Friday, July 31, 2009

Oversized, community lunch boxes

In Yosemite, you are prohibited by law from leaving food, coolers, or other scented items (including toothpaste, or Chapstick) in your cars at hiking trailheads...they attract bears. If you've brought those items with you, they must be left in these bear-proof boxes. Every campsite also had them, for storage in camp.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Girls just wanna have fun

Yosemite. Day four. On a hike to May Lake, we spy a marmot pair. The bigger male scurries away as we approach, but the girl strikes a pose.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Jon will contort himself in all sorts of ways to get that perfect shot! Atop North Dome in Yosemite.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Smooth as a baby's behind...

Although the profile of the Sierra Nevada mountain range is largely rugged and jagged, Yosemite has several famous Domes that are more rounded and smooth. We hiked up North Dome. From this view, you can see its bald top.

To get there, we had to drop down this narrow, steep trail and climb back up. You can see how smooth the walls are. This trail is immediately below the foreground boulders from the first photo.

And once we hit the summit, we have great views of the smooth curve of Half Dome.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Table for one...

Our third day in Yosemite, we hiked up North Dome, which offered amazing views of its famous cousin, Half Dome. On the way back, we detoured to Indian Rock Arch.

Jon found it to be ideal outdoor seating.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The altitude has nothing to do with taking your breath away

We drove up and down Tioga Pass Road several times during our week at Yosemite. It wasn't unusual to see marmots on our hikes, but to see one on the road was a little unique. This guy poses for me, oblivious to Tenaya Lake and the soaring Sierras in the background.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Peaks AND Valleys

On our second day in Yosemite, we hiked the 8 miles from the top of Glacier Point, down to the Valley floor, on the Panorama Point trail. (Nothing like a trail that's nearly all downhill!) One description of the hike said it was like walking through a 3-D postcard of Yosemite. I couldn't agree more! The higher of the two pictured falls is Nevada Falls; the lower, Vernal Falls.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Is there a more classic view?

Our first day in Yosemite, we drove up to Glacier Point. On the way, we stopped at arguably the most popular overlook in the park. El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridal Veil Falls loom large over the Yosemite Valley. Ansel Adams had the right idea, photographing this amazing sight.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mono Lake

Near the east end of Tioga Pass Road, which leads into Yosemite, lies lovely Mono Lake. This body of water is unique in its tufa towers, which dot the lake. Mono Lake is also a natural aviary for seagulls. The shot of Jon, who is almost 6' tall, gives you an idea of the size of the towers (many were over 30 feet tall!). The sign tells how they were formed.

Answer to yesterday's "What am I" can be found here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What am I?

Consider where this blog took us yesterday. Can you figure out specifically what this is??

(Answer tomorrow...)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"How low can we go??"

It's hard to look down when you are already there. After canyoneering class, we drove from Escalante, Utah, through Death Valley National Park, on our way to Yosemite. I was tickled with the idea of being below sea level, but on dry land.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Time for a trip to the mall...

After the canyoneering class is over, we need to go shopping for new clothes. Sliding down the rocks is murder on fabrics! Here is the backside view of Jon's first-day-in-the-canyon outfit, bound for the trash...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The ultimate "grunge" photo

A canyoneering maneuver called a “partner assist” sometimes involves helping your partner down off a steep wall by allowing him (or her) to balance on your chest as you support the weight. At the end of class, Jon is pretty grungy from helping me – and others – on some of the down climbs.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Well on his way out of boyhood

Canyoneering is hard work, and takes teamwork! Nate, a fine young boy scout, was a big help to me in some of the more difficult passages. We pose for a photo (thanks, Jon, for manning the camera again) after safely making it out of the canyon.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Even grownups play "follow the leader"

In the canyon, you often follow the leader to make your way down, and through. Jon is making his way using a technique called a body bridge.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


One of the first challenges we faced in canyoneering class was how to get down this 40-foot gap. It was scary to do, but thrilling to watch. Here, our friend Jason works his way down.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And we thought we were on summer break...

We went to Escalante to attend a 3-day canyoneering school, where we learned how to safely navigate the slot canyons found throughout southern Utah. Here, Jon and our new friend Jason work to master some of the knots we need.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Calf Creek Falls

At the end of the canyon is Calf Creek Falls, which tumbles 126 feet to the canyon floor. All this water in the desert is an amazing sight!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Company on the trail

A furry jack rabbit watches us pass. His ears are much bigger than those of the cottontail rabbits back in Illinois.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Jon is dwarfed by the red rock wall we follow for most of our hike.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

One fish, two fish...

The trail follows Calf Creek, which is clear enough that we can see fish hanging out in the cool water. I think this is a trout.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Not all sand is at the beach

From Bryce Canyon, we make our way to Escalante, Utah. We spend our first afternoon hiking this sandy, three-mile trail to Calf Creek Falls. Remember the barren overlook from a few days back? This trail is deep in that canyon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nothing like the end of a long hike

Jon is the picture of relaxation as we near the end of our visit to Bryce Canyon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Not your usual idea of baked goods

Although Bryce gets a fair amount of moisture in the winter months, the hot sun and high altitude bake the soil, making me wonder how these flowers can manage to bloom so brightly.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Carving up the landscape

Winding through the hoodoos, rock formations, and red/gold dirt, we feel as though we are in nature’s sculpture garden.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Through the looking glass...sans glass

Our second day in Bryce, we hike the Fairyland Loop Trail, to get down in the canyon among the hoodoos. Many windows along the trail, caused by erosion, allow us to peek through and see more magnificent scenery beyond.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Add-a-theme: Storm

Walking back to camp along the rim trail at Bryce Canyon, I’m fascinated by the storm over a distant bluff. I’m high enough that I can see the blue sky above the rain cloud.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The passage of time

It takes hours, days, weeks, months, and years of time, water, wind and snow for erosion to shape and gnarl this old tree, and the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon beyond it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Making pictures

We arrive at Bryce Canyon National Park in the late afternoon. After setting up camp, we take a stroll along the rim walk to view the hoodoos. I come across this man, hard at work on a painted image of the glorious colors and lights spread before us in Bryce Amphitheater.

This is what his finished image should look like: (and no, the picture isn't crooked; there is a 1700 foot elevation change between the low end and the high end of the canyon rim)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Road picture!

Part of the fun of the drive along Highway 12 between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon is navigating the roads! These were all taken along the same road...amazing how the topography, colors and plant life change. Sorry so many photos...I love road pictures and couldn't choose. Which one do you like??

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Take a deep breath

The scenery along Highway 12 may seem barren, but as you’ll see later, when you descend into the canyons, there’s enough water to support life.