Silver City…en fête

September 12th & 13th

Friday evening Pickamania begins. You can read more about it here and here.

It starts of with an Irish folk music group from Tucson called the Out of Kilters:

1_Pickamania kicks off with...


Captain learns some Irish folk dancing…

2_Captain learns Irish folk dancing

…while Star calls out the steps…

2b_while Star calls out...


The next day at the farmer’s market…

3_The next day at the farmer's market...

…the Loose Blues play music for us while we shop…

4...the Loose Blues play while we...


A little later, after a lunch of tacos in the park, we listen to another very good group called the Littlest Bird:

5_A little later The Littlest Birds...


And then another group comes on, the Higher Ground…

7_Higher Ground 2

6_...followed by Higher Ground... 8_Higher Ground 3

…really very, very good.


In the meantime Captain and I…


…have a beer in the nearby beer garden:

12_...have a beer...

You’ll notice that I’m wearing my jacket. It is a little cool today as tropical storm Odile moves into the area for several days of rain. I’ve mentioned these rains in some of my previous posts. They will have serious consequences for the little community of Portal, Arizona where Dirk is now and where I’m soon to be going.

Pickamania continues the rest of the day and tomorrow. Unfortunately I don’t see a whole lot of it. I have work to do on my computer. And tomorrow I’m off for Gila Hot Springs again, already reported in a previous post. The rain will drive me out of Gila, though, and send me back to Faywood, also recounted in a previous post. Sorry for the confusing chronology.

Zion Canyon National Park

September 1st, 2nd and 3rd

Leaving Bryce, we cross the Sevier River again, which means we are briefly back in the Great Basin. The upper reaches of the Sevier Valley and are high and green. Soon, though, we descend via the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel into the Virgin River Canyon and are thus in the Colorado River Basin again.

The word “zion”, we are told here, is a Hebrew word meaning a place of peace and refuge.  Thus, the Mormon pioneers named this canyon Zion. Then again, the Mormons called all of Utah “zion”.

After the pleasant tempertures of Capitol Reef and the high-altitude chill of Bryce, Zion is sweltering.

Zion Canyon!  Now this is a “canyon”:

1a_Zion, now this is a canyon

And like both Capitol Reef and Bryce, it has been carved out of the Colorado River red sandstone plateau by a usually peaceful river, The Virgin…

3_that looks rather peaceful here, but...

…whose flash floods have left behind remarkable rock formations:

1c_on and on

You can take a shuttle towards the top of the canyon and then follow a beatiful trail…

4_you can take a shuttle to the top...

5_and then walk...

…that is an easy and pleasant walk, in spite of the heat…

6_and walk... 6b_a pleasant place to rest along the way

…often shaded and with pleasant places to rest.  And when the trail ends you continue in the river bed:

7_and walk, when there's no more trail

I didn’t go very far.

Zion Park is made for hiking, both easy walking like this and much more strenuous hiking. For a succinct description of the park’s history and geology you can read the Wikipedia article about Zion Park here, or see the National Park Service’s Zion website here.


The plant life in the canyon’s upper areas is luxurious. This is called a hanging garden:

8c_this is called a hanging garden

I don’t believe I’ve seen one of these before; I’ve been told that it’s an orchid:

8b_and plant life to charm us


That evening, back at the campground, I take advantage of the evening light to take some pictures of the nearby rock formations:

13_and another

10_I take a few photos of the local sights

11_in the evening light

12_another sight...

There’s just no end:

13b_there's just no end


I take a few pictures of the plant life too:

14_the plant life makes a good subject too 14b_good subject

These appear wilted or closed up at this time of day, but the next morning they’re wide open…

17_these flowers are open now... 17b_open

…and occupied…

17c_open and occupied

I see these prickly pears too:

18c_prickly pears

18c_prickly pears bis

I didn’t see them before Zion, though I did see some red ones yesterday afternoon:

18cbis_sometimes they're red


I’m up this early so as to catch the morning light…

16_the next morning

…and to take an early shuttle up the canyon again to get some shots that wouldn’t have been good yesterday afternoon.

This group is called The Court of the Patriarchs:

21_the Court of the Patriarchs


22_patriarch no. 1


23_patriarch no. 2

…and Jacob:

24_patriarch no. 3, hidden by...

What we see of Jacob, though, is only that small sunlit portion on the top right. Jacob is mostly hidden by this still shadowed mass called Mt. Moroni (yes, him again).

Further up the canyon, though, we get a good view of Jacob:

25_further up the canyon, no. 3

This series is called Temples and Towers:

26_temples and towers

The formation on the left is called the West Temple and on the right is the Altar of Sacrifice. The formation just left of center is called the Sundial, while in full center we have the Tower of the Virgin.

Here, if you lean forward and look in the lower right-hand corner, you can see that I’m not the only one out early trying to get some good pictures:

27_I'm not the only one out...


In the afternoon I take a long bike ride up the Par’Us Trail…

28_that afternoon I take a long bike ride...

…following the river as far as Canyon Junction.

Wild asters abound:

29c_more asters

And so do these guys:

30_and these guys again 30b_these guys


On the way back down the canyon I look for a some places to swim.  You’ll understand that since California I haven’t found any swimming holes. The Virgin is not a very welcoming river. The rocks and sandbars don’t make swimming easy, and the water is sandy (though clean). But I find one place where the water was deep enough and calm enough.

31_on the way back...swimming

But in this heat it’s enough just to lie down in the refreshing water.


Back at the campsite I indulge some more Wasatch Breweries beer, Evolution Amber Ale this time:

32_another cold beer

32b_sense of humor, but

They do indeed have a sense of humor at Wasatch.

Capitol Reef National Park

August 28th, 29th & 30th

As I drive out of Richfield in the morning I stop to take a picture of this imposing mountain in the morning light:

1_leaving Richfield

It was much more beautiful yesterday, in the evening light, but I didn’t have my camera with me when I was out and about. Live and learn.


We go east over the mountains and are no longer in the Great Basin. Here is another green farming valley near the town of Loa…

2_green valley of Loa

…when suddenly, near the town of Torrey, this red rock formation appears:

3_when suddenly

And closer up:

4_up close


We’re now in the Fremont River Canyon:

6_Fremont River canyon 6b_Fremont

We arrive from the west, but the next day I take a drive from east to west…

7_canyon opens up 8_farmlands and fruit orchards

…the canyon widens and we find fruit orchards planted by the Mormon pioneers.

More orchards and Mormon irrigation ingenuity:

9_more orchards 9b_Mormon irrigation ingenuity

We can pick and eat as much fruit as we want, but if we take any away we’re asked to pay a modest price.  Peaches are in season so I get about 5 pounds.

Up and down the canyon there is no lack of impressive rock formations…

11_and all around...

12_fantastic rock formations

12b_no lack of impressive formations

From my campsite the rock formations are also striking:

14_from my campsite 15_also from my campsite


Near the orchards there are these petroglyphs carved by the Fremont People who once inhabited this canyon: are the petroglyphs

26b_petroglyphs2 26c_petroglyphs3

But you can see much better photos of these petroglyphs here. More on the Fremont People in a later post.


Later in the day I take a long hike up this canyon known as the Grand Wash.  Signs indicate that flash flood risk is at a very low level today:

22_earlier that day...Grand Wash

There has nevertheless been some rain recently and some strange specimen has left a print in the mud:

23_some strange local speicment left...


In the late afternoon I take another hike, further up the canyon, and we get a good view of what was once the Mormon pioneer settlement called Fruita:

10_took a hike one afternoon

The last private residents of Fruita left the area in 1968. Today only national park employees live here.

Fruita’s schoolhouse:

27_the local schoolhouse from Mormon... 27b_schoolhouse bis

The last remaining house and barn…

28_barn from pioneer times 29_last remaining home, now a store...

…the house is now a museum and store where they sell homemade pastries, jams, jellies and salsas.


Back at my campsite, after a hard day of tourism, I treat myself to a nice cold local Utah beer:

16c_a nice cold beer bis

Take a look at the caption on the six-pack carrier:

16b_why have just one

And I kid you not, in the Richfield supermarket where I bought it, there was a little sign that said Take some home to the wives. This beer, and others, are made by Wasatch Breweries located in Park City (of Sundance fame), Utah. You can read more about Wasatch Breweries here. Their beer is only 4%, but that’s better than the 3.2% beers you find in most Utah grocery stores. And at least the name shows a sense of humor about polygamy. Yet, as we’ll see in an upcoming post, in Utah today this subject is no laughing matter.


One morning in camp, Olsen gets down to work.  I’m currently working on: Sewage sludge application in a forest plantation: effects on trace metal transfer in soil-plant-snail continuum.

17_in the morning, hard at work...

But one of the locals does not appreciate my efforts:

18_but one of the locals...

Generally the local residents here are unimpressed with our presence:

19_generally the locals... 20_...are not impressed...


The little I have shown you here does not do justice to Capitol Reef National Park.  The park gets its name from a geographical formation that the early pioneers here called a “reef”. It is some 95 miles long and extends far to the south of the campgrounds near Fruita.  I drove down the scenic canyon drive, but took no pictures.