Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Quick Run in Cathedral Gorge State Park

 On our way to Las Vegas, my husband and I stopped at Miller Point, part of Cathedral Gorge State Park. It was a lovely February day, and we needed to stretch our legs. So I challenged my husband to a little run.

The badlands scenery made it extra enjoyable.

From Miller Point we entered the badlands, descending numerous stairs and running on a faint trail.

It was pretty easy to tell where we were going. Plus I kept slowing down to take photos. Fortunately with all the light the shutter speed was fast so they didn't turn out too blurry!

I could spend so much time here, looking at all the erosion patterns.

Soon we were out of the badlands and things were flattening out.

We reached a trail junction in just over four minutes.

 Then it was time to turn around and run back up hill!

That was quite a bit harder, as I panted up the stairs. Nevertheless, I was so glad to get my blood flowing and wake up a bit. From here it's 2.5 hours to Las Vegas if you head south. And if you head north, it's 2.5 hours to Great Basin National Park or Ely. So this is a perfectly timed diversion.

In the summer it can get really hot. But in the other seasons it's fantastic. We've added it to our camping list, and hopefully we can explore the state park more thoroughly soon! As an added bonus, they have some pipe caves eroded into the badlands.
Till next time!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Checking Out the New Calves

 The heifers have been calving for over a month, and I've been wanting to take a closer look. Finally we had an opportunity on President's Day. Cousin Clay took the kids and me out to look at them.

I think one of the reasons I like looking at the new calves is that they seem to have a lot of fun, running around and playing.

And they look a little funny, but in a cute way.

The calves spend a lot of time nursing, which means mom needs good food.

Our next task was to take some hay to the pasture that's in between the Circle Field, where the heifers give birth, and the Lane Pasture, which is where they go when they're about a week old. In between they spend a night, and they need some extra food. Clay backed up the truck to a pile of hay and lifted the heavy bales on board.

The human kids are always playing games, too, in this case hide-n-seek.

Almost done!

The kids had discovered some old hay and couldn't resist playing on it.

Then it was time to load up.

I drove in circles in the pasture while the kids helped Clay push off the hay.

The fun wasn't over yet. One heifer had gotten sick and wasn't producing enough milk, so her calf needed extra milk. Clay mixed up some milk supplement and the kids happily fed the little one.

They needed a little guidance on how to hold the bottle correctly so the nipple would stay on.

What fun!

And the calf was certainly happy.

What a wonderful couple of hours. Thanks, Clay!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Climbing at Ibex

 Once we had eaten breakfast and woken up a little more after our night camping on the Tule Hardpan, the kids were ready to go scrambling. We just opened the door of the trailer and one minute later were on the rocks. That's why I love camping, you're right there at the fun places!

The kids were seriously into exploring and we parents had a hard time keeping up! I could feel my quadriceps burn with all the ups and big steps. It felt good to get some exercise.

Here is Desert Boy disappearing inside a boulder.

When he could choose to climb or walk around a section, he always chose climbing. We were thinking we should have had them put helmets on.

The views were spectacular, and I kept stopping to take photos. (Maybe that's why I couldn't keep up.)

We were at the bottom of the Quartermoon tower.

We could see a glimpse of water out on the lakebed.

Going around the corner, we could see that the rock island was perhaps really an island. With how dry it's been recently, we were surprised to see the standing water. We had wanted to go bike riding out there, but figured we might have to take an alternate route.

What the kids wanted to do next, though, was to do some real rock climbing. So we used James Garrett's book West Desert to locate an easier climb a bit to the south. It's been so long since I've done real rock climbing! I geared up and led the sport climb, and then it was time for the kids. Desert Boy couldn't wait. He took a slightly easier line on the side.

Moving around to where he was supposed to be.

Then it was Desert Girl's turn. She was definitely nervous, but willing to give it a go.

Look how high she got! She had to be talked through trusting the rope and coming down, but she liked it enough that she did it again, as did Desert Boy.

Hurray for climbing! It was a little scary, but oh, so much fun! I'm hoping to do more this year. Time to practice on my rock climbing pull up board and develop those little muscles in my fingers.

We looked at another climb and then decided it was lunchtime. Back at the trailer, the north wind had strengthened significantly, rocking the trailer. We ate quickly, fearing we might tip over with the 50 mph gusts. Biking was out of the question, so we packed up and left. But we weren't totally done with Ibex. We headed to a rock outcropping to the north to look for a geocache.

Desert Boy found it and enjoyed exchanging trinkets.

The rocks on the mini rock outcrop are the same as the main Ibex cliffs. This would be a great place for more exploring (or a game of hide'n seek).

We searched for one more geocache on the way home.

We didn't find it, but we did find our first wildflower of the year. In February!

Monday, February 16, 2015

First Night Out Camping in 2015

 With the amazingly warm winter we've been having (sorry East Coast and Midwest!), we decided that we'd start our 2015 Desert Survivor Get-Out-And-Camp Challenge early. Our goal for this year is 12 nights out. Last year the kids got 11, and they are pretty determined to meet the challenge this year. The high was 70 degrees that day (average high for this time of year is about 40) and the low was supposed to be 35. We decided to give our old camping trailer a try, and the kids spent a few hours cleaning it and my husband spent a few hours doing important stuff like making sure the lights were connected and we had a spare tire. Meanwhile, I spent a few hours packing. Camping preparation always takes longest for the first trip of the year!

Finally we were ready and we headed to Ibex Cliffs, about 50 miles west of Delta, Utah. It's a renowned climbing area and the site of a dry lake bed. We arrived in the dark and just parked on the dry lake bed. We could see a couple other campfires along the old shoreline.

I couldn't resist going for a walk and admiring the night sky.

The trailer is small and cozy, and we had fun getting used to it.

During the night the wind started blowing hard and everything started rattling. Fortunately my husband had brought three screw jacks, so the trailer didn't feel like it was going to tip over. But none of us slept that great. Nevertheless it was still a joy to wake up in a different place in the morning. Henry and I went for a morning walk to photograph first light. Here are our shadow selfies, with the cliffs in the background:
We're giants!

The early morning light really illuminated some of the tracks across the playa.

Nevertheless, I could find some undisturbed cracked mud. I love the patterns.

When we arrived back to the trailer, the kids had woken up and were cuddling with dad (below the water stains--we have to treat the trailer gingerly as it's had some stress).

Then we continued on our day's adventures…to be continued.
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