Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mueller Park

We interrupt this vacation report... Wait a minute, who am i kidding? No one has made it through an entire post yet. Apparently, my goal of one trip post per day has already fallen by the wayside. Doh! I was just too busy. And and now i'm a little behind, no wait; i've fallen behind. There, that's better.

Anyway, the other day i finally convinced Joe, my brother-in-law, to take the dirt bikes up Mueller Park. Mueller Park has long been one of my favorite mountain bike rides, and i had seen dirt bikes on the trail a number of times (there are also some signs indiciating dirt bikes are permitted). Anyway, there's a couple of trails that head off from the meadow at the top that i had always wanted to explore. i hoped they would either connect with the City Creek trails or traverse the ridges north or south. But the trails would usually get too rocky to be enjoyable on a mountain bike. On dirt bikes i figured we could actually explore for a while.

Unfortunately, either the trails were really, really old or were just game trails. (Joe is actually standing on the trail, and where i'm standing, taking the picture, is also on the trail).
The one that went up eventually became too overgrown to even find on foot.
And the one that went down looked like it would probably connect in City Creek, but was so overgrown and steep that it wouldn't be enjoyable on a bike. Oh well, now i know.

Since the last time i rode up there (probably four weeks ago), the flowers have really popped up all over the place. Really, really pretty. And going back down the backside was actually much more enjoyable on a dirt bike.

And we only got a couple of crusties from anti-motorcycle trail users. Oi! Don't get me started on anti-trail or anti-trail users. No seriously, you don't want me to get started - you know i'm long winded.

I highly recommend this trail to mtn. bikers, hikers, and yes, even motorcycles. However, i must insert that i also highly recommend that bikes and even more so motorcycles, exercise extreme caution when riding this trail. It's not that it's difficult, it's just a very, very popular trail and thus very busy.

My personal recommedation is that motorcycles only ride in off-peak times or just take the backside trail. I only attempt to ride it on my bike when i figure i'll be one of the first or last ones on the trail, or in the middle of the week between breakfast and lunch or right after lunch. Just because you're allowed doesn't mean (ignorant) people won't complain and try to have you banned from the trail - jerks.

These are actually all pictures from the backside of Mueller Park (except the couple up top while we were exploring). We tried to get off of the front side as quickly as possible to annoy as few people as possible. But don't get me wrong, the vast majority of the trail users we encountered were extremely polite and pleasant.

It absolutely amazed my how green this trail still was! Oh, and some kind soul or souls cleaned all the obstacles off of the trail, so it's all ride-able, well, at least for someone like me. It may have already been ride-able to everyone else before.

This is actually a little closer to the bottom. The picture does not do justice to all the wildflowers that were out. So pretty!
I wonder if planting some of these in my garden would be a mistake...

Oh, and Dacia and Joe have been asking me for a while for a picture (hopefully) like this, is this kind of like what you were looking for?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Havasu Day 3: Mooney Falls & Beyond

After a very comfortable night’s sleep in a very comfy bed and an air-conditioned room we all woke up – rather late, I might add. I always have these lofty intentions of getting up early and taking advantage of that good morning light – I mean, I figure you don’t get to come to places like this every day, so I should be able to wake up a couple of hours early, just for these few days, right? Wrong. Lazy bum!
Sheila was lobbying everyone to hike down to the Colorado River, which was well over 15 miles round trip. I don’t think anyone was really up for that (except Sheila) after hiking over 12 miles the day before.
We eventually decided that Jen, Pat, and Kayla would relax in some of the lower pools above Havasu Falls with the kids while Sheila, Britny, Adam and I all went down to Mooney and then Beaver falls. I think Mooney Falls was only one mile past Havasu Falls which should have made it about 3 miles total from the lodge and then Beaver was 2 miles past Mooney (10 or 11 miles round trip from the village).
Shortly after passing Havasu Falls we came to the campground (where unfortunately, I did not take any pictures). Technically, the campground is much closer to all the falls, seems very big, was mostly shaded and had lots of sites right next to the creek. There’s even porto-potties and a tapped spring (no need to filter).
Naturally, the lodge was much nicer – I mean, hey, shower and AC, you can’t beat that. But you definitely pay much, much more for the lodge. I may consider camping next time, especially if I don’t let my aunt pick the time for the trip and we go when it’s a little cooler (but not too cool to still swim, oh, and not during monsoon season either).

Shortly after hiking through the campground we came to Mooney Falls (named for an old prospector who fell to his death there). Mooney Falls pours 200 feet over a cliff that blocks the canyon with the falls falling (duh, what else would they do, but what else could I say) down to the pools below.
If you look closely (click on the picture to enlarge it), you can see Adam and me standing just to the right of the falls.

Along the edge of the cliff are a few signs that caution you to not walk close to the edge. Looking at the cliff from this perspective it’s obvious why; the travertine deposited from the wider falls of long ago are actually overhanging. I thought we were walking far enough away from the edge, but if you look closely at this picture you can see that it probably wasn’t far enough after all. (btw, thanks to Sheila who obviously took some of the pictures with me in them).

We eventually made our way around to the side of the cliff and started looking for the way down. A sign indicated that we should “descend at our own risk” and so I went and looked for the trail that would take us down the cliff, only to find it dead-ended.

That was because the sign was actually above the trail!

A series of tunnels,…


…and ladders would take us down and through the cliff to the bottom. Glad I didn’t take the kids. But it was fun! I seriously can’t wait to do it again!

We made it to the bottom (which was very crowded, next time I’ll pick a time when kids and scouts are in school), briefly admired the falls (it was bad light, remember?) and headed on down towards Beaver Falls.
If you look closely you can see Sheila leading the line of waders and Britny and Adams bring up the rear. They’re actually following a travertine terrace, otherwise they’d all be up to at least their wastes. And the water wasn’t actually that color, it’s just the bad light. As always, the water was crystal-clear with a blue-green tint.

Britny and Adam made Sheila promise to keep the camera in the camera bag until we got to the falls so we could actually get there in time to still get back in time (she obviously manages to sneak it out a few times anyway). But the hike down was absolutely beautiful! We all voted to change the location of the Garden of Eden to this portion of the Canyon. It was just so green!

The creek itself is just beautiful and it can’t seem to go more than 10 yards without being interrupted by little travertine terraces and falls.

After multiple stream crossings, wading through waist- (probably everyone else’s knees) deep water, …

… and a couple of minor obstacles …

… we finally came to what we later found out were only the upper falls of Beaver Falls.

Man but that was the longest two miles ever! But what a fun little hike! And although I had heard only so-so reviews of Beaver Falls, they were well worth the hike.

Of course I spent so much time taking pictures of the falls when we finally got there that I really didn’t have any time to enjoy swimming around in the pools before we had to rush back again.

I wish we had had time to keep hiking down, but Shiela needed to get back for a dinner she had promised Kayla.

I often say that the Subway in Zion National Park is a great introductory hike to adventure hiking (I’ll review that later, and don’t get me wrong, you still need technical gear and an experienced guide), but this hike is an even more introductory adventure hike what with the obstacles and stream crossings. The only real “obstacle” is a short cliff you have to climb up using a rope and ladder. Of course, as you can see, the ladder, for some odd reason, only has two rungs (man, that was a lot of commas). We promised ourselves that next time we’ll bring some nails and another rung. Don’t forget to remind me.

For a good section of the canyon the walls and canyon floor were just covered in green vines. It’s a good thing I couldn’t take pictures on the way down because it would’ve been impossible to capture even a thousandth portion of the canyon’s beauty (plus we wouldn’t have gotten to Beaver Falls before dark).

On the way back I actually wanted to take pictures. This meant running ahead of everyone and taking pictures as they hiked towards me and then running ahead again (you can only stand so many pictures of people’s butts as they hike away from you). That was exhausting!

The canyon was seriously breathtaking! The greenery just climbed up the canyon walls and made the place seem more like a tropical garden then the middle of the desert.

Keeping the camera accessible for pictures on the way back also meant you were always a little nervous during those stream crossings that you’d lose your balance and be washing your camera prematurely.

When we got back to Mooney Falls everyone had actually cleared out a bit and the light was decent.

So while everyone else hiked back up for dinner I hung around and took some pictures of Mooney Falls.

Naturally, I (finally) got back to the lodge just after dark but couldn’t find anyone. I didn’t know where this restaurant was where everyone planned to eat so I found the hotel manager’s room and asked for a spare key so I could make myself some dinner while I waited.

This is a view of the canyon from the top of Mooney Falls.

When everyone finally returned from dinner (which I’m told was rather tasty) Jen told me the kids had had a great time playing in the pools and playing with some of the local village kids.
After filling my stomach and another refreshing shower it was off to bed again. Of course we had to pack our bags first, because tomorrow morning dark and early it would already be time to head back out again (sniffle, sniffle). Summary:
Distance traveled: Alan – 11 miles by foot; Jen & kids – about 4 miles by foot
Time traveled: I don’t even remember, a lot
Total cost today: $130(2nd of two nights)
Total cost so far:$532