NOTE: Open post and then Single Click On first Post Photo to view an album in a more detailed, larger format...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Finding Alfonso

A few days ago the Wise-Ones and John-Sons hatched a spontaneous plan to hike Hidden Canyon. I won't say who, but Susan (oops) sometimes gets a little nervous in precipitous places. Like Angel's Landing, Hidden Canyon Trail is not for the faint of heart.

There are a few stretches on the approach to Hidden Canyon where a hiker is exposed to dizzying vertical drops. I was concerned not so much for Susan's safety, but for her comfort level; After all, hiking should be fun. However, there is something to be said for challenging the outer limits of one's comfort zone once in a while. Challenge, by its very nature, requires intensity and risk in order for it to be compelling, and living an un-compelling life is a little like drinking three point two beer; there's just no gusto!

But "Susan is a really good hiker." We know this because she repeats it over and over like some Hail Mary Mantra when one of Zion's sketchier trails begins to shrink out from under her. It's sort of a "you can do this" confidence builder. Wasn't it Dale Carnegie who said, "always focus on the positive?" Situationally, one should precede that with, "When about to die."

We parked the car, donned packs and strode confidently toward the trailhead, not yet mentioning the dubious nature of Hidden Canyon Trail to Susan. On the way I noticed a cute little camper-van with a distinctive European license plate. On the side, in bold lettering was, "Alfonso On Tour." This peaked Susan's curiosity, and thus began The Search For Alfonso. 

In addition to "Alfonso On Tour," we found another mode of "touring" in the same parking lot. This bike must weigh in at over a hundred pounds, at least. I figured we'd recognize the owner by the size of his quads.

Realistically, what are the odds of finding Alfonso, or anyone, for that matter? We didn't even know what Alfonso looked like, although the way Susan said his name, "Aul-fawnzo," I think she imagined he would be ruggedly handsome... with dashing dark hair, eyes to match, fair olive skin... maybe a four day beard. Boy, was she going to be disappointed.

Normally poor odds scares the bejesus out of accountants; I dare you to find a single number cruncher in Vegas. But not Susan. She began to question "Alfonso-looking" people we met along the trail, "Are you Alfonso? Have you seen Alfonso?" It seemed to distract her from a trail barely etched into the side of a cliff, so we indulged her with the occasional eye-roll and grin.

It was a delightful hike, Hidden Canyon. Layers of gossamer clouds filtered and diffused harsh sun, softening pink canyon walls to baby's cheeks. Desert varnish wept from rims, organic tears of time. Refracted light set a torch to Maples in various stages of Autumnal undress. We sand-slogged the canyon floor... shinnied up the occasional cache of boulders taking it all in. Bobbie and Maikel climbed past the obvious and sane turn-around point, while Susan and I sat it out on a humungous boulder; just your casual chit chat... life, death and bucket lists half emptied.

Heading back, we stopped at the mouth of Hidden Canyon to explore a series of potholes... beautiful evidence of erosion over eons. Distinctive stratums of subtlety hued sediments lined graceful bowls carved by intermittent flash floods. Sand and water... Natures all-powerful knife.

Further down we pushed the "pause" button in order for me to wander out to a precipitous ledge for an Eagle's eye photo op of our switchbacking trail and the parking lot... far, far below. Laying on my stomach, arms extended over the abyss, I snapped two quick photos. Suddenly, a wave acrophobia swept in. Rather than stand, I  rolled to safety... and had a dangerously close encounter with a log of human poo. 

When I returned, Susan had found Alfonso. Unfortunately, he already had a girlfriend, Andrea. 

What a lovely couple... stunning in their brilliant fleece jackets. I asked if I could take their photo and if they had a website. Yes to both, a "Tour" blog at:   http://www.alfonsoontour.blogspot.com/ 
To have a look at their cool camper van go to: http://www.alfonsoontour.blogspot.com/p/alfonso.html 

Upon returning home we looked up their website. It turns out that Alfonso is the name of their camper van, and Leandro is the name of the guy on tour. His blog is written in some De Durbien language... probably Swiss. I don't think Leandro spoke or understood English as Andrea did all the talking. She spoke fair English, but I must have had a senior moment when she gave me their website... "dabadoo dabadoo dabadoo dote elphonso own ture dote blugsput dote comb." She looked confused when I asked her to please spell "dabadoo." 

Needless to say, I felt pretty stupid when the "light bulb" finally came on. Sheesh.


  1. Your photographs are absolutely awesome but some are just a little too real. Made my stomach queasy looking at a couple of them. I find it fascinating that some of us just do not have that "dare devil" gene. I really enjoy life but hanging onto the chain just wouldn't do it for me. Sure glad it does for you so I can see these gorgeous pictures.

  2. Outstanding! Your photos are extremely motivational. I knew I should have bummed around Utah for 3 weeks instead of going to the sugarbeet harvest.

  3. What a great time I had reading you blog today. Great stories and photos. For a while, it felt like I was right there with you. Thanks for bringing me along.

  4. Wonderful shots of the trail; the trees, the rocks and of course the canyon!

  5. Enjoyed this post. What an incredible trail! It's on my list of "wanna-do's". I've backpacked East Rim to Echo Canyon on down the Weeping Rock but never took that turn into Hidden. Thanks!

  6. Susan here. I'm glad that Maikel & I can be such fodder for your amusement! We 'live to serve the noble house of Mark.' That's Harry Potter speak.

  7. We've done that trail twice now. For anyone with a fear of heights, I would recommend doing this hike AFTER Angel's Landing. This one is a piece of cake if you do the other first! Actually the photos make it look worse, since the chains give you security along the most precarious part. I had a harder time climbing the rocks to get into the Hidden Canyon!
    Great photos as usual, but I could barely read about your hanging over the ledge experience. What a place to encounter human poo!


  8. Great photos as usual. Did part of Hidden Canyon last year with a couple of friends. Two of us, me being one of them, gave it up at the first chain area. The old brain said "no more". Congratulations to Susan on completing the hike.

  9. Incredible is the only word I can think of.

  10. Hey, Maikel here. Great pics. Let's get the facts straight though. I found Alfonso. Haha.

  11. Walden Creek Rv steveNovember 11, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Finally =a decent post with good pictures!!!(kidding)- remarkable as usual!! My goal is to grow up with your lifestyle!!Enjoy!

  12. I agree that the photos are maybe a little too realistic. I might have to come up with a mantra of my own to hike this one and Angel's Landing. Wayne is a lineman so he'll just skip along like it's no big deal. Don't know how far I'll get, but I'll remember to add it to the "try" list.

  13. Great story and the pictures were splendid as always. I think Leandro fits the face better than Alfonso!! What a cutie pie (I'd say HUNK if I were younger!).

  14. This looks like a fantastic hike, but not for the faint-hearted. Thinking fall must be one of the best times of year to hike in Zion. Not only cooler than summer but those brilliant fall colors echo the canyon walls. Congrats to Susan for meeting her challenge. All the photos are re-mark-able. And Leandro is a hunk.

  15. Thanks for the photos and sharing the nervy experience, but there are many other trails at Zion that I can enjoy.

  16. yabadabadooBoxcanyonblog.dote comb...eh?????

  17. Vas? Sie haben keine "Light Bulb"? Acht du liebe!!! Das ist nicht gut!! Vas ist los meine Herr? Ha ha!

    Und vas ist das Du Durbien? ;))

    hmmmm... how do you spell HooYa! in German? :)

  18. Laverne here. Not surprised at all the comments on these great pictures.
    Susan, you are a trooper, to say the least. Don't think in my younger days I would have attempted what you did. All of you have a good holiday.

  19. WOW! What an awesome hike! Something to look forward to when we return to the area...


  20. The dabadoo part cracked me up. Hilarious. Great photos.

  21. After looking at Alphonso's blog I believe those folks fit right in with your happy group. Did you invite them to chow down with you-alls....

  22. Jim and Sandie,
    Keep your feet on solid ground and we'll bring you photos from the edge :) Thanks for your kind comment.

    Al and Karen,
    But we need sugar... such an unselfish act :))
    Maybe next time... be sure it's in November, tho, the best time of the year in this part of Utah!

    Thank you! Wish you were here to enjoy it in person...

    Thanks. It's really, really hard to take a bad photo here :)

    Now you have a reason to come back! Wish you guys were here too!!!

    Susan and Maikel,
    You are more than "fodder for amusement" in my "house." You guys being here has doubled our pleasure like a stick of Double Mint Gum!!!

    For a person with a touch of acrophobia, you certainly picked some trails that tested your tolerance. Way to go... keep pushing the "demons" back. I agree, it wasn't as bad as it looked because of the chain... a little like the Bear Creek trail we did with you guys and Debbie near Lovely Ouray. Wish YOU ALL were here too. It's just so damned gorgeous!!!

    Jerry C.
    We saw a couple people stopped at the first chain... thinking, "Do I really need to do this?" Now you know what's up there, tho, right? :))

    Hobo Pals,
    I like that word. thank you!!!

    So you were looking for him too? Hummmm,

    Walden Steve,
    Haaa You are too funny!
    Your "lifestyle" is pretty good... a galavanting Florida Beach Bum!
    You just need some mountains to balance your beach once in a while :)) Thanks pal. You know you have a place to stay again when you make it back to Lovely Ouray.

    Pam and Wayne,
    You can do it... it's not as bad as it looks, unless you are afraid of heights, of course. :))) Thanks for commenting.

    I agree... except for the "Hunk" part. I mean, what's Leandro got that I don't have??? (besides Andrea)
    :(( (sorry Bobbie, she is rather pretty... but not as pretty as thee!)

    Thanks. I keep reminding readers than November is the best time to see Zion's splendor. Not NEAR so many people that you can't have some time alone. And, of course, the red maples of Autumn. Thanks

    Wandrin Lloyd,
    You are right. Pick a trail that suits you! See you in January down in the desert.

    Upriver Dave,
    I know... but that's exactly what she said. Honest!
    Dabadoo dabadoo dabadoo...

    CowBoy Brian,

    Thanks... you too. I'm sure you could still go up a little ways :))

    Thanks! Just remember November :))
    Am I repeating myself?

    Thanks :)) A laugh a day...

    Up River Dave,
    No... but I should have. No telling about the communication gap tho :))

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone!!

  23. There aren't words to express my awe! I am so looking forward to trying this hike. I do believe walking it will be easier than watching, through your photos, someone else hiking it.

    Unbelievable photography!


If you like reading blog posts...from any blogger...consider leaving a "tip" in the form of a "comment" to the author, lest the blog might disappear from perceived lack of interest.