Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Testing Blogger on iPhone

Following a morning shower last week the sun came out and the temperature reached the low 80s!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Canyon de Chelly

It's a short drive down to Canyon de Chelly from Monument Valley, less than 100 miles.  


Several friends had mentioned the campground at C de C.  It's No Reservations;  No Fee.
Wow, it is so beautiful, set in the Freemont Cottonwood trees that were at the very PEAK of fall color.  


With just one day I decided on the South Rim drive and a hike to White House Ruins.
Along this stretch there are seven places to stop and view the canyon so it took me a while to get out to the White House trail since I stop at every single one.  Each offers another amazing view of the canyon and the ranches along the Chinle Wash.


Not much water in the wash,  but it's easy to follow it's path by the cottonwood trees.


White House Ruins trail is the only one that allows public access without a Navajo guide. It's only maybe three miles around trip,  but a 700 foot drop in elevation.

The sand stone cliffs are formed in swirls that defy imagination.


The roads up the canyon twist and turn around the cliffs through narrow passages just begging to be explored.  Next time I will set up tours to see more of the canyon!


At the bottom of the trail there is a homestead with a hogan under a huge cottonwood tree,  but NO pictures.  The privacy of the people who live here is sacred.


Horses roam at will and ignore silly hikers.


The cottonwood trees against the red rock were brilliant!



The White House ruin is the one white plastered dwelling set among the others.  Need to research to learn the significance of that!


Heading back to the trail up the canyon walls I met the horses again who were on their way home for the night.


It was getting late and I knew it was iffy to catch Spider Rock in full sun.  Nope, didn't make it this time,  but I'll be back for another visit soon!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Monument Valley Utah

Monument Valley was not on my original list; I intended to go straight down to Canyon de Chelly.  But 'Al' from Page said absolutely I could not skip Monument Valley if only for a day!  There is a relatively new Visitor's Center/Gift Shop/Hotel with this view from the deck.  The East and West Mitten Buttes are to the left; on the right is Merrick Butte. It was too late to do the Wildcat trail round the West Mitten so I strolled around the area just soaking it in.



Everything is much bigger and farther away than it looks.  I think the regular tour loop around the valley is 17 miles.  The Wildcat trail out to the Mitten is a 3 mile loop.



Traveling in the vicinity of the Utah/Arizona border is tricky with AZ not participating in daylight savings time and my iPhone NOT understanding AZ reasoning about that issue.  That resulted in always feeling a bit worried about getting the wrong time for something.  It was the worst for the Antelope Canyon Tour.  Very structured and don't be late!  At Monument Valley everything is a bit more casual.  When I arranged with Herbert for my sunrise tour he just said be out front about daylight to meet Ruth.  She arrived in a big white 4x4 Ford truck armed with two cell phones!

This was really cool.  Just me and Ruth and the valley.  We saw NO ONE for about an hour.  Then a couple locals passed us as they headed out to work.  There are a few scattered homesteads across the valley.  The night before I had seen random headlights. It was a bit eerie.

The public is allow access on a short loop;  the guided tours go out on a 17 mile loop; and Ruth took me way out to the farthest reaches of the valley.  We had rough road,  we had extreme sand, we had road that looked more like moguls.  Ruth wouldn't use her 4 wheel drive until absolutely necessary.  Under instructions from the boss no doubt!  

There are several arches in the sandstone cliffs.  First we saw "The Ear of the Wind".



Next was Moccasin Arch.  We liked that one as it shared a name with my Moccasin of course.


Ruth walked into Big Hogan as I was turned away taking pics.  I was so glad she did because it gave me a great perspective how how BIG it really it.


The sand and cliffs were absolutely gorgeous in the morning light.


Near the end of the farthest reach of our tour Ruth took me to a spring.  It bubbled out of the ground creating a small creek where cottonwood trees took advantage of the water.  The white stuff on the road is salt from the water.  (I had serious doubts we would get across the sandy creek,  but Ruth did it with the help of her 4 x 4).


Back in the public area  are we made a stop at this cliff face to see the pertroglyphs.



My Navajo friend Al was right,  Monument Valley is not to be missed.  And there's so much more to do next time:  a trail ride and an overnite in the valley that includes native dancing and music at Big Hogan after a dinner prepared by Ruth.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Glen Canyon Powerhouse

We exited the dam and entered the powerhouse via a bridge across an expanse of green grass.  (See tiny bridge at far end of next shot, that's the one from the employee elevator).

Under the grass are eight 14' penstocks that provide the water to the generators.  At construction the penstocks were left exposed.  It was soon discovered that vibration from the water flow would require modification.  Thus the tons of dirt with grass planted on top.


This diagram illustrates how a penstock enters the powerhouse.   The huge water flows work with low pressure to turn the turbines.



Inside the powerhouse a glass walled gallery allows visitors an amazing look at the 8 generators that each produce 1300 megawatts.


One generator was torn down in anticipation of the installation of the new stainless steel turbine and wheel.
(All eight will eventually have the old cast wheels replaced with new stainless).


Even at Glen Canyon with the capacity to produce seemingly endless electricity,  it's a WATER FIRST policy that is reflected in the logo.



My visit here was a highlight of my whole trip.  Next year, Hoover Dam, and it won't be by mistake!

Glen Canyon Dam

So focused on visiting Antelope Canyon I completely spaced on the major fact that I would be driving right past Glen Canyon Dam.  In an instant my van was parked and I was checking out the Visitors Center and Tours of the Dam?!?  


Wow, the dam is HUGE!  710 feet (more than twice HH) with a bridge above and the powerhouse below.

Construction lasted from the mid 50s to the mid 60s.  To house the workers, 'camp' was established at the current location of the small city of Page.  (I'm wondering if the locals still call Page 'camp'?).

The Lake Powell catches runoff from snow melt in the Rocky Mountains in a 100,000 square mile watershed.  At capacity, it's 186 miles long.


Fifteen of us followed our leader, a young Navajo gentleman, past serious security checks where we got a  lecture to make NO terrorist jokes at the risk of being escorted out immediately.

On the crest of the dam we were lucky to see the tops of the eight intake structures.  Hopefully soon they will be covered with water.


At the far east end of the dam is a crane that travels on railroad like tracks.  The two other distinctive structures on the crest are the ELEVATORS.  The one next to the crane provides access into the dam for employees.  The other is strictly for visitors.


There are 94 employees at the dam.  Of those four are women.  One of the women is a mechanic,  one is a powerhouse operator.

We rode the elevator not quite to the very bottom of the dam where we disembarked in a tiled gallery that would lead us to the power house.


Along the way we got a peak at a regular inspection gallery.  No tile in there!  Funny they mention employees riding bikes for transportation.  I think the elevators are the important tools here!


(More on the power house in the next post).

These four jet valves are on the east abutment.  They are 96" and each release 4,000 cfs.


Two spillways tunnels exit just downstream of the dam.  The 40' diameter tunnels are controlled by 2 40' by 52' radial gates  and can carry up to 100,000 cfs of water around the powerhouse.


Back at the top of the dam, the sun was setting and folks were anxious to get on their way.    That gave me a chance to have a short conversation with our tour guide.  He was aware of HH and we talked about the controversy surrounding the construction of both these dams.


OK, now for the powerhouse.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cowboy Coffee

I so wanted to order an iced, soy latte here, but alas, it was closed!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Upper Antelope Canyon

A quick Internet search didn't turn up much about the water flows in Antelope Wash.  I probably should have gone to the Visitor's Center in Page.  Be that as it may,  my understanding is that the water flows down the wash, sometimes alot of water,  meets the barrier of rock, cuts through the slot canyon (about a quarter of a mile long) then continues flowing down the wash.  An interesting thing is that the depth of sand in the bottom of the slot canyon changes from year to year or flood to flood.  

I'm really glad I saw this slot canyon, but not sure I'll go back.  Too many people.  No opportunity to absorb the awesomeness of the canyon.  There are special 'photography' tours for 'experts'.  Those might be smaller (and probably include mostly people who don't forget to put their memory cards back in their cameras!).

This shot was taken with my iPhone.   Wish I had something better for you.  Next time I'll visit the Lower Canyon.  It has some ladders and stairs, maybe that discourages a few folks.  Sorry to be so negative!  It really is awesome!!!!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

TheToadstools

The main stop along Highway 89 between Kanab and Page is the BLM Paria Contact Office.  That's where you pick up your permit if you are lucky enough to be drawn for the daily lottery to hike to The Wave.  It's also the place to get the latest information for hikes to Buckeye and Wire slot canyons.  Of course I had to stop, if only to buy a post card!


The rangers were very busy answering questions from visitors in the office. It's the perfect time of year to hike this area;  not to hot and generally no rains.  At an Interpretive Maps center they had a cool message board, even providing paper and pencils!


Not far east of the BLM office I stopped to investigate a sign for a trailhead.  Yes, this was just right for a late afternoon walk; a mile out to the Toadstools.


The trail followed a dry wash on one side and beautiful layered cliffs on the other.



Before long I saw the first toadstool!


Up against the white cliffs is another grouping.  It's clear that these formations are firmly in the grip of the evolutionary process.  Some were near the end of their 'life' as a toadstool.


I hiked around the base of these white cliffs and came upon a moon scape of many hoo doos and toad stools.  Unfortunately,  the pix just couldn't capture that scene.

The sun getting low in the sky as I headed back to my van.  Along the way I passed several serious photographers with their equipment heading out the trail; no doubt planning to arrive for the beautiful light at sunset.

One last look back and I was deep into the shadows of the dry wash for the rest of my walk back to the trail head.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Three Days in Zion

The wind was howling along I 15 for my drive from Valley of Fire to Zion so I was happy to find Zion warm with only light winds.  Driving around Loop B to my site I was abit surprised to see so many Roadtreks, umm,  that was cool;  even more surprising was two friendly faces coming over to ask if I was with the 'Roadtrek' owners.  Well, no,  but 'now you are!'.   My new friends were a group of Roadtrek International owners in the middle of a 'Walk About' of the South West.  They invited me to join them for dinner,  we hiked together and even shared a pot luck the next night.  Too much fun!

The campground was busy,  but I got a great site with this wonderful view of the mountains.


It's been several years since my last visit to Zion when I did the lower elevation trails in the valley and The Narrows up the Virgin River.  This time I intended to do two of the higher elevation hikes.  My first day was the Angles Landing Trail.  It's actually two distinct sections.  First is the 1000 foot climb up to Scout's Landing.  The second and hardest pull is the 500 elevation gain up the narrow ridge to Angel's Landing.  Several signs warn about the second section with a this view from Scout's Landing.


The trail leaves the valley with long sweeping switchbacks that get narrower and steeper as it climbs up the side of the cliff.


The elegant rock work blends perfectly with the natural rock.


The trail follows a narrow canyon filled with maples for a few hundred yards then begins the climb up Walter's Wiggles, really narrow and steep.


Many people were hanging out at Scout's Landing;  there was an almost party like atmosphere as we all tried to keep the chipmunks out of our packs and from crawling up our legs!   The last push up the ridge to Angels Landing started here and climbed the cliff with a chain for handholds.  This was my turn around for the day.  Maybe I'll try the ridge in the future,  but doubtful,  just too many people for me.


One of the amazing views up the Zion Canyon.


The next day I set out on the Hidden Canyon trail.  Again, the trail was paved but didn't required the extensive retaining walls of the Angles Landing trail.  And again,  there were many people.   But here's an idea,  next time, and needing two cars,  start at the East Entrance and hike 'down' to the valley.


Near the top of the Hidden Canyon trail is a great set of stairs up the side of the cliff through a small drainage.


Also near the top is the best view of Weeping Rock.  Yes, those are tiny people down there!


Pretty soon the trail makes it's way around the sandstone mountain with a chain again as a sturdy handhold that is very much appreciated. Unfortunately, on my down through this section I met a young man literally dragging his 4 year old son who was sobbing in terror up the trail.  It was disturbing and colored the rest of my hike but was a good reminder why I don't do these kinds of hikes with crowds of dumb people.


Up near the Canyon the sun created lovely shadows with the ferns.


More kids were running and climbing around the rocks near the entrance to the canyon.  I kept my eye out for parents, but never did see them.  And that's when I turned back.  Maybe I'll see the arch on another visit, but kinda doubt it.  Instead I'll do the Observation Point trail or maybe even the hike down from the East Entrance.


I had originally planned to go to Bryce after Zion,  but it had snowed up there and turned cold, besides I had my Roadtrek friends at Zion.  It was sad to leave!