Camping & Taking Photos in E. California and the SouthWest

Archive for April, 2012

Elephants, Windows & Double Arch

One of the areas in Arches has a lot of rock structures that look like elephants! There is a parade of elephants, and individual elephants. All of a sudden, we started seeing them in every rock!


Windows arch afforded incredible views of the surrounding buttes and canyons.

Double arch is huge!


Arches National Park

Hunter-gathers migrated to this area 10,000 years ago. There are still debris piles from their flint knapping visible in the park. Eight thousand years later, the Ancestral Puebloans and Fremont people raised maize, beans and squash and lived in cliff dwellings in the 4-corners region. No dwellings have been found in Arches, but rock art has been found – produced by the Puebloans and the Fremont, who left the region 700 years ago and were followed by the Shoshonean people such as the Ute and Paiute who greeted the first Europeans, the Spaniards, in 1776. The old Spanish trail from Santa Fe to Los Angeles runs right past the visitor center!

The first European settlement of Southern Utah was attempted by the Mormon Church, but conflicts with the Utes caused them to abandon the effort. By the 1890’s, Moab was settled permanently by ranchers prospectors and farmers.

A prospector, Alexander Ringhoffer led an effort to create a national park by interesting railroad executives in attracting more passengers into the rock formations. On April 12, 1929, President Herbert Hoover created Arches National Monument. In 1971, the status was changed to a National Park.\\Th

Arches NP is located in high desert, ranging from 4,085’ to 5,654’ above sea level. Summers are very hot; winters cold and there is very little rainfall. Temperatures can fluctuate as much as 50 degrees in one day.

There are over 2,000 cataloged arches in the park. To be considered an arch, an opening must measure over 3 feet in any direction.


Courthouse Wash and the 3 Gossips (above)

Park Avenue (below)


These are just some of the amazing rock structures in Arches…in addition to all the arches!

Welcome to Utah!


Our second day in Moab, we were joined by our friends Linda, Z and Emma from Bellevue! We reserved the campsite next to us; they brought their tent, sleeping bags and clothes. It was great fun having them spend the week with us. We took some hikes, saw a lot of arches,and  ate very well thanks to Doug and Linda. Z and Emma went swimming in Moab as often as possible. We even went out for dinner!



The first day they joined us, we drove out to see the dinosaur tracks. Fortunately, we met up with some paleontologists who were able to show us a lot of tracks. They were from Germany and were scoping out the spot. They didn’t have a broom, and we just happened to have the bottom of a broom that broke last year so we donated it to their efforts. They were very interesting and made it much more fun.

After we left the dinosaur tracks, we headed into Arches National Park. I needed to do some work, so I drove to town while the rest of the gang hiked to Delicate Arch. I hiked there 2 years ago, so I didn’t feel too bummed to miss it.

The next day we drove into Canyonlands Park. We stopped at the canyon overlook – always amazing:




Then we stopped at Mesa Arch. We didn’t stay long – the wind was blowing the dirt around so hard it hurt our bare skin!



I needed to check in on my work, so I left and they went to Whale Rock – a huge sloping rock that is fairly easy to walk on. Emma went crazy running around! I’m sorry I missed witnessing her exuberance!




Camping Again…Finally!

House-sitting in Bishop and taking care of the llamas, geese, chickens and cats was quite an experience for me! The animals are fun, but having them around creates a lot of dust and dirt! Between taking care of them, cleaning the house and hanging our clothes on a clothesline, I got a tiny taste of what life was like before we got all our modern conveniences. Line-drying sheets is great, but not so much for towels (they get stiff) and clothes (they get wierd marks where the clothes pins attach). Anyway, it was a great place to stay while we got organized for the first phase of our 2012 travels – Southern Utah and beyond.

From Bishop, we drove to Cedar City UT where we spent the night and did our grocery shopping. The next day we got to Moab late in the afternoon. We stopped at Slickrock campground where we had reserved spaces and realized it would not work (it’s really designed for RV’s…the camping spots were miserable). So, we headed up to Canyonlands and Dead Horse State Park. Dead Horse was nice, but full. We found a BLM campground – Horsethief and slept in the back of the truck for the first time. Very comfy! Only downside is that if one of us needs to get out in the night, it wakes the other. It was very quiet and peaceful. The next morning we found a better spot in the campground and set up. It was fun to see how all the new stuff we bought in Seattle worked. We had the new Queen Size airbed with headboard, new Pottery Barn duvet cover over our down comforter, 1’x1′ square foam pads for the floor and 2 nice rugs to really make it cozy. We love how homey if feels! We also have a new rug for in front of the tent that sifts the dirt back to the ground so we don’t carry it into the tent – awesome!

Doug bought solar panels and they are working great – it’s so nice not to worry about electricity! After recent high winds that brought dust into the tent despite all our efforts, we broke down and bought a hand vac!

We have had a few glitches. When we first got to Bishop and went out on some 4WD roads, we almost lost one of our rocket boxes (on top of the truck). The bumps had caused the screws to come loose. Doug spent a day fixing that. We also had some leaking in the cab canopy; again, loose screws. The worst glitch is the zipper in the front of the tent. It has gotten very hard to close. Doug cleaned it with vinegar and applied silicone, but we think we’ll have it replaced when we’re someplace where that’s possible. We took it in late last year for replacement, but the seamster  “fixed” it and said it was better not to replace it. We don’t think so!


Dedicated to Diana Dailey

We’ve dedicated this portion of our trip to Diana Dailey.

Last fall we met up with Diana and her husband, Dave, in California. I spent some time getting to know them this winter in Seattle; particularly Diana. They’ve known Doug for years and have become my friends too.

Two years ago, Diana was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer with recurrent tumors. She has been through so much… surgeries, radiation, chemo, clinical trials, etc. Her positive attitude is amazing and she is truly an inspiration. I was blessed to spend time with her and experience first-hand how brave and positive she is.

Diana and Dave are mountain climbers. Diana has climbed all over the world, including expeditions to Dhauligiri (India), Everest, Broad Peak (Pakistan) and Pumori (Nepal/Tibet border).

Diana’s tumors have affected her balance and strength; her challenges have turned from reaching summits to walking unassisted, finding ways to get exercise, and to beating the cancer. Dave supports her in every way he can.


Convict Lake, about 10 miles north of Bishop, is another one of our favorite spots. Last Fall we were amazed by the fall colors, and now by the ice covering the rocks and vegetation along the lake. Doug ran around the lake; I couldn’t stop taking photos!

Big Pine Creek

Big Pine, located about 25 miles south of Bishop, has few services, but some great hiking. We drove up to the Glacier Campground area to take a short hike. It was quite windy, but fairly warm and sunny. The trail goes up and up and up, then crosses the Big Pine Creek and goes up some more. I turned around at the creek crossing; Doug kept hiking until he reached a cabin that was built for Lon Chaney in the late 1920’s – what a retreat! That’s my goal for the next time we hike there.

Bristlecone Pine Forest

One of my favorite places in the Eastern Sierra is the Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains. The oldest trees in the world live there, almost without competition. The soil is dolomite – very alkaline and there is little water. The trees grow slowly and even the downed trees stay intact for thousands of years in the dry climate. The trees are used in dendrology (climate research through tree ring records) and have enabled scientists to extend tree-ring dating back 10,000 years!

The trees have little foliage; one way they can survive in the harsh climate. The trunks, roots and branches are beautiful in color, texture and shape. To walk among these very old trees and see how they survive is an amazing experience. We love to return whenever we can.

A few days ago, we tried to get to the Forest. The road was blocked about 1.5 miles below Shulman Grove, but we walked up to where one of our favorite downed trees lies on the ground.

On the road to the forest, there is a small section where only one car at a time can drive through. The walls on one side of the road are covered with lichen of many colors. We had a great time exploring there:

Alabama Hills

We spent a day driving down to Lone Pine. We went up to our favorite campground and hiked a ways up the ridge. Then we drove down to the Alabama Hills and played around there. Doug did a little rock climbing; after he set a top rope, I did some exploring. It was hard to leave, but we had to get back in time to feed the animals and get them settled for the night.



Speaking of the animals…they are something else! Each one has a different personality – from the cats to the llamas. There is one chicken who never wants to go into the coop. For days, I’d have to let her in after dark. I’m sure she was avoiding the rooster’s attention. She’s finally caught on that if she delays, she won’t have much to eat. The largest llama must always be hungry. I have caught him standing on his hind legs with his front hooves against the metal fence of the barn, reaching up to grab some hay. I’ve also seen him on his hind legs with his face in the trees. But the funniest was getting home one afternoon and seeing his neck through the fence railings and his head in a garbage pail (he had managed to get the top off and was munching on the food stored there! What a rascal. 

The geese are always hissing at me, but luckily I haven’t been nipped. They are laying eggs like crazy. We are also getting chicken eggs that vary in color. Grace scrambles the goose eggs, adds some veggies, and freezes the mixture in a plastic bag for her camping trips. She says the goose eggs are richer than the chicken’s. I haven’t tried one yet. They are huge!



Not long after we arrived in Bishop, we drove up into the mountains as far as we could. We were stopped at a little community, Aspendell. Most of the best hikes start further up in the mountains. It was a beautiful drive up and we got to see a little snow: