Saturday, April 14, 2012

Angel's Landing with Mom

I have the coolest mother-in-law who I refer to as Mom...cause I love her like my Mom...anyway,

She likes to hike and backpack and, well, she likes to do all the manly stuff that I like to do.  So she officially gets a spot on the manly stuff blog!  A long time ago we went to Zion National Park as a family and Mom and I hiked Angels Landing together. 

"The Angels Landing Trail is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the national park system. Zion's pride and joy runs along a narrow rock fin with dizzying drop-offs on both sides. The trail culminates at a lofty perch, boasting magnificent views in every direction. Rarely is such an intimidating path so frequented by hikers. One would think that this narrow ridge with deep chasms on each of its flanks would allure only the most intrepid of hikers. Climbers scale its big wall; hikers pull themselves up by chains and sightseers stand in awe at its stunning nobility. The towering monolith is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Southwest."

The Organ and the Virgin River.

I didn't start taking pictures until we got to the top, so I will describe the hike from the top down...

Me taking a picture of Mom taking a picture of the thing we would like to have in picture form so that others can see the picture in picture form.  View is north.  For you geology people, the slopey stuff at the bottom of the valley is the Kayenta Formation and, maybe, the Moenave Formation.  The giant cliffs are the Navajo Sandstone.  In the distance you can see the Temple Cap Formation above the Navajo, and a teeny bit of Carmel Formation at the very top.

View South
 
Mom "Look where I am!, It's not Texas!"  I actually don't remember what she was saying...but if she wasn't saying it, she was thinking it!  Actually, I am not even sure she was in Texas yet.  Oh well, maybe her spirit was saying it because it could feel the imminent move.  Mom? 

The Landing?
 
Me and Mom, and I think she is doing "the Happy Dance" here too.
 
That critter is definitely not afraid of heights.

Okay, so we will now make our descent to the valley below...with the aid of chains.






Good view of the other end of the fin and Scout Lookout.
 
By the way, up is easier than down.

After the fin, you go down this series of switchbacks called Walter's Wiggles.  They descend into Refrigerator Canyon.

And, finally, Refrigerator Canyon.

Thanks Mom for a wonderful hike!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Backpacking in Alaska with the Zachmo

Alaska




There is something about Alaska that you just can't get anywhere else...BIG.  I am not talking big as in Texas, cause Texas isn't all that great.  When you go to Alaska you feel like you are at the mercy of the wild, even in town.  The buildings look like they have been through the worst storms and barely made it through.  The roads are full of frost heaves that show the power of Earth's natural processes.  Like the asphalt is a gnat in the face or something, just an annoyance.



Even though it can be so forbidding, I feel drawn to it.  I like how wild and untamed it feels.  I had the opportunity to take a backpacking trip there with my brother-in-law Zach.  The hike was relatively short on the Granite Tors Trail.  "The tors were formed 70 million to 90 million years ago when molten rock pushed upward and cooled before reaching the surface. The granite formations were exposed by the erosion of the surrounding earth which revealed the towering spires we see today." (http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chena/trails.htm).  We hiked up to the top and camped next to one of the Tors, then hiked back down the next day.



Memories:

As we made our way to the top Zach and I heard an emergency whistle.  It was coming from the ravine next to us.  Being the heroes that we are, we left the path to find the poor helpless individual who had obviously hurt himself.  As we climbed down we suddenly heard the whistle from just above us.  How could we have missed the person?  Must have been in a cleft or crevice...so we headed back up only to hear the whistle below us again.  Well, it turns out that this rodent was the responsible one...and his friends.  We were suckers.



When we arrived at the top where the Tors were, we noticed that the mosquito's were in giant clouds above the Tors.  It was the weirdest thing, they wouldn't come down to bite us for anything.  We could stick our arms in the cloud and then they would start showing some interest, but all we had to do was pull our arms back down and they would leave us alone. Weird.  These pictures don't really do it justice.




We had a bear can just in case, unfortunately we didn't see any.

Other cool pictures from the hike:


Me
The Zachmo














I think there might actually be a droplet of spit hanging from my tooth.  Scary.
Salmon Fishing:


What could be manlier?

The view from the bank.  This is at Valdez.

That's a creepy face.


Dad's (in-law, but I just call him Dad) catch being reeled in.


Dad and Sarah.





There I go doing that creepy face again.  What can I say, I like to eat 'em fresh.

Oh dear.  Sarah lost her finger to a salmon.



 Like I said, Alaska is BIG, wild, and how could you not want to go?

And just cause I wanted to show these pictures:
Stream from the bottom of a glacier.

Glacial terminal moraine.

The glacier.

Another glacier that we watched calve into the sea.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Brothers Trip 2011


Backpacking in Arkansas: Ozark Highlands Trail and Buffalo River Trail

As you can see, the water was extremely high...so high that people were kayaking on creeks or should I say cricks?




Bugs




Mark and Joe


Bug again


Mark and Joe




This is where Joe jumped to his death...almost.  Instead he just got wet and we laughed.


Another bug


Hydration is a must even in Arkansas where you should be able to live by osmosis with the 100% humidity!
James and Ron in the center, James foreground.



James and Ron





Machete anyone?



The "creek" we were supposed to cross was a raging river.  We waited until a boat came by and begged a ride across.  Quote from the driver, "F-in, (insert any sentence) F-in."

Joe and Mark


Ron


James



The nightly ring of wet shoes.


"Wanna go for a ride in my new vehicle?  Wanna go for a ride in my new car?"



Ron


Mark, Joe, James


Me



Jiggity



Ron's blood in a cemetery.


Panoramas of the incredible views from the bluffs.





Many thanks to James for planning this trip!  In spite of the mileage, I will always cherish these memories!  Next trip, somewhere dry...

Stephen