Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Back Yard

Well, I just got tired of doing homework, so what better way to waste time and still be productive? POST a Blog!

In this blog I will travel to my back yard... to pick dinner.

Here is a shot that I just took of the corner of my little garden.  If you look close you will see some pretty huge tomato plants, jalepeno & bell petters, corn, and the hidden sunflower plants.
Here is the first ear of corn out of my yard.  MMMmmmmm

And here is the cleanup of the fresh home-grown corn (which was delicious by the way).  Daisy decided to help make sure that the cob was clean, Good bird!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Subway (Zions National Park)

Well some like to call this a "hike" but it is so much more than a hike.  I would consider it a slick-rock, repelling, swimming, rock-climbing, awesome, obstacle course that you have to climb 500 vertical feet up a mountain to complete.  I had no clue what to expect, and it wasn't what I thought that it was.  The description said that it was an Extreme hike, and that it was.

You start off by following a "trail" (slick rock with karens leading the way) to the bottom of a canyon.  Once you get to the bottom, that is when the fun begins.  

Obstacle 1 - Huge boulder:
On one side there was little trickle of water falling 20' into a slimy pool of water that we had no intention of getting into (we were still dry).  On the other side there was a cliff and a space set where you could repel 18 feet to a sand bar.  The repel was not vertical though, it was more of a horizontal repel.  Well Jennifer went first, and then we all followed in suite making it over the first obstacle.  (the easier way would have been to repel down the front of the boulder, perhaps next time...)

I didn't have pictures of these obstacles, so I am using the pictures off of the Zions National Park web page and photo album, just imagine my face in there somewhere... =0)
Obstacle 2 - Short swim through two long pools:
Did I mention that I didn't bring a dry bag like the instructions recommended?  Well I made the swim with my backpack, and everything actually seemed to stay pretty dry.  Oh, and the water was super cold, which felt good because by this time we were all ready for a nice cool refreshing swim.
Obstacle 3 - Keyhole Falls:
This one was interesting because the falls is just the first part of the obstacle.  You have to repel down a 10' water fall, navigate deep water holes, then swim through a deep pool, slip through the "key hole" (I had to take my pack off to even fit through, hence the name), swim around a corner, slide up a slippery rock like a seal, and then carefully walk to the beach (Oh and the water at this point was past the refreshing point, it was just damn cold).  
Oh, and once again I did this all with my back pack and it just so happened that as I got out of the water my bag weighed about 50 pounds heavier than it did before I made the swim.  I drained the water though, and everything seemed ok, a little damp, but ok.

Obstacle 4 - Second and larger water fall (decaying log)
This one was actually a little scary.  The trail ends at a cliff, and hikers are required to crawl over an old decaying log that looks like it could fall any second.  We opted to crawl over the slick-rock above the water fall (over a 30 foot drop).  I was the first in our group to go this way, and I found out that it was really slippery while wearing wet shoes, Jen did it after I did with no problems, but I ended up sliding down a bit.  Good thing I was wearing my swimming suit that would wash out!
Once we were over on the other side of the waterfall, there is a hook in the rocks that we hooked the rope to that would allow us to repel down a 30' cliff with wet rocks waiting at the bottom.  In the end we all did it without major  problems, but it was interesting trying to make it all work.  Once again, quite the experience!

Once we were done with this obstacle we were done with the difficult obstacles, well at least until the last one...  Once we were done with these though we should have started to enjoy the water a little more than we did.  We found some of the fun cascade falls and slid down them like water slides.  We took pictures of this, but Jennifer had those pictures and I will add them later.

One of the famous items of this adventure is the dinosaur tracks just along side the river after all of the obstacles.   The tracks reside in two huge slabs of rock.  I have seen dinosaur tracks before, and you usually have to look for a while and spray them with water to see the imprints, not these tracks.  They are as obvious as if the dinosaurs walked across it yesterday.  The detail was so fine that you could see the claws at the end of the toes.
From this point all we wanted to do was get to the car, little did we know that we should have been hoping for death...

Well this nice little diagram shown above, depicts the altitude change of the entire hike/course.  If you will examine it carefully, you may notice that most of the hike is downhill except for one little tiny little quarter mile part of the trail.  Well it just so turns out that in the little quarter of a mile we climbed up a 500 wall of fallen rock to get up on top of the cliffs where we parked.  This was basically like climbing a 500 foot vertical cliff with only your legs, OUCH!  
Well, we finally all made it to the car that was sitting 500 feet above where I think it should have been.  Even though we had to hike out of the canyon, this adventure was incredible.  I plan on doing it again, but this time we are going to enjoy some of the water features a little more.  Oh, and I will bring a dry bag for my back-pack like they recommended on the web page... =0)

Great experience!  Must do if you are the adventurous type.