Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mt. Tamalpais to Stinson Beach Hike, CA

Mom hikes up the Steep Ravine Trail

Lafayette, CO
- Hope everyone had a nice Christmas Holiday! I've got another short post today. Just some pictures we took during our trip out to California for Thanksgiving.

Suwei and I have so many friends in California, it gets really hard to visit everyone in one week, especially when the friends are also very busy with plans of their own. On November 22nd we organized a short day hike to try to draw out as many friends as possible to one event. Well, it didn't really work. Turns out we planned it a bit late...or maybe it was the early start. In any case...we had a great time and got to touch base with a few friends.

We wanted to do a coastal hike due to the fact that they are hard to come by in Colorado. We picked the Mt. Tamalpais to Stinson Beach because it's one of the best hikes in the Bay Area. Thanks to Maria, Gautam, Eng-Shien and our Parents for joining us. And thanks to Natalie for bringing Clair, Bradley and Max down to the beach! Here are some of the pictures.

From the top: Our group on the Matt Davis Trail overlooking Stinson Beach, Eng-Shien napping, Karl & Suwei at Lunch, Max, Clair on her way to China, Gautam playing bigfoot, Stinson Beach.

As usual there is a lot more in the Slideshow:

Mt. Tamalpias to Stinson Beach Hike, CA

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stacy B's Colorado Tour.

Lafayette, CO - I've got a nice short post to put up today. These photos are from the end of October when our friend, Stacy, came to visit us here in Colorado. She was on her way home to Ohio for the holidays, and decided to stop in for a week. We gave her the "still fairly new here ourselves" mini tour of the state. Most of the pictures posted here were taken by Stacy (otherwise there would probably more with her in them). For lots more about where these pictures were taken, check out the slide show at the bottom.

Thanks for visiting Stacy! You're welcome to stop by anytime.

Stacy's Visit to Colorado

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heading Home to Colorado via The Wave, AZ

Lafayette, CO - Christmas is quickly approaching and we have a ton of visitors coming out to stay with us in the next few weeks. So, I figure I better finish up the posts from our September trip to the southwest before all hell breaks loose.

This set of photos all come from our drive home. We set out from Zion on October 4th and worked our way somewhat slowly through the Four Corners Region and back into Colorado.

The highlight of the trip home had to be The Wave.

We had planned on heading to Lake Powell, but the weather was not cooperating. It was sprinkling when we woke up and full on raining by the time we got the truck packed up. After a run in with some local wildlife (see slideshow), we headed east towards Page. On the way we decided to stop in at the backcountry permit office for the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness to check on information regarding future trips we'd been thinking about (Buckskin Gulch, The Paria River, and The Wave). Even with the rain, the permit office was still packed. After a bit of a wait, we finally got to ask the ranger a whole bunch of questions, including how the heck you go about getting permits for the Wave. The Wave is a sandstone formation in the Coyote Buttes, just south of the Utah/Arizona border. The place has become quite popular with European tourist since its appearance in a German film called "Faszination Natur - Seven Seasons". Well, we learned that the BLM only offers only 20 permits per day, 10 of which are reserved months in advance. The other 10 are handed out by a lottery system at 9:00 am the day before. Anyway, they aren't that easy to get.

Just as we turned to go along our merry way, the Ranger stopped us to tell us that two people had just decided not to use their permits due to the rain. She then asked us if we would like to use them. Yes Please! 40 minutes later we were at the Wire Pass trail head pulling out our rain jackets.

The Wave is about 3 miles from the road and there is no real trail leading there. The BLM, however, provides a good set of directions telling you how to find it with photos of landmarks. It's not a huge formation, but it is one of the most fascinating chunks of sandstone I've ever seen. Here are some photos we took.

The Wave

From there we continued home via Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Cortez, Highway 145, & Telluride. Along the way the fall colors (the yellowing Aspens especially) blew my mind. Just Beautiful. The whole region is amazing.

Lake Powell

On the Road in Arizona

Monument Valley

Telluride, CO

Check out the slide show here:

The Wave and our Trip Home to Colorado

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kolob Canyon to Zion Canyon Backpacking Trip, Zion National Park, UT

Lafayette, CO - Ok, so I'm getting behind on the pictures again. As usual, we've been keeping plenty busy. Since our last entry, we wrapped up our California trip with a bit of climbing in Joshua Tree. We put our kitchen back together and installed a new garbage disposal (the old garbage disposal ruptured and spewed water, rice and other miscellaneous food bits all over the insides of the cabinets about 2 1/2 hours before our plane to California was due to depart). Suwei cleaned and rearranged her office and caught up on about 3 years worth of filing in the process. Suwei got another year older over the weekend. And...we just got a new backdoor installed this morning.

I also worked on posting more pictures. This current batch comes from a 5-day backpacking trip, Suwei & I did right after the wedding. I guess you could call this our honeymoon. We hiked from Lee Pass through Kolob Canyon via the Kolob Arch and the West Rim Trail to Zion Canyon (46 miles total including side jaunts). Joining us were Suwei's brother, Eng-Shien, our reverend, Bill, one of our volunteer wedding photographers, Erhhung, and our good friend, Jen, who I'm sure would have been very helpful if we gave her anything to do.

I must say this hike has been one of my all time favorites. Everyday was different and the views just kept getting more and more spectacular. I highly recommend it.

Here is the itinerary Suwei put together (click on the maps for more detail):

Day 1: Monday, Sept. 29

Start: Lee Pass Trailhead
Trail: La Verkin Creek Trail
End: La Verkin Creek Campsite (hopefully one of the following campsites which are big enough and still available: 9, 11-13)
Distance: ~7.5 depending on campsite obtained
* Lee Pass to Kolob Arch Trail: 6.5 mi
* Kolob Arch Trail: 1 mi roundtrip (just day pack)
Elevation Change: -837 ft (6064 ft start, 5227 ft end), 459 ft net gain, 1296 ft net loss
Water sources: La Verkin Creek
Average High and Low Temps: 74 F, 42 F

Description: The trail begins at Lee Pass and passes by the open finger canyons of the near by cliffs as it travels along Timber Creek. After coming around the corner and within view of La Verkin Creek, the trail descends the slope down to the creek bottom on a hard packed trail. Once on the creek bed, the trail heads up stream offering amazing views of the surrounding cliffs. The trail is 7 miles from Lee Pass to Kolob Arch, one of the main destinations of the route and possibly the nations largest free-standing arch. From there you can continue up canyon to Beartrap Canyon and Willis Canyon to extend your trip or offer day hiking options. This is a great area to spend a few days. Camping is permitted in designated sites only.

Day 2: Tuesday, Sept. 30

Start: La Verkin Creek Campsite near Lee Pass and Hop Valley Trail Intersection
Trail: La Verkin Creek Trail, Beartrap Canyon (no trail), and Hop Valley Trail
End: Kolob Horse Camp on Hop Valley Trail
Distance: ~6.5 miles
* Campsite to La Verkin and Hop Valley Trail Intersection: 0.3 mi
* Trail Intersection to Beartrap Canyon Waterfall: 4.7 mi roundtrip (just day pack)
* Trail Intersection to Kolob Horse Camp: 1.5 mi
Elevation Change: 454ft (5236 ft start, 5690 ft end), the chart below says: 5769 ft net gain, 5301 ft net loss, but I think that's just by unsteady hand...I think it's more just the rise at the end out of La Verkin Creek of about 800 ft.
Water Sources: Beatty Spring (near campsite #16 on LaVerkin Creek Trail, flowing as of 9/15/08), La Verkin Creek, none on the Hop Valley Trail
Average High and Low Temps: 73 F, 42 F

Description: The day begins at La Verkin Creek campsite to the intersection with Hop Valley Trailhead where we will ditch our backpacks and do a 4.7 mile day hike along La Verkin Creek through Beartrap Canyon to the beautiful Beartrap Waterfalls. This day hike is an out-and-back. Once back to the trail intersection, we'll pick up our backpacks and climb 1.5 miles (~800 ft) out of the La Verkin Creek on the Hop Valley Trail. Keep in mind that you will need to leave La Verkin Creek with enough water for the remainder of Day 2 and for the first 5 miles of Day 3 (I plan to leave La Verkin Creek with 1 gallon of water, ~4 liters). There is no water along the Hop Valley Trail.

Day 3: Wednesday, Oct. 1

Start: Kolob Horse Camp on the Hop Valley Trail
Trail: Hop Valley Trail, Connector Trail, and Wildcat Canyon Trail
End: Wildcat Canyon Trail before the Wildcat Spring, open camping (no designated campsites)
Distance: ~10 miles

* Kolob Horse Camp to Hop Valley Trailhead: 5 mi
* Connector Trail: 4 mi
* Wildcat Canyon Trail: 1 mi

Elevation Change: 1452 ft (5694 ft start, 7146 ft end), 1941 ft net gain, 489 ft net loss
Water Sources: None along the Hop Valley Trail, re-supply drop at the Hop Valley Trailhead
Average High and Low Temps: 73 F, 42 F
Description: The day begins on the Hop Valley Trail and oh-so-gradually climbs (632 feet over 5 miles) from the breathtaking valley floor of Hop Valley with it's flat sandy bottom and vertical walls rising on both sides to open fields with wide open views of the surrounding rock formations. At the Hop Valley Trailhead, Karl's truck will be parked with our re-supply. We will have at least 10 gallons of water and also a huge cooler to store food. Most likely we will reach the re-supply around lunch time or earlier. Let's plan on eating lunch there. (I think I might pick up a watermelon or 2 for a nice after lunch treat.) This will be our only water source for the remainder of the day and ~2 miles into Day 4 (so I will be departing the re-supply with 1 gallon of water...maybe an overkill but better safe than thirsty.) Once restocked and refueled, we will cross the Kolob Terrace Road via the Connector Trail to the Wildcat Canyon Trail. The Wildcat Canyon Trail offers views of the Northgate Peaks as it winds through the ponderosa pine forest up to open meadows. This area has no established campsites but does require a permit.

Day 4: Thursday, Oct. 2

Start: Campsite along the Wildcat Canyon Trail
Trail: Wildcat Canyon Trail and West Rim Trail
End: West Rim Campsite
Distance: ~11 miles
* Wildcat Canyon Camp to West Rim Trail: 4 mi
* West Rim Trail to West Rim Campsite: ~6.6 depending on campsite obtained
Elevation Change: 110 ft (7172ft start, 7282 ft end), 746 ft net gain, 636 ft net loss
Water Sources:
*Wildcat Springs (along the Wildcat trail 1-1/2 miles from the junction of Wildcat and West Rim trails, flowing as of 9/13/08)
* Sawmill Springs (near campsite #9 on the West Rim, good flow/small pond as of 9/12/08)
* Potato Hollow (near campsite #8 on the West Rim, small flow as of 9/5/08)
Average High and Low Temps: 73 F, 41 F

Description: The Wildcat Canyon Trail opens into the meadows before coming onto the edge of Wildcat Canyon offering sweeping views down into the deep canyon. After crossing the canyon, the trail climbs slightly until connecting up with the West Rim Trail. The West Rim Trail traverses across the high alpine elevation with sweeping views out into the Wildcat Canyon area for the first 6.5 miles as you drop into Potato Hollow. Next the trail climbs out of Potato Hollow before it splits into the Telephone Canyon Trail and the West Rim trail. The West Rim Trail follows along the rim with views of Phantom valley and the canyons to the south. The Telephone Canyon Trail provides a shortcut between Potato Hollow and Cabin Springs or a possible loop for hikers entering and exiting the same trailhead. Camping is in designated sites only.

Day 5: Friday, Oct. 3

Start: West Rim Campsite
Trail: West Rim Trail
End: West Rim Trailhead, Grotto Picnic Area
Distance: 7.5 miles
Elevation Change: -3018 ft (7298 ft start, 4280 ft end), 1574 ft net gain, 4592 ft net loss
Water Sources: Cabin Springs (near campsite #2 on the West Rim, small flow as of 9/6/08)
Average High and Low Temps: 73 F, 41 F at start, 83 F, 53 F in Zion Canyon

Description: At Cabin Springs the trail begins a short drop in elevation and descends 2,500 feet over 4.7 miles ending at the Grotto Picnic Area with views into Zion Canyon. About 5.88 miles along the West Rim Trailhead, we will hit the trail to Angel's Landing. If you have never hiked up to Angel's Landing it's well worth the 0.5 mile side trip. We can drop our packs and just bring camera and lunch. From the trail end we'll take the park shuttle to Watchman campground where we have a campsite reserved for the night. Showers are available at several establishments in Springdale. Dinner at Oscar's on the patio?

Here is a link to Zion's Backcountry Planner for info on permits:

And here is the link to the slideshow. It's a bit large this time. We took lots and lots of photos and actually liked a good portion of them. Also included is Eng-Shien's gallery of photos. Check them out here:

Kolob to Zion Canyon Hike, Zion National Park, UT

Zion Backpacking (Eng-Shien's)