SW USA, Spring 1993

Heading South

After a couple of years in the US, we figured we’d better do a reality check and head back to Europe. However, before we left, we decided to visit some of the National Parks in the Southwest.

Heading east across Oregon, down through northeastern Nevada and into Utah. First stop Arches, then Bryce, Zion and into Arizona for a visit to Grand Canyon National park. Then west into California to visit Sequoia before heading north back to Oregon via Redwood National Park.

Here you can see Doris under one of the main arches in Arches national park. The geology is fascinating, a lower layer of salt left by an ancient evaporated sea, covered by Jurassic sandstone – to quote from the park web site….

As the subsurface movement of salt shaped the surface, erosion stripped away the younger rock layers. Water seeped into cracks and joints, washing away loose debris and eroding the “cement” that held the sandstone together, leaving a series of free-standing fins. During colder periods, ice formed, its expansion putting pressure on the rock, breaking off bits and pieces, and sometimes creating openings. Many damaged fins collapsed. Others, with the right degree of hardness and balance, have survived as the world famous formations of Arches National Park.

This is Bryce Canyon national park. The park itself is tiny, however the formations are stunning – the edge of the plateau has been worn down by wind and rain into these incredible formations.

From Bryce we headed down to Zion National park and spent a few days hiking the park.

This photo is taken from a lovely hike running from the canyon floor up the rock walls to the plateau above.

From Zion we headed to the Escalante region where we did a 5-day hike down Coyote Gulch and to the Escalante river. The top of the gulch starts with some narrow but deep slot canyons.

It then widens out, allowing access to some excellent ledges up the canyon walls.

And finally it joins the main river which has some stunning formations. We hiked up-river for 2 days, criss-crossing where possible (sometimes by swimming across)and exploring side canyons.

After recovering from the Escalante trip – we miscalculated water and spent the last day hiking out without water in intense heat:-( – we loaded up and headed over to the Grand Caynon.

Neither of us had visited the Grand Canyon before and we were a little blase about it – I mean how impressive can it be …..

…stunningly impressive, that’s how! It really does take your breath away when you arrive at the edge and look out over the canyon. We had arrived late the night before so had to camp outside the park gate. Early the next morning we drove into the park at first light and were treated to the whole canyon at sunrise mostly to ourselves.

We comtemplated doing the hike down to the river, but we were still hobbling after our Escalante adventure, so decided to leave it for another day!

After that, we picked up route 66, turned up the Dylan and headed east to the Mojave desert.

Desert camping was a joy – cold crisp nights and stunning stars. We spent hours just lying on our back and counting …..

After a few days hiking desert trails and checking out the flora – we arrived just after a rainy spell and the desert was in bloom – we again headed east.

We climbed up into the Sierras, visting the giant sequoias and spending a few days in Yosemite, then headed down to the coast via San Francisco.

From the Bay area we headed north on Highway 1 and stopped off at any park that offered coastal redwoods,

before finally crossing the Oregon border and heading back to Powell’s to stock up on books before flying back to Europe.

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