Backpacking Trip Report: Cape Alava Beach Trip



Location: Olympic National Park, WAType: In and Out

Mileage: 6
Days: 2
As GoBlueHiker mentioned, Google Earth is a very fun backpacking planner tool! I went bonkers with it, and made some screenshots that show my destination. Ahhh, when nerds go backpacking…;)
On the drive over, I stopped at some beaches west of Port Angeles, to check out the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Nobody has ever explained to me who Juan was, or why he was such a Fuca.Two adult bald eagles flew close over my car on the drive, and I spotted a juvenile bald eagle on a tree branch above a river, 30 feet away, munching on a fish. I stopped & got my camera, but approaching for a good angle I spooked him away & didn’t get the shot. :( Juvenile bald eagles are something to see!

The trailhead is at the northern tip of Lake Ozette, which is very high after weeks of deluges in Washington. Any higher & you’d need scuba gear to start off on the trail.

The Cape Alava Trail is about 3 miles, about 60-70% of which is wooden boardwalks, very slippery when wet!!! Which is pretty much always! I only got complacent & slipped once, keeping one foot on the wood & salvaging a 4.5 from the Russian judge. I marveled at the people that built & maintain this trail. Amazing. Even our off-trail monsters, Tigger & GoBlue, would sink in the muck & brambles in this area.

After stopping to check out some giant shrooms, and an old Scandahoovian homesteader’s meadow, the sun came out (!!!!!!!) so I charged ahead toward the sound of the crashing waves.

I could not believe my luck, as the warm sun poked through the trees, and shined bright off the ocean. A day like this is a rare one, especially this winter. Nearly an entire month of rain – EVERY DAY – in Seattle.

After chatting with my very friendly neighbor, James, who had the good sense to move from Texas to Oregon recently, but not the good sense to bring matches for his stove, I set up camp, and brought my matches over to him & we enjoyed the sunset. We chatted about backpacking gear, long trails, the worthlessness of digital zoom, bats, and of course the supremacy of the Seattle Seahawks, as the sun went down over Ozette Island. This is the life. B-)

It rained a little bit the next morning, but cleared up again, and I had a beautiful drive home. I stopped at Lake Crescent for a quick snapshot…man the drive along that lake is among the prettier drives around.

I stopped by Port Angeles to watch the Seahawks CRUSH the pathetic, flea-bitten Carolina Kitty-Cats (WOOOOOO HOOOO!!!!), then back to the daily grind!

Hope you enjoyed. Until next time…

Backpacking Trip Report: Big Bluff

Area: Buffalo River

State: Arkansas

Mileage: 5

Days: 2

Type: In and Out

Month: January

This is not a very long hike, but one worth taking. There are also a lot of other trails to link up with to make this a lot longer trip. We parked at the Center Point trail head on this hike. It’s the shortest way down to the bluff. A lot of people make it a day trip but we had some time to kill so we made a couple days of it.

From the trail head the trail remains level with a slight decline. After about 1/2 mile the trail begins to get steeper and follow the old road that went to a home site called Granny Henderson’s. The trail to Big Bluff is well marked and off the the right. There is a large intersection with a large fire ring. This is a great campsite, but there is no water there so be sure to pack in plenty. The Bluff is not far down the trail from here. The bluff is around 350 – 400 foot high so it’s not a great place for small kids. It does go all the way through and there is another campsite on that end too. There are a lot of good pictures to be taken from here and some great views.

From the trail head to the bluff is only about 2 miles.

Trip Report: Gila Wilderness trip


Location: Gila National Forest

State: New Mexico

Miles: 26

Days: 3

Type: In and Out

Impressions of the Gila Wilderness; three days and two nights along the Crest Trail, with a side on the Apache Holt trail to Apache Cabin and spring. Peak bagging along the way of Whitewater Baldy – 10,895; Center Baldy- 10,533 and Mongollon Baldy fire lookout–10,770. I guess about 26 miles.

It is incomparable in my mind to sit on a high peak, with the sun lowering, the view vast, and the comforts of camp nearby. I look over a green glow of the pointed conifers, making the lines of the peaks across the large valley shaggy yet flowing with the shapes of the steep slopes. A vague memory taps me; ah yes, reminds me of the Maze in Canyonlands. A great landscape with no evidence of man, no roads, buildings, agriculture, towers or mining tailings. I sit on Whitewater Baldy with the sun becoming a memory, the winds chasing the tree tops, and I rise to return to camp. I am the only one in Hummingbird saddle, situated nicely in the trees and sheltered from the wind.

The morning the birds start up as my natural alarm clock pre dawn. I love this time of day. With coffee in hand I wander in the small meadow, and experiment with the camera as the sun makes orange streaks through the trees. It’s cool and crisp. Its been warm in the day, even at 10,000 feet, where this trail stays, at least in the 80’s. The morning prior I had been camped on a small bench just above Apache cabin; between it and the small spring. I had a fair view out through the Aspens, and again my morning cup of java, I wandered in the cabin “yard” and looked out at the morning grace across the forever view.

The Crest trail is very nice, a good CCC trail. It is maintained, and the amount of fallen trees cut through testify to that maintenance. You drive up the narrow road out of Glenwood, through the not so ghost town of Mongollon, to the Sandy Point TH at about 9,300 feet, for the Mongollon Mountains. This is part of the massive Gila Wilderness, over 400,000 acres of it.
You hike through pines, firs, spruces, lots of little green plants along the trail, some flowering and some not. My favorites are the stands of Aspen, some so tall and old the trunks near the bottom are wrinkled, dark and give a lie to the species. Harbingers of old fires. I love walking in a deep forest, no sign of recent fires. Springs along the trail flow from Bead Spring, which was like its own stream, to Hobo Spring, a mucky seep, which gave my filter a run for it’s money.

My favorite of the Crest trail was the part past the junction with Apache- Holt trail. The trail soon becomes a little footpath through massive forest of ancient Douglas fir and Aspens, thick impressive stands, and clings narrowly to the steep mountain sides. It is about four miles from the junction one way to Mongollon Baldy and the fire lookout. I did this as a RT dayhike, having spent the night at Apache Cabin, then picked up my gear and overnighted it at Hummingbird, so as to have short 5 mile backpack out the third day.
The trail opens up about a mile from the summit of Mongollon Baldy, a lightning started fire in ’96 burned off a lot of the slope and the lookout was evacuated. Views here are tremendous over the Gila and southern New Mexico. The wind was up and the gusts through the burned standing trees mimiced eerie shreaks and moans.
At the top I felt a nervous sadness, from my lowly view I could see three large smoke clouds, fires, burning off to the east and south. The fire lookout was built in 1948 and the cabin earlier– in the 20’s I believe. I did not bother the lookout, I could hear voices from the tower, possibly on the radio reporting in.
Although far away I felt a little anxiety staying in the woods. I would not like to be here with fire around me.
My guidebook says this area has “moderate use”. Sat I saw no one, Sun I saw a family of four dayhiking from some base camp; then another solo backpacker took a break at Hummingbird Saddle, then moved on. Mon am on my short jaunt out I saw no one. Two vehicles at the TH besides mine. If this is moderate use I’ll take it.

Oh,yeah–my impressions?? Day one I struggled with the altitude and the up hill and carrying the pack, Day three I felt a sense of longing as I left; a sure sign I’ll return. It is one of the special ones, to roam and explore. And I have just started.

Backpacking Trip Report: Badwater to Telescope Peak

Area: Death Valley National Park

State: California

Mileage: 20

Days: 2

Type: In and Out

Death Valley is amazing. On my first trip to the park I was simply blown away by the scenery. The geologic history is simply stunning. Our plan was to hike from Badwater, the lowest point in North America, to Telescope Peak, the highest point in the park; a change of 11,331 feet of elevation in 15 miles.

The first 6-7 miles was an easy hike up a canyon wash. It wasn’t much of a climb but was definitely a steady uphill. After a little further up the canyon our trail began to disappear and we started looking for places to scramble up the rest of the mountain. Our first choice was to head up a steep scree field to a ridge that looked to be a good line up the mountain. The first part of the climb to the ridge went smoothly but we quickly ended up climbing with all fours. It became so steep and loose that we were crawling on our knees!

During a short stop we made to reconsider our safety and route, I noticed what looked like a trail another half a mile up the canyon. After talking with my girlfriend, we decided to head back down to the wash and try this new trail. Standing in our way was the thickest brush I have ever seen in my life. The plants were growing on top of each other and we were literally walking through the tops of small trees.

The next morning we found what looked like an old trail heading up the mountain. We followed it for a quarter mile until it just stopped at a cliff. I’m not sure if it was a old road to a mine or what but it brought an end to our trip. We decided that we did not have enough time to find another way up. Instead we hiked back to our car and drove to the actual trailhead to Telescope Peak. It was worth the views and we read in the peak register that another couple had tried the same thing and was successful on the third try.

Backpacking Trip Report: Denali

Area: Denali National Park

State: Alaska

Mileage: 8

Days: 1

Type: In and Out

My girlfriend and I were traveling through Alaska after finishing our work on a trail crew at Kenai Fjords National Park and stopped at Denali National Park for two days. On our first day there, we drove until the gate at milepost 30. Since it was passed the park\’s season, private vehicles can drive down the Park Highway. On our way back at around milepost 23? my girlfriend and I decided to start hiking to a peak that we had kind of randomly chosen.

The hike was extremely difficult. The tundra grabbed at me on every step and I never knew what was beneath the moss as I placed my boot. It took us nearly 3 hours to get to the really steep parts and the beginning of the snow. We saw several sheep tracks but didn\’t spot any wildlife. When we turned around and looked at the view had climbed to, we were awestruck by the magnificence of Denali. It towered above everything else and we were over 50 miles away!

Another highlight was our mile walk across a solid snowpack. My girlfriend had never experienced that on a mountain top and I was wishing I had skis.

The hike down took considerably less, but was a strain on my body. I was exhausted by the time we reached the vehicle, but I now know a little more about what it is like in the tundra and peaks of Denali National Park.

Trip Report: Wind River Range

Friday, July 15
After work, I left for the airport and my flight to Denver, Colorado. When I got to Denver I was to meet up with the Captn and his son Tom. My 6:00 PM flight left the gate right on time, but we sat on the runway until about 7:00 waiting for clearance to take off. I phoned the Captn to let him know. The flight went smoothly and I was only 10 minutes late. I got to baggage claim and within 5 minutes or so the Captn was ringing my cell. I told him where I was and soon heard him calling my name. He said that he figured I was the “guy walking around the airport with fishing rod in hand…” We located the hotel shuttle and within about ½ hour, we were at our hotel. We settled in and the Captn ordered pizza for supper. I called coloradodcs, our ride from Denver to Lander, and then called powerhiker to let him know we were here. After chatting for a couple of hours with the Captn and Tom, we drifted off to dreamland.

Saturday, July 16
Coloradodcs arrived at the hotel. After stowing our gear in his truck we hit the highway. We met up with powerhiker along the way and I switched over to his van. From there the caravan was off to Lander, connected by two-way radios. It was a pleasant drive. We stopped in Rawlins for lunch and were back on the road in less than an hour. The landscape changed about every 15 minutes or so. We saw dry fields leading up to rolling hills, groves of trees, and red rock formations with the rock strata canted at weird angles. There were rounded piles of rocks, which powerhiker said were a lot like what you would see in the Vaudevoos (sp?) He talked about his recent trail maintenance trip and we both remarked that we couldn’t believe our trip had actually started. Along the way we saw pronghorn roaming the plains, some even close to the road. Before long, we saw signs for Lander and knew we were close. When we checked in at the hotel we found that just about everyone was already there: eduk8er and Trail Angel; Foggy, Mr. Foggy, and TroutBoy; LiRM35 and showmehiker; Jaywalker and HighHills; Zipee and hikes-with-dumbbell; JeffB and Trail Turtle. With the Captn, Tom, coloradodcs, powerhiker and me there was only one missing. Not long after we arrived, bunion pulled in and the group was complete. We visited with everyone, reuniting with friends we knew and getting acquainted with the newcomers. It was great – and I got to get there before 2 AM this year – with all of my gear intact! Supper was at 6:30 so we unloaded and cleaned up. We got our fishing licenses and some other “stuff” then went back to the hotel where we gathered to leave for supper at Cowfish, the local watering hole. Before we left for the restaurant, Foggy and Mr. Foggy gave out our official team t-shirts for this year’s trip. I handed out embroidered patches and Leave no Trace cards to everyone. Supper was a really fun time as we continued to get to know each other. The excitement of the group was electric as each of us talked about our expectations for the trip. After supper, we hung out in the park behind the hotel until about 10 PM, and then off to our rooms for our last sleep in a bed for awhile.

At the Trailhead: In front – PowerHiker and Bunion
L to R: Trail Angel, Eduk8er, JeffB, JayWalker, HighHills, TrailTurtle, Hikes-with-dumbbell, Zipee,
Coloradodcs, Tom, the Captn, TroutBoy, ShowmeHiker, LiRM35, Foggy, Squilax, Mr. Foggy
(photo by JayWalker)

Sunday, July 17
We gathered at 7:42 AM in front of eduk8er’s room. With gear in vehicles and coffee in hand, we eagerly anticipated heading for the trailhead at the Worthen Meadows reservoir. The convoy left, traveling through town then up through Sinks Canyon to the dirt track that led us into the mountains. Following switchback after switchback, we finally arrived on top past Frye Lake to the reservoir and parking lot. There were a few vehicles already there, including horse and llama (yes, LLAMA) trailers. We gathered our gear, making sure we didn’t leave anything necessary behind (right eduk8er??). We made final pit stops, and then headed up the trail. Did I say UP? It sure was – almost all the way! It was soon apparent that there were two sub-groups in this cadre of backcountry explorers. One group of fairly quick-paced folk including Trail Turtle, whom we all were sure, spoke with a forked tongue about her hiking style! The rest of us: eduk8er, Trail Angel, the Captn, Tom and I, kept a steady, but more relaxed pace, taking photos and talking along the way. We took more breaks than the lead group, but we enjoyed the pace as we trudged up to the pass at 10,600 feet. We found a nice spot to stop next to a waterfall. It was a welcome relief to drop the pack, have lunch and string up my hammock for a siesta. I thought I had tested both of the trees I was using, but against Tom’s better judgment, I tied off the foot end of the hammock to a very large, but very dead, tree. Just about the time I began to doze off (about 15 minutes or so) I heard cracking and snapping and opened my eyes to see the huge trunk falling my way. It was like viewing in slow motion as the tree’s roots let loose from the dry ground and fell toward me veering off to my right and landing with a resounding THUD on the ground. I can’t recall ever seeing eduk8er on his feet so quickly! He jumped up shouting, thinking I was under the tree, and everyone scurried over to find me sitting leisurely in my hammock, on the ground, with a very surprised look on my face! We all laughed, nervously, thinking about what the outcome might have been. Powerhiker had come down to meet us and we got back on the trail. We laughed about this escapade more than once during the rest of the week. Heh heh… We made it to the top of the pass around suppertime, and what a view from the dinner table! Across from us were the Wind River Mountains, including Wind River Peak, snow covered in all its glory. What a sight to behold! Powerhiker and showmehiker were waiting on top for us and had water to refill our supply. They didn’t want our two groups to be out of touch with each other. As they went down to meet up with the rest of the Wanderers, powerhiker said he’d be back a little later to camp with us up on the pass. We ate supper and soon after, a couple of the members in our group felt dizzy and nauseated, so we decided to head down for lower elevations to help alleviate their symptoms. As we started downhill, I tried to raise powerhiker on the radio but he was already coming over the ridge below us. We told him what was going on, and he joined us in our descent. He had already climbed that pass three times today, so I was sure he was tired and hungry. We found a nice spot to set up camp for the night and as it was close to 9 PM, we decided to stop while we still had light to see. There was a stream nearby and our campsite was nestled in a dense copse of evergreens a couple hundred feet off and below the trail. Powerhiker and I slung our hammocks – I looked for two sturdy, very LIVE trees this time – while everyone else put up their tents. Once situated, I lit my candle lantern, set it on a large flat rock and laid back looking up at the stars beginning to show between the branches above. I thought to myself, “what a beautiful day this turned out to be”. Powerhiker joined me with his Indian flute. He sat nearby, and the mournful tones emanating from this carved piece of wood blended into the surroundings. How appropriate! The moon, the stars, and Native music! It was plaintive, but soothing and relaxing as I laid back and looked up into the sky. We talked for awhile in between songs and it felt good to be one with nature.

Monday, July 18
We awoke and busied ourselves with breakfast, cleanup and repacking our gear. I asked eduk8er if he’d like to lighten his pack a bit – I thought he had brought my supper meals. He looked at me surprised and asked, “What do you mean?” I realized he had not brought my food with him. He assumed I had brought everything I needed, so he left my meal packs in the back of his truck – 7 miles away… We had a good laugh over that one. As it turned out, nobody went hungry. The food I brought, in addition to the fish we caught during the week was more than enough to see us through. Some of the point group passed by on their way to the creek to restock their water supply, so we chatted with them about the day before. We headed down to their camp, discovering that it was only another few hundred yards away and met up with the rest. Foggy, Mr. Foggy and TroutBoy decided to hang out with us on the trail today, so when everyone was ready we set off. Keeping our leisurely pace, we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the fellowship, getting to know the Foggys again. It seemed all we did was laugh and carry on, as if it really hadn’t been a year since we last saw each other. We made it to Bill’s Park that afternoon and set up camp across the river. During suppertime, Foggy built a great campfire and we enjoyed our meal together, gathered around the fire telling jokes, swapping stories and engaging in animated conversation for most of the evening. We watched the stars come out and saw the almost full moon rise through the trees. The Captn and Tom were beginning to recover from their distress of being at altitude and everyone was having a great time.

Tuesday, July 19
Sometime during the night, the cords on my hammock stretched on one side and I found myself lying towards one edge of the hammock instead of comfortably snuggled in the center. Fortunately, my hammock has sewn-in bug netting, so I didn’t fall out. Unfortunately though, the side that had loosened during the night was opposite the side from where the opening was. When I awoke to the sounds of everyone having breakfast, I tried to get out of the hammock, but kept rolling backwards away from the opening. After struggling, but before taking out my knife to cut myself loose, I was finally able to roll up and out. Eduk8er yelled, “Look – it’s giving birth!” and I found myself sitting on the ground. We all laughed at this and I was soon OK as I had my first cup of coffee. After breakfast, I decided to do some fishing and exploring. The Foggys had taken off downstream to pursue some elusive brook trout, and several of us soon followed suit. The radio crackled to life and we heard “powerhiker to Winds Wanderers” come across the airwaves. Eduk8er answered the call. Powerhiker, showmehiker, Zipee and bunion had all reached the top of Wind River Peak and they were checking in with us. We found out that JeffB was not feeling up to par and that he and powerhiker would be joining us later in the day. After lunch, we lounged by the river taking in the beauty that surrounded us. This was a good time to catch up on everything that had transpired since we saw each other last. During the day, everyone contributed to the stringer of fish that was to become our supper that night. Foggy, Trail Angel, the Captn and I had the job of preparing the fish and then it was time for the Bill’s Park Trout Cook off. We ended up with four different fish dishes for supper – Trout Chowder, Lemonade Poached Trout, Italian Spiced Trout and Cajun Blackened Trout. What made it taste even better was that we were eating it outdoors, sharing it with friends. Powerhiker and JeffB joined us in time to finish off the last of the fish. Tonight turned out to be an early to bed night for everyone as the fresh air and activity had worn us all out.

Wednesday, July 20
Woke up to a beautiful morning and today was pretty much like Tuesday. Fishing, lounging, napping, talking, but with one new activity – swimming! JEEZ! That water was FREAKIN’ COLD! Tom and I worked up the nerve to get in, and we swam across the river. It definitely was, uh, refreshing – yeah, that’s it! Others joined in – TroutBoy, eduk8er, and Trail Angel. The nice thing after the swim was that the sun was warm and the mountain breeze helped us to dry off quickly. When we gathered later at the fire, three of us showed up in an unofficial “uniform of the day”. Mr. Foggy, eduk8er and I were all wearing green cargo pants and long sleeved white shirts! We all laughed, and someone, I can’t remember if it was Foggy or Trail Angel, asked us if we planned this ahead of time. It was pretty comical. Zipee and hikes-with-dumbbell joined us later as the other group of Wanderers stopped by. They were all headed for the Stough Creek Lakes and were checking in with us. Another supper of trout and various accompaniments awaited us tonight. JeffB was a lot perkier today as he acclimated to the lower elevation.

Thursday, July 21
Today we decided to pack up and head out. The afternoon before, powerhiker, eduk8er and Zipee pored over the map to set the route back to the reservoir. We set out for Sheep Bridge to camp there for the night. This would give us a short hike on our last day. We stopped occasionally for photos and broke for lunch a little past Gill’s Park. It was here that the Popo Agie River opened up into a beautiful lake and looking back, we viewed the reflection of the mountains on its calm surface. Today’s lunch break was no different than all the other meal times… our sides ached and some of us had tears running down our faces from laughing so hard. It was terrific to be in the company of such a wonderful group of friends! We made it to Sheep Bridge and set up camp. This was a beautiful site. We had a huge flat rock for our kitchen and dining area and the river was not too far away. There were shallow pools at the edge of the water where we soothed our feet and legs and we washed off the accumulated dust from the trail. After supper, powerhiker entertained us with more flute music and we awaited the sight of the full moon over the mountain. We relived the week’s experiences with each other, thinking about plans for next year and talking about some possible locations for next summer’s gathering.

Friday, July 22
As promised, the hike out was a short one. Although the beginning was all uphill, we found a nice rest spot up on top and took a break. The Foggys, TroutBoy, powerhiker, Zipee, and hikes-with-dumbbell preceded the rest of us and we took our time together, not wanting this awesome week to draw to a close. As it turned out, we were less than ½ hour from the parking lot when we took our break. When we crested the next rise we saw the reservoir below. It wasn’t long before we reunited with the rest of our group. Powerhiker was waiting with bottles of Gatorade for all of us. When we were all there and loaded up, we headed down the mountain. We stopped briefly to check out Sink’s Canyon. This is an oddity of nature where the Popo Agie River disappears underground into a cave and reappears further downstream in a deep pool filled with huge trout. At the hotel, we cleaned up and awaited the arrival of the other group of Wanderers. We met up at Cowfish again. This time when we got to the restaurant there was no power. Such are the tribulations of being on a trip with eduk8er! We spent the time visiting and comparing notes from the week while waiting for power to be restored. Dinner was great. Afterward, we went back to eduk8er’s room to watch a slide show that Trail Angel had put together including photos from everyone who had a digital camera. We hung out for awhile in the parking lot. Jaywalker handed out some mementos and a special treat from Kentucky. I don’t think anyone wanted to see this trip come to an end!
Location: Wind River Range

State: Wyoming

Miles: 32

Days: 6

Type: In and Out

Saturday, July 23
Joined the Wanderers for breakfast at the Oxbow. Jaywalker and HighHills, LiRM35 and showmehiker, bunion, and Trail Turtle left either before breakfast or the night before. When we were finished, we packed up for the ride home. We said our goodbyes and the Captn, Tom and I piled into coloradodcs’ truck, headed for Denver. Powerhiker, Zipee, and hikes-with-dumbbell left for Pinedale and another week in the Winds. The Foggys and TroutBoy headed off to Washington. Eduk8er and Trail Angel did their final packing and would be on the road soon. We headed south to Rawlins and stopped in at the Subway where we had lunch on the way up. Eduk8er called me and said he wasn’t far behind us. When I saw him pull in, I traveled the rest of the way to Denver with him and Trail Angel. The Captn got a phone call from his niece in Boulder. She was picking him and Tom up at the hotel so we wouldn’t be getting the chance to say goodbye. I also missed saying goodbye to coloradodcs (for the second year running). The three of us – eduk8er, Trail Angel, and me – stopped at the Cracker Barrel for supper then went to the hotel. We hung out in the hot tub for awhile and then called it a night. I was really grateful for this “bonus” time with eduk8er and his wife.

Sunday, July 24
We drove over to the airport after breakfast and said our goodbyes there. I wish this trip could have continued, but all good things eventually come to an end. Well – There’s always next year! Bandelier in March and who knows where next July??

Backpacking Trip Report: Pruitt to Kyles Landing

Area: Buffalo River

State: Arkansas

Mileage: 17

Days: 3

Type: In and Out

We did this trip over Labor Day weekend. We started at Pruitt campground and headed back up river on the BRT (Buffalo River Trail) which is the trail that goes up and away from the river and is also limited to hikers only. There is a trail that stays on the river called the ORT (Old River Trail) that is for hikers and horses.As we started out we ascended a graudual climb up to an overlook. From there the trail passes several old homesteads and then winds up at Ozark campground. That leg of the trail is 2.6 miles. This is a great place to swim and relax. From there we headed on up river towards Erbie. We stopped about a mile short of Erbie to camp for the night. That was about 5 miles form Ozark and we dropped down onto the ORT to get to the river and filter some water.

There’s a great place to camp on down on the river here. It’s a gravel bar that has places where there are sand. We had to shrink the River’s snake population here by three so be careful when camping down on the river. There are some great holes here for fishing and swimming and just a great place to relax.

The next morning we set out for another day of hiking. We passed through Erbie and on to some of the coolest parts of the trail I’ve ever been on. There are several historical sites on this section of the trail. There’s the Parker-Hickman farm and an old cemetery just up the road from there with some stones that date back to 1796. From there we hiked along a ridge overlooking the river and saw some really great stuff. This is a pretty long span away from the river so if you go it make sure you take plenty of water. At this point we dropped back down to the river for some swimming and some lunch.

After lunch we decided to make it over to Camp Orr Boy Scout Camp to go through a cave there called Copper Head Cave. We got the cave and had to help get a guy out of the cave that couldn’t climb back out. This cave is a drop in and then goes for a nearly a mile. After getting the guy out of the cave we decided to head back down to the river set up camp. We ended up camping about .6 of a mile from our final destination on a gravel bar at Buzzard Bluff. It was awesome. The bluff walls here are over 300 feet tall and truly amazing. The swimming there is awesome too.

After a good night we headed the last .6 of a mile to Kyle’s landing and then over to the cave for the day. We were originally planning on making this a three day but ended up doing all but the last .6 of a mile in 2 days. We decided to stop there because of how awesome it was.

This was a great hike. I would highly recommend it! Be sure to check out the pictures.

Backpacking Trip Report: White Rocks Trail



Location: Shenandoah National Park
Type: In and Out

Mileage: 6
Days: 2

On a weekend late in June, a few other Shenandoah National Park Student Conservation Association volunteers and I decided to go for an overnight trip in the park. I had previously done a circuit hike on Hazel Mtn Trail to Hazel River Trail to White Rocks Trail and suggested this location. The circuit hike was about 9 miles with a bunch of elevation change, but for our overnight trip we decided to just head in on White Rocks Trail and find a campsite between the waterfalls and the White Rocks.

This overnight trip was a spur of the moment thing as we didn’t start hiking until 45 minutes before sunset. Each of us also had about 5-10 pounds of liquid weight to make sure we had a good time… The hike to our campsite was downhill the entire way and we made it to the waterfall spur trail without needing a headlamp.

The challenge now was to find a preexisting campsite to spend the night at. This area was significantly changed by the huge fire in 2000 and the understory was thick with brush and mountain laurel. Luckily we found a campsite just as we put our headlamps on. The campsite we found was tucked away in the mountain laurel 150 yards past the White Rocks – Waterfall trail intersection.

Shenandoah National Park’s camping regulations differ from many other parks since you can for the most part camp anywhere as long as you are 20 yards from a trail or 10 yards from water. However, fires are not allowed, which for a leisurely overnight trip is really a bummer. We made the best of it though using my whisperlite stove as a heat source and light. We sat up drinking beer around the stove for hours and finally made it into our bags at about 12.

I slept great during the night even though the winds picked up. I bet we had wind gusts up to 40 mph, but the beer probably helped out quite a bit.

The next morning we hiked down to the white rocks, which is basically a bunch of large boulders to climb up on. The views were fantastic as we almost had a 360 degree view. We sat up there for a good hour until the wind chilled us enough to make us want to move again. We then hiked the 3 miles back to the car and took the 20 minute drive back to the house to catch some World Cup Soccer action.

Spur of the moment trips like these really make me appreciate working in a National Park and living so close to a great resource. I’ll have to start posting some of my dayhikes now!

Backpacking Trip Report: Lost Lake

Area: Chugach National Forest

State: Alaska

Mileage: 15

Days: 2

Type: In and Out

I was recently building trail at Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska for a month as part of a Student Conservation Association crew. On one of my weekends, my girlfriend and I went for a short backpacking trip to Lost Lake.

We began the hike from the Seward side and soon ran into a wind that just about knocked me over when we reached tree line. When I turned around the wind would smack the straps on my backpack against my face, but the view of Resurrection Bay was amazing. It was a crystal clear fall day in Alaska and was the peak of the color change. The mountains were covered with the red of fireweed and other tundra plants while the aspen gave the lower forests an awesome golden glow.

The trail was somewhat heavily used by locals as a common dayhike. We passed several trail runners and day hikers. I guess the lake was no longer lost.

We didn\’t end up camping on Lost Lake but stayed on a slightly smaller one to the east. My girlfriend and I tried our luck on fishing, but gave up after a while. We had the perfect spot to camp, out of the wind with a terrific view.

The next day we began hiking out but focused on berry picking for a solid hour. We collected nearly one gallon of high bush blueberries and probably ate many more that didn\’t make it into our ziplock bag. My hands and lips were stained purple for the rest of the day. The rest of the hike was a bit more peaceful than the day before; there were fewer hikers and much less wind.

It was a wonderful backpacking trip and I suggest the trail as a dayhike to any visitors to Seward, AK.

Backpacking Trip Report: Pyramid Peak



Location: North Cascades National Park

Type: In and Out

Mileage: 10
Days: 2
After a few weeks of not getting to the top of anything, (tiger doesn’t count tongue.gif ) I was getting hungry for a summit. But where to go? To the North Cascades of course! I’ve been spending a lot of time in the n.c. this winter because I love the views. Unfortunately, the weather can be bad a lot of the time. Most times when it’s nice everywhere else, it’ll be bad in the n.c. To get around this issue, I figured if I went there nearly every weekend, my chances of good weather would improve! I had been fiendishly checking the weather all week, and it was not looking good for the weekend. On the other hand, it was not looking good anywhere in the state, for saturday anyway.Laurie and Katie arrived at my place at 5am on saturday morning. I wanted to give them the dire weather report, and give them fair chance to bail. Not that there was anything to bail to. We all agreed to go anyway, 100% chance of precip. be darned!

Medium rain had slowed to light mist by the time we left the car. We were on the trail to pyramid lake by 8:15am. (1100ft) We followed the trail until it became obscured by snow, after which we followed the creek up towards pyramid lake but never crossed over to the lake itself (not really worth seeing, IMO), instead we headed up steep timbered slopes until we reached an undefined ridge with an open area where we stopped for lunch(4500). It had been snowing lightly since 2000ft and there were no views at all. We were wearing snowshoes, but removed them for the next steep slope ahead. Two rocky, cliffy areas we encountered were bypassed to the right(north). We broke out into open alpine slopes at about 5200ft. I strained my eyes for views, but alas, all was obscured by fog and snow. We found a semi sheltered place for camp(5350ft) and set up the “baby”.

The “baby” was a 3 person, 4 season tent we had borrowed for this trip. Since I wasn’t familiar with this type of ‘suspended in the fly’ tent, I didn’t want to take it all apart to split up the weight between us for fear that I wouldn’t be able to re-assemble it properly in a snowstorm embarassedlaugh.gif We worked out a system instead, where we would rotate the baby every few hours so each of us could have the pleasure of carrying the whole tent (minus the poles, of course). After my turn with the baby, I handed it over to Laurie, who didn’t want to give it up once she had it. Katie and I couldn’t find a reason to complain about this situation up.gif

After some april tomfoolery with the tent poles, we had our palace set up for the night, and went to sleep to the sound of snow hitting the tent, and hopes for views and maybe even a summit in the morning.

All that was hidden the previous day was revealed in all its glory for us on sunday morning! But, we had slept in too long to make a real summit bid – or had we? We had some breakfast (can’t climb without coffee doh.gif ), and set off with day packs toward the col at the base of Pyramid peak, which was only about 20min. from camp. We were ready to have a look at the traverse we would need to do below the east face of pyramid peak to gain the colonial glacier. Our route would be a U-shaped one, and traverse below paul bunyans stump and Pinnacle peak in order to gain the easy south slope of pyramid peak. The traverse from the col to the snout of the colonial glacier was the crux of the climb. It was an exposed traverse, and would have to be done one at a time, quickly.

We stood at the col, sizing up the route ahead. We had many factors against us and few in our favor. The sun had been baking the slope for hours, and as we stood there, snowball after snowball rolled down its length. We had decided to leave the snowshoes in camp (a weird call, in retrospect) and were postholing and moving slowly because of it. We would have to re-cross this slope later in the day, which would make it even more dangerous than it was right now. We all decided it would be unsafe to cross, and climbed up and over the knob to the east of the col to get out of the wind, sit in the sun, and enjoy the views. About 10 minutes later, we heard the thunder of a good sized slide, and ran back up to the knob to take a look. The slope had released a good sized, long running wet slide right across where one of us would have been had we gone. eek.gif No foolin’.

We were happy with the decision we made, and made our way back to pack up the “baby” and head down. From a couple thousand feet below, we could look up and still see the slide path. A leisurely descent had us back at the car by 4pm with many hours of daylight left!! We almost had time for another hike…… wink.gif