Friday, June 12, 2009

Lava Flow Trail (Sunset Crater National Monument) (6/12/09)

The Lava Flow Trail at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument was a wonderful exploration of the different types of volcanic rock to be seen in this fascinating little park. Sarah and I during our great southwestern trip made the stop in at the Monument on the afternoon after leaving the Grand Canyon. On the drive south to Flagstaff it was a real easy trek off the interstate to hit this great park.

The Lava Flow Trail (LFT) is an easy access trail from a new parking lot along the main road in the park. The first half of it is paved and fully accessible. The latter half is an easy, nearly flat, trail to follow which plenty of great sights. What would have made the trail even more exciting was if it actually climbed the Volcano Crater. However, that trail was closed years ago because of severe erosion on the loose rock.


I did not get a GPX track file from this hike. The trail is listed as being 1-mile in length. We took the better part of an hour enjoying this short stroll and taking pictures.


Embedded below is my photo album from Picasa. A link is also there to view these photos full-size on the Picasa site:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

South Kaibab Trail (Grand Canyon NP) (6/10/09)

Route Name: South Kaibab Trail
Location: Grand Canyon National Park
Start Elevation: 7,190 ft.
Skeleton Point Elevation: 5164 ft.
Elevation Gain/Loss 2,026 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 6.28 mi.

Trip Report

I awoke up this morning about 5:30am and hopped the shuttle to Yaki Point right around 6am. The shuttle from the campground takes you to the Information Center where you catch a different shuttle to Yaki Point for the South Kaibab Trail. It took the better part of 45 minutes to get to the trailhead. Along the way I saw some elk near the Yavapai Lodge and deer eating breakfast at the Information Center.

I left the South Kaibab trailhead at 6:42am. It was nice cool air and shade for the first part of the hike. Met a few hikers along the trail as I sped down pretty quickly. I made a 5 minute stop at Ooh Aah point. Took an amazing panorama (my favorite of the trip) from this point.

From Ooh Aah Point

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Queens Garden/Navajo Loop (Bryce Canyon NP) (6/9/09)

Route Name: Queens Garden/Navajo Combination Loop
Location: Bryce Canyon National Park
Start Elevation: 7,958 ft.
Bottom Elevation: 7,413 ft.
Elevation Gain/Loss 545 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 3.7 mi.

Trip Report

In the visitor center at Bryce I was curious as to what hikes this unique park had to offer. With the time I had alloted the Queens Gardens/Navajo Combination Loop stood out to me. It was quoted as the "World's best 3-mile hike". Sounded good to me.

I started hiking from our camp along the rim to Sunrise Point where I picked up the trail to Queen's Garden. I was taking quite a few pictures on the Nikon D50 camera when the batteries ran out. I was stuck taking pics on my Omnia phone the rest of the way. The 1-mile hike to Queen's Garden had some great views. I saw the Queen Victoria formation at the end of this trail portion. From there is a forest hike to the Navajo Loop. I took the northern section of the loop. This brought me two a signed split in the trail which pointed right to the two bridges area. It was unclear if this was trail so I followed it up a gulley past the two bridges. I followed this to the top of the gulley where it dead ended at a 50 foot cliff. I turned around and went up the other split which was the real trail. The trail ends at Sunset Point where I took some more pictures. On the walk back to camp I stopped at the General Store and bought some Corona for supper at camp. It was a cold night down in the 30's up at 8000 feet.


Here are a pair of videos I took along the hike. The first is towards the eastern end of the loop, near the beginning of the hike. The second is towards the western end of the loop near the very end of the hike at Sunset Point.


I took a KML track file from this hike showing the full extent of the loop. Because of poor GPS reception in the canyon on the way up some of the track is a bit messed up. The rest is great!

My Track


Monday, June 8, 2009

Angel's Landing (Zion NP) (6/8/09)

Route Name: Angels Landing
Location: Zion National Park
Start Elevation: 4,276 ft.
Angels Landing Elevation: 5,787 ft.
Elevation Gain: 1,511 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 4.00 mi.


We drove this morning from Las Vegas into Zion. We headed through the Visitor Center, asked some questions about the trails and shuttles, and headed onto the Zion shuttles. We rode up to the Grotto stop and there we hopped out onto the Angels Landing trail. We enjoyed a beautiful hike along the Virgin River for the first half mile and started getting great views of the canyon walls around us. Sarah had to do a time out on the hike about a mile in as the switchbacks started and the trail got steeper heading up into Refrigerator Canyon. I headed on ahead and cruised along the trail. With a half mile to go on the trail you reach Scout Lookout and the remaining trail heads up a narrow ridge to Angels Landing. At this point there are steep dropoffs around the trail and chain ropes to hang onto (for safety and piece of mind). It was a beautiful trail to the top. It took 1:20 to get to the top, only 40 minutes on the way down. Atop Angels Landing one gets some of the best views of Zion Canyon. Angels Landing sorta sits right in the middle of the canyon and gives you great views down three different parts of the canyon.

After I cruised down from atop Angels Landing I met up with Sarah again just above where I had left her earlier. We hiked down the remainder of the Angels Landing trail together and then hopped on the shuttle again. We rode it to the north end of the canyon at the Temple of Sinawava. The canyon was narrow at this point and we got out and walked to the river's edge.

Zion Canyon from Angel's Landing


Below are two videos hosted on Youtube. The first video is from above Scout Lookout giving an idea of what the upper portion of the hike looks like. The view of Angels Landing is daunting in what the perceived difficulty of the hike will be. The second video is from atop Angels Landing giving great views of Zion Canyon.


I took a GPX track from the hike of Angels Landing. There are a few short segments of the track missing as the GPS had bad reception and missplaced several points. I used a GPX editor to remove the bad segments and put it into KML for download.

My Track


Here are photos from the hike. They are hosted on Picasa and clicking any photo will take you to the full-size version.

Angel's Landing as seen from the trailhead

Nearing the top of the first major set of switchbacks which then leads into Refrigerator Canyon

Above the switchback from the last picture now looking into Refrigerator Canyon

This is looking up from the famous "Walter's Wiggles"

From Scout Lookout looking south

Getting ready to head into the more dangerous section.
A sign warns of the exposure ahead

The ridge leading out to Angels Landing is indeed narrow and the "trail" keeps you righto n the crest of it

A narrow section with a sheer drop-off on the side.
You can see in the pic some of the chains put in place for safety and piece of mind

On another section of the ridge crest

Another example of the chains and the narrow trail they keep you on

Nearing the top finally

My "money shot" from Angels Landing catching the grandeur of Zion Canyon

Looking north along the path taken

An example of the sheer dropoffs on all sides

On the descent I could see Sarah on the trail down below waiting for me

A look at the amazing switchbacks which pick up a lot of elevation in a short amount of space.
This is below Refrigerator Canyon heading down towards the trailhead

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