Petrified Forest

Driving east along Highway 24 in Utah is a truly amazing experience, particularly if you have any interest in physical geography or outdoor activities. Along the route there are a number of significant sites, including, the Capital Reef National Park, but we decided to break our journey at the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. What a great decision that turned out to be.

On arrival we pulled up close to the Wide Hollow Reservoir and in a matter of minutes had seen a greater variety of birds than in the previous 5 days. An Osprey fling overhead plus hundreds of ducks and comorants proved to be a welcome distraction before heading off for a walk.

Petrified Forest
Just after the start of the Petrified Forest trail and looking down on Wide Hollow Reservoir. Constructed in 1954 to provide water for the nearby town of Escalante, it had a wide variety of birds including Osprey and Bufflehead, when we visited.
Petrified Forest
Marker 10 on the Nature Trail, Petrified Wood. Amazing to think that its between 135 and 155 million years old.

There is a relatively short walk with notes to follow although this can be extended into a longer route, which has a much more remote feel. Although we were here during Spring Break, we only passed two other people on the whole circuit. Such a contrast to some of the other more popular stops along the scenic route, such as the National Parks

Mountain scenery
Extending the walk revealed some superb desert scenery. We didn’t see another person along this section of the trail.

The Escalante Petrified Forest is a fascinating insight into the geological history of this section of Utah. It also offers an opportunity to explore away the car parks and to gain a greater appreciation of the environment of this area.

Petrified Forest
One of the better examples of the petrified wood. The colours are produced by the presence of minerals that enter the wood during the process of petrification. The purple colours are the result of manganese oxides.

Taylor Creek Trailhead – Zion

The Taylor Creek Trailhead is a delightful walk in the Kolob Canyons section of the Zion National Park in Utah. Access is straight foward from the I-15. Leave at junction 40 and call into the National Park Office to purchase your permit.
There are a number of options regarding payment, we bought a years pass for the National Parks, which cost $80, for the two of us. The idea of paying raises some issues for people in the UK, who are used to free access to the wild lands. Actually with the facilities, which were available, plus free parking I don’t really have an issue with the payment. I just hope I get 12 months use out of it.

Taylor Cree Trailhead
Nicky at the start of the trail. An early start meant that on the way up the trail we saw very few people, in fact only 3 people walking towards us

We arrived relatively early, you could imagine that the parking lot can become pretty crowded. The size of the parking lot clearly regulates the number of people on the trail at any one time. The information states that, the Taylor Creek Trailhead, is a round trip of 5 miles with 400 feet of ascent. In reality we walked 5.5 miles with 2,000 feet of ascent. I don’t think that they had taken into account all the small ups and downs. On the walks we did in the area, which we recorded on the GPS, we found that the quoted distance was generally under by about 10% whilst the height gain was always significantly more than stated. I used the excellent viewranger App, to record our walk.

Taylor Creek Trailhed
The trail is well maintained in the lower sections allowing easy walking. The scenery becoming more dramatic around each twist in the track.
Taylor Creek Trailhead
Built in around 1930, Larson’s Cabin is one of two that you encounter on the trail.

Gustive O. Larson built his cabin in 1930, at the heart of a 160 acres homestead. Looking at old photographs of the area it is amazing in the changes in the vegetation. The area had been grazed by livestock, resulting in far fewer trees. The Washington County Historical Society have a fascinating article on the history of the Larson and his cabin.
From here the scenery becomes more dramatic as you enter one of the “finger” canyons.

Taylor Creek Trailhead
Starting along the path into the “finger canyon”. Huge cliffs rise on either side as the valley narrows
Taylor Creek Trailhead
The canyon narrows dramatically. Due to our relatively early start we had this section of the trail to ourselves. Adding greatly to the enjoyment of the morning

The end of Taylor Creek Trailhead is Double Arch Alcove, a dramatic location, which is a fitting place to stop for a rest and to soak up the atmosphere. You are unlikely to have the area to yourself but an earlier start, will help reduce the crowds.

Taylor Creek Trailhead
The lower level of Double Arch Cove
Taylor Creek Trailhead
Looking up towards the higher levels of Double Arch Alcove.

On the walk out the views of the canyon walls, were if anything, more spectacular. The sun had moved around accentuating the contours on the rock faces. All too soon we had arrived back at the car, after an enjoyable morning and a perfect introduction to hiking in Utah.

Utah walking
On the walk out, the canyon has a new perspective, but is equally dramatic.

A bit of a change from the normal postings but one, which hopefully some people will find interesting and/or useful.

India Walk About – Day 4

India Walk About – Day 4
After another cold night it was an early start as we aimed to reach our highest camp of the trip before crossing a col tomorrow and starting our descent into another valley.  We knew that the crossing of the col would be the most challenging part of the whole trek so we needed to be in a good position if the weather was in our favour.
In the bright sunshine we walked through an increasingly rugged landscape.   One section of the walk was particularly exposed but we did manage to get a phone signal at one of the bends in the path.  The information wasn’t good, poor weather was heading our way and above a certain level the precipitation would be falling as snow.
We spent the night in some huts but were concerned about the incoming poor weather so we decided to get up before dawn ensuring that we were ready to head towards lower pastures at first light.
Just above where we camped the previous 2 nights and preparing for the first section of uphill of the day.  The peak behind is the one we had climbed the day before.
Some distant views of the Indian Himalaya’s as we walked along some broad ridges.  The temperature had been modified by the altitude, resulting in perfect walking conditions.
One of the few steeper sections.  Just before starting this ascent there was plenty of evidence of bears in the area although unfortunately we didn’t see any.
Traversing towards are high camp.  Small patches of snow indicated the weather conditions of a few days previously.  Just before this position we had manged to get a mobile phone signal so were able to check the weather forecast.  It was not good.
There was a feeling that we were at the heart of some significant mountains.
Just below our high point of 3907 metres.  We knew that this would be our last night at this altitude.  We were due to go over a col tomorrow, which required further ascent but in light of the weather forecast we were heading downhill in the morning.
Looking down on the huts where we were going to spend the night.
Celebrating Maureen’s birthday before going to bed early.  We were due to get up at 5.45 the following morning, with the potential for it to be quite a hard day.