Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Snow Canyon Day 3: Side trip to Pine Valley and a storm

 (Continuing s-l-o-w-l-y to post about  our four day trip to Snow Canyon back in mid May...work, health and computer virus issues have really slowed me down.)

To re-cap: Day one (Thursday) we drove about five hours south of SLC to the Snow Canyon State park campground just minutes outside of St. George Utah, in a red rock canyon that offered amazing beauty.
The first day, after the long drive we just walked around a bit.
The second day (Friday) we hiked the Petrified Sand Dunes and took a side trip to an Indian Reservation and fished a small stream.
Day three was Saturday.
It was hot and getting hotter so we decided to head up into the surrounding mountains to a small town named Pine Valley.
(How many Pine Valleys are there in the world?  There is one close to San Diego that we used to visit all the time.)
This Pine Valley was wonderfully cool, picturesque and and sweetly rural.

 Pine Valley consisted of a few houses, a few cabins and no stores that we could see.
We did stop for Popsicles in a two building wide spot in the road about twenty minutes away from Pine Valley proper.
 Jeff had met some co-workers in his company who live in Pine Valley.
They happily make a daily commute one hour each way into St. George to work.
They claimed it was worth it to be able to live in the small mountain town year around.
 We wondered about this residence.
Was it a year around house or a summer retreat?
And how many people lived in the house when it was being lived in?
The house clearly was designed to take in the view in all directions.
 We drove on just a bit into Pine Valley's lake and camp ground area.

 Bernie wet a line...
 The top of the dam area had just the weekend before been officially opened with new asphalt walk way that made it more wheel chair friendly.
A deck had also been built so folks with mobility issues could fish more easily.

 After a bit of line wetting and a little fish action we drove up and through the camp grounds, scouting it out for possible future camping trips.
The whole place looked like a winner to us.
A stream wound through the area.
Bernie wanted to fish it too.

 It was still quite warm even this high up in the mountains.
I was pleased to just sit by the rushing stream and enjoy the shade and water sounds.

 I played around with various camera setting that would either freeze the falling water or make the water look blurred and in motion.
Both ways are pretty nice ways to photograph water falls.
 Note the tank tops and shorts...this attire will become memorable once you see the post I will do about the next day, Sunday..
 "Do you want to stick your feet in the water?"
(It is snow melt cold by the way....)
 I sure did even if Luke was not so game to get his tootsies iced.

 A boy and a stream: let the good times roll!

 Eventually the water didn't seem quite so cold.

 I had to get a family portrait.

 The days of "You and me and baby makes three" are almost over.

 Mom Rachel helped Luke find sticks to toss into the water.
 Hitting water with a stick is fun too...
 Big splash!!!
(Eyes closed tightly just to be safe.)
 "Hey...watch me!"
 Hit...splash!
 Hit...SPLASH!
 Ooohhh...pine cones!
Fun to watch the pine cones race downstream then swirl in a small pool.
All this gentle fun with Mommy is just great!
But there is a reason why God made Dads:
"Hit the water with THIS stick Luke!"
Leave it to a Dad to up the ante of childhood games and let a boy test his strength.

 Talk about making a splash!
The two of them seemed to enjoy the water play equally.

 Sticks and boys just go together.
(Did you know there is a stick in the Museum of Toys?  Around the world in every culture children play with sticks.)

Eventually we hiked down stream a bit to catch up with Bernie who was more interested in using expensive grown up sticks called Fishing Rods for water play.
See the fish in the water?
Bernie actually hooked his first Golden Trout, a wee little thing that was just beautiful and I missed getting a photo of it!

 While I was hanging over the edge of the stream to get that last photo I turned to try to get back on my feet and noticed I was surrounded by white violets.

 I think there is probably a more scientifically accurate name for them than White Violets but hey, doesn't White Violet describe them perfectly?
(And the red aphids or ???  Colorful little things that I didn't even notice until after I cropped into the photos to see the flowers close up.)

 They are such tiny violets, about the size of a lemon seed.

 How Bernie was able to fish through the stream side branches and trees is a mystery to me.

 He actually did hook several small trout.
I had never seen him fish on his belly before!

 The  scenery of our drive back to our campground...winding past miles and miles of mountains in ever lightening shades of blue and purple.
 A few wispy clouds were barely seen in the distance.

 When we original planned our trip to Snow Canyon the weather forecast was for temperate weather.
After we got to the campground on Thursday the weather forecast was calling for a rather warm Saturday, which was just fine with us.
By Friday night the the forecast changed to windy Saturday afternoon and evening.
That changed to wind warnings.
Then there was to be "Scattered Showers late."
By the time we got back to camp from Pine Valley and had made dinner, the sky was darkening.
Storm watching sounded fun to us.
We like a bit of weather!

 We like watching "a bit of weather" so much that we set up camp chairs on the little rise above our tent area to better see the dark storm clouds approaching.
 We could see lightening flashes in the distance and hear low thunder following long after the flash.
By taking a huge amount of photos using a burst fast speed setting I managed to photograph one lightening bolt!
Look on your left in the middle of the curve of the white mountains.
See it???

 There was plenty of "sheet" lightening too.
The camera picked that up as ripples of light mixed in with the clouds.
 I could see clouds spilling rain in scattered showers style.

 There's the top of  Jeff's tent.
Folks at another camp site began to fly a beautiful kite in the quickening breeze.
Yes...considering there was a LOT of lightening going on at that point we thought they must be insane.
After a bit we looked around and realized that there were storms heading into our canyon from three directions.
 We began to realized that we were really in for it.
We began to work at battening down the hatches, putting things into the cars and then retired as the wind started to  buffet our tents and ourselves.
The temperature had quickly dropped and the camp fire that had been built to enjoy some marshmallow roasting suddenly became more enjoyed for heat...and then it was abandoned to wind and rain.
Smoke and sparks flew through our campsite along with windy blasts.
Bernie and I grinned at each other inside the tent.  The wind began to howl and the rain was coming down hard.
Now we had just purchased this particular tent to give ourselves a bit more room.
As the wind became increasingly stronger and the rain began to blow sideways we discovered that several of the tent features that we had liked were actually quite a bummer in a heavy storm.
The tent side windows were low and tucked under the over tent/fly with no other covering over the windows so the rain was blowing straight into our tent.
As the tent buckled in the wind we unzipped the doors and back window covering, exposing just the screening in hopes that the winds to pass through our tent instead of lifting the tent in one piece.
That worked for a bit but also meant that rain was pouring in on all sides and our sleeping bags were getting soaked.
Then our tent began to lift anyway with both of us laying flat on our backs!
Whoa!!!
The wind was making a sound like a freight train, a crazy roar that made me a bit giddy as I knew this meant we were getting close to hurricane level winds.
If we heard the sound of a woman screaming, which is how very high speed winds begin to sound, then I was prepared to abandon the tent and head for our car.
It was quite a night.
We were only a few feet away from Jeff's tent and we wondered how they were doing and if Luke was bothered by the roaring winds.

The winds finally stilled around dawn.
It had been a long and interesting night.
One of our tent rods was bent, as was one of Jeff's.

You can see the low windows in our tent...the middle grey band above the bit of blue is the window, which originally seemed nice as it allowed a nice view outside while flaked out on the bed.
Rain blowing horizontally had nothing to stop it from entering the tent...there was nothing to shelter the windows except the tent's weather fly.
Once we got home we returned the broken tent to REI and they refunded our money no questions asked.

As you can see there was a significant amount of rain.
Let me briefly comment that while I like tent camping, in the middle of that  particular night I really did wish I was in a camper with an inside toilet.
Ahem. 

The heat of Saturday was blown far away.
Thoughts of lingering a bit on Sunday were also blown away.
We bundled up as the temperature had now dropped to near freezing.
Luke got stashed in his car seat as we quickly dismantled the camp.
He had slept peacefully through the stormy night as his father had perched in the corner of their tent handing on to a wind bent pole and lending his weight to hold the tent down against the edge of the wind assault.
We were all amazed that the wind had been strong enough to lift Bernie and me and our suitcases/sleeping bags/air mattresses up, making our lower bodies airborne several times.

What a camping adventure that Luke will never remember and we will never forget.
As we drove out of the canyon, now even more beautiful and vibrant from being rain soaked, we thought our wild adventure was over.
Oh how little did we know!

To be continued....


5 comments:

Vee said...

Not now! Oh that is a cliffhanger! To have such a beautiful weekend end in an all-night rain and windstorm is not nice.

ellen b. said...

Such a delight for a little boy to have all these wonderful outdoor adventures. You are hardy folk! I would have been in the car heading home...

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

A most memorable camping experience! Like Ellen said...you are hardy folk! I too would have packed it in and headed for home. I haven't slept in a tent in 40 years...but that one would not have withstood the storm.

Pine Valley looks like a great place to spend some time...especially before or after a storm!

Sara said...

Wow, that's a whole lot more than "a bit of weather!" . . . and it sure does make an interesting tale to tell.

Anneliese said...

Your photos of Snow Canyon are amazing... a good reward for being brave to camp like that. And yes.. sticks and stones a little boy's best friends. Have been and will be.