Few people have been to the third highest mountain range in Utah, although nearly everyone has driven right by them. Next time you are passing through Beaver on I-15, look to the east. Those smooth, rounded summits barely viewable from the freeway are deceptively unimpressive. You truly need to get near the summit ridge to appreciate the grand scale of the 12,000-foot-high Tushar Mountains. I had been curious about this range for some time, and finally planned a mountain bike/hiking tour up and around Delano Peak and the now defunct Mt. Holly ski area.
A herd of mountain goats on the south flank of Delano. Delano Peak at 12,173 feet is the highest peak in the Tushar Mountains. I think the mailman in these parts must be one of those mountain goats.
Needless to say, this jaunt only piqued my interest in the Tushars. I knew I had to come back, and so I did - stay tuned...
Click for a 360-degree view from the summit of Delano Peak.
By far one of my most memorable trips was a 140-mile solo ride from St. George to the Grand Canyon. The Arizona Strip is one of the most isolated places in the lower 48. I saw one car (whose' occupants, of course, thought I was nuts) in two days.
Early Mormon settlers tried disparately to make a life here, but the isolation became too much to bear.
The old Mt. Trumball schoolhouse has been rebuilt recently and has a wonderful collection of photos that provide a glimpse into early Arizona-strip frontier life. No tour guides here, just let yourself in the back door. The rarely visited Whitmore Point was my final destination.
It takes some time to comprehend the size and scope of the Grand Canyon - you don't want to be rushed or bothered by the throngs of tourists encountered at either of the NPS visitor centers on the north or south rims.
At Whitmore I was able to sit, dangling my feet 800 feet above the Colorado, and try to understand the complex story the various layers of rock were telling.
From the rim at Whitmore, a trail zigzags 1500 vertical feet through some unique basalt flows (you rarely are able to see columnar jointing in three dimensions like this) to the banks of the Colorado. After 70 miles of hot, dusty, rutted dirt roads, a dip in the murky and surprisingly cold river proved to be perfect therapy.
I set up camp right on the rim. I had no idea where the moon was in it's cycle, so it was a surprise when a huge, bright full moon illuminated the canyon at about 3 am. The sunrise was equally spectacular, and a great way to start the trek home.