Posts Tagged ‘lakes’

Another Park with Mostly Tree Prisons (Day 110)

November 6th, 2009 2 comments

So the north part of the park has all these hiking trails, but the ranger informs me that they’re all tree prisons (not her exact words). But then there’s this hike-in lake that, she says, has pretty good fishing.

No park rangers have ever fished. I’m sure of it. Well, whatever.

It was about a 4 mile round-trip hike to this lake and, yes, tree prison. The lake was okay-looking. I saw fish jumping, but none biting. Went to the river nearby — similar story. I’m trying to figure out how this took an entire day. Eh.

first-creek_lakeThe lake.

nolin-riverThe river.

nolin-river_fishingThe fishing gear.

houchins-ferryThe ferry.

I think I needed rooster tails. Was there two and a half hours trying to catch something. That was probably enough to prove the point.

Also! Did laundry at the campground when I got back. And took a cold shower that cost me $2. And it got down into the low-30s that night.


Travels through Hillbilly Nation: Blue Ridge Parkway (Day 83)

October 10th, 2009 Comments off

Ways in which Blue Ridge Parkway is different from Shenandoah National Park:

  • It’s not a national park. It’s a road with protected lands on either side of it that is administrated by the National Park Service.
  • It’s hills are 40% steeper than Shenandoah’s.
  • It has lakes and rivers alongside the roadway.
  • It’s further south.
  • There are remnants of a lost civilization along the route.
  • The locals have a much stronger accent.
  • Way-cooler place names (“Peaks of Otter”? You can’t beat that.)
  • It’s 4.5x as long.
  • Better campsites.
  • Lower visitor density.

Camped at the Beaver Creek Campground (so nicely creek-situated and wooded I’d have thought it was administered by the Forest Service) and went to the camp restaurant for food in the morning. Walked inside and the place is almost full with what appear to be locals. The six at the bar are engaged in a vigorous discussion over “red-eye gravy” and their drawls do not seem ironic. And with that, I realize that I’m in The South. Never been to The South before.

Blue Ridge Parkway, IMHO, > Shenandoah National Park by a good ways. The hills are more pronounced and interesting, the running water is a plus and gives you something to take a picture of if you have to, the abandoned hillbilly structures are kind of cool, and, like I said, there are fewer people. I only drove the Virginia part of it, though. I’m saving the state of North Carolina for another day (Day 88 actually).

blue-ridge_otter-lakeDon’t remember the name of it and it’s not on the map, so there.

blue-ridge_peak-of-otterSharp Top, one of the two Peaks of Otter. It’s near Bearwallow Gap. Man. And there was, in fact, an otter in the lake (which is not called Lake of Otter, sadly). (It would make the otter insufferable thinking it had been named for him.)

blue-ridge_abbott-lakeI think it’s called Abbott Lake.

blue-ridge_parkway-curveDismayed by yet another photo of a road with trees on it, the crows flee.

blue-ridge_valley-belowThe valley below — this goes on for 460 miles or whatever.

blue-ridge_fence-roadWhat with the fence and all, it could pass for a Civil War battlefield.

blue-ridge_hillsideAh, fair Appalachia, long may your hills yet roll!

blue-ridge_mabry-millMabry Mill, a “functioning” water mill (it functions in that water turns the wheel).

blue-ridge_flumeIf a flume leaks in the woods and no one’s around, does it actually get anything wet?

Another day down. Blue Ridge Parkway has most of the same problems as Shenandoah — or at least, the one big problem: there’s nothing to do there but look at stuff. The Appalachian Trail runs through both of them, but apparently the AT is just a walk in the woods for not apparent reason — at least until it turns serious up in New Hampshire, I guess.

Based on perceived scenery, the PCT hasta be about 100x the trail the AT is.

Ah, well. I also remind myself frequently that the alternative is sitting in a gray-walled cube, at which point time spent in 2,000-foot mountain ranges without anything to do but drive and look start looking better. OTOH, what about the *opportunity cost*?! I should’ve spent another couple days in New England. Now I’m stuck taking that bitter failure to the grave. Eh — have to take something, I guess.


Whiteface Mountain at the Top of the Adirondacks (Day 70, Part 2)

September 27th, 2009 Comments off

Awful, awful headline.

They charge you $10 to drive up this road that goes to the summit of Whiteface Mountain. If you don’t want to pay $10, you can take a six-mile hike to get there. I paid the money and drove. It’s a well-maintained road. The person who takes your money is pleasant. When I got to the parking lot near the top, the elevator was broken. Happy day! I got to walk up the rest of the way. Steep stone steps. Lots of people going up them. Trail was 0.2-miles long, but I wonder whether they measured the base or the hypotenuse. Talked to a German couple from Berlin a little on the way back down. A little cold and windy. The day, not the couple. The couple were average-temperature at least in demeanor. Book said this was the highlight of many visits to the Adirondacks. Maybe.

whiteface_colorIn real-time, I’m kind of done with fall foliage. And only New Hampshire and Maine left to go!

whiteface_elevation-signGettin’ close to the top.

whiteface_trail-to-peakTrail to the top.

whiteface_the-road-upThe road up.

whiteface_top-of-whitefaceThe top of the mountain.

whiteface_lake-placidLake Placid — yes, it’s shaped like a horseshoe. Who knew?

whiteface_watchtowerThe watchtower, watching.

Inasmuch as paying to go on any 8-mile stretch of road is worth it, this was worth it I guess. Better than hiking it — can’t standing hiking somewhere that other people have driven to (see: Vermont) (once it’s posted).

And then I left the state.


Mackinac Island and the Nates of GRR (Day 59)

September 18th, 2009 3 comments

The headline overpromises, although, yes, I did visit Mackinac Island and my niece and her husband, whose last name is Nate. Maybe it doesn’t overpromise so much as it leads the post to under-deliver.

The island is basically like being ont he TV show The Prisoner, but with better special effects. The concept is that you start out in Mackinaw City, just across the bridge from the Upper Peninsula, then take a 20-minute ferry ride across (a small part of) Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, a small island community where internal combustion engines are not allowed. As such, transportation is done via horse-drawn buggy, bicycle, and foot.

Should’ve skipped straight to the fourth paragraph.

mackinac-waterfrontMackinac Island waterfront.

mackinac-island_main-streetMain Street, which features the highest per-square-foot concentration of fudge retailers in the Lower 48. I would know.

mackinac-buggyHorses, buggy, people. Road also. Grass, trees.

phoca_thumb_l_arrival42Prisoner with bubble.

mackinac-fort-hillPathway up to Fort Mackinac, which dates back to the Revolutionary War. It wasn’t our fort back then.

mackinac-rifle-squadI’m not sure why the six-year-old gets to be the officer, but I’m guessing nepotism.

mackinac-path-and-churchPretty similar picture to that other one, but I figured if I put the one with the rifles in between you wouldn’t notice so much. I think it’s an Episcopal church.

round-island_lighthouseAnd on the way back, I took this photo of the Round Island Lighthouse.

  • Cloudy day.
  • The fort was cool.
  • I pretty well liked hanging out in a non-motorized town, especially walking around a little further to the island’s interior. It was easy to imagine horse-drawn carriage rides to someone’s house in the woods.
  • OTOH, the streets all smelled like horse manure.
  • And if I wanted to get rich, I’d open up a shop on Main Street there and sell something *other than* fudge.

    After escaping the island I drove down to Grand Rapids and saw Andrea and Preston, went to dinner with them, and then left. No pictures. Their new house is pretty nice.


    PS, Mackinaw City (where I stayed in a hotel before catching the ferry over in the morning) was a nice place also — friendly locals and it’s a very well-kept town. Someone there’s doing *something* right. Probably mafia.

    Chapel Beach Loop Hike, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Day 58)

    September 16th, 2009 2 comments

    10.5-mile loop hike starting at the Mosquito Chapel Trailhead, about 20 miles east of Munising (where the Upper Peninsula’s purported powerhouse high school football team is located).

    pictured-rocks_chapel-fallsAt which point I worried I’d chosen a bad trail. I mean, remoteness is its own reward and all, but these are parking lot-quality waterfalls at best. Unless you’re in Orange County, in which case you’d hike 40 miles straight uphill for them and be grateful for the opportunity.

    pictured-rocks_chapel-rockChapel Rock and the start of my shadow-sun issues. Probably if the tree had been in full sun — except that the colors on the rock are the real-life interesting part.


    pictured-rocks_chapel-beach-rocksRocks, pictured.

    pictured-rocks_near-grand-portalCliff-rocks, pictured.


    The so-called “Grand Portal”.

    pictured-rocks_mosquito-beach-rocksRocks at Mosquito Beach.

    pictured-rocks_cliffs (1)The edge of the world. Fine: *an* edge. And if you fall off, you’re in a lake, not some fiery abyss. The fiery abyss would’ve made a good photo, though.

    pictured-rocks_jerkyI and My Breakfast

    pictured-rocks_red-duckA red-headed step-duck starts a voyage of a thousand miles with a single foot-flap.

    • About as easy a 10+-miler as you’ll find.
    • My route took me past Chapel Falls down to the beach at Chapel Rock, then along the lakeshore past the Mosquito campground, then back to the trailhead via Mosquito Falls.
    • I regret that I didn’t add three miles to include Spray Falls in the hike. I’ll have to go back for that one. Per the pictures, it would have been the one waterfall worth visiting.
    • The photos don’t look as great as reality — it’s a north-facing lakeshore and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with shadowy cliffs above fully-lit water. (If anyone could lmk, that’d be cool.)
    • For being the warmest Saturday of the year so far, it wasn’t crowded.
    • Would probably be a fun place to do an overnighter — either two very easy days along the trail I took, or a shuttle hike along the Lakeshore Trail.
    • The water’s colder than it looks — but I *did* swim in it (not pictured).

    I’d go back here again, no questions asked. All hail Lake Superior!


    Miner’s Castle Is Major Awesome (Day 57, Part 2)

    September 16th, 2009 4 comments

    Drove across the U.P. to Christmas, Mich., where I got a campsite for the night, then headed out to Munising (a town!) and then Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to see what was there, half-way intending on finding it to be lame and then leaving first thing in the morning.

    I found out Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore existed by going through a list of all National Parks Service properties on Wikipedia and seeing that this one looked kind of pretty in the pictures, plus somewhere in my mind I thought I remembered someone telling me that the “claw part” of Michigan had something worthwhile about it. Turns out that real life is prettier than the pictures, most especially *my* pictures (in this case). IMHO.

    munising-fallsSee that there? And if you squint hard enough, you can almost see a waterfall!

    So Munising Falls wasn’t the good part. It was close to town, though, and thus got visited. The next site down the line was Miner’s Castle, which was recommended by RS’s Reader’s Digest book.

    miners-castle_kayaksThe Miner’s Castle; the miner himself may be in one of the ‘yaks. But probably not.

    miners-castle_pictured-rocksSans paddlers.

    Was mostly struck by how pretty the water was. Looked like something you’d expect to find in the South Pacific, but it was on Lake Superior. Pretty cool. I figured I hadn’t seen enough of it and then found what looked like a good 10-miler I could try the next day.

    Meanwhile, my writeups get continually lamer. This one’s almost *sincere* [shudders]. Only another 68 days of blogging to go (give or take)! Maybe my second (writing) wind is waiting for me in, oh, let’s say the Adirondacks. Seems likely enough.


    PS, The campground was an NFS site, so you know it had to be good. It was a pretty big NFS campground (40 or so sites) and privately managed, which meant it was a little on the expensive site for NFS ($16). But: potable water, plenty of trees, and I could do laundry without my neighbors having to watch. NFS campgrounds über alles.

    Moose River to Nina Moose Lake to Agnes Lake (And Then Back) (Photos) (Day 55)

    September 12th, 2009 2 comments

    bwca_moose-river-parkingDay 1: Rudolph?



    bwca_grasswaterThere’s probably some better way to crop this one.



    bwca_turtleA fierce lake turtle!

    bwca_walleyeDay 2: A fierce lake walleye!






    bwca_return-in-fogDay 3: Heading Home


    Overall, a pretty cool trip. I think going solo made it a little more of an adventure than it otherwise would’ve been — the place has to be a haven for Boy Scout troops, guys’ weeks out, etc. Also:

    • The solitude here is amazing. You go and find a campsite and you basically don’t need to remember that humanity exists after that point — which is a little unsettling when you’re out there by yourself.
    • The bird sounds here were all foreign too me.
    • Even the squirrels seemed off-model (I think they’re red squirrels rather than whatever the other kind are).
    • The lakes all do look kind of the same.
    • When paddling home in the fog Thursday morning, I actually got to use my compass (thanks!).
    • Paddling against the wind is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done multiple times. Fortunately it only happened for about the last hour of paddling on Day 1.
    • Had never caught a fish while paddling my own boat before. Probably a good thing it wasn’t a 30-lb. northern pike — that might’ve gotten awkward.
    • When I was coming out of the lake, the folks just putting in were asking me if it was crowded. Relative to Boundary Waters? No idea if that constitutes crowded. There are, like, seven campsites on Lake Agnes and they were all taken, but it didn’t *feel* crowded.
    • For having no padding under me (and no stuffing on the bottom of my sleeping bag), I slept remarkably well out there.
    • Finally got to dig into my MREs. The chili and macaroni one was excellent. Even the penne with vegetarian sausage was good.
    • Pretty much all the water out there is brown, I’m guessing from all the tannins in the trees filtering through the soil? Anyway — when you put that through your own water filter, it’s still brown when you drink it.

    Close enough.


    How to Portage a Canoe Solo at Boundary Waters in 26 Easy Steps (Day 54)

    September 11th, 2009 2 comments

    Before going on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area trip, I figured the hard part of portaging the canoe would be having to carry the canoe around. Not that carrying the canoe is fantastic or anything, just that — it’s more the inconvenience of having to unpack and re-pack every time than it is the canoe hauling. IMHO.

    Here are photos to help you sympathize (empathize? I’ll take what I can get).

    bwca_portage-landingStep 1: Land ahoy! Identify the landing up ahead (in this case, it’s where those rocks are on the right-hand shore).

    bwca_land-the-canoeStep 2: Beach the canoe by paddling sort of hard and aiming the bow for a soft, rampy spot (if available).

    bwca_climb-outStep 3: Carefully — *carefully* — climb up to the bow of the canoe and get out, making sure to maintain a low COG and balance all the way — this is expecially (you heard me) true if the landing is more rocks than sand.

    bwca_haul-canoe-onto-landStep 4: Pick up the canoe at the bow and haul it the rest of the way onto land.

    bwca_remove-bear-cannisterStep 5: Remove the bear barrel from the canoe and put it on the ground somewhere.

    bwca_remove-backpackStep 6: Take your backpack out of the canoe.

    bwca_attach-yokeStep 7: Attach the yoke to the canoe by lining up the clamps and tightening them down. Then, tighten them further.

    bwca_empty-canoeStep 8: Take the plastic cover off your backpack, remove paddles, fishing poles, and anything else still lying around in the canoe, then take a picture of it all.

    bwca_stow-pack-coverStep 9: Stow the backpack cover into one of the side pockets on your pack.

    bwca_backpack-onStep 10: Put your backpack on. Almost ready to go, sport!

    bwca_lift-canoeStep 11: Lift canoe over head. But don’t do it like I’m doing it in the photo — grab it around the middle and work it out that way. Trust me.

    bwca_canoe-on-headStep 12: Put yoke around neck with pads on shoulders.

    bwca_transport-canoeStep 13: Start walkin’!

    bwca_arrive-at-put-inStep 14: Arrive at put-in location (the end of the portage).

    bwca_put-canoe-downStep 15: Remove canoe from head. This will, 60-percent of the time, result in having your hat fall down over your face.

    bwca_remove-packStep 16: Take off your pack and PFD.

    bwca_cover-packStep 17: Put the plastic cover back over your backpack.

    bwca_hike-back-mapStep 18: Head back to where you left the bear barrell and paddles. Maybe check out your map along the way.

    bwca_put-on-barrelStep 19: Once you’ve arrived at the take-out, strap the bear barrell onto your back.

    bwca_pick-up-paddlesStep 20: Pick up your paddles and fishing pole and whatever else.

    bwca_carry-paddlesStep 21: Carry them back down the path toward the put-in location.

    bwca_re-pack-canoeStep 22: Throw everything back into the canoe.

    bwca_put-on-pfdStep 23: Put your PFD back on.

    bwca_put-canoe-in-waterStep 24: Push, pull, and drag the loaded canoe back into the water.

    bwca_get-into-canoeStep 25: Carefully get back into the canoe. This is trickier than getting out, especially on rocks (as shown).

    bwca_shove-offStep 26: Sit down and shove off, matey! There are bigger adventures — and longer portages! — yet to come.

    Anyway, point being: carrying the canoe isn’t that big a deal when it comes to portages. And it takes about 4x longer to do a portage if you’re trying to photograph yourself doing it. And to a certain extent, the portages break up the sometimes-monotony of paddling. And the trip I did didn’t have all that many portages (five each way, the longest of which was a half-mile). But every portage I did required me to hike the route three times (there, back, there), whereas people not doing it solo would probably only hike each one once.

    C’est. La. Vie.

    More to come on the actual, like, trip part of the trip. You’ll see.


    Glacier National Park: Clouds and Reflections (, Photos of)

    August 28th, 2009 3 comments

    The sky in Montana seems normal-sized to me. I don’t get the big sky thing. Maybe it only applies in Billings and Great Falls. OTOH, they have some pretty awesome clouds, which *are* in the sky. Eh.

    glacier_reynolds-mtnReynolds Mountain, near the Logan Pass Visitors Center.

    glacier_clements-mtn-cloudsClements Mountain, from about the same place as the last photo.

    glacier_reynolds-mtn-cloudsReynolds Mountain from a little further down the road.

    glacier_contrail-and-cloudsContrail, clouds. Obviously.

    glacier_lake-sherburneLake Sherburne, looking toward the Many Glacier area.

    glacier_swiftcurrent-lakeAcross Swiftcurrent Lake.

    glacier_swiftcurrent-lake_glaciersSame lake, different view (slightly).

    • I didn’t really get Glacier after the first day, but after the third I was sad to leave.
    • The thing that’s great about it is that it feels like there’s so much to explore there — every valley looks different from the last one, for instance — and that gives you a lot of opportunities for something like solitude.
    • The other great thing, or at least the thing that I think makes Glacier unique, is all the glacially-formed “horns” there. A lot of spikes there that look like they belong in the Alps.
    • Plus I caught a fish there, which endears me somewhat.
    • And next time I’d know to probably stay on the east side of the park — it’s more convenient to the good parts.


    Swiftcurrent Pass to Bullhead Lake Hike (Day 41)

    August 27th, 2009 3 comments

    Back at Apgar and using my Vz wifi, found a website that reviewed all the fishing lakes (and hikes) in Glacier and — oh man. I should hire a monkey to randomly type letters for my intros to these things. Whatever. The guide made an off-handed reference about how all the best stuff at Glacier is found at Many Glaciers anyway, including the best fishing lakes (paraphrased). Hadn’t been to that part of the park yet (it’s the northeast corner of the US part of the park) and I still wanted to fulfill one of man’s oldest desires, namely tricking of an almond-sized-brained creature into impaling itself on a sharp piece of metal. So I went there (long drive, much construction).

    There’s a hike from Logan Pass to Swiftcurrent Pass that’s supposed to be awesome, but requires two cars. Figured doing this one would let me take care of half that hike.

    swiftcurrent_bear-frequentingDo bears frequent the area or does the area frequent bears? And I like it when people wear bear-bells. Sounds like Christmas.

    swiftcurrent_trail-peakThe trail with some peak in the distance.

    swiftcurrent_redrock-lake-peaksRedrock Lake. I didn’t fish here, due to the high fishing pressure the website warned me about.

    swiftcurrent_creek-n-peakThe ol’ creek-‘n-peak.

    swiftcurrent_bullhead-lakeBullhead Lake. About 8 miles r/t, btw.

    swiftcurrent_me-castingMe, casting. In background: water, falling.

    swiftcurrent_caught-troutAnd, 90 minutes later (not on the same cast), success!

    swiftcurrent_trout-danglingHe didnt want to hold still for the photo. Caught on a Blue Fox Super Vibrax #3 Spinner at 1:45 PM, about the same time I got hypothermia from standing barefoot in the water for two hours.

    swiftcurrent_trout-jumpAnd then I caught this guy trying to swim up a cascade.

    I only caught the one fish, but I’m guessing the marginal utility of zero to one fish is about 8x the marginal utility from one to two. And it was a beautiful hike. I’d like to go back and do the one that goes over the pass some day. Some time when someone else is there with a car, I guess. Looks like a heck of a climb.


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