Monday, February 28, 2005

05-15 Bonus Report, Cedar Breaks National M, Utah

Southern Utah
Week 15 of 52
July 11-17

Bonus Report: Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

I had some time today…. Well ok, everyday. But really, after doing a few chores around the “Tri-level Titanium Excursion Mobile”, I decide to treat myself to lunch and a hike into Cedar Breaks National Monument.

I had never heard of this park in Utah and since it was a short 30 minute drive from Cedar city, I was off on another adventure. After a while I began thinking that one more mountain range, canyon, or plateau with a meadow with wildflowers can’t be that different than what I’d already seen. But each new corner turned, each new winding road up a canyon with steep cliffs on either side becomes a new experience.

Cedar Breaks is called an amphitheater because of the natural shape of this canyon which soars to over 10,467 ft down to the bottom of about 2,000 ft. Actually I had an ulterior motive for going to Cedar Breaks. Utah along with the whole region out west has been stuck in a heat wave of close to 115 degrees at the lower elevations. Where I’m staying it has even gotten into the high 90’s, over the past 3-4 days, so I thought a trip up to the 10,000 ft level would be a cool break.

YES! As I got closer to the entrance of the park, I began to see patches of snow. Can you believe, in the middle of July! And to make things even more cool, the spring flowers begin in late June up here and the second wave of wild flowers start in mid July. Talk about good timing. I’m getting to know many of the wild flowers and have taken tons of pictures of the Indian Paint Brush, Lupine in it’s many shades of blues to lavenders, Blue Bell, Blue and White Columbine and many yellow flowers from common daises to a new one for me, Cinquefoil.

The trail I took, The Alpine Pond Trail, skirted a vast Alpine meadow and I literally walked through fields of Blue Bell, Lupine and a scattering of Paint Brush. I walked along with an older couple who were on the hike looking for the Columbine. We didn’t see any along this trail, but we had both seen a wonderful patch of them just off the visitors center. Oh and I saw one of the strangest pine trees, the bristle cone pine which can be as old as 1,600 years in this park and is a native tree in this park. It’s all twisted and gnarled with loads of small pine cones. It’s amazing it can survive up here. Many younger trees were snapped in half due to the high winds that occur often up here and the tall stately spruce has been ravaged by bark beetles due to recent droughts. The lower part of the trail was closed due to so many downed trees.

It sure is nice to be able to go up to a place like Cedar Breaks to get away from the summers heat, instead of hiding inside an air-conditioned house, car or store. I guess that’s what makes “retirement” so wonderful. You can change your viewpoint anytime you want to.

It was a great afternoon of sightseeing, getting some much needed cooler fresh air and a bit of hiking to boot.

That’s life on the road, until the next mile, have a great day.

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