Sedona Mountain Biking

Sedona Mountain Biking

Wendy joined Jeff and Kath Ward and their friend Larry for a couple of days of mountain-biking on the very accessible trails around Sedona. Although there were plenty of “hike-a-bike” sections, everyone successfully tackled harder and harder bits and we even discussed the possibility of shin and arm pads as confidence builders for the rougher sections. The views were amazing when we had a chance to look up from the trail, or took the opportunity to get off our bikes and gawk at the scenery. Since the trails were shared, Doug hiked and also took a few pictures of the bikers. An upcoming post will highlight our Sedona hikes.

On Wendy’s first day with the group, we chose to ride the moderately rated Chuckwagon trail. It started off with a nice bit of slickrock.

And continued with lots of rocky drops linked with smoother, flatter sections.

The next day we started off on the Bell Rock parkway, an easier and wider trail that allowed us to develop our confidence going up rock steps. (Actually I’m only speaking for Wendy and Kath, Larry and Jeff didn’t seem to have any confidence issues.) We branched off on the “Llama” trail, then over to “Little Horse” and onwards to a trail named “Easy Breezy” which was anything but. We completed each day’s ride by lunchtime, leaving time to go for a hike or just relax. There are plenty of similar rides around Sedona and we’re looking forward to coming back. (Especially Doug who didn’t ride this year.)

South Coyote Buttes / White Pocket

“Life is not measured by the number of breathes we take, but by the moments that take our breath away” – Maya Angelou

It was one breath-taking moment after another on our trip to the South Coyote Buttes and White Pocket near Kanab, Utah on Sunday April 24. Just when we thought we had seen the most amazing scene, another fantastic view came into focus around the corner. We hired a guide from Kanab to escort us around. He had lots of experience driving through sand (with a lower tire pressure) and he found us the best spots with the least effort. Now that we’ve been there, Doug figures he could drive to most places without a problem.

We needed a special permit (only 20 people per day) for the South Coyote Buttes section, that we obtained online back in January when we were planning the trip. The White Pocket area is open to anyone without a permit. Both are worth the effort to get to. There is only a sandy access trail to both rock formations and after that no marked routes. It felt more like wandering than hiking and we appreciated that the guide knew each nook and cranny because it was unlike any terrain that we had experienced before.

One of the hardest parts of the day was deciding which photos to include in this blog. There are a few more than usual because there were so many good ones to chose from. Enjoy!

The strange formations near the Paw Hole.

At South Coyote Buttes, Cottonwood Cove

DSC_0334At South Coyote Buttes, Cottonwood Cove

At South Coyote Buttes, Cottonwood Cove


White Pocket

White Pocket

White Pocket

Wendy’s “Spa” Day: biking & a quilt shop

Wendy’s “Spa” Day: biking & a quilt shop


I had the rare luxury of a shuttle driver for my first mountain bike ride of the season. Doug drove me to the top of the JEM trail above Hurricane. The guidebook sets it up as “a long, fun singletrack descent with a scenic canyon rim ride as a treat at the end.” Those of you who know me, know I prefer to follow someone, whether skiing or riding, but this time, I was on my own and I needed to be brave about it. I had water, snacks, extra clothing, and a map of the ride as a photo on my phone. I was set up with a radio so I could communicate with Doug as I rode. The weather was perfect for a downhill ride; warm and not very windy.


As it turned out, the ride was really very easy (if you ignore the steep, rocky trails that I walked), and I was able to see Doug in the truck at various points along the trail. He had chosen to explore the dirt road that paralleled the route. As a bonus, he was able to take photos of me as I rode past. I could have ridden the road all the way to our RV park in Virgin, but as the “princess” I gladly accepted a ride from the end of the trail. Pure luxury in my books.

To top off a perfect day, we drove into St. George and visited the Superior Threads warehouse and fabric store. I’ve dragged Doug into a fair number of quilt shops, but this one was different. It was large and set up like a library with rows and rows of fabric bolts. Doug wandered down an aisle of batiks and was taken with one particular beige/blue “dotty” pattern. Within a few minutes we had selected four other coordinating batiks. The blue might go with the colour of our bedroom wall; and if not, we’ll repaint. So that means this quilt for our bedroom (that I don’t yet have a pattern for) will jump to the front of the line. And I also bought some thread; even though I was a bit overwhelmed with a whole warehouse to choose from.


Doug’s picks (new quilt for the bedroom to come!)

Zion National Park

Zion National Park



The beginning of the Watchman Hike

Doug wondered about how much hiking he would be able to do this trip, so we took it easy with a moderate two-hour hike up the Watchman trail to check out what he could manage. Hiking at child’s pace is enjoyable and includes many photo stops. Luckily many flowers presented themselves, along with a few birds.


At the viewpoint on the Watchman Hike

When we planned this trip to Zion, the hike to Angel’s Landing was on the books. It’s rated as a strenuous four-hour hike, with the last section a route along a steep, narrow ridge to the summit.


A view of Angel’s Landing in the early morning

So the next day, Doug decided that he would “stick his nose in it”, knowing that he could turn back and do it another year if it was too much. (Wendy was glad she didn’t need to “park” him at the first pass.) With a bit of planning of where to step, and some fall-back on his mountaineering skills, slowly and surely he made his way upwards. Actually, he was not any slower than most of the hikers. We kept climbing steadily and were on the summit in two hours from the trailhead, without breaking a sweat. Going down was a little more challenging because of Doug’s lack of knee flexion, but the permanent chains allowed for a quick “batman-style” descent on some of the steeper sections. We celebrated with a steak dinner, and hoped that the hot-tub and physio exercises would be enough to allow him to walk somewhat comfortably the next day.


Doug starting the upper section to Angel’s Landing


The trail down

The next day, all body parts were working; with Doug’s new knee feeling better than the left knee. After he warmed up, all was good. We took it easier and started with the mostly flat, shaded trail at the end of the canyon that gave us a view of The Narrows. We will have to come back when the water is not so high to do that watery canyon hike. We watched lots of yellow warblers and ground squirrels and also saw three mule deer.


Hiking the Kayenta Trail

After that, we took the bus down canyon and hiked the Kayenta trail from The Grotto to Zion Lodge; a hike that was in full sun most of the way. We also stopped to view the Court of the Patriarchs (which is the cover photo of this blog.) As in the other days, when we returned in the early afternoon, we woke Tali from her nap in the air-conditioned trailer. She much prefers the pleasant walks in the long grass throughout the RV park and hardly missed us.

Finally some sunshine!

Finally some sunshine!

We are now enjoying the sunshine at our RV park just outside Zion National Park. We arrived yesterday, just before the strongest winds hit. We made a quick departure from our campsite at Willard Bay, (just north of Salt Lake City), with a plan to make lunch along the way. The impending winds kept us going without a break, which delayed lunch until we got to our RV park at 1:30, which was a bit of a struggle for Wendy, but much better than being buffeted by winds. Needless to say, Wendy did not drive that day.

We took four days to get down here; the first to Missoula to stock up on food, beer and wine. The second day we drove through to Idaho Falls because the forecast for Dillon was for 3-6 inches of snow. The third day was shorter, so we arrived at Willard Bay by noon. It was chilly there, but pleasant enough until the early evening when a squall blew through and it rained horizontally. We stayed warm and dry in our trailer and watched a movie on the DVD player. By this time, Tali had figured out the trailer steps and was no longer doing her “limpet impression” and could maneuver the steps without aid of a harness.


Today we did a reconnaissance of the Zion area, and checked out the mountain bike trailheads. We will be in good shape for the next time we are here and Doug’s knee bends enough to allow him to ride. Doug has to settle for taking photographs of scenery, flowers and birds; sometimes with the flowers providing real-life stretching opportunities. When we got back to the RV park, Wendy explored Virgin, UT by bicycle (yes, almost the whole town in forty-five minutes), while Doug did his physio exercises in the outdoor pool.