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Posts Tagged ‘rivers’

Big Bend National Park Zone 3: The River (Day 121, Part 2)

November 17th, 2009 No comments

Best zone for last, I guess. Big Bend is so-named because it’s situated on a large bend on the Rio Grande. Clever naming, yes. Anyway — the river goes through a gorge and, um, I think I’m back to where I should start these posts with the second paragraph again.

Except that I don’t have any material for a second paragraph. Maybe it’s too early in the morning.

big-bend_santa-elena-roadThe gap in the cliff is Santa Elena canyon. And the cliff to the left of the gap is in Mexico.

big-bend_santa-elena-opening (1)The canyon’s gaping maw.

big-bend_santa-elena-canyonCanyon, river.

big-bend_santa-elena-canyon-visitorsIf they’re on their honeymoon, I don’t think it’s going well.

big-bend_santa-elena-wallThe walls, closing in.

big-bend_santa-elena-jungleThe canyon contains its own jungle!

big-bend_santa-elena-view-outOut the canyon and onto the flood plain. I think the river was low.

big-bend_santa-elena-ramps-downThe trail heading down from the cliffs’ giddy heights.

big-bend_santa-elena-riverbedThe river bed.

big-bend_santa-elena-touristsThe tourist hordes.

It’s sort of telling that this park only exists on the US side of the border. I went to a couple border parks on the north side of the country that both extended into Canada (Glacier-Waterton and Boundary Waters) and none that were on the Canadian border that didn’t.

OTOH, there were a lot more border patrol agents cruising around Big Bend.

I like rivers and canyons.

bkd


Big Barbecue, Broad Falls (Day 118)

November 15th, 2009 No comments

A very full getaway day. Starting in San Antonio.

1. Packed up my mobile office and “checked out” of the hotel. I think I left a jar of grape jam on top of my truck when I pulled away. Hope it wasn’t messy, but I fear it may have been.

2. Did laundry at a sketchy laundromat in NE San Antonio.

3. Got my oil changed.

4. Drove about 1 1/4 hours to Driftwood. The only thing better than driving on the lonely Farm-to-Market roads was the food at the Salt Lick.

salt-lick-barbecue-austin.jpgThe potato salad is a double portion (in lieu of cole slaw).

This was the second time I’d ever been to the Salt Lick — the first time was three years ago. I remembered it being the best barbecue ever, which of course led me to thinking that I’d probably over-romanticized it in my mind and, thus, that I’d be disappointed. Anyway: it’s definitely the best barbecue ever. Probably the best restaurant ever. My guess is that there’s something teutonic in their recipes. I could swear there’s a hint of sauerbraten in the meat and barbecue sauce. If I ever die choking on Salt Lick brisket, it would have been worth it. This by itself would be worth the trip to Texas.

I bought a t-shirt.

5. Headed out to Pedernales Falls State Park. Wasn’t sure I was going to stop, but it was early enough in the afternoon and wasn’t sure what else I was going to get to, so after passing the turn-off and then suddenly fearing regret, I went back and entered the park. Worth it.

pedernales-falls_qtr-closeAlthough I might argue that it’s more of a “cascade” than a “waterfall”.

pedernales-falls_mazeAnd then the river runs through this maze of rocks.

pedernales-falls_frontFull-frontal waterfall/cascade.

Plus they let you run around on whatever surface you feel like. It’s nice.

6. Drove on to Fredericksburg, but instead of stopping turned up north and drove another 25 miles (or so?) to Enchanted Rock State Park, where I set up camp for the night. Then camped.

Fin.

bkd

Categories: southwest Tags: , , , ,

Cedar Creek Falls at Petit Jean Park (Day 113)

November 8th, 2009 1 comment

Spent most of the day driving through various states (MO-KS-OK-AR), but ended up in Arkansas at Petit Jean State Park with (barely) enough time to go check out Cedar Creek Falls, which I think is some sort of park highlight or something. There’s also about a one-mile walk to the other side of the creek where there’s a different place to look at the same waterfall. (!)

I like how exclamation points inside parentheses imply enthusiasm. Which I’m not saying in order to imply the opposite of enthusiasm. It’s just what it is.

petit-jean_cedar-creekThe one thing I’ve learned about myself on this trip is that I really like rivers (and creeks).

petit-jean_ccc-overlookPast peak color *and* past peak lighting.

petit-jean_grasshopperGrasshopper, rock, lichens.

petit-jean_cedar-creek-fallsSame falls, other direction.

I also never knew what a vast body of work is attributable to the Civilian Conservation Corps. They didn’t exactly cure the depression, but they sure left their mark on the country’s and states’ parks, forests, and wilderness areas.

Then I went and slept in the “overflow camping lot”. It was crowded and un-private, but I had a view of the lake.

bkd

Cathedral Canyon Hike in 16 Photos (Day 112)

November 7th, 2009 2 comments

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

cathedral_canyon 1

cathedral_canyon 2

cathedral_canyon 3

cathedral_canyon 4

cathedral_canyon 5

cathedral_canyon 6

cathedral_canyon 7

cathedral_canyon 8

cathedral_canyon 9

cathedral_canyon 10

cathedral_canyon 11


cathedral_canyon 13

cathedral_canyon 14

cathedral_canyon 15

cathedral_canyon 16

cathedral_canyon 17

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: , , ,

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.

bkd

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?

New Hampshire Has Leaves and Then I Leave New Hampshire (Day 74)

September 29th, 2009 5 comments

It’s silly to hold this against Vermont, but if I’d spent one day less in Vermont, I could have spent one day more in New Hampshire. Hopefully that’s my biggest regret of the trip. It might be in first place so far.

I needed to end the day in Maine, as close to Acadia National Park as possible, so decided to just run through one of the Reader’s Digest drives, end up at Mt. Washington — because I love a good drive-up mountain peak –, and then head east into the far corner. The plan was executed to precise specifications and many leaves were photographed.

I don’t know if Acadia will have leaves. I should probably read up on it. Some of the trees in Maine have already dropped their leaves and are therefore considered “No-Fo’s” — no foliage. Anyway, here’s to closing down New Hampshire and going back one day to do some hiking because it looked like it’d be a lot better than Vermont.

Not that it’s fair to blame Vermont. It’s really well manicured there.

Eh, so campground: stayed at the Hancock Campground in the White Mountains National Forest. As I’ve come to expect from all NFS campsites, I was parked right next to a river. Mostly heard rain falling, though, at least until about the time I got out of bed truck sleeping bag cot bed. Nice leaves there, too (not pictured).

new-hampshire_presidential-ridges“The Presidentials” are peaks in the White Mountains named after presidents. I think these might be among them.

new-hampshire_leaves-succotashThis is about the fourth one of these I’ve uploaded now. They all remind me of sweaters Cliff Huxtable would wear. That or succotash.

new-hampshire_side-mirror-leavesOne day I’m gonna take a side mirror photo that works!

new-hampshire_sabbaday-fallsSabbaday Falls, named after the Sabbath Day. Photo taken on Monday, which is holy in no culture.

new-hampshire_sabbaday-falls-bridgeThey always build foot bridges over waterfalls out here.

new-hampshire_red-leavesLeaves. Finally.

new-hampshire_bend-in-roadA bend in the road.

Really I just wanted to post some New Hampshire photos with blue skies in them (sorry, Chad). Then Mt. Washington, the highest peak in New Hampshire. Naturally you can take a toll road to the top: $23! Which, of course, is a full buck cheaper than the one in Vermont. BUT — it’s 3.5 miles longer, mostly paved, and ascends to a peak that’s like 2,000 feet higher. And they give you a CD to listen to on the way up that tells you how to use low gear to avoid overheating.

It got really cloudy near the top, and cold and windy.

new-hampshire_mt-washington-glenThe base of the mountain, right by the toll booth.

new-hampshire_mt-washington-towerObservation tower on top of the mountain. Winds 20-30 mph, mostly cloudy (just not in this photo).

new-hampshire_mt-washington-and-meOn top of *yet another* state.

new-hampshire_mt-washington-clouds-roadHeading down, above the clouds.

Yeah, so I gotta go back and visit New Hampshire some time. The hike up to Mt. Washington looked worth it — it’s high enough to be above the treeline and if you have a clear day, the views would be pretty amazing. Hopefully the hike starts around 4,000 feet, of course, and hopefully you got a sweater handy. Just that it’s cold and windy on top there is all.

bkd

Sunday Driving Through New Hampshire (Day 73)

September 28th, 2009 4 comments

Woke up in a hotel in White River Junction, Vt., rainy as promised. Got in the car, drove across the river to Hanover, N.H. and ended up in the middle of Dartmouth’s campus. It looked like an Ivy League campus — basically the same as USC, but with worse weather. IMHO.

First stop of the day came in Orford, which the Reader’s Digest book said was representative of all New England towns. But I think I missed the turn into town. Stopped at this church anyway (it was Sunday after all):

new-hampshire_orford-churchWet road — a recurring Day 73 theme.

From there, headed up Highway 10 till I got to Haverhill Corner, at which point I got out of the car to take a photo of another church.

new-hampshire_haverhill-corner-churchAnd only one power line in front of this one!

Yeah, and then I guess I could keep talking about how I stayed on the same highway for a while, except that would be uninteresting. And I’m all about mad hooks and, I dunno. It’s a little cold right now. I should do these exclusively at night. Meh.

new-hampshire_tree-tunnelThe tree tunnels are different here. They all look like the opening scene of a horror movie set in 19th-century New England.

And then I — nothing. I did nothing. I think the next photo is from the town of Bath, except you only see the inside of *something*. It could also be in a horror movie if you wanted it to be. Or not. Either way’s probably fine. [BTW, it’s now evening.]

new-hampshire_bath-bridgeThis would be the *inside* of the (covered) bridge. No cars allowed since ’99, though, which kind of kills it.

new-hampshire_pemigewasset-riverI think this is the Ammonoosuc River. I suppose I could just make up a name.

new-hampshire_swiftwater-bridgeThe Swiftwater Bridge. You can still drive over it.

new-hampshire_swiftwater-cascadeMy kingdom for a blue sky. Oh well. It’s not much of a kingdom.

Just FYI, I like(d) New Hampshire. It has two things that Vermont doesn’t:

  1. Rivers!
  2. Places to park so you can get out and take photos.

Huge. Anyway — Highway 112 is a fantastic drive. Blue sky, yes, would’ve ruled. As stated: oh well. Keeping on keeping on:

new-hampshire_hwy-112The, uh, highway.

new-hampshire_hwy-and-dry-bedThe parallel lines of road and riverbed describe the dual nature of nature and non-nature.

new-hampshire_hwy-overhangsMore leaves. If you’re getting tired of them, maybe skip Day 74…

So then I ended up at this place called Flume Gorge. I don’t know who runs it — it seems to be on NFS land and the visitor’s center says something about a state park, but somehow it costs $13 to get behind their barricade and take a two-mile walk. It was about this time that it started raining kind of harder, which did not result in discounted admission to the two-mile walk.

new-hampshire_pool-and-bridgeThe Pool.

new-hampshire_bridge-and-fallsSame bridge, same falls.

new-hampshire_avalanche-falls-topDifferent bridge, different falls.

new-hampshire_flume-gorgeAnd then the gorge.

Meh. These photos looked better last night than today. Maybe they’ll be good again in another week or two.

bkd

Adirondacks: The Brothers to Big Slide Loop Hike (Day 69)

September 25th, 2009 5 comments

“Big Slide Loop” is not a thing. “Big Slide” is a peak. “Loop” refers to the hike being a “Loop Hike”. “The Brothers” may be a peak or several peaks or some other undisclosed feature. And the whole thing is in a part of the Adirondacks called the “High Peaks”, even though the highest is only 5,000 and change. They’re not far from Lake Placid. I camped at a campground called Wilmington Notch. There were showers, but the lines between campsites were indistinct. And though the weather looked sketchy, the guy at the mountaineering store said that I should *definitely* go hike Big Slide that day, because the rain was going to hold off and I’d definitely get the good view from the top.

My route: The Brothers trail to Big Slide, then down by way of the John’s Brook South Trail.

There: the stage is set. Here are the ride-along photos.

big-slide_root-trailPath, uphill, with roots.

big-slide_valley-leavesFirst valley view. Clear-ish.

big-slide_brother-viewView from the First Brother. Maybe First Brother.

big-slide_cliff-trailThis isn’t scenery, this is the trail. It’s at least as steep as it looks.

big-slide_peak-from-brotherThat peak up there is Big Slide. Still looking clear!

big-slide_me-on-brotherI’m going to say that this is me on top of Fourth Brother. If there *is* a fourth brother. If there are any brothers for that matter.

big-slide_walk-through-treesSteps through the trees.

big-slide_brook-with-mossA moss-covered brook.

big-slide_me-climbing-rockFinal assault to the peak and me without my harness. (Fine, it’s only about 70 degrees from horizontal in real life. That’s kind of steep for a hike.)

big-slide_me-at-peakMe at the peak. Not so clear. But I like the idea that the world ends just past that row of trees there.

big-slide_leafy-trailThe way down isn’t as steep, but it’s two miles longer (four up, six down).

big-slide_creek-on-mossA brook-covered moss.

big-slide_cascade-with-leavesA happy cascade. I imagine. It’s probably repressing anger at the cairn in the foreground, come to think of it.

big-slide_big-rockA big rock that looks like it could function as a big slide.

big-slide_red-leavesLeaves, red.

big-slide_chaise-longueIt’s hard to completely disrespect a trail that places chaise longues at various locations.

big-slide_johns-brookJohn’s Brook.

big-slide_more-leavesMore leaves. And then it started raining.

big-slide_me-at-trailheadProof Evidence that I made it back to the trailhead. Plus I wanted to show off my rain jacket that I never get to wear (because it doesn’t rain on this trip, apparently).

Sorry for the narcissism on the photos — I just felt that it was *me* that was making this place come alive.

  • Without the view at the peak, the hike is a little light on payoff.
  • It’s a very different terrain than I as a western hiker am used to. Out west they would’ve found some way to build switchbacks across all those faces. Not here.
  • As such, it’s a ten-mile hike that took me six hours.
  • Also as such, the trail itself was more engaging than I’m used to — although there were also plenty of long stretches but nothing to do but go up steep, dirt trails and peer through the tree-prison.
  • And some of those rocks were pretty slick: yes, I fell once.
  • But: pretty, worth it.

So it was.

bkd


Beaver, Beaver: Dam, Dam, Dam

September 12th, 2009 2 comments

Finally! A reason to have a strong opinion regarding beaver dams. Y’know, getting out of the canoe, having mud and brown water slosh into your boots, then yanking your fully loaded canoe across a bunch of sticks isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s sort of not the best either.

And would it kill the beavers to come out and give a guy a hand?

bwca_beaver-damYou gotta hand it to those beavers: they just wanted it more.

bwca_beaver-dam-fordIt’s really more shoving than it is yanking.

Ah, anyway. I was more anxious about Boundary Waters than I was about any other part of the trip, so I suppose now that it’s over I can start being anxious about grad school apps. Finally I can have a strong opinion about those, too (maybe).

bkd

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