Thursday, October 23, 2014

Krafft Mountain Traverse E to N - 10/23/14

Krafft Descent Fun!

For those of you who thought that today's E/W traverse would be along the same lines as a recent W/E traverse of Krafft Mountain. Au contraire!

Sixteen hikers parked at the wash crossing on Calico Basin Road and used a recreational trail to hike over to the base of Krafft Mountain on its eastern flank. We climbed to the intermediate saddle then continued up to the secondary peak. Next came the traverse over to the primary peak where we signed in the log book and took a break.

Next, the fun began! We descended down to the "beach" then Jerry took over the lead. Following cairns we proceeded to descend the northern side of Krafft. It was very exciting! The video below (captured by Steve Allen) shows only one of the several down climbs that were worthy of mention. Enjoy!

5 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 4 hours


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fisher Towers Trail (Colorado River Way Wilderness, Moab, Utah) - 10/13/14

Kingfisher and Ancient Arts Towers

Titan Tower

Kingfisher & Ancient Arts Towers

 Named for a miner who lived near these Cutler Sandstone towers in the 1880's, the Fisher Towers are world known for photography and rock climbing. When eleven hikers were hiking the trail beneath the towers today, there were, indeed, a group of rock climbers scaling the Ancient Arts Tower. They were heading toward the Corkscrew formation but, as far as we could see, they stopped before climbing all the way up to the top of it where the credit card commercial was recently filmed.

Rock Climber Working Toward Corkscrew on Ancient Arts Tower
 The eleven hikers hiked in two different groups. One began at 9am and the second began at 10:30am. The towers trail was still in a lot of shade at these morning hours so photography was challenging but the hiking was very pleasant.

Fisher Towers Trail in Morning Shade
 The second group moved along at a moderate pace enjoying the show that the rock climbers were putting on.

View Out from Trail and Towers

 We found the trailhead by driving east on Highway 128 for approximately 22 miles from Highway 191, taking a right turn onto Fisher Towers Road, and driving this dirt road for a couple of miles. The dirt road is rough but there were several regular low riding cars in the trailhead parking lot ... including our Prius! There is a convenient pit toilet and a decent campground at the trailhead, also.

Fisher Towers
 The trail drops down to a level at the base of the towers that rise up to 1500 feet from there. The tower on which the climbers clung was about 500 feet up.

Return Hike
 The trail zigzagged while hanging on the side of cliffs that were around 50 to 100 feet down. It was a well-maintained trail with a few safety features keeping erosion back and such.

John Captures Other Hikers Showing Scale

 One of the most interesting trail features was a ladder that assisted hikers in going from one side of the gulley to another. This ladder could not have been made more safe! It was concreted in at the bottom and bolted fifty thousand times (okay, another exaggeration) at the top. There is also a handle bolted into the rock above it for an easy climb out. We all handled the ladder easily.

Trail Border for Erosion Factor
 The trail went to a saddle where there was a nice view in the Titan Tower area. We stopped there for a small break and to enjoy the landscape.

Kingfisher Tower with Ancient Arts Tower on Left
 Past the saddle, a "primitive" trail continued. More skills are probably required here but we really didn't care to explore.

Passing Ancient Arts Tower showing the Corkscrew

 After the break, we headed back. The light was a little more conducive to photos, therefore, most of the photos in this entry were taken on the return. We all enjoyed this hike so much that a few even decided it was their favorite hike of the trip! The hike and the scenery along the Colorado River made the 22 mile drive worth it.

3 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Return Hike

View Toward Colorado River

Rock Climbers on Ancient Arts Tower

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Delicate Arch (Arches National Park) - 10/9/14

This Evening's Best Shot

Cloudy Skies before Sunset

Easy Walking Trail
 As you can imagine, Delicate Arch was hiked several times through the four days of the club's excursion. On the first day, there were nine hikers stretching their legs after the 7 hour drive up from Las Vegas. It would be a sunset hike when the arch is most photogenic. Later, during the trip, there was another sunset hike and 3 or 4 other individual trips up to Utah's most famous geological anomaly.

The Rock Hill - Trail to Left

Recent Rain-Filled Puddle

Newly Carved Steps
 The trailhead is found on Delicate Arch Road, 12 miles up the Arches Scenic Drive. Parking wasn't as bad as it has been in the past and we all just barely found a parking space. The trail has been extremely improved! Eleven years ago, the trail still had uneven footing and required a minimal amount of scrambling. Now, the trail has been flattened with pea gravel and steps have been carved into the rock in the top part of the trail (seen in the photo to the right). If they improve it any more, we will still be able to climb the trail in our wheel chairs in a few years!! We got to the arch at the top and still had about 30 minutes before the sun would set. There were clouds above and, until the sun came down a little, the shadows predominated.

The Ledge

The Amphitheater at the Arch

The Arch above the Amphitheater
 Finally, the sun came below the clouds and we were ready. Everyone (about 50 people total) were set up with everything from tripods to iphones. Every time someone would step into the arch area, everyone on the ledge across from them would yell, "Get out of the shot!" It's a tradition. Our pictures were fine but not exceptional. The most dramatic skies were seen in the opposite direction on our way down the hill.

3 miles; 850 feet elevation gain

Gathering at the Arch

The Sky in the Other Direction!

Broken Arch / Sand Dune Arch / Skyline Arch (Arches National Park) - 10/12/14

Storms in Distant La Sal Mountains from Broken Arch Area

Broken Arch

Jerry at Balanced Rock
After a great morning at Jeep and Corona Arches, three club members who enjoy photographing rode out the Arches Scenic Drive for an exciting photo session. The weather front had brought in dramatic skies as it rained or snowed on the La Sal Mountains in the near distance. Our scheduled trip up to three of the arches was perfect timing. We stopped by Balanced Rock on the way out for a few photos.

Dramatic Skies near Broken Arch
Next, we stopped at the Broken Arch and Sand Dune Arch parking lot and hiked out to Broken Arch first. The flat terrain was covered quickly and the sun was beginning to dip under the dark clouds as we got there. The photos came fast with a lot of satisfaction!

Sand Dune Arch
Next, we headed back to Sand Dune Arch where we knew that the sky would not be in the photos. A quick "we were there" photo and we returned to the cars. As we hiked, the surrounding landscape kept presenting fantastic photos.

Sunlight Shines on Red Rock under the Clouds

We drove up the road a little further to Skyline Arch. This short trail and arch presented more fun photos. We felt very lucky to experience this light! On the way back, our driver, John B., was hungry so we couldn't talk him into letting us squeeze out a few more shots!

The moderate group hiked the three arches two days before.

About 2.5 miles and flat

Perfect Light at Skyline Arch

Sandstone Ridge near Broken Arch