Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Willis Creek

Willis Creek is a canyon gorge located not far from the tiny town of Cannonville, Utah. I had never been there, but Bill decided that the WINs should go check it out.

It starts out fairly open, but quickly closes to some beautiful narrows.

A small stream flows through the canyon, but it is easy to jump over.

The walls get steeper and steeper.

I took hundreds of pictures in the mile or so that we walked each way.

Lots of them were "butt shots," since I'm always behind.

Afterwards, I wanted to go see another nearby slot canyon called Bull Valley Gorge that I had read about. It's a very narrow and deep slot, and I had no intention of climbing down into it. But I had read a story about the bridge over the canyon and was intrigued.

The attraction was an old pickup that ran off the bridge in 1954, killing the 3 occupants. I could only get a photo of the front bumper and one wheel. After the accident, the bridge was redone by pushing trees and large rocks into the chasm on top of the truck.

Here's a better picture from the bottom of the canyon that I got off the internet.

By this time, everyone was thinking I was a little crazy for wanting to check this out. But on our way back to the cars, who do we run into but the son of the driver of that pickup truck! He had brought some of his family out because it was Memorial Day. He was only 18 months old when his father was killed, and he told us the whole story.

On a lighter note, the WINs had our first men-vs-women fishing tournament. They caught 30 fish - 22 by the women and 8 by the men, so the men had to cook and clean all the fish.

But the women may have cheated just a tad, by making fishing poles for the men, which consisted of a soda can, string, safety pin, and gummy worm.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Last Post on Zion, I Promise

Zion is one of my very favorite national parks, and I did a lot here. One more hike we did was the Kayenta trail from the Grotto to the Emerald Pools.

It's a little different way to get to the pools, and there are great views from the trail.

The trail goes to the Middle pool, which most people don't see.

We then walked down to the Lower pool, where the water from the Middle pool comes cascading down.

From here we went back to the shuttle bus on the Emerald Pools trail.

And then drove back to our home on the east side of the park. We drove right by a privately-owned buffalo herd, which are sometimes by the road. Come on now - do you really want your kids hand-feeding buffalo?

Grafton ghost town is near the town of Rockville, just outside the south entrance of the park. It was started by Mormon settlers in 1862. This combination church/schoolhouse has been somewhat restored, but still interesting.

I thought the graveyard was the most interesting. Diseases and accidents killed many.

Several were killed by Indians.

The day was saved by the many items of rusty stuff around, although I'm sure they didn't come from the 1800s. The last residents left Grafton in 1944.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

East Side of Zion

During our visit to Zion National Park, we were parked outside of the East entrance. So we saw a lot of the East side of the park. I think it is even prettier than the valley.

The roads throughout the park are all this red color.

I just couldn't stop taking pictures out the car window.

Even this Mommy Bighorn Sheep was taken out the window.

There's her baby!

I actually stopped and got out to take a shot of this cute little tree.

We went on several hikes on this side of the park. This is trailhead for the East Rim trail that starts right by the east park entrance. If you keep going for 6 miles you connect to where we started the downhill hike I wrote about in the last post.

I walked about 1 1/2 miles of it and the rocks were gorgeous.

What a great view!

Another short hike on the east side is the Canyon Overlook trail, where you see the valley and the tall cliffs on the other side.

We went up several washes looking for Two Pines Arch. I had gotten directions off the internet here, but neither the directions or the coordinates worked for me. But I had fun looking!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Downhill All the Way

One of my favorite hikes in Zion National Park is this all-downhill 5.1-mile hike from high on the plateau down into the valley 2100 feet below.

You start at an obscure trailhead at the eastern park boundary -

Then walk 1/2 mile to a connection with the East Rim trail. We had a group of 11 WINs hiking, which required some rather complicated shuttling.

The trail quickly opens up and the views are magnificent.

I seemed to be always in the rear, which enabled me to take some good butt shots.

Hurry up, Diana - stop taking so many pictures! I had done this hike a couple times before and didn't remember the trail being so rocky.

And I had promised everyone that it was "all downhill," but there was a little bit of uphill.

More rocks -

Then whoa! Time for lunch. When you pass the turnoff to Observation Point, the trail becomes paved, sort-of, from work done by the CCC in the 1930s.

A little easier to walk on, but still downhill.

We stopped for a photo when we entered Echo Canyon.

This was everyone's favorite part.

Emerging from Echo canyon, you still have many steep switchbacks to negotiate, before arriving in the valley and the shuttle bus to the Visitor's Center.

If you want to do this hike, pick up the free Wilderness Guide at the Visitor's Center. You must either have 2 cars, or a friend who doesn't want to hike to drop you off at the trailhead.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Solar Eclipse

Sunday was a big day here - the long-anticipated Annular Solar Eclipse. We had free solar glasses, and I had a piece of welder's glass to hold in front of the camera.

An Annular Solar Eclipse occurs when the moon is farther from the earth than normal, and therefore doesn't completely cover the sun, creating a "Ring of Fire."

But we got there way too early, thinking it was going to be really crowded.

But just next to the solar viewing sight was a bunch of rusty stuff!

Hot diggity!

About an hour before the eclipse began, the park service arrived with a telescope and viewing screen, which was located inside a U-Haul trailer.

Finally, the moon began to cover the sun.

And gradually covered more and more.

The giant telescope the park service brought was not working too well, but this reflection onto a cardboard box was a big hit.

I was surprised that the light in the sky did not seem to change at all.

Almost there! At this point you are supposed to be able to make out the mountains and valleys on the moon, but I didn't have a telescope, just a point-and-shoot Canon camera.

Finally - the ring of fire! A big cheer went up.

The moon gradually moved across the sun -

And exited on the other side.

The park service finally got their telescope working, and you could really see the Ring of Fire on their laptop.

It was a great experience, and I can't wait for the Total Eclipse happening in 2017!