Utah Hikes

Horseshoe Bend near Page

Horseshoe Bend near Page – click to enlarge

Fall and Spring are the best times to explore our neighboring state’s hiking opportunities. And yes technically Horseshoe Bend, 5 miles from Glen Canyon Dam, is in Arizona, but it IMG_3736was the only photo taken in Arizona this week that didn’t have rainy weather.  Monument Valley was totally in dark wet clouds when we drove thru the Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Park so that picturesque desert treasure was less that photogenic as you can see on the left of Totem spire.  We never even got out of the truck for that entire loop.

The rest of the week we spent hiking 7 trails in Utah in a semi-circle from Comb Wash to Boulder, Utah. The occasion was a Father/Daughter trip for Mike (my Durango hiking partner) and Stacie with her husband Cary and me along for support.  Cary had a professional interest in this part of the Southwest, since his tour company features guided trips in the area thru Off the Beaten Path tours, so Cary pretty much set the itinerary.

IMG_3732It was great because several of the hikes were not ones that Mike or I had experienced and seeing things like this remote Procession petroglyph panel was pretty special.


And visiting the heavily visited trails in Zion National Park, like the Narrows water hike or Angel’s Landing, were places we don’t normally take on.  But hiking 6 miles in water on a cloudy day at 62 degrees lessened the normal throngs down to a trickle of only a hundred or so.

IMG_3756We opted out of traversing the final leg of Angel’s Landing hike, which scales a sandstone fin with chain grab rails, due to heavy downpours and thunderstorms.  Pictured is the easy part of the hike to the middle Unknown

saddle. A “commons” photo from Wikipedia, of the rib is shown below, as it was too wet to bring out a camera and shoot up.

We were satisfied to make it as far as we did although we did see a father with a child-seat backpack coming down from the very top.  His wife must not have been along on this hike.

Good company, good food and good hikes made for a very fast week.





Patio Drive-In, Blanding Utah





Hell’s Backbone Grill, Boulder, Utah





Procession PetrogylphsBryce LoopsKodachromeCalf Creek WaterfallBoulder Mail Trail

Eager to go back if you’re interested.

Solar Evolution

DSCN0548Paracas had one 90-watt solar panel, and Paradox had 6 with 540 watts. Our condo has 14 panels with 3120 watts, and yesterday I put up an array on a friends roof of 14 panels with 3710 watts. The difference is this last system came in less than a dollar a watt and that first 90 watt panel on my boat cost over $360 or $4 a watt. Just four years ago a 3 to 5 KW solar system cost almost $5 a watt after healthy rebates. These systems we’re Solar 14 Panelinstalling this summer and fall are costing about a $1 a watt installed. Not only has the cost dropped to 25% from four years ago, but the production per square foot has increased 26%. It’s a good time to think about a solar system, especially if you can do one like our solar barn raising program here in Durango.


IMG_3623The only other “barn raising” projects I’ve been involved in was a barn up at the St Paul on Red Mountain Pass and hand-moving a garage with 25 other apple-cider-squeezers in Grand Junction. These solar projects are much more modest and installing the panels only takes a couple hours with 4-6 people depending on the pitch and height of the roof. (This is after you get the railings installed, which should be with a smaller crew.) The final stage can be done with a large family, including the observers and support crew.


IMG_0058These local projects were stimulated after a local non-profit sponsored a Solarize effort which reached it’s goal of over 100 installations done last Spring.  Local contractors participated in a fixed-price program and successfully increased our county’s renewable energy number by at least 25%.  The barn raising version has followed with homeowners collectively working to install their own, friends’ and neighbor’s solar arrays on roofs, garages and free-standing installations.  I’ve helped on 4 of the 36 so far of these, and have a pretty good understanding of what’s involved and would highly recommend taking on the venture.


One of the features of the newer systems is that you can use micro-inverters right under each panel and follow the solar output hourly and online from anywhere in the world.  Or track what you’ve been gaining over the lifetime of the installation.


Check it out. And it’s the right thing to do.

Indian Summer – UL Gear test

Emerald Lake with Turret Peak 13,835 in background - Double click

Emerald Lake with Turret Peak 13,835 in background – Double click

Lucky to get out in the high country one last time this season.  Normally at this time of year there is a early snowfall, cold weather or too many hunters which keeps us from considering a trip up high.  Main impetus for a short Fall hike was to test out a new UL pack (which didn’t arrive in time) and to see how Mike’s knee would hold up (it did well – recent minicus repair).  There had been snow in the high country a week earlier, but warm conditions melted snow on all the south facing slopes and left only 4-6 inches on the north sides.

IMG_3683Hardly a cloud in the sky the first day and none the second. Only saw one young couple at Overlook Point so we got our photo taken.  Ryler is Mike’s lab, carries her food in and Mike’s gear out. Orange vest is because it’s rifle season. Just behind us is the Chicago Basin and it’s mountain range including the 14’er Eolus (farthest right).


Not sure you can pick up on the elevation loss and gains in the left Google Earth photo but we managed 6,000′ in two days.  Most of that descent and ascent was in 4 to 6″ of crusted snow, which was nice and stable.

Ruby LakeThis view of Ruby Lake shows the snow on the North side which outside of the reflected glare off the snow was  quite easy to scale up.  Having hiking poles helps especially giving you at least three points of contact.

The water in Ruby was so clear we could see some very large – 18 to 24″ trout – feeding in the shallows as we approached.


Camp was great with a late sun exposure right thru the trees until it sank below the ridgeline.  We expected a cold night so put up plenty of wood for a warming fire which allowed us to stay up until 8:30 almost 9.  Mike’s thermometer read 33° in the morning so we learned the ultra light gear and us passed the test.  Both our packs were below 14 pounds, food and water included.  Base weights were under 10, mine was just a hair over 8 pounds.  Sure makes it easy to go backpacking when you go UL.

WIS Trip Report:

Trip Report: Emerald Lake Loop, October 11-12, 2015 Tom Galbraith & Mike Taylor

Route: TH 3 miles up Henderson Lake Road (081) to Emerald Lake via Overlook Point to Ruby Lake and return

Report: Several hunter camps along Upper Henderson Lake road, didn’t go to Lime Mesa TH thinking there would be numerous vehicles and trailers in parking lot. Started hike from hairpin turn with trail west of Lime Mesa. Interesting to realize that trail is open to mountain bikes and “stickered” brown plastic post only restricts motorized vehicles, and we couldn’t tell when we entered the Wilderness without looking at the map. Boundary appears to be about 1.8 miles up this popular route when it meets the trail from Dollar Lake to Overlook Point. It might be worth considering adding a No Bicycles sticker to the post at the above mentioned Trail head since many people start up from there rather than go all the way to the Lime Mesa Trail Head.

We only talked to two young hikers at Overlook point. No hunters, no rifle shots and no game in our two day hike. The campsite we’d rehab’d the previous year at Ruby Lake looked great, the extra fire rings we’d removed totally gone and grass grown back. Only one plastic water bottle along the trail and a half buried spam can for litter at Emerald Lake. Saw several very large trout in Ruby Lake and only fingerlings in Emerald. No evidence of camping on Emerald Lake point and the upper campsite was in excellent condition. Four to six inches of snow on North slopes down to Ruby Lake.

The previous erosion control measures on the old abandoned road to Overlook Point are working, but new trenching on some steep slopes is occurring. We had to step out of the trail which was eroded deep and narrow 4-5 places in the middle of the uphill section from north Dollar Lake to Overlook Point.

Great days and excellent cloudless weather. Glad we got out.

Slap your iPad….

IMG_3631Not sure if any of you have found your iPad with a dead black screen, even when it’s fully charged, but it’s possible to restore it with a simple maneuver.

A friend had taken his iPad 2 into the local Mac Store, when the startup screen wouldn’t light up, and learned that he’d need a screen replacement at about 50% of the cost of a new iPad, because the screen was irretrievably damaged.

I’d accepted the verdict when making a house call on another tech issue, and asked if he’d been backing it up regularly. As often is the case, many people never plug their iPad into a computer which instantly invokes iTunes starting up and as a part of any Sync routine backs up the iPad contents.  No backup in several years, so all the photos, contacts and apps they’d accumulated were lost.  If they’d used iCloud for a cloud based duplication many of those items would have been available on their home iMac, but they hadn’t turned that on either.

The screen had a very dim glow in a darkened room so I tried to plug it in the computer and do a backup but it needed the passcode which was impossible to enter on the dark black glass.  I took it home after trying numerous work arounds but none could circumvent the passcode requirement.

At home on the internet I found many sites suggesting all the things I’d already tired, but one forum had a bizarre post saying to place the fully charged and recently turned on iPad in your lap, glass down, and slap the back and check to see if it would fire up.  If it didn’t respond, try again, slapping much harder.

IMG_3628Imagine my surprise when I turned it over after the second harder slap, and produced a deep black screen with the plea to stopped hitting it, and wait 2 minutes.

After the 2 minute “time-out” from punishment. it lit up with the most recent iOS splash screen, and accepted my “swipe to start” flick as well as the passcode we’d been trying to enter blind.


Hope this helps someone. Evidently the iPad took a “jarring” and something got loose.  Now it’s reconnected and working perfectly.



It’s hard to follow with exciting and interesting anecdotes and photos after four weeks in Switzerland, especially when some of this first week back has been adjusting to the time change – waking at 3 AM for example.

Never-the-less we managed to catch up on a mound of mail, supping with old friends and helping others with projects. Oh and a couple of hikes.

IMG_3584Kurt and Carol pulled off hosting all the Durango regulars plus McKenney at their country abode. The occasion was to greet their grandchild and daughter who was down from Bozeman for an Art Show and family visit.  Carol and Laurel have been fortunate to have had multiple “showings” at a variety of Art Shows this summer, Carol with her jewelry and Laurel with her paintings.

IMG_3583Fun catching up with folks who used to get together more regularly in the past. But a doctorate and grandchildren has kept Monte and Misha busy lately, Cathy and John are often traveling, building and bringing in the hay, Carol and Kurt crafting and touring the Art Show circuit, not to forget their new and continuing family obligations.  And the most special of all to visit Durango for this occasion was ever-busy and three-pass-distant Tom McKenney.  Of course you all know why we’re never available.  Good times, great folks and wonderful food.

Kurt has, to his credit, helped to promote solar energy in the Four Corners thru his personal experience on his own home, followed by Monte and Misha’s installation and ours as well.  He took it much further promoting (thru Four Core) a Solarize Your Home program which got 100 additional homes solarized last year.  This year he’s taken the project to Pagosa where they’ve set a goal of 50 more homes.

IMG_3588An off-shoot of Kurt’s major high profile solarization effort has been a group of DIY solar enthusiasts who are “barn raising” solar installations for their friends, neighbors and folks keen on doing it themselves at almost a quarter of the price some of us early adopters paid.  I’ve been responsible for introducing at least four of these DIY projects and this week got on several roofs installing railing and in one case felling 40′ trees.


There was still time to shake-out the legs as it’s still quite colorful in our high country.  This trail is just outside Durango not far from Monte and Misha’s house.  Just 3,000′ above it.