid metamorphic (hard!) rock by an incredibly determined river.


Watch the first step

Today we visited Colorado National Monument, a sandstone canyon filled with eroded sandstone “monuments.”  These canyons are only about 60 miles apart, but couldn’t be more geologically different.

Can you see the monuments?

This morning we did a ride out on the Bookcliffs north of Fruita.  The roads in Fruita are laid out in a one-mile grid.  East/West roads are labed with letters, and North/South roads are labeled with numbers.  This results in some ridiculous road names.


C did a great job climbing to the top of the Prime Cut trail, so I wanted to take the traditional hold-your-bike-in-over-your-head-at-the-top-of-the-mountain picture, but her bike is a little too heavy.  So we opted for the hold-your-bike-in-front-of-your-face-at-the-top-of-the-mountain shot instead.

I made it to the top!

C rocked the descent on the Kessel Run trail (thanks, Han Solo), and decided it should be renamed the Kessel Fun trail.

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Day 36 – This one’s for Bubba

My father (or Bubba to his granchildren) is well-known for taking unsuspecting bystanders on grand and sometimes ill-advised adventures.  I have many memories of setting off on a simple hike and returning with a ridiculous story to share.  The fact that I’m still standing today means that he always managed to bring us home safely.

I am my father’s child.

From the road to our campsite we could see a really cool rock formation in the distance.  Yesterday we inquired about it with the ranger and he produced a photocopy of a 12 year old BLM map with sketchy directions to a trailhead in the right vicinity.  This morning we set off in search of our un-named formations.  We found the trailhead, hiked to Moonshine Arch without much difficulty, and spent some time exploring and snacking.

Moonshine Arch

But we knew the formations must be just a canyon or two away.  We hiked over giant slabs of sandstone in search of a view of the formations.  We got lucky and stumbled upon a “trail” marked with cairns.  The trail headed in the right direction, so we followed it.  After some steep traverses, we found a view of the formations.  Lucky us!  We spent some time soaking in the view.

Awesome view

But below us, a slot canyon beckoned.  I proposed that we return to our car via this canyon, and much to my surprise, Robbie agreed.  A trail appeared to run through the canyon.  We could see a jeep track at the canyon exit that lead back toward our truck.  The sky was clear, so no risk of a flash-flood.  We checked our food and water and decided that we were properly equipped for this unplanned trek.  Off we went in search of the canyon.

After an initial detour, we found the rather forbodeing entrance to the canyon, a 20’ slide of sandstone covered in silt.  Not safe.  Especially for a 7-year-old and a woman with a semi-functioning hip.   Instead of taking this as a sign to go back, we scouted another entrance.  It was steep and slippery, but short enough that the risk of injury was small.  Robbie went first and cleared the way for C and me by dislodging many brick-sized rocks on his way in. We had to work together to help C down the first few drops, as her little legs simply weren’t long enough.

Entering the canyon

We continued to scramble over and under the boulders that filled the canyon.  C’s a great climber, so she loved it.  Up ahead, a little cottontail bounded happily along what I believed to be the impending trail.  Just as we cleared the narrowest, boulder-strewn stretch, we encountered the thicket-of-doom.  The entire width of the canyon was blocked by living and dead shrubbery.  I searched high, Robbie searched low, but no path pierced the wall.  We would have to go through it.

At this point, I thought of Bubba.

We contemplated going back, but we assumed the shrubbery would thin out.  Neither of us wanted to climb what we’d just descended.  We pressed on.

This thicket’s the thickest


The thicked-of-doom did it’s best to trap us forever, but nothing keeps an intrepid explorer from her destination.  At times we commando-crawled under branches in the silt.  Other times we created bridges with our legs for C to use.   I had to use my hands to drag my exhausted leg through the worst of it.  We just kept telling ourselves that it had to end soon.

And after an hour of canyoning, we emerged into the wide-open sagelands!  Though we never found a trail, the jeep track was right where we expected, and we had a lovely hike back to the truck.  We all agreed that the views and adventure were worth the difficult journey.

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