Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Negro Bill Canyon Trail

Before leaving Utah we had one more trail we wanted to hike; The Negro Bill Canyon Trail which leads to Morning Glory Natural Bridge. This 4 1/2 mile round trip hike turned out to be one of the best trails we've done here in Utah. It's a trail full of surprises at every turn and the natural bridge at the end is huge, 243 feet wide!

The mountain stream is beautiful and has to be crossed several times.

Sometimes the trail led us into deeply wooded shade. There was lots of poison ivy to watch out for too.

Sometimes the trail follows riverbed ledge rock and rim rock too.

Click on this photo to get a sense of scale.

The trail sometimes required some rock climbing as well.

Morning Glory Natural Bridge up ahead. Once we got to the bridge we found it difficult to get a good photo.

The canyon comes to an end right under the natural bridge. It's a cool, cave-like environment where a lot of hikers like to hang out before heading back to the trail-head.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Windy, and I mean Windy

A few minutes ago our anemometer recorded a 44.6 mph gust and the wind is regularly blowing over 30 mph. Yikes, we had to pull our room slides in and can do nothing but wait it out. A number of tents here have been knocked flat and we actually saw one floating down the Colorado River. While the wind is bad enough, we also have a layer of fine, gritty dust covering everything inside the RV and car. Though barely visible, this dust feels like sandpaper when we slide something across a counter-top or table surface.

A dust storm during today's drive, which took us through Castle Valley as recommended by the Bayfield Bunch.
Visibility in Castle Valley was not too good today, but it was still one of the best Sunday drives we've made.

We love the open range grazing out here. Sometimes you just have to wait a bit while a couple calves catch up with their mother.

The beautiful Aspens, pines and snow covered peaks. It just doesn't get any better than this.

On the way back we stopped at the Moab Arts Festival. One of the performances included this Lion Dance by a Martial Arts group from Colorado.

The finale for the Martial Arts performance was this instructor lying on a bed of nails with 200 lbs. of concrete blocks on top of him.

The concrete blocks were then smashed with a sledge hammer, unbelievable! If I had seen this on TV, I would have thought it to be a hoax.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Arches Nat'l Park, Day 2

The North and South arches.

Double Arch; look at the bottom, left of center to see people for a sense of scale.

Delicate Arch; the white arrow on the left points to some people on the horizon. Someone is also standing right under the arch. Sometimes it feels like we're on another planet here in Utah.

The snow covered La Sal Mountains.

I didn't realize it until today, but there is an arch in progress right above us just across the river.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Colorado River Drive

The Colorado River in the Potash area.

"Jug Handle Arch" along highway 279.

Enlarge photo to view some of the amazing petroglyphs on the rock walls along The Colorado River.
These rock cliffs, called "wall Street", are popular with climbers.

While looking for petroglyphs we found something rarely seen; a swarm of honey bees suspended from a branch.

The dinosaur tracks found on this rock slab are said to be Allosaurus, Eubrontes and Grallator. It was a steep, somewhat treacherous climb to see them up close, probably not worth it. You can see them safely from the parking area with some binoculars.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Arches Nat'l Park, Day 1

I labelled this post Day 1 because we will definitely come back to see more. There is just too much here to see in one day.

This morning we welcome new followers Runningliner and Michael Kane. We are happy you've joined us and appreciate your support.

Landscape Arch, the quintessential arch of arches, seen on all the park websites and brochures. At 306 feet wide, and so remarkably thin, it is truly magnificent.

The weather here can change rapidly, like no place we've seen. It has rained twice at our campsite, with violent wind gusts that seem to arrive from out of a perfect calm.

This is called Park Ave.

Click to enlarge this photo and you'll see two rock climbers on this towering spire.

Balanced Rock is the name of this formation.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Moab, Utah

Yesterday we had a pleasant easy drive from Torrey to Moab. After nearly a week of being camped off-grid we stayed at an RV park so we could empty our waste tanks, get fresh water and do some laundry. This morning we were able to escape from the park and find a nice BLM site just 2 miles from Moab, right on the Colorado River.

It's a bit hard to see here but the Colorado River is just 25 feet behind our rig at the base of the rock cliff. This is the Goose Island campground; though we can't figure out how it got that name.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Capital Reef and other Rock Photos

This morning we left Torrey and headed to Moab, Utah.

It wasn't easy to leave a peaceful, free campsite with 360 degree views of some of the most beautiful rock formations and mountains in Utah. And Charlie will most likely have to get re-accustomed to using a leash wherever we next set up camp, but it's time to move on.

Capital Reef Park is difficult to capture in photos. When I try to think of how to describe it one word comes to mind: MAJESTIC!

Throughout the park we saw many rocks that could have fallen yesterday. They could have fallen a thousand years ago, or this morning for all we know. Just not today, please!

Petroglyph carvings can be found on many of the cliff faces.

Hickman Natural Bridge; Capitol Dome under the arch in the distance. This was a moderate one mile hike to get here.

These round, volcanic rocks are common throughout this part of Utah.

Some unusual hoodoos in the Devil's Garden.

Red slickrock in the Devil's Garden.

A fragile arch in the Devil's Garden.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Boulder Mountain, Utah

The drive over Boulder Mountain in the RV was so much fun we went back for another look.

There's still a sizable amount of snow in many places.

The view from more than 9000 feet is amazing.

Near the top, the stands of Aspens still remain dormant. The same trees lower down the mountain have their leaves now.

The Aspen or Quaking Aspen, is a tree we don't have on the East Coast. They grow so close together I don't see how they survive.

The side roads off highway 12 still remain impassable.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Escalante to Boulder Drive

Utah rte. 12, between Escalante and Boulder is not a drive for the faint of heart. We first learned of this on the Wheeling It blog where Paul loses a night sleep in anticipation of driving their 40 footer over this stretch of road. After doing my own research I also began to feel a bit of fear and dread creep into my own good nights rest.

The drive includes 8%-14% grades with many sharp curves going down the canyon and as well as climbing back out.

Down, down, down the canyon we go, headed for the Escalante River, our mighty Caterpillar pistons holding our 15 tons back at a comfortable 30 mph. We disconnected the car for this drive but in hindsight it was unnecessary. True, our coach is a bit underpowered when trying to maintain 70 mph on steep interstate grades, but here where 40 mph was top speed, I had plenty of horsepower.

The "Hogback" is really the only intimidating part of the drive. This is where you are actually driving right along the mountain ridge with no shoulder or guard rail on either side. If you dare take your eyes off the road to look, all you see are bottomless abysses on both sides. The road designers also included some curves just to keep you on your toes. Seriously though, check the weather and change your plans if high winds or snow are forecast.