Weekend Snapshots: A Lazy Saturday and A Trial Hike With Photography Equipment

This weekend was all about relaxing and getting some last minute organizing done before our vacation beings.

Saturday, I think I may have left my couch for a total of three hours all day. I am not quite sure what came over me but I really felt like doing nothing. So strange but I actually enjoyed the leisure time. I did manage a 3 mile walk with my hubby and a nice dinner out together. I was craving guacamole and he loves fajitas so mexican it was.

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That pretty much was our Saturday. We spent the rest of the day lounging around doing absolutely nothing.

Sunday we woke up with a lot more energy. My husband has been waiting for a calm wind day to try out his fly fishing technique and our son has been working on a better way to carry all is camera gear while hiking. So that meant I was going along for the trial hike with our son since I have no idea how to fly fish.

After a big hiking trip to the Porcupine Mountains a few weeks ago our son found that his original photography bag was not made for hiking in any way. He was miserable, sore and just plain disappointed with his entire setup. Which meant he was scrambling to figure out something for our vacation which also includes hiking great distances with elevation. The biggest dilemma was money. He has bought three camera bags already and one at a pretty hefty price. None of them have served him well on the trail yet, so he did not want to spend more money on a plan that did not work. So with some quick thinking we came up with a good solution. He will be using my husbands old backpack and stuffing one of his smaller, padded camera backpacks inside for organization and protection.

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This way he can still carry a water bladder, which no camera bag has ever allowed him to do, and snacks along with the gear he feels he will need on the trail. Here is a look at what the inside looks like.

IMG_1925 For now we zip tied the smaller camera backpack straps down into a smaller size near the top so they would not take up space. After our trip, if this seems to work out, he plans to either cut them off permanently or purchase just the padded organizer that would be needed for his gear. He did find this system to be much more well balanced on his hips during todays trial hike. He also thought it was great to have water along which is huge where we are headed on vacation. So this seems to be the setup he is going to try and we all hope it works out to be better.

As for the trail we hiked today, lets just say I was a very happy hiker today. I saw only frogs and no snakes. Just the way I like it:)  IMG_1926  IMG_1922

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I Feel a Vacation Coming….

The winter of 2014 will be forever in our minds as the winter of below zero temperatures for 49 days straight. Lately, we have had temps up to 75 and now we are back down to the thirties in the morning hours. I simply can’t believe we have had to turn our heat back on!!! That being said, I really feel the need to do something about where we live.

I know what your all thinking. I just have spring fever. Although, I seriously think it’s more than that. I may have winter pneumonia. I have lived in this city for every single one of my 41 years of life. That’s 41 winters I have remarkably survived. Now, I admit maybe when I was young it was not so bad, but the last 10 years have truly been torture. So, I came up with this plan and ran it by my husband.  He always gets so worried when I say, “Honey, I have a plan…!” (I personally think he just needs to relax) Much to my surprise, he agreed to my plan after very little thought.

We are going to take our first winter vacation ever in 2015. We have decided (ok, so maybe I decided and let him know about it) to go back to the Southwest area where it is toasty warm and sunny.

We visited this same general area for the first time back in September 2013 when we traveled with REI to Zion National Park. This was by far the best vacation I had ever been on. We arrived in the REI van as passengers and it literally brought tears to my eyes at what I saw everywhere around me. I must admit, this was also the most emotional vacation I had ever taken. I cried three times in three days and for no reason other than I was so happy there. I was in my element with sun, hot temperatures and mountains all around me. Someday I have to believe I will live in this area, but until then, I plan to visit and explore every mile that I can.

This time we will be going at it on our own with no guides. We are also not visiting any national parks. Utah in winter has snow, so we plan to go a little more south to avoid the nasty white stuff. I hate to say it because winter 2014 is not that far behind us, but I am actually excited for winter 2015 to arrive. Now that’s a scary thought!

My hope is that by going on a warm vacation for a few days it will at least break up the endless days of freezing temperatures and make winter not seem so long and dreadful for me. It’s the best we can do at this point in our lives so I will take it as a blessing that I will have one week mid winter of glorious sunshine and warmth.

Do any of you vacation mid winter somewhere warm and sunny?

Does it help with the endless days of winter?

 

Our 20th. Anniversary Vacation-Zion National Park-Day 4

The only destination for today was the top of Angel’s Landing. An elevation gain of 1488 feet, rated as a strenuous hike, 5 miles round trip, with an average time to complete being 5 hours. The last 1/2 mile is up a narrow ridge with anchored support chains to hang on to.

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I knew this was going to be the hike that would be a dream come true if I could accomplish it. Climbing to the top of a mountain has been a life long dream of mine, and this was my chance. (When I read the sign that said 6 people have died from falling off this cliff, I prayed I would not be the seventh.)

We started out our day with a good breakfast and checking out of the lodge. All luggage was loaded into the REI trailer and we were all asked to visit Megan’s room where they had a spread of wraps, lunch meat, veggies, granola bars, chips, peanut butter, etc. all nicely arranged for us to prepare a pack lunch to carry to the top of the mountain. We all did this and loaded up and headed to the trail head.

The path is a paved path and the incline was immediate. The guides said there would be many breaks along the way because this was a climb they like to do all together as a team for moral support. (That should have been my first clue something big was coming) We continued up with gorgeous views. When we reached Refrigerator Canyon, we were cooled by a nice breeze and some shade which is where we took a break.

Next, up the trail was what they refer to as Walter’s Wiggles. This is a series of 21 short switchbacks with extreme elevation.

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When you reached the top of this you arrived at Scout’s Landing. Another break was taken here and this was when we could see our destination. The very top of this ridge.

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I can only try to explain the feelings I had from this point. They posted a nice sign stating the danger involved.

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No photography was taken while we climbed this VERY narrow ridge. I was gripping the chains with all the strength I had in me. I will admit, my eyes never left the side of the cliff, I knew if they had, I would have never continued. A few of us were ready to give up at the half way point, because of the sheer terror of this climb. Our guides patiently talked us through our fear and said they would clear the path. We would take it slow and steady as a team, supporting each other.

There is nothing I could ever put into words that would ever come close to the feelings I had. Our guides talked us through this, repeating over and over, “three points of contact at all times.” Two feet on the cliff and one hand on the chain, or two hands on the chain and one foot on the cliff. Each step was carefully planned before taking it. My knuckles were sometimes scraped from being between the cliff side and the chain and I didn’t even care, I was not letting go for nothing in the world.

When we finally made it to the top and the platform was flat enough to walk, I did this with shaky legs all the way to the end and took a seat. I swear I have never seen anything like what I saw from up there. It was like being on top of the world.

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Some of us ate our lunch and some of us just had a small snack. My  stomach was not ready to hold down the lunch I had packed, but I was able to eat a bit.

As we all got settled on top of this mountain, our wonderful guides pulled out a bottle of sparkling cider and cups. It was time for a toast, they said, to an amazing accomplishment as a team. None of us even knew they had carried a bottle up the entire mountain side, it was just amazing. So special!!!!

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We spent a half hour on top of the world literally, and then headed back down the same way we came up, slow and steady.

When we reached Scouts Landing, they said it was tradition to all huddle together in a circle, so we did. Brian then said, everyone take a deep breath and yell REI, and we all did, but the aroma in our huddle made it quite obvious that we all worked up quite a sweat on this hike!!! It was pretty funny actually, we all had a good laugh at this moment.

A very nice gentlemen even offered to take our group picture.

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After this it was back down the steep path to the van. We all had time to change into some clean clothing before the three hour ride back to the Green Valley Ranch Resort where they dropped us all off.

Our last day of hiking was made possible by two special people. I know for a fact, we would have never made it to the top without their support. A special thanks to Brain and Megan (REI guides) for making our dreams come true.

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If any of you are ever considering a trip like this, I have a few words of advice.

We were sent the itinerary of the trip and what the hikes all involved. We were not required to finish or do anything we did not feel comfortable doing. My husband and I trained for this for a few weeks before leaving and I truly believed this helped us get the full trip experience with the least amount of discomfort. Also,when mother nature is involved, things can change and you need to be flexible. We were very lucky that we were able to hike the Narrows with the amount of rain that was in the area before we arrived. Our REI guides made this trip very special in many ways, even though we were lodge based. We would highly recommend REI and plan to travel with them again someday.

****These are all our personal thoughts and opinions.