Hephaestus's Blog


Hiking Grand Canyon, Part Two
May 7, 2015, 20:02
Filed under: Recreation

Saturday

On Saturday (4/17) we decided to do a more strenuous hike, as we were more fully recovered from our late night drive into Grand Canyon on Thursday. So, we took the Grandview Trail from Grandview Point, which, back at the turn of the last century, hosted a hotel called … wait for it… the Grandview Hotel. Not very imaginative nomenclature, if you ask me.

SONY DSC

Our destination, Horseshoe Mesa, from a point very near the rim.

In the above photo, you can see Horseshoe Mesa, a bifurcated shelf of Redwall limestone, topped by an oblong butte made of very eye-catching Supai group mud- and sandstone.

SONY DSC

After passing the pretty flower above, we entered the Coconino sandstone, just like on the previous hike. An interesting feature of this rock, not seen in any of the other layers in Grand Canyon, is the presence of what is known as cross-bedding. Cross-bedding is where different layers of sedimentary rock lay in sometimes opposing directions. This is caused by the rock’s being formed in huge dunes, which every so often changed orientation.

SONY DSC

A nice example of cross-bedding in the Coconino.

SONY DSC

At the point where we left the Coconino and entered the Hermit formation, there was this sheer cliff, the top two thirds being Coconino sandstone, and the bottom third consisting of the red Hermit shale.

SONY DSC

Pretty purple flowers.

SONY DSC

Even prettier red ones.

SONY DSC

Veins of red in an otherwise grey rock.

A word on photos: many of the pictures I took turned out to be somewhat overexposed, but, by the magic of digital alteration, I can have my computer alter the exposure. However, I have attempted, as much as possible, to present you with these images in their original, unaltered format.

SONY DSC

That oblong red butte, up close and personal.

It took us a couple of hours to get down to the mesa, but I didn’t take all that many photos, and most of those I did take were of more botany and geology, so here we are.

SONY DSC

You can almost believe you’re not in a canyon at all.

SONY DSC

Who took the picture?

After a satisfying lunch amid the glory of the canyon, we headed back up the trail, no small feat considering we had to go over four and a half kilometers across and 750 meters up to return to our starting point.

SONY DSC

The mesa played host to cedar (2 photos above) as well as this barrel cactus.

SONY DSC

Thar’s Uranium in them thar hills.

SONY DSC

And the mesa recedes into the distance.

Sunday

On Sunday (4/18), as we had just done two pretty serious hikes in a row, we decided to forego any unnecessary walking and take the bus west along the South Rim. I took very few pictures, however.

SONY DSC

Birds, possibly ravens.

SONY DSC

The mighty Colorado from a long way away.

SONY DSC

Looking kind of wistful there, dad.

(I’m afraid the retouching of the above photo had little to no effect on the background.)

And that concludes my April 2015 travelogue. See you next Monday with something with less images!



Hiking Grand Canyon, Part One
May 4, 2015, 16:14
Filed under: Recreation

Click here for Part Two.

After we left the Mojave Desert, we drove east into Arizona to… Grand Canyon, one of the most spectacular, enormous, overused, and clichéd geological features this continent has to offer. We got there Thursday evening (4/16), and started hiking on Friday (4/17).

Friday

Our first hike of the weekend was on the South Kaibab Trail, which, along with its brother the North Kaibab, makes up a sort of corridor between the North and South Rims of the canyon.

We descended from the South Rim (Yaki Point) end of the trail. It was pleasantly cool on the rim, a nice change from the heat of the Mojave Desert.

SONY DSC

The view from the rim with Dad, Winnie and Mom.

We descended past the Kaibab and Toroweap limestone formations, and into the Coconino sandstone formation.

SONY DSC

Snow has fallen between these snow-coloured flowers.

SONY DSC

This plant wants to hurt something. Badly.

We then descended into the red Hermit Shale formation, and stopped at its boundary with the Supai Group formations to eat lunch.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

That red lump is O’Neill Butte. You’ll be seeing more of it soon.

SONY DSC

Now it’s trying to hide behind a pretty shrub.

After that, we continued down the trail to below O’Neill Butte.

SONY DSC

Closer…

SONY DSC

Closer still…

SONY DSC

An interesting bit of trail here.

Below the mesa the trail wound down to the Redwall Limestone, and from there would descend to the canyon floor. We, however, did not go anywhere near that far.

SONY DSC

Flora…

SONY DSC

And fauna.

(In the centre of the above photo is a mule deer. It was considerably more courteous than its namesakes the mules, which left steaming piles of green at many points along the trail; the deer just ran away.)

SONY DSC

Now, don’t you think that’s a little TOO close?

That’s all for now. See you Thursday with Grand Canyon: Part Two!



Hiking in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, Part Two
April 27, 2015, 17:55
Filed under: Recreation

Day 2: Red Rock Canyon

On Wednesday (4/15), we headed west to Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area. Our first stop on the ten-mile loop road within Red Rock Canyon was a formation of pink, red and yellow sandstone called the Calico Hills.

SONY DSC

Nice view of the sandstone.

SONY DSC

My mom and sister in the Calico Hills.

SONY DSC

yellow, orange and grey lichen.

SONY DSC

A cactus, possibly a cholla, with lovely magenta flowers.

After that, we continued along the road to the next trailhead, near the edge of the yellow sandstone, where there was once a small-scale sandstone mining operation. We hiked a bit away from the road here, but not too much.

SONY DSC

Evidence of sandstone quarrying in the early 1900s.

SONY DSC

More cactus flowers (prickly pear this time).

2015-04-15 12.44.26-1

Me taking the above picture.

Next, we continued farther along the route to a picnic area, where we ate lunch, and from there to the trailhead of the Ice Box Canyon trail, so-called because it is relatively cool, not because they make refrigerators there or something.

SONY DSC

Trees show this area is rather more moistureous.

SONY DSC

The view back to our previous location.

SONY DSC

See? lots of trees.

SONY DSC

Hematite nodule embedded in sandstone.

After that hike, which was our longest of the week so far, we left Red Rock Canyon and drove back to our hotel.

We had a great time at Red Rock Canyon, but it could have been much better if the map we had had been a hiker’s map instead of a scenic driver’s map, which was what was provided for us. But, we all had fun anyway.



Hiking in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, Part One
April 23, 2015, 18:04
Filed under: Recreation

Click here for part two.

Last week, my family and I were in Nevada, because my dad had a conference to be at for work. The rest of us, while he was busy working all day, went hiking in the Mojave Desert.

Prelude: Hoover Dam

On Monday (4/13), I was ill with a horrible cold, so instead of hiking, we went to Hoover Dam.

SONY DSC

That’s one big wedge of concrete.

We walked out along the top of the dam, examining the sights.

SONY DSC

A penstock tower with a clock (blue square) showing Nevada time.

On either side of the dam, there is a clock on one of the penstocks showing Nevada (Pacific) and Arizona (Mountain) time. Because Arizona does not observe DST, both clocks showed the same time.

SONY DSC

Yet another clock, this one on the exhibit hall.

SONY DSC

The Arizona side of Lake Mead, showing how high the water can get.

SONY DSC

One of Oskar J. W. Hansen’s Winged Figures of the Republic on the Nevada side of the Dam.

SONY DSC

The bypass bridge, where I took the following picture.

After spending some time on the dam, we drove and walked out onto the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bypass Bridge. This bridge, completed in 2010, was built to ease the flow of traffic over the two-lane dam roadway.

SONY DSC

The only picture I got of the whole dam (and a bit of the bridge).

 Day 1: Valley of Fire State Park

On Tuesday (4/14), we headed northeast to Valley of Fire state park. Dedicated in 1935, Valley of Fire was the first state park in Nevada. It has beautiful outcrops of flame-coloured sandstone, which give the park its name.

SONY DSC

Winnie in a mini cave.

(the rocks are actually orange-red, but the camera kind of overexposed them.)

SONY DSC

A tunnel right through the rock.

We didn’t do much hiking here either; most of the interesting stuff was really close to the road.

SONY DSC

Desert scrub. Very little rain here.

SONY DSC

A higher angle on the same spot.

After visiting the areas where the above pictures were taken, we drove out to another area, with a more reasonably-sized hiking trail. I still wasn’t quite well, so we were taking it easy. Everything we did could be done easily in sneakers.

SONY DSC

The view up a sandstone cliff. The pink band in the upper middle stands out a lot more in real life.

SONY DSC

Looking down the valley where the previous picture was taken.

As you can see in the above photo, the rocks were very orange, and covered in places by a black coating which is actually a kind of lichen.

SONY DSC

Pink stone stained red by the higher formations.

SONY DSC

Looking back. We came through the valley to the right of the wall.

After passing through a beautiful valley, we turned and went into a slot canyon. This is a very narrow passage in stone, sometimes many times taller than it is wide, eroded into the stone by water.

2015-04-14 14.18.10

Winnie and I in the slot canyon.

After we left the slot canyon, we continued along a loop back to the parking area, after which we left the park.

SONY DSC

Geology eye candy; pink, red, and yellow.

SONY DSC

I don’t know what caused this interesting erosion pattern, but i like it.

2015-04-14 14.22.17

A rock with the red interior exposed.

2015-04-14 14.29.41

Scary plant!

This post is getting really long with all of the pictures, so I think I’ll leave off here and post about the next day on Monday.

SONY DSC

Bonus: Sunset over the mountains, seen from our hotel in Las Vegas.



Ski Hike
January 30, 2015, 13:18
Filed under: Recreation

On Tuesday the 27th, after the day’s blizzard had stopped, my family went for a backcountry ski hike in Sewall Woods, a very small wooded area in our town.

We started from our house; with the snow waist-deep in places, and the roads closed to traffic, we could just walk right across town.

2015-01-27 15.35.18

My dad skiing down our front steps.

From our house we skied over to the elementary school just down the road, and then went up the hill beside it.

photo 1

Dad and me in the school parking lot.

We then continued up the hill, and soon reached Sewall Woods.

We entered the woods from the north.

photo 3 (1)

My sister hiking up into the Woods.

Once we had reached the high point of the area, we stopped and removed our skins to ski down.

photo 4 (1)

Removing the skins. 

We then skied down the south side of the woods, and then went up again. After we were done with that, we went back down the way we had come.

After we exited the woods, we skied down the hill beside the elementary school, and then proceeded home.

photo 3

Skiing down. Fun!

photo 4

Trekking through the school grounds on the way home.



The Condo
March 4, 2010, 12:15
Filed under: Recreation

The Condo is owned by my grandparents, Gramma and Grumpy.  It’s a very nice place to stay, especially in the winter because of its close proximity to Sugarbush,  Mad River Glen, and Stowe Mountain, to name just a few ski areas within driving distance. It’s actually a Sugarbush condo, and the only one in its group to have stairs leading up to the front door. The Condo isn’t all good, though, as this list of problems shows:

*The table (Has ANYBODY noticed?)

*The hole in the wall

*That hot tub that requires CONSTANT maintenance

*The door on the upstairs closet

*Those *#$@%&><?/ couches!!!!!!

*The fireplace screen



Long Walk
January 25, 2010, 14:36
Filed under: Recreation

We went on a walk on the Crane Beach trails yesterday.  It was snowy and very beautiful except for the steep hills where some of the snow had been worn off.   Crane Beach is part of the conservation group The Trustees of Reservations.  The Crane Beach trails wind through dunes, are full of hills & are  more than 5 mi. long.  Some of the hills are very steep.   In places, the dunes are so high that you feel very closed in.   The trails are mostly soft & sandy & in the winter are covered in snow.  In short, they are hard to walk on, especially the steep parts.    We saw some pitch pines, & that reminded us of trails in Florida.  We walked along the beach for some time & missed our trail, but luckily there was another one. It took us a really long time, and we had to hurry up.  The weather was cold but we got sweaty because we had to run.  The Crane Beach people closed the entrance gate on us but didn’t lock the padlock, so we could still get out.  It all was so long that it took three hours, & we finished after sunset.