Tag Archives: Utah

Leaving Zion, and driving toward Yosemite: The Sierra Nevada mountain range, and a small abandoned town.

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Leaving Zion, and driving toward Yosemite: The Sierra Nevada mountain range, and a small abandoned town.

Wednesday, 10-June-2015

  • There are a lot of miles ahead of me. I need to make it all the way to Yosemite, through the legendary Sierra Nevada mountain range. So I wake up early… very early. But I’m not the only one, it seems – Thomas is already out, and brings me a coffee as I’m packing up the car, which is freaking awesome. It’s nothing fancy, just from the front desk, but it’s a great gesture that makes me feel really nice, and definitely helps wake me up.
  • And with that, I’m on the road by 7:30 with two burritos, some Blueberries, apples, water and coffee. I mean, what more could I ask for out of life? Yeah, I’m set – we’re good to go.
  • It’s a long drive, covering a lot of ground. I’ve got a lot of time to cover it though, thanks to how early I got myself going. I drive through Vegas before it even starts to wake up… should I stop? Nah… In all honesty, I don’t really care about Vegas. The breakfast buffets call out to me, but I’ve got snacks and drinks. I’m good for a few hours. So I ignore the call, and keep the gas flowing to the engine.
  • I run into a bit of an issue with route-finding… The GPS in the Mustang doesn’t like Google’s route one bit, and keeps trying to get me to change course. At the end of the day though, I trust Google more. So I shut off the cars navigation (Ed Note: I think the exact conversation was… “Use the Google, Ben! Turn off your targetting computer and trust in the Googles!”) and keep following Google.
  • A theme to this trip so far has been that Massachusetts isn’t the only state with a ton of roadwork. Every state has a ton of roadwork. I literally haven’t gone more than a few hundred miles without the road loosing a lane, or some other annoying roadwork. In Nevada, it’s no different… this time though, it’s a serious thing. A 20minute long full-force stop. Seriously. Enough time for me to get out, chat with other drivers, and spin my staff for a bit before we start going again. The roadwork – sealing the road with new tar. So they close half of it down at any given time, and slowly drive a sprayer truck down the side. Yuck.
  • One upside; The long and straight roads see me getting good gas milage…
  • Drive past a USAF base – and I see my first UAV. Military. Is that… yep. I’m being overflown by a Predator drone. Or is it a Reaper? I don’t know. And I seriously really very much don’t want to know.
  • FYI? The desert is really pretty. Like… Holy wow… so pretty! Blues, reds, white… the whole landscape is a tribute to the colors of the flag. It’s amazing, and I just stare and enjoy the ride as much as I can.
  • But I keep gunning it, only making one real stop for my time. It’s in Bishop – a town in California that’s famous (in my mind) for some amazing rock climbing. But I only have so much time, and the climbing is a good hour out of my way… so I save it for another time. I do take a chance to really stop though – using the time to chill and get some internet in before officially giving up on bouldering there. Too bad, but I have to save something for next time, right?

And here is where this section leaves off. The day isn’t over yet, but for those who don’t know – Bishop is right near the gates of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. One of the most majestic and striking ranges that I’ve seen in my life. And since they tie in so well with the mountains of Yosemite (indeed, Yosemite is part of them!) I’ve chosen to keep that whole chapter together. So please see the next installation for more details!!!

Adventures in Zion – Part 2! Bouldering where no one boulders

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Adventures in Zion – Part 2!  Bouldering where no one boulders

Monday, 08-June-2015

 

  • Wake up, and I start exploring right out, instead of making Breakfast right away.
  • The first goal of the day is to find a good map / guidebook… so I hit the guide shop that’s right across the street from my campsite and buy a climbing book. While I’m there I stop to chat with one of the canyoneering guides, since the other folks at the shop mentioned that he’s a climbing. He directs me to good spots to go… but he doesn’t really know anything that’s not already in the guidebook. Zion has some of the best multi-pitch trad in the world… but this is not a good land for Boulderering :/
  • Next stop: a walk to find postcards, and to scout the first boulder of the day. The guide mentioned a huge boulder right by the entrance of the park, so I figure that’s a good place to start. And lo and behold, right across the road from it is a small grocery and souvenir shop! I find some postcards, buy up a few breakfast burritos, and then head back to find a post office.
  • Third stop is also a rousing success – the post office is nice and simple, and I get all my post sent out without any trouble or undue cost. Woo!
  • Now that all of that is dealt with, I pack the car up, and drive out to the boulders!
    • The Globe, AKA The Entrance Boulder – Fun, very fun. I spend a lot of time here, exploring lines and trying to do the traverse around the entire thing. The routes are good, and a bit too tall for me to be comfortable topping out… especially since there isn’t really a good way to get down off the boulder if I did top out. So I stayed low, and did some fun traverses.
    • Drilled Boulder – This one… this one was fun, but the drill-holes don’t really make sense. The guide says that someone, back in the dark ages of bouldering, took a power drill to the rock to make it more interesting. But they’re not really in any pattern or route that I can make out… Most of them are too small to be used (at least by me), and then the good ones aren’t really in good locations. The rest was cool, but not 100% sold on it.
    • Split Boulder – This one is WAY bigger than it looked in the book; too big for me to be comfortable climbing. I found a few interesting lines on it, but there were all a bit too easy. Nothing really good, at least nothing that I’d be willing to do with just a single crashpad.
    • Other boulders near the split boulder – I’m not sure if these are named, but I strutted over and climbed them anyways. Nothing too insane, but they’re better than the Split Boulder, at least. I did some routes, read some book, drank some water, and repeated the process until I ran out of routes to do.
    • Pine Creek Boulders – These were gorgeous, if not ideal for climbing. The boulders are all spread around a small creek down by the road (pine creek… crazy, right?) But most of them were a bit too hard for me to really rock.
      I did find a few really good routes though, and if you ignore the obscene amount of sand that was ground into every single thing that I own, I’d say this was the best of the bunch, aside from The Globe near the beginning.
    • There seems to be the theme here… beautiful landscape, but mediocre bouldering. Which is fair, since Zion is all about the big, long, perfect splitter cracks. Running straight up the cliff. For hundreds of feet. Damnation Daniel! Why didn’t you come with me so we could have climbed them all?!?!
  • Once the sun started setting down behind the cliffs, I made my way back to camp. A quick stop in at a grocery along the way got me all the parts that I needed to make an excellent & filling dinner… I deserved it after that day I had – boiling heat and more dust in my face than even Arizona threw at me…
  • So with everything set, I made me some dinner! Stir-fried chicken with Chorizo, Onion, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and shells. Yeah. Over a campstove. Using just two dishes. I am just that good. Now if you’ll excuse me… Nom, nom nom nom nom!!!
  • Once dinner is done and the dishes are cleaned, it was the usual evening for me. I hung out on the crash pad, using it like a nice mobile couch. I relaxed, watched a few episodes of Adventure Time, and slept like a log.

Adventures in Zion National Park, Part 1 – The Arrival

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This is the first part of my adventures in Zion National Park – since I did a lot during my visit, I figured that it’d be simpler to cut it up into chunks.  First up – arrival, and driving in!

 

Sunday, 07-June-2015

  • I’ll start this section of the story when I saw my first sign for Zion National Park – it was after I’d crossed the border into Utah, but maybe only by a dozen miles or so. After a bit more driving I saw another sign – this one directing me to a specific AM radio station, that I could tune into to get more information… so I did. It didn’t have much; just some info about traffic patterns, and how to go through the tunnels on this side of the park. Meh. Good info to have.
  • So I pass the toll booth, buy a week pass, and start into the park itself…
  • And driving in through the national park… ohh my lord this is amazing. I have… I just…. yes. Yes please. I seriously can’t describe my emotions and thoughts while I saw taking the tight turns through the mountain pass.
    The rocks? Amazing. Awesome, in the original sense of the word. I was full of awe, at the sweeping and towering cliffs. Every single one of them climbable, and beautifully so.
    The road? Perfect. It actually was awarded a recognition as a historic feat of engineering prowess – cutting a path, that is both efficient and pleasant to drive, through a mountain landscape like this.
  • And speaking of the road – there’s a tunnel in it. Not a “ohh cute, a little cut in a thing” tunnel… this is a “barely wide enough for two cars, yet over a mile long, and winding constantly” tunnel. They actually have to cut traffic when an RV goes through, since it’s not tall enough or wide enough to allow two large vehicles to pass each other.
    And the skylights! Every so often, there’s a slice cut out of the side of the tunnel, where the light and fresh air stream in. It’s beautiful, and almost haunting… since you can see the sheer drop out the other side, down into the valley.
  • So I drive. I stop a lot, and I take a TON of pictures. Though I’m driving slowly, the road does finally end and spit me out into the main town outside the national park.
  • I find the campground that I’d reserved, set up camp, chat with some of the folks nearby and get a feel for where I’m off to the next day, finally let sleep take me.