Western USA 2023 – Day 4 – The Wave

Today was the big day of our hike to The Wave in the Coyote Buttes North area of Utah. The Wave hike is 10.8km and has 376 metres of elevation gain, however most of it is at the end. This is one of the most stunning hikes I’ve ever been on, and I was extremely happy to be able to do it with my father. You must obtain a Coyote Buttes North permit before hiking, and that is done by a random lottery. Only 64 people a day are allowed in the area, with 48 lottery permits issued four months in advance, and 16 daily lottery permits issued two days before. Permitting started in 1984 with only 8 daily permits issued. The area became more popular after Windows 7 was launched on July 22nd 2009, and social media became more prevalent. The number of permits allowed has slowly been increased over the years.

We took a tour with Dreamland Tours with Robert. The drive to The Wave takes about 45 minutes, however 20 minutes are on an extremely rough road that was somewhat washed out, although they had graded it by the time we were on the way back. We took our time on the hike, learning about the different types of geological formations, including Moqui Marbles, which are brownish-black balls composed of iron oxide that surrounds sandstone that formed underground when iron minerals that precipitated from flowing groundwater.

At The Wave we took a bunch of photos, including the signature “desktop background” photo, before settling in for some delicious sandwiches, which were provided for lunch. After lunch we walked to the Second Wave, before looping back to the Wave, and then to the Mini Wave. We started heading back after exploring the area and taking all the photos that we wanted to. The total time on the tour was 8 hours including the 45 minute drive each way, and the stop for lunch.

After hiking we relaxed at our hotel for a bit, booked our Las Vegas Hotel, and went to Rocking V Cafe for dinner. I had a burger and a salad, and my dad had lasagna.

Western USA 2023 – Day 3 – Tunnels, Dunes, Waves & Stumps

Today we woke up around 6:00am so that we could make it in time for our orientation in Kanab. We had breakfast at our hotel, packed up, and hit the road towards Kanab. The drive took 1.5 hours. The orientation for The Wave was pretty straight forward, and was more so a cover their butt kind of thing.

After the orientation we drove North towards a small hike called The Belly of the Dragon, which is a cave-like tunnel that was created as a water culvert under Highway 89. The hike took about 20 minutes, and wasn’t difficult, with exception to a 6-7 foot drop at the beginning of the hike which takes some navigating skills.

After that we drove to Orderville for another hike that didn’t work out due to the gate being closed off, however we made lemonade out of the situation by stopping in at the Rock Shop for some coffee and donuts. We enjoyed them outside on some seats while we chatted.

Afterwards we drove about 30 minutes Southwest towards the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The dunes are formed from the erosion of pink-coloured Navajo Sandstone surrounding the park. High winds passing through the notch between the Moquith and Moccasin Mountains pick up loose sand particles and drop them onto the dunes due to the venturi effect. The dunes are roughly 15000 years old. We walked around the dunes for a bit before packing up and heading to Kanab for lunch.

In Kanab we stopped at Wild Thyme Cafe for some delicious salads before continuing our adventure Eastbound towards The Nautilus, about an hour’s drive away. The Nautilus, also known as the White Wave, resembles a big oyster shell from a distance and has a large notch in the middle, which is caused by erosion due to water. The hike is quite easy, and only takes about 20 minutes.

The last stop of the day was the Toadstool Hoodoos Trail, which we had visited back in 2017 if I recall correctly. The hike took about 40 minutes to complete and was fairly easy. At the end of the hike you’re presented with some toadstool formations, which look pretty neat.

We then drove back to Kanab and checked into our hotel; La Quinta Inn & Suites. The hotel is brand new, and the beds feel quite comfortable. After checking into our hotel we researched where the best place is to have dinner. We settled on Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen, which features delicious and elegant vegan dishes. We both had pizza there. I ended up having a pizza called the Hot Mess, which featured marinara, vegan Italian sausage, sweet drop, shishito and serrano peppers, chèvre, smoked gouda, drizzled with a bourbon reduction. Dad had Peekaboo Pear, which featured fresh sage, fresh pear, mozzarella and topped with fresh arugula, gorgonzola, pumpkin seeds and drizzled with champagne vinaigrette.

After dinner we picked up some snacks for tomorrow’s hike, and relaxed in the hotel for the remainder of the evening.

Palm Springs & Joshua Tree

Recently we completed a very short trip to Palm Springs, California. Palm Springs is a desert resort city that was founded in 1938, and currently has a population of about 45000 people. It is a popular destination for retired people, Canadian snowbirds, the LBGTQ+ community, and more! It is also one of the best preserved mid-century modern capitals of the world. I captured some photos of my favorite buildings while I was here, and I also visited the Living Desert Zoo, and Joshua Tree National Park

Palm Springs Living Desert Zoo

The Palm Springs Living Desert Zoo is a non-profit zoo and desert botanical garden located in Palm Desert, California. The zoo is home to over 500 animals representing over 150 species. The zoo receives over 500000 visitors annually, and despite its small size, is one of my favorite zoos. The zoo is home to gazelles, giraffes, ostriches, wallabies, kangaroos, rhinos, cheetahs, turtles, bobcats, and more!

Joshua Tree National Park

An hour’s drive from Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park. It is named after the Joshua Trees, also known as Yucca Brevifolia, which are native to the area. The park was declared a national monument in 1936, and redesignated a national park in 1994. It spans a huge area of 3200 square kilometres (1240 square miles). The park features rugged rock formations, the famous Joshua Tree, Chuckwalla Cholla Cactus, the Cailfornia Fan Palm, and more!

Colorado – Day 2 – Maroon Bells

Today our main highlight was hiking in Maroon Bells. Maroon Bells is Colorado’s premier fall hiking location, featuring Maroon Lake surrounded by mountains and beautiful fall foliage. The area gets its name from two 14000 mountains named Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak. Maroon Bells is only about a 30 minute drive from Aspen.

We arrived around 7:50am, as the parking lot closes at 8:00am. We had to reserve our spot, which we did over six months ago. While we were there we completed two hikes; The Scenic Loop Trail (3 Miles, 120 feet Elevation), and The Crater Lake Trail (3.6 Miles, 500 feet Elevation). 

The Scenic Loop follows the North side of Maroon Lake, and loops around on the West side.

The Crater Lake Trail essentially follows the same route, around the lake, but then branches off on the West side of the lake and continues through the Valley until you reach Crater Lake.

It was about 11am when we finished the two hikes. We drove back to our hotel to grab a cup of coffee, and our bathing suits, before heading out again.

Next stop was The Grotto Trail, about a 20 minute drive the other direction from our lodging in Aspen. It was back the same we drove in from yesterday. The Grottos Trail features an ice cave, smooth cascading granite from the water running over it for thousands of years, and a beautiful cascading waterfall. The hike isn’t very hard and only takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. It was pouring rain for the majority of the hike, but was worth it.

Next stop was Glenwood Hot Springs Pool located in Glenwood Springs. The area was originally inhabited by Indigenous people before Americans colonized the area. Glenwood Springs, originally known as Defiance, was established in 1883 as a camp of tents, saloons and brothels. The town was founded by Isaac Cooper. The town was mostly populated with gambles, gunslingers, and prostitutes, and stayed as a small encampment until the larger mining town of Carbonate lost its position as a county seat, until some bribery occurred to shut down the post office in Carbonate, and moved the post office to Glenwood Springs. The city then thrived and became the main town where miners in the area lived.

The therapeutic springs waters, called Yampah, also known as Big Medicine by the aboriginals (Ute Native Americans) were used as a sacred place of healing since atleast the 1860’s. In 1890 the original red sandstone bathhouse and lodge was built for $100000. It was designed by Austrian architect Theodore von Rosenberg, who’s buildings I have definitely seen before in Vienna. The bathhouse features tubs, vapor baths, a ladies parlor, physicians office, gymnasium, smoking rooms, and reading rooms. The building houses 44 bathing rooms. The main pool is 405 feet long by 105 feet wide and contains 1.07 million gallons of water that is kept at 32° C. The hot “therapy” pool is 100 feet long by 105 feet wide and contains 91000 gallons of water kept at 40° C.

During World War II the resort Hotel Colorado and Hot Springs Bathhouse) was exclusively used as a US Naval Convalescent Hospital. It was the only time in history that the bathhouse was closed to the public. In 1970 an upgraded water filtration system was installed to filter the 3.5 million gallons per day of 52° C water. In 1986 a 107 room lodge was built on the North side of the pool.

After visiting the pool we walked around the town for a bit before driving back to our hotel.

Once we were back at the hotel we walked to White House Tavern, where I had a delicious chuck steak burger, and dad had a French beef dip sandwich. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting before it was time to go to bed.

Sunshine Meadows Hike

A few weeks ago I had the chance to finally hike in Sunshine Meadows, a beautiful alpine setting located slightly Southwest of Banff. Sunshine Meadows has been closed since the beginning of COVID, two and a half years ago.

To get to Sunshine Meadows you take a gondola from the base (1659 masl) to the Sunshine Village Terminal (2159 masl). The 4.5km gondola ride is fairly unique because it has two curves, and a mid-station, all while staying on the same cable! The highest point of the gondola is 40 metres (130 feet). The gondola was opened in 2001, and includes 165 8-passenger cabins, four garbage carriers, and one work carrier. A few fun facts, are that there was an accident in 2016 when two empty gondola cars came off the cable in high winds and crashed to the ground, and in June 2013 nine of their cabins were washed away during the Alberta Flood that occurred because they were getting painted, and were washed away. They were all found, and one nearly had made its way all the way to Canmore!

After arriving at Sunshine Village you’re given a quick orientation on the trail system, and then you’re off on your own. After a seven minute ride on the Standish Chairlift you arrive at the very top of the hike, where you’re presented with gorgeous 360 degree views of the mountains surrounding you. There’s beautiful alpine flowers all around!

Normally my hikes start at the lowest point, and end up on a mountain peak, but this hike is the inverse of that. The 2.5 hour hike starts with a steep descent towards Rock Isle Lake, before continuing on a loop around Grizzly Lake and Laryx Lake, before heading back up to the top. It’s amazing at how much the scenery changes as you progress through he hike.

The was one of my favourite hikes that I’ve done in Canada, and is a great family friendly hike, that isn’t too difficult. The 2.5 hour hike has 316 metres of elevation differential over 8.0 kilometres.

Wedgemount Lake Hike

The next day I woke up at 7am and drove the 2 hour to the Wedgemount Lake parking lot. Wedgemount Lake is located in Garibaldi Provincial Park. This was the hardest hike that I’ve ever completed in my entire life, but it was surely worth it. The hike was a brutal 1362 metres of elevation gain over only 12.6km return. My body hurt for 5 days after! At the top you’re presented with beautiful alpine lake views! Make sure to stick around if it’s socked in with fog, because it clears fairly routinely.

After the hike I drove four hours to Kamloops and checked in to the Pacific Inn & Suites. While the beds were comfortable you can tell the hotel was in need of some love, which included the pool area being turned into a hookah storage area. Normally these rooms go for $150-200 per night, however I only paid $30 in taxes because I had a free stay voucher.

After some much needed sleep I woke up and could barely walk due to muscles being tense from the hike the day before. I started the 8 hour journey back to Calgary with a stop in Revelstoke at a favourite location (La Baguette) for breakfast. I had a delicious turkey pesto sandwich.

Joffre Lakes Hike

Two weeks ago I drove out to Western British Columbia to do some hiking at Joffre Lakes and Wedgemount Lake. I took four days off from work and drove out on a Thursday to Pemberton, British Columbia. Upon arrival I hit-up a local brewery (Pemberton Brewing Company) for a flight of beers, grabbed some groceries for hiking food for the next day from the local grocery store, before checking into my hotel; The Hitching Post Motel. The motel was a bit of a blast to the past with carpeted window sills, cigarette smell, and generally run down, but it was the “nicest” place to stay in the area for under $200 per night. After having a sound sleep I woke up around 7am and had a ham and cheese sandwich with the groceries that I had purchased the day before, before gathering my stuff and hopping into my car to drive 30 minutes to Joffre Lakes.

Joffre Lakes hike is a medium difficulty hike with 493 metres of elevation gain over a 8.5 kilometre round trip. The hike only took me about 2.25 hours to complete. The government staff at the base of the hike were surprised at how fast I completed it because it usually takes 4 hours.

After completing the hike I drove to Lillooet, got some groceries and ate at the Lillooet Cookhouse Restaurant for dinner. They didn’t have much of a selection so I had nacho poutine. Accommodation was at Hotel DeOro; a complete surprise because it was just recently taken over my new management and they were great. The hotel was exceptionally clean, beds super comfortable, and the staff super friendly. During the evening I explored the old Lillooet Suspension Bridge, which was built in 1913. It spans 161 metres over the Fraser River. The bridge served a long life carrying traffic until 1981 when the Bridge of Twenty-Three Camels was completed. The suspension bridge was eventually decommissioned and in 2003, the District of Lillooet and the British Columbia Ministry of Transport restored the bridge as a pedestrian-only crossing.

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I hike Wedgemount Lake!

Mist Mountain Hike

A few weeks ago Julie and I hiked Mist Mountain Springs Trail. The hike is a fairly steep one at 555 metres over only 6.4 kilometres return. It’s definitely worth it because you’re presented with a refreshing natural hot springs at the end of it. Julie had a bit of an asthma attack at the top so I solo’d it to the hot springs. The last 400 metres were fairly sketchy as they were traversing over a 30 degree shale rock face with a bunch of snow. It was certainly prime for an avalanche, and thinking back I shouldn’t have made the trek to the hot springs.

Funny story… while I planned on going into the hot springs the wind was fairly strong and the air was a bit cold so I decided to not go in… but while I was trying to take a picture of a couple I accidentally fell in and had soggy boots for the rest of the hike.

Horse Thief Canyon Hike

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to hike down into Horse Thief Canyon, located about 16 kilometres (10 miles) Northwest of Drumheller. At the top you’re presented with spectacular views of the badlands and valley below. I decided to enter the valley below, which was quite steep and somewhat slippery due to the smooth and dry bentonite below by feet. Once I got to the bottom I followed the valley’s until I found a small dry riverbed that led towards the Lower Red Deer River. During my hike I found quite a few fragments of fossils and some bones from animals. One thing to note is there are some sections of private land here, so be respectful of the land.

Be sure to check back in a few days when I embark on a week trip to Eastern Europe. My first stop is Zagreb, Croatia.

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Horseshoe Canyon Hike

With winter quickly approaching I shifted my hiking from the Rocky Mountains to the Drumheller to have a couple good weeks of nice weather hiking before winter arrives.

I first hike I completed in the area was Horseshoe Canyon trail; a 3.9km trail with 113 metres of elevation differential. The elevation loss is all at the beginning, when you descend into the valley below. This is a lesser known badlands area around the Drumheller area, and it gets its name from its horseshoe shape, defined by two coulees that flow into the Kneehill Creek, a tributary of the Red Deer River. In 2020, a boy named Nathan Hrushkin discovered a dinosaur fossil at the canyon dating back to 69 million years.

When I was there I also stumbled upon a geocache.

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.