Tuesday, July 30, 2013

trek dirt series mountainbike camp - day 1

Oops - we had a bit of a gap between posts here, didn't we?  I was really busy and exhausted all weekend, and then Monday night our neighborhood had a block party that lasted much longer than we expected, so I'm only just now getting around to telling you about what I did last weekend that kept me so busy and exhausted:  I attended the two day, women only Trek Dirt Series MTB camp at Canyons in Park City.  One of my dearest friends had done the camp in May out in California and highly recommended it.  I'm glad I listened to her because it was great!

The Dirt Series began in 2000 in British Columbia, subsequently expanding from its original base at Whistler to locations across western Canada and in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah and Colorado.  It operates under the theory that women learn best when things are broken down analytically so there is a good coaches to campers ratio, and these coaches are all badass MTB chicks.  The environment is extremely supportive with the coaches offering tons of constructive criticism; none of the campers are allowed to say "sorry" if they mess up and negative thinking is strongly discouraged.

Saturday morning we met at Jans Mountain Outfitters on Park Avenue in Park City to pick up rental bikes and demo gear (if necessary), put on name tags (everyone wears them so the coaches can call you by name) and get group assignments.  After announcements, we headed over to Canyons and divided into our skill groups at the base area.  There were about sixty campers and we were split into six different skill groups, ranging from beginners (Group A) to full-face-helmet-and-body-armor-wearing downhillers (Group F).  I wound up in Group B; before the camp, we had all filled out a detailed questionnaire about our skills and this enabled the coaches to put us in the correct skill level.

The morning was spent on skill sessions.  They had various stunts set up at the base area: ramps, boxes, logs and more, of various sizes and heights.  My group's first session focused on braking: learn to use the front brake a LOT (contrary to everything I'd ever been taught, which is that the front brake is scary and should be used sparingly if at all).  The rear brake is good for speed control but the front brake is what will stop you.  We learned to modulate both brakes, stopping with just the rear, just the front and both, as well as how to dismount off the back on a steep hill.  We then moved to roll-downs: riding up short ramps and off the end of a box, with the boxes increasing in height as we progressed through the skills.

The second skill session was straight line riding which is an issue of mine.  We learned the correct posture and positioning on the bike (elbows wide) and practiced riding over a 2x8 laid on the grass.  After that, we progressed to two 2x8s laid end to end, then one 2x8 raised off the ground a bit.  The last stunt was the teetertotter: about twenty inches wide and raised up about a foot (or maybe more).  A coach stood on either side as we rode up the ramp, paused at the apex and then pushed down on our handlebars to ride down the other side.  I did it three times without falling off and it was a huge confidence booster.

Lunch was rather limp sandwiches (turkey, ham or veggie with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat), watermelon, air-puffed chips, cookies and apple juice.  While we ate, the coaches conferred and made up the afternoon ride assignments.  That had also been something we filled out on the pre-camp questionnaire: whether we wanted to do lift-served downhill runs or cross-country riding.  I had signed up for cross-country for both days.  The campers were divided into eight ride groups (1-8), and once again I was in the second group with five other campers, one coach (Lu) and one volunteer to ride sweep.

Our ride was on the Mid-Mountain Trail so we actually rode up in the gondola to get up to the trail.  Before we hit the single-track, we practiced climbing, with Lu explaining body positioning and shifting.  We got on the packed dirt trail, which climbed gently with just a couple of switchbacks.  It was slow going, with one of the campers, here from the Midwest, struggling a bit with the altitude.  We also stopped a number of times to do some "sessioning": looking over a more technical bit of trail, like a switchback, talking through technique, and then riding the session one at a time while Lu offered pointers and observations and the rest of the group offered support.  We rode up to the little Alpine Lake and then took a vote, which resulted in our descending on Flying Salmon, a beginner-level downhill park.  This wasn't my preference but it was good to get me doing something I wouldn't normally have done, and we had to deal with several big banked corners with loose rock, so that was challenging for me.

It had been sprinkling off and on all day and with about twenty minutes left in our ride it just started to pour.  We got back to the gondola and downloaded, then washed off our bikes and went back to our cars.  The camp had an evening session back at Jans, from 6-8 p.m., with presentations on bike maintenance, bike set up, beers, etc.  My friend who'd taken the camp in May told me that she didn't get a lot out of the evening session so I opted to head home instead, pausing first with Lu to pick my skills sessions for Sunday morning.

I didn't think I was that tired when I got in my car ... until halfway through Parleys Canyon when the fatigue hit me, hard, as much from the day's worth of mental concentration as from the physical effort.  Once home I jumped in the shower and then we dashed off to Fratelli's for a pasta dinner.  I rallied a bit with some food in me (I was ravenous!), enough to do a load of laundry and watch the RSL soccer game with H.  It wasn't a late night for me, however, as I had to do it all over again the next day.

Note:  I didn't take any pictures Saturday and only a couple (not very good) on Sunday, because we were just so dang busy.  However, there was a Dirt Series photographer all over the place during the camp so I'm hoping I can snag some photos when they get them up to post here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

unsacred and other things

I tried a new* Utah beer today: the Unfaithful IPA from new Utah brewery, Unsacred Brewing (which, I believe, is a subsidiary of Epic Brewing, doing nothing but Utah-friendly, lower alcohol beer as a complement to Epic's higher ABV brews).  My dad had bought a bottle (1 pt. 6 oz., 4% ABV) when we went shopping for the Powell trip.  But we forgot to take it with us on the houseboat and then we forgot to drink it when we got back and the poor thing had just been languishing in the fridge for weeks.  So today, after an after-work 3.2 mile walk in 91 degree heat, I thought I should drink it.  I love hoppy beers and this IPA is definitely hoppy, but on the lighter side with no lingering bitter aftertaste.  The color is slightly paler than I tend to prefer and it has less carbonation than I expected.  But the beer on a whole is pretty nice - and a decent choice for hot weather IPA drinking.

Being Unfaithful and Unsacred

In other news, during last Sunday's Round Valley MTB ride, we had to stop for a while and wait while a sandhill crane family took its time moving off the trail.  There were two adults and one juvenile; the parents were nearly five feet tall while the youngster was shorter and more slender.  Although we got fairly close to them, we didn't get any pictures because the parents were squawking and stalking about and we weren't entirely sure they wouldn't come after us - they have really long and sharp-looking beaks, and did I mention that they were nearly five feet tall?!

July 24th was Pioneer Day - or "pie and beer day" for the non-LDS folks who take advantage of the state holiday - which is the statewide celebration of the arrival of the Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley back in 1847.  Most places shut down and there's a rodeo, re-enactments and a huge parade.  We did not go to the parade (seriously, people camped out overnight on the sidewalks of downtown SLC for prime parade-watching spots - for a parade!) or any of it.  The mountains were clouded over and I played spoiled and opted out of doing a hike without clear skies, instead hitting the gym and then taking myself to a matinee.  The clouds had broken up by the time the movie was over, of course.  The holiday also means another round of neighborhood fireworks displays; they'll be allowed to shoot them off through Saturday, much to the dog's dismay.  Never fear: I've stocked up on Benadryl and we'll get through it just fine.

* New to me

Saturday, July 20, 2013

wildflowers at alta

The Cottonwood Canyons Wildflower Festival is not until next weekend but I went up to Alta today for a sneak preview.  There were a ton of people but most of them were taking the shuttle up to Albion Basin and walking around there; once I got on the Catherine's Pass trail I hardly saw anyone.  Here are a bunch of photos I took - I'm not nearly as good a photographer as H, unfortunately - but you can still get a feeling for what it looks like up there.  Gorgeous, just gorgeous.

Albion Basin in all its glory

Elephant's Head

False Hellebore

Trailside flowers

Potgut (Uinta ground squirrel) eating a paintbrush

Scarlet Gilia

Sulfur Buckwheat

Wyeth's Buckwheat

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

how we roll, sometimes

H and I try to stay active, given our office jobs, taking advantage of our proximity to the Wasatch Front as much as we can.  That said, sometimes we have quieter weekends due to uncooperative weather or just being unable to get up and get going.  It doesn't happen often, now that we're out in Utah, but it does happen occasionally.

There was no lack of motivation Friday night as we grabbed banh mi from Oh Mai and headed up to Snowbird to watch Cool Runnings for their Family Flicks night.  Despite temperatures in the 90s in the valley, I layered up for the evening with jeans, wool socks, hiking boots, a long sleeve shirt and a hooded fleece; I was perfectly dressed for the cool evening air up at the resort.  There was a decent crowd - not as many as last summer's season closer of The Princess Bride - and it was fun to see the movie again in such a beautiful setting.

Saturday was our down day.  H went out for a road ride in the morning but I dithered around, not getting my act together until noon when I decided I should go for a run if I wasn't going to hike - which I wasn't, since thunderstorms have been moving through the area on a regular basis in the afternoons.  It was the first time I've run outside since last fall and I had to walk the last part of my hill climb, more because I was overheating than because my legs couldn't take it.  We stayed hunkered down for the afternoon, watching soccer on television: the U.S. national team spanking Cuba 4-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium for the CONCACAF tournament; and RSL winning for the first time ever in Texas, beating FC Dallas 3-0, despite having lost three of their top players (goalie Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran) to the U.S. team.

Pausing to enjoy the views

We managed to get up and get going on Sunday, however, going up to SLC for breakfast at The Other Place before heading over to Park City for a little MTBing.  The Round Valley trails have held up, with the recent rains keeping the dust packed down.  I didn't climb quite as well this time (perhaps bacon and eggs are not the ideal pre-ride fuel for me) but I felt like I was descending better than I have been.  We were surprised to learn that in the nine days since we'd last been to Round Valley, the Park City trail crew had improved our regular loop, removing an eroded, rocky section (that I struggled with) by cutting some new dirt switchbacks through the scrub oaks.  The new section is a little tight in some spots through the trees but I definitely preferred it to those rocks.  Bravo to Park City for taking such good care of its trails!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

a little more hiking, a little more biking

Our Saturday and Sunday were largely similar to our Thursday and Friday.  I went back up to Alta for my Catherine's loop while H did another road ride.  It was cooler, although humid up the canyon because of all rain (and the flash flood damage on the sides of Little Cottonwood Canyon road was impressive).  There were not as many people hiking around in Albion Basin as there had been on the 4th and I only passed 14 people on my way up to Catherine's Pass.  The wildflowers are really coming on strong now: the lupine were just about at their peak and the columbine seemed to have popped up all over since just a couple days prior.

Moose crossing

I was on my way down, cruising down the wide path that meanders under the Sunnyside chairlift, when I came upon a group of people standing and taking photographs off to the left: a mother and (large) baby moose were a ways off the trail, enjoying the lush summertime greenery.  We watched them for a while and then, as they moved off, so did we.  But the trail curved around to the left and the moose were heading off to the right, so we all stopped and waited for them to cross the trail and move away.  The moose took their time doing so, not in any hurry because the vegetation was so delicious.  As always, it was a nice treat, getting to see these massive critters up so close.  (My photos are mediocre at best because I only had my phone and you just don't want to get too close to moose.)

The moose are loose in Sunnyside

For something different, I suggested that we go up to Snowbasin for MTBing on Sunday.  Like the last time we did this, the weather was perfect: sunny and 70s.  We did the same foothills trails we did before - Needles, Green Pond Loop, Last Chance - again opting not to take the gondola up and ride the downhill trails, which put too much pressure on the hands and wrists, and which tend to be terrifying.  The Snowbasin trails are just beautiful and while I still struggle on the rocks (and Snowbasin is a lot more rocky than Round Valley), I didn't fall over once - a huge improvement from the 6+ crashes in 2011.

Getting ready to hit the trails at Snowbasin

The only issue came when H, riding ahead of me, missed the Green Pond Loop cutoff, continuing up the jeep road; I was pushing my bike up the hill and saw the trail sign, and took the trail.  I figured he was just up ahead of me and kept going, cursing at the rocky parts and enjoying dirt parts.  I was in the woods, almost at the pond when H finally called me, worried, wondering where I was, saying: "I'm back at the truck - where are you?" We figured out where he'd missed the trail and I sat down under a tree to wait for him to get back out to me.

The oldest continuously-operating bar
west of the Mississippi

Although Snowbasin was having a cookout and live music that afternoon, we headed over to the Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville. It's been under new ownership for a couple of years now and while the menu and decor haven't changed, they're now open seven days a week.  There were a number of other customers in the place - bikers, young couples, older folks - and we sat at the bar, devouring burgers and beers.  And that's how you do a mellow long holiday weekend from your home, outdoors as much as you can, on two feet and two wheels whenever possible.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

a little hiking, a little biking

Having the Fourth of July holiday on a Thursday is just plain silly, so H and I took Friday off too, thus enjoying an extra long holiday long weekend.  We didn't have any particular plans, mind you, and it didn't start to cool down until Friday (by "cool down" I mean "only get to the low 90s") so we didn't do anything crazy either.  But still, four days off in a row was delicious.

On the Fourth itself, H wanted to do a road ride.  While he headed out early, I got my act together and took myself up to Alta for my Catherine's/Supreme loop.  This was the first day that the road up to Albion Basin (to the Catherine's Pass trail head and the campground) was open, and since the wildflowers are really starting to pop, it was super busy up there - I've never seen so many people queued up for the shuttle ride.  I parked at the Albion base lodge and hoofed it up from there, passing a grand total of 29 people by the time I reached Catherine's Pass.  After that, the crowds thinned out until I got back down to the campground again.    The afternoon was spent out of the sun, staying cool.  We had burgers and potato salad as our patriotic Independence Day dinner and gave the poor dog a Benadryl as the sun set and the neighbor folks started setting off their fireworks.  Amazingly, after a bone-dry June, we had massive thunderstorms and rain that night - the cooler, moister air much welcomed down in the valley, but the rush of water wreaking havoc with mud and rock slides on the Little Cottonwood Canyon road.

Friday saw us off to Round Valley for our regular MTB ride.  The rain from the night before had done wonders for the trails, packing down the sandy dust so the sun could bake it hard again.  There were hardly any people out there on the trails with us, although Park City had posted signs asking people to have good trail etiquette since they expected a high traffic weekend.  After our ride, we went to PCMR with our cooler, cleverly bringing our own sandwiches along with our PBRs.  The place was hoppin', with long lines for the chairlift rides and the sno-cones, and lots of people swarming over the hillsides on MTBs.  That night brought more amazing thunderstorms: the lightning show over the mountains was absolutely incredible (or absolutely terrifying, if you're the dog).

Monday, July 8, 2013


Almost immediately after my family returned to Maine (where it started raining and didn't let up until about ten days straight), it got really, really, really hot here in Utah, hitting the low 100s for multiple days in a row.  Sure, it was a dry heat (about 12% humidity) but, if you ask me, once you get to 100, it's HOT.  H and I were determined to get back into our routine of hiking and biking, however, so we just adjusted for the heat. Which means doing outside things earlier and then hunkering down inside, out of the sun, with drinks with ice cubes during the hottest part of the day, which tends to be 3-6 p.m.

Saturday (6/29) H went for an early road ride while I hied myself up to Alta to do my 6.9 mile loop: from the Albion parking lot, to the Catherine's Pass trailhead, to Catherine's Pass, up past the Sunset Peak trail junction to the top of Supreme, down the ski lift access road to the campground, and back to the car.  I like this loop and do it a lot when we don't have bigger hikes planned; it doesn't take me that long and it's a pretty way to get some exercise.

That evening we went back up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird's Cool Air concert series where we heard the Jaden Carlson Band.  We didn't really know anything about the band - a trio of a lead singer/guitarist, bass player and drummer - and thought it might be a folk rock, singer-songwriter sort of gig.  We were pleasantly surprised when they really started to jam out the '70s classic rock; we were shocked and amazed when we learned that singer/guitarist Jaden is only twelve years old.  This girl is an incredible guitar player, ripping it up with some original tunes as well as songs from Lenny Kravitz, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, Clapton, Hendrix, U2 ... if you just heard her playing, you would never in a million years guess that she was a little girl.  She's touring all summer and if you get the chance to see her band, do so.

Sunday was MTBing at Round Valley and we managed to get over there about an hour earlier than we usually do, which made a huge difference in the heat.  The singletrack was really dusty and sandy in spots because there just hadn't been any rain to pack it down.  Still, I'm continuing to improve on my climbing and now only have trouble on switchbacks 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the sixteen uphill Rambler switchbacks on our loop.  Afterwards we grabbed some sandwiches and sat in the shade at Park City Mountain Resort for lunch and PBRs.  Things were pretty quiet that day and we enjoyed the calm, figuring things would pick up next week over the July 4th holiday.

Friday, July 5, 2013


We really got lucky with the weather the last weekend our guests were in town: high 70s/low 80s.  Just brilliant and we took advantage of it.  We also took advantage of having a little more room to spread out, after five days together on a houseboat.  On Saturday, my brother, his wife and their daughter decided to check out downtown SLC, visiting the Natural History Museum and Temple Square; H went for a long road ride; and my folks and I hiked up to Lake Blanche.


H dropped us at the trailhead around 10 a.m. and the plan was for us to call him for a pick-up when we were done.  It was a little humid on the trail since we were surrounded by vegetation and alongside a creek, but not too bad.  My folks are avid hikers - they through-hiked Appalachian Trail back in 1998 and just last spring did a trek in Nepal - but they live at sea level so we took a slow and steady pace to combat the altitude.  Not fifteen minutes into our uphill, a trail-runner girl passed us going down.  She said hi, took one look at my mom (who has white hair) and smiled, "Good for you!"  My mom was furious until we decided that it wasn't condescension but approval: there were no other white-haired women out there.  By the time we reached the lakes, my mom had collected another "good for you" and three "you're awesome"s and my dad and I were laughing our butts off.

Good for us! We're awesome!

After some time (and some snacks) at the lakes, we headed back down.  The trail hadn't seemed that steep on the way up but it was deceptive as it seemed steeper on the descent.  When we got back to the road, we discovered that none of our phones had any reception whatsoever, so we cadged a ride to the bottom of the canyon with some nice young women and called H from the bar of the Porcupine, promising to buy him a beer if he'd come pick us up.  Needless to say, that wasn't an issue for him.

Girls just want to go hiking

That night we got takeout from the Lone Star Taqueria since my brother had been jonesing for good Mexican food since their plane had landed.  He went with me to pick it up and came back out, laden with a huge box of tacos and burritos, and shaking his head in amazement at how packed and busy the restaurant was.  We ended up with a ton of food: tacos de pork with green chile, machaca, carne adovada and carnitas, burritos de pork with green chile (smothered and not), carne adovada and a couple of tamales.  It all tasted really good and we ended up with at least a burrito's worth of leftovers for Sunday night.  The burritos are really big.

Dang, that scenery is great

On Sunday, we headed up Parleys Canyon to Park City, dropping my mom, sister-in-law and niece off to explore Park Silly, while the guys and I headed to Round Valley after renting fully suspended MTBs for my dad and brother.  We rode for a couple of hours, taking them on our usual route.  I have to admit that while I was able to climb better than he did, my 69-year-old dad totally schooled me on the downhills.  (In my defense, he was on a 29er which eats up the ground faster than my 26er.)  After a couple of post-ride beers, we met up with the girls in town at the Wasatch brewpub, then returned home via Guardsman's Pass.  And it was that drive home that made my sister-in-law's entire trip - because there was a young bull moose placidly eating greenery by the side of the road in Brighton, and she's been living in Maine for ten years without ever having seen a moose.  I'm thrilled that we were able to find one for her.

We dropped them all off at the airport Monday morning before heading back to work.  Not much was said - after ten days together you've all sort of said everything already! - but it was clear that we'd all had a good time together.  I'm not sure any of us is interested in doing Lake Powell again but I think all of us would agree that we were glad we'd done it this time.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

lake powell - pt. 5

Friday was our last day on Lake Powell: we'd opted for the Monday through Friday tour in hopes of avoiding the weekend crowds.  As we puttered around that morning in our Moki side canyon, having breakfast (melon, pancakes, bacon, coffee, PBR), packing and cleaning, we were serenaded by a small, very active school of striped bass that kept rising to the surface to flap around and feed.  No one on our boat was able to catch any of them despite their apparent morning hunger.

My dad at the wheel

It started to get hot quickly as we pulled out of Moki, even with the breeze in the main channel.  We didn't have far to go to get back to Bullfrog and as we cruised south, we were met and passed by scores of watercraft - of all sizes - booking it north for the weekend.  We turned in our boats, unloaded our gear and hit the road for home.

Still smiling on the last day

On an acquaintance's recommendation, we stopped for a late lunch at Blondie's in Hanksville for burgers and milkshakes.  It took a while to get our order, in part because the shakes are hand-made one at a time.  The burgers were pretty good, the fries frozen and not worth it, and the shakes - my folks and I opted for chocolate malts while everyone else had just chocolate - were thick enough to require spoons.  Thus sated, we cruised back up to home, getting back in time to liberate B one night early from the kennel, where she was glad to see us, and we her.  We were all also glad to get to take showers: a week on a houseboat does some funky things to your hair!  That night we were all squeaky clean, enjoying actual cold beverages with ice cubes and appreciating the delicious mid-70 degree temperatures.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

lake powell - pt. 4

We got up early again Thursday morning, managing to get our whole group of seven people, one of them six years old, trying a hike up on the slickrock above the lake at 7:30 a.m..  My brother had read about a hike that would take us to the top of Tapestry Wall, the highest point on the cliff walls of Lake Powell; that was our goal.  We all piled into the powerboat and inspected coves near Tapestry Wall until we found a place to beach and tie off the boat.

Heading up the slickrock

The immediate climb up the slickrock was pretty steep and we had to scout around for the least tricky routes.  Once up top, it was clear that we were a long way from the Wall and, with the rising sun heating things up rapidly, we weren't going to make it.  The views were pretty stunning and slickrock really is a treat to walk on - it's not slick at all when dry and grips boot soles nicely.  While the rest of the crew traipsed down a more gradual wash that led to the next cove over, H and I retraced our steps, collected the boat and drove around to pick them up.

View from the top

We cruised nearby Knowles Canyon before heading back to the houseboat, then untied the behemoth and motored to Moki Canyon.  Moki is a large, very popular canyon with a big beach at the end and several side canyons.  We had sent the powerboat on an advance scouting mission and found a lovely site down one of the left side canyons with a nice beach, overhanging cliffs for shade and a number of drowned trees, one of which would tangle a bit with our powerboat.  Once we got in and situated, however, it was clear that this was a fantastic spot.

Our campsite in a Moki side canyon

The afternoon was again spent in the water (H and my niece swam for nearly three hours straight and at the end of it, after refusing to do so all week, my niece went down the slide all by herself - twice!) and in the shade reading.  In the evening, while H and I laid low, the rest of the gang took the powerboat to the end of Moki for a hike, trying to find some of the reportedly numerous Anasazi ruins.  They didn't find any but had a good walk anyway.

The marathon swimmers

Our evening was lovely: grilled Italian sausages, [instant] grits with bacon and salad for dinner; and a campfire once the sun went down.  The moon was incredibly bright that night but it didn't keep any of us awake for very long.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

lake powell - pt. 3

Smith Fork Canyon starting to narrow

We went with the same routine Wednesday morning: getting up and getting going early so we could find a campsite and start hiking before the heat really kicked in.  We moved a few miles further south, sending the powerboat up into Smith Fork Canyon to scout and secure a spot.  Smith Fork Canyon is just spectacular, winding and curving with sheer red and white cliffs looming overhead.  We ended up at practically the very end of the canyon - the water depth shallowed to about 4 feet just past where we beached - and some friendly folks in a large houseboat even moved their water toys aside so we could sneak through the narrows.

Smith Fork Canyon hike

After beaching and securing the houseboat, everyone but my niece and sister-in-law headed out for a hike to the slot canyon at the end of Smith Fork.  Because of the low water level, we had to walk quite a ways in the stream at the bottom of the canyon before we reached the slot.  But once we got there, it was magnificent.  It  never got narrower than about five feet (although we did not make it to the end of the canyon so it might have gotten tighter), the red sandstone passage twisting and writhing ahead of us.  It wasn't a particularly deep canyon but it was gorgeous.  We ended up hiking for about four hours, long enough for the sun get high enough to reach into the canyon and for it to get really hot.  The wind picked up on the way out too, blowing the fine red sand into our ears and eyes.

Even as we walked it, it didn't seem real

The wind continued throughout the afternoon as the group tried to stay out of the heat, reading and swimming.  In the evening, as it started to get a little cooler and the wind died a bit, everyone but H and my mom took the powerboat across the main channel to Forgotten Canyon to check out the restored Anasazi Defiance House ruins.

Getting narrow now

We got fairly fancy for dinner that night, with grilled pork tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes with shredded beef jerky (potatoes from a box because we were "camping"), and mai tais (using a grocery store mai tai mixer that tasted like liquid SweeTarts).  Sleeping was pretty good that night since the wind died down and it was cooler, but we didn't see as many stars because the moon was so bright.  That was a trade-off I was willing to make.

Defiance House ruins (left) and petroglyphs

Monday, July 1, 2013

lake powell - pt. 2

Still waters at sunrise

We were up with the sun on Tuesday morning, the plan being to find a campsite early and then go for a hike in one of the side canyons before the heat of the day set in.  When we got to the mouth of Sevenmile Canyon, we sent a scouting party ahead in the powerboat; at their go-ahead, we drove the houseboat in to the very end of the canyon, beaching it on a mud beach with the canyon walls close by and a hike just ahead of us.  This was a great campsite: more shade, easier swimming and super-scenic.

Hiking upstream

My folks, my brother and I opted to hike up the canyon, making this the first all-family/family-only hike since my brother and I met my folks on Mt. Katadhin in Maine after they finished the Appalachian Trail in 1998.  This slot canyon hike was considerably less strenuous than the AT and we went up until we couldn't go up any further, stopped by a boulder fall.  We walked in a stream for much of the way and there was quite a lot of greenery up in there, striking against the huge red canyon cliffs above us.  On the way back down, we met up with my sister-in-law and niece, who were doing some exploring of their own.  We were also lucky enough to hear (and see!) canyon wrens - nondescript little birds with a beautiful, trilling song.

The canyon got narrower

The afternoon was spent reading, swimming and drinking beer.  My brother tried to find some good routes for some rock climbing, while my dad and I found our way to the top of some cliffs overlooking our campsite.  Up there, in the mid-afternoon with no shade and far from the lake water and beer, it was HOT.  For dinner we had cheeseburgers and salad and kept working on the margaritas; there may or may not have been a short ABBA dance party when we discovered the CD player.

Keeping cool

We had a campfire after dinner, everyone sitting well back from the heat of the fire but enjoying the flickering light.  Sleeping that night was not quite as pleasant as it had been the night before: it was windy but hotter and never cooled down to a comfortable sleeping temperature.

View of our campsite from above