EASTER BUNNIES AND A BIRTHDAY

6 04 2010

We woke up on Easter morning to wonderful views of Glen Canyon and Lake Powell from our campsite. We packed up and tried to find someone that we could pay for our stay but had no luck, it seemed as if everything was closed, possibly due to the holiday or maybe we where too early. We where having trouble figuring out what time is was for a couple of days as we kept crossing back and forth from areas on mountain time to places in the pacific time zone and to complicate things further Arizona doesn’t use daylight savings time so we just gave up and left our watches set for mountain time, I think. After leaving camp we treated ourselves to a big breakfast at Denny’s before continuing on to a place called Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon is one of the most spectacular slot canyons in the world featured in innumerable photos, magazines and books. It is located in a Tribal Park which charges the  ridiculous fee of $26 per person for a tour. Now of that $26 only $6 goes to the Navajo and the rest goes to the land owner which I think is a bit extreme but there really is no other way to experience one of the most interesting geological features of the west. I am not usually a fan of tours and would prefer to explore things on my own. I do realize that a good tour guide could provide a wealth of information that you are not likely to find on your own even with a guide-book but overall most guides I wind up with seem uninspired and shuffle you through like the hundreds of others they guide everyday. On my own I usually wind up discovering something completely unexpected which turns out to be the highlight of my visit to someplace. Well as far as Antelope Canyon goes, you are required to take a tour because of an incident involving a flash flood in which 11 people died in 1997. Well although I would much had prefered to explore on my own, our tour guide Emily turned out to be wonderful, we where in a group of 11 people who all rushed through to the end except for Justyna and I and another couple. Emily let us take our time, pointed out good photo locations and showed us some of the named formations found inside the deep recesses of the canyon. Over all we had a wonderful time and got a lot of great photos. The wife of the other couple we met happened to be a doctor from China and when we said we are planning on traveling there in a couple of months she was delighted and wrote down about ten or so great places we should visit while we are there. 

Antelope Canyon

 

Antalope Canyon 

Justyna In Altalope Canyon

 

From the Canyon we took a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam. I have always been inspired by big civil engineering projects and have been awed by what we humans are capable of, this however always seems to clash with my love of nature and the outdoors. This is a topic I will likely explore later especially when I get to Asia because there is no place where this is more evident than in China where you can witness the changes happening at an unparalleled pace. The Glen Canyon Dam was interesting and after some stringent security our tour guide Curtis Slim (yeah no kidding that was his name) took us out on top of the dam and then down to the power house. The dam is the fourth highest in the US at 710 feet and holds back the waters of the water of the Colorado River to form Lake Powell. The Power plant generates 1300MW of electricity and is being upgraded so they had one of the generators disassembled which I thought was really neat because I am a kind of a technology geek. 

Glen Canyon Dam

 

Power House At Glen Canyon

 

The area has been experiencing a drought for quite a while and as a result Lake Powell was about 80′ lower than its full pool elevation which has exposed a lot of Glen Canyon that no one thought they would ever see again. 

Lake Powell

 

From the dam we drove west in hopes of doing a hike in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument but it wound up that all the roads to the trailheads where impassable for anything less than a high clearance 4WD. Although I considered it for a minute, after checking the look Justyna was giving me I decided otherwise. We continued on to a town called Kanab where we stopped at a cool little gear shop whose owner told us about a nice little cliff to climb, located a few mile up the road. Before we checked out the cliff we decided we wanted some wine for camp and asked around only to find out we could not buy any in Utah on Sunday so we took a chance and drove to the border of Arizona which was only 5 miles south and sure enough there was a liqueur store there. I only bring this up because it was one of the strangest places I have ever been.  Inside was a long dimly lit room with boxes, all sorts of junk piled everywhere and it was a real project just trying to navigate around to one of the shelves without knocking something over. There was an old woman who looked frozen in time behind a register with a dog on the floor and cats roaming around. Nothing was priced so you just asked her and she seemed to know what everything cost. Well we bought a cheap bottle and headed back north. We found the cliff the shop owner had mentioned and even though it was late decided to try to get a couple of climbs in. We set up a rope and began to climb a route with two vertical cracks running up it. This type of climbing is called obviously ” crack climbing” and is not something we have much of where we climb back home so it was a great place to practice. The climb was about 60′ tall, overhung slightly and really hard. I threw my self at the climb and thrashed my way to the top taking a fall in the middle, Justyna however managed to find a much better way to climb the route and although it took nearly everything she had she finessed her way to the top without falling. I then took one more shot and nearly vomiting from exertion before making it to the top cleanly. After the climb we drove through Zion and camped back at our favorite free campsite near the river. 

Our Favorite Camp Stop

 

The next morning on Justyna’s birthday there was a storm brewing so we decided to try to get some climbing in before the rains came. We took a shuttle bus into the park to a cliff  at the base of some 2000′ walls of rock. We wanted to practice our crack climbing skills so we found a couple of lines that looked nice and set up a rope. The routes wound up being very hard. Crack climbing is full contact climbing you use everything you can to get up the route including wedging any body part you can into the crack in hopes of upward progress. This is called jamming. 

A Hand Jam

 

Me Climbing A Crack In A Corner

 

Justyna Climbing

 

Justyna Exiting A Roof

 

Climbing Gear / Protection

 

A Properly Placed Cam / Piece Of Protection

 

Justyna Pumped After A Successful Climb

 

The wind in Zion began to really whip up, sand blasting us and it started to rain so we decided to pack up and head back to Vegas to celebrate Justyna’s birthday. We drove through a lot of rain before stopping at REI to pick up some ne climbing shoes for Justyna, she wore hers out, and arrived at the Red Rocks Resort which turned out to be one of the nicest places we have ever stayed, with a beautiful view of the lights of Vegas from our very nice 16th floor room. 

Red Rocks Resort

 

The Red Rocks Lobby

 

The Birthday Girl At Her Favorite Slot Machine

 

We got cleaned up before gambling for a while and having a little dinner. We enjoyed a very nice nights sleep in a comfortable bed and we are now getting ready to head back out into the wilderness for a few days. We think we are going to head west towards the Eastern Sierra Nevada. It may be a little while before I can post again as we are planning on setting up camp somewhere and staying for a few days just to enjoy being away from it all.

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3 responses

27 04 2010
Vanda Surova

Hello guys! You must have the best time of your life . Happy Birthday Justyna!!! Great pics, Mia says hello. Vanda and Mia

9 04 2010
Mom and Dad and Maggie

Looks like you had a great day for Justyna,s birthday. The pictures of Antelope Canyon are just beyond words and remind me of a georga okeefe painting. Stay safe.

8 04 2010
Jodi

Happy Birthday, Justyna! New boots, some slots, a swank hotel, and comfy bed for the night–what else could a girl want for her big day?!

Loved your pics of Antelope Canyon–so pretty, and Glen Canyon peeking its head out where the lake has dried out.

Happy trails to you…

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