Going with the Flow

This week’s adventures started right away on Monday. In 1982, Ronald Reagan declared August 14th to be National Navajo Code Talkers Day, and it has been celebrated every year since then. I was working during the celebrations for Code Talkers Day, but just getting to learn more about the code talkers and hear stories of how much the code talkers mean to people even today was pretty amazing.  I didn’t get out to the tribal park and veteran’s memorial until Tuesday, but it was definitely worth the trip. The park is a gorgeous tribute to fallen Navajo soldiers. There is also a large code talker statue in the park with a plaque describing what the code talkers were all about. The park itself sits right under the window rock. It is also right next to the tribal government buildings, so flags and seals of the Navajo nation are abundant. It is a small park, but full of so much rich history. I am still amazed by how much I am learning about the Navajo people and culture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This weekend’s adventures were a little more spontaneous than most of my other trips. In some ways this was really neat because I going several places that I wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise, and in some ways I wish I would have planned things out a little more to maximize what I was able to see and do at the places I went. This weekend was supposed to be mostly visiting Page and doing things in and around Page. I was going to go with a friend from work who has family in the area and knows what all to do, so I didn’t do much research of my own. My friend ended up not being able to go, and so I went solo for the weekend. The first thing to know about Page is that it was pretty much built so there would be housing for the men who were working on the Glen Canyon Dam, so there really isn’t a lot to do in the city itself. The second thing to know about Page is that it is expensive. Since it is pretty much the only town for visiting Lake Powell, a hotel that costs $70 elsewhere will cost close to $200 in Page. Many of the things to do near Page also cost a decent amount of money, and generally require advance booking.

The plan had been to drive in from Flagstaff on Saturday morning and spend the weekend in Page, visiting the different attractions in the area. When I got to Page however, I quickly realized my plans weren’t going to work out. Antelope Canyon was one of the suggested attractions, but it was a 6+ hour wait to go on a tour of the canyon. The boat tour that looked most interesting to me (to Rainbow Bridge National Monument) had already left for the day. And I’m not a huge water person so the idea of just sitting around at Lake Powell didn’t sound like too much fun. I thought my day was going to end up being a bust. I reserved a spot to tour Antelope Canyon on Sunday, and I decided the boat tour wasn’t worth the time. I looked at the map of the area, and I decided to salvage the afternoon by going to Zion National Park. Zion was not on my list of places to go while I was out here mostly because it is a 6 hour drive from where I am at, and I tried to plan my trips (with the exception of business related trips) to stay closer and hit more attractions per weekend. Since it wasn’t on my list at any time, I had done no research ahead of time and had no expectations.

As I was leaving Page, I stopped at the Glen Canyon Dam museum and overlook. It was a neat first look at the dam, and the museum had a ton of information about all kinds of factors of the dam. There was information on construction, why the site was chosen, power generation, and comparisons of different dam types. It was a really neat quick stop before heading up to Zion.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I got to Zion at about 2pm. The drive in through the Mt Carmel Tunnel was really neat, and gave a great first impression of the park. I parked at the visitor’s center, and took the shuttle bus into the park. I followed mostly the same strategy that I have at other parks of going as far out as possible and working my way back. The shuttle bus did have nice audio descriptions of stops and things to look for, and I tried to decided what I wanted to do based on these descriptions. The farthest stop from the visitor’s center is the temple of sinawava stop. I walked the 1 mile riverside trail (and 1 mile back) from the shuttle stop towards an area called the narrows. The narrows sounded like a really interesting area to explore, but when I got to the end of the riverside trail, the “trail” into the narrows was basically just walking upstream in the river so I decided not to go. It was very crowded along the trail and in the river. Along the way back, I walked for parts along more of the bank of the river instead of the trail, and I was able to find some spaces where there weren’t people everywhere. If I had planned ahead for hiking into the narrows, I think it would have been really cool. However, the riverside trail is probably one that I could have skipped since I did not do the narrows.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next shuttle stop I got off at was weeping rock. I didn’t do any trails at weeping rock (although if I had more time to plan, I probably would have done weeping rock instead of the riverside trail). The stop did provide some nice views of the canyon and area, but I didn’t want to stray too far from the shuttle stop and end up waiting for another bus.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After weeping rock, I stopped at the Zion Lodge stop. The Zion Lodge area looks kind of like a college lawn in a movie. Lots of people hanging out talking or playing games on the green area in front of the lodge. Across the street from the lodge is the start of the emerald pools trail. There is a pretty good view of the river as you get close to the trail that has far fewer people that the temple of sinawava area. I only hiked to the first of the emerald pools which was about a 1.2 mile round trip. The pool was neat, and there was a sort of misty waterfall aver part of the trail. Doing some after research, this is a trail I wish I had gone further on. The trail continues for a mile or so more than I went, and has 2 more pool areas along it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the Zion Lodge area, I stopped at the museum. There was a ranger talk going on when I got there, and I decided to attend. The talk was on different animals found in the park, and compared them to Olympic athletes. It was really neat getting to learn a little more about the wildlife in the park. I did get to see several different animals while in the park. There were lots of squirrels that were very unafraid of people, but I also saw some turkeys, a doe and her fawn, and several bighorn sheep. After the talk, I stopped at a few overlooks on the way out of the park (including a few stops to look at sheep) and made my way back to Page.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sunday morning, I started my Page adventures at Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon and has basically 3 access points. There is the Lower Canyon, Upper Canyon, and water access. I’m not sure about how the water access or how much it costs, but both the upper and lower canyon are part of the Navajo Nation and require a permit and a guide to enter. The upper canyon is known for its light beams coming down to the canyon floor, and cost to enter is around double the cost of the lower canyon. The upper canyon tours also don’t allow any backpacks, purses, etc., while the lower canyon does. 2 groups run tours for lower canyon, and I chose to go with Ken’s Tours. It cost $33 (including the Navajo permit) to go on the tour, and was 100% worth it. I went on the 8am tour, and there were a decent number of people, but it was not too crowded. The guide was also great about pointing out different features and making sure everyone got good pictures. The guide also knew which settings would pick up the canyon lighting the best given different outdoor lighting. At several stops along the way the guide took individual pictures for everyone in the group, and took pictures of some of the neat features of the canyon where it looks like sunsets on the walls. It was really awesome to not just have selfie shots as a solo traveller. The canyon itself was breathtaking and beautiful. Some people have said that it can feel claustrophobic and crowded, but it wasn’t too bad. I did go at an early time, so there weren’t as many people in the canyon. All the tours in the lower canyon are moving one way, and even though there were a decent number of people in the canyon it wasn’t too crammed. Most of the time, there is open sky above as well, which does help it feel less cramped.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After Antelope Canyon, I went to Horseshoe Bend. The trail to get to Horseshoe Bend is a mostly sandy .75 mile trail out and back over a small hill that is pretty much by itself just outside of Page. There is a small parking lot off the highway to get to the trail access. The edge near the bend was pretty crowded, and there weren’t a ton of good look out points. It seems like a lot of the photos with the full horseshoe in them must have been taken from drones or planes, because the height required to get the full horseshoe did not seem possible from the rim. It was still pretty neat to see the bend though, and there were people and boats down on the river which was also pretty neat to think about. The trail pretty much just serves as an access for the rim overlook, so once I had seen the bend I headed back. By the time I had finished the trail, it was still only about 10:30am. Besides Lake Powell, I had pretty much finished seeing Page.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Even though I’m not a huge lake and water person, I did decide to at least spend a little time at Lake Powell. I knew I wasn’t going to go on a boat tour, so I did not go to any of the marinas. There is a dirt access road to hiking trails and Lake Powell just before crossing the bridge, and I decided this would be my best bet. The parking lot was actually pretty close to the lake, and it was a short walk down to the edge of the water. There were several families swimming and hanging out in the area, but it wasn’t overly crowded at all. The water sort of just comes up to the rocky area at the edge of the canyon, which was different for me. The walk down was nice, and the rock formations were definitely neat to see. The lake itself was beautiful and the colors were amazing. The area was sort of smaller, and because of the way the rocks were, I couldn’t see too far out into the lake. Since the area I was at was so close to the dam, several boats passed by which was a nice reminder that it was attached to a larger lake. I did put my feet in the water even though I didn’t go swimming, and I really enjoyed getting to see the lake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I went up to Zion on Saturday, I had noticed signs for Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. I didn’t have time to stop Saturday, but I decided to check it out on Sunday. The map showed 4 visitor’s centers for the monument, with the closest one in Big Water only 7 miles from Page. Signs for the visitor’s center are not super obvious, and mostly just advertise a dinosaur exhibit. The Big Water visitor’s center was pretty small, but did have some pretty cool dinosaur fossils. I asked the guide at the visitor’s center what could be done at the monument in an hour or two, and he gave me a map and sent me on my way to the toadstools trail. The toadstools trail is pretty much the only part of the park that is close to the Big Water visitor’s center. Many of the attractions of the park seem to be centered more near the other visitor’s centers. The toadstools trailhead is 11 miles from the visitor’s center, and the hike itself is about 1.5 miles to complete. The trail weaves through some of the beautiful landscape in the area, and finishes up near the toadstools formations. The formations are natural, but definitely look out of place. The trail was a little more difficult than I was expecting, but the views were definitely worth it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the toadstools, I started to head back to Fort Defiance, and I thought my weekend adventures were over. About an hour into my drive back, I saw signs for the Navajo National Monument. It wasn’t too late or too far out of the way, so I decided to stop. I got there 15 minutes before the visitor’s center closed, and got some information on the park. I looked around the museum, and I didn’t think I wanted to go on the Sandal Trail since I had walked so much already. After looking around the museum and seeing the dioramas, I decided I did want to go on the trail. The Sandal Trail is a 1.3 mile total trip to the overlook of the Betatakin cliff dwellings. The trail was completely paved, and very nice. It was by far the easiest walking of the trails I did this week. The overlook was very nice, and there were binoculars to really get a good look at the individual houses in the settlement. It was definitely a very nice view for the ease of the trail. On the way leaving the park, I stopped at the Tsegi Overlook which provided a great view of the area. It was a short trip at the park, but the views were great, and I’m glad that I made the decision to stop and check it out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Also on the way back, I stopped to take pictures of a cool mural on the side of a water tank. I had seen the water tank before after visiting monument valley, but it was raining when I had passed it then. It’s neat to see the creative expression in different murals, and a lot of the murals (and graffiti) here do seem to be making statements that have larger meanings as well.

20170820_181841

Even though not all of this week’s adventures were super planned out, they were all still a lot of fun. There are definitely things that I would have done differently if I had done some more planning, but I still really enjoyed my time and everything that I got to see and do this week. It’s hard to believe I fit that many things in to one weekend, and I don’t think I would have done it had I stuck to a more planned weekend.

Try something unexpected,

Sarah

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑