Sunday, January 6, 2019

Christmas in the Desert

This year we spent our Christmas holiday in St. George, Utah, a very dry area in the southwestern portion of the state. The weather was cool but settled and we enjoyed spending most of our days either climbing or exploring the various recreation areas near town. The government shutdown thwarted our plans for Zion National Park somewhat, but other than that there were no surprises. We ate at some nice local restaurants, watched movies and enjoyed a clear but cold afternoon of horseback riding in Snow Canyon State Park.

Click on the pictures if you'd like a larger view.

We rented a second-floor apartment in a condominium complex on the edge of St. George, which provided stunning views of Signal Peak to the north, seen here coated white on Christmas day.

The desert provided much dry stone, sunshine and interesting flora. We enjoyed becoming familiar with the various species of cactus, watching for desert hares and dodging roadrunners, one of which we almost hit with the car!

Our day in Zion was sunny but cold. We had hoped to do a climb, but the crowding in the park slowed us down and we ran out of time. We did, however, hike to the base of our intended route and enjoyed splendid views, hidden petroglyphs and some welcome backcountry solitude.

There was no shortage of climbing around St. George and we spent New Years day walking through Moe's Valley watching people boulder. This area was sandstone, but most of the spots we visited were limestone and we saw plenty of interesting fossils.

Our afternoon of horseback riding was a nice treat. Our guide, Mike, was very knowledgeable about the local flora, fauna and geology. He provided a very interesting two-hour tour through sand dunes and a deep gorge in Snow Canyon State Park. Our horses were well behaved, unlike the last couple of times we've done this, and the ride was uneventful. We learned a lot about the natural history of the area and enjoyed his company. We were glad we bundled up, though, because the shade in the gorge was frigid in the late afternoon.

During our two-week stay, we only had two days of rain - the rest of the trip was sunny and clear. We enjoyed the starkness of the desert and the silence at some of the more remote areas we visited. It's not hard to leave civilization far behind in this part of the country yet we had everything we needed to be comfortable. We were sad to leave, but excited to get home to our crazy cat, which was well looked after by our house-sitters. Happy New year to you all.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

North Coast Trail

After a long delay, we finally got a window in which to hike the North Coast Trail near the end of August. We spent five nights and six days hiking the trail from east to west, which included a day touring the Cape Scott Lighthouse area before returning to our car. The weather was a mixed bag - we had everything from fog to mist to gorgeous sunshine. Luckily, it did not rain. Although some of the beaches were beautiful, the highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the boat ride to the trailhead. We came upon a pod of orcas and spent close to half an hour bobbing in the waves watching them feed around the boat. None of us had seen orcas in the wild before. It was a special treat.

Random pictures from the trail...

Happy that we're home...