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Showing posts with label Utah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Utah. Show all posts

Driving Through Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona

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Monument Valley provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by empty, sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times over the years for movies, adverts and holiday brochures. Because of this, the area may seem quite familiar, even on a first visit, but it is soon evident that the natural colors really are as bright and deep as those in all the pictures. The valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat, sometimes desolate landscape, interrupted by the crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region.

There is only one main road through Monument Valley, US 163, which links Kayenta, AZ with US 191 in Utah. The stretch approaching the AZ/UT border from the north gives the most famous image of the valley, and possibly of the whole Southwest - a long straight empty road leads across flat desert towards the 1,000 foot high stark red cliffs on the horizon, curving away just in front.

The Valley Drive passes 11 numbered stops at the most scenic places, and a typical journey around the loop takes at least 2 hours. Tourists are not allowed to hike away from the road closer towards any of the formations, but even so the trip is very enjoyable.

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First Russian To Tandem Base Jump From A Cliff !

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The Guinness Book of World Records, here I come !

It doesn't always have to be a world record. Even an amazing "first" can be remembered in the GWR book.

During my recent road trip around Southwest, I had an amazing opportunity to try tandem BASE jumping in Moab, Utah.

Withing the past 3 years, there have been many things that I'd done for the first time. But it never really felt like it was such a big deal. Before me, there have been tons of people who've done skydiving, kayaking, paragliding, surfing, scuba diving and etc. for the first time.

But personally, I don't know many people who've done tandem BASE jumping off a cliff !!!

And after my jump,I realized that I'm one of few who can proudly say: " I did it !"

The company, Moab B.A.S.E. Adventures, has taken dozens of people from around the world on this exciting journey. And I just happened to be the first Russian to experience the extreme adventure of cliff B.A.S.E. jumping !

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Tandem BASE Jumping In Moab

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What are your thoughts when you're standing on the edge of a cliff looking down ? Have you ever felt the urge, this weird impulse, inside sensation to just jump ?
I have literally dreamed of this moment many times, and now it was about to happen...

It's true what they say : " Be careful what you wish for".

I month before my visit to Moab , I'd written a short post about Moab BASE Adventures that offered an unbelievable opportunity to try tandem BASE jumping off a cliff. I was so excited about it that I even added it to my Bucket List on Pintrest.

But when the opportunity presented itself.... I almost backed out !

It wasn't the fear of the drop itself, rather the fear of unknown...

BASE jumping is a relatively new sport, and tandem BASE jumping is even less known ( at least to an Average Joe like me ). Hence, there are a lot of questions go through one's mind : Is it safe ? Is it dangerous ? How high is the cliff ? How long is the free fall ? Do you need any specific training ? What happens if the parachute doesn't open ?

Though, no skydiving or climbing experience is necessary ( you just need to weigh fewer than 185 pounds and be fit enough to hike and scramble to the top), that's not the most important requirement.

When it comes to tandem BASE jumping, it's all about mental commitment...

That's probably why the company's first customers were climbers, skydivers, mountain bikers, people who are familiar with the feeling of "adrenaline rush", and are aware of the risks involved.

Tandem BASE jumping is not for everybody, it is not a roller coaster ride at your favorite theme park.

Now that I've done tandem skydiving, paragliding, and BASE jumping, I can say that there is something that sets BASE jumping apart from any other "extreme sport".

Most of the action in BASE jumping, at least at the novice level, occurs before the actual jump. In BASE jumping, the edge you're standing on is attractive in so many ways; it’s a boundary between the known and the unknown, the tame and the wild, the sane and the mad.

The range of feelings you're experiencing is enormous. Before a jump, you're filled with anticipation, fear, excitement, worry, anxiety, some more fear, and right before you're about to take a leap - tranquility…

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Riding Slickrock

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The Slickrock Trail is The Mountain Bike Trail that put Moab on the adventure travel map. The trail made Moab the center of the mountain biking universe, and it's one of the most unique rides I've ridden so far ( well, that and the Bonneville Salt Flats ).

Since the first time I saw a picture of a biker in Moab, it's become an iconic image associated with mountain biking for me ! I knew that one day I'd absolutely have to do that !

The best thing I loved about the trail is that it was only minutes away from downtown Moab.

I read a lot about how popular and , sometimes, overcrowded the trail becomes, but to my surprise when I got there - it was all to myself ! Not a soul in sight ( except for the sounds of 4x4's in the distance ).

The trail is 12 miles long, with lot's of ups and downs, add to this the fact that I was riding in the middle of July, during the hottest part of the day - it was pretty exhausting ! But was totally worth it !

Besides the beautiful scenery, the feeling of riding on the (Navajo) sandstone can not be described ! You have to try it yourself !

There is a lot of info about this trail, and very often it's categorized as "technical/advanced". My advice - don't get overwhelmed, just go and try it for yourself. There is a "Practice Loop" (approximately 2 miles) which is well marked, and, though challenging, can be done by anybody.

If you're visiting Moab, biking on the Slickrock Trail is one of  "must do adventures"...

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Canyoneering In Moab, Utah

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At first, I was a bit confused about the difference between caving ( also occasionally known as spelunking in the United States and Canada and potholing in the United Kingdom and Ireland ) and canyoneering.

In very lame terms : exploring Ape Caves or Guler Ice Caves is the most basic type of caving.

During my visit to Moab, I finally got a chance to try canyoneering and saw for myself how different it was from caving.

Again, when I say "caving" all I really mean is a" guided tour of a well explored and maintained cave". You don't really do anything strenuous, challenging, technical.

When it comes to canyoneering, even the most beginner friendly outing might not be suitable for everybody ( fear of heights anybody ? ).

Canyoneering is risky, it's physically demanding, but it's also tons of fun !

During my half day trip I had a chance to explore the beautiful Ephedra's Grotto.

It's a very popular trip, close to downtown Moab, and there are many companies that offer this great experience.

Honestly, I didn't expect much. Repelling down a 100+ feet rope wasn't anything new to me, but the place itself was absolutely amazing !

After walking through the washes and across the slickrock you come to the top of Ephedra's Grotto. You drop 60 feet down to a small ledge which you have to back yourself over and then rappel down another 30 feet. At the bottom you are surrounded by shear cliff walls on every side and so you can only hike out through a small slot opening.

The next repel is even more impressive !

Morning Glory Arch is the fifth largest natural bridge, spanning 243 feet. The first 40 feet you are along the wall but the remaining 70 feet you are suspended in air, surrounded by the beauty of the canyon walls, the arch above and the stream below.

If you have a chance, make sure this is the moment somebody is taking your pictures !

After you're done with repelling, it's 2.2 miles back to the car.

Though I visited both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Negro Bill Canyon was my hiking experience in Moab. This is a very popular trail in Moab. It follows a year round stream through a deep sandstone canyon among willows and cottonwoods and sandy trails for several miles ( Morning Glory Natural Bridge is its final destination ).

All in all, I'm happy that my first canyoneering experience took place in Moab !

Why Moab is # 3 On My "Ultimate Adventure Towns" List

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A few years ago National Geographic Adventure built the ultimate, state-by-state guide to top outdoor hubs across the country. These 100 adventure towns offer something for everyone, whether you love hiking, skiing, biking, kayaking, climbing, snowboarding, or a little bit of everything.

Out of 100, the two towns that I can personally vouch for are Bellingham and Leavenworth, both offer tons of outdoor opportunities any season of the year.

But during my recent road trip, with great pleasure I can add another "Ultimate Adventure Town" to my list - Moab !

Moab is music to the ears of outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy some of the best rock climbing, hiking, canyoneering, horseback riding, mountain and road biking, off-roading, camping and rafting the town has to offer.

Though I read a lot about Moab before, I couldn't imagine spending almost three days in this small town. And I didn't do/see even half of what it had to offer !

Moab is a spectacular location for outdoor sports, and the world's largest adventure playground. Yet,some of the most appealing activities in Moab can be found inside city limits.

The next few posts I'll write about some of the most popular outdoor sorts in Moab : hiking, mountain biking, canyoneering, and ... TANDEM BASE JUMPING !

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