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Utah Again, Day 6: This is...Wow...

sunny 102 °F

Today had a bit of chaotic start. Due to the weather and the tiredness of the new arrivals yesterday, we had planned that we would reserve the Angel's Landing hike for Friday or skip it altogether. We were sleeping in when we got a call that several people were planning on going to Angel's Landing. Daniel wanted to do the hike but Catherine did not, so for today we will have separate entries that detail the day we each had.
Daniel
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I drove with Fr. Michael and Justin to Zion National Park. The other group, consisting of Joe, Jason, Nicole, and Sean, had gone the "scenic route" to the east entrance of the park, which involved driving through the famous tunnel. We decided to go the same way, and stop at Apple Annie's first to get some water.
Angel's Landing is a large rock formation that is one of the most famous and difficult hikes in Zion National Park. Anthony and I hiked part of it last year, although the estimate that we were twenty minute from the top was not exactly accurate. Today we intended to go all the way to the top, which involves some hiking with chains to prevent falling from the drop-offs.
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Some pictures as we went up the mountain. One advantage that we had is that the elevation where we were staying at Brian Head was about 9,600 feet, while the elevation at the top of Angel's Landing is only 5,800 feet. Thus, we were already acclimated to a higher elevation, and the hike was not as grueling as it would have been were we staying at a lower elevation. However, the weather was hot (about 102 degrees) and the hike up is almost entirely uphill, which is difficult.
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We went up very fast, and reached the Owl Canyon/ Refrigerator Canyon area in about twenty minutes, as opposed to the hour and a half it took last year. We had to stop for water breaks fairly regularly.
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This pictures shows the way up the West Rim trail, on the way to Refrigerator Canyon.
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After Refrigerator Canyon we came to the famous Walter's Wiggles. These were named after Walter Ruesch, the first superintendent of Zion National Park. They are 21 switchbacks that rapidly go up the side of Angel's Landing. Because they start when you are almost two miles into the hike already, they are very grueling and slow.
Once we reached the top of Walter's Wiggles, there is a place called Scout's Lookout. It has bathrooms and a lot of room to sit and rest. We regrouped there and planned the rest of our journey. After Scout's Lookout the chain system begins: it is not much of a system, really: it is just chains that you can hold on to so you don't fall off the mountain. Although it looks dangerous in pictures it didn't feel all that dangerous.
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These pictures show some of the steepness of the chain section, and how narrow the path is. The one nice thing is that once you get to this section, it is easier in many ways than the areas before: it is more likely to be flat or stair-like than it is to be an uphill walk. However, the drop-offs are psychologically difficult: Fr. Michael provided the title of today's entry when he said "this is...wow..." as he looked down while taking a step (he also suggested "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" but that was too long for Travellerspoint to use).
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This picture shows the drop-off on both sides at one point during the chain section.
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Taking a step.
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Hiking along the edge.
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Some pictures as we got closer to the end of the section section.
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Fr. Michael, Joe, Jason, me, and Justin near the top. Nicole and Sean had stayed back a bit, but they did reach the top later on.
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We had some snacks at the top of the mountain and rested for a bit.
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Condors! We could see a California Condor drifting from the mountaintop. The pictures don't really do it justice: it was hard to get a decent picture of a moving bird.
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Steep drop-offs along the path on the way down. Fr. Michael and I decided to go down, while the other group waited for Nicole and Sean so that they could take a group picture at the top.
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To me, the way down felt a lot easier.
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The green and red contrast is beautiful.
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These pictures, which highlight the darkness in Refrigerator Canyon against the light shining on the other mountains, seem like they could be an advertisement for the National Parks.
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The lower part of the trail in the afternoon, which was much cooler and more pleasant than the way up. I wore my St. Michael's shirt because of the name of the hike.
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There were a lot of chipmunks on the trail on the way down. They seemed to be showing off how fast and capable they were of rushing down the mountain. They had little fear of humans and would stay about two feet ahead of us, keeping just that distance before skittering off between the switchbacks.
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Some of the pictures I took near the bottom of the hike.
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Can you believe we were all the way up there?

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We waited for a while at the bottom of the trail, at the shuttle stop. Once the rest of the group came down, we got on the shuttle to the visitor's center. Once we were all together, we decided to try going to the brewery, which is right outside the park in easy walking distance. It was crowded, so we tried the Zion Pizza and Noodle Company. That also had a long wait, so we went all the way to Cedar City before having dinner. We went to Centro Woodfired Pizza, which had Rogue Hazelnut beer, a delicious arugula salad, and some delicious pizzas, including a fennel sausage pizza and a pizza margherita. It was a wonderful dinner after the long day of hiking. It started raining heavily during dinner, which made us glad that we weren't caught in the rain on the hike. We then drove back to Brian Head to rest for tomorrow, when we go on our mountain bike expedition.

Catherine
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I went on a hike with my parents, Nick, Crystalynne, Calista, Cecilia, and Gabriel at the Sunset trail at Cedar Breaks, even though we did it during the day. It was a beautiful trail, but very windy. It was the kids' first time getting out on the trail and seeing Cedar Breaks, and they were very enthusiastic about it. They loved the wildflowers.

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After that we went back to the resort. We got in our swimsuits to go swimming, but stopped at the Activity Center to make some slime. After the slime activity we went swimming with Ryan, Kristina, Evelyn, and Noah. It was very fun. After that we all went to dinner at the resort restaurant, which was fun. We had a wonderful day around the resort and at Cedar Breaks!

Both
It was late when Daniel got back from the Angel's Landing hike, and he had a bike ride to do the next day. We were both very tired and went to bed fairly early.

Posted by danielcatherine 07:01 Archived in USA Tagged beer utah hike pizza zion chain condors chipmunks owls angels_landing refrigerator_canyon walter's_wiggles switchback Comments (1)

Utah Again, Day 3: The Emerald Pools

sunny 103 °F

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Today we went to Zion National Park with Nick and Crystalynne, Joe and Mary, Ryan, and Justin. Above you can see another picture of the Ringtail Cat sculptured that reminded Catherine of Flora so much last year. For comparison, we have included a picture of Flora. They do have somewhat similar tails.
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The rest of the group wanted to hike The Narrows, which follows the Virgin River back past the paved trail. You walk in the river, and most people rent equipment to do it. We decided to do the Kayenta Trail, which starts at a place called The Grotto and ascends to the three Emerald Pools: Upper, Middle, and Lower.
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There weren't very many people on the trail as we were hiking up. We encountered a few people on their way down, but the information they gave us about the top of the trail was somewhat vague. Our hope was to reach the pools and then hike down the other way, on the Emerald Pools Trail back to Zion Lodge.
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We kept going towards the pools.
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Eventually we reached the Middle Pool. There was a short secondary trail to the Upper Pool, but we wanted to figure out our path to make sure we were on track to get to the Lodge and to meet up with the group on time, so we headed down to the lower pool. The lower pool is, understandably, below the upper pool. There is a waterfall that you walk behind, and there is the interesting phenomenon of small plants growing on the well-watered ledge behind the waterfall.
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The path from the lower pool to the Lodge was much easier than the Kayenta Trail from the Grotto. We were able to finish it much more quickly than the trail up. It also provided some beautiful views, but the way up was unmatched for quiet serenity.
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We arrived at the Lodge, where we were able to see deer and wild turkeys. Most of it had been closed last year, but this year the gift shop in the lodge was open so we looked around there a bit before taking the shuttle back to the visitors' center.
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At the visitors' center we were able to get some nice pictures of the moon as it came up over the rocks. We waited there for the rest of our group: phone service wasn't good, so we waited for some time and got a text that the rest of our group was getting on the shuttle at about the same time they arrived. They had had fun on the Narrows trail, but we still felt happy with our choice of hiking Kayenta Trail.
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We went to a cafe in Springdale called Oscar's, which mostly serves Mexican food but also has burgers and other sandwiches. Catherine got chili verde tamales and Daniel got enchiladas. It was a very good meal (note, the building in the picture is not Oscar's, but a building across the street. The picture was taken from Oscar's and shows the moon over the rocks).

Posted by danielcatherine 06:25 Archived in USA Tagged lodge hike quiet flora grotto zion narrows emerald_pool ringtail oscar's kayenta Comments (1)

Utah Day 3: A Tropical Vacation

sunny 76 °F

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We slept in a bit, and then went on a short hike nearby in Cedar Breaks National Monument. This one was called "Alpine Pond" and involved hiking first to a small pond and then to the Chessmen overlook where we went yesterday.
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There were a lot of fir and spruce trees, as well as pines and a ton of wildflowers.
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There were a lot of fallen trees, mostly due to the bark beetle infestation that seems to have mostly passed by now. We arrived at the pond, which was beautiful but very full of bugs. We saw water bugs walking across the water and bees pollinating the wildflowers nearby.
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Most of the trail felt like we were walking through a forest, and didn't feel at all like we were on the edge of a plateau. But occasionally we would get glimpses through the trees of the majestic canyon/ amphitheater to our right.
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Some beautiful wildflowers that looked like something a fairy would live in.
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A meadow at the turnaround point for our hike.
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Along the way back.
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This yurt at the trail head is used as a kind of ranger station. It has a wood stove and looks kind of cozy inside.
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We then drove to Bryce National Park. There is a town just outside the park called Tropic, apparently because the early settlers were planning to grow "tropical" fruits like peaches and grapes there. In Tropic there is a small restaurant/ food truck called IDK Barbecue. We stopped there for lunch before going into the park.
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Bryce Canyon is really more of an amphitheater than a canyon. It is an amazingly beautiful location, although being there for sunset was a bit less impressive than it probably is at sunrise given that the amphitheater faces east.
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There were a lot of areas where guests could hike down into the amphitheater. Anthony and Daniel decided to climb down into one of them.
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The one we hiked in was called "Wall Street" and was part of the Navajo Trail loop. We didn't do the whole loop, we only walked down into the canyon and got to an area where there were trees growing up through the narrow cracks.
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We drove deeper into the park and stopped at various lookouts, which allowed us to see the sunset over the ridge, which was very impressive and beautiful. It was a wonderful day at Bryce Canyon, which is an incredible place.

Posted by danielcatherine 11:34 Archived in USA Tagged sunset wall_street hike tropic national_park bryce_canyon barbecue alpine_pond Comments (0)

Hawaii Day 6: Exploring the Island

semi-overcast 84 °F

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We started our Sunday by going to the Traditional Latin Mass in Waihe'e, which was a little bit of a drive away from where we're staying. It was nice to see a different part of the island, and the people we talked to afterwards were very friendly. It is an extremely small community. Across the street, there was a warning about some rather dangerous dogs, but thankfully we didn't encounter them.
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After we left, we went to Tasty Crust, a diner in Wailuku. It was an interesting, small place. The clientele seemed to be almost all local, and most people obviously already knew each other. Nevertheless, the service was friendly and the food was delicious.
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We had banana pancakes, linguiça, and a biscuit. Katie and Anthony got omelettes, and we all split a piece of macadamia nut pie for dessert. Everything was excellent.
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We then went on a hike to see some ancient petroglyphs. We parked near the general store, and then hiked along the trail until we got to the cliffs where they were. It was very hot as we hiked, but we persisted until we reached our destination.
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The petroglyphs. These were close to the road, and may have been faked, but looked a lot like the ones we saw at the actual site.90_C1AB3D1A-4..B9B8381F500.jpg90_E6A8980C-B..61EDDB31976.jpg90_F8974F8D-1..2926D207933.jpg90_5EBF7DA0-0..4CDDF41ADE2.jpg
The definite petroglyphs. These apparently tell a story, and we were able to identify several human figures holding various objects, as well as what appeared to be a canoe. The information card explained the glyphs but didn't say what the story was.
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More of the area around the glyphs.
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We had a great time hiking!
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Found this by the side of the road. The perfect souvenir? But it probably would be hard to bring it home...we left it by the side of the road.
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Post-hike shave ice!
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We then sat at a table downstairs overlooking the ocean and played cards for a while.
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We ended the evening at Mulligan's, an Irish pub in Wailea. There was live music, which was vaguely Irish (they played a couple Pogues songs amid mainstream pop and rock). The food was very good, and we had a great time.
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Posted by danielcatherine 02:04 Archived in USA Tagged church music hike pie irish brunch petroglyphs latin cards pancakes bread wailea tasty mass waihe'e wailuku crust Comments (0)

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