On my last day in Moab, in August 2016, I went on a couple of hikes outside of the National Parks. My first stop was to Grandstaff Canyon (which at the time had been called Negro Bill Canyon, but has recently been renamed), home of Morning Glory Arch.
From the parking area on Utah Scenic Byway 128, I hiked up the canyon to Morning Glory Arch and followed the same route back. The trail was sandy and crossed a stream many times. There was also plenty of vegetation and shade. The hike was 4.5 miles with very little elevation and took me 2:15 to complete.
After breaking down my weekend campsite I made the short drive to the Grandstaff Canyon trailhead, arriving at 9:00 am. The temperature was in the 70s and the skies were finally clear. I could tell Grandstaff Canyon was a popular spot as there were already a half a dozen cars in the lot.
On the second day of the National Parks Centennial weekend I drove from my campground in Moab to Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. Again my goal was to hike a long, primitive trail, so I headed across the park to Upheaval Dome.
Syncline Loop Trail was a 8.5 mile hike around Upheaval Dome. I followed it counter-clock-wise until I reached the junction with Upheaval Dome Spur Trail. I followed the spur trail toward the center of Upheaval Dome, but stopped short and turned around. Back at Syncline Loop Trail I continued around to the parking lot. Before finishing, I hiked to the First Overlook to look down into the crater. The complete hike was about 10.5 miles and took 6 hours to finish. The terrain was mostly desert, but there was varying vegetation in Syncline Valley, and steep descents and ascents over large boulders into Upheaval Canyon.
The drive from Moab to Island in the Sky was a beautiful drive. The road switchbacked up the mesa’s wall where the horizon fell away and provided spectacular views in most directions. Rain clouds were threatening, but that resulted in cooler temperatures.
In August 2016 I travelled to Salt Lake City, Utah, for a conference. The following weekend was the National Park Service’s centennial and the entrance fees to all parks in the country were free. I rented a car and drove down to Moab for the weekend to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.
I didn’t want to do the most popular spots as I would be visiting the parks in 2017 with my family. l also wanted to target the more primitive and long trails. So, when I arrived in Arches I enjoyed the amazing drive to the far end of the park to Devil’s Garden.
For this hike I took the main trail toward Landscape Arch and followed the primitive trail loop from there. I also took side trails to Private Arch and Dark Angel. The hike was about 6.5 miles with little elevation change. The terrain was loose sand through desert and washes with a few scrambles over slick rock and over sandstone fins (future arches, they say). The hike took me 3.5 hours and was very hot and dry.
After enjoying the gorgeous drive through Arches National Park, one of my favorite drives, I arrived at Devil’s Garden parking lot late in the morning.
A Look Back on 2017
2017 has come and gone and now is the time to reflect on all that was accomplished or not. This year was definitely one of the more exciting years for me adventure-wise. But, looking back on my goals from the end of last year I’ve noticed that this year also appeared to be a transition year for me. More on that in a bit. First, here’s a rundown of my goals for the year and whether or not I attained them:
2017 was a crazy year for me, so it was really hard to select just 10 photographs. While I was trying to showcase a variety of locations, all of the photos came from my family’s month of touring the National Parks and from my 10-day hike of the John Muir Trail. I haven’t blogged about these adventures yet, so look forward to reading those posts in 2018.
#10 – Fly fishing in Lyell Canyon
Yosemite National Park, California
A friend of mine is big into fly fishing and was pumped to bring his rod with him on our John Muir Trail hike in August. We didn’t stop to fish very often, but on day four of the hike we took a break so he could try for some Brook Trout in the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. I caught him mid-cast in this photo. The river was crystal clear and in the background the snow-covered mountains that form the border between Yosemite National Park and Ansel Adams Wilderness can be seen. Overhead storm clouds were gathering which would rain on our lunch.
Fly fishing in Lyell Canyon
My first big, multi-day hike was a three day Pemigewasset Loop in July 2013 with a great group of friends. I decided that I wanted to push myself a little and attempt the Pemi Loop in a single day. Or, since I started in the evening, in a 24-hour period. I would be doing the hike solo, and with just a hammock and emergency bivy if I was forced to stop.
Since I had hiked Franconia Ridge plenty, I decided to set out clockwise from Lincoln Woods. That way I would do Franconia Ridge at night and the Bonds during daylight. I also decided to stick just to the Loop, no side hikes to Galehead or West Bond (or the further but attainable North Twin and Zealand).
One of the best perks of my job is what we call PGL: Personal Growth Leave. Starting during our 10th year and every following 5 years we must take a mandatory month off with pay (4 consecutive weeks). This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I started at my job. My first PGL starts now.
My wife was also able to get the month off and in another 5 years my older son may be off to college and starting his own life. So, my family decided that this was our opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime to see some of the most beautiful locations in our country. We are taking the whole month of July and driving around the country to visit national parks, cities and other choice locations.
- Wanderlust Headquarters
- Niagara Falls
- Denver, CO
- Moab, UT & mountain biking, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Zion National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park (north rim)
- Death Valley National Park
- Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Crater National Park
- Portland, OR
- Seattle, WA
- Glacier National Park
- Yellowstone National Park & white water rafting, Grand Tetons National Park & horseback riding
- Mount Rushmore
- Badlands National Park
- Madison, WI
- Chicago, IL
- Cuyahoga National Park
It’ll be a mad dash and by the end I suspect we’ll be more tired than we started. But hopefully we’ll be making memories that will last our lifetimes. Stories that we’ll tell when we gather for the holidays. Adventures that our kids can recreate with their kids.
Eventually there will be a slew of blog posts from the trip, but until then stay tuned to my social media locations for photos, updates and more.