Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall for the First Time: Nebo, Capitol Reef, and The Swell

Despite a busy semester, I've been trying harder than ever to sneak in a few adventures here and there. 

The first was a botched trip up to twin peaks. Ever since I got back to SLC, I've been itching to summit the broads fork twins. Unfortunately, due to sketchy snow conditions and a wrong turn, we ended up on the slopes of nearby Dromedary instead. We figured, why not try to climb up Dromedary. We bouldered around, but it is a pretty involved and exposed scramble and it was getting dark and so we decided it was better to be safe than sorry and gave it up in favor of slogging down to lake blanche. The views from the ridge line were amazing though and I can't wait to attempt both of these peaks again. Zhesen also insisted we drive through guardsman pass to see the aspens. He's never seen fall aspens before so he was very very excited. For some reason, even though I've lived in Utah for my whole life, I felt like I was experiencing the fall colors for the first time too!

Sunrise peaking over

On the slopes of Dromedary 

Lake Blanche and friends waaaay down there. 

Twin Peaks over there. We were trying to find a less snowy route and ended up too far over.
A second adventure is lab related- I attended the nanoUtah/COMS conference at the Grand America hotel. (fancy, I know). The conference was really interesting and gave me a unique opportunity to see nano science from the business perspective. We heard talks from leading companies and even got the chance to tour a few nearby business sites. We got to tour the new nanofab facilities up on campus as well which was pretty sweet. I got to see their new STEM as well as a demo from a guy who is promoting this "class on a chip" thing. I wish I'd taken a video because all the little gears and things in the image were rotating and doing cool things. Yay nano science!
Then it was back to southern utah to explore the San Rafael Swell. The drive down there was almost worth the trip because the colors in spanish fork canyon were amazing! We eventually made our way down to Chute canyon, a great place to car camp by the way. It's near Goblin Valley but not nearly as crowded which was a plus. Chute canyon and nearby Crack canyon were beyond gorgeous! Next time I'm in the area I'll have to visit Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Silly selfie

Looks like an American Flag!

What a doll!


Poor Lucy is beyond pooped

Loved the textures here

 As if the swell wasn't enough, the next weekend I teamed up with Zhesen to explore Capitol Reef for the first time. We made a pit stop at Mt. Nebo to see if we could redeem ourselves, but alas, some trailhead confusion left us skunked yet again. Next time!!!

Mt. Nebo!

After realizing we weren't on the right trail we attempted to scale this ridge but to no avail.

The next night we found our way to some BLM land outside of capitol reef where we found a cozy campsite right off of pleasant creek road. The stars were out of control and I was inspired to sketch this doodle. The milky way is tough to draw!! After obtaining our backcountry permit we headed to the southernmost tip of the park to access the halls creek overlook trailhead. The 4wD road going down there wasn't too rough, but it still took us 2 hours. From the trailhead, it's a 9 mile hike to the narrows which took us around 5 hours including time spent dawdling. We camped in an enormous alcove at the mouth of the narrows. The immensity of the alcove and the beauty of the green grass around it placed this campsite amongst the top most beautiful places in my book. Wow!
Hiking in the narrows the next day was even more spectacular. The water was a crystal blue-green and completely clear and still…. that is until we splashed through it!! Though they were not as tall as the narrows in Zion, the walls were artfully sculpted and dramatic. The sweeping overhangs lead me to feel encircled and embraced… a truly amazing place. For all the energy we spent getting there, we were rewarded with solitude (we only saw one guy the previous day). Definitely worth every mile!

Pure bliss

You can see Brimhall double bridge over there. We didn't have time to see it but I suspect it's awesome. Next time!




At the mouth of the narrows

The grassy hill at the mouth of the alcove. So much grass!!!

The view from above the grassy hill. You can see our tent over there beneath the alcove.

This alcove his HUGE

Further into the narrows.


Even better than the subway

A common sight in Halls Creek Narrows

Zhesen looking skeptically at a bit of deep wading

Hanging gardens in bloom

Zhesen preparing for some deep wading

At the end of the narrows

Made it back to camp! 

After several attempts, I managed to get the whole alcove

Goodbye magical place!

Typical wash hiking

Cool colors in the wash

Zhesen was pretty intent on seeing the sunrise from the trailhead and so we rushed to get back that night, hiking for a few hours in the dark which sounds spookier than it was. The trail was easy to follow and we were rewarded with an even better night sky when we got to the trailhead. When I saw the sunrise in the morning, I saw that Zhesen had the right idea. Breathtaking! Not knowing when we'd be back in the area, we decided to drive back to Torrey on the Burr Trail Road, a road that winds its way through the northern tip of the Escalante national monument and up through the dixie national forrest. This is a drive I highly recommend. First of all, it's paved lol. Secondly, it takes you through soaring red rock cliffs to a gorgeous aspen and juniper forrest high up on the mountain side. The cottonwoods were in prime form, dressed for fall. Not knowing when we'd be back in the area, we took the time to drive through cathedral valley up in the northern part of the park, a 3 hour ordeal on even poorer dirt roads. The sights were cool though and I'm glad we did it! Overall It's been a whirlwind October and I feel rested and ready to tackle my crazy class load. Until next time, here are the rest of the photos!

Cottonwoods near deep creek campsite. I recommend!

Temple of the sun and moon and me

Temple of the moon in cathedral valley

Cathedral valley

Zhesen at Cathedral valley overlook

Another sunset

Looking back at the Henry Mountains before we make our way back up north