Lovely abundance of Spring flowers; enjoy! Click on any photo to enlarge; press back button to return to post.
Flowers above are from Mt. Diablo and Foothills Park in Palo Alto.
Along the trail, we’ve seen way too much poison oak. Remember to wash your poles if they come in contact with poison oak. Soap & water or rubbing alcohol. Leave them apart and let them dry overnight. Below is Broomrape and the pods of the hop bush. Hope you’re enjoying your outdoor adventures!
We arrived to RAIN in Las Vegas and snow on the roads to Moab. Even over a foot of snow and cold mornings did not stop us from enjoying the magic of the Utah National Parks. Our first day included 2 short hikes in Arches (Park Avenue & Delicate Arch), then we went to Canyonlands Island in the Sky. We arrived to find NO ONE in the gray and snow-covered parking lot. No one had hiked the Neck Springs trail * since it had snowed. We had to find our way by locating what we thought were cairns – little snow pyramids. We were the footprints, so the next hikers had a clue where to go 🙂
We explored some new trails in Arches & Canyonlands as well as visited some old favorites. Weather has always managed our Thanksgiving journey to Utah. We had great gear and felt well-prepared as we headed out on cold mornings. Yaktrax are like tire chains for your feet – they kept us from slipping and sliding on icy trails. Here’s a link to the ones we like: Yaktrax Pro Get one size larger than you think you’ll need. We think the sizing is a bit off.
Yes, that is Bob walking down away from Delicate Arch.
Bob learned rock climbing as a youth. He talked, encouraged, even bullied me thru some of the most difficult terrain I’d ever been on. Because of the wet conditions, the rocks were not as grippy. I made it, but only with the help of my hiking buddy. Putting poles “away” on packs: You need a pack that can accommodate this. Grips down, tips up. Rubber tips affixed for safety. We affix the poles by looping a strap from the pack thru the pole straps and snugging them up towards the pack. Regarding our packs – I often snug up a seminar participant’s pack. It helps the pack be more a part of you and less floppy (which can send you off balance.) It always feels better 🙂
The day we wanted to go to Bryce it was 1 degree. We managed a short loop on our last day and it was warmer and magical! You can see (bottom middle below) the trail condition – very narrow – making pole use difficult. We did not have our snow baskets with us 🙁
The Peek-a-boo loop is one of my favorites. It’s short, but you’re in the Hoodoos. To get to it and back, it’s about 3 miles – so a total of about 6 miles. In these conditions, it took us 2 hours to do the 3 mile loop. That’s SLOW! You can see that it was starting to cloud up towards the end of our hike. Nice way to end a week of hiking in Utah! When we have more time for a longer loop, we like the Fairyland Trail.
and finally – with my obsession with trekking poles and cairns 🙂 I love to do a little Cairn-Topping as I hike. Because of the storm that came thru a few days before we arrived, many of the cairns were in need of a little maintenance 🙂
* Neck Springs Trail – the longest 5.8 mile hike I’ve ever done. This glorious trail heads down into a canyon and then back up onto the mesa. It’s one of my favorite hikes on the planet and suitable for moderate level hikers. If you head to Moab, put it on your list. Our favorite place to stay in Moab? Aarchway Inn – tell Pam I sent you 🙂
Tucson in January. Below is a desert pony. This saguaro skeleton really was like a prancing pony. To the right is a healthy young saguaro in front of a Palo Verde (AZ state tree and very green 🙂
Saguaros can grow to 60” tall (although the tallest we saw was probably 20′ and, according to the Sabino guide, the largest was 75′, they can go 3 years without water, they don’t flower until 35 years of age and it takes 75 years for the first arm to grow so they get to be very old.
Rain in the desert is magical and it poured while I was there. Below: The tannins from oaks on Mt. Lemmon cause the water in Sabino canyon to be brown. Next to the water are saguaro reflections in a small lake. Click on any photo (especially the reflections one below and the pony above) to enlarge and click the back button to return to post.
After a hard early-morning hike, I relaxed on a tram ride up Sabino Canyon: canyon waterfall (note the brown water and striated rocks), a VERY little cactus – see the pole tip to the L of it and how the spines look like little fishhooks? I was enchanted by the color of the rocks very near the waterfall.
At the Desert Museum, we were honored to see my cousin’s photographic exhibit. After enjoying Howard’s amazing photographs of Arizona nature, I explored the museum and saw some wonderful creatures including Bighorn sheep, Grosbeak, walking like a duck and a female cardinal.
When hiking in the desert, the locals go early. The morning we blasted up Blackett’s ridge, we hit the trail promptly at 7 a.m. In the summer they start at 5 or 5:30 to beat the heat. The terrain is rocky and steep. I use my poles in the desert and love the long foam grips for when I’m on frequently changing and rocky terrain.
Above is my on-the-go morning shot and a picture Cousin Howard took of me. Morteros – grinding holes – are part of ancient cultures’ kitchens. Finding one in the desert (usually near a stream) is special!
Bob is 65. He works hard so ends up being a weekend warrior which puts him at increased risk for injury. On our Thanksgiving trip to Utah, we hiked 6 days in a row. We would not have even considered doing this without our poles.
People are always asking – POLES? Why???? They seem surprised when we answer – Poles feel good – it’s great whole body exercise. They get us places we want to go, for instance, Part 3 of our journey:
I remember the lady in sandals who had driven to the top of Mt. Tam’s East Peak asking me, as I had just climbed to the top of the mountain, if my poles were canes. Can you imagine?
Let’s talk about improving power on the up hill. Hauling yourself up with small muscles in your shoulders is not only inefficient, it’s also potentially harmful to your shoulder joint. Why NOT use big muscles in your back – the ones that support and elongate your spine? (uh, the ones that keep you tall and reverse the aging process).
Notice the angle of the poles. Click on any picture to enlarge and click back button to return to post. Notice how Bob’s arms are relatively straight. The latissimus dorsi muscles are attached to the humerus. Elbow pumping does not engage the lats only the whole arm movement does. This also engages your obliques. Imagine someone walking behind you squirting WD-40 into your spine as you walk. That’s what optimal technique feels like 🙂
What about down? Do you have knees? Photo #1 above – Remember, if you flick the poles out in front of you on the down, they’ll support your lower body joints and engage rectus abdominus, pecs and biceps. The steeper the hill, the smaller the steps. Photo # 3 above – If I had $300 to casually spend, this vase would be in my new living room. We found it at the visitor center of Grand Staircase Escalante.
Photo #1 above, Bob using plant push technique – power at 8,000′ on the 6th day of hiking…thank you VERY much 🙂
Photo #2 above is me in front of Calf Creek Falls – a lovely and easy 6 mile hike (in and out) at Grand Staircase Escalante on the way to Bryce. Driving from Moab to Bryce is one of the most stunning road trips if you go via Torrey. Make sure to stop in at the Red Desert Candy Company in Torrey and get some of their Red Desert Jellies and Truffles as well as a cup of chai or a latte for the road. You’re hiking – what better time to splurge?
Photo #3 is a really great example of the swing assist for making time on downhill. Join us on a practice hike to learn/practice this wonderful technique.
Photo #4 is from the Nature Center at Zion. We took the scenic route back towards Vegas from Bryce through Zion – another amazing road experience.
So, will learning optimal use of poles really make a difference? YES!
Enjoy the outdoors, enjoy your poles 🙂
June 13, 2010 by Jayah Faye Paley
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