Archive for June, 2011

Vegas

Not really much to speak of, just wanted to give a quick update. I’ve spent many more days than I initially thought I would in Vegas. Same old stuff; seeing friends/eating good food/NOT gambling that much (table games)…so that’s good. Briefly thought about playing some live poker but decided against it.

Ate BBQ at my friend’s ballin ass place a few nights ago-

ate hash hash a go go (going to go back lol)-

Anyways, yeah. Finished Game of Thrones (HBO show) as well, excellent. Highly recommended to anyone who likes fantasy (or hell, just a good tv show). Going to start reading the books here soon enough (will probably kill them when I’m back on the camping part of my trip). Going to LA on Wednesday and will proceed from there.

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Grand Canyon- North Rim

So I went from Zion to the North Rim after talking with some locals. They suggested that I just spend 3-4 full days and skip the South Rim.

The North Rim in the GC is much less popular than the south, and there aren’t as many hikes/support areas (re- grocers/hotels/internet/restaurants/etc).

First day I did a 10 mile hike. It was really soft and had little elevation change. It was mostly forested and the views weren’t that impressive.

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The day after I decided I want to do the Grand Canyon inner canyon trail. Since I was alone I didn’t want to try to hike the entire rim-rim (something like 30 miles), as it’s fairly dangerous to do so alone. Unfortunately there were not any ranger led walks or any communal group walks down there either, so I was unable to go all the way down.

This news was fairly disappointing to me and I didn’t want to pay to do a donkey ride down there. So I decided that I would wait until next time I hit the GC before seeing the absolute bottom.

I chose to go as far down as they recommended for a one day hike: Roaring Springs, about a 3500 foot elevation change. It was about 5 miles down to this point, making a full 10 mile hike.

It was a good hike, tough at the end…I wish I could have seen the bottom.

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Some views of the trail…you can see far in the distance the trail that I took…

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Insane Apache that passed me…I got one last photo of him and never saw him again:

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Picture on the bridge, which was about the halfway point.

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Overall, really fun. Was complimented by an old hardass guide on my speed. It took me about 5 hours overall and I was content with that…the climb was pretty tough.

Decided that I was going to go to Vegas the next day. GC North Rim allows people to camp for free in the Kaibab forrest, so I pitched a tent off road.

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I decided to do some easy hikes on my last day. They gave me some good views of the canyon:

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The area I was in really showed how big the canyon actually is…the entire area is just immense.

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The only view of the CO river that I’ll get for now-

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Then I did one last hike. It had a cool trail but overall, wasn’t very eventful.

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Anyways, I’m in Vegas now. I went mountain biking yesterday and that was alot of fun. I’ve spent the majority of my time relaxing and watching the CWS (hoping that UF finishes it out). I’ll probably go climb at the gym and see some friends. Will head to LA next.

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Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park

After my trip through Moab I continued West, hitting up Bryce Canyon National Park. I’ve heard great things about this place and it didn’t disappoint. It was incredibly vivid and the colors were unlike anything I’ve seen before in a South West setting.

I arrived around midday and set up camp. I also bought a national park pass in Canyonlands so I’m able to go to any national park for free within a one year span ($80). I thought this was good value given some of the parks are $25 to get into and I plan on going to more than 4 during my trip.

The first day I didn’t do much. Just did the scenic drive and took some photos:

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The next day I decided to do this ‘figure 8’ hike. It was about 7 miles long (pretty soft) and was one of their ‘strenuous’ day hikes. The trails here are much easier to see in comparison to Moab (Arches + Canyonlands), where the trails there are marked by rock piles and nothing else. Here, the paths were very vivid and obvious, and much more maintained than Moab.

After my last hiking fiasco, I brought a ton of water. Like the trail paths, the trails themselves are also much easier here than in Moab. I did another easy hike the day after (probably 8 miles or so again). Anyways, pictures of Bryce:

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Also went back to Zion National Park. I went to Zion last year after the WSOP with two poker friends and it was a great time. Zion is semi on the way towards the Grand Canyon and I also wanted to line up my dates so that I could arrive at the Grand Canyon on a weekday. I decided to spend two nights there and, like last year, it was a great time.

Only hiked up Angels Landing, a 6 mile hike with huge exposure yesterday. The hikes at Zion are all very unique, offering different experiences with each one. The Narrows is a 9 mile hike almost entirely in knee deep water in a canyon- It’s among one of the most unique hikes I’ve done in my life. Angels Landing is a steep 6 mile hike that is almost like an island in the middle of a canyon- it’s a narrow trail that is exposed on both sides.

Anyways, I won’t clutter this very much with photos…I have already posted both albums from last year onto facebook. Here are the links-

ALBUM 1

ALBUM 2

Today I actually did one hike I didn’t do previously called ‘Hidden Canyon’. It was quite interesting and was a narrow path cut into the canyon. The trail went on for a long time and you had to do alot of rock scrambling (climbing over decent sized rocks). I eventually turned around after going off trail for about a mile (the rock scrambling just kept going) but I was disappointed and wanted to continue.

Here are some Zion pictures (new ones)-

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Angels Landing view-

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The trail on the hidden canyon trail-

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A typical rock scramble on this trail: (those boulders are huge)-

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Anyways, yeah.

I’m currently in Kanab, UT, about 1 hour from the Grand Canyon North Rim. The NR is much less populated than the South and I’m hoping to get a camp site tomorrow early. I was thinking about doing both sides but after some discussion with people, I think I’m just going to spend 5 days or so on the North Rim and just continue on with my journey (onto Vegas).

Will update next when I get to Vegas…next 5-7 days = Grand Canyon!

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5 Hours: How I almost died

I’ll preface this post by saying that Aaron Ralston is a super badass. Ralston is the hero of 127 hours, where he survived several days in the desert stuck in a small canyon.

I don’t really see how he did it.

This is a long post and I apologize. I had my own close encounter with death on June 11th, 2011. It was simple enough- 12 miles hiking, decent elevation changes, 95 degree heat. I decided that I wanted to stop one day in Canyonlands, Utah, right near Moab. Last Moab trip I took, I didn’t have time to see some of the sites available.

Note to oneself #1- If you’re hiking more than a few miles, pack more water than you think you will need.

Note to oneself #2- If, in fact, you do pack less water than needed, ration it so that you don’t drink it all at once…

Both seem like common sense, right?

Anyways, I violated both. I started on a 8.5 mile hike, with a 3.5 mile side excursion. The hike was listed as a 5-7 hour ‘strenuous’, etc. Whatever, no big deal. I packed lots of food, a mistake that I made last time I went hiking (not enough food).

So the hike started off well. It was a bit annoying at first, in that the trail went into a descent and then ascent instead of otherwise. I personally would rather have the hard part first and then ease into the descent.

The trail was difficult to see. It is marked by Cairns, or little rock piles. Read more HERE

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So right around the midway point, I’m feeling good. I have gone through about 2.5 water bottles and I continued to eat trail mix, granola, and a peanut butter/banana sandwich.

At the midway point, there was a trail that offered to a 3 mile roundtrip/no outlet side view inside the canyon. I decided to do it and was woefully disappointed. Overall, the 3 mile trail was a waste of time, and I found myself with 2 water bottles and 4.7 miles to go.

In many of the other climbs/hikes I do, I’m used to doing the hardest parts first. This one, though, the hardest part is the last.

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I had to do a rock scramble up for the first part of the second half. This was a ton of fun, and, as a rock climber, I felt like I excelled. This lasted for about a mile upwards. (Just imagine nothing but massive rocks and you have to jump from rock to rock…super great).

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So after the rock scramble, I realized that 4.7 miles going up is far, far different than going down or even sea level walking. I had little sense of distance due to the elevation, and I found that I was losing energy very quickly due to both a) going fast and b) it being an ascent.

I controlled my water intake. It was a bit of a catch 22 though- I needed nourishment but I couldn’t really eat because I’d get even thirstier than I already was.

I trucked onwards. I ran into two groups the entire hike, both of them shortly after I got done with the rock scramble. I asked one guy “how much farther till the end?” and he couldn’t even give me an answer.

My water went from 2 bottles to 1 pretty quickly. By this time I was freaking out a bit as I realized the potential danger I was in- I had no idea how much farther until the end, I was on my last (tiny) water bottle, and I was really tired from not eating for a while.

Those last 3 miles were some of the longest I’ve ever exerpienced. I kept telling myself “one more ridge, one more ridge” and was distressed when I saw no end in sight. There was nothing but sand and forest around me for miles and miles. I heard only birds and rocks clattering together, not the sweet sound of a car rushing past or civilization.

I took one swig at a time. I told myself that if I saw anyone on the trail, I was going to ask them for water. The breaks I took became more and more frequent, and I was caught in between saving some energy on the breaks or not wasting my time and trying to get to my car as fast as I could.

I don’t even remember the last bit of the hike. I was in a zombie state, and I grew more tired by the minute. If I had passed out there on the trail, I think I would have been severely injured or even dead. There were few people on the path, it was a hot day, and I was insanely dehydrated. I estimate that I was maybe 1 hour from passing out (1 hour of ground level hiking, much less if elevated).

If you haven’t seen the movie 127 hours, check it out. It’s a bit slow at times, but overall, a fun watch. Throughout the movie there are many scenes where Aaron Ralston is thinking about nothing but water and other liquids. Weirdly enough, I experienced the same thing- I couldn’t keep my mind off anything but a large, icy cold powerade. Another hilarious image I had was my friend John, who chugs big gulps like there is no tomorrow (he has a grave of cups in his car).

The one beacon of hope I had was the sound of a car. This sound brought me an inexplicable feeling of delight and joy, and I increased my pace. I finally realized that I had made it and that I was at the parking lot. I went off trail (I felt awful about this) and went straight to my car.

It’s weird, being that close to being severely hurt. I remember I even contemplating making a last video with my camera during my delirious return. I chugged water and went to the store and bought some brats, a watermelon, and a big gulp of lemonade (assholes only had a 44 oz as their max). I sat near the camp fire for the next several hours and ate like a freak, happy that I made it out alive. I saw the time and I finished the hike in 4h 30 minutes.

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In Bryce now, I’ll be doing a 8 mile hike tomorrow I think. Should be fine. Will post more later.

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June 11th- Mount Audubon

So I was met with utter failure when I tried getting a camp site. I forgot that it was Friday and everyone and their grandma would be out trying to get a spot. I was fairly delayed in looking for a spot as I had to pick up some stuff for my trip.

So, after a few hours of searching (hopelessly) for a spot, I was forced to go to a ghetto Great Western in Nederland, a small town outside of Boulder. While I normally would not have done this, I already made plans with a friend to do a long hike the following morning (today).

I bit the bullet and paid the $100 for the night. I got up at 6:30 this morning and met my friend in the parking lot. Normally, this is only a 8 mile round trip hike. But with the weather and the delayed road opening, we had to hike an extra 3 miles just to get to the trailhead.

I was ill prepared for the hike. Though I brought my boots and some extra clothing, I idiotically decided not to bring them. Audubon is 13,000 feet up, and there is still a heavy amount of snow in the area. I didn’t really think it would be that big of a deal, as A) it was warm as hell and B) this was supposedly a fairly popular hike. Both proved to be wrong assumptions and I paid the price.

It started off alright. The snow at the base was fairly solid and I had little trouble hiking.

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We hiked for a few hours, with the plan to turn back around 11:00-12:00 noon, depending on the weather.

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We were slowed heavily by both the snow and the road being closed. Because of the snow we were unable to find the trail at times, which delayed us even further.

Around 12:00noon, we decided that it would be best to turn back and check out the lower summit, ‘nondubon’.

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The summit that we would never reach:

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A cool shot that we took near the other summit:

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All in all, a fun ascent.

The descent was pretty awful. As stated previously, I was ill prepared, and decided that hiking shoes (not boots) would be appropriate. Since the area was getting warmer, the snow was turning more into slush, and I soon found myself on my ass, slipping and sliding all over the place. My shoes and jeans were filled with water and snow. To top it off, we overshot the road due to the massive amount of snow that covered it, delaying us even further.

We were all decently tired and I exhausted all of my supplies (3 bottles of water and snacks). Hail came infrequently and was a minor annoyance. The car was such a relieving sight, and I tore off my shoes and laid there like a slug. I bade goodbye to my friend and ordered a 2 pound pizza from a local pizza chain in Colorado (beau Jos). I’m now sitting in Barnes and Nobles waiting for my friend in Denver to get off work.

The next few days I’m pretty unsure of. I think I’ll end up stopping in Denver for a night and then head south. Everyone I talk to keeps recommending Southern Colorado to me. I’ll probably end up doing it, and hopefully I can camp in the process. Will update at the next B&N I go to.

pz

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