TRAVEL

Reflection Canyon

"I envied a raven as he flew into the late afternoon light over reflection canyon. I called out to him in a loud voice that echoed through the canyon, "hey buddy!" It felt good to say that. "How does it feel to be free?" But he never responded. And it was better that way."

Reflection Canyon glowing in the afternoon light

Reflection Canyon glowing in the afternoon light

WHAT TO EXPECT

Gorgeous colors and winding channels of water cut into the high cliffs of Lake Powell. Be prepared to drive a fifty-one mile dirt road followed by a rigorous, one-way 6-10 mile hike that will demand your best route-finding skills and use of a good map or GPS. Water levels and temperatures are lowest in the Spring, which is an ideal time to make this adventure.

HOW TO GET THERE

Map and compass is a great way to navigate. I picked up this map of the Escalante National Monument for $13 at REI. Well worth it!

Map and compass is a great way to navigate. I picked up this map of the Escalante National Monument for $13 at REI. Well worth it!

From Escalante go five miles east to Hole in the Rock Road. Travel exactly fifty-one miles south on a washboard dirt road. A four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle is needed. After you've parked start hiking south, hugging the large cliffs to the west. This will help you avoid a multitude of ravines and slots canyons that wind throughout the landscape. After a few miles you will begin heading southeast over rocky hills and ankle high prickly pear cactus to reach Reflection Canyon. There is no right way although some ways are more direct. A more direct route may mean traversing up and down large hills. Do your best to avoid too much up and down travel using the landscape to your advantage.

BE PREPARED! Remember that this is a rigorous hike into the wilderness. There are rarely any trail markers (cairns) and footprints are not always a reliable source of direction. Do your research before. Bring a map and compass. Bring a GPS, or if you dont feel like spending the several hundred dollars for a decent one, map out your course on Google Maps on your phone. When Navajo Mountain is in sight (to the south) you should get cell phone coverage (I received LTE for Verizon). and be able see your progress via Google Maps. It may seem obvious but by using your natural landmarks you will be able to navigate your course. See images below.

I was able to use Google Maps to create a saved location. The heart is Reflection Canyon and the blue dot with arrow at the top left corner is where I parked my car. When I had service I could check my progress to make sure I was headed the right way. Make sure to use Google Earth for a more detailed map of the area.

I was able to use Google Maps to create a saved location. The heart is Reflection Canyon and the blue dot with arrow at the top left corner is where I parked my car. When I had service I could check my progress to make sure I was headed the right way. Make sure to use Google Earth for a more detailed map of the area.

Parked car at the "trailhead." Follow these cliffs to the south as you make your way to Reflection Canyon.

Parked car at the "trailhead." Follow these cliffs to the south as you make your way to Reflection Canyon.

WHAT TO PACK

Reflection Canyon can be done in one day. One long day. But for however many days you do plan to come make sure to bring one gallon of water per day. I would also recommend something like Gatorade to help replenish electrolytes. Plan meals accordingly. I am a big fan of Backpacker Pantry prepackaged meals that just need hot water. Snacks are a must as well - trail mix, protein bars, etc. Whatever you pack, make sure to use Leave No Trace principles. There are no bathrooms along the route.

WHEN YOU GET THERE

Camping is possible along Reflection Canyon although there are few spots to pitch a tent. Take great care along the cliff ledges as you will be only a few feet away from several hundred feet drop-offs. And as always, make sure to practice Leave No Trace principles. Happy Camping!

Camping is possible along Reflection Canyon although there are few spots to pitch a tent. Take great care along the cliff ledges as you will be only a few feet away from several hundred feet drop-offs. And as always, make sure to practice Leave No Trace principles. Happy Camping!

After a challenging hike, reward yourself by making camp and wandering the tall cliff edges to gain the different and spectacular views of Reflection Canyon. Following the canyon edge north will take you several other stunning views.

As far as photography, I found the best success during the afternoon light before the shadows set in. The best shots were at dusk when the canyon turned to from gold to blue and back to gold. Make sure to also take advantage of the early morning light just before the sun rises over the distant cliffs. If you are lucky enough to catch a full moon you will be delightfully surprised by the glow of the canyon walls in the moonlight, especially on the white-stained places of the rock where the high water level once was.

White Pocket

A hiker in White Pocket

A hiker in White Pocket

One of the most surreal landscapes in Arizona remains largely unknown to many native explorers. Perhaps it's because of the six hour round trip over a difficult 4 wheel drive, high clearance road filled with deep sand and jutting rock that makes this surreal location very difficult to get to. While The Wave gets most of the notoriety for the area, White Pocket stands as a diamond on its own. Filled with brilliant swirls of colors and textures, White Pocket is easily navigated within a half day. Camping is also offered at the trailhead - a short quarter mile hike to White Pocket. 

Colorful swirls and textures grace the landscape at White Pocket

Colorful swirls and textures grace the landscape at White Pocket

Give yourself at least a half day to explore 

Give yourself at least a half day to explore 

To get here take the 89A to House Rock Valley Road. Road maps are provided by the BLM Ranger Station in Kanab, Utah. Stop in at Jacob Lake on your way out for a bite to eat.

Oregon - Summer Lake Hot Springs

Taking a trip to Oregon? Like soaking in hot springs? In search of some solitude? I have just the place. Nestled in Central Oregon, just two hours south of Bend, is a hot spring sanctuary. The place is called Summer Lake Hot Springs. Here you can choose from several tiny homes and small cottages, filled with all you need to spend a weekend getaway. Looking to camp out or bring a camper? That's no problem either. The hot springs? Oh yes. Imagine this scene: you're outside on a cool evening, soaking in a 102 degree mineral water, enjoying the vast openness of the area. Want an indoor hot spring? They have that too. And it's big. Friendly staff, similar-natured travelers, and a reasonable price make this a fantastic trip to get away and soak up some good vibes. Check http://www.summerlakehotsprings.com/ for more.

A pretty view out one of the many tiny homes for rent at Summer Lake   

A pretty view out one of the many tiny homes for rent at Summer Lake

 

Kitchen views

Kitchen views

Inside hot springs

Inside hot springs

Outside hot springs

Outside hot springs

Views from the hot springs

Views from the hot springs

Mexico - Pinacante Wilderness

Here's an unique combination: NASA and the desert. Wanna know more? If you're in the mood for barren desert, sprawling sand dunes, rocky craters, and ancient lava remains then I know a place that you may enjoy. Just south of the Arizona border and just north of Rocky Point, Mexico lies the beautiful yet other-wordly Pinacante Wilderness. This terrain is so similar to the moon that NASA sent astronauts here to train in the 1960's. Whether it's a short hike out to the largest continuous sand dunes in North America, or a drive around the rocky mountains and giant craters, Pinacante Wilderness will not fail to wow you.

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30 for 30: Visiting all 30 MLB Stadiums

In my early twenties I made it a goal to visit all 30 Major League Baseball Stadiums. Five years later, I found myself at my 30th stadium, having fulfilled my dream. Here is a quick look at all 3O ballparks. My favorite ballpark? AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

I ranked stadiums on a few things: Ambience and fan experience, food, and aesthetics. Here's my top 5:

1. AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants)

2. Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)

3. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)

4. PNC Field (Pittsburgh Pirates)

5. Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles)

 

Northeast Arizona

Up north, above the sonoran desert sprawl and just to the east of the highly elevated snowcapped mountains of Flagstaff, lies an interesting relationship of open prairies and dazzling rock formations that jut out from the earth. There, long stretches of road and clear blue skies make you forget whatever troubles you left behind. No wonder this area boasts some of Arizona's best kept secrets - several national parks and monuments. It will take some work to get out to these places but I can tell you that it is well worth it. A petrified forest, painted hillsides, and ancient cliff dwellings sit like hidden gems waiting to be explored. There is much more to see. We have only scratched the surface of the beauty that lies therein.

Looking to make a trip out of it? May I suggest staying a night in Holbrook or Winslow along Route 66. Have a bite to eat in the old diners and then set off on a day trip to any of the national monuments along the way. Just a heads up: cell phone service is rather unpredictable in Navajo country where most of the landmarks are so make sure to plan ahead.