Sunday, June 28, 2009

Canyoneering Expedition

Well, we made it back to Boulder once again, but this time with a whole new crew to accompany us on our adventure. Elise, Ryan, Jake & Chelsea all came along. Luckily, Jake & Chelsea were kind enough to bring their Ford Explorer which allowed us to get to trailheads that would be completely inaccessible to my little Pontiac.

We stopped in at Capitol Reef National Park on our way down so everyone could see it. That's where these pics are from, including this one, with only Elise posing, as well as this fascinating shot of Ryan trying to take a picture of himself on his phone.

The group wasn't too impressed with the petroglyphs left my the ancient inhabitants. In fact, Elise is still skeptical of their authentic origin, since the National Park Service just left them on the cliffs rather than putting the images behind glass. We also checked out Hickman Bridge, a large natural arch within the Park. We tried scrambling up some boulders to get on top, only to be hindered by a large drop off that prevented us from getting right on top of the arch. But it did make for some sweet pictures (which are, unfortunately, on someone else's camera).

The next day was the trips real adventrue. We hiked a two different slot canyons off of the Hole-in-th-Rock road near Escalante--Spooky and Peek-a-Boo canyons. Round trip it was probably 10 to 12 miles, which took most of the days. We wente down Spooky first. After hiking through a gorge with for a while, we had to bust out the rope and repel down a 20 foot drop to get into the actual slot canyon.

Like the guidebook said, this was definitely not a canyon for the claustrophobic or obese. There were a lot of tight squeezes and technical parts in which you had to stem, or in other words, jam your body between the cliff walls and move forward while suspended in the air. There were even a few drop offs with some rank pools of water waiting for you at the bottom. I tried stemming across one in particular, but after realizing the the walls were two far apart, I just dropped in. It was in this same pool that our hiking mate Elise slid right down in. Unfortunately, she panicked and didn't realize that it was only waist deep until she was swimming up to her neck.Like I was saying though, this slot definetly wasn't for those with extra poundage. And Jack, if you read this, I would have to say, you would probably excel in these parts of the canyon.

And here, Tiffani stemmed up above us to take a cool shot.

As we got close to the end of Spooky canyon, the slot got windy, which created some exquisite rock formations in the red sandstone.

Unfortunately, after we hiked down one canyon, we had to go back up the other in order to get back to the car. We were almost out of water, even though most of us brough three liters a person, but we made it up okay. We realized later though that we took a wrong turn heading back to the car and ended up hiking in between the two canyons, but we made it back fine all the same. If you're looking for a cool, short hike, you can just do the bottom ends of both of these canyons and you'll still have a lot of fun.

The next day, we were all pretty wiped out from Friday's hike, so we took it easy. We went on a 1 mile hike to the beautiful Upper Calf Creek Falls. It's nice because its less well-known than the Lower Falls, and has a couple pools of water above the falls that you can jump into and swim in.

After the falls, we, like all manly man, got some testosterone pumping by pushing a 400 lb. rock down a mountain. Man must move rock... grunt.

Finally we took a trip down the Burr Trail to play around in a large crevice in the canyon wall. there we climbed on rocks, posed for pictures, and practiced slack-lining. For those of you who aren't familiar with said sport, its like tightrope walking on a piece of webbing (and its really hard at first like I found out).

After all was said and done that, we have another cool story to add to our increasing collection of summer adventures.

And P.S.

Make sure when you wear Chaco's or any other sandal, use sunblock, otherwise your feet will end up looking like mine!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stewart Cascade Falls

Here's a handsome couple, a little too preppy for a hike, but we survived.
The coolest thing about my job is that I can get paid to hike, play tennis, and go on bike rides. Basically, I am a mentor to youth that are in the state's custody. Granted, I have to do some community service and help them fill out job applications and such, but it's worth it. I really like the kids I work with and I enjoy spending time with them.
A couple of weeks ago, Will and I took one of my girls on a hike in Provo Canyon. Stewart Falls is great because it's only about two miles to get there. We had a nice little picnic beforehand and then we burned off the oatmeal cream pies on the trail.

Mt. Olympus- A Mythical Adventure

So, the title was a bit cheesy--maybe climbing Mt. Olympus wasn't exactly mythical, the only demon we encountered was a baby rattlesnake--but it certainly was memorable. A couple of weeks ago, Will and I convinced two of our single friends, Abby Stevens and Pamela Porter, to hang out with us for a day. Since they are former Badger buddies, they couldn't pass up the chance to be in the mountains. Since most of the peaks on the Wasatch front were still fraught with snow, we had to settle for one of the lesser mountains. Mt. Olympus is only about 9,000 feet high, and the trail to the summit is just a little over three miles; however, there is a 4,000 foot elevation gain in those three miles. Basically, it's stair-stepping most of the way up. Suffice it to say, I was sore for two days afterward. Although it was a little crowded, we found that the hike was definitely worth the view.Abby is sitting right at the saddle. Behind her is a beautiful backdrop of Twin Peaks.
Here we are trekking up to the summit. It looked much more daunting in real life. This picture was taken somewhere during the final ascent. (I like that phrase, "final ascent" it makes me feel like we climbed Mt. Everest, instead of just scrambling up rocks for a couple hundred feet.)When we got to the top, we took a little lunch break. We struck up a conversation with a stranger and as I was busy listening to his road-tripping tales, my foot fell asleep. It took me about a half hour to get the circulation going. Will was anxious to get to some shrubbery so he could take a little break. Here we are posing like Greek gods and goddesses. We figured out why Mt. Olympus is so named. On top, it looks like a god had a temper tantrum so he just hurled down rocks from the sky. It literally was a mound of boulders, one piled on top of another.
That pretty much wraps up our adventure. I would encourage everyone to take a hike. Literally.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First Anniversary

We can't believe it's already been a whole year. And some people say its the hardest! Ha! Obviously they aren't nearly as in love as Tiffani and me. This past year has been, well, blissful.

So, to commemorate, we basically replayed our honeymoon. We drove down to Manti and stayed at the quaint little bed and breakfast we stayed at on our wedding night, the Yardley Inn & Spa. The mistress of the inn was so cute. She has her husband carry your bags up the stairs for you while she takes you on a tour of pioneer home that's been converted to a little hotel. She stopped us in one hall to point out a painting on the wall that symbolized our celestial journey and to make sure that was still our goal. The place is so rustic and homey, with pictures of the temple and Book of Mormons scattered throughout the home. They even habe a library with all sorts of novels, a grand piano, DVD's and romantic music that you can use during your stay (luckily the music collection didn't include the Osmond's). Before we left, she gave us both and hug and gave us a talk about being heart to heart. Legend has it that if you press your hearts together, eventually they will synchronize into a steady, unified rhythm. Isn't that dreamy...sigh.

Before we left town, we did a session at the Manti temple. It looked so majestic on top of the hill overlooking the valley and the spring flowers surrounding its base popped with a myriad of vibrant colors.

After we left Manti, we stopped in to visit Grandma and Grandpa Bridges in another town in central Utah, Monroe. It was fun to visit with them and hear some of the life history. They took us to lunch at a little diner in town, and Tiffani and I agreed it was perhaps the best meal we have ever had. Tiffani had to ask what a filet mignon was exactly. She knew how to pronounce it, but also knew it was something more expensive then we could ever pay. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Bridges! We enjoyed the visit and the tour of Monroe.

After that, it was time for more family history. When we arrived in Torrey, we stopped to check out the art gallery there. We also noticed that the old churchhouse in town had been torn down in order to make room for a newer chapel. While I'm sure the new technology will be great, we were sad to see the old redrock chapel gone, especially since Tiffani's pioneer ancestors had helped to construct it. We did take a picture of the very first chapel/schoolhouse that still sits along mainstreet, preserved by the DUP (Daughters of Utah Pioneers).

Our last stop was, of course, at the Cabin in Boulder, UT. Although I've only been in the family for little more than a year, it's already becoming one of my favorite destinations. The surrounding area is so amazing.

For our first adventure, we hiked along the Escalante River trail and up Phipps wash. We had to ford the river a couple of times, which wasn't too bad since the water was knee high at most.Our ultimate destinations included Maverick Natural Bridge... (seen below)

And Phipps arch, a little farther up the canyon.
It was a great day hike with a nice variety of terrain. We also took a few minutes just to take in the beautiful desert landscape. It also gave me the opportunity to try out my new Chaco's that Tiffani gave me for our anniversary. Thanks wife. I was a little worried at first because my feet have been sheltered in close-toed shoes for nearly 20 years. I was also a little embarrassed about my golf club toe (thanks for that one dad) and my black toe nails (they turned black and fell off after being squished inside bad-fitting shoes playing basketball). But, despite my self-consciousness, they Chaco's ending up being great.
The next day was more lazy. We were a little tired from our hike and possible rainclouds surrounding us, we decided to check out Hell's Backbone, accessible completely by car. It's a really cool little bridge, built during the Depression in the 1930's, that connects two mountain tops while spanning the deep canyon below. Tiffani still makes me nervous when she stands by the edge...
On the way home from our drive, we stopped along Highway 12 to take a nice shot of the little town of Boulder.

We love it there and will be headed back soon!