Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Zion's East Rim

First-my hiking boot review-KEEN sucks!

The nice color brochures that the National Parks put out have basically no information in them anymore.
The Fall newspaper edition at Zion N.P. wasn't much better.
So you will have to see the Ranger to get any description of the East Rim Trail. Or you may read this.

It was free National Park day yesterday, so we went out on a cold morning. I'm not paying $25, no thanks.

It was frigid (maybe about freezing) when we started our hike to Stave Springs from the Weeping Rock parking lot. Instead of turning left to Weeping Rock go straight and up, up, up. The trail is paved for at least the first mile. This turns out not to be a godsend as there is not much cushioning to concrete. The CCC is to blame I think. Wear well-soled cushioned  shoes.

The trail climbs 2000 feet in 5 miles from the parking lot to Stave Springs, so it is tough. It is fairly impossible to get lost. When the trail goes straight to Observation Point at the 2 mile mark, go right and downhill instead (toward the East Entrance). The route is then well cairned over slickrock to where it crosses Echo Canyon. After the crossing the trail gets very vertical again. We went up and down this very steep section in the snow, but we made it. The last mile is level  to Stave Spring. Treat the spring water before drinking! The spring is the halfway point of the East Rim Trail. We will do the other half as another out-and-back another day, from the east entrance to Stave Spring.

We did the round trip to Stave and back in 6 hours. This includes time to eat and a hike to Hidden Canyon on the way back down to the parking lot.
Hidden Canyon is another vertical little sucker, but probably only a mile each way. There are chains to hold onto on this trail at exposed areas. There is a nice little arch maybe 15 minutes past the end of the developed trail. It's right in the drainage.
Hidden Canyon is a nice extra if there is time.

The best part of the East Rim Trail is beautiful Echo Canyon, including views of narrows below the foot trail. The narrows themselves are a technical adventure and not for me. Of course there are great views all around of Zion Canyon. 

Boy my old back is sore from walking on cement, Thanks CCC! Well you needed a job I guess.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

We Soar Above Kanab Without Wings

Come to Kanab, Utah. It is the "Greatest Earth on Show". That is what the welcoming sign says. But if you don't like the desert stay away. We do so we retired here.
It is 9:00 A.M., October 25, 2012, the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
We start the hike at the corner of 100 East and 200 South.
We head east on 200 South to the junction with 300 East.
The historic Farnsworth house is on the southwest corner. This town is full of wonderful old homes.
We turn left or north on 300 East, looking directly at the radio towers. These towers are our not so beautiful landmark on this hike.
We turn right or east on 100 South. ("K" Hill is straight dead ahead. There is a big "K" for Kanab on the cliff face, we do that out west.) The road soon runs out at a scenic dumpster.
A dirt track passes on the right of the garbage can, which we take.
We turn immediately left at the next dirt track.
There are many dirt tracks here but we stay down low from "K" Hill, heading north again toward the towers.
20 minutes from our start we are at a tiny wash which goes right at a hiker's sign. This is Tom's Canyon Trail. A city trail signboard is ahead if you want to read it.
Tom's Canyon Trail is cool today in the shade as it winds up and down the clay hills at the bottom of the Vermilion Cliffs. The trail is marked with sign posts. We do not take the first right which goes up "K" Hill but continue straight and up a hill.
There is a fancy subdivision on our left, "K" Hill on our right.
We reach a gate in 20 minutes and go through. In a few minutes more there is a picnic table left and up a hill. We go straight, passing some horse tie up posts.
Eventually the subdivision runs out; because of the recession it may never grow larger.
Tom's Canyon Trail is supposed to be 1 1/2 miles in length and we walk it in 1/2 hour.
Cliffs Trail (for Vermilion Cliffs) passes on the left of the next Kanab trail system signboard. A right spur here goes to horse tie up posts and a nice spot with a picnic table.
Freelance hiking looks to be available further up Tom's Canyon past the picnic table, but not today.
Cliffs Trail is a sweaty deal even at this temperature. It climbs vertically up the Vermilion Cliffs. The Vermilion Cliffs are part of the "Grand Staircase".
This trail is marked but not as well as Tom's. As we near the top there are no more signs, just pink ribbons.
Just below the top of the cliff the trail levels and heads west around the escarpment (good views of the Chocolate Cliffs, which is the lowest "stair" to the south, and the radio towers), then north a short way, then east up a short canyon.
Cliffs Trail is 3/4 mile long and takes us 45 minutes.
At the end of Cliffs Trail we take the sandy track to the left. This is part of the Hog Canyon ATV trail system.
We will be on ATV trails now for about 45 minutes. It is sandy and still good aerobically with ups and downs.
After 10 minutes on the ATV trail we go right.
After 10 minutes more we bear left quickly 3 or 4 times, looking directly at the radio towers.
1/2 hour after we first get on the ATV trail we are at a gate. There is a "No Trespassing" sign on the gate. I think this gate is always open now.
Five minutes after passing through the gate we go straight, not left, at an ATV and hiker sign.
About five more minutes pass and we go left.
The ATV trail is blocked soon now.
Straight ahead and to the right is a bench to sit on. Available here are the best views of the "Grand Staircase". There is a #21 and #22 signpost here. I don't know what these signposts mean, have never found a guidebook for these. To the north are the White, Grey, and Pink Cliffs. The highest elevation Pink Cliffs are where Bryce Canyon National Park resides.
So the staircase is: Pink, Grey, White, Vermilion (the second step which we are on), and Chocolate Cliffs.
We head directly south from the sitting-bench on what is designated the Squaw Trail. Now the radio towers are left and above us.
Shortly after leaving the scenic bench we see a post with #03 and go left, following the trail to #17 post.
The Squaw Trail winds around and downward with good views of Kanab town and the Chocolate Cliffs.
At signpost #01 there is a view west of the "bottles" rock formation.
The Squaw Trail is 1 1/4 miles long and takes us 1/2 hour.
We go south from the third and final signboard, down Main Street, then left on Center Street, to where we started.
The "bottles" may be reached with a scramble from the signboard.
If you are having trouble finding Main St., the library and hospital are on it.
It is 12:45 P.M., October 25, 2012, the temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Total hiking time and distance: 3 3/4 hours, about 6 miles (I think). This includes time for a bite to eat and the walk on the spur trail to the Tom's Canyon picnic table.
You may do this faster or slower than we did. We are 60 years old. We met some hikers who said they did it in 1 3/4 hours. But they ran a lot. We told them, "We go to the track when we want to run."
Cliffs Trail is brutal in the summer heat.
Monsoon season is July through September roughly, every year being different.
Stay away when trail is wet!
Pack all trash out!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

a wonderful hiking area in the GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NAT'L MONUMENT


The jurisdiction here lies with the BLM. The fee is zero.

The hiking in Hackberry Canyon is easy for an out-and-back hike. The hike up the side canyon to Sam Pollock Arch is more demanding than Hackberry but worth it. The optional loop described below is demanding but worth it.

The environment is back country and self-sufficiency/self-rescue is required.

The best time to hike here is spring/fall, optimally maybe October, after the monsoon season is well over and daytime temperatures are mid 50sF-70F. Feet may well get wet, so one should regard cold feet as a consideration. The lower 10 miles of Hackberry usually flows.

Navigation is easy with landmarks for assistance.

Trailhead: From Highway 89 between Page, AZ and Kanab, UT drive to between mileposts 17-18 and turn north on the well graded, dirt Cottonwood Road. Drive 14.4 miles to just past a cattle guard and right branching Brigham Plains Road to a short pull off on the left (west) that is the trailhead for lower Hackberry Canyon. Do not ever travel Cottonwood Road if it is wet or if rain is predicted. The road is rough under the best conditions.

From the trailhead head west, being sure to cross Cottonwood Wash to find Hackberry Canyon heading right or north.

The canyon is scenic as it breaks through the Cockscomb. This is a nice narrow (but not a narrows) canyon which usually has spring water running in it. About an hour north, on the left on a bench just above the wash floor are some dinosaur tracks on a small rock (3 ft. wide X 5 ft. long X 2 ft. high). This would be 20-25 minutes after the largest "rock tower" on your right as you travel upstream. To the dino tracks is also a little more than half way to Frank Watson's (built by Mr. Thomas?) cabin which is on the west side about 15 feet above the creek bed. The tracks are outies not innies so they are tough to photograph. They are still cool Grallator prints.

.6 mile upstream from Frank Watson's cabin (which is forever being reconstructed), continue easily through the Moenave & Chinle formations, and the first canyon on the left is the canyon which holds Sam Pollock Arch. It is a 3 mile (total out-and-back distance) trek from here to Sam Pollock arch. To get there, walk up this side canyon until you encounter a pour off at the top of the Kayenta formation in 1/2 mile. Look for a trail on the right (facing up canyon) that leads up and around this obstacle. Continue a mile up canyon to locate Sam Pollock arch looming above the stream bed on the right. There is a cave with Art Chynoweth's signature engraved in it north of the arch.
The one-way route to Sam Pollock Arch: Travel north and upstream in and next to Hackberry Creek 1/2 hour to the largest "rock tower" seen. From here it is 25 minutes to the dinosaur tracks. Then continue 45 minutes to the cabin. The first canyon on the left past Watson's cabin is 15 minutes more (TAKE IT). The first 1/2 mile in this drainage is a boulder-hopping 1/2 hour. Past the dryfall is an easier 1/2 hour hike to the arch (and 1 more mile). When ready, return the way you came. Allow 7-8 hours for the out-and-back trip to the arch. The distance being undetermined, it is probably about 12 miles round trip.

Or a loop option return is available, with many elevation changes and therefore more difficulties. Directly east of Watson's cabin there is a steep drainage ascending a series of falls. Pass on the left side of the first dryfall here to find cowboy glyphs and signatures. Continue to climb the next dryfall series on the left or north. (The south side is easier here, however the north side delivers the hiker due west of the amphitheater or overhang which holds "Moki House", an Indian ruin site with a nice pictograph. Search in the Navaho sandstone domes for it.) From Moki House hike and hug the bottom of the Navaho sandstone domes north for about 20 minutes, then find a spot where the top or rim of the formation may be accessed. Travel this rim south (the Navaho domes should be directly west and below you) to where an intersecting drainage chasm and rim head upstream east. At this intersection a nice arch may be viewed to the southwest but it is hard to photograph. Scramble uphill and east on the north rim of the drainage to what appears to be a perfect huge natural cairn. Travel south over a typical Utah "Devil's Backbone" and then basically southeast, keeping beautiful Castle Rock (which may be hiked from the SE side on another day) and a steep drainage on the left. The trails come and go here. This is what Michael Kelsey calls the Ken Goulding stock trail (but built by Mr. Chynoweth?). Anyway, all trails will eventually come together though many foot tracks disappear daily in the wind. There are very few cairns but they are large and visible. It is nearly impossible to get lost unless one could miss the landmark Castle Rock. There is no trail construction remaining other than the last very steep exit against a cliff face into Cottonwood Wash and the access road. There is another nice arch and a "praying Tibetan monk" just before the descent to Cottonwood.

The return loop option from "Sam Pollock" canyon/Hackberry Canyon intersection: Travel south downstream to the cabin, then just short of 1/2 hour east up the north side of the drainage to the top of first dryfall, passing cowboy signatures at 20-25 minutes. Hike and scramble (another 1/2 hour) the north side of more dryfalls and east to Moki House. Moki House to the large "natural" cairn by the described route is about an hour. Then go east and south on the obscure Ken Goulding Trail, keeping Castle Rock to the left, to Cottonwood Wash in another hour. Lower Hackberry Canyon car-park is south about 1 mile via the C. wash or access road. It is a very long day to incorporate the loop hike. Or camp near the cabin in safe weather and make 2 shorter days. Allow 4 hours from the cabin to the car-park. The distance being undetermined, it is probably 4 1/2 miles from the cabin to the car. It is tough but fair going with constant route negotiating and navigating. The loop return only adds about 1/2 mile more than the out-and-back but adds up to several hours more.

If energy is in excess, from the lower Hackberry TH one may also access the beautiful "Yellow Rock" formation by traveling steeply and almost due west a short distance.

This whole area is like a fairyland landscape and was created by cataclysmic geologic events.
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

more black marks agin THE author

On Hiking/Oh No... THE AUTHOR
Michael R. Kelsey, as we all know, is the best at finding the most remote hikes. He is best at not much else. This time it is the "old Indian trail" trick. I have nothing against old Indian trails for accessing scenic sites. But I have to be able to find it, and I am not a bird or even a dexterous ancient Pueblo Indian.
Map 34 in his Paria River hiking thing... OOps, have to refer to Map 31 and maybe Map 30 for this Wrather Arch/Canyon via an old Indian route which is immediate?? to the Northern Rim Overlook. No one has hiked here and it is not cairned as THE author hopes. Don't blame him. This whole thing, after a 17 mile off-highway drive which will burden your 4x4, is a route and not a trail. I admit that a route is impossible to find, especially when north is about 2 o'clock on a terrible map. So there is not a cairn and there is not a map. Other than that a good hiking chapter. In all fairness, one of the other maps has the north at 8 o'clock, much better.
But we are used to all of this nonsense with Kelsey. So we persevered, knowing that we were for sure in for some kind of hike anyway. CV exercise will always be provided in this fellow's books. CV, frustration, cussing, confusion, tiredness from not getting there.
Of course we did fine finding the "floating" sand dune. It's as big as the moon.
We eventually found the arch overlook from the north rim of the Paria by matching his photo to our perspective. We could not be sure of the chute down to the river. This is partly because of unfriendly description (it's adjacent) and partly because of no route marked. I guess no one uses this down route except Kelsey and Puebloans. The arch view is stinky at the overlook and I'm sure better in Wrather Canyon. That's why we wanted to get to the bottom. And there is rock art down there too. Us 60-year-olds can't just dive down any crack when we cannot see the route! There is a nice picture of the "route" from the opposite rim. A picture from the top would have helped from the top. You know, from the described hike vantage point.
No complaint about the rim views between the floating dune and the arch but the West Clark Bench (Water Pockets, Cobra Arch, Buckskin) is better than this East Clark Bench. We floundered around for six hours and took the long hill up to our Jeep.
More stuff in this book not worth the trouble: The "Hidden Panel" petroglyphs near the White House trailhead is not worth getting wet for. Ditto the panel on the right a couple miles downstream from the WHTH (that is how MK would do it) near the telephone wires; can barely see them for erosion. Thanks Mike.
Now we will try to find Moki House and the "cowboy trail" down to Hackberry Canyon and Watson Cabin and Pollock Arch. Fat chance but we'll get in some floundering. The "old cowboy trail" trick. At least Yellow and Castle Rocks are nearby and very scenic. Win some lose some with THIS author.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Box of the Paria River, Hidden Cache, Cowboyglyphs, Yellow Rock

Well this "Ring of Fire", May 20 1932 hrs., has nothing to do with the hike. 

 This is not always the best time of year to hike the GSENM. Not too buggy & the water was low in the Paria River this year. Also we started at 9 a.m., not too hot.
In order to see the two scenics above and below, don't miss the well marked route uphill at the caricature. Above is "Rock Garden".  The parentheses mean THE AUTHOR's name. By the time you near these fins, which remind me of Canyonlands Nat'l Park, you should be seeing and heading east toward Yellow Rock.
Castle Rock
The Hidden Cache, above and below. THE AUTHOR says that the access is 800 meters from the car-park to The Box plus 300 meters more to the second drainage on the right. That's where the trail to the Hidden Cache starts up on the left side of the drainage. Look, never mind the meters, just hug the right side as soon as you enter The Box (OBVIOUS!) so that you won't miss the trail up the drainage. Discover the cache then back to the river and upstream you go. If you see "Red Top" sandstone formation at the top of a drainage you missed HC trail by  two drainages and are too far upstream. If you get to the fence and the first Cowboy-glyphs you are way too far. That's how far we got before we went back.
The next three below are Yellow Rock which (like The Wave and White Pocket)  is a very photogenic geologic area near the Paria River. When you get near Yellow Rock you will see it on your right. Can't miss it. Just head for the southern side of this huge phenom. You can't possibly miss it if you go up at the caricature with the top hat and stay on the most main trail. YOU MAY OR MAY NOT SEE A TRAIL TO YELLOW ROCK-JUST HIKE CROSS-COUNTRY CAREFULLY.

The obvious beginning of southern access to The Box (just north of the Cottonwood Wash mouth), where the Paria River cuts through the Cockscomb. It's not very long but it is very cool. Is it 800 meters from the car-park? A mystery. Anyway, the trail head is marked on the west side of Cottonwood Wash Road about 11 1/2 miles north of Rt. 89 (between Page and Kanab).
Incoming, 5/20/12, 7 p.m. +

This hike was gleaned from THE AUTHOR's "Hiking and Exploring the Paria
River". The only day hikes he mentions in this area were like 20 hours for
us. So by checking his various maps which don't make sense we made this
little loop hike up. It could easily be done in 4 hours certainly, but we had
an extra hour to get lost with Kelsey. So we used up 5 1/4 hours on our
debut. The only thing that really needs attention is the descent east from
Yellow Rock to the Cottonwood Wash or to the road by the same name.
From the south side of Y Rock head due east until encountering cairns.
Some of the descent is very steep. From the wash or road it's about an
hour south to your car, once you get down. Where the road veers sharply
left to bypass a geologic reef I would recommend hiking cross country
right and nearer the wash for less mileage.
 SYNOPSIS: Enter The Box from the south and the car-park.
After seeing the Hidden Cache and two graffiti panels (R) on the
Paria River exit right and uphill until Yellow Rock comes into view
right. Exit the south exposure of Yellow Rock to the east until finding
cairns leading to a steep descent. South in the road/wash 1 hour.
Not Tired Yet? If not you may add 2 hrs. to your hike easily. Instead of going
south after the descent turn north in the wash and hike Hackberry Canyon.
 This is a nice narrow (but not a narrows) canyon which usually has spring
 water running in it. Bear west as you are northbound to catch Hackberry.
The eastern bigger wash continues as Cottonwood. About an hour north after
the descent from Yellow Rock, on the left on a bench just above the wash floor
are some dinosaur tracks. Small rock (3 ft. wide X 5 ft. long X 2 ft. high).
This would be 15-20 minutes after the large
"rock tower" on your right as you travel upstream. So to the dino tracks
and back adds 2 hours. The tracks are outies  not innies so they are tough to
photograph. They are still cool Grallators.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Best Hikes Within 25 Miles of Kanab

Kanab, Utah. I live there. I hike there. These are our favorite local hikes:

Bunting Trail-well publicized and in town
Squaw Trail (the best view of the "Grand Staircase")-well publicized and in town
Solaredas Trail-in town
Skutumpah Canyon (rock art)
North Fork Tiny Canyon or Mace Cave (rock art & ruins)
Dinosaur track hike near Flag Point (rock art also and we saw mountain lions)

all of the above can get you home for lunch if started by 7 or 8 a.m.
the next 3, I would carry my lunch just in case

Mansard or Island in the Sky hike (rock art)
Kanab Creek east of Rt. 89 (Indian ruins)
North Fork Hog Canyon (including "Superman" rock art & waterglyphs)

the next 2 may require more than half a day, mostly because of access problems (and 4WD only)

Glass Eye or Flood Canyon Indian ruins (try to include Inch Worm Arch)
Peekaboo or Red Canyon (short & nice slot canyon)

the following is a long hike but worth the effort

Cottonwood or Ron Smith Indian ruin site (rattlesnakes)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bryce, nice

I don't like to tout National Parks because there is plenty of great free stuff to do. However, the Peekaboo Loop accessed from Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon National Park is the most awesome hike in the most eye-popping N. P.
Hiking in Bryce is no walk in the park. The hoodoos reflect the sun's heat uncomfortably on uphill grades. High elevations and natural ups and downs make this a demanding hike. The park recommends 3-4 hours, we did it in 2 1/2. I could not recommend this on a hot summer afternoon.
This loop and access lets one see the entire Bryce Canyon Amphitheater, worthy of the name. And see the Wall of Windows. The Bryce Point access is not always open, dependent on weather. Peekaboo can also be accessed from Navaho Loop (still great but not as).

We prefaced this 5 1/2 mile hike (rated strenuous) with the 1 mile Bristlecone Loop at the top of the paved 18 mile park road. These trees are always cruelly twisted but they like it like that-bad weather is good for thousand year life spans apparently. We didn't need to do this, as Peekaboo had a few specimens. But it's an extra mile if you want it.
So go on a free National Parks day.
Red Canyon next door in Dixie National Forest has free access.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Hometown Tiny Canyon

It's nice to drive just a few miles from home for a nice hike. Tiny Canyon  is the canyon at the south end of the rifle range which is north of Kanab, Ut. on Hwy. 89 (or the canyon just north of Trail Canyon, which is across from Hog Canyon). We accessed it twice trying to find a supposed Indian ruin in the south fork. Well we tried two south forks and haven't found it yet. There are some short decent narrows in the 2nd. south fork (turn south out of Tiny just before the west fork dry-or-wet falls). Anyway, to explore any southern forks, park at the range and find any trail on the north rim. My opinion: unless you find the ruin site, not worth the trouble for the southern forks. UP AND DOWN IN THE SAND & BRUSHY! But scenic.
We did find a nice cave (Mace) in the north fork though. Pictographs, petroglyphs, metates. Across the wash from Mace Cave there is a ruin site under a ledge, maybe 3 or 4 pits and some original beam posts. Not much there but still interesting. You could go the same way as to the last south fork and turn north. My recommendation though is to drive north past the rifle range where the guardrail ends and park. (If you get to the Best Friends turn you are too far.) Head up the sandy drainage on the west side of Hwy. 89. Get ALL THE WAY to the top. This should take a good half hour to 45 minutes. Now head west cross country, erring on the side of Tiny Canyon for orientation. 1 1/2 hours should get you to the obvious large cave at the end of the north fork. We took 3 1/2 hours round trip with exploration. You can cut time off on the way back by staying back from Tiny Canyon and taking a more direct line. Orientation should not be an issue on your way back. It's just ESE. This hike is not too tough but is not for really hot weather. We went at 8a.m. in the summer. It's sandy! Good views!
We haven't given up on those elusive ruins in the south fork yet.