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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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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virginia hikes: Stiles Falls – March 29, 2020

If you are looking for an easy hike that provides for plenty of cascading stream views, the hike to Stiles Falls provides for a high views to work ratio. So it is a great hike for beginners or kid friendly hike. But it is a busy one for those same reasons.

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The hike was closed shortly after we hiked here back in March, so I delayed in writing it up until now.

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virginia hikes: Angel’s Rest – October 24, 2020

During peak foliage season, popular hikes like McAfee Knob can become very crowded. It seemed like standing room only up there just this past weekend (reddit). For such reasons, I only hike to McAfee during the weekday and for either sunrise or sunset. For the weekend, there are plenty other options along the Appalachian Mountains with outlooks. Angel’s Rest is such a place located about 30 minutes west of the Virginia Tech campus, yet we had plenty of time at the two major viewpoints all to ourselves during this peak hiking season.

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virginia hikes: McAfee Knob, September 24 & October 29, 2017

This report was reposted on October 17, 2020 to include a video, new photos, and updated formatting.

McAfee Knob is among the most popular hikes in southwest Virginia and said to be the most photographed place on the Appalachian Trail with its own wikipedia page. The popular nature of the hike is a reason I avoid this hike typically and head over to Tinker’s Cliff unless I am doing a sunrise hike. When Keith visited last year, I had planned to write about our sunrise hike and even took a GPS track on it. However, that hike was completely in the fog.

About 1 year to the day, Keith visited us again so we gave sunrise another shot. As you can see, it was quite a nice success. Given we hiked mostly in the dark, I headed up there again to take some updated pictures of the trail for this report a month later during the peak foliage season. With Amtrak restarting train service to Roanoke from D.C the week I’m publishing this post, hopefully this will be just in time for you to plan a southwest VA getaway.

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virginia hikes: Little Schloss – September 19, 2020

When a group of friends were looking for some camping time near D.C., I remembered some prime spots along Little Stoney Creek during our hike of the Big Schloss, Mill Mountain, and Little Stoney Creek loop. While the discussion begin as car camping, they didn’t mind the mile walk along Stoney Creek to reach the best campsite

along the creek.

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Don’t worry, our food choices were still inline with car camping.

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We ended up base camping for two night giving us a free day to do a hike in the area, which ended up being Little Schloss. What was a surprise with the amount of wildflowers along the trail from a recent burn.

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