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!