Friday, January 24, 2020

Cedar Breaks National Monument, UT, October 2019

Way back last October (Saturday, October 12, the day before the previously-posted hike), I charged on up from southern California, racing the sunset. Well, didn't exactly charge, but it's tough in fall or spring to get to Cedar Breaks from southern California with enough daylight to do much, unless you're really aiming for some night time shots.
This trip was fitted into the Columbus Day weekend, which makes it a three day weekend for me. Can't do anything about the moon phase, which was pretty much full. So I knew I wouldn't get any real night time shots. But, in addition to hoping to see some fall color (not successful on this night), I wanted to see on the feasibility of framing some shots here with a bristlecone pine in the foreground of a night shot.
The sky doesn't get dark enough with the moon to get much Milky Way, and the tree was totally lit up by the moon. Some intriguing shots, at least. I'll have to aim for heading up here with a thinner moon, maybe a waning crescent, and hiking up here in late spring/early summer, with the Milky Way wheeling over the tree as a waning crescent moon rises. That might make for some cool shots. Depends on when the snow melts on the trail, of course!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Noah's Ark, Dixie National Forest, UT

Hiked Sunday, October 13. My first post of 2020, but a hike from over three months ago, back in the fall. I was hoping to catch some fall foliage in the high country around Cedar Breaks. But, possibly due to fires, or drought, or weather, there were several overlooks near and in Cedar Breaks that had been colorful in the past that were basically dead-looking on this Friday. So, rather than spending more time in the high country, I went a little lower, and tried a new area.
I started out by checking the Cedar City tourist sites, and re-saw a thing for Vermilion Castle. I also saw this trail on my Trails Illustrated map. But, at only two miles, it seemed a little short. More poking around, including on All Trails, and I came across the Noah's Ark Trail. A review mentioned its proximity to Vermilion Castle, but that it was a little longer and more scenic. So, what the hay? Off I went.

The Forest Service directions for getting to this trailhead are here. It directs you to go to Parawan, then take UT-143 south, for about three miles, to Forest Service Road FS49. This bridge was in the process of being replaced, when I visited, but you could still head up UT-143.

Turn left there, and head up about 1.3 miles.

The turn there used to go over another bridge over Bowery Creek, and went into a campground. However, it appears to have been washed out for quite some time, so you can't drive to the trailhead, any more. You'll have to park outside the locked gate that used to lead to the campground, then find your way across the creek, later.
This was my first time using the All Trails app. I found it very helpful in leading me to the trailhead. Even with no cell signal, the driving directions led me to the right place. A then-recent review on All Trails then stated (accurately) "The most difficult part of this trail is just getting to it."

Once parked, you pass between the gate, walk maybe 30 yards, then need to find a way across the creek.

There are several fallen trees that you can walk or shimmy over. Once over the creek, you'll eventually started heading to your left. Signs do point you towards the eventual official trailhead, which states it's only a mile. My impression is that it's a mile to the "first" overlook. From there, it's another short but steep 1/2 mile to the "second" overlook. From there, it would be difficult to continue further, so I called it a day. That makes it about 3 miles round trip with a fair gain the last 3/4 mile or so. Of course, you're at high altitude, so you'll probably be taking it easy.
From the top, the actual (if you can call it "actual") Noah's Ark formation is to your east. Vermilion Castle is across the canyon, to the north and northeast. The shot below is a wide view, followed by a closer view, with ravens gliding around the structure.
The view to the northwest is also impressive. All in all, a nice walk. Not too challenging, but enough to feel like you went hiking.
After I got back to my car, I drove up the road towards Yankee Meadow, a bit. Ended up backtracking and parking at Vermilion Castle trailhead, then just walked up the paved road, to take photos of the road-side trees, which were quite colorful. I may try to make a post out of that, yet.