Snow Canyon State Park–Utah 8th/9th November 2011

18 Nov

After the weather had played such tricks with us over the week end of the balloon regatta we had hoped it was improving but on Monday morning the rain was pouring down. We had received a message from Aggie telling us that on their journey home west to Las Vegas they had run into the storm and it was heading our way – too true! It rained all morning got heavier in the afternoon and finally ceased somewhere around 7 or 8 pm! Lawrie and Monica came over from their RV next door with an umbrella and we sat together for our final evening in Page. I suppose we should not complain, at least we were having rain, we saw several vehicles arrive or pass by with inches of wet snow accumulation on them so it could have been much worse.

We were due to leave Tuesday morning and woke to find a different day had arrived, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Before we left Page we drove out to Wahweep Marina for one last look and to take a few more pictures.

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Looking like a shadow behind the red rocks is Navajo Mountain completely covered in snow

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As we drove west the sun was still shining but an inch or two of snow lay at the sides of the road on the higher portions, we were glad we had chosen to stay in Page the previous day and not travel.

Our destination of Snow Canyon was in the State of Utah (mountain time) we had been at Page which is in Arizona – most of Arizona does not change its clocks for daylight saving and in the summer is the same as Pacific Time in the winter it is the same as Mountain time. The past week end the clocks changed….. we were not exactly sure which time we were in and this was compounded as we drove through St George en route where 3 different times were displayed on roadside clocks. Our clock said 3.30 but it was getting dusk…. I eventually thought to check the phone clock which had thankfully updated…. it was a short day.

Due to the time confusion we did not see much of Snow Canyon in daylight after we arrived but did have time to look at the information and put together a hike route for the next day. We pieced together sections of several walks to make one of around 8km covering most aspects of the park. It would be a longish walk but we were ready for some exercise and next morning set out fairly early and properly equipped with our water and snack.

We took the Hidden Pinyon Trail from the camp ground area this is a short nature trail P1220691loop but would then link in to the West Canyon trail, it was along this, a service road we had our first real views of what the park is all about. In front of us we could see not only the white sandstone mountains in the distance but the petrified sand dunes to our left and black lava flows between.

In the bottom of the valley beside a dry wash area it was green with vegetation, contrary to what you may believe desert is not all sand or barren or scrubby it can be very green with a diverse selection of plants and trees which have adapted themselves for the variable and harsh climate they live in.

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The petrified sand dunes and the strata on them fascinated us, the coating of lava which had flowed over them was now in many places a  crust. Weathering on the underlying sandstone had caused it to crumble and break away the tilted lump in the top right of this picture will soon join the jumble of lava rock below it as the wind and rain takes its toll.

We climbed higher on the overlook trail and soon were looking down on the rocks we had P1220696looked up to. As we climbed we came across a huge cider cone where the black lava had left a huge hole in the ground.

The rock looks brown in this picture but it was actually very black. Hopefully the size is apparent when you compare Robert standing on the top to the hole below!

We found at least two more of these cones along the trail before we took a side path to the West Canyon Overlook.

 

 

 

 

 

We decided this would be our half way stop and sat down to take in the view as we ate our snack.

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Its a good thing we stopped to rest as the next part of our hike proved a challenge. The dunes we had been viewing all morning which were up to 2,500ft thick are now solid rock and the trail takes you over the top of them. At first it was easy and having recently walked on the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, real sand, to now walk across these petrified ones and compare the similar structures was extremely interesting. We found lots of Moki Marbles again and some still embedded in the sandstone looking like some sort of pox disease!

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I found this way marker amusing until I realised what I thought was an illusion was true…

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The trail on the other side went almost straight down, despite my frantic looking for an P1220747easier route I had to admit defeat, grit my teeth and just do it! You know its amazing what you can do when you put fear to one side…. and the achievement feeling after is good too.

I am not sure this picture gives a true sense of the scale but can you see the people on the top? They thought we were mad and watched us all the way down I am sure they thought we would need rescuing. It really was the correct way as the next way marker was right in front of us at the bottom.

 

 

 

So as our hike came to an end the shadows lengthened in the valley and another day began to close.

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