Tag Archives: hiking

Wales Day 5

Lower part of Rhyd Ddu trail

Walking through West Snowdon Quarry

Taff Roberts on the stair climb up Clogwyn Du

Our crew with the summit in view

The goal today was to hike up to the top of Mount Snowdon, the highest point in Wales, as well as the island of England. Diane and I didn’t make it, but not for want of trying.

The route we took started at the trailhead of the Rhyd Ddu trail, one of the more popular routes up the mountain. The top photo to the right shows the view from the lower elevations of this trail, and gives a good sense of the beauty, barrenness, and dampness of the day. Though it never really rained on us, the sky was almost always overcast and the cloud cover sometimes came down to engulf us.

Rather than take Rhyd Ddu straight north to the top, however, our route has us head right (east) up the Clogwyn Du trail through the now inactive West Snowdon slate quarry, and then turn left (north) up the nose of a very steep ridgeline to meet up with Rhyd Ddu close to the summit. The second image on the left shows Diane standing on the trail surrounded by slate tailings from that quarry.

The next picture shows Hywel “Taff” Roberts, our leader and the owner of Wild Wales Tours, with the distant mountain floor below us. We have begun the climb up the nose of that ridgeline, with the initial section up a very steep stone staircase cut into the ground. I could not help but think of the stairs of Cirith Ungol from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

The last photo was taken by Taff showing our entire crew, with the peak of Mount Snowdon hidden by clouds at the top center of the image. From left to right we have Pat, Dennis, the sisters Penny and Barbara, our second guide Haf, and then Diane and myself. The peak at the top-left is actually the start of the knife-edge ridgeline that leads to the peak. Where that ridgeline begins Clogwyn Du meets up again with Rhyd Ddu, which follows that very narrow knife-edge ridge to the summit, with 1000 foot drop-offs on either side.

When we got to Rhyd Ddu on that ridgeline Diane and I decided to head back down on Rhyd Ddu. We were now in the clouds, so going on to the peak seemed silly as we likely wouldn’t be able to see anything. Moreover, it was colder than either of us are used to or like. While Taff came down with us, everyone else continued to the peak. As I write this they have not yet returned, though I have no doubt they had a spectacular time crossing that ridge to the summit. UPDATE: The rest of the crew made the peak, but could see nothing for that entire section of hike, because of the clouds.

Not making the summit does not bother me much. I like to get to the top, but also know that we could it do another time should we decide to try. Diane and I have been doing this for a lot of years. We know our capabilities. We don’t need to prove them to others or ourselves.

Besides, the views up until then had been breath-taking, and they continued to be as good on the hike down. This was why we came, and it paid us amply in beauty every step of the way.

Share

Another Grand Canyon tour

On the Tonto Platform

Because I live in southern Arizona, I take advantage of this location to make an annual trip to the Grand Canyon. On my previous trips I’ve talked about the right way to hike the canyon (slowly!) and then provided some suggestions for proper preparation.

This time I am simply going to suggest two hikes. One is very easy and should be done by every visitor to the south rim. The other hike is for those who go to the bottom, and reserve themselves one day there for a day hike.
» Read more

Share

The Grand Canyon

Park Service warning sign

When I posted here on Behind the Black that Diane and I were on our way to the Grand Canyon for our annual hike to the bottom, one of my readers, Keith Douglas, commented that he and his family would be there about the same time. In trying unsuccessfully to meet up, at one point Keith mentioned that his two kids, aged 24 and 23, were proposing they hike into the canyon. Keith emailed me to ask, “From what I read, hiking into the canyon and out is not recommended for a one day activity. What about halfway and back up? Can that be done in an afternoon? It seems pretty hot.” I responded,

Though one can hike down and up in one day, this is not recommended for most. Usually you need to be in very good condition and young. It also helps if you are a long distance runner. Hiking down to Indian Gardens [about two thirds of the way down] can be done as a day trip, but if you don’t hike a lot it will be an intense and long experience. Also, having the right pack and gear is essential! People who go carrying a one liter bottle of water and no hat are guaranteed to suffer.

I didn’t tell them they couldn’t do it, or that they shouldn’t, or that it wasn’t possible. I simply outlined some of the basics for doing it, and let them decide what to do.

Keith answered, with humor, “Thanks for helping me talk my kids out of a hike down.” He later added, “I read a hiking guide on the nps website. It seems to be designed to discourage canyon hiking rather than prepare novice hikers.”

In one sentence Keith encapsulated the problem with almost all of the advice the Park Service gives about the Grand Canyon.
» Read more

Share

Doing the Grand Canyon Right

The Tonto Plateau

The one thing about the Grand Canyon that attracts hikers is its intimidating nature. People feel challenged by its large size and depth, and want to prove to themselves that they can do it.

The irony of this to me is that it is that intimidating nature that generally causes most people the most problems. People worry about the climb out. They worry about the heat. They worry about the lack of water. And they worry about vastness around them.

All of these things — the climb, the heat, the lack of water, and the vastness — must be dealt with. Each has caused the death of many visitors. Each could kill you if you are not prepared. In fact, one or all of these factors are probably the primary causes behind all of the approximately 300 rescues that occur each year at the Grand Canyon.

Yet, none of these factors is actually the biggest obstacle for most people trying to climb in and out of the Canyon. Instead, it is the worry about these things that causes people the most difficulties.
» Read more

Share

At the rim

The Grand Canyon from our motel room

After a 5.5 hour drive we arrived at the south rim of the Grand Canyon and checked into our hotel. You can see the view from the window on the right. Not very spectacular, but then, you don’t spend much time in a hotel room on trips like this.

Tomorrow we take the shuttle bus to the North Rim, where will spend another night in the lodge there. On Saturday, we hike down on North Bright Angel trail, and will stay in a cabin at Phantom Ranch for the next three nights, doing day hikes from the bottom of the canyon on Sunday and Monday. We will hike then up on Tuesday, coming up Bright Angel trail to the south rim, completing our first rim to rim hike. Once we check out of our hotel tomorrow, we will be out of contact with the internet until we return to the south rim. I hope the world doesn’t fall apart in the interim.

This will be Diane’s third trip to the bottom, and my fifth. I can’t express how happy I am to be back. This is truly one of the grandest spots on Earth.

Share

We made it.

Getting to the Window in the Santa Catalinas is a challenge, mostly because of the 4000 foot elevation gain. In the past two years Diane and I have made three previous attempts, all of which were aborted because we simply either ran out of time or energy.

Today, we left very early in the morning, and because we are right now in very good shape, made it with little trouble, completing the entire hike in just under eleven hours. Some pictures below the fold.
» Read more

Share

First day caving in Nevada

It is late and I have to up at 5 am to head to another cave tomorrow, so there is no time to give a detailed update of what happened today

However, here is a quick summary. Our goal was to find and map a rarely visited and difficult to find cave. After four miles of hiking and a lot of wandering across some pretty spectacular mountainsides, we failed to find the cave. However, we did locate two other small caves, which we surveyed, and then, on the way back to the vehicles, discovered a previously unknown cave of some size with significant formations. This was quite exciting, as the cave was clearly virgin, never seen by humans before.

We hope to return to explore and map it later in the week. Once again, I will get to go where no one has ever gone before!

Tomorrow will probably be as long a day as today, so I probably will not be able to post a more detailed report until Saturday. Stay tuned.

Share

Santa Catalina Mountains – hike to Romero Pools

An evening pause: A hike to Romero Pools in the Santa Catalina Mountains just outside Tucson, Arizona. The hiker in the video calls this one of the toughest hikes he’s ever done, but it is only 5.6 miles round trip, with only a thousand foot elevation gain. Compared to most of the other Santa Catalina hikes, which routinely require elevation gains of 3000 to 5000 feet, this one is easy.

Share