This is the video companions of our 8 day off trail backpacking trip in the Wind River Range consisting of a loop of Ross Lake, Bear Basin, Grasshopper Glacier, and Dinwoody Creek from September 2020.
After our 8 day off route backpacking trip into the Wind River Range, we headed back to Denver and had a full week booked for an hotel stay. Specifically, this was pre-vaccine pandemic times still and the full week was in efforts to isolate ourselves so we could see our friends Kevin, Shannon, their new born baby Wyatt, and their dog Ray. Hanging out with our friends after month of isolation at home was well worth the week of working from hotels. It was the break we needed for our mental health and socially starved souls.
This is also a new experience for us with longer hotel stays in the form of working remote, really remote. A model I would adopt more later for subsequent trips during the never ending pandemic. While our weekend with our friends consisted mostly of drinks and food, we did get out for a hike. The Walker Ranch loop just outside of Boulder was our destination with a few views and some cascading rapids.
Continuing from our previous hike report of Tibbet Knob, we spent the weekend camped out along Forest Road 92 in the George Washington National Forest.
After our early dinner following our short hike to Tibbet Knob, we decided to explore downstream on the Stony Creek Trail next to our campsite. As the Chinese proverb goes “飯後百步走，活到九十九” or after dinner 100 steps, live to 99. Well, a little more than 100 steps in our case but the stroll out to Woodstock Reservoir was the perfect fit for that sentiment.
The area around Stony Creek in the Lee Ranger District of George Washington National Forest is an go to for car camping or semi-car camping ever since we moved to D.C. Typically, we’d make the mile long hike up Little Stony Creek for our own isolated spot, but there are plenty along Forest Road 92 itself. We decided to grab one of those this time around on a last minute trip
with a new mix of friends now that we’ve all had the jab. Hopefully this is the first of many more excursions.
While here, we explored a couple of the smaller hikes. The first being Tibbet Knob, the lesser known outcrop on the same ridge as the popular Big Schloss.
Shenandoah National Park is one of the parks thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail will cross during their journey between Georgia and Maine. However, I don’t know if the thru hiker ever really get the full Shenandoah experience if they only stick to the white blazes on the ridge following Skyline Drive and never try Blue-Blazing down on of the many hollows. While this could serve as the start of a spicy discussion of why I will probably never be a thru-hiker (JMT doesn’t count), I will save that clickbait post for another time. Instead, this post will highlight they typical Shenandoah experience with rushing cascades, crystal clear swimming holes, and rocky vistas out with views of the wide Virginian valleys. Maybe you’ll even see a black bear. All of which you’ll find on the Riprap Hollow loop.
My personal hiking preference are for the grand views of the new and more rugged mountains of the west. However, a benefit of hikes here in the mid Atlantic are the history that accompanies the trails. It is among the reasons I enjoy visiting Harpers Ferry and hiking up Maryland Heights, where the Union solders defended against Stonewall Jackson’s invasion into the north during the Civil War.
At one point on our eight day off trail backpacking trip into the Wind River Range, we set up our tent on a bluff overlooking a turquoise colored lake. No matter how often I’ve encountered them, they seem so surreal every time still. Across from us was the terminus of Connie Glacier spilling down into the lake. The funny thing was, we joked that probably the closest person from our five star camp this evening was at least 5 hour, 5 miles, or at least another valley away from us. We were roughly 1 to 2 days of tough and technical travel across talus & scree from the nearest trail, making those prospects not surprising at all. This was our experience in the northern portions of the Wind River Range, it beat us up and I still look forward to returning.
This is part 1 of 2 of our trip out to Wyoming and Colorado. In this part, we cover our eight day off-trail backpacking trip in the Northern Wind River Range. Get ready folks, this is a long read or very much “magazine” style.
Part of moving is learning to adjust to new surroundings and establishing new routines, especially during COVID times. We’ve enjoyed the many benefits that come with city life, but it has been a learning experience of the most optimal way to get out into mountains. Turns out, a two hour drive one way is a lot bigger barrier than 20-40 minutes. So going forward, we plan on making a weekend of it with some camping and hotel stays. For now in efforts to get back on the trail, we visited the closest mountain to the D.C. area in Sugarloaf Mountain. And as part of adjusting to our new home, Bradley and Brenna joined us for this classic D.C. hike.
This report is an repost with updated video, new photos, and standardized formatting.
For much of my travels, I don’t mind the number of people on the trails. I understand it; everyone wants to see these most aesthetically pleasing views out there. If people are going to spend their hard earned money to fly across the world, the least we all can do is share the experience. Plus they can all be potential drinking buddies. This is why I don’t include seclusion as a criterion on my rating system and I don’t hold a the number of hikers on the trail against a hike with a few exceptions.
Ofcourse, I still do enjoy the aspect of getting away from it all when I am hiking. This is especially true when I’m close to home. Within an hour from our former front door in Southwest Virginia, there were many well-known hikes and sections of the Appalachian Trail. It’s not uncommon that on a sunny day, you’ll see a traffic jam on the on the curves up Catawba Valley Dr and people trying to squeeze their cars anywhere they can at McAfee Knob or Dragon’s Tooth trailheads. Both are well worth the hike, however my local favorite is Tinker Cliffs via the Andy Layne Trail. Here I find the cliffs all to myself for the perfect sunset and a pilgrimage I will make every fall.
“Do I go somewhere new or do I go somewhere I love?” is a common question among travellers. I have friends that have hike the same 200 mile trail (the John Muir Trail) more than ten times and I also have friends looking to rack up the country count. I was able to do a little bit of both over the course of 3 weeks. Explore down under, down under and return to the mountains of New Zealand.
This is the final entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below.
About 3 weeks after I boarded the plane on Christmas to meet up with Mark in Australia, it was time to go home. Again, I typically stick the contents of our transit in a paragraph at the end of a long report, especially since getting out & heading home always seem less exciting than getting getting in. But here is my attempt to highlight the transit part of travel more as I include it with a short hike to wrap up our trip. Looking back now as I write this, we should have never left the island.
This is the eighty entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our travels home from New Zealand. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.
This is the video companions of our overnight backpacking trip on the Mueller Hut Route in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.