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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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trip report: Australia & New Zealand final impressions, New Zealand top 5, & budget, January 2020

“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. 

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This is the final entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below.

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trip report: New Zealand – Tasman Glacier viewpoint, Christchurch, & getting out, January 2020

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.

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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.

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trip report: New Zealand – Mueller Hut Route, January 2020

The steep but short hike up to Mueller Hut in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is typically hiked as an in & out day hike with plenty of time to make the long drive back to town for a good meal. Being someone that is more about the views than just camping, I usually prefer just a day hike. However, it pays to take it easy and smell the roses sometimes. Rather breaking the hike up, camping on the top of the world, and under the stars was a worthy experience. From our tent, we could hear the surrounding glaciers crack and had a perfect view of the tallest mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki/Mount Cook. 

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This is the seventh entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our tramp of to Mueller Hut in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: New Zealand – Rees-Dart Track, January 2020

Tramping (aka hiking) and New Zealand are synonymous when we think of traveling to the small island nation. However, there is much more to the hiking scene there than just the Great Walks (DOC). I have met locals that have exclaimed that the Great Walks, while very worth it, aren’t the best scenery that New Zealand has to offer. With our hike of the Rees-Dart track, I completely understand that sentiment. 

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This is the six entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our tramp of the Rees-Dart Track in Mt. Aspiring National Park. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: New Zealand – diving Milford Sound, January 2020

The experience at Milford Sound can sound like a big tourist trap with the many visitors all boarding the similar boat cruise. It was an experience we had to settle for during our first visit to the famed fjord when weather canceled our original plans. To my surprise, the natural aesthetics of the sheer rock faces and tall waterfalls among the moody clouds was more than enough to overcome the tourist crowds on these cruises and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience that day. 

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It only added to my desire to return and see the wonderland from below. Fortune would have it, a couple of diving spots opened up for Mark and I and I would get my wish the second time around.

This is the fifth entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our dives in Milford Sound and our subsequent stay in Queenstown. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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