Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Our Utah Adventure: Zion National Park, Day 2, Hiking The Narrows!

This is a pre-scheduled post.  I am in Illinois visiting my children and grandchildren.  They do not have Internet service so I will be unable to respond to comments or visit your blogs until I return home.

This is a continuation of a travel series to Utah.  To start at the beginning, go  HERE.  The rest of the posts in chronological order are HERE,  HERE, and HERE!

I am so excited to share this post with you today as hiking The Narrows was the biggest thrill of my life!  Zion National Park is famous for two of it's unique trails:  Angels Landing and The Narrows.  Both are described as "strenuous" and each has it's unique challenges.  We could only do one long hike on our visit, and since I am terrified of heights we chose The Narrows.  I'm actually terrified of water too because I can't swim, so I was pretty nervous of hiking The Narrows and Flash Floods was also a concern .  The Narrows frequently closes if the water level is too high or if Flash Flooding is highly possible.

The Narrows is so famous that people fly in from all over the world just to hike it.  The trail brochure describes it as "an unequaled adventure into a river system cradled by 1500 foot tall sandstone walls. Unlike any other hike in the world,  it requires hiking in and crossing the Virgin River multiple times".

The water temperature changes throughout the year of course.  On the day we were there the air was almost 100 degrees and the water temperature was 63 degrees.  My son found it extraordinarily cold. I found it refreshing... but I have a lot more body fat than him!  At times my feet grew numb, but there were so many opportunities to get out of the water and walk on rocky shores that they always warmed up quickly.  I had water shoes on, but they weren't waterproof.  If I could go back in time I would have rented the water shoes provided near the Visitor Center.

In all my life I have never experienced such amazing beauty.  Walking in the crystal clear water and looking up at the towering canyon walls above was surreal!

The hike is one way in and one way out (plus a mile walk along Riverside Trail till you reach the shuttle stop) , so you always have to keep in mind that you have to turn around and hike back.  Do not go so far and exhaust yourself so you're unable to hike back.  The current of the river can be very swift and strong.  I really experienced muscle fatigue constantly fighting the current and trying to balance on the slippery rocks in the river bend.  When I really started slipping and almost falling down, I knew it was time to turn around and head back.  We had just reached "Wall Street" the most famous part of The Narrows, when that happened.

The Narrows is 16 miles long.  90% of hikers make it to Wall Street and then turn around.  After that the water becomes chest deep and more difficult to navigate.

There are several ways to hike The Narrows.  The most popular way is the way we did it:  from the bottom and back.  You start at the Temple of Sinawava (stop # 9 on the shuttle bus) and hike one mile to the end of Riverside Walk (I will do a separate post on Riverside Walk next week).  At the end of the walk you wade right into the river!  In less than a mile you're in one of the narrowest, most beautiful areas of the canyon.  Then if you hike further and reach Orderville Canyon (two hours upstream from the end of the trail) you see even more incredible beauty.

 My son went off on his own for a bit to explore Orderville Canyon.  It's a smaller, taller, darker tributary with less flowing water but a lot more rock scrambling.  You can only go as far as "Veiled Falls" before you see a sign telling you not to go any further and you must turn around.

After you reach Orderville Canyon  it gets more and more difficult to hike The Narrows, and here is where most hikers turn around.  The water becomes chest deep and large boulders block the river.  I stopped and rested at the entrance to Orderville Canyon while my son and husband went a bit further up the Narrows, but they quickly came back and said the current was getting stronger and the water a lot deeper and they were ready to turn around and head back.

There are two other ways to hike The Narrows but both require a permit.  1)  A Day hike from top to bottom where you hike all 16 miles!  and 2) an OVERNIGHT hike from top to bottom.  I can't imagine spending the night inside The Narrows.  I would imagine they would sleep on one of the rocky shores, but it would be king of scary to me.

The photo below looks kinda goofy but I had to share it.  I wasn't posing at all.  I was just standing there, staring at all the beauty around me, and feeling such a sense of awe, wonderment, and exhilaration.  I wasn't even aware my husband was photographing me.  The photo truly represents everything I was feeling on this hike!  I loved every minute of it!

If you're wondering how long it took us to hike The Narrows, I have no idea.  We were up at the crack of dawn and by the time we had breakfast and took the shuttle to reach The Narrows it was probably 8:30 a.m.  We didn't rush to The Narrows, and instead we really took our time enjoying the gorgeous River Walk and Hanging Gardens.  I think we were back at our hotel before 2:00 pm, for I know we rested awhile before heading out again that night for an evening hike.

The Zion National Park trail guide says to plan up to 8 hours for this hike, depending how far you go.  My guess is that we were on this hike for about 4 hours.

The most difficult challenge of the hike is walking on the rocks in the water.  This river bed is not a nice sandy bed.  It is filled with slippery rocks of all shapes and sizes.  No matter what your fitness level, it seems everyone struggles trying to walk on them.  Having the proper footwear is a must!  I can't recommend renting the footwear from the sports store outside the Visitor Center enough.  My husband and I wish we would have!  But it's $25.00 to rent the shoes, walking stick, and neoprene socks, and we thought spending $75.00 on the three of us was just too much money.  It turned out my son didn't need the shoes or the walking stick at all.  He ran through this water like he was running on air.  But he grew up with a river and waterfall in his backyard so this was second nature for him.  My husband had water sandals on and he struggled a bit as his shoes were a bit flimsy.  I had water shoes on, and although they held up fairly well,  I think I would have done better with the sturdy rental water boots.

I did rent the stick for $7.00 and I am so glad I did as it saved my life several times.  I almost fell over at the end of my hike due to muscle fatigue, and I would have slammed my head on a rock had I not had my walking stick!

This post would be amiss if I didn't talk about my son for a minute, for I think he was the star of the day on this hike.  As I said earlier,  everyone was struggling on this hike, no matter what their age or fitness level.  Although most hikers were very young and fit, we saw people of all ages and fitness levels including children.  Zion National Park does not recommend children go on this hike, and the few kids I saw seemed to be really struggling.  Their parents helped them along a lot, holding their hands and guiding them along.  We saw a few older people, a couple I passed on our way out thinking "He's not going to make it that far."  But the ONE person who seemed not to struggle ONE BIT at all was my son.  He ran through the water like it was solid pavement, and was constantly way ahead of us.  We usually found him high up on some rock formation patiently waiting for us to catch up.  I constantly heard other hikers speak in amazement of him and giving him nicknames like "Little Monkey".  He was something else!

I think this is called "Mystery Falls".  It's so pretty how the water gently flows down the rock.

This was one of my favorite spots on the trail.  I loved how the light was coming through.

Posing in front of Mystery Falls.  One of the advantages of going out the same way you came in is getting the same spots photographed in different light.  When we started the trail it was early morning and the sun wasn't high enough to get inside the deep canyon walls.  But by the time we were leaving, the sun was directly above us. We were amazed at how different everything looked with the brighter sunlight.

 It was also so much warmer hiking in the sunlight, but it also got noticeably more crowded in the heat of the day.

You have to constantly watch where you're stepping or it's easy to stumble and fall in the water.   I saw lots of people fall into the water who did not have sticks.  If you have to choose between renting water shoes or renting a stick, I highly recommend renting the stick!

Can you spot my son Jordan in the picture below?  It never ceases to amaze me how he manages to climb things.

And here he is again on top of another large boulder!

The coloring in the rock formation on the right blew me away!

And of course Jordan had to get up on top of that rock too!  Everyone else just went through the water to get passed it!  :)

So what do you think?  Is this a hike you would ever attempt?  I don't know if I would ever do it again as it was quite challenging for me at 57 years of age, but I sure am glad I did!  I have such a sense of accomplishment and can cross this off my bucket list!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Handmade Fall Card “Fall Leaves”

This is a pre-scheduled post.  I am in Illinois helping my daughter with the grandchildren.  They do not have Internet service so I will not be able to respond to comments or visit your blogs until I return.

I am going to take a brief break from Bible Journal pages for the next few weeks so I can show you the fall cards I made for my family.  I don't make Halloween cards anymore, but I still love to give my kids and grandkids a holiday card and some treats, so I make fall cards instead.  

This card I made for my son.  I kept it as masculine as possible by using a plaid background in fall colors and leaf stamps.

All the stamps are old.  I really don't see the need to buy new fall stamps every years, so I just keep using the ones I have.  The sentiment is an old Inkadinkado sold stamp.  I colored the stamp with water markers to get the different colors in the image.  The leaves are from an old Stampin' Up! set.  I stamped them in a ink pad that has several different shades of ink in one pad.

I wrapped raffia around the main image panel and tied in a bow then secured a leaf brad on top.  The entire main image panel was popped up on dimensionals.

I matted the card three times before securing it to a white card base:  the plaid designer paper, the solid peach, and the solid brown.  The ovals was matted over the same brown card stock.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Stitch Fix #33 Review

This is a pre-scheduled post.  I am in Illinois helping my daughter with my grandchildren.  They do not have Internet service so I will be unable to respond to comments or visit your blogs until I return.

I feel like I just reviewed a box from Stitch Fix, but this one included two accessory items which I wore in almost every outfit post, so it is wrapping up a little sooner than these posts usually do.

This was an interesting box and an even more interesting Instagram Poll, as my pollsters weren't fond of much of anything in this box.  Why, I have no idea, as I thought there were some pretty cute things.  Sometimes I really listen to my pollsters (especially if I'm on the fence about some things)  and sometimes, I don't.  This was one of the times I didn't listen, and I kept three of the five items that was sent to me.

In this box I received two tops, one dress, one bag, and a pair of earrings.

Urban Expressions "Maison Whipstitch Trim Crossbody" Bag

Status:  KEPT!

I loved this bag and I was so excited to get this bag in my Fix.  A good, neutral cross body bag is essential for me when traveling.  For years I have been using the same neutral cross body bag that was getting pretty dated and worn.  I was happy to get a trendy, new one.  I loved the whip stitch trim.

Instagram pollsters were not thrilled with the bag.  It polled at #2 with only 56% of readers saying to "Keep" and 44% saying to "Return".

Fortune and Ivy "Elisha Cowl Neck Hacci Knit Dress"

Status:  RETURNED!

I know,  I know,  you're all shocked I returned this dress.  But trust me, I have a good reason.  I  was so excited to receive a sweater dress in my box.  I have wanted a sweater dress for years but I have never been able to find one that fit me well and did not cling to every lump and bulge.  This one fit beautifully BUT it was a very thin knit:  you could literally see right through it.  In Wisconsin, our winters are very bitter cold.  I knew a dress this thin would not be practical in my climate.  So reluctantly,  I sent it back but I asked my stylist to send thicker sweater dresses in the future.

This was the only item Instagram Pollsters seemed to really like.  It came in first place with 71% of readers saying to "Keep" and 29% saying to "Return".

Papermoon "Larie Crew Neck Blouse"

Status:  RETURNED!

I know you're also probably shocked I sent this shirt back as there were so many things I liked about it.  When I saw it in the box, I thought for sure it would be a keeper.  But the second I held it up it looked too short.  Well, it turns out it was too short because they sent me a Medium Petite.  I'm 5'7 with a long torso (yes Stitch Fix has my measurements.  I have no idea why they sent me a petite and I did complain about it).  I loved the shade of green and the rust colored flowers and bell sleeves, but it just didn't seem to fit me right so I sent it back.

Instagram readers were not fond of this shirt at all.  It came in dead last with only 29% saying to "Keep" and 71% saying to "Return".  Perhaps they could tell it didn't fit me right too!

Daniel Rainn "Darrel Crochet Yoke Knit Top"

Status "Kept!"

This top really surprised me.  I thought for sure I was going to return it when I pulled it out of the box.  But once I tried it on I was sold!  That's one of my favorite things about Stitch Fix.  I would have passed on this top in the store, but Stitch Fix forces you to try things on!

I really love this top because it is SO COMFORTABLE!  It's a very soft, thin knit.  It feels like a dream to wear.  I also think it is so flattering on my body.

Instagram readers were divided on this top.  It tied for fourth place with 50% saying to "Keep" and 50% saying to "Return".

Bancroft "Julianna Drop Earrings"

Status:  KEPT!

I really liked these earrings.  They are different from anything I already own.  I love the mix of silver and gold and the hammered finish.

Again,  Instagram Pollsters were divided.  It tied for fourth place with the blue top,  with 50% saying to "Keep" and 50% saying to "Return".

Overall, this wasn't one of my best Fixes as I only kept one clothing item,  but I loved that one item and the two accessories.  I was not pleased that I have been such a long and faithful customer and I was sent the wrong size in an item.  I would think that by now they would know what size I am!  Those kind of mistakes shouldn't happen.

In summary,  I received five items in this Fix:  two tops, a dress, a handbag, and a pair of earrings.  I kept three of the five items:  the blue top, the handbag, and the earrings.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Blue and Gold

This is a pre-scheduled post.  I am in Illinois helping my daughter with my grandchildren.  They do not have Internet service so I will be unable to respond to comments or visit your blogs until I return.

I am not a sports fan at all but when I started to write this post I couldn't help but to think of the "Blugolds".  When I first moved to this area I kept hearing that word and I couldn't figure out for the life of me what it meant.  Finally, I just asked someone and she told me it was the name of our local university's  sports teams.  She said they combined the words "blue" and "gold" and made "Blugolds".  I still think it's weird, but my outfit today would definitely represent team spirit!

In today's outfit I am wearing three pieces I received in my October box from Stitch Fix, the blue shirt, the bag, and the earrings.  Everything else is old but I will try and find similar items for you and link to them at the end of the post.

I bought this sweater two years ago from JCPenney.  You can see another way I styled it HERE.  It was definitely popular  and they sold out as fast as you could blink an eye.  The chenille is so soft, and the gold color is perfect for fall.

I thought the neutral bag I received from Stitch Fix would go perfect with this outfit.  It can be used as a clutch or a cross body bag.  In my Sweater Dress Post  I showed it as a clutch, here I am showing it as a cross body bag.

I carried the "Blugold" theme throughout my outfit by choosing a blue and gold ring and a blue bracelet.

This is the top  received in my October box from Stitch Fix.  It is by Daniel Rainn and is called "Darrel Crochet Yoke Knit Top".  You guys,  I can't even begin to tell you how comfy this top is!  The knit is so soft and the material moves with my body.  It feels like I'm in my PJ's when I wear it.

The crochet trim is so pretty and I love the pleats.

I'm wearing the earrings that also came in this Fix.  They are a hammered finished silver metal with a strip of gold in the middle.  

I carried the neutral look of the bag down to my feet by wearing these light beige perforated booties.

Top:  Daniel Rainn, similar HERE, HERE, and this one in Plus size only.  Cardigan:  old, similar HERE, HERE, HERE, and this one in Plus size only.  Bag:  similar HERE.  Booties:  similar HERE 
Earrings:  similar HERE and HERE.

Be sure to come back on Monday to see a review of my entire box from Stitch Fix as well as the results of my Instagram Poll!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Our Utah Adventure: Zion National Park, Day 1, Part III, the Pa’rus Trail

This is a continuation of a travel series to Utah.  To start at the beginning, go  HERE.  The rest of the posts in chronological order are HERE and HERE.

One of my favorite trails in Zion National Park is also the easiest, the Pa'rus Trail.  I wasn't sure if I just loved it so much because I was finally off of that wretched horse trail I wrote about last week, and I was on a trail I planned to go on, or if I just appreciated a paved trail after walking in deep sand and horse manure for an hour.  But when I look at these pictures, I am reminded of why I loved it so much.  This is one gorgeous trail with beautiful views of the monoliths and virgin river.  The color on this trail is amazing.  Who knew there could be so much color in a desert?  But the contrast of the green foliage against the red rock and blue skies is breathtaking.

The paved, level Pa'rus Trail makes it ideal for bicyclists, wheelchairs, strollers, the elderly, and anyone looking for a nice, easy stroll.  It's distance is 1.7 miles one way.  You can pick up the trailhead at either the Visitor's Center or Canyon Junction so you don't have to turn around and walk the same way back when your done.  We picked up the trail at Canyon Junction (stop 3 on the shuttle) after we were done hiking at the Court of the Patriarchs.  From there we hiked the Pa'rus Trail to the Visitors Center and parking lot where we ended our day. 

The Pa'rus Trail has multiple bridges that zigzag the Virgin River giving a sense of a path following the river's course.  There are many signs along the way that say "River Access", where you can follow a short path down into the rivers waters.  We saw many people swimming in the water.  The water is so clean and clear!  I took my shoes off and enjoyed the refreshing water myself!

This beautiful cacti was growing everywhere in Zion.  You will see many pictures of this cacti in future posts!

The best times to hike any trail in Zion is the early morning or late evening.  You will get the best pictures and views as the sun rises and sets on the stunning rock formations.  Plus, you will be the most comfortable as it is hot in Zion.  On the days we were there the temperatures were in the 100's.  With the exception of The Narrows, we always hiked at dawn or dusk and lounged at hotel pool during the heat of the day.

It was such a beautiful evening when we hiked the trail.  The weather was perfect and because it was such an easy trail, I was really able to just relax and soak in the views.  I couldn't believe I was here.  I longed to visit Zion National Park for years, and I finally made it!  I felt so blessed and so happy.

If you're wondering how the trail got it''s name, the word Pa'rus, means “bubbling water”. It was the name the Paiute people gave to the North Fork of the Virgin River.

My son was definitely in his element.  He grew up rock jumping in rivers.  He loved this trail!  The waterfall made him feel right at home.

See how nice this path is?  You couldn't ask for a better path.  My daughter would love to take her small children on a hike like this!

The bridges that they built on this path are almost as stunning as the surrounding natural landscape.  I love how they used rock and wood to make the bridges as natural looking as possible.

As we neared the end of this trail, it took us behind the campsites.  We saw so many mule deer in the camps.  I think campers were feeding them, even though they're not suppose too.  We saw one deer come up right next to a woman sitting at a picnic table!  I could not believe how tame they were.

After we finished our hike on the Pa'rus Trail, we headed to the Visitor's Center parking lot to catch the shuttle back to our hotel.  We grabbed some dinner in town, then hit the hotel pool.  It was still in the 90's after dark, so the pool felt refreshing.  Then it was time to go to bed for the next day we were going on one of the biggest adventures of our lives:  hiking the famous NARROWS!  Be sure to come back next week to read all about it!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!