Tag Archives: hiking

Red Rock Canyon

We reached the final destination of our road trip down SR95 on New Year’s Eve: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The area is full of scenic trails, grand vistas, gorgeous rock formations and lots of bouldering and rock climbing opportunities. As usual, we found places to camp along dirt roads on nearby BLM land.

 

Due to Red Rock Canyon’s popularity and close proximity to Las Vegas, you have to purchase a timed entry reservation online to access the scenic loop road and its associated trailheads but the system works well.  One thing I’d recommend to make the most of your time is to spend a day exploring the Calico Hills area from the other side – from the free-to-access Calico Basin area – so that you can have more time for other trails on the day you reserve entry to the scenic loop.

   

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Rhyolite Ruins, Desert Art and Wild Burros

Continuing south on SR95 from Tonopah and Goldfield, we came through Beatty and reached the Goldwell Open Air Museum a little before sunset:

 

We spent the next two nights in a spot in the hills outside Beatty and ventured out on our bikes to explore and visit the remains of the mining town, Rhyolite.  We also encounter some wild burros both out in the desert and in the middle of the town of Beatty.

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Carson/Ebbetts Passes

One year after the camper van was rear-ended and a very long time at a body ship plus several more months getting rebuilt and outfitted, Darlene and I (and Hera) were finally able to head out in the van again for some exploration. We ended up camping out in four different dispersed spots we found over not quite two weeks in an area of the Sierra Nevada between Carson and Ebbetts Passes (often near the Pacific Crest Trail), going exploring by mountain biking, hiking and geocaching.

 

We had nice weather the whole time except for some wildfire smoke that started to blow in on the last couple of days.  We cut the trip a couple days short to avoid getting caught out in a bit of snow forecast for the higher elevations.

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Hiking Coastal Portugal

Darlene and I joined Glenn and Michele for a weeklong trip with BikeHike Adventures in Portugal and our wonderful local guide Pedro and driver Filipa.  Our trip started with a day tour of Lisbon and continued with hiking days along various portions of the Portuguese coast as we worked our way south, including portions of the Vicentina Trail (or Rota Vicentina). We visited a tile workshop to see how Portugal’s azulejo tiles are created and got to try our hand at painting our own tiles.  Our trip ended with a visit to our guide’s mountain home town and enjoying a home-cooked meal from his mom at his uncle’s distillery before the return all the way back to Lisbon.

Unfortunately, Darlene came into the trip with a lingering respiratory illness and we didn’t think she was still infectious until I started getting symptoms – sore throat, congestion and eventually frequent coughing fits.  Darlene sat out one day’s hiking and we both took a day off to try to sleep and recover, the two of us missing out on the hike to Cabo San Vicente, the southwestern-most point in Europe.  We all masked up once it became clear I was getting sick, but Glenn and Michele ended up getting infected by the end of the trip anyway.  And we all had to deal with it for our ongoing travel – Darlene and I on to Spain and Glenn and Michele continuing on in northern Portugal, Spain and the Azores.

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A Return to Costa Rica

Darlene and I were able to extend our stay in Costa Rica following Nacho and Adriana’s “not-a-wedding” and we both got to enjoy some new areas of the country – this time during their very wet and rainy “green season”. (All of our arrangements were made through Costa Rica Rios.)

We started off with a few days in and around the very popular and very busy Manuel Antonio National Park to see the wildlife – three-toed sloths, white-face monkeys, caiman, basilisks, spiders and snakes (on my!) – and enjoy the beaches.  We stayed at the Gaia Hotel and Nature Preserve.

After Manuel Antonio, we were transferred further south and a little bit inland on a rough road to the remote Rafiki Safari Lodge for four nights.  From the lodge we managed to get wet in numerous ways: smashing waves on a raft on the Rio Savegre, walking through a heavy waterfall, careening down a water slide, wading into a roaring whirpool beneath another waterfall, soaking in the lodge’s hot tub and of course hiking in the rainforest – in the rain.  We were also treated to our guide Kenneth’s extensive knowledge of the jungle and life growing up in the nearby very small and remote villages.

Our next adventure was a steep hike up to and an overnight stay in The Cave, behind the Diamante waterfall near Los Tumbas.  We also explored some additional trails and came upon another even more insane waterfall as well as an unexpectedly long climb/hike to a not-so-nearby swimming hole.  The next morning, Darlene opted to do the optional rappel down between the twin falls near the cave:

From there we were transported south to Osa Peninsula and had a boat transfer through the mangrove waterways out to Drake Bay and La Paloma Lodge.  Over the following four days, we had a scuba dive trip out to Caño Island, a guided tour with Tico to see lots more wildlife in a bit of Corcovado National Park, a very entertaining and somewhat eventful kayak outing (ask Darlene) in a river channel as the tide came in and a long day’s hike along the coast and the edge of the rainforest to see some (ahem) non-existent baby sea turtles. (Again, ask Darlene. ;-)

A five-and-a-half-minute video montage of our whole trip.

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See also separate gallery from our rainy day visit (before the wedding) to the Rescate Wildife Rescue Center.

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Steens Mountain

Exploring southeastern Oregon, Darlene and I made our way up to Alvord Desert, below the eastern front of Steens Mountain.  We zipped around the playa mid-day for a little while and then continued north along the steep eastern front of the mountain.  As it turns out, all the roads up into the mountain from this side feature private property signs and require special permission to access, so we ended up continuing on to other southeastern Oregon destinations before eventually circling back several days later.

Kiger Mustangs

On our way back we passed through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and headed to the highlands in hopes of seeing the Kiger Mustangs.  These are wild horses which were only fairly recently discovered to be direct descendents of Iberian horses brought over by Spanish conquistadors some 400 years ago.  We did come across a large herd near the road that we could watch for a long while before sunset, even while we cooked and ate dinner.

The next day we took up the Steens Mountain loop from the north, going clockwise and checking out Kiger Gorge before finding a pullout along the road to spend the night.  (Too many mosquitos in the actual campground back down amongst the creek and aspens.)  Over the next couple of days, we checked out many stupendous viewpoints and got in a few hikes (including off-trail from the peak). We camped at another pullout near the top one night so we could more easily catch sunrise and we ran into another herd of wild horses at lower elevations.

Steens Mountain montage

After Steens Mountain, we headed home west (choosing to skip a follow-up visit to Alvord Desert) and stayed overnight in Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge where we enjoyed a soak in a hot spring pool and did spot a herd of antelope.

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Owyhee Canyonlands

On our southeastern Oregon tour, Darlene and I made our way over to the Owyhee Canyonlands near the Idaho border.  It was July and it was hot, so hardly anyone else was around.  We had to get up with the sunrise to get in hiking and exploration before the afternoon heat but it was gorgeous!  The rock formations around Leslie Gulch are fantastic as well as the Succor Creek Natural Area.  We would have enjoyed spending more days exploring but there was an incoming heat wave promising well over 100 degree weather for the coming days so we decided to skedaddle and find some cooler weather in the higher altitudes of the central Oregon mountains.

 

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Hot Springs and River Gorges

On our way through Nevada to southeastern Oregon, Darlene and I spent a couple of days exploring the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and the Thousand Creek Gorge in particular.  Only spotted a single lone antelope but got in a bit of biking and hiking and a soak in the hot spring pool at the Virgin Valley campground.  Didn’t stay at the campground but found a spot in some nearby BLM land outside the wildlife refuge.  We also overnighted at Bog Hot Springs off of highway 140.

Somewhere along the way, on some rough and rocky side roads in the refuge, we managed to bust off our gray tank’s drain valve.  Didn’t even notice for a couple of days.  Oops!  Eventually we found enough parts to repair it about a week later.

It was also our first run using the Starlink system for internet access – working really well!

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Tahoe Summer Days

Darlene and I spent a couple weeks in late June and early July at the Tahoe house taking care of a bunch of house maintenance, including roof repair, clearing newly fallen branches and pine needles, moving the bear box to accommodate a widening of the driveway, etc.  We took some time off from all that to go climb to the top of a very windy Mt. Rose (elev. 10,785 ft.), do some mountain biking and hike up the Five Lakes trail near Palisades/Alpine Meadows.

 

We also had another bear visitor while up working on the roof:

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Among the Giant Sequoias

Darlene and I loaded up the van and the cats and headed out this past week for a short adventure.  First stop was to overnight under some dark skies in the San Benito mountains for a potential meteor storm from Tau Herculids.  (There was a decent meteor shower, but no full-on storm.)  We then spent the next five days in and around Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, hiking among the magnificent giant sequoia trees, checking out Kings Canyon and exploring the Sequoia National Forest between the two national parks.  We also attempted an extended mountain bike ride from Buck Rock to Lookout Peak but had to abort due to a failure / total destruction of my rear hub – resulting in a long bike walk back.

We came across some black bears while hiking in Sequoia National Park.

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Central Nevada Road Trip

After a week in Mt. Bachelor, and with Darlene still visiting her mom, my intention had been to explore southeastern Oregon, but a series of forecasted storms would make many of those dirt roads impassable so I headed back south and ended up on a trip through central Nevada with the ultimate goal of visiting Great Basin National Park near the Utah border. (Separate post and gallery here.)

This trip involved traveling lots of remote routes, both paved and unpaved, and finding interesting places to camp.  Along the way, I spent some time trying out the mountain bike trails near Ely at Ward Mountain, visited the Lunar Crater National Landmark and explored the amazing clay formations at Cathedral Gorge State Park.  No alien encounters (although I was buzzed by what might have been an F-22 Raptor) and unfortunately the ghost town / fossil site Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is currently closed for road repairs.

 

(If this HDR video can’t play in your browser, here’s a more basic, non-HDR version .)

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Great Basin National Park

Looking towards Doso Doyabi (center) and Wheeler Peak (right).

These are pictures from spending four days in Great Basin National Park in mid-April (with the cats, of course) – driving up to the Mather Overlook (the road was still closed beyond that point due to snow), hiking up the Baker Creek Trail and the Lehman Creek Trail, taking the Lehman Caves tour and venturing around to the remote southern tip of the park to hike up to Lexington Arch.

I want to go back sometime and do the hike to the top of Wheeler Peak (elevation 13,065 ft / 3982 m).

(If this HDR video can’t play in your browser, here’s a more basic, non-HDR version.)

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Colorado Road Trip

I’ve already posted a series of galleries for most of our Colorado road trip:

This last gallery (Florissant, Shelf Road, Flaming Gorge, etc.) contains more miscellaneous pictures — visiting the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, driving the dramatic, unpaved Shelf Road south out of Cripple Creek, stopping by the Royal Gorge Bridge, hiking out to the dinosaur trackways near Red Fleet State Park (Utah), spending a couple of days at the south end of the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, seeing wild horses in Sand Wash Basin HMA in northwest Colorado, and overnight stops in Wyoming, Utah and Nevada on my way to and from Colorado.

Old homestead at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

On the Shelf Road

Flaming Gorge Reservoir

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Dinosaur National Monument

As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we spent about four days in Dinosaur National Monument but could have happily spent more if not for the worsening smoke from this year’s California wildfires.

One of many canyon overlooks along Yampa Bench Road

 

Coming from the south, we started with the canyon portion of the park and spent two nights at the Echo Park campground.  One day was just biking out along the Yampa Bench Road and checking out many of the amazing river canyon overlooks.

The following day we turned our attention to the dinosaur fossils and petroglyphs in the western part of the park by taking a slow, rough 4WD road to the other side of the park.  (Why take the easy way around??)

At the Quarry Exhibit Hall, you can see hundreds of fossilized dinosaur bones still embedded in the rock:

Lots of petroglyphs along Harper’s Corner Road

And we had a close encounter with a pair of bighorn sheep:

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison

As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we spent a day exploring the south side of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  And yes, it is an incredibly deep, steep and narrow canyon!  We camped on some BLM land just outside of the park and spent a full day gawking at the canyon from the various viewpoints, including hiking out the Warner Point nature trail.

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Creede, Bachelor Loop and Wheeler Geologic Area

As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we found ourselves in Creede and immediately discovered the incredible scenery of the 17-mile Bachelor Historic Mining Loop starting just outside of town.  We camped on a spur of the loop and then proceeded to follow the historic loop and gawk at the incredible scenery.  I do regret that we didn’t choose to ride our bikes along the route instead but it was still fantastic to see.

 

Later that day we decided to make our way up to the staging area (at 11,000 ft) for the Wheeler Geologic Area, based on an entry from Atlas Obscura.  You can’t actually easily drive the whole way as the dirt road gets seriously messed up and eroded away at points requiring serious 4WD maneuvering.  (Most people seem to take ATV’s or other off-highway vehicles.)  There is also a hiking trail but that’s best done as an overnight backpacking trip as it’s seven miles just to the trailhead leading to the formations.  We opted to follow the 4WD road on our mountain bikes as they aren’t allowed on the hiking trail.  (Except for the carve out for the dirt road, this is deep inside a designated wilderness area.) Interestingly, the Wheeler Geologic Area used to have national monument status until 1950.

As it turns out, the road goes way out-of-the-way to get there (14 miles) and it both gives up and regains a lot of elevation along the way.  Doing 30 miles round trip from our nearby boondocking site at 11,000 ft of elevation with a two-and-half-mile hike in the middle to actually see the formations turned out to make for a seriously brutal day – and that was with our electric-assist mountain bikes.  It was however a gorgeous ride and the geological formations are very cool – definitely worth the effort of getting there.

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