After Leakey, TX, Zac and I took some time to get ourselves up to Arcata, CA last month. We played in White Sands, NM- pretty much a giant sandbox for me to go crazy in. Rolling down the sand dunes was good stuff, even though i got a little too excited and managed, of course, to hurt myself while hurling my body down the sandy goodness. Whatever, it was worth it.We saw this little guy (actually, we saw lots of these little guys) - an earless lizard, he was pretty fancy and obliging to a photoshoot, too.
After White Sands, we went up to Canyon de Chelly in Northeast Arizona. Quite an impressive canyon i must say, and not an overload of lame tourists, either. It's right in the middle of Navajo Nation, and down in the canyon there are some pretty cool ruins and people still farm and live down there. I was a little jealous - it's gorgeous.
We went to Grand Staircase Escalante in Southern Utah and Kodachrome Basin State Park on our way to Bryce and Zion. Kodachrome was a little park, but for a state park, it gets the prize. Wish we had spent some more time in Escalante too. We took the crappy 45 mile seasonal road though it. We stopped and hiked around some canyons and arches. There was nobody out there, it was great! I bet it's crawing with cats too, nice!This chukar came wandering through our campsite at Kodachrome one morning. He just hung around and walked on my yoga mat. He's very much a cutie pie.
So then we booked on over to Bryce, which, obviously, was pretty damn impressive. Even though it's one of the most visited National parks, the fatso tourists tend not to go more than 10 yards from their cars, so we were able to avoid the crowds on some longer hikes. We saved backpacking for Zion though, but got in a lot of miles at Bryce anyway.
Onward to Zion, where we did the cliche (but you still gotta do it) Angel's Landing Trail and then hiked in 7 or so more miles, straight uphill (i think it was like a 4000 elevation gain in 5 miles, in 112 degree heat). We found out our campsite didn't actually exist. I guess the backcounty permit guy was really confused, or just a dumbass? After hiking an extra few miles searching in vain for where we were supposed to camp, we just said screw it and threw the tent down in some random spot. Views were nice. We only passed two people in and out of the trail - freaking awesome considering the hoards of people who visit that park. The little guy is a western bluebird fledgie.
We stopped in Las Vegas, unwillingly, on our way to Red Rocks Conservation Area to go climbing. I bought a vegan carrot cake at Whole Foods and Zac and I managed to disgustinly consume that thing in less than 24 hours. I need cake therapy. Climbing was fun, but we didn't have enough time. Right before dusk we found a canyon with at least 20-25 different routes. We'll be back.
Red Rocks is something the BLM has actually done right. I suggest you go, even though is disturbingly close to the Vegas shit hole. There are some really sweet canyons and tons of miles of trails, climbing, good wildlife. The smog is barely even noticable. Crazy, I know.We made an attempt to camp in the Mojave National Preserve, but that proved fruitless. It was about 2 am and we were driving on some pretty jarred up roads, and found no campsites. At a gas station however, we did find two 20 year old hoodlum boys with hookers, getting chewed out by a 70 year old man who was calling the cops. I'm assuming they are spending some time in jail at this point.
We drove up to the San Fran area after that and stayed with Zac's parents for a couple days, then went on up to Arcata, where we waited around for a few days and gorged ourselves full of vegan fare. That's an American Avocet near Palo Alto, CA and some poppies in Arcata.
Then it was off to Lakeview, OR (a different sort of town, to say the least), making a quick stop in Medford, OR to say hi to my seesta and her family. Next year, or later this year maybe, we're gonna try and figure out how to make the whole canyoneering thing happen in Zion without injuries, and spend some more time climbing. That's right.