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Freezing in redrock country
Trip Report

Freezing in redrock country

 
Freezing in redrock country

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.48358°N / 112.23633°W

Object Title: Freezing in redrock country

Date Climbed/Hiked: Nov 30, 1999

Activities: Hiking

Season: Winter

 

Page By: Dmitry Pruss

Created/Edited: Jan 23, 2007 / Jan 26, 2007

Object ID: 263466

Hits: 1580 

Page Score: 80.49%  - 12 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote

 

Getting There

 
Ridge winds raging on Mt Nebo
Windy up an Nebo Ridge

We've been planning to show the beauty of Utah Redrock Country to our visitor from Russian Far East, but the weather just didn't seem to cooperate, with frigid tempreatures and a series of snowstorms crossing the Southern part of the state. Finally it has become clear that we are down to our last chance of making the trip. Bryce or Arches, then?
 
Red Canyon
Sheltered and sunny in Red Cyn

At 6 in the morning, weather radar was showing snow falling over the Tushars and over La-Sal - Arches area - and all over Northern Utah too. It just didn't look like an easy drive - or like guaranteed sunshine - in either park. OK, let it be Bryce :)

The low snowclouds didn't let us see the mountains at dawn, but then the cloudcover parted, and the rays of rising Sun lit the ridge of Mt. Nebo, all adorned by the snowy flags ripped by the fierce ridgeline gale. Hmmm. It might be challenging driving across the mountain passes up ahead, but an even more interesting question is, will this wind blows us off the high plateau of Bryce Canyon?

It did snow at every pass, with tundra-like long drift shaping up behind every sagebrush, and the I-15 was largely down to one lane. But we just had one section of an outright whiteout.

 
Red Canyon
Red Canyon panorama
 
Red Canyon
Rabbit-brush brushed with snow

Once we crossed into Upper Sevier Valley by Panguich, the Sun has finally come out. It was mostly blue skies over Bryce Canyon ahead, while an ominous-looking snowcloud to the West kept dumping on the higher ranges near Cedar Breaks. A short hike in Red Canyon, and we are off to the main target.

Brr-ice Canyon

 
Bryce Amphitheater - January view
The Amphitheater
 
Bryce point
View East from Bryce Pt

Once we drove up to the plateau of Bryce, it's become obvious that the sunny weather may not last. Another dark cloudbank was drifting off the heights of Aquarious Plateau, dumping snow on the lowlands beyond so ironically named Tropic.

So we changed the usual Rainbow-Point-first plan, and headed for the spectacular Bryce Point, to get the best shots while the sunshine lasts. It was very breezy on the rim - and the temperature was 14 degrees F, that's -10 C, the highest it was supposed to be today. The forecast was for -15 F lows tonight.

 
Brrr-ice!
Windy and freezing cold
 
Chipmunks freezed out of the competition
Ravens but no humans here

The road towards Rainbow Point was all snowbound and rather desolate. Two ravens were the only company we had up there.

 
Top of Bryce
Chilly at 9,100 ft
 
With the park rangers frozen out of existence,
Forbidden terrain

There were no signs of rangers too, and we were really tempted to take a peek at forbidden terrain here and there.

 
Snow and red rock
Beatiful tapestry of red and white
 
Bryce Bansai
Sunset Point Bonsai

The Sun hid behind the snowclouds at last, and our crew was so chilled to the bone that we started thinking about heading to lower elevation. But not before taking the last pictures of the Amphitheater from Sunset Point.

Froz-zion

 
Antelopes
Antelopes!
 
Every crack accented by the snow,
Checkerboard with extra white hues

It was still over two hours till sunset, and the plan morphed into a quick assault on supposedly-balmy Zion NP.

I should admit that I've only been down in Zion once before, and only on the West side of the park. The crowds, the finicky permit system, and the pompous names of all these Temples and Thrones, were a huge turn-off for me.

 
Alpenglow reflecting in half-frozen Pine Creek
Alpenglow bronze
 
Weeping Rock seeps
Weeping no more

This time we approached from the East, and I just fell in love with this country of cross-bedded sandstone with swirls and veins running on the slickrock. Most definitely, we will be back here! In the meantime, it was literally minutes left before sunset, and the last un-frozen puddles in Pine Creek turned golden bronze with reflected alpenglow.

 
Beware of the falling icicles!
Icicle danger!
 
Ice fall!
Icicle danger!

Deep down in the Main Canyon, we stopped at Weeping Rock, which was frozen solid. The projectiles of falling icicles covered the trail and smashed the railings! We peeked into the Narrows in twilight, and then it was a long drive home.

I actually tried to talk the crew into stopping for a hot springs dunk, but the temperature was 8 F at Meadow, and the stop was voted down. Over the next pass, near Sevier River bridge, it was 4 degrees F and the icy fog was blanketing the highway - but then we saw the lights of Nephi and knew that it's gonna be home soon.

Images


Comments


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Viewing: 1-9 of 9    

lisaeText?

lisae

Voted 10/10

The pictures are beautiful and I am looking forward to your report.
Posted Jan 25, 2007 10:54 pm

Dmitry PrussRe: Text?

Dmitry Pruss

Hasn't voted

Lisae, it is the work week unfortunately and I haven't got time for anything major yet. Not to worry, will write it up shortly :) - thanks a lot for understanding!
Posted Jan 26, 2007 12:08 am

Dmitry PrussDone :)

Dmitry Pruss

Hasn't voted

Thanks again for your patience!
Posted Jan 26, 2007 10:38 pm

lisaeRe: Done :)

lisae

Voted 10/10

Well worth the wait! I love being in the desert when it is raining or snowing and loved seeing your report and pictures.
Posted Jan 26, 2007 10:59 pm

mountaingazelleRedrock Country

mountaingazelle

Voted 10/10

I just read your entire report. Now I understand why you avoided Zion for so long. It was originally named Mukuntuweap National Monument but that name didn’t last for long and was renamed Zion. After living in Utah for this many years, I have become used to the unique names of the mountains and other geographical landforms. You have to admit that there is no other place quite like it.
Posted Jan 28, 2007 2:56 am

Dmitry Prussunique names of the mountains

Dmitry Pruss

Hasn't voted

Zion is authentic, vintage Utah name, and I like it as I like many other Utah names which attest to the life, struggles, and mindset of the people who settled the state. But Angels Landing, Temple of Sinawawa, Great White Throne? Names like these sound like marketing catchphrases, like TMs and SMs. I would be surprised if there was any more history behind these than the painters' imagination and land managers' PR.

There are several TM-like toponims of a similar origin in the Wasatch too, but they are kind of more subtle. All these ladies' names of the lakes, from Blanche to Martha, and Mount Superior, owe their names to early paintings and photograps. But it just doesn't measure up to the "Temple of Eternity per mile" density of pomp in the lower Zion.
Posted Jan 29, 2007 5:05 pm

tanyaMockba

tanya

Voted 10/10

"I should admit that I've only been down in Zion once before, and only on the West side of the park. The crowds, the finicky permit system, and the pompous names of all these Temples and Thrones, were a huge turn-off for me."

Although I love Zion.... I love how you think!
Posted Nov 25, 2007 12:38 pm

Dmitry PrussAlthough I love Zion....

Dmitry Pruss

Hasn't voted

Thanks Tanya! I should admit that some famous and famously overcrowded places turn out to have so much natural magic that even the hordes of tourists aren't in the way. Like Yellowstone or Yosemite ... when I finally got there, it was a revelation despite all the crowds. But...
Posted Nov 26, 2007 12:14 pm

tanyaI agree...

tanya

Voted 10/10

But there are so many hidden places in Zion that you can avoid almost all the tourists. Nearby Zion it's even better. Parunuweap is one of the best places anywhere and I have never seen another sole while out there.
Posted Nov 26, 2007 2:48 pm

Viewing: 1-9 of 9