Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘nature’

Pacific Crest Trail: A Journey in Photographs Book Sale

We will be spending time with family over the Thanksgiving long weekend, including doing at least one hike. But first, we’re putting our book on sale for the holidays!

Click to get 20% off Pacific Crest Trail: A Journey in Photographs through December 18th:

The book is also available from Amazon with free shipping.

If you are outside the US, please order through the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s Online Store.

We hope the great outdoors will be a part of your upcoming festivities. They will be for us! We’re planning Colorado day hikes at Thanksgiving and kayaking and backpacking in Channel Islands National Park in December.

We’re thankful for all the amazing people in our lives — family, friends, trail angels, and all of you who read and comment here. Wishing you all the best!

Fowler Trail, Eldorado Canyon State Park

Eldorado Canyon State Park, a short drive from Boulder, CO, is immediately impressive. Cliffs tower overhead as you enter.

South Boulder Creek flows below in the bottom of the canyon.

South Boulder Creek

South Boulder Creek

We decided to hike Fowler Trail, which winds along the cliff edge. It offers great views of the creek gushing below and the peaks above, including many climbers scaling the rock faces.

Read more

Our First Bike Camping Trip

We don’t own a car so we walk and bike everywhere in town. Biking is fun and it keeps us in great shape. There was even a cool article in Bicycling Magazine recently about how Chris inspired a co-worker to start biking to work. Basically, we love bikes!

As readers of this blog, you already know that we love spending time in nature. We’ve always wanted to combine these two loves, bikes and backcountry camping, into one trip. This is the story of our first bikepacking trip. Not everything went as planned, but we definitely came away with good lessons we can apply on future trips.

On a Friday night in August we pulled out all our normal backpacking equipment, minus the backpacks. Instead we packed our gear in panniers. Then we added some additional bike-specific items: a mini pump, tube repair kit, tire lever, spare tubes, a multi-tool, bike water bottles in place of our water bladders, mountain bike shoes for easy walking and good traction, padded bike shorts, bike locks, and helmets. We also included a full 10-liter dromedary since our destination wouldn’t have any water sources.

Saturday morning we were filled with excited and nervous energy as we headed out for a new type of adventure. We rode north on the Poudre River Bike Trail. It’s a paved, flat path with great scenery. We were off to a good start.

Biking along the Poudre River

Biking along the Poudre River

Crossing one of the bridges on the bike trail, we met a cool multi-species team out for their own Saturday adventure.

Pony and dog pulling a small carriage

Pony and dog pulling a small carriage

After 7 miles on the bike trail, we turned left onto County Road 23. One and a half miles later we made a right onto County Road 25. The rolling hills in this section had us working harder, especially with the added weight of the camping equipment and water in our panniers. We considered the extra challenge a good excuse to pause and look at the rock formations and birds around us.

Biking to Lory State Park

Biking to Lory State Park

One of the first bike camping difficulties we noticed was that our cameras, stashed in our panniers, were hard to access quickly. We ended up using them less than we would have on a hike, where they’d be close at hand on our backpack hip belts. Instead we took lots of phone pictures, since our phones were always in our pockets as we rode.

Read more

Tent Rocks National Monument Day Hike

In May we had the chance to spend a week in Santa Fe with family. We couldn’t wait to visit the desert again! Our itinerary included an excellent day hike in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. At 3 miles roundtrip, the hike was short, but it included some fantastic geology.

The hike began with flat or gradual uphill sections beneath tall canyon walls. We were impressed that some large pine trees were able to grow despite the difficult conditions.

Family hike in Tent Rocks National Monument

Family hike in Tent Rocks National Monument

We found a kingcup cactus flaunting its bold red flowers near the trail.

Kingcup Cactus

Kingcup Cactus

As we continued, the walls around us narrowed. Rock strata were on display with varying white and pink tints. It felt like we were walking through a piece of abstract art.

Uncle Bernie walking through the canyon

Uncle Bernie walking through the canyon

The elements had carved beautiful shapes into the rock. Shadows painted the graceful curves.

Read more

Waterton Lakes National Park

We love Glacier National Park, but had never visited its Canadian side, known as Waterton Lakes National Park. We arrived at Waterton to find it had gotten snow too, just not as much as Banff and Jasper. Our first stop in the park was the Prince of Wales hotel. It resembles a massive Swiss chalet, built on a hill overlooking Upper Waterton Lake. Thick clouds added to the hilltop panorama.

Upper Waterton Lake

Upper Waterton Lake

Next we headed to the visitor center, where we asked a ranger about the best wildlife viewing spots. They said someone had spotted elk by Hay Barn Road that morning. We headed down that dirt road. The elk had moved on, but we did find this grouse munching on bright red berries.

Grouse

Grouse

Looking out into a grassy meadow, we spotted a coyote! Awesome! We watched until it trotted off.

Coyote

Coyote

We headed towards Red Rock Canyon next. On the way, we noticed a car with binoculars pointed up towards the hillside. We stopped and asked what they saw. A black bear! The bear ate constantly as it plodded along the snowy hillside. Mid-September in Waterton meant winter was closing in. The bear must have been filling its tummy before hibernating.

Read more

Jasper National Park

After a chilly night in camp, we headed into the town of Jasper seeking a hot breakfast. The forecast showed heavy cloud cover all day so we opted for a relaxed day in town. We rented a room in somebody’s house (Canadians call this a Home Stay). It worked out great. Internet and showers were a real perk. From the Home Stay we could easily stroll into the heart of Jasper. The town is cute and walkable with many unique shops. We did some grocery shopping to get food for tomorrow’s three day backpacking trip to Berg Lake. And we had two food firsts: we ate Tim Hortons donuts and a vegetarian version of poutine. Both were yum.

We had heard that star gazing at Maligne Lake was incredible, so we set out in the evening despite the continued clouds over head. You never know what will happen.

Our first surprise was seeing this herd of bighorn sheep walking down the road!

Bighorn sheep

Bighorn sheep

Then we saw a fascinating waterbody. It was a wide shallow lake with a brilliant turquoise river branching through it. It was really beautiful.

We learned that this lake was named Medicine Lake by aboriginal people because of its seemingly magical powers. The lake behaves unusually due to its unique drainage system — the water exits through sinkholes in the bottom, rather than a visible outlet. In the warm summer months, glaciers melt more quickly, increasing the flow of the Maligne River. The river fills the lake faster than water can leave the sinkholes. This gives Medicine Lake the appearance of a traditional alpine lake. In the colder months, incoming melt water slows and the lake begins to disappear through the sinkholes. The lake then becomes a mudflat with scattered pools. We were happy to witness Medicine Lake’s in-between stage.

Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake

We continued driving and reached an almost completely deserted Maligne Lake. Though the clouds remained and no stars could be seen, it was a lovely spot. We walked around the lake’s edge until it started raining harder.

Read more

Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks

The Icefields Parkway winds through the Canadian Rockies, connecting Banff and Jasper National Parks. We stopped at many viewpoints and did several short hikes off this scenic road when we visited in September.

At Bow Summit we hiked up a trail about 15 minutes to get an excellent view of Peyto Lake.

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake

Looking in the opposite direction from that same viewpoint, Peyto Creek beautifully squiggled across an alluvial fan before reaching the lake.

Peyto Lake inlet

Peyto Lake inlet

A group from a tour bus arrived at the Peyto Lake viewpoint shortly after us. They wasted no time taking hundreds of selfies. Five minutes later they were gone. It was pretty comical actually.

Our next short hike took us to Mistaya Canyon. Here the Mistaya River transitions from flowing through a valley into a deep gorge.

Read more

Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

We woke to our second day in the Canadian Rockies with super sore throats and a sluggish feeling. We were sick while traveling. Ugh! Despite feeling icky we decided to at least spend the day sitting in a pretty place.

Lake Louise seemed the perfect option. It was crowded, but for good reason. Steep mountains covered in glaciers rose 4000 feet above the turquoise water. We found a nice spot to sit and take it all in. People in red canoes paddled about the lake.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

Birds like this Clark’s nutcracker hopped along the shore.

Clark’s nutcracker

When we got cold, we went inside the Fairmont Chateau hotel and ate a late lunch overlooking the lake.

Driving back to the campground, our curiosity got the better of us, even though we were low on energy and sneezing. We decided to take a detour and check out Moraine Lake. We were glad we did. It was much less crowded, and just as magnificent.

Read more

Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

Rewind to last September when we hiked the Teton Crest Trail as our honeymoon. The Tetons were amazing, but our exploring didn’t stop there. We drove north into Canada to sample their slice of the Rockies.

When we arrived in Banff National Park, it was cold, raining, and clouds hid the enormous mountains we suspected were all around us. The good news was that the bad weather made other people depart early, and we were able to score a vacated campsite at Two Jack Lakeside campground. We set up camp. With several hours left in the day we wanted to stretch our legs and go on a hike. Johnston Canyon seemed a good choice because the clouds wouldn’t affect the experience.

Just steps from the trailhead, we found ourselves on a boardwalk, dangling over the canyon edge. The water, turquoise blue due to its glacial origins, rushed by below.

Johnston Canyon

After an easy and scenic three quarters of a mile, we reached Johnston Canyon Lower Falls. The trail presented many vantage points of the falls, including a small tunnel. We ducked through to experience an up close and personal view of the waterfall as it thundered down, spraying our faces with mist.

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls

The trail climbed as it followed Johnston Creek upwards. A raven, probably begging for food, perched near the trail. It was cool to observe this huge bird at close proximity.

Read more

Cross Country Skiing at the Home Ranch

It’s a very snowy weekend here. We’re sitting inside reflecting on a recent winter experience: cross country skiing! Chris helped code the Home Ranch’s new website and as an extra thank you, they gave us a complimentary two-night stay.

Our favorite part was that we could borrow gear and ski as much as we wanted on their 20 miles of groomed trails. Strangely enough, we’d each cross country skied exactly once before — both many years ago, both in Michigan, and each with an aunt.  Those trips happened so long ago that we had to re-learn everything. It felt like a totally new experience. Trying something for the first time, like kids do, is so much fun! We fell a few times, but smiled a lot.

Here are some photos:

 

Read more

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,518 other followers