Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stephanie and Mike's Excellent Adventure

Mike and I decided to fall in love all over again by not showering for three days, hiking long hours, and sleeping in really confined spaces. We totally recommend it for all couples.

We spent our sixth anniversary camping and hiking a remote spot in S. Utah called Paria Vermilion Wilderness. We left the kiddos at Grandma's, loaded up the sleeping bags, a cooler, and the tent (minus the stakes, oops), and headed out just past Kanab.

It was absolutely fabulous.

A short (well, actually quite long) travelogue:

On Wednesday we left four hours past schedule. Mike worked a half day and I was incapable of leaving without first exchanging a nasty bag of oranges that I bought at the grocery store and running a million little errands. All the little last minute things added up, so we left at 4:00 p.m. instead of 12:30. We would have arrived at our planned campsite, down a long and winding unlit dirt road at 11:00 p.m. Instead, I used my map skills (learned in seventh grade geography) to find a campground. We stopped at Red Canyon, just outside of Bryce Canyon at about 9:00 p.m., made some taco soup, (I love cooking on the Coleman stove. I love cooking when there are no children clinging to my legs.) and decided we were tired. As we retired to our tent, it began to hail. It was a freezing night, but bearable.

We woke up to snow. In June. In Southern Utah.

This is Mike, surpirsed that it snowed. This is me, staving off frostbite by hiding in the car while Mike took the tent down.

After loading up our soggy tent and sleeping bags, we headed to our original destination-- the Stateline Campground, about 50 miles outside of Kanab on Highway 89. Although the road to our campground was only 9 miles of dirt, in our little car it was more like 30. Good job little car. Who needs four wheel drive?

We camped on the Arizona side of the campground-there were only four spots to camp in, and the Arizona side had sheltered picnic tables. One of the funniest things about this trip was the random signs they have out in the middle of nowhere. My favorite showed a house consumed by flames, and it asked very seriously, "Do you have defensible space?" At the campground my favorite signs were "Rattlesnakes!" and signs placed all over that staked out the Arizona and Utah border. It must be very important to know exactly when and where Arizona and Utah begin-especially out there.

We had our choice of the campsites and set up a soggy camp that was soon dried by the hot desert sun, and the gusting winds. The gusting winds did not bode well for our stake-less tent, so Mike filled the tent with large rocks. You can't fit much in our tent, but our large rocks kept us very cozy.

Then we set out for The Whiterocks.

They were fun to explore and we had our first, well not if you count jackrabbits and each other after not brushing our teeth, wildlife sighting. We saw a huge fox, up one of the canyons we explored. It was super cool.

That night we slept comfortably. No snow.

Friday we had our permit to visit the famed "Wave." One of Mike's professors at the U told us about it, and we actually centered our anniversary around the permit we won. Only 20 people a day get a permit. Mike's professor, Scott, gave us GPS coordinates for some other cool things at the hike. It was a good 3 mile hike to the Wave, but we took a detour to look at the lace rock. It made me wish for a really nice camera, it was so beautiful.

The Wave is a frozen striation of colors frozen in sandstone. It was amazing.

We spent the whole day hiking around that area, seeing beautiful things that my camera did not capture very well.

Top Rock arch, above the Wave

Inside the Alcove. The Sandstone was carved by wind and absolutely amazing with the colors and sunlight reflecting off it.

This is the Outside of The Alcove in the above picture. I had to run fast for this self-portrait.

People call this the Second Wave. We looked for this for a long time. This is about when I started to get ornery, but it was worth looking. It reminded me of banana cream pie.

This is a cool formation just before the Wave. If I got to name it I would call it "The Three Kings" or something.

After that we were bushed. I started to get ornery. But Mike's eternal optimism prevailed and we had a great night at our campsite, making Smores from marshmallows that had cooked in the car, and chocolate that we squeezed directly from the Hershey bar wrappers. I call them "Direct Sunlight Smores" and think that marshmallows taste much better roasted over a fire than cooked in the car, but they worked. When our camp chairs self-destructed we figured we would call it a night.

Saturday: Bright and early we met Scott (Mike's professor that told us about the Wave) and Monica (his wife), and Scott's sister Lisa at the Wire Pass trailhead for a hike through part of Buckskin Gulch. It was a really fun and beautiful hike. The company was good and the scenery was amazing. Our camera battery died, so these are the only two pictures we have of our hike. Scott takes amazing pictures though, so check his blog for pics.

We were expecting water holes and wading, but the trail was dry and shady for the most part. Not only did we see a beautiful slot canyon, but we saw tons of lizards and snakes and a hawk totally flew down and posed for us. It was great. We figured we went about 3-4 miles in to the Gulch. We definitely plan to backpack the whole thing someday.

That night, we pansied out and got a hotel, but I now plan to end all extended camping trips with a stay in a hotel. It was great to clean up before the six hour drive home.

Overall it was a great trip, and I was happy to find that we could hold adult conversations and get along together without discussing the kids (too much).

Six years! Wow. Time flies when you're having fun! I love you Mike!


Em Russ said...

I am jealous on so many levels, but mostly of your energy! You're really amazing! What an awesome trip though! The pictures are incredible! And, I love how you described Mike's "eternal optimism." Perfect description of your hubby! p.s. I still have pictures I need to email you... someday!!

Amber said...

Hurray for a wonderful trip and fantastic pictures. It makes me miss Southern Utah so much!

Dustin and Alisha said...

I think you got some really good pictures, even without a SLR. It's the photographer Steph, not the equipment!:) And you are fabulous!
Looks like fun, I can't wait until I can go camping and hiking like that again!

Anonymous said...

WOW! What a beautiful place to be able to hike. Hope you share more pictures when you get them.
It's hard to believe that six years have pasted since Mike became part of our family. We are lucky to have him and by the same token he is lucky to have us. :-)
What a great couple you are with such cute kids. (Don't you think they look like me?)

Melisa said...

Hey Steph, I found your blog link on Kathryns blog and was so excited. I love finding old friends this way you have such a cute family,would you mind if I put your link on my blog and check in once in a while?
-Melisa (Cogdill)

Cassie said...

Hey! How cute are you and your family. You are quite adventurous too. That's awesome that you did that for your aniversary. I think Todd and I are planning to go to Six Flags for ours...NICE! :) Still runnin'?

Natalie said...

Hello Steph! I'm so glad you found me and left me a comment!! I just tried to comment but had a computer malfuntion. If you get two comments from me, I'm sorry. It really wasn't my fault! Was it Coyote Gulch you hiked into? I've hiked it twice...it's awesome! Unfortunately I didn't get to go to the wave with my family...one day. Your pictures are superb! I'm going to link you to my blog...is that okay?

Natalie said...

Link away! It's fun to stay connected. Maybe we should all get together in real life Ü

kristi lou said...

Steph! HELLO! I love your pics...I'm so glad to have finally found you agian!

Hey, I'm headed to UT the end of this month and would love to see you! (and everyone else-natalie, melissa, kathyrn, kandice....) My email is design.kristi@gmail.com....

Shoot me an email or something! Let's play!