Monday, June 24, 2013

Strange Rocks

We came across some strange and interesting looking rocks lying on the slickrock SW of Separation Peak in Zion National Park.  I'm not a geologist and I have no idea what causes this kind of web-like formation.  That's Lonely Peak in the distance; it sits behind Nippletop.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Books I've Read

It's been a while since I mentioned what books I've read (audiobooks I've listened to).  I do a lot of driving and I like to listen to audiobooks.  Here's a short list.

Mary Roach's new book is very interesting.  I really liked her books Stiff and Packing for Mars, so I'm familiar with her writing style and interest in gross things.  I recommend this for anybody who wants to learn a little something about what happens to food between intake and output.  It's not as complete or clinical as I hoped, but I still learned a few interesting things.

Spy the Lie describes interview techniques developed by the authors during their years at the CIA.  This book is chock full of advise on how to detect deception.  It goes beyond the training I've had and offers some useful techniques that can be employed by parents, journalists, employers, investigators ... pretty much anybody.  Like all related methods, it's not fool-proof and requires a LOT of practice to become skilled.

In Michael Pollan's recent book he examines the core cooking methods employing fire, water, air, and bacteria.  As usual, he dives into the subject in a personal way, learning to cook with these tools from masters.  I didn't enjoy Cooked anywhere near as much as I did The Omnivore's Dilemma.  

I didn't enjoy Seth Godin's latest book as much as I have some of his previous books.  It's not Seth's fault.  I think I just lack the personal context in my life right now to frame his messages.

This book is another in the line of Covert-One techno-thrillers with Col. John Smith, MD as the hero character.  This time he takes on a psychotic genius who'd invented a brain interface technology that readers might imagine Google some day releasing.  I liked this story.  

This book offers a lot of insight into the inner workings of high finance.  Greg Smith describes a hyper-competitive meritocracy with the expected twists from clashing egos.  I enjoyed the book, but I have an interest in the area.  Had I been born 20 years later, I might have gone into that field.

This is a very interesting book about the federal budget; where the money comes from, where it goes, how each monetary source or recipient is protected under what federal laws.  In a small way, it was a bit depressing, as it describes just how hard it is to change the system, possibly even requiring constitutional ammendments.  I highly recommend this book for anybody wanting to learn a lot more than the media tells us.

This book provides a great first-hand account of the SEAL Team 6 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.  I liked this much more than the movie: Zero Dark Thirty.

This book contains some valuable information and actionable advice about how to break or change your habits.  I have found it helpful in changing some of my own bad habits.  Here's a simple flowchart from the book that captures a few of the concepts.

The next ones I'll be reading are:

I just started this new book by David Stockman, former budget director for President Ronald Reagan.  So far, it's very interesting.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Nippletop Summit

I finally reached the summit of Nippletop (Peak 6715) in Zion National Park.  I've hiked it 5 times but this is the first time I've reached the top.  I really enjoy this hike.  I like the steep slickrock gully from the road.  I like the steep sandy hillside up to the ridge.  I really like the ridge.  But I don't like the crux getting up to the top section.

The photo above shows Nippletop from the summit of South Ariel Peak.  I'll skip repeating photos of the route.  They can be seen on a previous post which also shows a topo map.

Gene joined me on this hike.  This screenshot of Google Earth shows our track recorded by my Garmin fenix watch.  We visited Nippletop and Separation and Lost Peaks.  The fenix says the route was 7 miles and took us 7 hours (not including the road section back to the car).  

Here's a shot looking along the ridge toward the summit.  It takes me 1 hour to reach the ridge from my car.  Five more minutes to walk the ridge, then maybe 15 minutes to reach the summit if you don't waste time ascending to the top section.

On my previous hikes of Nippletop, I failed to get past the short very steep band at the south end of the ridge line.  Oddly, this time it wasn't so bad.  It was surprisingly easy compared to the last time, when I totally psyched myself out hanging there while Gene attempted to instruct me on where to put my hands and feet.  I'm positive I've gained no rock climbing skills since then.  Maybe this time I was just in the right frame of mind.

I've marked the route I took in blue.  Gene hiked the yellow route.

Looking back down (north) from above the hard part, you can see a small cairn at the edge.  That's an important landmark for finding the way back down.

The summit block is barely visible beyond the vegetation.  It's easy to get there, just go uphill.

There are some interesting rock formations on the top.  To quote Sesame Street: "One of these things is not like the other."  Someone had placed a different rock atop a broken pillar.

Here's a shot of the USGS marker on the top.

And now the obligatory shots from the summit.  First looking north with the ridge visible below, then looking east toward Separation Peak, then south toward Parunuweap Canyon, and then west looking toward The Triplets and Lost Peak.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Jug Handle Arch - Zion NP

I visited Zion National Park last week and it was very relaxing.  Although, my muscles are still sore.  One of my hikes was to Jug Handle Arch.  I've seen this arch on many of my recent trips and when hiking South Ariel Peak it was clear that I could hike up close to the arch.  Joe Braun has a great description of this hike on his site.  He also includes directions on how to get above the arch for a different perspective.  I chose not to do that on this hike because I was saving my legs for the very strenuous hike I planned for the next day.

I didn't take the same route Joe shows.  Instead, I started my hike on the same path I took to hike South Ariel last month.  Joe's route might be easier.  I was just familiar with my route.  Here's the view from where I parked.

The arch is visible when you reach the small ridge above the Keyhole Canyon crossover.

Here's a nice looking hoodoo I passed along the way.  Maybe it's not technically a hoodoo, since it doesn't have a harder rock on the top.

The hike is easy enough.  After crossing Keyhole Canyon and reaching the eastern side of Aires Butte, just walk up the ridge.

I could have hiked closer but my knee was already hurting and I didn't want to jeopardize my hike the next day when I'd be visiting Nippletop, Separation, and Lost Peaks in one big loop - all visible in this photo.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Pismo Beach

Last week I was returning from the Cambria area and decided to drive along Pismo Beach.  I've never done that before and it's a popular destination for off-roaders of all kinds.  Technically, I think it's called Oceano Dunes SVRA, which seems to have another web site here.  

It was very windy and sand was blowing everywhere.  Most of the tents were leaning heavily in the wind.  I wasn't planning to camp, so the wind didn't bother me much.

There were plenty of vendors renting ATVs and selling food, ice, ice cream, and more.  

Friday, June 07, 2013

Separation Peak at Zion National Park

On my last trip to Zion NP, I decided to hike up Separation Canyon to Separation Peak.  I read about this hike on Joe Braun's web site.  

Here's a small water hole full of tadpoles.

I came across two small groups of young bighorn sheep.  They didn't stick around for many photos.

It's a nice short hike, and an easy way to reach a place where you can catch great views to the south toward Parunuweap Canyon.  Joe is right about the challenge facing anyone wanting to get to the very top.  I hiked almost all the way around the summit block, but didn't find an easy way up.  Skilled rock climbers would have no problem.

On my next trip I hope to return in order to walk over to "Lonely Peak" that sits south of Nippletop.  Here's a google map centered on Separation Peak.  The route I took is shown below.

This last photo shows the view north toward the road.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

South Ariel Peak

I've hiked around the bottom flanks of Zion's South Ariel Peak many times, always getting spooked by the very steep slope.  Previously I've only been a little higher than 'graffiti rock' - where selfish people have carved their initials into the sandstone.  

On my last trip to Zion, I decided to hike to the summit from the back side.  This route was surprisingly easy.  I'd say it is class 2 with two very short sections of class 3.

I just hiked around to the saddle between South Ariel and Aires Butte.  The slot canyon had people inside, so that was fun to watch and listen to them for a bit.

When I got up near the saddle, I saw a couple people climbing Aires Butte.

I turned left and headed up to the saddle, then straight up over the ridges to the final summit.

Here's a shot looking down toward the road and the slickrock apron where the tourists explore.  I tried hard to not dislodge any rocks, since that might ruin the day of somebody hundreds of feet below.

This shot looks south toward Nippletop.