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Posts tagged ‘hiking’

Hiking Grand Gulch in Utah: Day 2

We woke to a peaceful morning on the second day of our hike in Grand Gulch. Quiet surrounded us as we filtered water from the creek near Junction Spring.

Cottonwoods thrive along the creek

Backpacking in Grand Gulch in late April

We found an intriguing collection of rock art at Turkey Pen Ruin. It is thought that the sheep pictograph on the right has a spear in its back.

Peering inside an ancestral Pueblo structure

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Backpacking Photos from Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park

In early October we went on a backpacking trip in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park. We experienced some gorgeous fall weather and colors, but also rain, snow, and ferocious wind. The weather sure changes quickly in the mountains!

Today’s post is all photos. Enjoy!

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Backpacking Wild Basin Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park

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Copeland Falls

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Raindrops on floating aspen leaves

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Channel Islands National Park Day 3

High winds made for a very noisy night on Santa Cruz Island. Gust after gust whooshed down the valley, rocking trees and sometimes cracking branches. As the sun rose, before everyone else woke, Chris decided to explore the cliffs above Scorpion Campground. Up there he found a perfect mix of drama, beauty, and solitude.

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Channel Islands National Park

The wind remained fierce. When Joe and Becky emerged from their tent, it immediately blew away with all their gear still inside. They quickly retrieved the tent and collapsed it, preventing it from turning into a kite again.

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Scorpion Campground

We had planned to kayak through sea caves today, but that trip had been cancelled due to the bad weather. Now our hope was to catch the emergency ferry back to the mainland at noon.

Over the past two days (see Day 1 and Day 2), we heard so much conflicting information regarding ferry times and weather that we didn’t fully trust anything people told us. We decided to be on the safe side. We packed everything up and walked to the dock, planning to wait there all morning in case a ferry arrived before noon.

While we were eating breakfast on the beach, other campers came by and informed us that they called Island Packers and were told that the emergency noon ferry had been canceled. There would be no ferry service to the island at all for today. We were shocked, and to be honest, a bit skeptical because of past misinformation. We decided to hike up to the cliffs ourselves, hoping to find a cell signal to call the ferry service.

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Channel Islands National Park Day 2

In our last post, we were enjoying beautiful Santa Cruz Island, seeing lots of wildlife, and having a great time hanging out with our siblings. Unfortunately we were told that due to an impending storm, our trip was going to be cut short and we would soon have to take a ferry back to the mainland. For more details, read the full Day 1 blog post.

Things got stranger on Day 2 (December 21). This map of the island will help orient you:

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Santa Cruz Island detail (source: National Park Service)

Our second day on the island began early with a variety of birds chirping around the Del Norte Camp. Ever curious, we got up and tried to spot them.

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We found a loggerhead shrike as the morning sun pleasantly illuminated the hills and water.

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Loggerhead Shrike

After breakfast, we went on a short out-and-back day hike on the Del Norte trail.

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The views were amazing.  We saw an island fox, a spotted towhee, house finches, and several other birds.

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Channel Islands National Park Day 1

We went on a sibling backpacking trip in Channel Islands National Park this past December. Chris’s sister Becky and Anna’s brother Joe joined us for the adventure. We were very excited to spend some quality time with them, and to explore a new place at the same time. We planned two days of hiking, a day of kayaking, and a half day of snorkeling before heading back to mainland California. We could never have guessed what surprises the park held for us!

We woke early, piled gear into Joe’s car, and headed about an hour north of Los Angeles to Ventura, CA. We arrived at the harbor on time, checked in, and put our packs below deck. It was a sunny, gorgeous winter day. The only odd thing that morning was a terse email from Island Packers ferry service stating “We are running the trip to Prisoners Harbor today.  The crossing to the island will be rough.” That couldn’t have been farther from the calm, sunny weather we were enjoying on the shore.

Minutes into the ferry crossing, the captain got on the loudspeaker, slowed the engines and started taking about a Stellar sea lion he’d just spotted. He explained that it was rare to see a Stellar sea lion in Southern California waters because they mostly live near Alaska. It was huge, much bigger than the California sea lions we’d seen before.  The captain also explained that the large semi-circular scar near the sea lion’s tail was likely from a shark bite. The sea lion made a deep call and even stuck out its tongue at us as the boat drifted by.

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Stellar sea lion

Farther from shore, the wind picked up and the waves grew taller. The ferry started to rock and roll. As we rode wave after wave high into the air, then fell into an empty void below, it felt like we were on a roller coaster. Salty spray drenched the boat as the fierce wind chilled us. Dolphins seemed to like the waves and the ferry. For a few minutes, several swam playfully alongside us, even jumping occasionally. They were so beautiful and graceful.

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Dolphins swimming next to ferry

The ferry ride was turning out to be part of the adventure, not just transportation to the island! The first stop was Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island. The majority of passengers, many of them birders, were to disembark here. Unfortunately the dock at Scorpion had recently been damaged by a mix of climate change-induced sea level rise and a king tide. With the dock unusable, passengers had to be skiffed to shore six at a time.

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Skiff dropping people off at Scorpion Anchorage

Our stomachs started to feel uneasy while waiting over an hour on the bobbing ferry. We watched the horizon to fend off seasickness.

Finally, the ferry started moving again. We passed steep cliffs and grand arches carved into the rock. Whitecaps kept the boat rolling. We were glad when we arrived at Prisoners Harbor, and set our feet on solid ground.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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