Monday, July 26, 2010

Nice panorama

I liked this shot in particular, for a few reasons. I did not doctor the colors at all i this shot, and it does a pretty good job of capturing the stark contrast of shade and sun. I know, I know. Enough about the shade/sun business. But it can't be overstated what a difference it made to be in the shade!

I also like the shot for the contrast in colors, and the textures, and the majestic view of the canyon stretching off into the distance. This view is looking southward toward the mouth of the canyon a few miles further south. This shot is one of the last views of this side of the valley for quite a while. At this point, the trail heads into Refrigerator Canyon, and treats us to a different kind of scenery.

And I know I prolly ruined the shot by inserting the text on it, but I kept a copy of the pristine original here.
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Shade at last

As we approached the mountainside, the trail switched back and forth, and was carved right into the mountain in places.

Another big upgrade in our view.

To think that all the improvements to the trail had to first ascend the trail to that point makes one appreciate even more the amount of work that has gone into making this national park so nice. Here Maddie can be seen walking up a section of the trail that has been poured in concrete. You can see deer tracks in the concrete in some spots along the trail, and more frequently, the marks from horseshoes.
"I pity the mule who carried the concrete and the water up all that way!" -Mr T
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Part way up to Scout's Lookout

Here we are, still in the shade, and still smiling. Our destination looms in the background. The top of the prominent rock behind us is actually Angel's Landing, a climb too perilous for the likes of some in our group.

Here is a view looking back down at the valley bottom. As we climbed, the view improved. Pictures cannot do justice to how spectacular the views were from this trail.

As we went through the stretch of sunshine, every little spot of shade provide a welcome relief. We set goals to hike to the next shady spot, and then the next one . . .

and the next one, until we finally arrived at the part of the trail where we were sheltered by the massive mountain hovering over us.
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Trail to Scout's Lookout

On Wednesday morning, we headed up the 2-mile trail to Scout's Lookout, one of the valley's best vantage points overlooking the valley and river below. We had to start early o beat the heat. Off we go!

Too bad this river was only at the beginning of the hike when we were not dying from exposure to the heat!

In the beginning, we walked in the shade, had plenty of water, and spririts were high.

As we continued, we ascended the difficult trail in the unforgiving sun, and some of us started to lose a bit of our spunk.

Cooling Off

Here we are, and we could be found daily, cooling off in the Virgin River.

We had lots of fun playing in the river, finding good deep swimming holes, rocks to jump from, and getting swept away in the swift current, down and through the mini-rapids.

We enjoyed the fun, and needed the refreshment and relief from the heat that only full immersion could bring.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

The narrows

Alas, we are very sad to report we did not take our camera with us as we hiked up the narrows.  The road through Zion Canyon takes you alongside the Virgin River as far north as it can, until the Virgin River is confined by up to 800-foot cliffs on either side of the river, which is only 20-feet wide in places.

This area is called the narrows, and it was singularly beautiful.

This is someone else's picture, but it shows the sorta thing we saw and hiked through.

The hike is mostly in the water.  There a small portions of the hike where you are able to hike along the banks of the river.  Mostly though, we hiked through knee-high water on slippery rocks.  It is slow-going, but really fun.  Some places were deeper, forcing us to wade through waist-high water.  And some of it was swift!  We swam some, jumped off rocks some, and most of all just enjoyed the beauty of the scenery and this wonderful masterpiece that nature carved out of stone.

For me, it was the best thing we did during our time in Zion National Park.

Camping in Zion

Carina collected walking sticks while we hiked around Zion. They doubled nicely as fire pokers, and even worked for roasting marshmallos.

Carina is shown here in front of our tent, where we spent three nights while in Zion Nation Park. The temperatures in Zion were thus:

At daybreak, the temp was around 80 degrees, and it cooled off a little more until about 8am, when it began its climb up the scale onece again. It hit 90 by 10am, and by 12 it was over 100 degrees. The high each day was between 110 and 113, and one day enjoyed an unusual pairing with 40% humidity. Bleh.

Just before the 9pm sunset, when we found ourselves preparing dinner, the weather had cooled down to the high 90s, and we went to bet at dark, around 10pm, to an outside temperature of 90+ degrees. Yech. We began the first night with our rain fly on, but that lasted for about 10 minutes. We tore that badboy off and finally began to enjoy a light breeze around midnight.

The wind cooled things off enough to sleep by then. And even thought the overnight temperatures seemed merciful by comparison, our nights were the most unpleasant part of the trip. During the days, we kept cool by playing in the water, drinking cold water, etc, and we were plenty distracted with lots of neat stuff to look at and climb and wonder at. But lying on top of the nylon sleeping bag, fairly stuck to it anywhere skin was bare, was pure misery.

If you've never seen Zion canyon, we encourage you to add it to your list of places to see before you die. But we would strongly discourage camping there in July.

And this deer was in our campsite a few times daily. Pretty tame dude. We could get within ten feet of her before she'd start to show any sign of being worried what we were doing.
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EFY Girls

When we picked up Wes and he showed us all his pictures, Maddie queried "Were there any guys at EFY?!'

Wes and some cute girl.

A couple of cute girls.

Some more cute girls.

And some more cute girls.

Wes' experience at EFY was fantastic. I think he learned some things about himself, and what things are really important. And, I think he enjoyed the company of his newfound female 'friends.'

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Wes really enjoyed Especially for Youth. Here he is pictured with his 'company' in front of the dorms at Heritage Halls.

The counselors were stellar, with Steve being a total stallion.

Wes met some great guys, this one from Upland. Conner and he really hit it off, especially since they are both water polo players.

And, of course, there was Marshall. The two had a great time, and discovered a few things together. Among other things, they learned that dances can be pretty sweet.
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There is beauty all around

Some shots of the sights downtown. Pictured here are the tabernacle and courthouse.  It was a beautiful day!
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Sunday Afternoon

What to do on a Sunday afternoon? We had already gone to church, at our old ward in Provo. Hardly recognized a soul! But it was still fun to go back there. Wesley and Maddie were both blessed in that building. And I did get one update on one of the 11-year-old scouts I used to lead: he was getting married in the Los Angeles Temple in three days! And who says miracles don't happen anymore?

We decided to go for a walk around downtown Provo. When I say we, I mean Andrea and I. You can see here how popular the plan was with the kids.

We walked to Center and University to see the Tabernacle and the courthouse.

The old architecture is beautiful and stately.

Zach climbed a tree and catnapped.
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We stayed in downtown Provo for a few days. The kids had a great time at the hotel.

They had an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. Of course, they swam in both.

And Wes had to keep up his killer physique.

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Back in Arizona

On our way up to Utah, we crossed through the corner of Arizona, where the Virgin River cuts through 'The Gorge.' Our kids begged to get out and set foot, once again, in their beloved Arizona.

We hiked down a small trail to the river, and the kids tooks their shoes off and waded across and through the river. The temperature outside was blazing hot, and the river felt like bathwater.

Andrea shot some pics, and this one looks like it could be a postcard.

After about 30 minutes, we got back in the wagon and carried on.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Hooray! Fireworks!

We visited Diego and Jennifer for the 4th. How did we feel about that night? The cute boy with the binoculars says it all. Aren't they so beautiful?
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