Hiking Zion…

Soon, so soon, I will have to get back into the standard routine of up early, write early, think early, eat early. I am not an early person. I can do it if I have to…trust me, on this trip, there were times we had to be up early to hike before heat or beat the crowds, and I did it, but sleep sometimes is so hard to get that it almost hurts. This morning, I am so tired, and it’s not even that early…tomorrow it will be two hours earlier, and my body is already protesting. Part of that is staying up too late, of course. Whoops. My bad. Good reasons though.

But I do have a meeting today and will have to leave soon (hence the not sleeping in until I really want to wake up, although really, the cats were already like, BIATCH WHY YOU NO FEED ME, so there was no hope).

I went through the 3000 pictures I took on the trip (I don’t really know how many there were) and pulled some I thought were especially good. I posted a brief run-through of the trip a few days ago after the most amazing shower in the world (not the shower itself, the physical stall in a bathtub…it wasn’t that awesome…it was just an amazing shower because I was so dirty by the time I got to it). Here’s the first two days, extended dance mix.

We left early in the morning, drove through Riverside and Las Vegas, and killed an inordinate amount of butterflies, it was truly disturbing.

I feel to atone I will need to plant my yard with whatever plants they eat and then get a bunch of caterpillars and let them feed off my yard. Because it was horrific.

On the way to Vegas, we stopped at Seven Magic Mountains…not because it’s totally amazing…but because it was weird…

It was also virtually impossible to avoid all the selfie people and people in general in this photo…

Definitely an interesting start to a trip that was all about rocks.

We drove all day, pretty much, checked into our bunkhouse, and then drove into Zion to check it out, hopefully get a map, and figure out what we were going to do the next day. It did actually bring a tear to my poor little eye, driving into the park and seeing those towering rocks. We did a short hike to make up for being in the car for hours…

and checked out the view…

From a little further back even…

Yeah. That.

And on the way back to the car, saw our first of many mule deer…

Oh hai! Sorry. Go back to eating that bush. Tree. Whatever it is.

We talked to the ranger at the entrance, and he said to make it into the visitors’ center parking lot, we needed to be there before 8. OK. We can do that.

This is, of course, how we end up making sausage and eggs on a barbecue outside at 6 in the morning. Ugh.

The different lights of Zion…

We didn’t camp in the park because apparently the tent caterpillars are awful this time of year. We did see lots of caterpillars. We’re hoping they all survived, to make up for the deaths we perpetrated on the way out there, even though it’s not the same butterfly dammit.

So the night before, we decided we would hike the Angel’s Landing trail until just before the crazy part, the single-file part. We decided to do it first, because it’s the hardest thing we wanted to do. We were on the trail early, around 8 AM, with this deer…

There were others. The hike starts in the bottom of the canyon, and then it climbs.

It climbs about 1000 feet to Scout Lookout, and then another 500 feet for the Angel’s Landing part. It’s also a higher elevation than we’re used to, so we took it as slow as we had to. Basically, that’s how we did every hike this trip. At the appropriate speed for us.

A view of the valley…you can see some of the trail we’re climbing on the bottom right.

Part of the trail that climbs up…this is the easier part.

Much easier in shade too…the full heat of a summer’s day? I wouldn’t be able to hike this…looking down at what we’ve climbed up…

There were quite a few people on this trail.

The valley again…see the trail to the left of those people? Yes, we started down there.

Beautiful views as the sun starts to come into the valley. And we’re still smiling…

At this point, we’re on the 21 switchbacks that make up Walter’s Wiggles…looking down, you can see a bunch of the switchbacks.

It was slow going, but we went.

And finally at the top…

Well, at Scout Lookout, which is where we stopped. The Virgin River where we started…

The rock face in front of us…

And the crazy people who aren’t scared of heights and don’t mind waiting forever for a space to keep moving.

I’m sure it’s cool. I just wasn’t gonna do it. I am afraid of heights. So there.

The sun peaking over the rock walls…

Then we explored the rest of the park until we couldn’t handle badly behaved tourists any more.

This is on the Riverside Walk…down to the Narrows.

The Narrows had too much water flow to hike down it. But I’d do that. Another day.

This fat squirrel perched in a tree…

Eat your greens.

On one of the flatter hikes we did…

An afternoon view of the rocks now…

At this point, it was much warmer, although still only in the high 70s. It felt warmer than that though.

This is the Lower Emerald Pool…

There were many closed trails and the main road through Zion was closed for repairs, so we’d have to come back to see the rest of it. The people made it hard, though…not on the first trail, but everywhere else. There should be a trail etiquette class required before you can come in a National Park, I think. Although Zion was the worst for that.

Anyway, more later…I have to leave in 5 minutes. We spent one full day and an hour or two of another day in Zion, and we could have spent a whole ‘nother day, no problem. Good to know.

Art on Vacation…

I’m totally off schedule now on blogging. I downloaded about a million pictures this morning, but can’t get my head around most of them yet, so let’s keep it simple. I did artsy stuff while traveling. I drew all but two nights, mostly in campgrounds. Which is a cold and dark thing to do, let me tell you. But easier to see than trying to embroider in the dark on black fabric.

So the drawings…the first night, we drove from San Diego all the way to Zion National Park. We stayed about 25 minutes outside the park, but my first night was obviously influenced by driving in and seeing the rocks…brought tears to my eyes when we drove into Zion. The skirts that the rocks make, the sedimentary lines…I’d been seeing them all day. The moon was almost full.

And we saw our first of many deer that evening.

The second drawing was after a full day of approximately 14 miles of hiking in Zion. I don’t fall asleep easily, but the man does. So I sat and embroidered in the semi-dark (and then drew myself embroidering, which is just weird) while he slept…hands over head because the neighbors had their TV on too loud.

That was pretty realistic…except the room had no rugs…just cold concrete floors. Rugs, people!

Then the next night, we were freezing our asses off in a campground near Bryce National Park…there were lows in the mid-30s. The man made a fire behind me, and I drew the hoodoos I’d seen while we went to all the overlooks.

The next night was still cold, although it didn’t seem AS cold, probably because we were smart and put on three layers of all the warm things before we even started dinner. I had a glove on the non-drawing hand. I apparently can’t draw with a glove on. We’d spent the day hiking down into the canyon (which is an amphitheater, not a canyon at all)…and then around the rim, for a total of 9 1/2 miles or so…this time, the hoodoos were above me and there were twisty trees everywhere.

One of the weirder ones. The next day, we drove to Arches National Park, to a slightly warmer, but much rockier campground inside the park, and no wood or alcohol (should plan ahead in Utah, people, or drink beer and burn your clothes…whichever works for you). How beer and Mikes Hard Lemonade are acceptable drinks to the lord, and wine is not, I will never understand. Don’t even argue alcohol percentages with me.

Anyway, that night, sans fire, I drew this, a conglomerate of everything we saw that day, driving through Capitol Reef National Park and Escalante/Grand Staircase National Monument, plus over some pass with aspens and snow.

The last night in Arches we went from dinner straight into the tent, completely exhausted after over 11 miles of hiking in the heat, plus a rainstorm that had wind and lightning, but held that far enough away that we didn’t have to sleep in the car. So I didn’t draw.

The next night was after the most glorious shower ever (after two days of hiking hot and no shower facilities)…and after that, I drew this…

The whole trip on my mind…trees, rain, water, deer, rocks, tent, hoodoos, lightning, Balanced Rock from Arches. Plus an idiotic president and political party that don’t see the importance of our park system. Fuck them. The park staff are doing their best, but they are understaffed and underfunded, and it’s obvious. If I win the lottery, I’m giving a big chunk to the National Park system. You should too.

I didn’t draw the last night we were out. Too tired.

OK, then the embroidery. My patterns are being sold on the Global Artisans page, and soon there will be kits as well. As part of that, I need to stitch all of them. So that was one thing I did in the car…not while driving…

I had already started the Space Mother at home, but continued in the car on the first day…

I thought I might run out of the gray, so I did all of it first…then I went on to the blue…

Mostly I’m using backstitch, but I like the additional thickness of chain stitch and an occasional pile of French knots. This is the 2nd night in the bunkhouse near Zion…

She’s getting closer to done. This was right before I drew the picture of this exact scene. And this is how far I got before we left Zion.

Almost done…on the way to Bryce, I finished her…

All the fussy little bits…although I thought she was done here and then…

I decided to fill in Earth…

And her eyes. There she is sitting in the campsite while I wait to set up the tent…

She still needs to be rinsed out and ironed…then she can go on the pattern cover. So that was the first night in Bryce. She took about 10 1/2 hours to embroider.

While dinner was cooking, I traced the next one, Earth Mother with Wavy Hair, using Saral transfer paper.

With her, I was worried about running out of the flesh color. In the kits, you only get one bobbin of each color, so I have to be sure what I’m doing will allow for enough thread. Honestly, I’d probably use 20 different colors if I weren’t limited to 5.

Transferred before dinner boiled over…

This transfer paper is not the most ideal stuff. Still looking for a better option on these. I started trying to stitch that night, but black fabric made it almost impossible to do at night in camp light. So the next evening, while the man was cooking, I did some stitching.

All the flesh first…then when we left Bryce, there was so much too look at that I don’t think I stitched at all. Although there’s rainclouds…so maybe this is on the way out of Capitol Reef? Not sure.

I know I stitched in Arches though…

Yup. Eating, because blood sugar had crashed. This might have been in the morning actually…yes. Waiting for tea water to boil. Always waiting for that. Goldfish are a perfectly reasonable breakfast food. Shut up.

I didn’t get much done in Arches. Rain and all. But here’s on the drive out of Arches toward Tuba City, Arizona…

I got a lot done that day…and then retraced the lines, because they were fading, in the hotel…

Before…and after…

Still looking for a better option…

I didn’t stitch going into the Grand Canyon…I was too damn tired. And then in the canyon, didn’t stitch. This is on the way out, toward Phoenix.

I got a lot done on that afternoon. And then nothing done that night.

Driving back home, I drove the first three hours or so, but eventually traded the steering wheel for stitching. This is the hill up toward my house. Home!

Damn stuff is already starting to fade. I have the flowers on her arm to do, the bronchial tubes in the lungs, her eyes, the things on her face, half her hair, the jellyfish and other fish, her fingernails, her watch, and the trees on her head. That sounds like a lot. I guess it’s a lot.

I did a little last night too…trying to do a little bit at a time. So hopefully she’ll be done in the next week. I have some transfer pens coming that might help, and an idea for a better transfer paper. We’ll see.

The only other art-related thing that happened is that we stopped to see the exhibit I’m in, Things That Matter, in St. George, UT, through July. There’s a catalog available of all the pieces…

It’s a really nice space…my face is so happy to be out of the car and walking around…

That’s a big quilt y’all.

OK, and I’m currently working on a new piece that I can’t show yet…but I did get it fully drawn and numbered the night before we left…it’s only 924 pieces…

There’s part of piece 133.

And when we got home yesterday, I spent about 3 1/2 hours last night tracing the first 300 pieces…

I’m hoping to do the same tonight. I guess all you will see are extreme closeups of things that make no sense. I’m OK with that.

Anyway, tomorrow, I’ll try to work on some posts of the other cool stuff we saw…because we did go to see mostly rocks and what rocks do. Which is also cool. Plus we hiked a lot. Also cool.

All About the Rocks

Wow. I think this is the longest I’ve gone without posting in years. In my defense, my cellular connectivity has been iffy as hell, if not nonexistent, for much of this trip, and when I did have it, I was busy doing something else or totally exhausted after hiking over 11+ miles a day. I realize that’s not much to some, but this old body has been running on little sleep, weird food options, and lots of climbing around for days now.

Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

That said, it’s been freakin’ awesome…a mind-blowing trip of all the different geologic formations you can get in two states (Arizona a little, but mostly Utah). I think we both decided while huddled in the tent last night during a rainstorm that we were done with camping on this trip, though, as we pinky-swore to wake the other one up if we heard thunder, so we could race to the car before lightning hit the aluminum connectors of the tent. Or the ground.

First night checking out Zion…

So this is the short version. We left last Wednesday on a long drive to Zion National Park. We originally had a reservation for the east side of the park, but they closed the road going through on April 9 to fix storm damage this winter, so I found a weird but functional place on the west side in La Verkin about a week before we left. It had a kitchenette and shared barbecues, so we used those (yes, even for pre-hike breakfasts of sausage and eggs). It’s Spring Break for about a million people, quite a few of them from other countries, and they all had the same plan for visiting Zion. We went in to the park that night to plan the hikes for the next day. We also did the Archeology Trail as a warm up for the next day…and saw our first wildlife.

Mule deer everywhere…

We got our butts up early and headed out to garner a spot in the coveted Visitor Center parking lot (you don’t wanna know how early), and then caught a shuttle to a hike I said I’d never do: Angel’s Landing. It was still morning cool, which is a good thing, because that climb and the Walter’s Wiggles with 21 switchbacks (it didn’t seem like that many) is not something I would’ve wanted to do in hot sunlight. We didn’t do the last stretch that’s single file and a chain attached to a rock wall, but we did go all the way to Scout Lookout. Some might call that chickening out…I don’t care…we did awesome.

Looking down from Scout Lookout…

From there, we caught the shuttle and did all the things we wanted to do…part of the Pa’rus Trail, the Lower Emerald Pool Trail (Upper and Kayenta were closed due to storm damage), Weeping Rock, and the Riverside Walk out to where The Narrows starts (also closed, because the water flow was high from Spring melt and rains). At that point, we’d had it with crowds of people and their bad tourist behavior. The Angel’s Landing crowd understood trail etiquette and were amazing…the shorter hikes? OMG. People. Really. So we headed back to our domicile and another barbecued dinner. We did a lot of miles that day…my app says over 14 miles that day total.

Waterfall at Weeping Rock

Friday found us driving to Bryce Canyon National Park, where we camped outside the park, because everything else was first come, first served, and we didn’t want to risk having nowhere to stay. The campground at Ruby’s Inn was quiet and the showers were free and hot, and it wasn’t as cold at night as it was originally supposed to be, but it was still pretty damn cold. We got there pretty early on Friday and set up camp, and then headed off to Bryce to check it out. I’m glad we did, because we saw a bunch of the easy stuff on Friday, thus allowing us to do a really long hike on Saturday without feeling like we had to then go look at everything else. There was snow at Bryce, most recently from like 3 days ago.

See? Snow.

Sleep was not our friend Friday night; it was just too cold. Nevertheless, we got up early again and headed out for the Fairyland loop, which goes down into Bryce and wanders around, then climbs back out (oh yes, at elevation No Oxygen for You), and then traverses the Rim Trail back to the Fairyland parking area. Wow. Great hike, but we did way more than the 8 miles it claimed.

Down in the amphitheater…

We figured a better sleeping plan on Saturday night (towels on top of the air mattress to stop the cold seeping up from the ground, even though we had a tarp that was supposed to help with that, plus three layers of clothing, and wool socks, dammit, because cold feet were an issue the night before), and got out of bed early again, expecting (rightly so) a long driving day.

I have absolutely no idea what this is a picture of, but it was on Sunday.

We made it through parts of Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument and then Capitol Reef National Park, and finally headed into Arches National Park in the late afternoon, where we actually had a reserved site. At this point, it was Easter night, and there was no firewood or alcohol to be had (both useful for keeping moods light after a long hard day of driving, plus trying to pound tent stakes into hard rock), so it was not the best night, but the morning dawned ready for a day of hikes. And hike we did.

Double Arch in Arches National Park

We were camping in Devil’s Garden, so we started on that hike, although we turned around at the rock scramble where I was like um no way, can’t do that. So we then drove through the park, stopping at just about every possible sight, attempting one longer hike at Park Avenue (way too hot in between the rocks). We made a quick trip into Moab for alcohol, ice, gas, and firewood (the necessities), but then continued on to see the rest of the arches and other bits. We made it back to the campsite, and set out on a trail marked by rock cairns to see three different arches. I think that was what put us over 11 miles that day. Awesome views though and mostly avoided stupid people.

Crazy drive at night in the rain…

We had decided to treat ourselves with dinner out (there’s only so many camp meals we know how to make before wanting to drown ourselves) , so we headed into Moab for burgers and beer (or wine, as you prefer). On the way back, in the pitch black, a rainstorm wandered in and we white-knuckled the drive all the way through the park to the campground, watching lightning strikes out there in the clouds. The campground was dry as a bone, until about 5 minutes after we arrived, when the raindrops started…and then the wind. Holy crap, everything in the car or the tent, no fire tonight! In the end, we were so tired from the day of hiking that we went to bed, no thunder ever sounded, and we slept really well. Not too cold, just right, so tired we didn’t mind any of it.

Monument Valley

There was no cell service in our campsite (further up the hill had it, but they also probably had a rougher night with the wind and the rain), so we had mapped some ideas out at dinner in Moab. Canyonlands was a possibility, but in the end, we decided to brave the crowds at the Grand Canyon. We left Arches this morning and drove through Monument Valley (we didn’t go through the actual park…that’s for another trip) on our way to Tuba City, where we actually booked a hotel room. With a shower. Because there weren’t any in Arches and I think we really needed that. So we’re clean now and have a crazy plan for tomorrow, I had my Indian Fry Bread and retraced the most recent embroidery…more about those and the daily (almost) drawings in another post. Grand Canyon tomorrow and then heading back home. It’s been a whole lot of wow and hiking our old asses off, but I think it’s been an amazing trip so far. We have a pact for tomorrow to leave the park when one of us feels like pushing someone over the rim. We know this will be just a quick view of the park, and we’ll plan another trip later.

I have graded nothing. I have dealt with very little email, due to lack of access. The world is still rotating, though, and that’s a good thing.