Each time I visit Zion NP, I spend a lot of time looking up at The Watchman. It's quite an imposing peak that's visible from the campgrounds as well as the hotels where I stay. I don't seem to get tired of taking photos of that hill. There's a non-technical route posted to summitpost. Some day I hope to try that hike. I can't find any of my nice photos of The Watchman, so here's one I took from my camp site in the South Campground. There are much nicer ones on the internet. Photographers crowd some areas at sunset just to take photos of that peak.
Monday, September 23, 2013
I picked up this new book at the Zion National Park Visitor Center. Favorite Hikes In & Around Zion National Park came out in 2012 and includes hikes on east side of the park where I like to explore. In addition to Zion NP, it covers hikes in nearby areas including Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks NM, Grand Canyon NP, GSENM, and more. I like the annotated color topo maps and color photos. It's printed on heavy stock paper so that's nice too. I've already found several new hikes in it that look interesting. I'll try those on future trips.
at 4:34 AM
Sunday, September 22, 2013
I've been to Zion NP twice since my last post. I really like that place. I don't hike the established trails, but instead hike the backcountry on the east side of the park.
Lately, I haven't been taking long hikes. I've been exploring areas off Highway 9 that I'd been ignoring. For example, the area south of Jug Handle Arch, the saddle north of South Ariel Peak, the rocks NW of Cockeye Falls. All of them had plenty of footprints and even cairns.
The hiking was great. It was fairly warm (98F) on this trip, but not as hot as the previous one (110F). It cooled off each evening to the 70s with light rain almost every night. It was fun sitting on the balcony of my hotel room in the early evenings watching the bats dine on insects in the air.
On this trip I noticed a couple things that were new to me. First, I saw quite a few people taking photos with iPads. That just seemed so odd to me. My iPad photos are crap compared to the ones taken by my camera. But, oh well. It was interesting. Also, I saw about a half dozen cars each day with a GoPro camera mounted to the exterior. I'm sure they recorded amazing videos as they drove along Highway 9 on the east side of the park. It's also safer, since the driver can then focus on the road, and let the GoPro do the videography work.
After my knees started hurting on the third day, I decided to relax by walking through the Watchman Campground. They did some refurbishment there in the past year or so and I was interested to see what was new. I was pleased to see that they have built new restrooms. They're quite nice. Very nice. Heck, I might reserve a site and camp there on my next trip.
at 9:12 AM
Monday, June 24, 2013
Sunday, June 23, 2013
It's been a while since I mentioned what books I've read (audiobooks I've listened to). I do a lot of driving and I like to listen to audiobooks. Here's a short list.
Mary Roach's new book is very interesting. I really liked her books Stiff and Packing for Mars, so I'm familiar with her writing style and interest in gross things. I recommend this for anybody who wants to learn a little something about what happens to food between intake and output. It's not as complete or clinical as I hoped, but I still learned a few interesting things.
Spy the Lie describes interview techniques developed by the authors during their years at the CIA. This book is chock full of advise on how to detect deception. It goes beyond the training I've had and offers some useful techniques that can be employed by parents, journalists, employers, investigators ... pretty much anybody. Like all related methods, it's not fool-proof and requires a LOT of practice to become skilled.
In Michael Pollan's recent book he examines the core cooking methods employing fire, water, air, and bacteria. As usual, he dives into the subject in a personal way, learning to cook with these tools from masters. I didn't enjoy Cooked anywhere near as much as I did The Omnivore's Dilemma.
I didn't enjoy Seth Godin's latest book as much as I have some of his previous books. It's not Seth's fault. I think I just lack the personal context in my life right now to frame his messages.
This book is another in the line of Covert-One techno-thrillers with Col. John Smith, MD as the hero character. This time he takes on a psychotic genius who'd invented a brain interface technology that readers might imagine Google some day releasing. I liked this story.
This book offers a lot of insight into the inner workings of high finance. Greg Smith describes a hyper-competitive meritocracy with the expected twists from clashing egos. I enjoyed the book, but I have an interest in the area. Had I been born 20 years later, I might have gone into that field.
This is a very interesting book about the federal budget; where the money comes from, where it goes, how each monetary source or recipient is protected under what federal laws. In a small way, it was a bit depressing, as it describes just how hard it is to change the system, possibly even requiring constitutional ammendments. I highly recommend this book for anybody wanting to learn a lot more than the media tells us.
This book provides a great first-hand account of the SEAL Team 6 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. I liked this much more than the movie: Zero Dark Thirty.
This book contains some valuable information and actionable advice about how to break or change your habits. I have found it helpful in changing some of my own bad habits. Here's a simple flowchart from the book that captures a few of the concepts.
The next ones I'll be reading are:
I just started this new book by David Stockman, former budget director for President Ronald Reagan. So far, it's very interesting.
at 7:59 AM
Thursday, June 20, 2013
I finally reached the summit of Nippletop (Peak 6715) in Zion National Park. I've hiked it 5 times but this is the first time I've reached the top. I really enjoy this hike. I like the steep slickrock gully from the road. I like the steep sandy hillside up to the ridge. I really like the ridge. But I don't like the crux getting up to the top section.
The photo above shows Nippletop from the summit of South Ariel Peak. I'll skip repeating photos of the route. They can be seen on a previous post which also shows a topo map.
Gene joined me on this hike. This screenshot of Google Earth shows our track recorded by my Garmin fenix watch. We visited Nippletop and Separation and Lost Peaks. The fenix says the route was 7 miles and took us 7 hours (not including the road section back to the car).
Here's a shot looking along the ridge toward the summit. It takes me 1 hour to reach the ridge from my car. Five more minutes to walk the ridge, then maybe 15 minutes to reach the summit if you don't waste time ascending to the top section.
On my previous hikes of Nippletop, I failed to get past the short very steep band at the south end of the ridge line. Oddly, this time it wasn't so bad. It was surprisingly easy compared to the last time, when I totally psyched myself out hanging there while Gene attempted to instruct me on where to put my hands and feet. I'm positive I've gained no rock climbing skills since then. Maybe this time I was just in the right frame of mind.
I've marked the route I took in blue. Gene hiked the yellow route.
Looking back down (north) from above the hard part, you can see a small cairn at the edge. That's an important landmark for finding the way back down.
The summit block is barely visible beyond the vegetation. It's easy to get there, just go uphill.
There are some interesting rock formations on the top. To quote Sesame Street: "One of these things is not like the other." Someone had placed a different rock atop a broken pillar.
Here's a shot of the USGS marker on the top.
And now the obligatory shots from the summit. First looking north with the ridge visible below, then looking east toward Separation Peak, then south toward Parunuweap Canyon, and then west looking toward The Triplets and Lost Peak.
at 6:37 PM
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I visited Zion National Park last week and it was very relaxing. Although, my muscles are still sore. One of my hikes was to Jug Handle Arch. I've seen this arch on many of my recent trips and when hiking South Ariel Peak it was clear that I could hike up close to the arch. Joe Braun has a great description of this hike on his site. He also includes directions on how to get above the arch for a different perspective. I chose not to do that on this hike because I was saving my legs for the very strenuous hike I planned for the next day.
I didn't take the same route Joe shows. Instead, I started my hike on the same path I took to hike South Ariel last month. Joe's route might be easier. I was just familiar with my route. Here's the view from where I parked.
The arch is visible when you reach the small ridge above the Keyhole Canyon crossover.
Here's a nice looking hoodoo I passed along the way. Maybe it's not technically a hoodoo, since it doesn't have a harder rock on the top.
The hike is easy enough. After crossing Keyhole Canyon and reaching the eastern side of Aires Butte, just walk up the ridge.
I could have hiked closer but my knee was already hurting and I didn't want to jeopardize my hike the next day when I'd be visiting Nippletop, Separation, and Lost Peaks in one big loop - all visible in this photo.
at 5:11 AM
Saturday, June 08, 2013
Last week I was returning from the Cambria area and decided to drive along Pismo Beach. I've never done that before and it's a popular destination for off-roaders of all kinds. Technically, I think it's called Oceano Dunes SVRA, which seems to have another web site here.
It was very windy and sand was blowing everywhere. Most of the tents were leaning heavily in the wind. I wasn't planning to camp, so the wind didn't bother me much.
There were plenty of vendors renting ATVs and selling food, ice, ice cream, and more.
at 5:45 AM
Friday, June 07, 2013
On my last trip to Zion NP, I decided to hike up Separation Canyon to Separation Peak. I read about this hike on Joe Braun's web site.
Here's a small water hole full of tadpoles.
I came across two small groups of young bighorn sheep. They didn't stick around for many photos.
It's a nice short hike, and an easy way to reach a place where you can catch great views to the south toward Parunuweap Canyon. Joe is right about the challenge facing anyone wanting to get to the very top. I hiked almost all the way around the summit block, but didn't find an easy way up. Skilled rock climbers would have no problem.
On my next trip I hope to return in order to walk over to "Lonely Peak" that sits south of Nippletop. Here's a google map centered on Separation Peak. The route I took is shown below.
This last photo shows the view north toward the road.
at 11:35 AM