Category Archives: Uncategorized

Staff Rendezvous in Escalante: Coyote Gulch, Spooky and Peek-a-Boo

As the busy summer season approached for us here at Zion Adventure Company, the idea of doing a two day backpacking trip with eight staff members in an area outside of Zion felt like an unrealistic prospect. This, however, is exactly what eight of us accomplished Wednesday, April 30th and Thursday, May 1st out in Escalante (about 2.5 hours East of Zion). We spent two quality days backpacking through Coyote Gulch and literally running through both Spooky and Peekaboo Canyons all of which can be accessed down the infamous “Hole-In-The-Rock” Road. For four of us, the trip started a couple days early as we traveled out before the rest of the group to do the technical canyon, Neon (a popular route in the Escalante area for both backpackers and canyoneers). The rest of our group arrived at Water Tanks the following morning around 9:30am fully energized and amped after their 5:00am departure from Springdale. Before hitting the trail, we savagely consumed several strawberry banana muffins Rich had baked, jokingly trash talked one another for a few minutes, refilled our water from the cars and car spotted our second vehicle at the Forty Mile Ridge Trailhead. We set out for Coyote … Continue reading

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Oh Henry’s

What I really like about National Parks (and ZAC, the company I work for, for that matter), is that they make the concept of “adventure” very accessible, regardless of what people’s level of adventure is. That to say, what really inspired our staff outing to the Henry Mountains was how very inaccessible those mountains are. Bordered on the West by Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold and on the East by Utah Highway 95, they’re far enough beyond the middle of nowhere that it really is no wonder that they were the last explored and geographically mapped mountain range in the lower 48. In fact, to get there, we first had to drive many hours from anywhere to the middle of nowhere, make a right, and drive far enough that where we had previously thought was nowhere began to really feel like it was… somewhere. And then we kept driving. Mostly up. Hang a right towards that ‘road’ down there, keep driving through the canyons and up and down the mesas until you get to those mountains in the distance. Then keep driving. …But not before a stop at Hell’s Backbone Grill for breakfast and coffee. If we were going to leave … Continue reading

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Neon Canyon: Braving the Summer Heat in Escalante

Went down to Escalante for a little Neon action. It being June and all, and a hot year to boot, and knowing Neon was dry dry dry; for this trip Mike Schasch and I convinced our guests that running daytrips out of a car-camp would be a much better plan than backpacking down (and back up!) in this kinda heat. (Some pictures by ME, some pics by Mike Schasch.) This was the third and final spring Neon trip for Zion Adventure Company Mike and I ran, and each trip was very, very different. Some were inspired by the Neon Trip Jonathan and I did with Greg Aiello and Motion TV. And some were just inspired by the beauty of the Golden Cathedral, and signed on up… like Gary, Al and Dennis from the Portland Area, who are experienced mountaineers (or, at least, golfers) and therefore used to suffering (or, in Dennis’s case, frustration). First day, I reached 10 years into my past and remembered a delightful day in March I spent in upper Brimstone and upper Spooky with Larry Halford. It did not click with me that: A. I have a terrible memory; and B. March and June do not … Continue reading

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Note to Self: Bungee Cords Do Occassionally Break

Despite being a vertical sports enthusiast, I have never been a fan of bungee jumping. Besides the fact a commercial bungee jump blows your whole emotional and financial wad in a matter of 10 seconds, I just can’t get comfortable with the idea that it’s safe. Using the same equipment, over and over again, amidst so many dynamic forces seems like an accident waiting to happen. But as any bungee professional will tell you, millions of people bungee around the world each year, and rarely does anything go awry. “Bungee cords NEVER break,” a guide told me once. “It’s like a climbing rope. There’s all this hoopla about breaking strengths and fall capacity, but do you ever hear of a rope breaking?” Well, I never have heard of a climbing or rappelling rope breaking, and this argument, along with the omnipresence of bungee facilities in tourist traps around the world, led me to finally bite the bullet and take on a bungee jump a few years ago. I told myself I wasn’t bungeeing for the thrill, but rather for the peace: I wanted to see how calm and still I could be while stepping off a 400-foot precipice. As it turned out, … Continue reading

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Angels Landing the Best Way: Leave Before Dawn

It can be really cold and dark when you get on the first shuttle from the Zion Canyon Visitors Center at 5:45 a.m. When you get off at the Grotto, the wind makes it feel even colder. That works to my advantage. The earlier and more uncomfortable it is, the less likely it is that I’ll see you there. Don’t get me wrong – generally, I don’t have a problem with sharing. On most Zion trails, I don’t typically notice other hikers much. I’m far more likely to be thinking, “Wow, nothing can beat this scenery”… then rounding the next bend and thinking “OK, now nothing can beat THIS.” The Angels Landing trail is an exception. That trail just dares me to get to the top as rapidly as possible, without any rest breaks and regardless of how high my heart rate gets. I’m happy to take up the challenge, just me and the trail. Interlopers standing in the middle of the path, gaping at the scenery or gasping for breath, seem to be there precisely to aggravate me. Thus, my early and chilly start. I get off the shuttle, make sure my jacket is zipped up as far as … Continue reading

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Mountain Top Reflections: Desert Oasis

My first draft of this blog post was a detailed description of my recent Red Rock climbing trip. The salient points were, a) I am good at climbing rocks, b) I know some good places for Asian cuisine in Las Vegas, and c) I am moderately witty. Realizing I spent far too much time coloring such a story, and valuing your time, dear reader, I will spare you my narrative of rock climbing heroism, and ask you to trust me on these points. What I would rather illustrate is the notion of finding one’s self through suffering. By “one’s self,” I mean some greater understanding of who I am, or what I’m capable of. Whilst climbing last week, on the side of an obscure rock, miles from anybody besides my climbing partner, I found myself fully panicked and hyperventilating. Tiptoeing and thrutching up the face of a mountain, I surprised myself by resisting gravity over and over again. The route (Time’s Up, 5.11d) had an exclamation mark next to it in the guide book; I interpreted this as a sign of exciting climbing, and it certainly delivered. The climbing itself was not unique or terribly difficult, but the protection was … Continue reading

Posted in Autumn, Rock Climbing, Spring, Trip Reports, Uncategorized, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Video: Hip RV Roamers Spotlight Springdale

Nikki and Jason Wynn were recently in Springdale with their eco-RV (is that a contradiction in terms?) and made a nice little spotlight on our fair town. The video has been making the local email/Facebook rounds… seems like most of the locals are very pleased with the Wynns’ work. If you haven’t been to Springdale before, the Springdale episode of “Gone with the Wynns” will give you a glimpse of our slice of paradise… and perhaps your next adventure destination? So this eco-RV… It apparently gets up to 17 mpg (about the same as my Toyota Tacoma) and pulls 1/5 the battery juice of an average RV. Does that make it “green”? I don’t know, but it seems a lot better than the average 6 mph RV rolling through Springdale. Are RVs the next big thing for Gen X? Seems like a lot of folks my age are into the old Airstreams and DYI teardrop trailers, so maybe the 20-to-40 crowd is just waiting for some cool RVs to come along. But something tells me that size is a major factor, and a 31-foot vehicle might not be the answer to a true adventurer’s travel dreams. If you’re curious about the supposed world of … Continue reading

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Benson Creek Canyoneering Article in Boulder Weekly

Tom Winter writes a good general-interest canyoneering article to pique the interest of our Coloradan neighbors. Sort of nice that we chose an out-of-the-way canyon to base the article, though I’m not sure why he was so vague about the name/location. Not SURE this was Benson Creek, but that’s the only canyon I know of that matches his description out Brian Head way. Into the Earth Canyoneering the Colorado plateau By Tom Winter, for Boulder Weekly The hike started innocently enough: a well-trodden trail from a Utah campground near the small ski resort of Brianhead. Soon, though, we left the trail and started bushwhacking up a steep ridge. The terrain was rough. Loose rocks made progress difficult for those in front and dangerous for those behind, as the occasional boulder would bounce free and tumble towards the valley floor. We crested the ridge and traversed along the steep face of yet another valley, dodging the fallen trunks of pine as the dry needles crackled beneath our feet. Below us, we could see the faint reflection of water, a thin band of wetness that coursed out of the Cedar Mountains, only a foot or so wide, and inches deep. We worked … Continue reading

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Free Entry Into Zion National Park Tomorrow!

Okay, so the free entry isn’t just in Zion… it’s for ALL our national parks. So wherever you might be, set aside some time tomorrow to find a national park, monument, conservation area, seashore, river way or historic marker near you and enjoy our national treasures! Zion National Park Celebrates National Public Lands Day On Saturday, September 24, Zion National Park will join sites throughout the United States to celebrate National Public Lands Day. Efforts associated with this annual event contribute to the beauty and restoration of parks and other open spaces where the public hike, bike, climb, and explore. In celebration of this event, Zion National Park will offer free entrance to the park. Park visitors are reminded that the fee waiver is only valid on Saturday, September 24. Visitors who plan on being in the park beyond this date must pay the regular entrance fee for the remainder of their stay. The fee waiver applies to entrance fees only and does not affect fees for camping, tunnel traffic control, or backcountry permits. The public is also invited to join in a volunteer service project at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center complex. This project will include spreading mulch and pruning shrubbery throughout the visitor center area. Volunteers are asked to gather … Continue reading

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Cedar Breaks Still Under Snow at 11,000 Feet

Here’s the latest on conditions high up at Cedar Breaks. This is the snow feeding the Virgin River and The Narrows, which is why we expect The Narrows to continue to be closed through June. As this news release mentions, however, the water is great for the local ecology, and the summer wildflowers in the high country should be in top form. Deep Snow Further Delays Opening Date for Cedar Breaks National Monument CEDAR BREAKS NATIONAL MONUMENT, UTAH. Opening the park road and visitor facilities at Cedar Breaks National Monument has been delayed at least one to two more weeks. The slow melting rate and the vast amount of snow yet to be removed from roadways, parking lots, and facilities have hampered efforts to open the park. The new target date is June 17. “Visitor safety is our number one priority for deciding when to open the park ,” said Park Superintendent Paul Roelandt. “The scenic road through the park still has areas where lanes are partially blocked by snow or where visibility around curves is hampered by drifts of ten feet or more.” The Cedar Breaks Visitor Center will open for the season after the road through the park … Continue reading

Posted in Natural History, Seasonal, Summer, Uncategorized, Weather & Climate, Wildflowers | Tagged , | Comments Off