A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about mountains

Iron Lion Zion

But we only saw two of those!

sunny 16 °C
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Zion was the last of the Utah National Parks before we head up to Death Valley and Yosemite and it couldn’t be more different to the others we’ve visited in Utah. It’s at a lower elevation so it’s greener but still has spectacular rock formations (some coloured from the iron deposits) and it’s far less open in the sense that it’s more canyon-based. Only a small part of the park is accessible by road so there was a lot more human traffic than we’ve experienced in the other parks, plus it was the weekend. It didn’t make it any less pretty or impressive though. We did a fairly typical tourist route through the park, driving the scenic route and taking some pictures at the various stops. We’d planned to walk a couple of the trails but only did one in the end, which took us down in to a narrowing part of the canyon. We would have had to wade through the river to continue so, like everyone else, we stopped there, took some photos and headed back. Having left the park we stopped at the store in Springdale for a few supplies then headed to Vegas, which will be a little different!

Posted by neilthelr 12:19 Archived in USA Tagged mountains Comments (0)

That canyon is truly grand

But some people debate that

all seasons in one day 10 °C
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We’ve skipped a few days of detail in this blog and gone straight to the Grand Canyon for the simple reason that those 2 days can be summed up in on word: Driving. Once out of LA and on the I-40 (which runs parallel with Route 66) it was a case of set the cruise control, overtake lorries (lots) and occasionally stop for a ‘rest’. The overnight in Needles at the ‘Bates Motel’ was uneventful but we had an entertaining conversation with the people at the Thai takeaway. We’ll spare you the details. And so to the Grand Canyon. In summary…wow! We thought Milford Sound was impressive but this place is something else. You have no sense of the scale until you stand on the rim and look at it. We’re staying at the south rim village, which makes the north rim 10 miles away. It looks like a mile at most. It’s not the deepest, longest or widest canyon but it’s had 800 cubic miles of rock moved out of it over the (millions of) years!! And some other stats that make it grand…277 miles long, 10 miles wide (on average), around 5000 feet deep and a river that runs through it (the Colorado) that flowed (according to some old-timers) at a speed of greater than 300,000 cubic feet a second (that’s over 300,000 basketballs flowing past every second) after the spring melt. We’ve star-gazed (Jupiter was visible as well), had a tour covering the geology, taken in the sunset from Pima Point and tracked a few miles down in to the canyon taking the Bright Angel Trail. Just so you have some appreciation of the Bright Angel Trail…it starts at the south rim at an elevation of 6785 ft and heads down in to the base of the canyon to Phantom Ranch (and beyond). Getting there is a full day hike. Getting to the stop before – Indian Garden – is a 6 – 9 hr round trip hike with a descent of 3060 ft in 4.9 miles (and thus an ascent of 3060 ft). We didn’t go that far but did manage a 4.5 hour round trip that got us 1460 ft in to the canyon. The path was various combinations of icy, snowy, slushy, muddy, puddled, dry, rutted and rocky; hard work in other words and you could only walk about 1.5 mph. People have died on this trail so we definitely earned the warm bath at the end and the views along the way were just fantastic. And boy, do the legs ache! Tomorrow we’re off to Monument Valley, which is owned and managed by the Navajo Indians for what should be a warmer and less snowy experience than the Grand Canyon.

Posted by neilthelr 16:38 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes mountains Comments (0)

This is the road to Hana

To paraphrase Talking Heads (for you 80’s music fans)

semi-overcast 25 °C
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We thought we’d deal with this separately as it was a full day and it’s worth it! Hana is a small town in the south-east of Maui. The road to get there is rated as one of the top drives anywhere and is a must do if you visit Maui. Why? Put simply, it’s 42 miles long, it’s speed limits vary from 5mph to 35mph along it’s 617 curves and the 56 single-lane bridges that make up the road that clings to the coastline, winding up and down the rock faces all the way. The driver gets no rest; your steering wheel is rarely straight and some of the corners are absolutely blind. Heading to Hana you meet trucks coming the other way and you test your skills to work out where the side of your rental car is in relation to the rocks / cliff’s edge when you have to stop and move as far across as possible so you can both pass. However, there are loads of people that do the route and you all just tootle along at 15mph-ish, stopping whenever you need to take in one of the many stunning views, numerous walks or various waterfalls. It’s not about Hana itself, it’s about getting there. For views, the road knocks spots off any road we’ve ever driven and we’ve seen some fairly amazing things this trip. And we’re thankful to have done it in the daylight on a nice sunny day. We now understand the t-shirt we saw that says on the front ‘I survived the road to Hana’!

Posted by neilthelr 13:11 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged mountains beaches oceans sightseeing Comments (0)

Finally, our luck runs out

But at least we saw Mount Cook in the sun

overcast 17 °C
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The flight we’d not been able to take in Franz Josef due to weather conditions had been re-booked for today from a different take off point. From sun up to around 9:45 the sky was blue and Mount Cook looked fantastic, but the closer we got to Lake Tekapo the cloudier it looked. We got to Lake Tekapo airport at 11 and - heeding the advice we received in Franz Josef - went in and asked if we could bring it forward but they’d just grounded all flights for the rest of the day due to the weather. The lady that had just landed from the 10 am fight was heading straight to the coffee and looked glad to be back on terra firma. Speaking to the pilot it had got a “little bumpy”. Based on her face I’d say ‘rough as hell’. So, we were left with little option but to continue to Christchurch via a stop in Lake Tekapo for lunch. It’s disappointing we couldn’t do the flight but we’ve been pretty lucky so far. At least we got our glacier walk and Mount Cook in the sun at ground level. The delights of Christchurch lay ahead.

Posted by neilthelr 22:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountains Comments (0)

Mount Cook in the sunshine

Ignore the NZ weather forecasters!

sunny 27 °C
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We had one shot at seeing Mount Cook in the sun so we started the day with everything crossed. We left QT early to get to Mount Cook for a walk. It was overcast all the way and when we stopped for lunch we got talking to a couple who’d cut their losses and left Mount Cook an hour before as it had been raining for 2 days. We were not hopeful, particularly as we could see the clouds shrouding it. However, we were booked in and we were going regardless! And we’re glad we did. It was windy but as we headed out for the 3hr walk it got clearer and clearer (and as we type this over dinner at 9pm we can still see Mount Cook bathed in sunshine) so we got some fantastic views and pictures in the 30 °C heat. Helen managed to slip and fall in a stream; only 1 foot and no bruises to show. And as we were heading back to ‘camp’, we bumped in to the couple from earlier, who’d driven to Tekapo, seen the weather over Mount Cook and drove the hour back. They were pleased they did. Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest mountain at over 3700m high, which makes it small by world standards, but no less treacherous as the monument to all those that had lost their life in the mountains that we passed on our walk attests to. The loop gets completed tomorrow as we head north back to Christchurch. And this time we’ll actually see a few things!

Posted by neilthelr 21:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountains Comments (0)

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