Posted by: Jack | April 20, 2007

Epic Journey: Day 15 – Idaho, Oregon, Olympia

Any solo road trip of significant distance is bound to end on a relatively low note given that the last thing one does is spend too much time sitting in a car just wanting to be home. The final leg of my trip was no exception. Save for a 30-minute nap at a rest area, I drove the ~1100 miles straight through the night and arrived home early in the morning.

Throughout this trip I maintained a brief journal documenting the various experiences of each day. This journal then became the outline for the numerous blog entries leading up to, and including this one and therefore all of these entries can be classified as introspective. But having expounded the full extent of my journey, I can now move on to the process of retrospection.

Favorites

-Hikes

Yosemite – Upper Yosemite Falls Trail (Day 1) – A steep but rewarding out-n-back climb of about 4.5 miles each way. Especially worth while if hiked at peak flow of the falls.

Zion Canyon – Emerald Pools Trail (Day 5) – This trail was quite short and honestly not nearly as scenic as many on this trip but earns its place among favorite hikes because of the co-hikers present for the trek. The 16 of us–all with a craving for adventure and a latent immaturity–turned the trail and its surroundings into our playground for the afternoon. The falls at the end of the trail was dry at the time but I can imagine that if seen while flowing during the short period of the day when the sun is at just the right angle to light up the canyon, the climax of this trail would be fantastic.

Zion Canyon – Angel’s Landing Trail (Day 6) – Short but steep…No wait, short but sweet. Well…both actually. As an out-n-back stretch of 2.5 miles each way, I’m willing to classify this trail as a must-hike. And that applies to everyone. If you have an intense fear of heights, that is all the more reason to explore this trail which is most easily described as exhilarating. One tip though; start out very early or suffer the hordes of day-hikers that will likely crowd you right over a cliff.

Bryce Canyon – Fairyland Loop Trail (Day 8) – This 8 mile loop dives down into the heart of land formations which are truly unique even on a global scale. While the landscape comes across as seemingly alien, it simultaneously presents the process of erosion in such an obvious manner that the appearance over the last millions of years can be imagined intuitively. The coloring of the rocks is best at sunrise or sunset.

-Drives

Zion Mt Carmel Highway 9 from Zion to Mt Carmel Junction (Day 6) – Starting low in the canyon, this drive climbs past a number of awesome views and soon reaches the historic Mt Carmel Tunnel after which the landscape changes drastically but continues to keep one’s eyes off the road.

A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway 12 in Utah stretching from Bryce Canyon up to Torrey (Day 9) – If you don’t have time to actually stop at any of the parks next time you are visiting/passing through Utah, change your other plans and make time. If you truly don’t have time, take a detour along this scenic byway. One bend after another presents vistas stretching out literally more than 150 miles. Bring your camera but be prepared for disappointing pictures. There is just no way to capture a worthy representation of this area in two dimensions.

Highway 24 from Torrey to Hanksville and Bicentennial Highway 95 from Hanksville through Glen Canyon (Day 9) – This is basically a continuation of the drive described above but presents a whole new type of landscape, especially in the area of Hite, UT.

-Photos

Yosemite Falls from above

Red Rock Valley at Night

Bouldering in Red Rock Valley

Making camp in St. George

Group photo at Zion Canyon

“Deep water bouldering” in the Emerald Pools, Zion Canyon

Saying goodbye

Strong updrafts on Angel’s Landing, Zion Canyon

Fairyland Loop at sunrise, Bryce Canyon

Wheelwalking in front of Calf Creek Falls (frame from video)

Cohab Canyon, Capitol Reef

Sipapu Bridge, Natural Bridges

Castle Valley Overlook, Porcupine Rim Trail, Moab

Pritchett Arch, Moab

-Favorite unicycle rides

All of them.

-Disappointments

Even while still in Sequoia National Park, one encounters an awful presence of smog drifting inland from the bay area and LA. Heading southeast towards Red Rock Valley, the problem only increases.

Even though its major highways are crowded and polluted, California still manages to empty the pockets of those using these roads by having some of the highest gasoline prices in the country.

Bryce Canyon’s backcountry trails are limited to the southern and less scenic parts of the park. Although still offering a pleasant hike, the non-looping trails present very little of the unique landscape for which Bryce Canyon is famous.

Moab is located in the midst of the Great Basin Desert. The generally reliable lack of rain is one aspect which makes it an excellent destination for mountain unicycling. However in my four days of riding, the area received significant rain lasting through most of the second and third days.

-Places I’ll definitely be returning to

Yosemite – This immense park offers tons of trails and I intend to explore at least a couple of them on a backpacking trip some day.

Zion Canyon – I would like to return here sometime later in the summer when the slot canyons won’t be closed due to snow and flood hazards. I’m sure I’ll want to hike up to Angel’s Landing again as well.

Capitol Reef – Another very large park of which I only caught a small glimpse. The park service maintains a variety of orchards and when in season, the fruit is free to those who care to harvest it. It would be fun to do a backpacking trip, starting off loaded with a variety of fresh fruit and having the same as a reward upon return.

Moab – From this point on I think I will require a serious emergency or significant injury before I fail to attend each annual Moab MuniFest. It’s so exciting to share a challenge such as mountain unicycling with other enthusiasts from all over the world. And the terrain of Moab seems to bring my skills to higher levels with each additional ride.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Incredible trips, never dreamed anyone would try such a thing on a unicycle! Glad you liked the Capitol Reef area, I’ve been exploring it myself and reporting in the Torrey Tales: http://www.bobpalin.com/tt

    Bob Palin
    Torrey, Utah

  2. Beautiful pictures. Outside of Cirque du Solieil shows, I haven’t seen a feat as daring as your handstand on the Castle Valley Overlook!
    Good luck in your adventures!
    Mala Mukunda
    http://www.traveling-stories-magazine.com

  3. […] Epic Journey: Day 15 – Idaho, Oregon, Olympia April 2007 2 comments 3 […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: