Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

The day we ran the half marathon we were pretty worn out and our legs weren't up for any grand and strenuous hikes.  But we wanted to see more of the Moab area so we drove into Canyonlands National Park and checked out some of the scenic overlooks in the Island of the Sky District.  There were impressive views at Schaffer Trail Overlook and Grand View Point Overlook.

We also did a very short hike to Mesa Arch.  We didn't stay in Canyonlands very long though, we were eager to get back to watch the BYU - Gonzaga game.  March madness is alive and well!

Canyonlands Half Marathon

Great race down in Moab, UT, March 15, 2011.
Runners: Nicole (1:46), Lyndee (2:44), Julie (5 mile), Cameron (1:53), Kiara (2:44),  Mckesha (1:40)

Because of problems with my IT band and getting sick in the weeks prior to the race I had given up any hope of running a good time.  I had readjusted my goals to finishing and having a fun time.  There would be future races to try and PR.  So I was amazed when my knee was pain free at mile 6 and my body felt amazing! I started running a little bit stronger each mile, and ended up finishing about 11 min off of my previous PR.  Had an incredible experience running.

I took a few photos at the start of the race before I ditched my camera in my sweat bag.  It was a beautiful morning about 55 degrees with a strong cold wind that we ran headfirst into the entire race.

Lyndee and Kiara ran together the entire time, it was inspiring to see those two finishing strong together.

The fam after the race.  Lyndee and I both ran strong, Mom dominated the 5 mile race, and Papa rented a bike for the day and spent his time cycling up to portions of the race to take photos.  Great race, I will definitely come back in future years to run again.

Fiery Furnace, Arches National Park

This past weekend while Erik was in San Diego for a track meet, I headed down to Moab to run the Canyonlands Half Marathon.  I met up with Mom, Papa, and Lyndee, who drove up from AZ to run the race as well.  The Friday before the race we hiked the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park.  The FF is a maze of deep canyons and fins of rock that you can easily get lost in.  Therefore, in order to enter the FF you must have a backcountry permit or sign up before hand to do a ranger guided hike.  We opted to go with a ranger and I am so glad we did.  We learned a lot about the rock formations and wildlife with the ranger and I would highly recommend going this route with a ranger.  Although the distance of the hike is only about 2 miles, there is a lot of scrambling and stemming through the narrows of the FF, making it  challenging adventure.

From the trailhead parking lot the FF appears to be an unimpressive field of rocks.  That stretches across the valley, but as we ventured further and further into the fins of rock we were impressed with the deep canyons and geological formations.

Of course, Monte was documenting every moment of the excitement.

We wandered through canyon after canyon in a maze like fashion.  The "ranger in training" who was in the back with us most of the time, kept asking me, "Do you think you could get out now?"  After a while the answer was "No", I can see why people get lost in there all the time.

I was really impressed by Mom and her youthful scrambling through the FF, my parents are pretty much the best.

"Crawl Through Arch" took some careful manuvering through.

Every once in a while we would climb high enough to where I could get my bearings a little bit, but that place is seriously crazy cool!

View looking back towards Leaning Rock and the Windows section of Arches

Amazing traverse through the Fiery Furnace took about 3 hours, but still left our legs fairly fresh to be able to run the race the next day no problem.  Great way to kick off the weekend.

First Hike of the Season, Y Mountain

A couple weeks back I was getting really antsy for Spring to come so we could get the hiking season rolling.  Winter recreation is fun, but towards the end of winter all I want is for the sun to shine so I can hit a nice dirt trail to a summit! Some good friends of ours, Kenny and Kari Clark, are in the Utah Valley mountaineering club, and they are training to hike Mt. Rainer in July.  So in preparation for one of their training hikes to Provo Peak, they were hiking Y Mountain and invited me to come along (Erik was out of town at a track meet).  Since I was dying to do some hiking, I of course accepted the invite.

So we started from the Y trailhead parking lot at 6am.  There was only one other hiker at the trailhead who had a huge mountaineering pack with all the gear, so of course we struck up a conversation.  He turned out to also be a member of the Mountaineering Club who was out for a training hike with his gear as well.  We hiked together for a while, but with his heavy pack we eventually picked up the pace and left him behind.  As anyone who has hiked the Y knows, it can be pretty tedious work getting to the Y, but it is the sacrifice you must make to get to the scenic and rewarding Slide Canyon and peaks beyond.  Turning into slide canyon there was still no snow on the trail.

Since it had been a warm couple of weeks and we were hiking on a South facing slope, Kenny felt confident we wouldn't need our snowshoes or crampons to reach the summit, but as soon as we turned onto the trail to the summit we were immediately in snow to our knees.  Good thing we all chose to wear a good pair of boots and high knee gators!

Because of the snow, we could see no trail to follow so we were just sort of bushwhacking up the side of the ridge.  No surprise there, every time I hike with Kenny it involves bushwhacking where there is no trail.  Even without the needed snowshoes we just kept trudging on, Kenny and I took turns breaking trail.  Kari was happy pulling up the rear.

The final stretch to the summit we were literally crawling at times to try and distribute our weight to keep from sinking up to groin level in snow.  It was actually really fun and we were laughing the whole time about our snowshoes sitting at home that we could have easily brought.  But because it wasn't impossible, and we were making good progress we just kept going.

View of Provo Peak behind Kari.

And suddenly, the view of the valley was there, we had made it.

Kari was really happy.

Cascade Peak behind Kari and I

Provo Peak behind Kenny and Kari

View of Utah Vally and Utah Lake from the top of Y mountain

We headed down, Kenny slid most of the way down on his stomach, Kari and I followed sliding on our butts in the slide he created.   All in all, a great first hike to our hiking season. We have a lot of adventures planned with K and K this summer before they leave to graduate school in the Fall.

Lake Tahoe Snowshoe

Whenever Erik and I make the long drive to CA or AZ to visit either of our parents, we like to plan a hike somewhere along the way to break up the drive.  In Christmas of 2009 we stopped in Bryce Canyon NP on our way to AZ for a few days to snowshoe Fairyland Loop and Navaho Loop trails.  It was such a blast and a great way to kick off the holidays! So we wanted to start making a snowshoe adventure a Christmas tradition.  In 2010 we decided to spend a few days in South Lake Tahoe on our way to see E's parents in CA.

We found a smokin' deal on a hotel in South Lake Tahoe called the Ambassador Motor Lodge.  It was very old but very clean and nice, it had a lot of charm, and was a fun place to come back to after long day on the trail.

The main goal of our trip was to hike Mt. Tallac, the main peak that towers over South Lake Tahoe and all the ski resorts in the area.  Unfortunately, the avalanche danger was extremely high while we were there, so rather than risking it, we adjusted our plans to do some other hikes in the area.

On day one we hiked to the Angora Lookout. It is a forest service fire lookout post that is closed for the winter, but provides a very scenic snowshoe.  It overlooks Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe wilderness areas.  As you can see the snow was falling pretty heavily all day, so we knew the visibility would be poor, but we came all this way.  We weren't going to sit around the hotel all day so we hiked anyway. 

The trail was gorgeous, quiet, and we had a great time making our way to the lookout.  It looked as though only a cross country skier had been on the trail all day, and the snow was coming down so fast, their tracks were barely visible.  He took turns breaking trail along the way.

We made it to the top But didn't have much scenery to enjoy since the visibility was about 100 feet. Supposedly the view behind me was a glacial valley with Fallen Leaf Lake and other Mt. Tallac behind it.  Sadly, this was the view.  We stayed positive though, even though there was no visibility, the hike itself was very physically challenging so at least we got in a great workout for the day. . . right?

After the Angora Lake Lookout hike, I wanted to see Lake Tahoe since the poor visibility hadn't allowed us to see its shore even when driving close to it.  So on our way back to the hotel we pulled out the snowshoes again and traversed across the forest services Historic Camp Richardson to the lake's shore.  Once again we were a little disappointed with the view.  Still, it was a fun day.

On Day two we decided to snowshoe up the scenic highway 89, which circles around Emerald Bay.  The highway is incredible beautiful with majestic views, and luckily, because there is so much snow on it in the winter time, they close it to traffic.  The unplowed roads make an amazing snowshoe adventure. 
 We were so happy to drive to the start of our hike and suddenly have the clouds clear and the sun came out!   The view across the take was breathtaking, we were stoked that at least one day of our adventure would have great visibility.

So we workout our way up the closed highway, noting the mile maker sign and enjoying the solitude.

We went all the way to the Inspiration Point Overlook, a common place for cars to stop and look back over Emerald Bay, the most photographed part of Lake Tahoe.  It was cool to have the entire place to ourselves. 

After Inspiration Point, we worked our way back down the highway and turned into Emerald bay State Park (which was also closed for the winter) because we wanted to snowshoe down to the Lake's shore.

After the few more miles trek down to the shore, we sat by the shore and ate our lunch before the return trip to the car.  Wonderful day!

It was such a fun Christmas adventure. Going in the winter allowed for no crowds or traffic, we had perfect solitude on the trails each day.  We vowed to come back and climb Mt. Tallac since it was the main goal of the trip and we didn't get to due to high avalanche danger.  We also decided we want to come back in the summer one day when we have kids.  The camping spots in Emerald Bay State Park and Historic Camp Richardson both looked like a great place to bring a family.