I had intended to get this post up last week, but as sometimes happens life intervened and I got sidetracked. The month of September kept me busy with two trips to the Grand Canyon – a backpacking trip down to the Colorado River from the South Rim followed a couple weeks later with a photo trip to the North Rim.
We just returned from a photo trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Color images and commentary coming soon, but here’s a monochrome set for a start.
I’ll be honest… When I first stepped up to the scenic overlook at the South Rim my first thought wasn’t of the beauty of the vista, rather it was (Homer Simpson voice) “Holy Cr@p! I’m going to hike to the bottom of that in the morning?!” Continue reading
The hike to the Grinnell Glacier (elevation 6500′) is strenuous, but worth it. It was about 710 acres in 1850 at the end of the little ice age and has been retreating ever since. It’s now something less than 200 acres.
One of the things on our to-do list lately has been to try out some kayaking. It seems that several of the trips we’re looking at in future have the opportunity, and quite frankly, it looks like a good way to get to places less travelled. So when one of the local REI stores scheduled a “Learn to Kayak” class we signed up.
The five hour class was held at Lake Pleasant, a county park northwest of Phoenix. Instructors Dannie and Angie brought both “sit on top” and “touring” kayaks so we had the option of trying both types if we wanted. We spent about an hour on dry land learning the gear and how to set it up properly and then proceeded onto the lake where we had a chance to try out the basic strokes and then “rafted up” in a cove for a little more instruction.
The next four hours we on the water learning and practicing turns, different strokes and techniques, sculling, how to exit the kayak if capsized (demonstrated with the option to try it. I did. Fun!) with time to practice paddling around and getting comfortable on the water. Most of the time we were in fairly well protected coves which both kept us away from the power boat and jet ski enthusiasts and protected us from the wind.
The paddle back to our starting point was actually a pretty good exercise in that the crowds of swimmers, boaters and partiers were in full force, and we paddled into a head wind which made it a bit choppier. We had a final demonstration of a buddy rescue technique since getting into a kayak in the water is easier with help – something like getting into a hammock. We finished up around noon as scheduled. Lots of fun!
We have been wanting to try out a backpacking trip with REI Adventures, and with the Superstition Mountains being local we thought this would be a good opportunity. Since the Phoenix area is already starting to warm up, this was the last scheduled trip till after summer. Being less that two weeks after the Alaska trip, we were prepared for a bit of temperature shock – it turned out to be a record setting week with highs in the 90’s, which is only 120ºF warmer than our coldest outings up north. Fortunately, we had time for a couple of day hikes to get re-acclimated to the desert prior to starting out.
Last March we went camping at White Sands National Monument for the first time. The weather was fairly mild although a bit brisk in the morning. The winds were impressive. It turns out that 50 mph gusts are not unusual in the windy season. We enjoyed the trip, but since we only stayed the one night we didn’t get to do as much hiking as we would have liked, so we decided to return during the off season. With our schedule it turned out the second half of January was a good time, and watched the weather and the launch schedule for the missile range to plan the date. This last week the weather was perfect for photography – cloudy with rain in the forecast and temperatures unseasonably warm with to lows above freezing, and no closures scheduled. Off we went…