Mesa Verde
Spent the night camping at Mesa Verde National Park and then started the day on a self-guided tour of the Far View Tower.

Then we paid for a guided tour of Balcony House (below). It was a very exposed hike to get there and I was surprised at all the fat, out-of-shape people that were on it. I was thinking the whole time that it would suck to be a ranger doing the tours, as you’d be fearful all the time of someone slipping and falling to their death.
Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde
Here is the Cliff Palace, another paid tour. This place was so beautiful . . . I wound’t mind living there myself!

So we had to leave since we could only get a campsite for one night. So we packed up in the evening and mushed on towards a campsite I found in my Don Wright’s Guide to Free Campgrounds, western edition, for the night. We had to travel about 60 miles south to a $5 BLM campsite, no running water, of course.


Grand Gulch
En route from Capitol Reef, Utah, to Mesa Verde, Colorado. Made a few stops along the way, like this view looking down at the Grand Gulch from atop the mountain. Next stop: the Navajo Rez to show Chris the impressive Monument Valley.

Monument Valley
The last time I was in Monument Valley was in 2002 (click here to see my old Visual Journal post). And man, shit has changed!! They built a fucking air conditioned monstrosity and a huge paved lot where the old campground used to be!!! I was saddened to see this vulgar display of “progress.” But I guess if the Navajo Nation wanted to develop their tourism, it’s their right. But my heart was truly broken to see it like this.

They even improved the dirt road so cars could drive down in the valley!! No more 4-wheel drive needed.
Monument Valley


Capitol Reef
So our pal Kelton Russenberger took us to Capitol Reef National Park for some hiking and camping on his day off from Bryce Canyon National Park. This was one of the many beautiful view while driving into the park on the gravel road towards Cedar Mesa.

Capitol Reef
Hitting a trail.

Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef
So this hidden treasure that many overlook for the sexier nearby parks (like Zion, Bryce, etc.) is pretty neat. Being a geology and geography nerd, I was simply astonished to be in a waterpocket fold, which is a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth), that extends almost 100 miles in the park!


Valley of Fire
Celebrating the Fourth of July proper — by hitting the trails in Valley of Fire before it got too hot. It was nice not to see anyone else there on our hikes.

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire
An of course we saw many petroglyphs.

Valley of Fire
Love these rolling hills, all of different colors!!

And then we hit the road again, heading to Bryce Canyon to visit our caving friend, Kelton Russenberger, who’s working there for the summer as a ranger.
Bryce Canyon


Sequoia National Forest
Getting breakfast ready at our campsite in Sequoia National Forest. Unfortunately, our laundry didn’t dry much during the night.

Trail of 100 Giants
So we hiked the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest. And this is me standing next to one of these babies . . . she’s a bit big!

Valley of Fire
And we made it to one of my favorite places to camp — the Valley of Fire in Nevada!
We put out or wet laundry and go figure . . . it was dry in 20 minutes!


Backpacking El Cap
The sun warms up the Valley at dawn. Folks brought rope (and we took our vertical gear) to rig the spot where we would have rappelled. But I couldn’t bring myself to go down to the Diving Board to see the view that could have been. It would have broken my heart.

So instead we decided to leave Yosemite. But first thing first, get off the huge rock called El Cap.
Backpacking El Cap


Backpacking El Cap
Since we travel all the way to Yosemite with our backpacking gear, we decided to do a trip to the top of El Capitan.
Here is Robin Mitchell blazing the way along Yosemite Creek during our 12-mile hike to reach the summit of El Cap, where we planned on spending the night.

Backpacking El Cap
Chris hikes towards the summit of El Cap. You can see the opposite wall of the Valley in the background.


We arrived in Yosemite National Park today. Looking up at El Capitan from the Valley floor made me sad we were not able to rappel and climb her.

Yosemite Vernal Falls
Took a paved trail to see Vernal Falls.
The trail was a shitshow. This really fat man, who looked to be in his late 20s, was with his fat wife and two fat small children. They were hiking up the same trail as us. They had one empty water bottle for the four of them on the hot June afternoon. They all looked like they were going to stroke out at any moment. He approached us and said “You two look like you know what you’re doing in the outdoors.”

“Can I drink this water?” as he pointed to the river we were hiking by. Chris said “Sure, if you want to get diarrhea.”

He scrunched up his face and turned on his heal quickly towards his waiting family.