Saturday, July 30, 2011

Where in world are Cameron and Meghan?

Home sweet home! We're happy to be back in BC and currently bunking at the Karner household in Summerland. Meghan has a 3 month locum in Vernon (means just a little bit of a commute!) while Cameron hunts for work in the interior and then the rest of the adventure begins!

Happy to be home, despite being a little wet and cold!

Now that we're home, you can reach us via email, land line 250-494-9993 or mobile 778-239-0538. We look forward to seeing you all, and thanks for being part of our blog posse!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A final hoorah!

...and welcome back to Canada! What a return to boot...we both agreed that after all our travelling there's nothing quite like the Canadian Rockies. Waterton Lakes is a beautiful
park with great hiking. We were only able to do one day hike (boooo, too much snow still!) but will be going back in the future for sure.

Not only was the camping good (and cold!) but we had a weekend of visiting with Brady and Naomi, good friends who currently live in Calgary. Along came two of their friends, and betwen the six of us a good time was had by all. Thanks for meeting us you guys!

The happy gang

While we had a great weekend, we couldn't help but wonder if that rumour that Canada is always cold is true? Coming from 30+ C weather in Utah, 35+ C weather in the south, and immediately upon crossing the border it was about 5 degrees and we FROZE!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Salt Lake City

Will keep this post brief, as our time in SLC was very brief itself. We meant it to be an overnight stay as we passed on by, but then got suckered in by the free shuttle to Temple Square from our KOA campground.

Temple Square is the world headquarters for the Church of Latter-Day Saints (mormons) and is a pretty hefty site. There were numerous museums, conference centres, movies, exhibits to look at, and we had a very nice tour led by a couple of Church members.

One of the greatest Mormon temples in the world. We weren't able to go in, as only Mormons in good standing are allowed to enter.

The famous tabernacle where you can literally hear a pin drop at the front when you are standing at the back (and we can confirm this--we went to a demo)

Little did we realize we would spend most of the day looking around Temple Square. We headed out mid afternoon for a bee-line drive over two days to Waterton Lakes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Canyonlands...a mini Grand Canyon

Canyonlands National Park. One of Cam's favorites. One of my least. Or rather, his favorite hiking and mine, well, could have given some of it a pass. The scenery was great--the layers upon layers upon layers of rock was cool..especially when you could see it from the viewpoints in the car. Hiking however, was another matter...long, hot, lots of sun and wind exposure, and not that much to see because well, you can't see the canyon as you're walking up to it.
Isn't this beautiful? Ahem, this is from the car.

Another cool view

There's a hiking trail here?!?

All joking aside, it wasn't that bad. There was some really nice parts to the dessert walking, such as the ultra cool flowers.

One of the best parts of Canyonlands was the campground we spent two nights in. It was inside the national park, only ten sights, and pretty remote. We had to bring all our water with us, though because we wer car camping this wasn't a problem. The stars at night were unbelievable. It was peaceful, romantic, and a perfect finish to the bulk of our hiking trip in Utah.

Cameron, loving his canyons

From Canyonlands, we busted a move to Salt Lake City. We were on schedule to meet Brady (Cam's best man) and his fiance, Naomi, as well as a couple of their friends in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta for our final weekend.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Arches, arches everywhere

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are both outside of Moab, Utah. Moab is a vibrant touristy town set up to be the base for all the hiking, mountain biking, and 4 x 4ing that goes on within these parks.

We only spent a day in Arches National Park, but it was pretty interesting. Amazing how you can see so much orange rock over a few weeks and still see differences between it!

Can you spot the arch?

Cameron, loving his arch

Landscape Arch

Our day in Arches consisted of a driving tour, plus a nice three hour hike through the park.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Escalante...a grand adventure

Packed up the tent, grabbed the hiking shoes, did a load of laundry and drove along scenic highway 12 to our next destination: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. You may ask yourself, "why would Meghan and Cameron be so excited about a monument?" because I also asked myself this, before I understood. Escalante is not the kind of monument you think of...which for me, is a statue. Instead, it is a huge swath of land that has been designated by the President as a protected park area but it doesn't yet have National Park status. This basically means that there isn't quite as much development in the area, it is slightly fewer visitors, no printed park maps, and huge amounts of backcountry.

We grabbed our topo map, spoke to a few locals and were off into the dessert for a bit of very beginner canyoning and a 3 day/2 night backpacking trip. Canyoning is a big thing in Utah, and there are people who get into doing some pretty serious slot canyon adventures. This requires a combination of hiking and rock climbing. Of course, our experience was limited to hiking, and a bit of fanangling through crazy corners and high ledges.

Tight squeeze! And this isn't as narrow as it got...

Meghan-Indiana Jones-Muhle works her way through the narrowing rock walls

Lovin' the slots!

All in all, we were in the two slot canyons for about an hour...can't imagine huge-o trips that the hardcores do! I have to admit, I was a bit nervous starting out at the idea of being in such a small, cramped space but what you can't see in our pictures on the twenty boy scouts that are also there..if they could do it, so could I!

We drove from the slots further into the monument (thanks DJ, you did a great job on all the dirt roads) to our trailhead for Coyote Gulch. This multiday hike is well known in the area, and a favorite because of the great scenery. We walked in along a dry river bed until we met water, and spent the remaining time hiking through the river.

First night camping. We drove to the trailhead late afternoon, ate dinner at the car, and hiked in only a kilometre or two before setting up camp.

Cam is loaded down and enjoying being in the river instead of the dry river bed we'd previously been following--we left behind the deer flies when we reached the water.

Our base camp for two nights. From here, we day hiked to the end of Coyote Gulch.

The sweeping rock was honestly awe inspiring.

Hats off to mega-fun. Nothing beats hiking in Coyote Gulch.

Coyote Gulch was a big highlight of not only our time in Utah, but also the trip overall. We had such a peaceful time being in the backcountry and neither of us had done so much hiking in a river before. Plus, we celebrated Cam's big 3-0 in the backwoods and had a big pizza dinner (at a restaurant with a reputation for having the best pizza in Utah) and a beer when we got out of the dessert.

Next plan was the head east towards Arches National Park.

The sky was gorgeous as we left Escalante. Big storm rolling in, but the lighting was terrific

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Zion and Bryce

We arrived in Utah with an intent to spend as much time as we could hiking..and hiking we did! The national parks in Utah are absolutely fantastically wonderful, and we thoroughly enjoyed the last three weeks of our trip.

Zion National Park was a great time. It's one of Utah's most popular parks, and the main highlight is the large canyon that the park runs up. The cutesy little town of Springdale is at the heart of the park, and this is where we camped...with the park being so popular we learned that you can't just show up and expect to get a spot in the national park campgrounds; we were in a "nice" little RV park.

There is a shuttle system that takes you to all of the trailheads in the park and gives you an audio tour of the main sights. We spent four days within Zion, doing everything from the most popular Angel's Landing to a long day through high alpine down into the canyon, to an overnight hike in the northwest section of the park.

An overview of Zion Canyon. You can see the road snaking along the river below...this is where the shuttle runs.
The first big hike we did was on the West Rim Trail. We were dropped off at the trailhead and hiked one way, back to the south part of the part.

The combination of high alpine with the canyons in the background was just so cool!

At the end of the West Rim trail you could shoot off and do Angel's Landing. This is a view of the ridge that you hike along. There are chains along the route but that didn't make me feel any better. I waited for Cam while he hiked to the end.

This is the very reason I didn't go with Cam along the Angel's Landing ridge. Both sides were a hhhhhhuuuuuuuuggggge drop off, and there was only feet of trail on either side of you. Even as I'm writing this my hands are sweating!

After lots of day hiking we decided to do an overnight trip in Kolob Canyon. We had great weather, total seclusion, and a perfect couple days.

A view of Kolob Canyon, in the northwest section of the park. This is the view from the top of the overnight trail we hiked.

The trail had so many beautiful dessert flowers
These guys were everywhere!

Our tenting site was in the middle of nowhere-big canyons all around us, with a river just down the bank.

We hiked to the end of the trail to see one the world's biggest arches. Thank goodness this kind person gave us a clue of where to look (The little instructions say "ARCH ^ (look up)"), otherwise we might have missed...


We were sad to leave Zion but already have our next trip planned. Originally, we went to Zion to hike the popular Narrows hike. This is a two day, one night backpacking trip through a slot canyon made by the Virgin River. You do most (nearly all) of the hiking in the river and as you go deeper the canyon becomes more and more narrow, until finally barely any light can get in. Unfortunately the Virgin River was running too high while we were there, which makes hiking in it unsafe. Oh well, next time!

Bryce Canyon National Park was our next stop and very different from Zion. Where Zion had huge canyon walls, Bryce had "fairy chimneys". There was another shuttle system here and again, many trailheads to explore various areas of the park. This time, we were able to get into one of the lovely park campgrounds. We spent another four days exploring Bryce, covering many of the parks highlights on a few day hikes and then spending two nights in the Canyon bottom on a backpacking trip.

A view of Bryce Canyon's fairy chimneys

Short day hikes took you right into the heart of the coolness

Cool sandstone structures were everywhere, and were the main highlights of Bryce

Heading off for an overnight hike in the bottom of Bryce Canyon

From Bryce we started heading east to Escalante to explore more of Utah's hiking scene.