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Posts Tagged ‘hikes’

Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike (Day 128)

November 24th, 2009 1 comment

The last real trip-like thing I did: hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante. The payoff seems way to good considering what a short (6 mi. r/t), easy (not much elevation gain) hike it is. IMHO. I guess that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though — it’s a pretty great payoff.

Most of the hike heading up to the waterfall looks like this:

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So, you know, red rocks, but with more stripes in them. This area more than most reminded me of a painting that used to be in my Grandpa Kimball’s house somewhere. There were horses involved (in the painting), but not the kind of horses that kill people.

The trail eventually started following alongside the creek (that would be Calf Creek).

Then I got to the waterfall. I’m not sure if it’s really all that cool, or I just realize at this point that it’s the last major natural feature of the trip and am therefore inordinately excited about it, but whatever. It looks different from every angle, has a bunch of cool colors in it, and is really high. Tough lighting though.

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Waterfall, yes!

The trail back had these trees on it:

lower-calf-creek-falls 9

Seemed important to share them.

Then when I took off out of there, I was on Highway 12 again and took this picture:

lower-calf-creek-falls 10

I like denuded aspens.

Anyway, all-in-all a pretty good road trip lo these past four months. Maybe I’ll do an entry for the drive back to SoCal. That will be epic. Epic!

bkd

Categories: southwest Tags: , , ,

Capitol Reef: More Red Rocks (Day 127)

November 23rd, 2009 3 comments

Went on an actual little hike at Capitol Reef (National Park). It’s the national park in Utah that no one wants to talk about. Probably due to all the scandals and all.

Chimney Rock Loop, with about 3 miles of additional canyon thrown in.

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 1The rock they named the trail after. Curiously, it’s not much a part of the route’s scenery.

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capitol-reef-chimney-rock 3Evidence I was there — and that the moustache was still alive and well as of Day 127.

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capitol-reef-chimney-rock 5I’m always impressed by the trees that manage to make a living out here. And by contrails.

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capitol-reef-chimney-rock 7Birds could live here. Or rock-climbing gnomes.

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capitol-reef-chimney-rock 9Just trying to imagine the wind that blew the pinecone (or whatever) here in the first place…

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 11The rocks also make me think of the U2: Live at Red Rocks video, which then reminds me that someone thought it was a good idea to put songs like “Party Girl” on the video/album, which then makes me remember there’s a reason I never owned U2’s Live at Red Rocks video.

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 12And do the trees get lonely?

capitol-reef-chimney-rock 14Looking west from the top of the switchbacks.

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Yeah, I guess I’m mostly over captions.

BTW, another park with a ranger who gave good advice on a hike. She also seemed somewhat outraged that every photo of Bryce Canyon that she’d ever seen in a calendar pictured Bryce during winter with snow on the Hoodoos. It *is* an outrage.

Just FWIW in case you care etc. etc., I liked Capitol Reef. It’s more subtle and less in-your-face than Bryce or Arches — more just a place to hang out than to have to confront. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I know it’s true. FWIW.

bkd


Big Bend National Park Zone 1: The Mountains (Day 120)

November 16th, 2009 No comments

See, because there are three main zones in the park: (1) mountains; (2) desert; and (3) river. Right.

And before things get too wild, I’d like to mention that this national park is in the middle of nowhere (which I guess is better than being at the edge of nowhere, because at least it’s in the middle of something). It’s a hard park to get to without meaning to be there. OTOH, (they claim) it has the darkest night sky of any NP in the lower 48. Would probably make it a good place to be a burglar — not that anything happened.

Hiked to “The Window”. Kind of a short hike (4.5 miles), mostly tourists. And most of the good pictures I got of the mountains were from the Visitors Center rather than the hike. Naturally.

‘Course, they didn’t have one of *these* at the Visitors Center:

big-bend_tarantulaA tarantula! Or maybe it’s a tarantulo. It’s hard to tell without flippin’ ’em over.

About the size of my hand. And then the trail (although, technically, the tarantula photo *is* a photo of the trail.

big-bend_window-trailHere’s the trail. Not bad-looking for a desert. Oh wait — these are mountains, not desert.

big-bend_windowThen this is “The Window” itself.

So it was kind of a dull hike — but at least I got to sweat a lot. Then I went back to the campground and visitors center to get some *real* photos. Relatively real. Two of them.

big-bend_casa-grandeCasa Grande from the handicapped-accessible trail.

big-bend_pink-cloudsA middling-quality sunset, with mountain silhouettes.

Then I decided that since I’d never gone to a National Park ranger lecture at a campground amphitheater before, I should try that. So I went, listened to a guy talk about how old rocks are for 20 minutes, then tried to leave quietly. There was a new moon, which made things especially dark, but I found these guys right outside my campsite.

big-bend_javelina-soloA javelina!

big-bend_javelina-bandAnd his merry band!

(It’s hard to compose wildlife photos interestingly when you can’t really see the wildlife so well.)

And then I went to sleep.

bkd

The Enchanted Rock Did Not Crackle at Me (Day 119)

November 16th, 2009 No comments

I think it’s supposed to creak or crackle or something. And that it’s therefore “enchanted”. Well, that and it makes you invisible if you go to the top. Military crests and all that. Ah well, ah well.

It’s sort of like the Half Dome of Texas.

The hike around it is mostly dull and doesn’t get too interesting until you start hiking up the granite. At that point it turns fun. It’s nowhere near as steep or dramatic as Half Dome, but it’s a fine enough jaunt. As evidence thereof:

enchanted-rock_trail-panoramaYes, that’s the peak.

enchanted-rock_altarSort of an altar-thing.

enchanted-rock_uphill-trailThe upward trail.

enchanted-rock_sidehill-rocksSome rocks along the way.

enchanted-rock_creasesA crease with adjoining run-off.

enchanted-rock_me-at-topMe at the top.

enchanted-rock_others-at-topView at the top. With others.

Yep, so that was Enchanted Rock. No crackling on my watch. No cackling, either.

After that, drove on down to Fredericksburg. Ate lunch at a German restaurant — had the gulasch since they didn’t have klöse on the menü to go with the Jägerschnitzel. It was okay.

Then I went to the Nimitz Pacific War Museum. Unfortunately their main gallery is closed for renovation and they didn’t set those exhibits up somewhere else in the meantime. They had this “Pacific Theater Experience” thing set up a couple blocks down the road, but man. It was irritating at best. A couple tanks, a grounded PT boat, and a TBM Avenger and having to be part of a guided tour that somehow took almost an hour. It merited no photos.

OTOH, it *did* help me realize how special that USS Alabama floating museum was in Mobile. Full-on WW2 battleship that you can climb in, on, and around versus refurbished PT boat that you’re allowed to look at, but not touch. Mobile FTW.

Headed west from there. Stopped at a rest stop east of Ft. Stockton at sunset. It looked like this:

stockton-sunsetThe 10.

That’s probably enough.

bkd

Seven Hollows Loop Hike Only Has Four Hollows (Day 114)

November 11th, 2009 No comments

Knowing that, you’d think I wouldn’t have been surprised when a hike billed as “4 to 4 1/2 hours” took two. I guess I wasn’t shocked, actually. It was clearly a hike meant for tourists and it was only 4.5 miles long, just that 4.5 miles in Vermont time could actually *be* a four-hour hike.

And then it turns out this wasn’t the best day to be there. You’ll catch onto that in a second.

petit-jean_grotto-waterfall (1)See, cuz on a day when its wet enough for water to be flowing here, this photo actually becomes pretty.

petit-jean_grotto-exitDeparting the grotto.

petit-jean_arrow-outBlue arrow points the way.

petit-jean_between-rocksBecause otherwise this post would’ve seemed light on photos.

It *was* a beautiful day and not a bad one for a walk, even if the one scenic part wasn’t performing. I got to the trailhead about 7 and was the first one there. Ended the hike at about 9:15 and the lot was full — probably 30 cars. It’s nice to be the first one on the trail sometimes.

I kind of like the blue arrow photo. Huh.

bkd

PS, This was in Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas, where I’d stayed the night before. Now you know.

Cathedral Canyon Hike in 16 Photos (Day 112)

November 7th, 2009 2 comments

Because 16 is only one away from being a prime number.

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Really enjoyed the hike. You go off on a dirt road in the middle of a bunch of farms, hang a left on another dirt road, hike three-tenths to the unmarked trailhead, then hike a mile or so till you’re at the bottom of the canyon. Then you do whatever you want to. There’s no trail, so most of the hiking is in the river. I love hiking in rivers. There aren’t any other people around either. Love having no people around.

  • I probably hiked a total of seven miles — about half of those in the water.
  • When you get to the river, you can delay the inevitable for a little bit, but: you’re gonna get wet.
  • I never got wet above my waist.
  • I should’ve brought an extra pair of socks for the hike back — it worked out okay, I didn’t get trenchfoot.
  • Not a lot of animals here: a few schools of finger-length fish and a frog.
  • Supposedly there are also timber rattlers here, but alas, none were sighted.

Reminded me of Virgin River Narrows, what with the walking through the river and all. It’s not as dramatic, but whatever. The cliffs do rise up 100 feet or so above the river; the pictures don’t do the canyon justice, despite the quantity. Still: very pretty, very relaxing, highly highly recommended for anyone happening through southeastern Missouri.

bkd

Categories: south Tags: , , ,

Mammoth Cave, Inside and Out (Day 109)

November 6th, 2009 No comments

Mammoth Cave is in Kentucky.

It’s a nice enough park, definitely worth spending a full day. I spent two and a half, of course — but that was fine, I kind of needed to have a couple days of not driving 300 miles anyway.

Got there around noon, which gave me time to walk around the six or so miles of “hiking paths” around the visitors center. Then it was still only 2:30, so I signed up for one of the cave tours (“New Entrance” was the name of the tour — you can see how that would have enticed me).

Make photos go now:

mammoth-cave_campsiteMy campsite.

mammoth-cave_trail-trunksFall colors: past-peak.

mammoth-cave_boardwalkBoardwalk.

mammoth-cave_styx-springsStyx Springs (there’s an underground river, you see).

mammoth-cave_looking-upThe bowels of the earth.

mammoth-cave_magic-glowThe NPS does a good job of setting up their lights, imho, fwiw, etc.

mammoth-cave_formationThe only stalactites in the cave.

mammoth-cave_cave-cricketCave crickets: the bottom of the food chain.

A few lessons learned from the cave tour:

  • Cave photos never work out. Maybe if you took a tripod (but the ranger won’t let you).
  • This part of the cave used to be owned by a guy who was jealous of the people who owned the other part of the cave and so tried to make his cave seem like theirs.
  • There are some really dumb people running loose in this world (I mean, just, not intelligent). “Which direction does water always want to go?” “South!” That wasn’t the worst.
  • All caves should come with friendly Filipina-Canadians — a shame they don’t have those in Kentucky.

L8,

bkd

Rush Hour: Alum Cave Bluffs to Mt. LeConte (Day 92)

October 19th, 2009 7 comments

Read the scene where gravity is pulling me around.

I miss being young enough to think R.E.M. is/was cool.

Went on this hike:

alum-cave_creekAlum Cave Creek

alum-cave_arch-rockArch Rock, or: I’ve now seen a shot for which it would’ve been nice to have a tripod available.

alum-cave_cave-viewThe view from under the overhang of Alum Cave.

alum-cave_trail-cableThe trail!

alum-cave_lodge_stepsThe stairway leading out of the peak-side lodge.

alum-cave_me-at-peakThe actual peak — it’s not the highest in Tennessee.

alum-cave_cliffsThe Cliff Tops.

alum-cave_me-on-cliffsIbid, but with me in the photo.

alum-cave_lodgeA mountain-top hillbilly village!

alum-cave_trail-treesTree tunnel.

alum-cave_trail-cliff-telkTelkontar goes into the light.

alum-cave_trail-falls-cableRain-fed, trail-crossing cascade.

alum-cave_colorYes, they have fall color in Tennessee as well.

alum-cave_cliff-in-mistThey’re called the “Smoky Mountains” because there are clouds there.

alum-cave_log-bridgeA log bridge!

alum-cave_tree-tunnel-creekCreek with trees.

alum-cave_creek-downstreamSame stream, some fallen leaves, trees, and more great smoke.

Ten or 11 miles, out-and-back, 2,800 feet in elevation gain. Went to the lodge, then continued to the peak, then swung by the Cliff Tops before heading down. We saw Jimmy Carter hiking down when we were on the way up. No joke. Didn’t take any photos of him, of course — I mean, it was just Jimmy Carter, not Calvin Coolidge or anything. Most crowded hike I’ve been on the whole trip (excluding the last two miles on the way down from Half Dome). Either the Smoky Mountains visitors are a hardy bunch or there are just *that* *many* of them. (Truly, the park is choked with visitors, bad weather or no.)

With good weather, this is possibly an A-plus hike. In steady-state drizzle? It was still nice. Wish there would have been a view — any view — along the way. The trail was made for views, what with all those ledges and such. Fortunately, the trail itself had some interesting stuff along the way — log bridges, cable-aided narrow walkways, drop-offs into oblivion, steps through arched rocks, weird accommodations at the top. All it needed was views. And maybe a lighthouse. And if there’d been a family of trolls living under any of those bridges that would snatch maybe every seventh hiker or so, that also would have added interest (and thinned the crowd).

Great hiking with Telkontar, of course. He was less affected by the lack of views, no doubt in part because his alternative was being stuck in an office. Whereas my alternative was… sky’s the limit, really.

bkd

PS, This hike was in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Smoky Mountains, Rainy Weather, Ramsay Cascades Hike (Day 91)

October 18th, 2009 4 comments

It’s sort of amazing to me how much weather determines my mood. And you’d think that someone who grew up in the Seattle area would be okay with being rained on constantly, no-visibility skies, and temperatures in the low-50s. Nope. Ah, well.

Picked up my bro in Knoxville Wednesday night, slept in a Holiday Inn Express in Kodak or Sevierville (one may be a subset of the other), then trucked on down to the Ramsay Cascades trailhead in the northeast part of the park. It was an eight-mile out-and-back with a 2,400-foot elevation gain.

ramsay_little-pigeon-riverWhen it rains this much, the Little Pigeon grows up a little.

ramsay_log-bridge-telkontarA Telkontar sighting.

ramsay_ramsay-cascadesFor want of a telefoto lens, the best shot available of the falls.

ramsay_warning-signWe weren’t next.

ramsay_path-and-treesWenn von Nebel frei die Bahn!

ramsay_log-bridgeLog bridge on the way back down.

The rivers were awesome and the falls apparently relatively big — I’ve found some other photos online wherein the water coming off them is a lot less than we saw. I guess the rain *is* good for something. I was pretty soaked — as much from sweat as from rain — but lived to fight another day. Some website designated this trail as “difficult”, but that website, whatever one it was, is crazy. Or at least its author has a different definition for “difficult” than I do. Or maybe I’m just in that good of shape.

And then we decided we were wet enough that we didn’t need to prove anything by also camping in such weather. Fortunately, Pigeon Forge offers plenty of cheap hotels. Unless you plan on staying Friday or Saturday night.

bkd

PS, I’m staying in the Brick House Campground in South Carolina right now and it is the best Verizon data connection I’ve had through my MiFi the entire trip. Could some physicist out there please explain?

Shenandoah and the Two-Way View (Day 82)

October 9th, 2009 Comments off

Shenandoah is a National Park made for old people who don’t get out of their cars. There’s nothing to do there besides pull over and look out over the side and see the valley with farms and towns in it. Valleys, sorry. One on each side. They don’t change much.

shenandoah_overlookEvery quarter-mile there’s an overlook. And every overlook has this exact view (in essence).

But at least the old people are genteel. At least the local ones are. And with the photography, I just went with the old standby: leaves. I’m guessing Shenandoah is pretty brilliant by the end of October. Wasn’t as colorful as New England had been a week or two earlier, though. I suppose these things take time.

shenandoah_skyline-drive-leavesAnother couple weeks and Skyline Drive will be on fire (figuratively).

I also sort of went on two hikes. The first was to White Oak Canyon, which my Reader’s Digest book suggests is the park’s scenic highpoint. To me, the highpoint of it was getting 2.3 miles in, seeing the first little waterfall, and having the locals there tell me it wasn’t worth it to keep going, because the rest of the waterfall was going to be even less spectacular. I guess it hasn’t rained much in Va.

But, whatever, there must be hike photos, so:

shenandoah_white-oak-leavesTrailside leaves.

shenandoah_white-oak-turkeysJust after it occurred to me that this would be a pleasant enough place for turkey hunting with Sgt. York, I stumble onto these guys. Gary Cooper, however, did not make an appearance.

shenandoah_white-oak-cascadeThis is more stunning than the waterfall was.

shenandoah_white-oak-bridgeEh. It’s a bridge.

The couple at the waterfall also insisted that I should hike up to Hawk’s Bill Peak, the highest point in the park, so I did. It was a short hike. Here’s evidence it happened:

shenandoah_hawks-billThe compass tells you where the forest is on fire.

And then I headed south and out of the park, never to return again.

shenandoah_yellow-by-roadSomehow the yellow seemed significant at the time.

shenandoah_bobcatJust because you can’t see it doesn’t mean this isn’t a photo of a bobcat.

It really *was* a bobcat.

bkd

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