Outstanding autumn foliage in an aspen-filled forest on a long hike to the highest summit in Utah's Pine Valley Mountains.
We've still got it in us!
View south toward St. George and Red Cliffs National Conservation Area from Summit Trail in Pine Valley Mountains.
Trip Stats - via Forsyth Trail
Overview: Hike to the high point of Utah's fourth largest wilderness that has the most diverse flora of any other Utah range (1,000 species). You can summit Burger Peak on the way to forested Signal Peak. Start in mountain mahogany, walk along Forsyth Creek through aspens and ponderosa pines to summit of firs and pines. A spectacular view of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and mountains in Arizona is seen as you climb out of the forest near the base of Burger Peak.
Location: Dixie National Forest, Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness, out of Pine Valley, north of St. George, Utah.
Distance/Elevation gain: 14 miles out and back/3,900' cumulative gain. Trailhead = 6,650', Summit = 10,369'.
Difficulty: Moderate - Strenuous on Class 1 to base of Signal Peak; Class 2 to summit (no trail).
Coordinates: Forsyth Trailhead = 37.38331 -113.50682. Signal Peak: 37.3197, -113.49162.
Trails: Forsyth Trail (#31012) to Summit Trail (#31021).
Maps and Apps: Trails Illustrated #715 - St. George-Pine Valley Mountains, Garmin GPS, Avenza (St. George/Springdale/Hurricane map).
Date Hiked: 10/7/22
History: Pine Valley was discovered by Mormon pioneers Gunlock Bill Hamblin, Jacob Hamblin, and Isaac Riddle when they were moving cattle north of Santa Clara for summer grazing. A sawmill to process lumber was erected in 1856. The tall white Pine Valley Chapel stands out as you drive through town. Built in 1868 according to Ebenezer Bryce's plan, it is the oldest meetinghouse in continuous use of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Bryce reportedly followed a lost cow later into a beautiful canyon - the now famous Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce's experience in Scotland as a shipbuilder was the impetus for the well-constructed chapel.
Geology: The Pine Valley Mountain range is the largest laccolith in the U.S., and perhaps the world. Molten rock was injected into existing strata 20 million years ago; top layers eroded to reveal this large body of monzonite rock (similar to granite). This monzonite porphyry (coarse-grained) rock was deposited over the famous Claron formation, the rock that is seen in the form of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon.
If you ever happen to be in southwestern Utah the first week of October, I highly recommend this hike. The onset of autumn makes an enchanting forest in the Pine Valley Mountains; it reminds me of the spectacular autumn foliage we saw when we lived in New Hampshire.
In my last post, I indicated that most people aren't aware of the hidden, magical world of southern Utah's Ashdown Gorge beneath the highway out of Cedar City. It's the same with the steep and rugged Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness just north of St. George. In this case, you can see this "sky island" rising like a hulk over red sandstone and black cinder cones, but it's not until you actually get into the heart of this wilderness that you realize its extraordinary beauty and find solitude.
We timed our hike to the highest point in the Pine Valley Mountains - Signal Peak - perfectly. The autumn colors were at their optimum, adding variety and depth to this dense forest. We had already summited Burger Peak, the second-highest in this beautiful, lightly-traveled mountain range, navigating deep snow banks in the spring. Lucky for me, afternoon clouds provided the best light that made these colors glow, so I spent a lot of time yelling ahead to Fred that I had stopped to photograph. We saw only three other hikers who were also enjoying the "zen" of this enchanting forest.
We are frequent visitors to this range that is remarkable for having the most botanical species than any other Utah mountain range - including three new species to Utah recently identified. We hiked Gardner Peak, a summit not often traveled a few months ago with friends.
Striking rock formations growing gnarly old trees form steep cliffs with almost vertical valleys that drop toward the south when you finally emerge from the forest for a huge view of Southern Arizona and the red and yellow rocks near St. George at about 10,000 feet elevation. It's a brief view near the base of Burger Peak, and then it's back into the forest for the one-mile walk to Signal Peak summit. The spur trail to Burger Peak, ~ one mile before Signal Peak, is marked by an easy-to-miss two-rocked duck.
Scramble from Summit Trail to Signal Peak Summit
We found Summit Trail to be well-marked with cairns and tree blazes. I took a waypoint on my Garmin as we left the Summit Trail to make sure we would catch it again on the descent. There is no marked trail to the summit. If you pay attention on your descent from Signal, you will see Summit Trail, but it may not be obvious. I used Avenza app to find the summit. The peak is forested, so there's no great view.
Mountain Mahogany lines the first mile of the Forsyth Trail.
Ascending Forsyth Canyon - these cliffs are seen from the town of Pine Valley.
Almost at Pine Valley Wilderness boundary.
Some cool stuff on the trail.
Rocks of Pine Valley Mountain range are monzonite porphyry, a coarse-grained intrusive rock from molten lava. It is deposited over the Claron Formation, the rock famous for hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Tree blazes on the lightly-traveled Summit Trail that links Pine Valley Mountain range's highest peaks.
Large stands of Engelmann spruce exist on the southern portion of the Pine Valley Wilderness, near Signal Peak.
The beautiful monzonite porphyry! - Oh, and the lava flows and red rocks to the south near St. George.
Views from Summit Trail between Burger and Signal Peaks.
The rock cairn that marks summit of Signal Peak. I could not find a peak register.
Near the highest elevation of the Pine Valley Mountains looking west at patterns of clouds/sun changing light on the landscape.
Temperature perfect. Light perfect. Beauty surrounding the trail. Wish I could stay longer!
A look at my next post: Adventures in Kanab.
Peakaboo slot canyon
Our GPS tracks to Burger Peak (previously in blue), as it becomes Summit Trail after intersection with Blake-Gubler Trail. Our tracks to Signal Peak, highest elevation in Pine Valley Mountains are in red.
Click for larger image
Our GPS tracks for the previous Burger Peak hike on Forsyth Trail. Forsyth trailhead on top of map (north). Signal Peak is located on bottom of map.
For Google Earth view of our tracks, click Burger Peak post.
Miller, Rick. Our Geological Wonderland: The Pine Valley Mountain Laccolith. The Independent.
Near Cedar Breaks National Monument, journey through a stream that has carved a spectacular gorge through rocks laid down during the time of the Western Inland Sea.
Hiking back from Rattlesnake Creek and Lake Creek waterfalls.
Seeing Rattlesnake Falls for the first time with Lydia and Colin!
Highlights: Walk through a stream under spectacular sandstone walls to narrows and Lake Creek and Rattlesnake Creek waterfalls.
Location: Utah's Dixie National Forest - Cedar City Ranger District, Ashdown Gorge Wilderness.
Distance: Up to 8.8 miles round trip if you hike up to the end of both streams at confluence/fork, ~ 6.5 miles if just hiking left fork to the waterfalls.
Difficulty: Easy effort walking on combination of rocks in stream and on stream banks.
Maps and Apps: AllTrails tracks, Trails Illustrated Cedar City Markagunt Plateau #702.
Coordinates: Trailhead on Utah Highway 14: 37.63463 -112.94357
Considerations: Check weather forecast for nearby Cedar City and mountains above Ashdown to avoid possibility of being caught in flash floods in this canyon. I recommend old trail running shoes/closed-toed workout shoes with good tread and support.
Dates hiked: 9/2/22, 9/24/22.
History: Named after George Ashdown who set up a sawmill there in 1898.
Most of those traveling Utah’s Highway 14 from Cedar City to the heights of the Markagunt plateau are unaware that a spectacular hidden world is tucked away in a canyon beneath their feet. Most pass by not realizing that life millions of years ago is recorded in the rocks that the canyon’s waters, over the millennia, have worn through the plateau, pushing sand grains, scouring strata and revealing infinite colors to create beautiful Ashdown Gorge.
To venture through Ashdown Gorge is to experience so many exquisite elements that make up the quintessential Utah non-technical canyon hike. Soaring, overhanging walls change shape, color and texture around every stream bend. Walk by small car-sized boulders and stream-carved rocks of nearly all hues of the color spectrum. As the canyon narrows, bright green ferns grow on moist walls; hidden grottos and alcoves are cool, dark places in which to retreat and watch the water flow melodically. Conifers cling to near-vertical walls. Walk by the occasional ancient panels of preserved ripples and oyster bed fossils. Lots to take in - you could go on this hike many times and see something new.
The waters of Ashdown Gorge originate from an elevation of 10,000 feet in Cedar Breaks National Monument, coursing through the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness via Ashdown, Rattlesnake, and Lake Creeks, creating beautiful waterfalls at the end of the hike, after a walk through short narrows. Alternately, you can experience Ashdown after descending from Rattlesnake Trail, whose trailhead is just outside Cedar Breaks.
Each time I've hiked this gorge, water conditions have varied. This time, the stream was higher and clouded by salmon-colored silt; there must have been a storm that carried sand from Cedar Breaks higher up creating increased run-off.
A spectacular chunk of preserved ancient shoreline ripples, tilted almost vertically, has been plunked down on the right side of the creek as you ascend. You weave in and out of the water, walking through gravel bars and around boulders, over fallen flood-deposited trees. It is a unique experience to feel so tiny with tall overhanging walls close by on each side, blocking out most of the sky.
"Tom's Head", a noticeable 100-foot monolith greets you at the intersection between Ashdown Creek and Rattlesnake Creek. To see Rattlesnake Creek Falls, turn left at this confluence to follow Rattlesnake Creek. Shortly, another small confluence is seen; turn left and you hike a short distance to Lake Creek Falls. Turn right, hike through an ever-narrowing canyon, you hear Rattlesnake Falls before you see it - a long sheet of white water spilling into a multi-colored gravel pool.
Since moving to Utah, I have been amazed at how gorgeous and diverse the landscape is. This hike is just one example of how nature's elements fit together in harmony and draw us into a beautiful world. There's a lot to take in on this hike: textures, waterfalls, colors, something new around every bend. Interesting how a place can have so much to look at that it's almost overwhelming, but yet it is also so relaxing, and I can get to a state of "flow". I'll spend more time photographing and checking out the fossils and geology next time. For now, I will let the following images speak for themselves.
Stay Close to Nature and Keep on Exploring!
These ancient ripples appear to be mostly symmetrical, and are common in ancient shallow water sandstone environments where there is an oscillatory, back and forth current.
Lydia looking downstream.
Rattlesnake Creek waterfall
Lake Creek Falls
Colin heading downstream.
The Claron Formation, famous for its eroding hoo doos in Cedar Breaks and Bryce Canyon further to the east was deposited ~ 50 million years ago, rises still further above, reaching 10,000 feet of elevation at Cedar Breaks. The highest elevation on the Markagunt plateau is Brian Head Peak at over 11,000 feet.
A portion of the geologic map (cited below) that shows Ashdown Gorge in the dark green tributaries middle left of this map and the Claron Formation of Cedar Breaks in the orange map unit in center of map.
From Biek, R., et. al. 2015. Geologic Map of the Panguitch 30' x 60' Quadrangle, Garfield, Iron, and Kane Counties, Utah. Map 270DM, Utah Geological Society.
Bonus image: Kolob Reservoir near Zion National Park.
Notice the engraving in tree trunk, lower left.
More cool stuff on the trail.
AllTrails tracks from trailhead on Highway 14 (left) going up Ashdown Gorge to confluence, with waterfalls on left (north) route (#7 is Lake Creek Waterfall and #8 is Rattlesnake Creek Falls). Ashdown Gorge is also accessed from Rattlesnake and Potato Hollow Trails higher up (Trailhead #12).
Ashdown Gorge Wilderness - Wikipedia
Biek, R., et. al. 2015. Geologic Map of the Panguitch 30' x 60' Quadrangle, Garfield, Iron, and Kane Counties, Utah. Map 270DM, Utah Geological Society.
Cretaceous Atlas of Ancient Life: Geology of the Western Interior Seaway. National Science Foundation.
We summited two of the highest peaks in Utah's Tushar Mountains, sharing a raging wind storm with mountain goats.
View north from Mount Holly to Delano Peak (left horizon) and the ridge to Delano Peak.
Mountain goats on Mt. Holly getting their hair blown in the strong gusts.
Trip Stats for Delano Peak/Mount Holly loop
Location: Fishlake NF, Tushar Mountains, near Beaver, Utah. Fishlake National Forest - Beaver Ranger District.
Distance/Elevation gain: 7.3 miles/2,500'. Trailhead = 10,400'. Delano Peak = 12,169'. Mt. Holly = 11,985'.
Coordinates: Trailhead = 38.35896 -112.39289.
Prominence: Delano Peak = 4,689'. Mt. Holly = 425'.
Difficulty: Mostly moderate effort, Class 1.
Trails: #225 (Skyline National Recreation Trail) for Holly approach, and #224 from Delano summit to road.
Maps and Apps: Fishlake National Forest-Beaver and Fillmore Ranger Districts Travel Map -USDA, AllTrails tracks for Mt. Holly, route map from Stavislost.com.
Date hiked: 9/19/22.
Geology: The Tushar Mountains are remnants of volcanos whose first eruption period was 22-35 million years ago (Bullion Canyon Volcanics) and second eruption 21 million years ago (Mt. Belknap Volcanics). Delano Peak resides in the Bullion Canyon Volcanics. It is the highest point on the edge of Big John's Caldera, a concealed structure on Delano's west side that subsided ~ 23 million years ago during ash flow eruptions. This caldera filled and eroded over time. The second eruption created the source rock for the mined uranium of the Marysvale mining district north and east of Delano Peak.
Native Peoples: Five native Paiute bands were present in Beaver County ~ 700 years ago: Tu-roon-quints band in the northeast corner of the county; the Qui-ump-uts band around Beaver and Adamsville; the Pa-moki-abs band in the vicinity of Minersville; the Toy-ehe-its band in the Milford area; and the Indian Peak band in the western part of the county and into Nevada. Evidence such as pottery, tools, weapons, and petroglyphs left by Paleo native Americans as far back as 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age is present in Beaver County in which the Tushars are located.
(from A History of Beaver County, by Martha Sonntag Bradley).
This loop hike on the highest ridge in southwestern Utah's volcanic Tushar Mountains offers magnificent vistas and solitude. Even though the Tushars are the third highest mountain range in Utah, they appear to be much less visited than Utah's higher ranges - the Uintas and La Sals. We saw more mountain goats than people. This was our second try; we previously turned back after summiting Delano Peak a few weeks ago with low visibility. This time, constant wind gales and gusts added a challenge as we staggered up Delano's summit. The trails that come from trailheads at 10,000 feet don't bother with switchbacks; they go straight to and from the summits.
"The area possesses a very high degree of naturalness, palpable solitude, and nearly unlimited opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation," says Wikipedia. A variety of great things are packed into this 7-mile hike: forest, sustained spectacular ridge views, goats, aspens and meadows below, and a fun steep climb between peaks.
After a nice forest hike from the Skyline Trail trailhead off of graded gravel road and #123, we came to a saddle where we descended into a beautiful valley with Mt. Holly on the horizon. Our route left the Skyline Trail at Merchant Creek, walking toward Holly on the left side of a prominence covered with pines to the right. Shortly, a defined trail appears in the grasses. It becomes less-defined as you arrive on wide expanse of the tundra, just below Mt. Holly and then becomes more defined as it traverses Mt. Holly's southwest flank.
The mountain goats on Mt. Holly were hunkered down enduring the wind. They reluctantly got up as I got closer to them, and when we were on the ridge hiking toward Delano Peak, we saw that some of them had sought safer places on Holly's northwestern cliffs. We stayed on Mt. Holly long enough to sign the register, then descended back down out of the summit gusts to find a way to Delano Peak. We didn't see an obvious trail linking Mount Holly to the northwest ridge leading to Delano Peak; we probably could have gotten to the top of the ridge sooner than we did (see our route).
We gained the ridge at a saddle between Delano and Holly where we found the ridge trail. We took a windy break observing a spectacular view of steep Cottonwood Creek to the east. We battled the winds up a short and somewhat loose ascent to a gentler tundra ridge walk. The trail was easy to follow to Delano Peak. We didn't want to stand too long on this highest point in the Tushars for fear of being blown over the edge.
The walk down Trail # 224 is a quad burner, losing 1,700' of elevation in 1.8 miles. We then walked south on road #123, where the wind was less brisk, to our car at the trailhead, a short 0.6-mile distance.
The definition of "grit" is achieving goals through passion, perseverance and commitment. An important attribute for many aspects of life. An important trait to teach our kids. With some "grit" we reached the summits during the windstorm, although I have to admit, the thought of going back down after Mount Holly briefly crossed my mind. I plan on getting back to this hike with some friends. If I go in the next few weeks, the forest will be splashed with stands of yellow aspens in a sea of dark green.
Keep on Exploring!
Walking southeast on Skyline National Recreation Trail whose Big John's Flat trailhead is just off of Forest Road #123.
Reach saddle on Skyline Trail to descend to valley; hike along Merchant Creek (along left side of trees) and then right to the ridge. Mount Holly is on horizon behind tree.
Approaching Merchant Creek on the right; Mt. Holly is high point on far right horizon.
Walking east along Merchant Creek.
Trail breaks away from the creek and heads SSE through open tundra.
Mt. Holly and first glimpse of mountain goats near top (small white specks). The trail swings around its base to the right.
Heading southeast on Mt. Holly's southwest flank. Traverse this and trail then turns left (northeast) to make the final summit climb.
Mountain goats are wary of us. Delano Peak on upper left horizon.
From Mt. Holly summit, looking northwest to Delano Peak on left horizon.
Looking down on Cottonwood Canyon from the ridge.
Ridge trail between Delano Peak and Mount Holly.
On the ridge trail - looking back at Mount Holly. We entered the trail from the animal trails on the right.
From saddle, trail climbs a rocky section to get to ridge just below Delano Peak.
Mostly tundra the rest of the way; first view of Delano Peak on the horizon.
Catching gusts just below Delano's summit; no time for a hat!
Stayed just long enough on summit to sign in to the register, a convenient mailbox.
On the way down from Delano Peak: Shelly Baldy Peak, 11,321' (left) and Mt. Baldy, 12,122' (right).
Just off Delano Peak - "get me out of this wind!"
Walking back to trailhead along Forest Road #123.
Our GPS tracks for Delano/Holly loop beginning at Road #123 at trailhead parking for Skyline National Recreation Trail
click on map for larger image
Sontag Bradley, M. A History of Beaver County. 1999. Utah State Historical Society Beaver County Commission.
The steep, final ascent up Gardner's forested summit requires climbing over a lot of deadfall and rocks, but the approach treks through a variety of terrain including eroded rock formations on a lightly-used trail. Hiking with two fellow yogis made it double the fun.
Fred, Lydia and Robin on Gardner Peak's summit.
Pass by this pointed outcrop on the way up; this is a good landmark to navigate toward on descent from summit.
Location: Dixie National Forest, Pine Valley Ranger District. Trailhead in Pine Valley Recreation Area near town of Pine Valley, north of St. George, Utah.
Distance and Elevation Gain: 9.2 miles round-trip; gain of 2,900' in 4.6 miles to summit. Trailhead elevation = 6,627'. Summit = 9,488'.
Difficulty: Moderate Class 1 on cairned trail, Class 2 off-trail from base of mountain and Class 3 climbing near summit with minimal exposure.
Coordinates: Summit = 37.39125, -113.45160. Trailhead = 37.38428, -113.48358.
Permit: Day hikers parking at trailhead inside Pine Valley Recreation Area do not have to pay a fee at entrance station.
Maps and Apps: Trails Illustrated Topo Map - St. George/Pine Valley Mountains #715, AllTrails app, Garmin GPS, USGS 7.5 minute topo - Grass Valley quad.
Dates Hiked: 9/3/2021, 8/28/2022.
Considerations: Experience in navigating through forest necessary (no official trail). I suggest long pants to avoid shin scraping when crawling over deadfall and through rock walls.
Geology: Pine Valley Mountains are remnants of the Pine Valley Laccolith, one of the largest laccoliths in the U.S. (See "For the Geo-curious" below). Radiometric dates show the monzonite porphyry rock was formed 22 million years ago.
History: Robert Gardner, Jr. was one of the original settlers of Pine Valley who helped establish a lumber mill.
Driving Directions: Directions from St. George: Take Highway 18 north for about 24 miles, turn right at the Pine Valley junction (E. Pine Valley Road) and drive 8 miles until you reach a "T" in the road. Turn left and continue for about 1.5 miles. The trailhead is located on the left just after the Pine Valley Recreation Area entrance gate.
This time, on our second Gardner Peak hike, Fred and I got to share the trail with Lydia and Robin. Lydia, our lithe, exuberant and fit yoga teacher showed her love and refreshing awareness of nature and a beautiful tree pose atop a sculpted boulder. Robin, our fit fellow yogi, with a huge supply of bright optimism, has been training for her upcoming Grand Canyon rim to rim hike. Since we knew the way, Fred and I were able to get us up the steep and rocky deadfall-littered summit block. After a cairned trail to Gardner's base, there's few signs of a trail, except for a few "ducks" here and there. We followed my previous Gardner Peak GPS tracks, had a summit celebration, and found our entry from last year in the summit register. We discovered another register a few steps down on a slightly lower summit. Check out Lydia's excellent and fun adventure website - On the Loose Live for an account of this hike plus lots more interesting explorations and beautiful photography.
Gardner Peak sits right on the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness boundary and although its trail may not be officially in the wilderness, it feels like it is because the trail is narrow and lightly used, less so than the higher and busier Burger Peak hike. The trail treks through a small area burned from the 2020 Gardner fire. You will reach two false peaks before you get to the summit - a narrow rock perch with a view only to the east.
Gardner Peak overlooking Pine Valley, Utah
Sue at trailhead in new Kuhl hiking pants.
Gardner Peak Trail to base of Gardner Peak
Driving past the Pine Valley Recreation Area entrance station, Gardner Peak trailhead is a short distance on the left. You may share the sagebrush-lined trail with cows for the first 1/2 mile. The trail quickly ascends into the forest, then at 0.9 miles intersects with the Canal Trail which traverses the base of the mountain. By walking a few yards to the left on the Canal Trail, painted rocks and an old signless post propped by a cut tree trunk mark the Gardner Peak trailhead. Continue north on a steep and rocky trail.
The forest becomes thicker; the trail is faint in some areas. It turns east and at two miles crosses over a saddle with a great view of Grass Valley below. The forest shade becomes more abundant, with a beautiful combination of ponderosa pines and aspen. The trail stays narrow, weaving around large boulders, and over bare rock with rain water pools etched into its surface. An adequate amount of cairns marks the trail, except when it crosses the burned area from the 2020 Gardner fire, where we used the AllTrails app to find our course. Go straight ahead when you reach this section; we went too high onto the bare rock to the right. The trail then descends steeply to cross a dry run-off stream section and continues to Jodes Flat, the small meadow at the base of Gardner Peak.
Base of Gardner Peak to the summit
At 3.8 miles from the trailhead, after the short fire area, reach the small meadow, Jodes Flat, to see the thick forest on the west side of Gardner Peak. This is where the trail ends. We walked straight up this flank for a 900' gain, aiming toward the peak coordinates. There is a lot of deadfall to crawl over and Class 3 climbing through huge rock outcrops toward the top, as well as 2 false summits. The summit is small - basically a few huge boulders with a register with a few entries hidden under rocks.
The summit is mostly forested, but a view to the east looks over a deep canyon. A forested summit is not as spectacular as a bare, above-treeline perch overlooking huge expanses of terrain, like Leatherman Peak, which we summited last July. But they are still great and each has its own characteristics that stand out in my memory of them. The reward of finding an unseen summit as you keep on seeing more sky as you climb is extraordinary.
Keeping the bare rock outcrop we had passed on the way up in view, and using my GPS trackback, we found our way back to Jodes Flat. It's easy to get disoriented; you basically want to head northwest.
Hiking with Robin and Lydia was a joyful excursion, reminding me that moving in nature is important for optimal health. And if you can do yoga balance poses on a steep boulder, all the better!
"Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world."
- John Muir
Keep On Exploring! Stay close to Nature!
Lydia and Fred on the way up.
Walking into forest after valley view to the north.
Ducks mark the trail.
View ahead of crags - we used these as a landmark to descend peak; rock cairns (right) mark the trail.
Lydia at sculpted rocks section of trail.
Short section burned from the 2020 Gardner fire.
Some cool stuff on the trail.
Fred and Sue hiking through burned section - thanks for the photo, Lydia!
Fred winding through Ponderosa pines on section before you reach sculpted rocks.
One of the many meadows in Pine Valley Mountains
A look at the peak ahead.
Fred and Robin maneuvering through deadfall and boulders near the summit.
Yep, there's lots of rocks and trees to navigate when climbing the off-trail portion to the summit!
(900' elevation gain).
Scenes from the top of Gardner Peak
View from Gardner Peak of Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness to the south
Pine Valley celebrating Labor Day
For the Geo-curious - Pine Valley Laccolith
A laccolith is a large amount of magma that is injected between layers of rock, causing a dome-shaped mass. In this case, the Pine Valley Laccolith was a final surge of magma that occurred after the initial volcanic vents were shut off, causing the magma to be squeezed and move sideways between the layers of the Claron formation below it and the overlying magma layer. This injection, 22 million years ago, amounted to a 3,000-foot layer of monzonite porphyry, composed mainly of plagioclase and alkali feldspar. This is similar to granite, and when you look at a fresh surface of the rock, you can see the crystals, indicating the rock cooled slowly enough to form large crystals - allowing us to easily see them. The laccolith was uncovered when the volcanic layer above it eroded. The Claron Formation is made of limestone and mudstone; it is the rock that makes the spectacular hoodoos seen in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Interactive map of our GPS tracks to Gardner Peak
Our GPS track; note extent of 2020 Gardner fire on map. Gardner Peak is on the boundary of Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness Area.
The last section of hike through rock outcrops to the summit.
Miller, R. Our Geological Wonderland: The Pine Valley Mountain Laccolith. The Independent - A Voice for Southern Utah. Feb. 2018.
Pine Valley Day: The story of how 'the most beautiful sight' went from lumber supplier to summer retreat. By Reuben Wadsworth reporting in the St, George News.
Pine Valley Chapel 1868. Informational flyer about the history of Pine Valley and its chapel, available at the Pine Valley Chapel.
If you like short, Class 1 hikes to the highest summit of a spectacular mountain range, this hike in the unfrequented Tushar Mountains is for you. While you're there, sample the meadows and forests of the Skyline National Recreation Trail for a good dose of solitude.
Looking like I'm going to fly away in Delano Peak's high winds.
Related in Explorumentary:
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Trip Stats for Delano Peak
Location: Fishlake NF, Tushar Mountains, Trail #224, near Beaver, Utah. Fishlake National Forest - Beaver Ranger District.
Distance/Elevation gain: West ridge approach = 3 miles round trip - 1,625' gain. Trailhead = 10,500', summit = 12,169'.
Difficulty: Moderate Class 1 on cairned trail to Delano Peak.
Coordinates: Trail head = 38.36753, -112.39561 Delano Peak = 38.36917, -112.37137
Date Hiked: 8/1/22
Maps and Apps: AllTrails Delano Peak, Fishlake National Forest Beaver and Fillmore Ranger Districts Travel Map - USDA.
Considerations: most passenger cars can drive the graded dirt/gravel road to trailhead (FR 123). This road is also part of the Paiute ATV trail, so there is some ATV use on roads nearby. No motorized vehicles allowed on hiking trails.
History: named after Columbus Delano (1809–1896), Secretary of the Interior during the Grant administration. He was instrumental in establishing Yellowstone National Park after supervising the first federally-funded scientific expedition into Yellowstone in 1871, and the first Secretary of the Interior to request congress to protect preservation of a nationally important site (from Wikipedia).
Geology: The Tushar Mountains are remnants of volcanos whose first eruption period was 22-35 million years ago (Bullion Canyon Volcanics) and second eruption 21 million years ago (Mt. Belknap Volcanics). Delano Peak resides in the Bullion Canyon Volcanics. It is the highest point on the edge of Big John's Caldera, a concealed structure on Delano's west side that subsided ~ 23 million years ago during ash flow eruptions. This caldera filled and eroded over time. The second eruption created the source rock for the mined uranium of the Marysvale mining district north and east of Delano Peak. (See "For the Geocurious" below).
The Skyline National Recreation Trail Links
Ramblers - Beaver County, Utah
How to Day Hike Three Different Sections of the Scenic 23-Mile Skyline Trail - Utah - Life Elevated
On the morning drive up FR 123 to the trailhead.
We had planned to hike a loop on on the Tushar range's highest ridge to Delano Peak and Mount Holly further down the ridge, but when we got to Delano's summit, we could barely see each other, let alone the ridge. A few times, Fred got ahead of me and vanished into the huge clouds that engulfed the summit. The terrain below was occasionally revealed as sunny and bright green, but not for long. Getting cold with the wind blowing us around, we descended the short trail to our truck and drove to the Skyline National Recreation Trail trailhead. Mount Holly can be accessed from this trail.
Delano Peak is the highest summit in the Tushar Mountains - the third-highest range in Utah, after the Uinta and the La Sal Mountain ranges. The Geologic Map of the Tushar Mountains looks like a chaotic Jackson Pollock painting and one that would bring a sparkle to any geologist's eyes. It's a symphony of color blotches and random hatched lines that represent almost all major forms of volcanic rocks and structural features. Red Hills Tuff, Grey Hills Rhyolite and Blue Lake Rhyolite are just a few of the members of volcanic assemblages. Thrust faults, caldera walls and breakaway scarps scatter about this complicated terrain. Delano Peak's summit sits at the top of Big John Caldera. Four more calderas exist, as well as eight major mining centers.
We were surprised that such a large, gorgeous wilderness area with more than a few peaks over 11,000 feet had so few visitors. While hikers flock to the Wasatch and Uinta ranges, the Tushars are not as well-known. There are ATV trails that course through parts of this range, but there are plenty of hiking trails where they are not allowed.
This is a quick hike on a trail through grass and small rocks - only 1.5 miles to the summit. It is a bit challenging because you start at 10,000 feet. Delano Peak can also be summited from the northeast; in fact, this trail continues from the summit down to the base of Mt. Brigham. We plan on giving our loop another try.
Skyline National Recreation Trail
The SNRT is an 8.3-mile trail that is part of the panoramic Tushar Skyline Trail stretching 23 miles and passes under Delano Peak, the highest mountain in southwestern Utah. It takes you through streams, meadows, and forests. In 1986 and 1988, 25 mountain goats were introduced into the Tushars from the Wasatch range in northern Utah and Olympic National Park. They have prospered to number 120 goats, and some have been transplanted to other areas. They can be seen on the Delano-Holly ridge line.
We entered the SNRT where it intersects with FR 123, ~ 1 mile south of Delano Peak trailhead and hiked toward Mt. Holly's base. The high Tushar's grassy slopes don't appear intimidating; no major cliffs or talus slopes. By this time, the clouds had retreated from the high ridge, but we decided to enjoy a rambling hike rather than a climb up Mount Holly. Ah, maybe we are getting soft in our "old age"!! Any time out in the wilderness, whether we get to our planned destination or not, is cherished.
"Why do they say we’re over the hill? I don’t even know what that means and why it’s a bad thing. When I go hiking and I get over the hill, that means I’m past the hard part and there’s a snack in my future."
- Ellen DeGeneres
Keep On Exploring! Keep Moving! Your Body and Mind will Love you for it!
For the Geocurious: Volcanos and the creation of Uranium
Just east of the Tushar Mountains, the Mount Belknap Volcanics erupted radioactive lava flows and ash-flow tuffs (rocks of consolidated ash) ~ 21 million years ago. Unique geologic processes then created the uranium deposits that formed in a shallow water vein system in the Central Mining Area near Marysvale, a short distance from the Tushars. The veins formed 19 million years ago above a magma chamber, filling in open spaces and fractures with fluids rich in fluorine, molybdenum, and uranium. Hydrothermal fluids and rock reacted to precipitate uranium. Nine mines in the Central Mining area produced uranium. Because of decreased demand for uranium, Utah's mines were closed before 2000.
A small part of the geologic map of the Tushar Mountains that shows rock units and structural features of the highest part of the range.
click on photo for complete geologic map of the Tushar Mountains
Liking the cool moist air!
Are you sure this isn't Scotland?
Nearing Delano Peak's summit.
Looking down from near the summit.
Clouds beginning to clear on the lower hike down.
Some cool stuff on the trail.
Columbian monkshood found near small streams.
These wildflowers like to grow in rich, moist soils - water use is high. They are poisonous to humans if ingested.
Skyline National Recreation Trail heading southeast toward Mt. Holly on right horizon.
Google Earth image of our GPS tracks to Delano Peak. North points to the top left of the photo.
Caltopo image of our GPS tracks: North points to top of photo. Mount Holly located on ridge lower right.
AllTrails map with GPS tracks on the Skyline National Recreation Trail: Big Flat Trailhead (south) to Mud Lake (north).
click on map for link to AllTrails website.
Cunningham, C.G., Rasmussen, J. D., Steven, T.A., Rye, R.O., Rowley. P.D., Romberger , S.B., Selverstone. J. 1998. Mineralium Deposita, 33:477.
Delano Peak - Wikipedia
Geologic map of the Tushar Mountains and adjoining areas, Marysvale volcanic field, Utah. USGS National Geologic Map Database.
Mindat.org. Marysvale Mining District.
Plant Database: Aconitum columbianum. The University of Texas at Austin website.
Ringholz, R. C. Uranium Mining in Utah. Utah History Encyclopedia.
Steven, T. 2013. Igneous Activity and Related Ore Deposits in the Western and Southern Tushar Mountains, Marysvale Volcanic Field, West-Central Utah: USGS Professional Paperback.
One of the "ultra-prominent peaks" in the lower 48 states, this excellent hike treks through blankets of wildflowers, up a steep slope and across a long, thin ridge to the summit of the Wasatch Range's highest peak.
Fred walking over Wolf Pass Peak, with Mount Nebo behind him. Actual summit is just behind the high point in the photo.
Related in Explorumentary
Utah Hikes: List and Links
Utah's Red Rock Country
Moving Makes You Feel Better: The Latest Research
Experiencing "Flow" - The Secret to Happiness
Maps and Apps: Trails Illustrated Wasatch Front South #701, AllTrails track.
Weather forecast: mountain-forecast.com
Date Hiked: July 6, 2022.
Directions to trailhead from Nephi, Utah: From the town of Nephi, take UT 132 (I-15 exit 225) east. Drive 4.8 miles from I-15 to Mount Nebo Scenic Loop Road (FR 015), take a left. Drive 13.4 miles to junction of Mona Pole Road (FR 160), at Monument Trailhead. Take Mona Pole road - drive 0.4 miles on good dirt road to parking area on left.
Geology: Mount Nebo is comprised of the Oquirrh Formation: interbedded limestone and sandstone.
Mount Nebo, a towering bare hunk of tilted limestone, is aptly named to mean "Sentinel of God" by early Mormon pioneers. You can't miss this impressive-looking mountain that dominates the Nephi (pronounced NEE-fy) skyline, close to Utah's I-15. Some people think Mt. Timpanogos, another impressive peak near Provo, is the highest in the Wasatch range; however it is 179 feet lower than Mount Nebo. I was advised by a sales associate at The Desert Rat, St. George's outdoor specialty store to NOT summit Nebo via the southern route, Nebo Peak Trail. After telling me to hike the North Peak Trail, its trailhead north of Mount Nebo, he said, "You should probably see some great wildflowers." He was right on both accounts: the trail was great and profuse wildflowers of every color covered the forest understory.
The trailhead is at 9,254 feet and the summit is 11,928 feet. However, you lose elevation on the way to the summit and gain elevation on the way back, making the cumulative gain 3,700 feet. The trail passes over Wolf Pass Peak (Point 11,440') first before it tackles the great pyramid-shaped Mount Nebo. There's a really steep pitch on Wolf Pass Peak's northeast slope. It's short switchbacks make for a heart-pounding climb of over 800 feet in just 0.4 miles. Glad I had my hiking pole for the way down! We hiked Nebo on a weekday and ran into four other parties. I imagine this is a busy trail on weekends. But that would not deter me - this hike is fantastic!
Mount Nebo is #39 out of 57 ultra-prominence peaks in the lower 48 states. To qualify as"ultra-prominence", the summit of a peak has to rise at least 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) above its key saddle, which is the lowest contour that encircles it, and no other peak.
North Peak Trailhead to Wolf Pass: Miles 0 - 3.5 with a 1,350' gain
We began our hike at 7:20 a.m. to ensure we would be off the most exposed part of the peak around noon. The North Peak Trail ascends through a lush forest with lots of wildflowers and vegetation spilling over to arrive at a bare avalanche area where we crossed a small snow field and continued steeply up to a saddle on North Peak's north ridge for the first incredible view of Mount Nebo. You also get a great view of Juab Valley and Mona Reservoir to the west. From here, the trail splits in 0.2 miles to the left to summit North Mountain. Keep right on the main trail to traverse North Mountain's shady west flank to arrive at Wolf Pass, just south of North Mountain. Here's a place with great views to both the west and the east, and an opportunity to rest a bit before tackling Wolf Pass Peak.
Wolf Pass to Mount Nebo summit: Miles 3.5 - 4.5 with a 1,300' gain
I felt quite small standing on Wolf Pass, an immediate 800 feet of climbing staring me in the face. We put our heads down and used a modified rest-step to get up this steep and rocky pitch efficiently. We use this technique for long, steep pitches, especially at elevation to save energy: use momentum to kick your foot forward while keeping back knee straight - rest a second and repeat with other leg, going in a measured, rhythmical gait, not over-using your quads or glutes.
Before topping off on Wolf Pass Peak, we followed a trail going left, traversing just under the summit for a short distance. We had to scramble back up to the ridge just after the summit. We avoided that on the way back and just stayed on the ridge over Wolf Pass Peak. The walk on the ridge to Mount Nebo's summit was divine. A feeling of being on the top of everything else in the region with steep basins and canyons with names like Hell Hole, Middle, North and South Basin dropping for a long way on both sides. Occasional scant stands of scraggly trees line a few steep couloirs. The ridge trail is wide and stable enough so it doesn't feel precarious or scary.
As soon as we reached what we thought was the summit, suddenly there was the "true" summit just behind it, only about 40 feet higher. The summit is narrow and long, a trail leads to the next high point to the south, Nebo Middle and then after that, Mount Nebo South Peak. The summit register consisted of a glass mason jar stuffed with sticky notes with lots of names, dates, and comments.
A couple of things were remarkable about the descent. The first was Wolf Pass Peak's steep, rocky pitch - it reminded me of a short version of Mt. Borah's (the highest peak in Idaho) descent - steep and slippery. The second was the abundant wildflowers, reminding me of Colorado hikes. We didn't know that Utah's high country could be so beautiful. Our adventure possibilities have just expanded - again. Wouldn't it be great if the years of our lives expanded accordingly? I guess the key is in living in the moment and fully appreciating that we have the ability to get to the "top of the world" and see Indian paintbrush splash the forest with magenta.
"So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. To struggle and to understand. Never the last without the first. That is the law."
- George Mallory, mountaineer who climbed with the first three British expeditions to Mt. Everest in the 1920's.
Keep on Moving! Keep on Exploring!
Google Earth image of our tracks heading from North Peak Trailhead west to ridge, then south to Mount Nebo summit on the right. Mount Nebo Scenic Loop road (015) approaches trailhead upper left. South points to the upper right.
View of Mount Nebo from Mount Nebo Scenic Loop Road.
On Mount Nebo's summit looking east.
Heading back - trail goes over the top of Wolf Pass Peak (Point 11,440').
Some cool stuff on the trail.
On the way down
North Mountain from near the trailhead.
Our GPS tracks and elevation profile for Mount Nebo.
Walk on the surreal slick rock of White Domes, near the top of Canaan Mountain as you climb out of Water Canyon. This is a an extraordinary hike in a gorgeous, remote and rugged wilderness.
White Domes - Canaan Mountain, Utah
Related in Explorumentary:
Canaan Mountain via Squirrel Canyon
Utah's Red Rock Country
Southern Utah Hiking and Biking in a Pandemic: Wire Mesa, Snow Canyon, Zion National Park
Mt. Kinesava Hike - Zion NP
Angels Landing in Zion - Not for the Faint of Heart
Coordinates: Trailhead = 37.03681, -112.95364. White Domes = 37.06259, -112.98348.
Maps and Apps:
Maps and Apps: USGS 7.5 min topo, Hildale, Utah-Arizona, AllTrails White Domes via Water Canyon Trail, Avenza and physical map of St. George, Springdale, Hurricane & Zion NP, Utah by Adventure Maps, Inc.
Link to Zion topo Map of Canaan Mountain
Considerations: Take GPS coordinates when you top off out of Water Canyon so you can return to the same point to descend. Once on the plateau, experience with navigation using physical topo maps as well as smart phone apps is advised; trails are not marked and "social trails" go in various directions. There are limited openings through the Water Canyon cliffs, so you must return to the same point at which you entered the wilderness above the cliffs. Allow enough time to get off the mountain.
Date Hiked: May 8, 2022.
Directions to Water Canyon Trailhead: From Hwy 59 in the border town of Hildale, Utah, turn left on Utah Ave., which heads 2 miles east before turning north (left) onto Canyon St. In less than a mile, turn right at the intersection of Maxwell Canyon Rd. and Water Canyon Rd. Follow this dirt road for another 2 miles to park at one of two parking lots at the trailhead. Can be treacherous driving on this road if it is wet.
Geology: Block of Navajo sandstone originally deposited on the continent of Pangea, which included today's North America, Africa, Europe, and South America, existing as a single continent. Sand was wind-blown and deposited in a huge sand sea - creating the petrified sand dunes seen in many Utah state and national parks. The parallel sand layers are cross-beds: the inclination of the layering was caused by aeolian (wind-blown) sand, migrating down-wind.
Overview - Canaan Mountain Wilderness
Navajo Sandstone cliffs, 2,000 feet high, surround Canaan Mountain on three sides, making this an exceptional wilderness with limited access. The landscape is always interesting and gorgeous; around every corner, atop every plateau and rising up out of sandy washes are the various landforms sculpted by wind, water and ice erosion. The red and orange Vermillion Cliffs form its base. The cream, yellow, red, orange and white colors compliment greens of scattered ponderosa and pinyon pines, scrub oak and gambel oak, creating a striking color palette. Cross-bedded cliff walls, pinnacles, domes, slot canyons, hoodoos, natural arches, ledges, open slickrock, waterfalls, seeps with hanging gardens, and carved pools are some of the things you see in this extraordinary land. It has only a few primitive routes, with one rocky and sandy 4WD road, the Sawmill Trail/Canaan Mountain Trail, a historic logging route that enters from the east. To us it is comparable in beauty to Zion NP, and we get to practice our navigation skills.
Miles 0 - 2.2: Water Canyon to top of cliffs/entry onto mesa at "Top Rock".
Miles 2.2 - 3.9: "Top Rock" through mesa to White Domes/Canaan Mountain Ridge.
Fred and I got "temporarily bewildered", not exactly lost, when we attempted this hike a few years ago. We neglected to take a waypoint at our Water Canyon exit onto Canaan Mountain plateau's unmarked wilderness. We followed the wrong path and found ourselves further from the White Domes. When we decided to head back to the canyon rim, we took a waypoint just in case because there were a few paths there, but nothing marked - no cairns or signs. We came close to our entry at the canyon rim but missed it by a short distance. So, we returned back (one mile!) to our waypoint, carefully retraced our footsteps, and finally got back to our entry, the only way we knew to get back down.
The lesson: when hiking in Southern Utah's canyon country, there may be only one entrance/exit point and it is crucial to know how to navigate back to that point when there is no marked trail. This wild and spectacular country is filled with numerous washes, pedestal rocks, slick rock, and boulders; it can turn into a maze where landmarks can look similar.
This time we were ready, armed with AllTrails and Avenza maps, as well as our physical map. My Garmin GPS insured we were backtracking successfully. We took the crucial waypoint at Top Rock (see below). We followed Joe's Guide to Zion NP - Water Canyon and Canaan Mountain hike directions. Occasional rock cairns helped, too.
Starting out - Water Canyon to the right.
Climbing out of Water Canyon
Fred and I began trudging (at times) through sand, passing under canopies of pine and juniper to the picturesque waterfall section of Water Canyon. Here, the canyon is dark and narrow; walls drip water onto bright green leaves, and a series of small waterfalls tumble over sandstone. Long striped walls on both sides converge at a slot where you walk through the shallow stream. Just past this, at about one mile into the hike, you start to climb steeply up the west (left) cliffs of Water Canyon, passing more waterfalls, walking over a series of rock ledges, hoisting over boulders now and then, and even walking over a log propped against a ledge to gain access to the top of it.
This trail to the plateau above is a masterfully-planned route through available ledges and passages with the canyon at times dropping steeply below to the right, but you won't feel overly exposed. There are some rock cairns to follow. At about 1.9 miles into the hike, the trail makes a U-turn and heads south to ascend the final wall to the opening into the plateau, and to Canaan Mountain Wilderness boundary. Impressive towering walls of cross-bedded sandstone seem close as the canyon widens. Shortly, "Top Rock" is reached - a large, weathered sandstone rock on a flat area (see Fred and I sitting on it, below). A few websites and topographical maps refer to this landmark as Top Rock.
RECORD YOUR COORDINATES NEAR PLATEAU ENTRY - We recorded "Top Rock" coordinates for a waypoint.
Canaan Mountain plateau to White Domes
As you stand at Top Rock, the White Domes on Canaan Mountain's ridge to the northwest are 400 feet higher. We walked straight towards them, initially descending, finding a discernible path marked often by small rock cairns, hiking in a northwest direction. Our route took us through the forest, down through small drainages and short stretches of slick rock into a larger sandy wash (upper Water Canyon), where I placed some tree branches to mark our entry into the wash. We followed this creek west upstream for ~ 0.25 miles, going around a few dry waterfalls to their north (right) side. Reach a wide intersection between two washes; take the side wash to the right (NW) and follow it for ~1.0 mile to the domes. Walking over sand and slick rock is exquisite as you pass by sandstone walls and moqui marble collections - round sandstone balls coated with dark red or black iron oxide. As you near the top of this side wash, White Domes come into view - you exit the canyon and start hiking steeply up pure white sandstone. Top out on Canaan Mountain's ridge between these layered domes to see the temples and mountains of Zion National Park to the north.
Walking on the bright white, bare sandstone with cream-colored veins flowing through it and bright blue sky above is an almost surreal experience. The curves between the domes have been masterfully formed by wind and water, and make it easy to walk around them. A website describes this area as "wondrous" - I would have to agree.
We returned, using my GPS to backtrack, as there are a few shallow canyons coming down from White Domes, and no rock cairns. I'm glad I marked the exit out of the upper Water Canyon wash with branches because the distance back in the wash seemed shorter than the morning's distance.
From White Domes, the Sawmill Trail, an old jeep road continues west toward a few more landmarks that represent Canaan Mountain's lumber history. The trail leads to the southwestern edge of Canaan Mountain to the windlass ruins, the remains of a cable system that lowered timber to the valley floor. It continues to the highest point on Canaan Mountain at 7,363' (~400' higher than White Domes) and Sawmill Spring, the remains of the sawmill.
Again, we feel lucky to be able to hike to these awesome places. So many adventures to be had, so many beautiful things to see, so much appreciation for the American west. Ah, but so little time.....
Keep Moving and Keep Exploring!
CrossFit athlete at CrossFit Dixie in St. George, Utah.
Getting deeper into the canyon.
Reaching waterfall section where walls converge to make slot to walk through.
Dripping walls at waterfalls section of Water Canyon.
Walk through shallow stream at slot.
Walking above the waterfall section, about ready to start climbing west canyon wall.
Long, narrow waterfalls as you ascend Water Canyon.
Starting to climb canyon wall.
Very helpful way to get up this tall ledge!
Rock cairn marking ledge up west cliff climb; nearing the canyon opening at the top.
Fred and Sue on "Top Rock", at entrance to plateau from Water Canyon.
Looking down Water Canyon from near top of its west wall.
Looking across to Water Canyon's east wall.
View from "Top Rock" above exit from Water Canyon of White Domes on Canaan Mountain.
Descending down into upper Water Canyon wash, then we walked 1/4 mile west to intersection with wash that leads NW to White Domes.
Intersection of washes - we took the wash on the right, out of the main wash; it leads up to White Domes ~ 1.1 mile.
Slick rock scenes on ascent to White Domes.
On the way to White Domes
Looking at Zion NP to the north.
Some cool stuff on the trail.
Indian paintbrush (Castilleja)
Heading back down.
Our GPS tracks reflect an inaccuracy due to inadequate number of satellites signals while hiking in the canyon. According to CalTopo, it takes a minimum of 4 satellites communicating with your GPS to get accurate elevation and location measurements. It's not uncommon for satellites to be close to the horizon, so they may be blocked depending on the terrain you're hiking on.
Google Earth image of our route from Top Rock just out of Water Canyon to White Domes, going cross-country to drop down into upper Water Canyon wash, then following side wash straight to White Domes in NW direction. Distance from Top Rock to White Domes = ~ 1.7 miles.
Cassidy Arch is only one feature of many on this spectacular hike on the Waterpocket Fold that will capture your imagination and make you feel minuscule as you hike over open slickrock and between towering walls.
Utah's Red Rock Country
Hiking Mt. Kinesava, Zion NP
Southern Utah Hiking/Biking in a Pandemic: Snow Canyon State Park, Wire Mesa, and Zion NP
Red Mountain Primitive Trail, St. George, Utah
In Search of the Rattlesnake Petroglyph
Desert Plant Photos
Fred (upper left) standing on top of Cassidy Arch, Capitol Reef NP.
Overview: Maximize your already overloaded visual experience in Capitol Reef by hiking a trail less-traveled to Cassidy Arch, then descending through the soaring heights of Grand Wash. The only drawback on this spectacular loop is the 2.6-mile walk on the park's road (Hwy 24) back to the trailhead.
Location: Hickman Bridge Trailhead, 2 miles from Capitol Reef NP visitor center on main park road.
Coordinates: Trailhead: 38.287936, -111.226906.
Difficulty: Moderate Class 1 with signs and rock cairn markers.
Permit/Fee: $20 for private vehicle pass good for 7 days.
Navigational aids: Hiking Map and Guide - Capitol Reef National Park (topo map), Stav Is Lost's route description.
Date Hiked: April 28, 2022.
Geology: Capitol Reef NP encompasses its main geologic feature - the Waterpocket Fold, a nearly 100-mile crimp in the Earth (see "For the Geocurious" below.)
Seems like the last few hikes we've done have histories of late 1880's wild west rustlers and outlaws. Two of them - Mount Minerva Hoyt and Lost Horse Mountain in Joshua Tree NP look over valleys where cattle rustlers hid their "stock". Cassidy Arch, the premier feature of this hike is named after Butch Cassidy, leader of the "Wild Bunch" - bank robbers who hid in the remote canyons of Capitol Reef. Wild west characters - one of the many things I like about living in America's magnificent west.
One of the best attributes of this hike is variety; Frying Pan Trail elevates you to a spectacular high point and a rock wonderland with eroding sandstone towers scattered about, then drops you down to the intersecting trail that leads you to Cassidy Arch's cavernous opening. The grand finale is a walk through a long deep canyon aptly named Grand Wash. To get back to our car, we had to walk on the main park road which snaps you out of a dream world of hoo-doos, warm-colored rock layers, scented junipers and ancient petroglyphs to bring you back to the real world of traffic and tourists. It would be optimal to have two vehicles - one at Hickman Bridge trailhead and one at Lower Grand Wash trailhead on Highway 24.
Cohab Canyon/Frying Pan Trail
Start at the sign for Frying Pan Trail/Cohab Canyon across and slightly down the main park road from Hickman Bridge parking. According to local lore, Cohab Canyon got its name because it was a polygamist hideout if lawmen came around. But, lack of diaries and documents from Fruita, the Mormon settlement at Cohab Canyon, indicate it's probably more lore than truth. Intersect with Frying Pan Trail in 0.55 miles, taking a left to head south under Frying Pan Peak. Cohab Canyon Trail continues to the right (west) to Fruita site.
Cassidy Arch Trail - out and back
Hike over cairned and open slick rock 0.5 miles to Cassidy Arch where without warning the sandstone drops below to a spacious opening. It seems appropriate to be named after Butch Cassidy because it's hidden until you are practically on top of it. This a great place to take a break and watch people walk over its top. Stav is Lost describes a canyoneering trip report that begins next to the arch and does several rappels into narrows, a grotto and more arches, and ends up at Grand Wash Road and trailhead. Head back to intersection from which you came and take a right to descend on Frying Pan Trail for 1.0 mile to the intersection with Grand Wash Trail. Cassidy Arch looks like a big tunnel high up on the mesa overlooking Grand Wash.
Large basalt flows erupted and accumulated in the Boulder Mountains, west of Capitol Reef 20 million years ago. These rounded and vesicular boulders are scattered about everywhere in Capitol Reef, brought there by melt-waters from glaciers that had spread out over the lava flows. Many miles of rolling and tumbling sculpted them into these beautiful shapes.
Frying Pan Trail is well-marked.
View from Frying Pan Trail to the southwest.
Those are some thick sandstone layers!
Topping off on Frying Pan Trail.
On the way down toward intersection with Cassidy Arch Trail. Fern's Nipple on the horizon. Great view of titled layers of the Waterpocket Fold.
Heading down toward intersection with Cassidy Arch Trail.
Cassidy Arch Trail swings down to the right: Cassidy Arch is under the sandstone on the right mesa - its opening on the left edge of that mesa. Fern's Nipple on left horizon.
Suddenly it's there: first view of Cassidy Arch.
From Cassidy Arch looking down onto Grand Wash Road.
Grand Wash Trail
After you get back onto Frying Pan from Cassidy Arch, you'll probably run into hikers coming from the Grand Wash Trailhead to the southeast. Frying Pan Trail is longer but so beautiful and less populated. Grand Wash is a peaceful walk between high walls with dark stripes of manganese and iron minerals contrasting with orange and light yellow sandstone. There's many interesting erosion features such as honeycomb weathering, or tafoni - holes produced in the sandstone from water, wind and ice on surfaces facing the sun. Every turn, every bend brings another great sight to see. Petroglyphs, pecked into sandstone panels, appear near the end of the wash. I'm always intrigued by the people who made these - what did they look like? What tools did they use? What did they eat? I had a great time learning about them when I was writing my petroglyph post - In Search of the Rattlesnake Petroglyph.
The road walk back to the trailhead was worth it - It's hard to top Frying Pan Trail - thanks to Stav is Lost for giving us the idea! There is so much more to explore in Capitol Reef, we plan on getting back to this incredible land. I recommend hiking Upper Muley Twist Trail off Burr Road in the southern part of Capitol Reef - it elevates you to an amazing view of the Waterpocket Fold.
Keep on Exploring!
View of Cassidy Arch (top right) from Cassidy Arch Trail descending into wash with intersection to Grand Wash Trail.
Some cool stuff on the trail: click on the milkvetch and petroglyph photos for more information.
For the Geocurious - The Waterpocket Fold
As national parks go, the map of Capitol Reef is unusual. It's long and vertical area encompasses the Waterpocket Fold, a part of the Earth created during the Rocky Mountain building phase ~ 70 - 50 million years ago. Horizontal rock layers were pushed up by compressional stresses on one side by an underlying fault, creating a classic monocline (mono = one, cline = incline), a steep "ramp" of rocks 4,000 feet higher on the west side than the east. It was further uplifted 15 million years ago, exposing more of the strata to erosion to create "waterpockets" - holes in the rock of varying sizes. Increased tilt of the layers created increased gradient of streams, which accelerated erosion.
This unique geological phenomenon revealed strata laid down hundreds of millions years ago in red rock country that has weathered into domes, canyons, arches and cliffs. There are a few scenic loop drives in Capitol Reef NP - a popular drive is Notom-Bullfrog Road/Burr Trail/Scenic Highways 12 and 24 loop. Burr Road crosses the Waterpocket Fold and is incredibly scenic, giving ample geologic "feast for the eyes", especially for the "geocurious".
Image of Waterpocket Fold from NASA Earth Observatory
A good You Tube video features Capitol Reef park rangers describing in simple terms the creation of Waterpocket Fold:
Monocline Explained: Capitol Reef National Park
Illustration from Written In Stone - Seen Through My Lens of a classic monocline like the Waterpocket Fold. Compression in the brittle underlying bed rock causes faulting and folding with east-directed forces during mountain-building and the whole Colorado plateau was uplifted. The western block was pushed onto and over the east block causing the fold. This was initiated by the Farallon Plate sliding under the North American Plate.
Our GPS tracks for entire loop - on top of the Waterpocket Fold.
Fred in Grand Wash.
Our GPS tracks and profile. We hiked counterclockwise from Hickman Trailhead on Hwy 24 to Grand Wash Trailhead.
Google Earth image of our tracks from intersection of Cassidy Arch Trail/Frying Pan Trail (top left) to Cassidy Arch (bottom right).
Butch Cassidy- Outlaw - His Early Years. Capitol Reef Country (website). Wayne County Tourism.
Capitol Reef Administrative History. Chapter 4: Mormon Settlement. U.S. National Park Service.
Capitol Reef: The Waterpocket Fold. Capitol Reef Country.
Flight Plan: Part II – Geology of the Circle Cliffs Uplift and the Waterpocket Fold at Capitol Reef National Park. From website: Written In Stone - Seen Through My Lens.
NASA Earth Observatory. Traces of an Ancient Watery World In Capitol Reef. Website entry on 5/2/22.
Olson, V, Olson, H. 1990. Capitol Reef: The Story Behind the Scenery. KC Publications, Inc.
More evidence on how exercise helps our brain and immune system, increase our resiliency and decrease anxiety and depression, and how "nature experiences" decrease rumination, a negative emotion. Plus, scenes from a few walks in Snow Canyon State Park.
More resources on Exercise and Mental Health and the Neurofit Lab's Mental Health Tool Kit at end of this post.
Red Sands trail in Snow Canyon State Park
Next month I will be back with another adventure post - in this and the last post, I wanted to pass along the positive news of the mind/body connection and how we can find strength, resiliency, optimism and better health.
Many of us know the connection between a walk in nature and feelings of optimism, relaxation and happiness. Hiking elevates your mood, decreases anxiety, and helps open your mind for creativity. For the lucky ones, including me, nature is virtually outside my front door. I'm close to Snow Canyon State Park near St. George, where I can walk in the famous picturesque world of Utah's red rock country. However, you don't need this dramatic scenery in order to improve your mood. A study by Stanford University on nature experience and the brain has found that participants who walked in a grassland/oak/shrub environment "greenspace" reported greater feelings of well-being and less stress than those who walked in an urban setting. The question is, "what effect does living in an urban environment have on our mental health?" What surprised me is that humanity is removed from nature more than ever: more than 50% of people live in urban areas. The forecast for the proportion of urban dwellers in 2050 is 70%. Yikes!
"Running is Medicine for my Mind": All the Good Brain Neurochemicals
In her Nike Trained: Mental Health Miniseries podcast, neuroscientist and expert in brain health, Jennifer Heisz, PhD. discusses her recent research that shows a definite connection between exercise and movement and the release of brain neurochemicals that decrease anxiety and depression. Her new book, Move the Body, Heal the Mind: Overcome Anxiety, Depression, and Dementia and Improve Focus, Creativity, and Sleep, highlights her latest research in her Canadian lab. Her biggest revelation is that exercise has been found to be equally as beneficial as medication for anxiety and depression, and in some cases, even better than meds. Those that need to stay on their medications, by additionally doing exercise, can lessen potential side-effects from the medications. Heisz also weaves into her book her personal journey of the mental benefits she obtained while training for an Ironman Triathlon - resiliency is one. She made the huge transition from a sedentary academic to a triathlete to experience first-hand exercise's effects on the brain. Because the Ironman Triathlon was cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020, she laid out and completed her own course! Dr. Heisz's website for her book and back story.
Exercise, because it acts as an anti-inflammatory, has been found to strengthen the immune system to fight infections. Chronic stress that can cause stress-induced depression compromises the immune system. A health paradox that Heisz discovered from her research, especially apparent during the COVID pandemic, was that many of us wanted to exercise more to improve our mental health, but symptoms of depression and anxiety were getting in the way of doing so. A recent study found that active participants reported less stress during shelter-in-place than did non-active participants.
Endocannabinoids, our body's natural production of cannabis are produced during exercise, helping us to feel mellow, balanced, and content. Endorphins, the body's natural pain killer are also released. I like to say that hiking produces the vital nutrients to thrive - my medicine! In my last post, Experiencing "Flow": The Secret to Happiness, I wrote about what I've known for years: hiking and exercise is crucial for my mental health.
Going to a Tai Chi class for eight years really helped me handle and the stress I felt from work. A boy in my class was learning how to utilize Tai Chi for his ADHD disorder, rather than use medications.
High-Intensity Interval Training - HIIT
During HIIT, you push your body through intervals of near maximal effort with rest in between. In almost all cases, high intensity interval training is beneficial for people with mental illnesses. By maintaining a certain level of stress, your body learns to adapt and then becomes stronger. There is one caveat: people who have anxiety sensitivity, or fear of the normal symptoms that accompany exercise may react negatively to HIIT. Some people are afraid of their hearts beating too fast, or of the feeling of trying to catch their breath, and they over-exaggerate their symptoms. These people benefit from lower intensity exercise, potentially increasing fitness by adapting to increments of challenging exercise.
Neurochemicals immediately released in your brain after exercise.
Basalt flowed into what is now Snow Canyon State Park, covering red and yellow sandstone.
Reduce Rumination - Feel Better!
The Stanford study set out to answer the question: "by what mechanism(s) might nature experience buffer against the development of mental illness?" (quoted from the study). It found that nature walks decreased rumination, a dysfunctional pattern of negative self-thought that's associated with depression and other mental illnesses. The subgenual prefrontal cortex becomes activated during rumination. Participants had a brain scan which showed blood flow to this part of the brain. The researchers' hypothesis was correct: blood flow in the subgenual prefrontal cortex decreased after the nature experience used in the study, thereby reducing rumination.
This state of decreased rumination also occurs with experiencing "flow" where you are so wrapped up in an activity that you focus on the joy it brings, rather than yourself. Flow occurs in all sorts of people, in all sorts of endeavors where levels of challenge and skill are more or less are equal and at relatively high levels. Thousands of people have been interviewed to share their flow experiences: monks, writers, artists, mountain climbers, surgeons, etc. A common theme is reported - a feeling of optimal happiness and satisfaction.
Mix in friends on your hike and nature walks and you have the perfect ingredients for contentment, hope, and happiness. We need to take care of our mental health just as much as we do our physical health, and the research linking movement and mental health is long overdue. Our bodies are a gift! These studies also illustrate the importance of "green spaces" in our urban areas to help reduce mental illnesses.
For help with motivation, you can download the Mental Health Tool Kit from Dr. Heisz's Neurofit Lab that identifies problems encountered since the onset of COVID and solutions to get you going. Keep moving, keep hiking, keep exploring!
"The wonderful things in life are the things you do,
not the things you have."
- Reinhold Messner, mountaineer
Sunrise near Snow Canyon State Park's entrance.
Books on Mind/Body Connection and Movement
The chronic stress of coronavirus is affecting your mental health. Here's how exercise can help. The Conversation.
Dr. Heisz's Trained Podcast
Dr. Heisz's book and back story website
Bratman, G., Hamilton, J.P., Hahn, K., Daily, G., Gross, J. 2015. Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. PNAS.
Cirino, E. 2019. Ten Tips to Help You Stop Ruminating. Healthline website.
Dusenbery, M. How Exercise Affects 2 Important 'Happy' Chemicals in your Brain. Livestrong.com
NIH - National Library of Medicine. Physical activity and stress management during COVID-19: a longitudinal survey study. January 2022.
Nike Trained: Body and Mind Mental Health Miniseries - Jennifer Heisz, PhD. Podcast: Season 9 Episode 9.
Rogers, Marilyn. Doctors Tell Us How Hiking can Change our Brains. From website Lifehack.
Break out of the "typical" southwestern Utah hike to discover more remote and interesting backcountry adventures. A short hike up Jarvis' northwest ridge rewards with expansive views of two distinct physiographic regions: the Colorado plateau to the east and the Mojave Desert to the southwest.
Utah's Red Rock Country
Burger Peak: 10,320' - Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness, Utah
Gardner Peak: 9,488' - Pine Valley Mountains, Utah
Desert Plant photos
Approaching the final ascent on Jarvis Peak's northwest ridge.
Easier route switchbacks just left of summit through pinyons and junipers. Want a more "exciting" ascent? - go around to the right beneath the crags.
View of Jarvis Peak (highest point on the left side of range) from near summit of West Mountain - Beaver Dam Mountains.
Location: Beaver Dam Mountains, west of St. George, Utah. This mountain range extends into northern Arizona.
Distance/Elevation Gain: 2 miles out and back: 1,100' gain. Start of ridge = 5,453', summit = 6,533'.
Coordinates: Trailhead: UTM 12S 0250585E 4108377 N (WGS84). Jarvis Peak: 0251503E 4107770 N.
Difficulty: Moderate Class 1 and Class 2 with minimal exposure if use north route around summit block; Class 3 moderate exposure south route.
Maps: USGS 7.5 min topo map - Jarvis Peak, Arizona Strip Visitor Map from BLM, All Trails app. for Jarvis Peak.
Date Hiked: October 2, 2021
Considerations: High-clearance 4WD needed on access road to base of Jarvis' west ridge, due to rocks and ruts. Walking the road adds 1.7 miles one way.
Driving Directions: From St. George, drive northwest on Old Highway 91. Soon after you pass Ivins and cross over the Santa Clara River, reach a junction with Hwy 91 and Gunlock Reservoir. Take a left to stay on Hwy 91. Travel 7.1 miles to the Utah Summit. At the pull-off parking area to the left (east), follow gravel road (not marked and steep and rocky in parts) east for 1.7 miles to a pull-off to the right at a sharp left switchback in the road and park. Jarvis' western ridge to the left is gained in a few hundred feet of walking further on this road.
Hike Directions: shortly after parking, walk up road a few hundred feet to see a path on left side of gravel road to gain Jarvis' ridge. Trail is seen most of the hike, with occasional rock cairns - basically stay more or less on top of the ridge. On the way up, the trail treks slightly left of the ridge to avoid cliffs to the right. At the final saddle below the last steep ascent, go up through the trees to the left of the summit for an easier route. We went around the summit's right (south) side but found it difficult to reach summit due to Class 3-4 climb up final summit block.
You would think that a spectacular 360-degree multi-state and multi-region view from a summit is earned only after a long and arduous hike, but not true with Jarvis Peak. After a short drive from St. George in southwestern Utah and a short one-mile hike, we were looking at Arizona on one side, and Utah on the other. To the northeast, a fantastic view of Red Mountain's cliffs stands out in a long crimson row beneath the snow-dusted peaks of the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness. The rock towers of Zion Canyon capture the horizon to the east. The huge, dry and rugged Arizona Strip, north of the Grand Canyon with its mountain ranges and alluvial fans spreads to the south. West Mountain Peak with its communication towers, the highest point in the Beaver Dam Mountains (7,680'), is seen not far away to the northwest. The Beaver Dam mountain range is a "sky island" that rises high above a sea of thinly vegetated, dusty, stark, and monotone desert, with the exception of the bright red sandstone in the St. George area. It's great that we can choose either mountains or low desert, according to seasons.
It feels like wilderness until you see the cities of Ivins and St. George to the east.
The Beaver Dam Mountain range straddles three distinct physiographic regions (provinces) of the southwest -a "geologic triple junction": the Mojave Desert, the Colorado Plateau and Nevada's Great Basin. If you live in St. George, you have access to all of these regions. I know the grandeur of Zion National Park can't be beat (except by the Grand Canyon), but the solitude, beauty, and geologic features of the remote backcountry and wilderness surrounding it is just as noteworthy. Fred and I are discovering that this huge region of southwestern Utah is an adventurer's paradise. And since I am a self-described "geology nerd", there is a lot of area to study and learn about in this region (see "For the Geo-curious" below).
Beginning of hike, just a few hundred yards from parking on this road; trail leading up to top of ridge - Jarvis Peak behind ridge in this photo.
Quite possibly Mojave prickly pear, AKA Old Man prickly pear.
The huge view of southern Utah and northern Arizona from Jarvis Peak is just a one-mile hike from start to summit. It's not everywhere you can get a grand view in such a short distance. The gradual climb up the northwest ridge is not hugely exciting, but if you go around the right (south) side of the mountain it gets a lot more interesting with Class 3 climbing up final cliff to summit. We summited using the left (northwest) side of the peak.
The 1.7-mile 4-wheel drive road from Utah Hill on Highway 91 to the base of Jarvis Peak's northwest ridge gradually becomes steeper, more narrow with ruts and rocks. If you choose to walk the road, the total hike distance out and back would be ~ 5.5 miles.
The trail to Jarvis Peak begins just a few hundred yards after parking up the gravel road. It gains the ridge pretty quickly and then stays on it, going through thickets of manzanita and ducking under junipers and pinyon pines. It is marked occasionally by rock cairns as it meanders in sand around and on top of sandstone rocks. The greens of prickly pear, pines, juniper and lichens mix perfectly with the reds of manzanita branches, stained sandstone and pinyon pine cones to create a pleasing southwest desert landscape.
Trail (bottom) not far from where we parked (top of image).
One of the largest junipers I have ever seen!
We stayed as close to the crest of the ridge as possible. This hike rambles up a series of short climbs and short saddles. Upon reaching the last saddle at the base of the final summit ascent, there is a large rock cairn placed toward the left side of the base. We ignored its subtle direction, telling us to go left. Instead, we first went to the right around the south side of Jarvis Peak, stepping quickly across a loose-rocked steep gully to the back of the peak. I found the short and final Class 3 climb up a vertical crack in cream-colored Queantoweap sandstone was too exposed, because the platform is narrow, slippery and drops steeply. So, we retraced our steps and went by some cool-looking sandstone caves, back to the rock cairn and then found our way up through a gentler, but still steep slope to easily gain the summit.
A rock cairn marks the base of the final peak ascent, directing you to the left side of the summit, up through trees.
We originally went around to the right - up the canyon in shadow with two pinnacles, but I found that final summit cliff too daunting; we came back down and climbed to left of summit through the trees.
Heading toward south side of Jarvis Peak
Maneuvering around the steep back side of summit - Fred behind sandstone ourcrop lower left.
The backside (east-facing) of Jarvis Peak with the sandstone cliffs on east side of its summit.
Jarvis Peak summit looking to the east: Red Mountain near St. George and Pine Valley Mountains on horizon.
Huge pine tree on southeast side of summit.
For the Geo-curious
Jarvis Peak is located in the eastern Beaver Dam Mountains where a "magnificent set of sedimentary rocks" is described by authors of Geologic Map of the Shivwits Quadrangle, Washington County, Utah. This area of southwestern Utah/Northern Arizona is geologically significant not only because it includes all the major rock types - igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic, it also sits between the Colorado Plateau to the west which includes the red and orange rocks of Zion National Park, the Great Basin and Range Province to the west, most easily described as parallel mountain ranges caused by spreading, and the Mojave desert to the south. The geology in the Beaver Dam Mountains is certainly not lacking in variety; it includes major folds as well as structures caused by the earth spreading, alluvial fans and just about every kind of fault. The Redwall Limestone forms impressive cliffs and has abundant coral fossils. It was easy to find geologic maps.
You will be hiking on Queantoweap Sandstone (Permian period) on the way up to and including Jarvis Peak, and on its west side look over siltstone and limestone containing fossils. This sandstone is massive (homogenous, lacking internal structure), cliff- and ledge-forming, gray to pink in color, best seen on the right (south) side of peak.
Apex Mine - just one mile south of Jarvis Peak. More recently, ore was mined for its gallium and germanium content. Gallium is used in semi conductors and electronics. Germanium's uses range from infrared optics to cloth and food containers. Copper and silver were originally taken from this mine 1884 - 1962. These are samples of azurite found in this mine. Photos from mindat.org.
Queantoweap Sandstone on Jarvis Peak
Note the honeycomb weathering in upper cavernous recess.
View from the top - road possibly to Apex Mine.
Pinyon pine cone and its seeds - AKA pine nuts
Interactive Google map for Jarvis Peak hike.
Our GPS tracks from access road leading from Utah summit on Hwy 91 to Jarvis Peak.
Profile for Jarvis Peak: only one mile to the summit.
The dip in the profile at the summit shows that we reversed our course and went around to the other side to reach summit.
BackroadsWestTrip blogs - Unique Landscapes of the Southwest - backroadswest.com.
Hammond, B.J. Geologic Map of the Jarvis Peak Quadrangle, Washington County, Utah.
Hintze, L.F., Hammond, B.J. 1994. Geologic Map of the Shivwits Quadrangle, Washington County, Utah. Utah Geologic Survey.
McNair, A.H. 1951. Paleozoic stratigraphy of part of Northwestern Arizona: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 35, no. 3.
Mindat.org. Apex Mine.
Washington County Historical Society. The Apex Mine (from internet).
About this blog
Exploration documentaries – "explorumentaries" list trip stats and highlights of each hike or bike ride, often with some interesting history or geology. Years ago, I wrote these for friends and family to let them know what my husband, Fred and I were up to on weekends, and also to showcase the incredible land of the west.
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