Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hot Dogs

I tried the Dog Haus in Pasadena yesterday.  It was quite good.  They've got a big menu with plenty of reasons to come back.  I got the "make your own" 1/4 lb "stray dog" and visited the counter of free toppings.

I opted for fries instead of tater tots.  Yes, they have tater tots!  Great for kids.  I'll get that next time.  Even though I've had better dogs before, I really enjoyed this.  I'm already planning to return.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Progeny Peak Revisited

On my last trip to Zion NP, I hiked Progeny Peak again.  Gene joined up with me in Zion so this time I could get him to the summit of Progeny.  On  a previous trip years ago, we tried to hike it from the back side.  That was a fun hike, but we didn't reach the top.

This time I took what I call the grandpa route; an easy class 2 walkup that skirts the class 3 sections that are steep or where the rocks move under your feet.  For example, this photo shows the southern side of the summit.  I hiked up that on a previous trip.  It's not so bad, but several of those large rock slabs near the top move when you step on them.

I was surprised to find the large stone altar on the summit had been demolished.  That's probably for the best.  I posted photos of that in this past blog entry.  Unfortunately, we couldn't find a summit log/register.  Here's a photo of the summit.

Afterward, we hiked Nippletop where Gene summited and I chickened out on the high-exposure crux near the top.  Gene is a rock climber, so it was easy for him.  I'll try again next week, without him coaching me: "Just grab this with your left hand and put your right foot there." and me saying: "Are you insane?"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Backroads of Utah

As always, I tried to take some new roads on my return from Utah.  This time I left the interstate at St. George and headed NW past Santa Clara.  I drove Motoqua Road, Indian Springs Trail, and Eardley Road.  There are more trails in that area, but I didn't know how much time I'd spend on Mormon Mesa later in the day.

All three of these are graded dirt roads and signed as BLM routes.  They were more fun to drive than the interstate.  There were some blind corners on Indian Springs Trail, north of the water tank, that surprised me.  I'm glad I wasn't driving fast, otherwise I would have easily gone off the road and down a steep hill where the road turned abruptly at a crest.  Here's the Indian Springs water tank.

Here's the bottom of Hell Hole Pass through Indian Canyon.  I'll drive that some other day.

I came across this very old car in the gully.  I don't know the story behind it.   Massey didn't mention it in his description.

These are nice easy roads that almost anyone can drive.  The high clearance helped a couple times, but otherwise it was easy.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mormon Mesa

On my return from Zion, I drove a few of the trails on top of Mormon Mesa, southwest of Mesquite, NV.  A few sites on the interwebs say Mormon Mesa is a hotbed of UFO sightings.  Although, many of those sites are repeating the same story.  Here's a google map centered on the mesa.  Here's a photo of the mesa taken from an airliner that I found here.

It wasn't what I expected.  I'm not sure what I expected really.  The road started off OK when I left the highway.

Then it slowly degraded.

Then it became a two-track.

Then it started to disappear.

And finally it almost disappeared.

To be fair, I think I got lost. 

I got bored and hungry so I returned to the highway.  Those more patient than me have explored this mesa many times.  Some go there to visit a piece of "land art" called the "double negative".

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Big Horn Sheep at Zion

I stumbled upon a large group of bighorn sheep while hiking a few weeks ago in Zion NP.  I was in the saddle just east of Lost Peak, heading toward the south ridge.   As you can see in the photos, they retreated to the base of the east face on Lost Peak.

Something rare happened while on that hike.  On my return I saw fresh footprints left by somebody who followed me toward Lost Peak.  I never saw the other hiker.  It's very rare to encounter other hikers in that area.  You might see others on Progeny Peak, but I was hiking around Lost Peak and Nippletop that day and those places don't get many visitors.

The next two shots show their location on the slopes of Lost Peak.

Then I took one last parting shot before continuing my hike.

Here's a gratuitous shot of Lost Peak, taken from the slickrock bowl as you approach from the highway.  I like that bowl.  It's a nice place to rest, have a snack, and enjoy the scenery.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cow Cove Petroglyphs

I returned to Cow Cove recently when I was camping at Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert.  The petroglyphs at Cow Cove are fun to explore, and relatively undamaged by vandals.  On this visit, I explored the surrounding area and discovered more glyphs less than a half mile from the main group.

Here's a few photos taken from my camp site near Sunrise Rock.  The first one looks south across the Joshua trees toward Clark Mountain in the far distance.

The second one shows Venus above Kessler peak just before sunrise.  If it weren't for an iPhone app, I wouldn't know what that star was, and I couldn't pretend to be smart.  Technology is great.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

San Joaquin Ridge Trail Revisited

While camping in the Mammoth Lakes area last month I drove the San Joaquin Ridge Trail again.  This is a short (2.5 miles 1-way), fun and scenic trail.  It's also not well known, so the hikers along the way are always surprised to see a vehicle on the trail.  Here's the post from my previous trip.  

There are a few embedded boulders and tree roots in the trail, so high clearance helps.  Otherwise it's pretty easy.  On this visit, I hiked out over the saddle of Deadmans Pass.  

The beginning of the trail is not well marked.  Just drive up toward the Devil's Postpile NM and the Minaret vista turnout.  Right before the parks service booth for entering the Devil's Postpile area, turn right into a small dirt parking area.  The trail begins as an unsigned trail at the northern end of that dirt parking area.  About 30 to 50 yards into the road, there's a sign indicating it's open to 4wd and other vehicles.  

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Clouds Rest

I finally got around to hiking Clouds Rest in Yosemite NP.  It was long and very tiring, but still a lot of fun.  I started at Tenaya Lake, so the round-trip distance was over 14 miles.  It took me 7.5 hours.  The temperature was in the upper 70s and there were almost no mosquitos.  Here's the summitpost page for Clouds Rest.  

This is a popular hike, so I did it on a week day and was rewarded with 15 minutes alone on the summit.  That let me take photos without other people blocking the view.

Here's a close-up of Half Dome.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Slippery Roads in Zion NP

Here are some photos showing the slippery road conditions, that I mentioned in the previous post, on the back roads to the East Mesa Trailhead.  I thought I'd share them so others could see how harmless the road looks when it's actually kind of dangerous.  It rained the night before and the roads hadn't yet dried out.  After a while, the dirt in the road turned a darker brown and that's when it got slippery.  

In the corners, I would turn the wheel but the truck wouldn't turn.  It would keep going in the same direction.  My tires had no grip at all.  The mud had filled the tread, making them slick.  You'll see in the photo that the mud was not deep at all.  It took very little to make steering a gamble.  I almost went off the road on 2 corners before I got the truck stopped and took photos.

Luckily there's no big drop-off.  The worst that might have happened is, I could have slid into the ditch on the side of the road.  Then I'd have to wait for somebody with a big enough truck to come by and help pull me out.  I keep all the required gear in my truck for such a rescue, just in case.  Here's a deeper track left by another driver who backed up when it got too dicey.

I've driven many of these roads in the past when they were dry.  They're fun.  A few are a little rough.  A few have embedded boulders in them, requiring high clearance.  And there are a few hills where 4WD helps a lot.  If you go there, then watch out for mountain bikers, because they like to ride those roads.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Zion's Observation Point: The Easy Way

The hike to Observation Point in Zion NP is much easier when starting from the east side and taking the East Mesa Trail.  I hiked it from the valley many years ago on a hot summer day and that wasn't too fun.  The rains on this trip made the normally easy drive to the trailhead much more challenging.  I had to park more than half a mile short of the trailhead because the road was wet and impassable.  Most dirt roads in southern Utah are impassable when they're wet.  The hike was about 3.5 miles each way.  Mostly flat, the easy trail heads downhill as  you approach the end.  It was a very pleasant hike.  I got to the end very early, and had the place to myself for 15 minutes.  Here's the trailhead.

And a few of the trail.

Now the shot we all hike there to get...

I tried several different exposure settings and none of the shots turned out ideal.   Here's a zoom-in on the summit of Angel's Landing.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Rain in Zion NP

It rained on me during a recent trip to Zion NP.  Unlike the short light showers I've experienced in the past, this was a persistent and often heavy rain.  My first hike was to the Northgate Peaks in the Kolob Terrace area and it rained almost the entire time.  I decided it was too dangerous to tackle the slickrock on West NorthGate Peak, so I'll do that on another trip.  Here's a shot along the trail from under a tree.  It was still a nice hike.

It's hard to see, but on the east side of the park, the water was running off the slickrock in sheets.

My First iBook

I've attempted to produce an iBook describing a few simple 4wd trails and hikes in the Mojave Desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.  I did this several months ago, and then got distracted with other things.  I'm still distracted and so I haven't had the attention to figure out the complicated parts of the meta-data fields required before posting to iTunes (I'm not the sharpest tool).  Since I was planning to offer this one free, I figure I'd simply post it here for the time being.

This booklet covers hikes and drives that anyone with a stock SUV can handle, and are not far from the highway.  The destinations are: Cow Cove Petroglyphs, Valley Wells Miners' Caves, Shaman's Eye, and Kessler Peak.  Most of these are located within the Mojave National Preserve.

I've posted the 50 MB file to my Google Drive.  If you have an iPad, then you might check it out.   You can download it using this link:

To install it, simply drag it into iTunes onto "Books" in the left column (or into the Books pane if you click on Books first).  Then sync your iPad and it should show up.  It requires the iBooks app to be installed on your iPad, but that's free.  Unfortunately, the iBooks Author app does not produce iBooks that can be viewed on the iPhone - only the iPad.  We all expect that to change soon.

When I do get around to posting it to iTunes, they may require some small changes and so that version may differ a bit.