What: A quick overnight stay at the Dinosaur National Monument on the northwest border of Colorado/Utah
When: April 5th and 6th, 2014
Why: Took a road trip to Utah to ski, took a detour on the way home. Good decision.
A little over three hours after skiing Snowbird resort in white out conditions we arrived at the campground. Sunset happened immediately after we arrived and we snapped a few photos before it disappeared. We set up camp for a nice early-April evening. The previous days were spent skiing decent late season snow in Park City and Snowbird for a late spring break trip.
Split Mountain at sunset. Three minutes later and the light had completely disappeared.
Sunset facing the other direction:
Green River campground. The Cottonwood trees looked especially creepy with no leaves and a mostly full moon:
The next morning we got up and hiked around this beautiful area on the “Sounds of Silence” trail; a 3 mile loop it provided a great view of the geological insanity of the area. It was April and we started early so it was actually a bit chilly at first. Then we started climbing up a very unique trail that switch backs along the bottom of the ravine I am standing in below. Parts of the hike you were completely surrounded by tall dirt “dunes”.
The top was worth the effort with Split Mountain looming over us:
After the hike we made our way to the Dinosaur Quarry visitor center. This is a 40ft tall wall of dinosaur bones that one guy randomly stumbled upon 100 years ago. Many of the fossils ended up in the Carnegie Museum, however what is left is quite amazing to look at:
This is a massive park and we only did the easiest part. Sounds like a good excuse to go back.
On the way home we were reminded that yes, it is still winter. Gore Range outside of Silverthorne, CO.
Dates: June 9th – 11th, 2012
Where: Outside of Grand Junction on the Ruby/Horsethief section of the Colorado River ending in West-Water, Utah
Who: Justin, Aaron, Adrienne, Caitlin, Whitney, Hawk, Justin’s parents, Hawk’s Parents, some friends of theirs, a canine, and Myself. So a good sized rafting crew.
Caitlin’s “best friend from high school” Justin, was about to leave the country for a year and he organized a final raft trip with friends before leaving the soil of the USA. Caitlin and I were excited to join this adventure as rafting is one of the activities that we don’t get to very often. The put in for the river is just outside of Fruita (at Loma) and after a pretty quick car swap we were off in the early afternoon!
The whole crew at the Black Rocks Campground:
The river is really calm in this section, which is a problem when the wind picks-up and pushes your Shredder Raft up-river. Let’s just say me and Caitlin had some “bonding” time trying to fight the wind the first day and luckily we prevailed. Photo of Justin and Aaron showing us how to use a shredder properly:
Caitlin and Pat hanging-out on Al’s boat:
The water was a little low is spots:
We camped the first night at the Cottonwood campgrounds on the river, amply named due to the massive Cottonwood tree’s that are in this nice campground. Turkey’s were flying through the area and we played with the many toad’s that were jumping all over the place.
Floating the river the next day (we also did some hiking):
Sunday night we arrived at the Black Rocks camping area which is quite unique and full of some spectacular geologic features. The rock is Precambrian schist which would be the oldest exposed rock in that entire area and this area is the only spot along the River outside of Grand Canyon where this old of rock is exposed. Worn smooth from time, it almost looks like a giant water-slide created by maniacs:
Justin hiking around the rocks:
Sunset over the Black Rocks Campground (also picture link to what 3:30AM looks like when the Milky Way makes an appearance):
An incredibly rare sight happened on Caitlin’s and I last day on the river. A Cinnamon Black Bear was on the river’s edge and ran up the steep embankment when we floated past. I was able to snag a couple pictures of it before dropping a paddle into the river and causing chaos for our little shredder boat. We were literally on the boarder of Colorado and Utah and that bear disappeared incredibly fast for such a large animal.
More floating (now we are in Utah):
Caitlin and I got out at the Westwater BLM Ranger station while the rest of the crew continued on to do some rapids the next day. Since we had a few hours before needing to head home (and a convenient NPS parks pass) we checked out the Colorado National Monument which is a beautiful piece of nature tucked right off of I-70.
On the way home we were treated to a PINK SUNSET!
Great trip with old friends and new ones!
When: May 18th – May 21st, 2012 (4th trip to Southern Utah in 2012…)
Who: Myself and the my Old Man
- Friday May 18th: Denver to Moab, Camped at Ken’s Lake, Watched amazing sunset at Canyonlands
- Sat: Sand Flats Recreation Area on a Polaris RZR, Drive to Lake Powell, Kayak in 6 Miles to campsite
- Sun: Explore canyon on kayak, watch the Annular Eclipse, drink whiskey, smoke cigars
- Mon: Kayak back to Hall’s Crossing, take the Ferry, drive back to Denver
The Annular Eclipse over Lake Powell on Sunday May 20th, 2012:
lanning a last minute adventure with my Dad worked out quite well. As usual we had a idea but not a bunch of details and worked on combining a day with my Cousin in Moab with watching the Annular Eclipse in Lake Powell. Moab was the first stop after a windy drive thru Utah. Working our way up to Canyonland’s National Park we ended up at the Island in the Sky and timed a perfect 1 mile hike out on the Grand View Point Overlook right as the sun lit-up all of the dust in the air:
The Old Man enjoying the view from the Grand View Point trail:
Saturday morning we headed out with my crazy Cousin Al on his Polaris RZR in the Sand Flats Recreation Area. We did all of Fin’s and Things and Hell’s Revenge. The RZR is an awesome machine and while I am not too big on 4×4/off-roading, this thing was a beast. Cruising down Hell’s Gate:
Once we had our fill of off-roading my Dad and I took off on the road to Hall’s Crossing Lake Powell. We got our kayaks together and put-in right at 6pm with less then 2 hours of sunlight left. With some info from a local fisherman we headed down to Lake Canyon hoping that we would be able to find a spot to camp that night:
Crossing the large waters of Lake Powell in a kayak is a little unnerving especially since I have 1st hand experience on how quickly the waves can build and considering the water was still very chilly (~65 degrees). Luckily the boat traffic was minimal and instead we found ourselves racing against the sunset:
Nature provided a perfect camping spot with kayak parking, a sandy tent site, and 360 degree views of the area:
Sunday was spent exploring the large Lake Canyon:
Eventually we hit the inlet and hiked-up the river (and eventually ran into some cows who were pooping everywhere):
Annular Eclipse: The Main Event
We set-up just above our campsite for some great viewage of the Eclipse which happened over a much longer period of time then I was expecting. We came prepared with our solar glasses, whiskey, and cigars:
And the Eclipse was awesome:
Monday we packed up and paddled out enjoying the smooth water and making good time. It is always great when such a loose plan turns into a spectacular trip and it was awesome spending some time with my Dad.
More Utah trips in 2012 to come!
Dates: April 27th-29th, 2012
Who: New friends, old friends, and other randoms (~25ppl)
Where: Moab, Utah
The text message from Jon Sexauer, the organizer of one hell of a weekend, simply said: “Drive on the gravel road for 8.6 miles and look for the campsite at the base of the Sandstone features”. Simple enough, well unless you are driving down a dirt-road at 1am in pitch black hoping you are even on the right road; somehow we found them. The campsite Saturday under the last glows of sunset:
In the morning Vinny, Amanda, Jenny and Myself randomly decided to climb Ancient Art in the Fisher Towers. You may recognize this climb from the popular credit card commercial on air lately. We showed up a little late (took 1 hr to get there from our campsite), however our late arrival worked to our advantage as this climb is now super popular and we ended up being the last party up the wall and enjoyed the afternoon by ourselves. We didn’t do the incredible top-out due to some crazy wind that started up as the sun was getting lower in the sky and makes it another reason to come back and do it again. Regardless one awesome chunk of rock.
Group photo after climbing. The top of ancient art is sticking up just over my left shoulder:
Vinny on the Rappel from the party ledge:
On the way out we ran into Slackline Andy (featured in the superbowl with Madonna) as he was planning how to film their crazy slackline set-up that was between two of the towers. Follow this link to see the crazyness!!!
That night we partied hard, somehow cooked dinner on the fire, played on the sandstone rocks, and enjoyed the perfect weather. The next morning all of us were a little slow but we continued the fun in Moab. Here is our campsite in the middle of nowhere on the last morning:
Sunday we did a quick trip of climbing at Wall-street. Here the Three Stooges admiring some climbers:
Vinny crushing the climb Potash Bong Hit:
Overall a quick trip to Moab with perfect weather and a fun crew.
Dates: Wednesday March 28th thru Sunday April 1st, 2012
Details of Travel: 1,500 driving miles!
- March 28th-March 30th: Zion National Park (highlights = Angel’s Landing at sunrise, Narrows hike in 44degree water, Hidden Canyon hike, our campsite outside of Zion)
- Night of March 30th: Camping outside Bryce Canyon at the mouth of Casto Canyon in Red Canyon BLM
- March 31st: Sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park, drive thru highcountry of Southwest Utah
- April 1st: Rock climbing in Ouray with Rambo
Interactive Map of our Quick Journey:
View Zion Trip in a larger map
Mid-afternoon we finally pulled off of I-15 which was bustling and crazy compared to the almost relaxing I-70 section of the trip. Our first stop was to stretch our legs at the North Entrance of Zion National Park known as the Kolob Terrace. It was chilly, dark and dreary due to the storm that was still holding on overhead. The quick hike did not reveal much in the way of photos, however it was great to finally be at our destination.
Insider information always helps and we were pointed to a BLM camping area by my buddy before we left. Timing was on our side and we pulled into one of the best spots in the canyon. Darkness was settling in quickly and right before the sun disappeared it fell below the thick clouds and lit the area up in beautiful light. Here Caitlin takes in the views from our campsite at Smithsonian Butte BLM outside of Zion NP:
Luckily we ran into another couple around our age that had been in the park for the last few days and told us to get up early to get on Angel’s Landing before the normal tourist shit-show happens. An early next-day was planned.
Angel’s Landing: 1,500 vertical ft, ~5 miles RT, ~1:40 to the top
Our first foray into the main canyon was well before the first sunlight and before the park rangers had taken their posts. Quick glimpses of turkey’s and deer were had as we pulled into the trailhead. We were the first to the trailhead that day as we pulled in just before 7:00am, however two other small groups pulled up right behind us and started off before we could get our packs ready. Luckily we did not see them or anyone else for quite some time.
We quickly gained Scout’s Landing where we were greeted with our first sunlight of the day. At this point we passed one of the groups and started-up one of the best hikes I have ever done. The exposure was great and made the relativity simple hiking that much more exciting. Caitlin with the sun just starting to illuminate Angel’s Landing in front of us, 8:30am almost to the top:
We reached the top where we ran into the only person that was in front of us. She was already on her way down and we were left in complete solitary to enjoy a true wonder. Looking back on the hike from the top of Angel’s Landing (the trail runs along the illuminated ridge on the left w/ huge exposure on both sides):
45 mins of complete solitude on top of the world! One can understand where the name Angel’s Landing comes from as we sat watching the sun creep further down the enormous sandstone walls while listening to the sounds of the river and the occasional sound from the wild-turkeys below nearly 1,500 feet below. Once other people showed-up the vibe changed quickly and we headed down. Hiking down was just as exciting as going up:
Back at Scout’s landing we took our time and explored around. We spotted one of the massive California Condor’s that was hanging out watching the crowds on the route (when hiking Angel’s landing in the morning he scared us when he buzzed us once coming around a cliff feature):
Back down to the trailhead we cooked some lunch in the park and planned our next excursion.
Hidden Canyon and Weeping Canyon
We were in the hiking mood and an additional 700 vertical foot climb to the mouth of Hidden Canyon took us into another magical place. Hiking the nice sandy trail we scrambled around this incredible canyon for a couple hours until we finally reached a logical turning point. The hike back down was much quicker since we had already figured out the route around the tough sections.
At the entrance to the canyon were some awesome overhangs. Here Caitlin is getting a feel for ~650 ft of sheer cliff (trail below is the switchbacks for the East Rim/Hidden Canyon and Weeping Rock is in the upper LH side):
Narrow’s Canyon Hike: 110 CFS, 44 degree water, 75 degree air temp highs, random old-friend encounters
The water was cold and we rented drysuits from the http://www.zionadventures.com/ which had a nice set-up and totally worth every penny that we spent with them. Started the hike late (somewhat intentional due to the cool morning temps). Caitlin hiking through the golden glow of the afternoon light:
We fought our way up the river as the flow was high and strong. This turned out to be the hardest hike of the trip and the rewards were well worth it. Myself and Caitlin enjoying the river:
The world is truly a small place! After hiking for a short-bit another couple was gaining on us and eventually they caught-up and it turned out being my friend Drew and his wife Carrie, whom I originally met in the DU Alpine Club and had not seen in a number of years. Awesome to hike with them for a while and catch-up. Drew, Carrie, Caitlin and Andy photo deep in the canyon:
The river was flowing very heavy at 110 CFS that day and they closed down the canyon the next day as the flows got above 120 CFS. Timing was on our side and we got to experience quite the hike.
Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon BLM and Southwest Utah:
We ate Dinner with Drew and Carrie and did not hit the road to Bryce canyon until dusk. With some very loose ideas of places to camp just outside of Red Canyon we drove up some BLM road and found a place to lay our heads for the night. Night-time photos over Castro Canyon (and a ghost self-portrait):
Another early morning and we arrived to Bryce Canyon where our jaws promptly dropped:
Again there was very few people around which was surprising considering it was a Saturday morning in a park famous for sunrises. Caitlin dancing with the trees of Bryce Canyon:
We did a short hike in chacos and wool socks which was nice to stretch out after the previous two grueling days.
You don’t need to spend much time here as it is relatively small so it was perfect for a nice morning excursion before grabbing lunch at the lodge and then taking the long journey all the way to Ouray, Colorado.
The route through the desert between Bryce Canyon and Hanksville, UT was really quite cool. Some amazing vistas in a place that I had no prior knowledge on (not to mention you drive thru MTN passes at ~10,000 ft, Escalante, Capitol Reef NP, Lake Powell, Cone Mtn, Henry Mountains, etc).
A late arrival in Ouray and we crashed at RAMBO‘s house. The next day we hit up some climbing just outside of town at a place called Colby’s Corner which had some nice routes and expansive views of Sneffel’s and Cimarron peaks. A nice dip in the hot springs plus a Mouse’s Chocolate shake and we were recovered from the hikes and ready to head home!
Looking back in the rear-view mirror of the awesomeness of this part of the world:
Perma-Link here: http://andylibrande.com/news/2012/07/zion-bryce-ouray-spring-break/
Who: Chris Storms, Hannah Storms, Caitlin, RAMBO, and Myself
When: February 24th-26th, 2012 (amazing winter climbing!)
Where: Big Bend Boulders, Moab, Utah
Weather: 70’s daytime highs, ~35 morning lows, mostly sunny, occasionally windy, always beautiful
Clear black sky with the stars beaming brightly, darkness feeds the soul. Crisp desert skies. Campfire smoke. Distant water sounds. —- Big Bend campground in February:
Chilly winter mornings fought off with the full stomachs. The sun shining bright the boulders beckoned. Time to climb. —- Caitlin on Flat Top Boulder:
RV’s, tourists, and noise was absent at the Big Bend Campground. Four sites taken of the 50+ sites in the area. Anxious climbers rotated through the many lines offered in the area. — Rambo just short (left) and Chris sending it (right):
Late lunch back at camp. Slightly extended downtime. New objectives. Sunset comes quick in February. —- Rambo (left) and Andy (right) figuring out the move’s on Brown Power:
New day. Slow, cold start. Revisiting the prior evening’s objective. Finishing strong. —- Chris sending (left) and Rambo sending (right):
Where: Moab, Utah
When: November 6th-8th
Who: Caitlin, Andrew Giamberardino, Whitney Hoover, Ben Strauss, Scott Miller, Paige Powers and Myself
Weather: Low 70’s during the day with a steady light breeze and mid 40’s overnight; in other words, Perfect
On extreme short-notice a group gathered to go down to Moab to do a little camping, biking, and climbing. We all left Denver around 7:00pm on the Friday night and ended-up hitting the campground just after midnight. Luckily we found a couple of sites just down from the Big Bend campground and set-up for the night.
We woke up early the next morning, made a quick breakfast and after getting a few rental bikes headed to the infamous Slickrock trail. On a side-note I have been to Moab on at least 6 trips but I have never gone mountain biking, so I was really stoked to finally get out and do something really cool.
Pulling into the Slickrock parking lot I realized why coming to Moab in November was so utterly awesome; this massive parking lot is usually overflowing down the road and this time only about a quarter of all the spots were taken.
We spent the rest of the day out on the Slick-rock trail enjoying the slight breeze and moderate weather; the views were also amazing with a light layer of snow on the La Sal mountains to the East and views of fall foliage all along the river-banks below us. The trail was more enjoyable and a lot more difficult then I anticipated and glad to finally tick it off of the list. Also the 7 person crew was a lot of fun and were able to enjoy large stretches of the trail just by ourselves.
Biking Shots on the Slickrock trail:
Scott hitting up one of the wild switch-backs on the first part of the trail:
Andrew, Ben, and Whitney doing one of the really fun downhill sections with some of the better views of the trail:
Scott and Paige:
The only small issue with Moab in November is that the sun is set by 5:30pm so it takes a few hours off of the day. Not too big of a deal as we ate some delicious Chili Whitney cooked up, sat around the fire, ate some s’mores and made fun of each other.
Here is a 12 minute exposure of the Milky Way from our campsite taken at 7:20pm. The stars were unbelievable and then sometime after midnight the moon rose with some really intense light.
The next morning some group shots at the camp-site:
And one of Caitlin:
Then myself, Paige and Caitlin walked over to the Big Bend boulders and had a fun day. Caitlin sending a nice tall problem:
Working on another right next to the road. This one had really cool crimpy pockets and an awesome finishing lip:
Awesome random weekend. It will be hard to ever go to Moab any other time of the year.