Monday, October 23, 2017

Horse Valley, Grafton, Bad Dump and Good News

IMG_1934                                                  Scene from Horse Valley Wash hike

First the good news. We drove to get propane and dump tanks Saturday and the air blew out the vents just like it’s supposed to, so it appears our vacuum leak is fixed. Parts cost around $26 and it took Jim and Chris several hours to do the work, although much of that time was spent planning. We are very happy! Here is a link to a thread on the Sportsmobile forum about how to do the work-around in case anyone out there reading this has the same problem.

When we arrived at the Maverick station in La Verkin to dump we found it flooded by a couple inches of what we hoped was just water. That was a first for us.


I called Andre since he and Rose had gone to dump about an hour earlier. He said it was fine then, so since there was no odor we assumed someone just ran water and because the lid to the dump is locked it wouldn’t drain. Jim went inside to get the key (free but you have to leave your drivers license for collateral) and while he was in the store I made him a pair of plastic bag booties to put over his shoes, since he could not reach the submerged lock without getting his feet in. Luckily the water drained and we were able to go about our business.


Mark and Bobbie arrived on Thursday (Bobbie is recovered from her fall in Capitol Reef), so we all did a hike Friday morning. Being Utah Education Association weekend, where the kids get Thursday and Friday off, we knew we didn’t want a repeat of our nightmare hike in Little Wild Horse Canyon with the crowds a few years ago.

I was searching for off-the-beaten-track hikes near Zion and came across Horse Valley in nearby Rockville. It turned out to be a great place to be on a busy weekend, as we only ran into one other group of people with dogs on our way back.

From left: Rose, Bobbie, Laurelee, Gayle, Chris, Mark, Andre. Jim is behind the camera.


There really is no trail, you just walk up the wash or through the creek as best you can, which made it a bit challenging at times. We were happy to see water in the creek which meant there was a chance of a waterfall at the end.




We did a lot of crossing back and forth across the stream, with some of us getting wet and muddy feet.





After walking 2.3 miles we came to this beautiful waterfall where we turned around.


Here I am contemplating climbing up the rope. Not that I would ever consider doing that even if it wasn’t wet and slippery.



It was a great spot to stop for a snack and we had our choice of sun or shade.


Andre checking out a giant boulder overhead.


Don’t want this one to fall on you.



It really was a lovely canyon, especially with the golden leaves on the trees. We took too many photos, as usual.





We had never visited the ghost town of Grafton, and since we were just a couple miles away we stopped by on the way home to check it out. It was originally a Mormon settlement established in 1859 and was last occupied in the 1940s.


They picked a very scenic location.


The buildings that remain were restored by the Grafton Heritage Partnership in 1997.


The big claim to fame is that the bicycle scene from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" was filmed here in the late 1960s.


It’s worth a stop if you’re in the area.


Today we’ll be exploring some canyons on the quieter east side of Zion.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hanging Out in Virgin

DSC08689                                                               Virgin River near La Verkin, UT

We all wanted to hike on Saturday morning but away from the Zion crowds, so we decided on the Hurricane Rim trail in nearby Hurricane.  As we were getting ready to leave the wind picked up dramatically, along with blowing dust, which made it feel pretty cold.  Laurelee was driving and we all decided hiking up on a ridge was not a good place to be, but she remembered a trail along the Virgin River where she and Libby had walked once before. It turned out to be a good choice as we were fairly protected.

Laurelee, Jim and Chris on the Confluence Trail, which starts at Confluence Park in La Verkin.


Since Jim doesn’t swim there was no danger in him actually swinging off into the river.


We discovered this rusty old car that must have crashed down from the rim.


The trail runs along the river for two miles with nice scenery, then climbs up out of the canyon to the road right near River Rock Roasting Co, a popular coffee shop.


We thought about stopping for a cup, but the line was long and Jim and Chris had decided to go see the new Bladerunner movie that afternoon (Jim’s birthday present) so we turned around.


It was a pleasant hike even if we did eat a little blowing sand on the way back. There are other trails branching off that we would have done if not for the weather and time constraints.


By the way, Jim and Chris both thought Bladerunner 2049 was an excellent movie.


On Sunday we thought we would try the Hurricane Rim trail again, this time joined by Andre and Rose, who pulled in on Saturday afternoon just after we got back from our hike. Jim bailed on this one since we left too early.


The trail climbs quickly to Panorama Point. From left, Andre, Rose, Laurelee and Libby, and Chris.


Good views of Hurricane.




Looking down into the Virgin River Canyon we could see the Hurricane Canal below, a hand excavated irrigation canal completed in 1907 to divert water from the river.



Chris, Laurelee, Libby and I turned around here after three miles, while Andre and Rose continued on another mile up the rim until they had a view of our campsites.




We only saw a couple of hikers and bikers along the way, a good choice for a Sunday morning. Libby was ready for a nap on the way home.


That afternoon Jim and Chris took a look at the Lazy Daze to figure out what parts they might need to try and repair our vacuum leak. Chris had the same problem with air coming out the defrost and did a cheap fix, so he thought he could repair ours in the same way. It is nearly impossible to access the tubing or canister to determine if there is a hole in the line or the check valve has failed, and from what we read it’s about a $1,000 repair at a Ford dealer since they have to remove the A/C for access. Jim had already ordered and picked up the main part for the repair, a vacuum canister, but they needed new tubing and some other connectors to bypass the old one. On Monday they went to the auto parts store to get what was needed and spent a couple hours working on it. Jim turned on the engine and revved it some and the air was still blowing out the vents, but until we drive off to dump in a few days we won’t know for sure if the fix actually worked. Stay tuned.


That evening we had a little happy hour gathering for Jim’s birthday.


Tuesday was errand day for everyone. We had mail to pick up at the post office and UPS store, needed a new bathroom door latch at an RV place in St. George (which of course they didn’t have),  visited the state liquor store, worked out at the Washington Community Center, and picked up some things at Walmart. At the RV dealer we spent some time looking at Glacier Peak 5th wheels. We really liked one of the floor plans and it sure would be nice having a larger and more comfortable living space, but it’s hard to wrap our heads around also having to buy a big truck to tow it with, and having to drive it as our primary means of transportation. It’s still fun to look.

Everyone was ready for a hike on Wednesday and Andre had suggested a new-to-us trail up off Kolob Terrace Road, the Wildcat Canyon trail in Zion National Park. Jim decided to stay home and babysit Libby since dogs aren’t allowed on the Zion trails. We took two cars so we could make it a one-way 5 mile hike, with another couple mile detour to Northgate Peaks.


It was a cloudy day and surprisingly warm at 7,500’. Most of the leaves were already off the trees at this elevation.


After dropping down into the canyon and crossing a dry creek, we climbed up the ridge on the other side. It was a dreary day for photos.



Looking down into Wildcat Canyon.


Hazy views into Zion.


Our mile long detour to Northgate Peaks was the most scenic part of the hike.


We found a good rock outcropping with a view for lunch. Chris, Laurelee, Andre and Rose.




Coming back we took another short detour for some photo ops.


It was a pleasant hike of eight miles with only 500’ of climbing involved. Probably one of the easier hikes in Zion. Of course had we not left a car at the start it would have meant hiking back all that way, and I doubt any of us were up for that.


Jim had a good day taking Libby for walks on the BLM roads around our site, and letting her hang out with him in our Lazy Daze. She’s a sweet dog.

Looking forward to more hikes and company during our second week here. As many times as we’ve been here we have yet to grow tired of this beautiful area.