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

Neck Spring Loop (Canyonlands National Park) - 10/11/14

The Neck Spring Trail Area - Taylor Canyon

Remnants of Cattle Ranching before the Creation of the Park

 The Neck Spring Loop trailhead is located in the Schafer Canyon Overlook parking lot in Canyonlands National Park on the Grand View Point Road in the Island of the Sky section. The trail is, perhaps, the only truly moderate trail in this section of the park as the almost 6 miles have relatively small elevation gain. This area was used in the early 1900's for cattle ranching as there are two seasonal springs flowing in the upper reaches of Taylor Canyon here.

Ben and Sue at the Scramble Wall
 The Island in the Sky comes to a narrow "neck" topographically in this area where it was easy to corral cows to one side of the neck. Along the trail, there are several relics of the early ranching.

Resting After the Scramble Wall
Beginning by crossing the road and dropping down into the shallow canyon, the trail then zigzags in and out of the canyon tributaries. It climbs back up a short wall to the upper plateau about 2/3 of the way around the loop. This wall is the only real scrambling required on the loop.

More Ranching Evidence

 On the upper plateau, the trail follows cairns over slickrock back to the parking lot. The moderate group enjoyed this very much as they laughed their way around with John B! Afterwards, a good view of Schafer Canyon and its dirt road should be required! The road is one of few ways to reach the White Rim Road below.

Almost 6 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; who cares how long it took!

Overlook at Schafer Canyon

Schafer Canyon

Corona Arch (Moab, Utah) - 10/12/14

Corona Arch from Behind

Train Crossing

Bow Tie Arch

 The short hike to Corona Arch begins approximately 10 miles west of Highway 191 on Highway 279. There is a large dirt parking area on the right that can become full. Parking is also available across the road down the hill. The moderate group of fifteen hikers hiked the trail in the morning, then a group of fifteen strenuous type hikers hiked the trail around noon. The early hikers received the wind and blowing sand but, by the time the later hikers arrived, the front had mostly passed and there was little wind left.

Hiking Around the Point
 The hike begins to the right of the parking lot, ascends up the hill to cross the train tracks, then continues ascending up to the sandstone plateau above.

Hold on, Susan!
 Following a cairned and well-tread route, the hike continues across the plateau to the walls ahead. To your 11 o'clock direction, there is an unnamed arch in the wall.

Moderate Group at Carin Heaven

 The trail follows the wall around the point where about a million cairns (okay, exaggerating!) have been built by visitors. Perhaps this began when a man had a fatal accident while extreme swinging from the large Corona Arch. Later, in the hike, one of our geocachers found a small plaque for said swinger behind a pile of boulders. The moderate group dubbed the area of cairns, "Cairn Heaven."

Climbing the Roped Steps
 The trail is, and has been for some years, well routed with wire ropes, chiseled in steps and a ladder.

Jon Climbs the Ladder
 When the writer first did this trail seven years ago, the ropes were much appreciated. This time, she barely used them! But, she did use the ladder when several other hikers decided to climb the rock to the left.

Approach to Bow Tie Arch

 As we rounded the point and climbed up to the next sandstone plateau using the ropes and ladder, Corona Arch came into view. We still had to hike around the sandstone plateau to reach the humongous arch. We could also see the Bow Tie Arch now. That's that hole in the top of the rock wall indentation on the left as you near Corona. Also, on our approach, we saw the end of a group of people rappelling down from the top of Corona. The rules forbidding use of ropes on the arch are in limbo right now. Check before you decide to use ropes in any way.

View Back to Plateau Climb
 At the arch, the view back (seen above) shows the climb from the lower plateau to the upper plateau. This is where the steps and ladder are located. There is a deep wash between the photographer and the plateau route that is circumvented.

Front of Corona Arch - Train Tracks in Canyon Beyond
 When we approached Corona Arch, there were several people milling about. There were also several dogs with said people. Watch your dogs, please! One of them ate one of our sandwiches and the person on the other end of the leash kept walking! Really?

Corona Arch from Behind

 Our hikers climbed around behind the arch perusing the route up to the top. (Explore R Us!) Then, after a break, we began our return to the cars - carload by carload. It was just a great place to spend a few minutes. Corona Arch turned out to be everyone's favorite arch!

On the way back, we passed Laszlo on his way up. Yep! He had spent the morning taking his jeep out for a spin on the White Rim Road. He was stoked!

2.5 miles; 500 feet elevation gain; 1.5 hours

Corona Arch Leg

Rozie Climbs Down the Ladder

Returning to the Trailhead