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September 20, 2014

Big Bear


Arg! what a difference a day makes!  Thunderstorms in Flagstaff, a new exit route is advised.  It’s only a precaution but makes good sense to skip the Vermillion Cliffs and avoid the rain as long as possible.  Back to the freeway … but see there is 2-lane out of Barstow up to Big Bear via Lucerne Valley.

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Now that’s better!

Well I thought it was better Sad smile   The climb out of the valley is 16% with hairpin switchback turns.  Not the best road for an RV, but Rufus only complained once and climbed the grade in 1st gear.

It’s called Big Bear as the valley was full of Grizzly Bears – only one left now is on the state flag. 

Halloran's had a spot on the Lake!  Of course I took it, full hook-ups too.  But it was only available because Rufus is small enough to fit into the boat storage area!
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But with the view, it was just fine!
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I’m a sucker for Bristlecone Pines!  A bucket list item is to hike all the groves, with only New Mexico left it just might happen.  Then there was the hike in the Big Bear Guide called the Bristlecone Loop – WTH?  HA! got me … Bristlecone is the name of the road where the Fern Trail starts!  Nice hike anyway, altho turned around at Club View due to time limitations.
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For lunch … Pizza in The Village, then the drive home …
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Now time to figure out the next adventure

September 18, 2014

The Emerald Pools

A lazy start to what should have been a moderate hike to the 3 Emerald Pools near Zion Lodge.  Took the time to follow the Archaeology Trail to a viewpoint above the campgrounds then on the shuttle.
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The trail to the 1st pool is paved and shaded an easy 1 mile stroll, with views of the cottonwood groves in the valley. The algae in the pools give them a green color.  Last time here in the pouring rain the pool was very green.  Need a bit of imagination now.  This pool is fed by a waterfall from the middle pool.
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Another quarter mile and 100’ up the stairs carved into the sandstone is the middle pool.  Fed by the runoff from the top pool it sits right on the cliff edge creating the waterfall.
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Another mile and many more steps carved into the sandstone finally arrive at the last pool.  A pleasant oasis in the shade after a hot climb up.  This pool is fed from the ground waters released by the different densities of the rock layers.  A hanging garden clings to the rock walls where water is available.
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Go back the same way? or extend the hike an additional 1.5 miles to include The Grotto?  Silly of course The Grotto!  Great views of the Virgin River below, but no shade and 100*+ with no breeze.  Altho not fatal, a poor choice!  HOT!  I used the last of my water to pour over my head, trying to control my body temperature.
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Despite all the beauty around the footbridge making The Grotto was a fabulous sight!  The Grotto has a shuttle stop with the Lodge the next stop only a half-mile away.  Still took the shuttle!
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Starting home tomorrow.

September 17, 2014

The Narrows

 
“I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.”  Had to pick between the 2 best hikes in the park: Angels Landing or The Narrows.  Friends who have done both agree that Angels Landing would be the better choice.  But it lacks both shade and water …not to mention it’s way longer with a 1600’ elevation gain.

Woke up to beautiful morning, but so did everybody else and there was quite a line at the shuttle stop.
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The last shuttle stop is Temple of Sinawva.  From there it is a mile paved path to the Virgin River.  As the trail map says ‘the river is the trail, be prepared to wade, rock scramble, hike or swim as may be necessary’.  Sounds like fun, first river crossing easy-peasy.
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Along the way waterfalls, sandstone, limestone and weeping rocks, where the ground water flows out between the rock layers.
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No swimming on our trip was required.  Altho after that first easy water crossing there were 31 more.  Most were knee to thigh deep, altho I did try a short cut thru a waist deep pool.  And the destination was well worth the effort!

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Sometimes there’s a worry about leaving the RV unattended, but this time no concerns!  We had Bambi guarding the front door.
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September 16, 2014

Zion

Lazy start it’s only a few hours to Zion, and with regret leaving the mountains behind took awhile to get started. 

Took the scenic drive via the tunnels on AZ 9 into Zion.  We’re about 4” too tall and had to pay the $15 escort fee for the tunnel to be closed to allow single lane of traffic down the center line.  We’ll need the same escort to exit the park.
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If entering Zion from the west the town of Springdale has grown up right up to the entrance.  Easy walk to the movies, delis, arts and crafts – a bit like Sedona or a more upscale Idyllwild.  And that is where the Watchman Campground is – inside the park but walking distance to town!   Altho the campsite has some great views.
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The scooter is a great way to reach the viewpoints we passed on the way in.
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Have a full day here tomorrow to explore.