Friday, May 17, 2013

Mt. Charleston, NV and Utah - Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks

The bad news was we were stuck in Vegas until Monday, May 13.  The good news was we were stuck in Vegas that extra weekend so we had time to summit Mt. Charleston on Sunday, May 12!  :-)

Summit - 11,916ft: 17.5 miles, 9.5 hours, 4,000ft elevation gain - AWESOME HIKE and great training for Mt. Hood!

Mt. Charleston - we were approx. 4 miles from the top at this point

The t-shirts we are wearing in the summit picture are from which is a fun company out of Flagstaff, AZ.  They appreciate the beauty of the mountains and enjoy the great outdoors.  Check out their website and photo gallery (they have a few of our pictures posted)!

We have been in St. George, UT since Monday and have been enjoying drives and hikes around Zion National Park as well as Bryce Canyon National Park.  

Zion - on this trip we've explored more areas of the park in addition to the main/popular section.  We made it up to Kolob Canyon (the north tip of the park) as well as Kolob Terrace (this 20 mile drive winds in and out of the park in several areas; it is just west of the main entrance to the park).  What an incredible variety of landscape in these different places.

Kolob Canyon 

Observation Point - We enjoyed this hike so much in 2010 we decided to do it again.  Along the way we kept passing a bunch of kids (some cruising up the mountain and some struggling a bit).  We come to find out it's a group of 60 people (mostly kids but including some parents/chaperones and teachers).  They were from Kipp:  3-D Academy (Desire, Discipline, Dedication) out of Houston, TX.  They were kids who earned this trip by special behavior and hard work.  It turns out every one of the kids (and adults!) made it to the top of this 8 mile round-trip hike gaining over 2,000ft in elevation.  Way to go!  They were traveling around in UT and AZ with trips to the National Parks. This was an incredible group of people we are thankful to have met.  Best wishes to each of you!

Kolob Terrace

Bryce = Breathtaking!

On Sunday we start our 3-day road trip (approx. 1,058 miles), including 2 overnights in Wal-Mart parking lots, to our next destination of Welches, OR (near Mt. Hood).  We feel strong (and ready) for our climb and will watch the mountain weather closely to find the best day while we are there (May 21-June 4).  

Til next time...Happy Trails!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Leaving Las Vegas? Keeping our fingers crossed that today will be the day!

As of yesterday the a/c units for the RV have not yet arrived.  It's a possibility they will show up around 10am today and then hopefully be installed by end of day.  If that's the case we'll be on the road to St. George, UT by early evening!

We've been keeping busy (and training for Mt. Hood) with lots of hikes at elevation.  Mt. Charleston area is just a 45 minute drive from our campground and it takes us to hiking elevations of 10,000ft +.   On one of our hikes we met Max and Bob.  Max is quite the inspiration to keep active!  At age 77 (hope you don't mind us telling everyone, Max!), he and his friend/relative, Bob, were out hiking to get ready for hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in a day.  They were scheduled to do that earlier this week so please check in with us and let us know how it went!  By the way, Max & Bob, didn't miss a thing further on that trail!  It just got VERY steep and we didn't make it to the top.

Max (age 77 and going strong!) and Bob

Griffith Peak - 11,064ft.  - While not the highest peak in the state, this peak is another one we "bagged" to add to our list.  It was a strenuous 11 mile hike but so worth it and great training for Hood.  The first 2 miles were a gradual uphill on an old mtn. road.  Although, I should first add we had to take a CRAZY 5 mile drive back a ROUGH and scary road to get to this trailhead (good thing we have a Jeep)!  Anyway...the rest of the hike was pretty steep up the side of a rock face (yet a very manageable trail) and then through the pines and some snow (a nice cold squall breezed through during our hike) to the top of the mountain.  Awesome climb!  If we had time (and energy) we could have continued another 4 miles (8 miles round-trip and 19 miles for the day - no way!) to reach the summit of Mt. Charleston at 11,916 ft.  Perhaps another day if we don't get our a/c fixed today.

75 in Vegas...snowing in the mountains!  Another beautiful hike to approx. 10,000ft. elevation.

We took a break from hiking the other day and drove to Dolan Springs, AZ to see Joshua Tree Forest (more Joshua Trees here than in Joshua Tree National Park!) and then continued on to Grand Canyon West (which is not owned by the NPS but part of the Hualapia Reservation) and home of the Grand Canyon Sky Walk.

Joshua Tree Forest and Grand Wash Cliffs

Grand Canyon West

Grand Canyon Skywalk (pics could not be taken from the Skywalk but only from this angle)

We enjoyed some family time the other night.  Tom's cousin, Mark-from Ohio, was in town for business so he, Tom and cousin "Joey Vegas" all had dinner together (male bonding time) while I had dinner with my brother (also in town for business) and a few other business acquaintances.

Hopefully the next blog will be from St. George, UT or Oregon!

Til next time...Happy Trails!