Monday, March 30, 2009

weekend in southwest Utah

We've been desperate for some outdoor trekking, so when Brandon and Carrie asked us if we wanted to go to St. George with them, it was an easy answer. It was just a little too cold to camp (right?), so we left early Saturday morning so we'd only need a motel one night. It snowed all night Friday, and was pure winter way down past Cedar City.

We drove straight into Zion, and hiked the Emerald Pools trail. We went to all three pools, and came back on the upper trail, so it ended up being a nice three-mile loop. It was beautiful. The snow from the night before had left a sheen of white all along the north- and northwest-facing sandstone walls, so we were bombarded with color and coldness, because the whole canyon we hiked was already in the sun's shadow.

(PS: You can see all these pictures and more on Flickr.)

at the emerald pool trailhead bridge
crossed the bridge
north fork of the virgin river
the North Fork of the Virgin River, rushing alongside the canyon
part of deertrap mountain, with snow
see the thin little layer of snow that was everywhere?
starting the trail
on the trail
atop a rock
on a rock along the way
atop a rock
another rock-lover
the girls at lower emerald pool falls
at the Lower Pool's falls
under the falls
under them falls
up by the wet wall
lower emerald pool falls
Orion calls waterfalls "waffles."
heading to middle emerald pool
steps leading up to the Middle Pool
red arch and deertrap mountains
Red Arch and Deertrap Mountains
we're there
We made it to the Upper Pool! There isn't usually a waterfall here, so we were lucky to be able to see one. It only shows up after a good rain or snow followed by sun.
climbing a tree on the way back
Jarom crossed this tree getting back across the trail. He got a bit stuck and I had to help him with Oey strapped to me. It was a fun maneuver.
making our way back
pausing at Middle Pool on the way back down
on the cliff's edge
Amy and Bella had much more speed than us boys. They booked it ahead of us and waited here, at the perfect waiting point--on a cliff's edge! Here's a closer view.
moonrise over the great arch of zion
the Great Arch of Zion, on our way up the switchbacks to the tunnel
checkerboard mesa with snow
Checkerboard Mesa, beautiful with snow

We had a tight schedule to try and be to Mt. Carmel Junction before dusk, so we drove there on Highway 9, through the tunnel and across beautiful countryside. We immediately found our destination, based solely on a friend's description. We hiked up the crumbling little cliffs and found star after star after star--fossilized crinoids, ancient ocean plants! Jarom found them first. His keen little eyes.

hunting for crinoid fossils
Jarom the scout, up on the cliff
hunting for crinoid fossils
everyone searching methodically for fossils after we located them
collected crinoid fossils
crinoid fossils!
hunting for crinoid fossils
This poor little youngster was down and out. But he was a good smiling sport the whole time, naturally.
crinoid fossil, mt. carmel junction
a crinoid embedded in stone, waiting to weather out

We gathered as best we could before the setting sun and biting wind helped us leave. We drove during sunset west to St. George, found us a little hotel room, then went and grabbed some late-night Coldstone before hitting the hay. Oey had a burning fever all night long; the poor kid was sick the whole trip. I ran across the street at 5 am (wait, 6 am--daylight saving time arrived that night) to the Texaco and got him some ibuprofen, and that helped a little.

We got up early, met Brandon and Carrie and went over to Snow Canyon State Park. This place is absolutely gorgeous, and the weather could not have been better. I wanted to camp here in January (probably *was* too cold then), but it was worth the wait. We hiked into Jenny's canyon, then the massive Petrified Dunes trail, then we visited some pioneer names written on the sandstone walls in axle grease in the late 1800s. Lastly, Brandon and Oey and I hiked the White Rocks trail to a steep viewpoint overlooking the park.

jenny's canyon panorama
rock outcropping beside Jenny's Canyon
hiking to jenny's canyon
hiking in
standing in jenny's canyon
Brandon, Millie, and Bella inside the slot canyon
crevice boy

standing in jenny's canyon

Jarom started out the Petrified Dunes hike for us
Amy and Carrie enjoying the world

a triumphant climb

first one to the top!
she made it next
Second one to the top! Look at that view . . .
panorama from atop the petrified dunes trail
a nice little panorama
victorious explorers
petrified dunes at snow canyon
the dunes and the view
the huddle
Wearing the famous hat, after getting himself stuck down this steep wall. We had to carefully find our way out. Later he said, "Dad, I don't want to wear this hat anymore. It covers my eyes and I can't see." He wanted to wear it though; he requested it from me when we first got out of the car.
the group ahead of us
charging up the next dune
the gang

fathers and kids, dangling

next one up
Bella at the pioneer names. It was a decent little scramble to get up to them.
sitting on the rock
on the White Rocks trail
by the edge
Brandon, the overseer
almost there
we hiked up to the top, behind us
At the top, this sole butterfly fluttered around us. Oey loved it; I don't think anything could've made him happier at the time. As we came back down, he cried out, "Buffly! Buffly!" very, very sadly.
the crown
that tip in the upper right is where we journeyed

After our hiking journeys, we went to Brandon and Carrie's sweet Worldmark By Wyndham room, where we grilled up some dinner, played in the playground, and lounged around until we had to part ways. An excellent weekend.

dinnertime with the sun fading

Friday, March 27, 2009

brown hills calling our names

It's true, they were. So here we go!

smirks for you all

my first time going this season, you got to ease into it

At the tippy top


more yummy

don't laugh. and by the the way this photo was kind of pointless because to get this picture I had to pass the trail, so I didn't even get to go my way.

flying down in the air

going back home