Ok, I've waited a while and now the memories aren't quite as fresh. I'll see what I can pull out.
First let me say sorry to Roger. Driving across country for my first time I have realized that Kansas sucks!! 425+ miles of the most boring driving that I have ever experienced. And then you get into Eastern Colorado and it doesn't get too much better. Unfortunately we go into Denver right at sunset meaning that my first trip through the Rockies was going to be at night. Dang!! My eyes were still glued to the road and to the altimeter on my watch. It was pretty sweet watching it climb all the way to 11,000+ ft. I'm sure it was beautiful out there!! We stopped at a rest stop around 10,000 ft and of the 21 people in our group I was the only one who felt the need (most immature??) to blast someone with a snowball. I thought it would be cool to say that I've thrown snowballs in May.
Is that you standing out there Roger??
After arriving in Utah, the first park that we visited was Arches National Park. We spent 2 days there. The 1st day, after setting up camp, we did a short hike to Delicate Arch. This is Utah's most famous arch and I could see why. Its sheer size was amazing. I can definitely see why they named it Delicate Arch; it looked as if it would fall anytime. The second day the group split and my group did an 8+ mile hike around Devil's Garden. This was a very strenuous hike (between being exposed in the sun and sometimes hiking in sand) but it was well worth it. We got up close views of Landscape Arch, Navajo Arch, Double Arch, Dark Angel, and HUGE spires and fins.
You could fit several Canaans in this valley
Spires and Fins
Our next stop was Capital Reef National Park. We didn't really spend much time here as it was more of a stop on the way to our next destination. A few of us did go on a sunset hike and it was one of my favorite hikes of the entire trip. It was only about 4 miles roundtrip but was pretty much straight up so the view at the top was amazing!!
Half way up at Capital Reef
I'm sure the view was great about 30 minutes ago!!
Lower Falls of Calf Creek in Grand Escalante National Monument was our next stop. This was a 6 mile roundtrip hike in deep sand. With plenty of rain it made for a great time. After making it to the falls we spent a total of 3 minutes taking pictures, adding layers, and taking off back the vans (it was getting wet and cold). These falls were beautiful and definitely worth the hike. The coolest (torture for me) part was seeing all of the brown trout in the creek along the trail.
Taking in the cool breeze
From there we drove to Bryce Canyon National Park. At Bryce we spent 1 night. Instead of hiking in the rain I opted to go for a horseback ride. Good choice! We had a great time and enjoyed the break while the horse (or a mule in my case) did all of the work. Bryce was absolutely gorgeous and I wish I could have spent more time exploring.
Zion National Park was the last place we stopped in Utah. Our group was supposed to be splitting in two. One was supposed to go to Angel's Landing and the other was going to The Narrows. Because of high water The Narrow's was closed. We ended up splitting and one group went to the Emerald Pools and the other went to Angel's Landing. After hiking to see all three Emerald Pools (I wanted to go to Angel's Landing but due to some issues I didn't) our small group decided that there would be plenty of time to continue on and do Angel's Landing.
Now to tell you a little about Angel's Landing. This hike is CRAZY!! First of all, there is 1,500 ft of elevation gain over just 2.5 miles. The last half mile isn't a hike. It is a rock scramble....with about 1,500 of sheer drop off on each side. It's cool though, they have a chain you can hold on to. Well, in most places at least. That last half mile was by far the scariest thing I have ever done. It took me over 30 minutes. One of the biggest problems is that there are a lot of people and there are rarely places that are wide enough for 2 people to pass. In some places the ridge seemed no more than 15 feet wide. A lot of times I found myself clinging to the edge of a rock while my feet dangled just inches from a 1,500 drop off. After hanging on the top for a little while we began the slow climb back down. It takes so long because you really have to think about every move you make because if you mess up you are in for an unfriendly tumble. This hike was by far my most favorite of the trip.
The last place we went to was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was a pretty cool place. Not exactly what I expected, there were tons of trees and it was nice and cool because it is around 8,300 ft. We spent the morning playing on The Kaibab Trail. The stats on this trail were pretty amazing. Something like 14.2 miles long and 6,000 ft of lost vertical. Needless to say, we felt that 1,000 ft was enough for us. After a long 8 days we weren't up to much hiking. That evening we had a really good dinner at the Lodge. Although it got down to about 30 degrees both nights we stayed at the North Rim, it was absolutely perfect for sleeping out under the stars. We hit up a few overlooks on the way out and then headed home!
This trip was fantastic. Riding across country in a van with a group of people you just met can be frustrating and tiresome but overall it was a great time. I made some really good friends and saw some really cool stuff. I'd definitely do it again!!