Monday, July 7, 2014

St. George--Hiking at 11,000 ft.

July typically sees triple digit temperatures on most days here in St. George, so Sue Ann and Jim often seek out higher elevations for hiking as a way to escape the heat.  Sunday they took us up to Brian Head, a ski resort area about an hour and a half drive from St. George.  We went from just under 3000 ft. in St. George to 11,000 ft. where we hiked.  Needless to say, that made a significant difference in the temperature!  So we enjoyed very pleasant temps of 55-65 while we were hiking, which was great.

It was such a lovely hike, with great vistas all around, and some really beautiful wild flowers along the way.  Lots of columbine, Indian paintbrush, larkspur, monument plants and other varieties.  It was just a beautiful morning and we were so happy to be back hiking in these lovely mountains.  One thing's for sure, though--we have a ways to go to get acclimated to hiking in these higher elevations!  We could really feel it yesterday.  Last year we got used to it, since we spent so much time hiking out west, but we really haven't done much hiking since we got home to Georgia last November, and certainly not at this height.  Anyway, we drank lots of water and just took it easy, so no real problems.    The trail where we were hiking is also a popular mountain biking trail and we saw quite a few bikers out enjoying the ride.  There's about a 30 mile loop that some folks do, while some have a car drop them off where we started and then meet them about 15 miles or so along the trail.  Though it looked like a lot of fun, pretty sure we'll just stick to our road bikes!  We ate lunch sitting out on some rocks overlooking the valley, where the views were just fabulous.  By now there were some dark clouds beginning to gather, so we headed back to the car.  Thunderstorms can come up pretty quickly at these elevations, and you don't want to be hiking the ridge lines in the rain and wind.

On the drive back down to St. George it did rain, but not for too long.  Once we came out of the rain the temperature started rising dramatically, too, the lower we got.  We watched the thermometer in the car showing the outside temperature go from 62 to 100 in about 20 minutes--pretty dramatic!  Here are some pics from the hike:

Some of the columbine

 Not sure what this plant is, but it's an unusual shape, with these tiny white flowers

 Just love the contrast with all the shades of green and then the red rocks in the middle!
 Pretty columbine

 Lots of lovely evergreens along the way

 Interesting blue bells, with a couple that are pink, toward the bottom right of the photo
 Interesting hole in the base of this tree that had fallen alongside the trail
 Trisha is not too happy to be back on the trail, ya think??
 Indian paintbrush
 Colorful fungus growing on the end of a log by the trail

 Burl section of a weathered log
 Fascinating to see what intricate patterns the grain makes in wood

 Sue Ann identified this flower as "old man's whiskers"  Thought for a minute I was looking in a mirror!!
 Our lunch spot
 The view we had at lunch

 Not sure what this flower is, but it sure was pretty
 Looking down into the purple hues at the base of this monument plant--it will eventually sprout a tall spire coming straight up from the middle and this will then be filled with small blossoms

 I just liked the contrast between the white columbine and the green lichen on the rock

 Jim's about to fly!!

 You can see the rains in the distance
 On the way back down, traffic was stopped for a herd of sheep along the road, as they were being moved to higher elevation

 Antelope buck grazing along the road
 Some young ones crossing the road

 After the young ones crossed the road, the buck followed them a few minutes later

 Beautiful scene!

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