trip report: New York – Owls Head Mountain, October 4 2020

To conclude our weekend with with Mat, Vru, and their dog Zoey we finished our third hike in three days. While we didn’t end up backpacking on our trip like we planned, we did get some miles in after all. This final hike with them was again in the Adirondacks, but further west as we looked to avoid the crowds near Lake Placid. We would hit up another vista and check off another fire tower on the ADK Fire Tower Challenge for them (ADK.org). The foliage was peaking just right as well making the otherwise hike through a forest more stimulating.

Thanks to Vru and Mat for putting us up and hanging out for a week.

20_10_4_Owls_Head-27

This is part 3 of 5 of our trip out to New York and Vermont. In this part, we cover our second day hike up to Hurricane Mountain in New York. You can find the rest of the series as they are posted in the index below.

Read More

trip report: New York – Hurricane Mountain, October 3 2020

The weather was ominous when we set out for our second hike in the Adirondack Mountains. At the trailhead for Hurricane Mountain, the tops of the mountains around us were obscured by the clouds. It would have been easy and understandable to call it off there, but you never know what’s in store for you sometimes. For many ahead of us, it meant hiking up to a blanket of white. For us, we came to sweeping fruity pebble like mountain sides made more mystic as they were revealed behind the lifting clouds. Sometimes the luck of the draw makes the risk worth it. 

20_10_3_Hurricane-28

This is part 2 of 5 of our trip out to New York and Vermont. In this part, we cover our second day hike up to Hurricane Mountain in New York. You can find the rest of the series as they are posted in the index below.

Read More

trip report: New York – Cat Mountain, October 2 2020

 

In the early part of 2020, we had plans to visit our friends in upstate New York and Vermont wiped out by the pandemic. As the year went along, we learned a new way to travel during those pre-vaccine days in conjunction with our abilities to work remotely. That is to pod with our friend exclusively spending a longer period with them including work days. So we revived our earlier plans and podded with Vru and Mat in New York before visiting Jared in Vermont. The benefit of visiting in the fall was the foliage sweeping across the mountains. 

Our hiking plans with Mat and Vru was originally backpacking around Marcy Dam, but changed our plans to day hikes based on the weather outlook. I thought it was a pretty good decision as we were dumped on a couple times during a couple of our hikes. The first was up to Cat Mountain in the Lake George area. 

20_10_2_Cat_Mountain-30

This is part 1 of 5 of our trip out to New York and Vermont. In this part, we cover our first day hike up to Cat Mountain in New York. You can find the rest of the series as they are posted in the index below.

Read More

trip report: Colorado – Walker Ranch loop, September 13 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.

20_9_Walker_Ranch-3

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.

This is part 2 of 2 of our trip out to Wyoming and Colorado. In this part, we cover our day hike in Colorado and overall budget of our trip.

Read More

Virginia hikes: Woodstock Reservoir via Little Stony Creek, May 15 2021

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. 

21_5_15_Tibbet_Knob-23

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.

21_5_15_Tibbet_Knob-28

Read More

Virginia & West Virginia hikes: Tibbet Knob, May 15 2021

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

21_5_15_Tibbet_Knob-36

with a new mix of friends now that we’ve all had the jab. Hopefully this is the first of many more excursions.

21_5_15_Tibbet_Knob-1

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.

Read More

Virginia hikes: Chimney Rock, Riprap Hollow, & Wildcat Ridge, April 17 2021

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.

21_4_17_Riprap-11

Read More

Maryland hikes: Maryland Heights via Harpers Ferry, March 20 2021

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. 

21_3_20_Maryland_Heights-30

Read More

trip report: Wind River Range – Ross Lakes, Bear Basin, Grasshopper Glacier, & Dinwoody Creek loop, September 2020

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.

20_9_winds-183

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.

Read More

Maryland hikes: Sugarloaf Mountain & the Northern Peaks Trail – blue trail, March 6 2021

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.

21_3_Sugarloaf-29

Read More

virginia hikes: Tinker Cliffs, October 24 2015 & October 20 2020

 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.

Read More