Tahoe and San Francisco

Our last stop was South Lake Tahoe on April 25th. After desert heat, and flip-flops for 2 weeks, we arrived in Tahoe during a snow storm. It gave for a dramatic last day on the trip. And we arrived mid-afternoon in San Francisco where the rain storm had just ended. It was a really memorable trip!

Bodie State Park

Bodie State Park has become a regular stop when traveling east of the Sierra Nevada. I like this place. The ghost town. It's more like visiting a museum in open air, than the idea one might have about a ghost town. In a way it makes sense, the place was last occupied back in 1932, and the mine had been depleted for a little while already, but the huge fire that burnt a large part of the town that once hosted 10,000 people pushed the last inhabitants out, as well as the really harsh weather conditions at 8,500 feet (2,500m) high. Nevertheless it's always a fun stop.

Death Valley Mesquite Sand Dunes

Sand dunes give you endless photographic possibilities! These ones were easily accessed Mesquite Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells in the middle of Death Valley itself. I've been going to Death Valley almost every year since 2001 (when we discovered the Saline Valley hot springs). But 10 years ago, the Mesquite sand dunes were small and not really an attraction for most visitors. In the past 10 years, I never really drove through that part of Death Valley National Park, so I didn't really see the change that happened to the dunes. The Mesquite dunes are now quite big. It seems that sand has been gathering and the formation of the dunes accelerated in the past 10 years. So this time this location made for a really fun stop. You could spend hours there. We played in the dunes for the 2 hours prior to sunset, and I enjoyed playing with the 5D there. It's impossible to take a bad shot there. Quite a few pictures of Antoine here of course!

Zion National Park

After Glen Canyon we went to Zion National Park, a 3-hour drive. Zion could have seemed less exciting than the kayaking trips, but in fact it was really awesome. We stayed there 3 nights, meaning 2 full days. The first day we hiked in the Narrows, basically its a hike in the Virgin River. You're spending 1/2 of your time in the cold water going through Zion. But the water was actually warmer than the Colorado River. That hike is in a very narrow canyon with high walls surrounding you, and it's quite fun and a spectacular scenery. The next day was even more grand. I actually forgot all my iphone on that 2nd day, and didn't take any pictures with my 5D in Zion. Our plan was to hike Angel's Landing, a narrow ridge overlooking the Zion Canyon. The hike is strenuous with 1000 feet elevation change over 2 miles. The last bit is on a narrow ridge with vertical cliffs on either side. There are ropes and chains on either side, so it's not recommended for kids. So we hiked all together and had lunched at the bottom of Angel's landing, and then we split off. Regis and his 2 sons went on the ridge, Maele and Lilie stayed at the bottom. Antoine and I decided to continue the hike to the White Rim of the canyon, it's another 3-mile hike with 2000 feet change. Total 5 miles from the bottom to the top. I wasn't sure if we were going to go too far because of Antoine, but for some reasons Antoine had in mind that he wanted to go to the top. It was a hard hike climbing to 7000 feet, with some patches of snow at the top. But he did very happily and with no complaints, it was as if he had challenged himself. After we left Angel's landing base, which was very crowded (probably the most popular hike in Zion), we encountered 3 couples of people hiking down, and so we were able to immerse ourselves in the natural setting from here on. It was a beautiful hike. From 5000 feet to the top the canyon sandstone is white rather than red. The rock surface is very round, and forms giant domes. It took us 2 hours (3-miles) to reach the top from Angel's Landing, which, itself, was an hour from the bottom of Zion Canyon. We were lucky to find a spring to refill our water pack. Very good water! Then the 5-mile hike down to the bottom took us a good 2 hours. Total 10 miles, 5 hours. Good job Antoine.