Tag Archives: national park

Utah…Revisited!

Travels through Utah

Travels through Utah

We’ve had a great last couple of weeks. Utah is such a cool state with so many interesting parks and odd geology and geography. We did a little circuit of a lot of the National Parks including Zion, Capitol Reef,  The Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods and the Grand Canyon (North Rim this time).

The Checkerboard Mesa in Zion National Park

Looking down onto the formations in Bryce cayon Looking down onto the formations in Bryce Canyon

The Checkerboard Mesa in Zion National Park
Exploring some red rock canyons

Exploring some red rock canyons

Dave on top of a natural arch

Dave on top of a natural arch

We had a little hire car and mostly camped in our tent but did take a hotel break every few days. Sleeping in a tent is not nearly as nice as Ginger with her nice comfy bed…. We do miss the old girl!

Camping - Not nearly as nice without Ginger-Lee.

Camping – Not nearly as nice without Ginger-Lee.

The weather was also pretty good except for some really cold nights and wind.

Amazing and huge natural formations

Amazing and huge natural formations

Christine scrambling up red rocks

Christine scrambling up red rocks

Great views from on top

Great views from on top

Finding beauty in a harsh environment (it's easier when you bring her with you!)

Finding beauty in a harsh environment (it’s easier when you bring her with you!)

Natural arches and bridges aplenty

Natural arches and bridges aplenty

Great skylines

Great skylines

Even double arches!

Even double arches!

and some snow capped peaks as well!

and some snow capped peaks as well!

Wow - another arch!

Wow – another arch!

We did do a hike most days on some very beautiful trails like this one

We did do a hike most days on some very beautiful trails like this one

A great vista over the canyons

A great vista over the canyons

A panorama of one canyon (click for full size view)

A panorama of one canyon (click for full size view)

Monument Valley (click for full size panorama)

Monument Valley (click for full size panorama)

Exploring in Monument Valley

Exploring in Monument Valley

From the canyon floor

From the canyon floor

Herds of Bison in the Park (Grand Canyon)

Herds of bison in the Park (Grand Canyon)

On the edge of 'The Big One!'

On the edge of ‘The Big One!’

On the edge of 'The Big One!'

On the edge of ‘The Big One!’

We headed back to Las Vegas a few days before flying out to relax and get some errands done; ie Christine’s wedding dress fitting! We stayed just off the strip and only went for a wander on it to see the sights the last night. It was smokin hot with highs of over 40ºC everyday! We hung out by the pool or in our A/C apartment most of the time.

We flew back to Halifax on June 6th. We had a great welcoming committee, eventually, as our flight did arrive a tad early and no one was there!

In Halifax with the welcoming committee

In Halifax with the welcoming committee

But when they did get there there were flowers, Bride-To-Be badge plus a lot of our favourite people. Our welcome dinner was an awesome lobster dinner – yum!

About to rip into some fresh lobster

About to rip into some fresh lobster

Since getting back here we’ve gotten ourselves organized and are now getting excited for the arrival of Dave’s parents at the end of this week! Can’t wait.

This weeks banner - Christine(s) in The Valley of the Gods

This weeks banner – Christine(s) in The Valley of the Gods

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Yosemite – (Yoh–sem–it–ee: For Mom/Madeleine)

Before we start the blog – WE CLIMBED THE CABLE WAY AND SUMMITTED THE HALF DOME!!

Ok, so we had a beautiful drive into Yosemite, with great views of all the peaks and down into the valley.

The view over Yosemite valley, with the Half Dome in the distance

Once in the valley we hit all the information and wilderness offices to arrange the required permits to go backcountry hiking and camping for the next few days. Thankfully we managed to arrange a permit that would also allow us to climb the Half Dome, otherwise we would have to enter a lottery as there are only so many permits issued per day. Once we had all of our permits in hand we headed to the campground reservation office to arrange a site for the night. The ranger there was nice enough to let us know that everything in the valley was 100% full, so our only option was to sleep in our tent at a walk in only site. We weren’t keen for an extra night in the tent, but the only other option was to drive out of the valley again (at least an hours drive). As we were about to leave the ranger mentioned that we could put our names on a list, in the hope that we might get a site from a cancellation or no-show, but that the list already had 35 names, so would probably be a waste of time for us… Yippee, we were the second last to get a site! This was great because we really needed to get organized for our next 2 nights in the wilderness.

The next morning, Saturday, we emptied Ginger of all bear enticing food (everything!) and put it in the numerous bear bins around the trailhead parking lot. They show you lots of pictures of bears that tore through cars to get to food! The bears just peel the door from the the top of the window like a tin of sardines. We were pretty sure we’d be OK but wanted to make sure Ginger was safe while we were away.

We started trekking straight uphill for the next few hours with our packs. We thought we were making great progress until we got to a sign that said 8.4 MILES (not kms!) still to go to Merced Lake – and this was after already climbing for 3 hours! We didn’t make it to Merced Lake where we were to camp until 6pm, and were both dirty and completely pooped. When we double checked the map we had hiked 20km and climbed well over a 1,000 metres. We managed a wash in the freezing creek and a decent pasta dinner before flopping into bed. Despite the tough day it was a beautiful walk through steep sided glacier carved canyons with beautiful waterfalls and streams.

The valley we hiked up

Dave with pack on

Christine enjoying breakfast

Hiking back down the valley

We had a slower morning the next day and decided to go back the same way we came as the rivers on the other side of the loop we had planned were all dried up. No water to drink is not so cool. We had a really nice leisurely walk back to the bottom of the big Half Dome hike that we were anticipating so much for the next day. We had a wash, dinner and then hung out by the communal campfire and met some really friendly and interesting fellow hikers. Especially the entertaining Wisconsin guys!

Chilling at the camp site

We were up pretty early on Monday to start our ascent of the famous Half Dome.

Great views on the way up

Dave – still climbing

We made it to the bottom of the really steep cable climb by about 10:30 (after an introductory steep and scary part).

The view up to Half Dome on the way up

Zoomed in on the ‘U’ you can just see the climbers on the cable way

After watching some others start the climb and then give up we both decided that we were happy not to go to the top and chickened out. Too freakin steep and scary!

Looking at the cable way

After an early lunch and observing the cables we both reconsidered and found ourselves at the bottom scrummaging through all the discarded gloves looking for a pair that would do. After we fitted ourselves out we started the steep and horrifying ascent, almost straight up (well it felt like it!). Slowly, slowly we pulled ourselves up and eventually made it to the fantastic and well worth it summit.

Christine coming up to the top

Looking back down the cables

Great views over the valley

Christine on top of the dome

The obligatory couple photo

Great views from the top

After all the photo ops were exhausted we started climbing down, which Christine thought was much more frightening than going up. Dave helped guide Christine down as did the many fellow climbers who could sense that she was a having a bit of a freak out.

Christine on the way down

But all is well that ends well and we both made it down safely!

VERY happy to be down

Except we still had 5+ hours of hiking down to do. It was another very long day, but we were thrilled to see Ginger, not bear scarred, and looking like a palace. So happy that we had reserved ahead at one of the busy Valley campsites, and that we could finally take a hot shower again.

Tuesday we were up early and on the road to the north eastern part of Yosemite – Tuolumne Meadows. Ginger climbed like a champion to a new all time high of 2700m and we got a nice campsite. We took it easy exploring by bike the flat meadows and river area. Then we vegged out at the campsite, wrote this blog, drank some wine and rested our poor feet. A great day!

Christine on Tuolumne Meadows

Dave – just standing

Christine – just standing

Dave very happy to be finished hiking!

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