SA Guides: Mesa Arch, Grandview Rim, False Kiva

Routes: Everytrail - Mesa Arch, Grandview Rim

Moab is a fun little town. Not too cute (in comparison with a place like, say, Solvang) but with just enough of the kind of shops, restaurants and diversions to keep you entertained as you take a break from whatever outdoor activity it is that lured you there.

The terra cotta terrain has been a major draw since tourists started frequenting the area, but the methods of enjoying that scenery have expanded to include hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking and canoeing, climbing, mountain biking, four-wheeling, and more. We hope to return someday to kayak-camp the Green River, but for this trip we were trying to squeeze seeing as much of two national parks as possible into three days.

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SA Guide: Devil's Garden

Route: Everytrail

The vacation gods don’t always favor our endeavors. In fact, sometimes they’re downright obstructionist.

We were on our way to Denver to attend our daughter’s grad-school graduation and decided to give ourselves three days in eastern Utah to check out a couple of National Parks we’d wanted to see - Arches and Canyonlands. We’ve always enjoyed desert hiking and Utah’s color country (having so far seen Bryce and Zion and Cedar Breaks), so we could only expect to be further enthralled by more of the same combination at the Moab-area parks.

Unfortunately I was sick as a dog. It was morning in a Provo motel, and we were supposed to be on our way to Moab, but I felt like I wanted to be on my way to bed for the rest of the day (or my life, whichever ended first). Problem was, whatever I had came and went. When it came I wanted to call off the rest of the trip, go home, and lie down for a few months. But when it was gone I felt just good enough to press on.

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SA Guide: Dana Headlands Rocks

What is it about whales that is so endlessly fascinating?

Laura and I have been doing so much hiking and camping lately that it had been probably six months since the last time I'd taken my kayak out for a spin. But the weather was warming up, and I'd heard that several species of whale had been spotted off of our coast in recent days, so I decided it was past time to do a little paddling.

I set off from Doheny Beach hoping I hadn't forgotten anything important, either a piece of gear or a particular skill. But it didn't take very long before I found that familiar, almost meditative, rhythm that makes paddling offshore so enjoyable for me. I like flat water, don't get me wrong, but there's some sort of synergy that happens when steadily blading the water, constantly weight-shifting, feeling the sea through your boat - all in the context of wave-trains and changing surface topography - that I can only call communion.

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SA Guide: Wildrose Peak, Darwin Falls

Route: Everytrail, Everytrail

(Day one)

Sunday morning began as most of our camping mornings begin - with me getting up, heating some water for tea, and puttering around trying not to make too much noise (but not trying too hard) while waiting for Laura to rejoin the waking world.

Laura loves to sleep in. She's one of those people who set the alarm clock earlier than necessary so that they can turn it off several times and go back to sleep before actually having to get up. In other words, she tries to simulate sleeping in even on days when she can't sleep in. Yeah, I don't get it either.

In any case, we had a peak to climb this morning, so it was probably a good thing that I couldn't find the spoons, and had to ask her where she'd put them the night before. Really, I had no choice.

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SA Guide: Wildrose Peak

Route: Everytrail

Sometimes you just have to get away. And if a weekend is all you've got, then that'll have to do.

We felt the need for a re-infusion of nature last week so we planned a little overnighter to Death Valley National Park's Panamint Mountain Range. The Panamints run generally north-south, flanking the iconic basin on its west side, and boasting the highest point in the park - Telescope Peak, at 11,043 feet. 

We wanted a quick, easy hike to a spot with great views and solitude. The quick and easy part meant we'd have to skip Telescope this time (round trip - 14 miles), but we knew just where to find the views and hoped-for solitude, and in the bargain we'd get the chance to redeem a failed attempt at a mountain we had tried once before - Wildrose Peak.

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