Sunday, April 29, 2012

Up to the Snow

 I'm taking fire training this weekend, so I took Friday off so I could spend more time with the kids. We decided to go up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive at Great Basin National Park, as the road had recently opened and I was eager to look at the high country. Anna and Evan joined us, and on the ride up I thought the trees looked funny. We took a second look and found that they had icicles on them! We pulled over to take a closer look.

 Apparently the weather had been just right after our recent snow to make these wonderful decorations on nearly all the trees. It was spectacular.

 We had thought about walking the quarter-mile nature trail, but we weren't the best equipped for snow, so opted instead for the recently plowed but still closed Wheeler Peak Campground.

 The kids liked finding their very own icicles.

 The walking was easy until we  got to a shaded, icy patch.

 We found that it was so icy because the creek had jumped its banks and was making a new channel through the snow. The kids threw snowballs into the water and watched them float downstream.

 The water had carved a two-foot canyon through the snow and ice. It was moving fast and sure looked cold!

 Around on the other side of the meadow we found a bit of color.

 The snow might have only melted in this spot a few days ago, but the plantainleaf buttercup (Ranunculus alismifolius) couldn't wait to catch some rays.

 The aspens didn't look like they were even thinking about leafing out. Even so, this spring is so different from last year! We had so much more snow and cold all the way into June last year, and this year the campground is already plowed out before May.

 On the way back (amid complaints from Desert Boy that he was starving--I think he's going through a growth spurt!), we wrote our names in the snow and made footprints. Desert Girl and Evan had their shoes on the wrong feet, so their footprints were a little strange looking.

 Finding the biggest icicle was a fun diversion.

Then we made it back for a big snack break. Afterwards we weren't quite ready to leave. We still had to take out the sled.

 The boys nearly crashed on their first run together.

 Evan doesn't look too sure of this bigger hill. It's slightly higher than the picnic table behind them that's mostly covered with snow.

 Then Desert Girl decided she wanted to get in on the fun.

 Their expressions are priceless!

 I'm not sure if these kids know how lucky they are! I grew up in such a flat spot that I called a three-foot high rock on the other side of the block my mountain. These kids have such an awesome backyard!

It's cooled off this weekend, but I don't think the snow will be around for much longer. This could be the last sledding trip for awhile. It was great to have one more winter adventure and then descend 5,000 feet in elevation and enjoy the warm spring weather.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Our Lexington Arch Adventure

 Last weekend the weather was perfect for our first camping trip of the season. After spending a good part of the day with friends, we set up our camp, which coincided nicely with Desert Girl's nap. Once she woke up, I was itching to explore, so the kids, our dog Henry, and I went off to explore an abandoned road.

 It went toward this intriguing looking canyon. Oh, the fantastic limestone to explore! The old road branched, and we went uphill.

The track eventually stopped, right near a pile of snow. I told the kids they shouldn't sit in the snow, but they did anyway. The are still excited by snow! They were even more excited by the candy snack I gave them--a real treat.

 When we got back to camp, it was time to start the much-awaited fire. Here's my one-match fire, nothing artificial added.

 The kids were enthralled. I saw how fast the old sagebrush wood was burning and went to gather more!

I didn't manage to get many photos of the campsite, I was just ready to relax. Sleep was so-so, as it usually is in a tent! Henry started howling in the middle of the night, and we guessed that a mountain lion was close by. Fortunately it wandered off eventually and Henry stopped howling.

 The next morning it was time to go for a hike, and as it had been years since we had gone up to Lexington Arch, that's where we headed (it's actually a bit farther than what the sign says--and 800 foot elevation gain, so it's not a super fast hike).

 I liked this little plant. (Still need to look it up!)

 The views were great, with the layers of mountains stretching out towards the valley.

 Here are my husband and Desert Boy on one of the many switchbacks. I carried Desert Girl most of the way on my back. That was a good workout! Finally we arrived at the scenic overlook.

 The mighty 75-foot tall limestone arch. Someday I want to come photograph it at dusk or dawn, and had even thought about it for this trip, but sleep took priority.

 Desert Boy was happy to get to the overlook, as it was our designated snack stop.

 The clouds were building, but no rain was predicted so we continued up to the arch.

 We found more snow, but it was a warm day (especially for April), so it was welcome.

 We stopped at the bridge to take photos. In big snow years water flows under the bridge, but not this year.

 The last few switchbacks were tough, but we made it!

 It's thought that an ancient cave was at the site, and the arch is all that remains of it. I found what looked like old broken-off cave formations in the rock. It's fun to imagine what the cave would have been like.

 We tried for a family picture with the self-timer.

 I like the spire off to one side of the arch. It gives it some extra character.

 We had the arch all to ourselves. It felt really remote.

Then I had the bright idea that instead of taking the regular trail back, we could take the old trail back. It hasn't been used for about 25 years, but I had found parts of it a few years back. And I had conveniently forgotten how hard it was.

 The first part was really steep, but the views of the arch were great.

 We had some nice hiking through sage and forest alongside the snow-covered ravine. We had to go around big trees and fallen trees that covered the trail.

 But then it got really tough, with thickets of rose and willow that forced us to go up on the hill and do more bushwhacking, which was a real challenge with little kids. Fortunately my husband was able to wrangle them through the worst of it.

We kept hoping we would get to the end, but the canyon kept going and going. We were tired!

Finally we got to an old mine that was near the end (my photos didn't turn out so well).

 Desert Boy managed to catch a lizard, which was a highlight.

 Here, mom, check this out!
We went by this old cabin, which was really cool. It was built lincoln-log style, without nails. That gives you an idea of how old it is! I wonder how long it took the miners to build and how long they stayed in it. We were feeling remote, but they must have really felt like they were out in the boonies.

 Finally we got to the end. We won't be coming down from Lexington Arch that way again!

Seeing the truck gave Desert Boy and my husband a second wind and they rode their bikes back to the campsite, which was another adventure involving crashes. But all ended up well, and all our rose thorn scratches have healed and we can start planning our next camping trip!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Millard County Cosmic Ray Center

I've passed the Lon and Mary Watson Millard County Cosmic Ray Center in Delta, Utah many times, and finally I decided it was time to stop and take a look. It's open Monday through Friday from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. The cosmic ray center has been there since 2006, but the visitor center portion opened in the fall of 2011.

Inside, visitors are greeted to a pleasant space with signs around the walls explaining why the University of Utah and about 30 other universities from China, Russia, Korea, Belgium, and the United States are studying cosmic rays.

I have a more detailed post about what they're studying, some fun photos, and my amazingly wonderful wit here. (Are you still reading this post? Why haven't you clicked on that link yet??)

Okay, to continue...(now that you surely have read my previous post)...

One wall is dedicated to the Topaz Internment Camp, where thousands of Japanese-Americans were locked up during World War II without ever being charged with anything. The camp was just a few miles outside of Delta, and you can learn a lot more about it here.

The Topaz Museum was just awarded a large grant to build a new museum, which will help better tell the story of what happened in one of the darker chapters of American history.

 So, if you're in Delta on a weekday in the middle of the day, stop by this small visitor center and learn a little more about the history, the science, and more about the area. You can also get your very own Telescope Array Project t-shirt (only $5 when I stopped in, what a deal!). Check out the Telescope Array's website for more details.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Rocky Hike

 On the way back from my triathlon in Orem last weekend (it was great, I really felt good on the bike portion, which was a nice change), we stopped at a rocky outcropping. Where I grew up in the Midwest, we would call this a mountain, but out here in Basin and Range territory, we get a little picky about what we call mountains.

Desert Boy wanted to go for a hike, and I've always wanted to explore this rock. So we took the road less traveled, went through the gate, and drove up the two-track road. Then we piled out of the van and started up.

 The storm clouds added drama to the stark scenery. Beams of sunlight highlighted limestone cliffs pocked with holes. Could any of them be caves?

 I really loved the clouds. I figured it might start raining before too long, so we couldn't dawdle. My goal was to get to the top of the rock. But when we decided we couldn't get to the top with the kids safely, we went to plan B: walk around the rock outcropping.

 Desert Boy enjoyed the rock climbing challenges.

I enjoyed taking photos.

 We found that there were ledges most of the way around the rock outcropping, and that made for relatively easy hiking.

 Most of the ground looked brown, but I found a few bright colors from small desert wildflowers, like the purple Arabis above, blue flax, yellow bladderpod, and orange globemallow.

 The desert looked so big.

 We found a little alcove that was cool.

 Here's another view of that alcove. Maybe it isn't so little!

The way the rock has eroded away makes for some interesting shadows.

Sometime we'll go back with helmets, harnesses, and a rope and see if we can get to the top. It doesn't look that hard to go up, but I'd like Desert Boy and Desert Girl to have a belay for the way down.

Now every time we drive past this rock, I'll think of the great lighting we had during our hike around it and our little adventure.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

blogger templates