Get Outside Campaign 14
Green Mt Natl Forest - Stratton Pond
2009 was the last time my big brother Bill has been out on the trail. After moving to New England four years ago, the chicken wings and Patriot’s football have gotten the better of him haha :P It was so very awesome getting him back out in the woods with me again!!! :D
Bill had actually gotten me into backpacking back in 2008. I’ve come a little ways from that rookie I was back then haha.
c. 2008 - My first backpacking trip.
The hike in to Stratton pond is a flat-as-a-pancake 3.7 miles and the lake is beautiful. We had gotten to the trailhead a little later than planned at around 6:30 and upon arriving at the shoreline, found that the fading light left little time to build up a proper camp. We decided to be brothers and share my double-nest hammock and allot the time/daylight we did have to getting some dinner in us. We pretty much notched out a campsite in the dark but a small fire was enough to eat with and enjoy night one :)
We awoke to a gorgeous sunrise with steam ripping off the top of the mirror smooth water surface. Packed down our primitive camp and hit the water! We spent most of the day trolling the lake and fishing (not catching. >:P haha). We were able to find a really nice campsite on a section of the shoreline that is otherwise inaccessible as a beaver dam had flooded out the surrounding bank making it somewhat of an island. Packrafts gettin it done! :D
The rest of the trip was just spent enjoying the fellowship only brothers can experience :) The talks, the ribbing, the laughing… it was the tops. I am lucky to have such a rad big brudder.
Get Outside Campaign 14
White Mt Natl Forest - Franconia Ridge
The first overnight adventure in the Northern New England region, the White Mtns are incredible. I would say the Rockies and the Appalachians had a little love mountain and called it the Whites. Much more rocky and aggressive than the southern Apps and the Green Mtns to the west, the Whites offer a great array of fantastic terrain, challenge and big payoff views. The Franconia Ridge Loop starts at one of the park trailheads and ascends via the Falling Water trail, a super rocky and steep trail of a whopping three miles haha, it had me smoked. Having (admittedly) not done my homework thoroughly enough to have a better understanding of what lay ahead, the trail is pretty much a giant boulder scramble up 3800+ feet. The many beautiful cascading waterfalls do well to keep the spirit up but the misty water that covered the rocks wasn’t so much haha. This trail was definitely tough on the body and mind. It just went on and on… While not the hardest trail I’ve ever done, I won’t soon forget it haha! After that gauntlet the trail meets the AT along the Franconia Ridge at Haystack Mt. Carries on North to Mt Lincoln and Mt Lafayette and Garfield, three of NH’s 48 4000ers. The beauty of the ridge made all the arduous work to get up there melt away. Soaking in the 360° views with clear skies and sun, I would have been just fine takin chow and admiring the view! But we had to get to camp! It was about 4 and that pretty, clear sky was quickly turning into a beautiful sunset haha. Too tired to get a fire going, made a notch out trailside and was in bed by 9! :#)
Day 2 was such an easier go! Descending about 3 miles on the Old Bridal Path trail, still rocky and slick in spots, was such a better descent than the idea of going down the Falling Water’s giant rocky slope… and the O.B.P. trail had several beautiful little vistas along the way to take in a perfect morning.
The inaugural White Mountain experience was a tough and awesome one. I look very forward to returning and having it’s mountains test my mettle all summer long! :D
Had a bash-ville down in Asheville, but now it’s time to jaunt in Vermont!
AVL is definitely one of the radest places ever and I hope anyone interested in checking it out should definitely go! I will especially miss the beers :\ As the saying goes, though, all things good come to an end… and AVL was great but it’s time to keep movin! This time, a summer + fall in Vermont is on the docket, and while it is about what one might expect of colonial Northern New England the actual experience has thus far been incredible!
The terrain here is simply stunning. While the new digs are definitely “in the sticks”, the solitude and beauty of the place is lovely. With the Green Mtns to the West are rolling foothills and have a ton of water that I look forward to fishing, very akin to the Blue Ridge Mtns of the South! The White Mtns to the East, however, are rocky and steep and totally awesome! There are so many trails to hike, backpack trips to take, water to paddle and all within a two hour radius! There are even two long hikes very close by. The AT runs through both VT and NH laterally about ten miles north of here and VT has the “Long Trail” that runs from the Southern border of Mass up North to the Canadian border. I look very forward to hiking as much as I can of both of these!
Also like AVL, the beer scene here is pretty stellar :D Long Trail Brewery has recently won my liver over :) The facility sits just along the Ottauquechee river and has exceptional food! There’s a charity bike ride that I’ll be participating in next weekend as well 8-) It is said that, for the size of the state itself, VT has the most breweries… I am just fine with this haha :)
All and all I expect the next few seasons to be pretty awesome and look forward to having some outdoor fun to share with you all!
Stratton Pond along the “VT Long Trail”…
Little Haystack Mtn, one of the 48 4000’ers in the WHite Mts/NH…
Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater, VT…
Get Outside Campaign 13
Mt. Mitchell State Park
Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi (6,684 ft) and the setting of yet another epic Buds vs Wild with a great fella from back home in Cincinnati. This was the maiden adventure for my bud Ty, a former colleague that has been chomping at the bit to hit the trail and break in the new pack he’d gotten a year earlier!
The hike along the Blacks are the highest mountains in the Eastern United States. Beginning at Mt Mitchell and traversing over Mt Craig, Big Tom, Balsam Cone and spending the night at Cattail Peak. Not the longest possible trip to take this rookie on at roughly 4.5 miles, but definitely a fun one! The trail is littered with craggy scrambles, roped drop-downs, plane wreckage and awing vistas looking east toward Tennessee and south to Linville Gorge. Notorious for rain, high winds, cold air and dense cloud cover, we could not have been any luckier with the weather! It was a balmy 70-75°, gently but steady breeze and clear skies all day! A perfect scenario to have a first timer out testing his mettle, Ty rocked the trail. An avid road cyclist, Ty was plenty strong as a hiker and while the relatively thinner air had him suckin only a little bit haha, he and I made great time motoring through to camp in only two hours 8-)
The grove of moss covered trees surrounding our campsite was a great wind break and made great accommodations and we had the whole afternoon to prep camp and just relax and drink in the great nature that never quit. An all around fantastic first time out for Ty.
It’s situations just as this one that make all the great places and experiences that I’ve been so lucky to have over the years so special. Sharing the great outdoors with some great buds is always the highlight of any location we travel to. Getting someone outdoors and having such an awesome experience is the absolute tops and only further encourages them to make and take adventures of their own even without me! And that is the biggest reward of all. Preach nature like an apostle ;)
Get Outside Campaign 12
Linville Gorge - Pisgah Natl Forest, NC
There’s only one thing better than getting to spend three days in the Linville Gorge and thats getting to share the experience with a best friend for some Buds vs Wild! :D
Over three days we ascended 1000ft in under a mile and a half to Tablerock Mt, a true gem of the MST offering 360° views. On further along the rim of the gorge through one of my favorite spots, the “Chimneys”! A very craggy and dumpy set of rock features along about a mile of the rim. A very popular destination for climbers and guided climbing classes. Then the fun starts haha. And of course by fun I mean the “oh gad. we still have to come back up the other side of this…” type of saddle that, to me, was comparable to the Muir snowfield on Mt. Rainier! A mere 875ft drop from the Chimneys through the Chimney Saddle and then riiiight straight back up to the entrance to Shortoff mountain. An awesome plateau of which you skirt on and around featuring fantastic northerly views of the tremendous “grand canyon of the east”!
It was here that after the 6.5 mile hike in took it’s toll and we hunkered down at an awesome large group site that we had all to ourselves! It featured a large fire ring with ample hammock friendly trees with a lovely cliff to take in the wonderful views and morning coffee :)
As morning broke we set off dreading the Chimney Gap saddle haha but with fresh legs we were in good spirits… until we started the ascent haha. The whole facade of the south end of the gorge had been control burned sometime prior to our trip so the trail had a thick covering of pine needles that the previous day made it difficult to descend and not just slide all the way down! But on that day it made it twice as hard to climb up as we slid back one step for nearly every two forward! But alas we’d made it and celebrated at the top and pressed on to camp 2, a rad little spot I had found some years ago. The gaping mouth of this cave is a perfect place to unroll the bags and take in an unobstructed and more natural-feeling way to experience such a rocky environment. It’s also a great place to make a Cincinnati Kid get some ruggedness in his life haha :D
Without fail this, 12th installment of the Get Outside Campain, was a great success and ever so enjoyable! On now to the next! :D
Lake the Snake Archibald
Gorges State Park - Lake Jocasee, NC/SC
We hit the trails hard enough in three months but having buds come into town afforded just the two of us only one camping trip this assignment! We took full advantage of the Spring heat and clear skies and headed to Gorges State Park and Jocasee Lake via Toxaway Creek just north of the SC border.
The 5 miles in is a decent grade bridal path descending through very pretty forest. The highlight, for me, is as the trail is rounding a bend you begin to hear Toxaway creek roaring as it lets out into the arm of the lake and you cross a fun little swinging bridge :D Just after the bridge is a trail to a beautiful waterfall to the north and a handful of some awesome lakeside campsites carrying on south. They have great views and amenities like picnic tables, steel fire rings and food hanging hooks.
We brought our packrafts and were able to get into the water very easily. It was a great relief from the bright sun and there were all kinds of fun animals! :D The copper head screamin across the water just in front of my boat made me pee a little hahaha but the little oreo sized baby snapping turtle was so awesome! His little maw was too small to even bite me haha.
For the one and only overnighter in Asheville, it was far from disappointing :)
The Routeburn Track
1 of 3
Of all 2000+ pictures I’ve taken while in beautiful New Zealand, the sights and scenery of our time on the Routeburn Track in Fjordlands and Mt Aspiring Natl Parks was the best experience of both islands there.
Hiking in from the Divide trailhead, ascending the Humboldt mountain range, stopping into Mackenzie Lake hut and Routeburn Falls hut over three days was by far the greatest hiking experience I’ve ever had.
I hope you enjoy these pictures, I could very easily ramble on and on about the absolute wonder of this place but my words fall so short in so many ways!
Havasupai Falls 2 of 3
Havasupai Falls, descending through cave tunnels and a quite precarious chain and ladder system to the foot of Mooney Falls, Mooney Falls and surrounding water and stuff…
Havasupai Falls 1 of 3
I’ve come to find out that if I wanted to go camping in the Grand Canyon sometime this winter, I needed to send off for a permit on my third birthday… A fella at REI recommended going through Havasupai Indian Reservation and that it was a way to avoid the Natl Park red tape and still get into the canyon so I thought WORD!
I sat on the phone for EIGHT DAYS trying to get through. I called every 5-10 mins and only got ringing… I had literally given up and on the Friday before leaving, I thought, “ok, one last attempt.” And they answered on the first ring!?! haha so suffice it to say, after that I pretty much hopped to with the gear and necessaries and bombed out there! :D
The hike in was 10 miles with an initial descent of about 2200’ in a mile and a half. But really not all that bad as far as what I had heard regarding desert hiking! Starting early in the morning is DEFINITELY the way to go. Once that mid-day sun hits you, it’s a killer…
I really cannot begin to describe how amazingly beautiful this place was. The desert entry was neat and cool and a beautiful place in all the normal wonderful ways, but coming up upon a turquoise river cascading down and down with a backdrop of bright orange canyon walls and surrounding trees in full autumn glory was almost too much to handle. I had a hard time convincing myself that this place really exists! haha
North Cascades Natl Park
Not a whole week after having been on Rainier, I had a couple days to go with a new bud here in town to the North Cascades Natl Park. What a breathtakingly beautiful place it is! I could not believe I had not yet gone up there and attempted SO many more trips while being here!!!
Our plan was pretty simple. Paddle in on Ross arm up and through Ross lake to Cougar Island, camp over night and bushwhack up the bank day 2 and meet up with the Pacific Northwest trail and take it back to the car… that was the plan anyways haha. I wouldn’t say things went wrong? but to quote the great Yvon Chouinard “…when everything goes wrong, that’s when adventure starts.” And for us that was the case as we set in on Ruby creek. My intention and understanding, even after speaking with the Ranger as we got our permit, was that we paddle down Ruby creek into Ross Arm and paddle paddle paddle to the Island. We were suddenly met with half of a dozen class I -III white water rapids! For about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile we two never been on rapids before shmucks bore down and rode those bad larrys all the way through! Soaked to the bone, adrenaline jacked we hopped out afterward to drain the boats and thump our chests at getting through that! It could have very easily turned into a very bad day for either one or the both of us but MAN! Getting through those was probably one of the most exciting backcounty experiences I’ve ever had! :D Our Alpacka boats held up like champs! The one loss, though, was that I’d unknowingly left the camera in the pocket of my shorts >:\ The remaining paddle out was without issue and we soon arrived onto our little island for the night.
Day 2, up and at it, we made our way to the opposite bank. Using a prominent creek as a bearing we scrambled up about 300ft on a quick recon before humping all the gear. The estimated 200-300ft bushwhack carried on for MUCH longer than originally anticipated and after finding the trail eventually, surmised that with an additional 20lbs up that hill sounded slightly worse than the 5 mile paddle to the Ross dam and out on the portage trail… so we opted for the latter.
With one hell of a start and rounded out with some of the most beautiful scenery Washington ceases to impress with, the trip was a considerable success :)
Enchanted Valley - Olympic Natl Park
27 miles in 29 hours haha. Longest slog I’ve ever done for an overnight backpacking trip. As well, in the passed few weeks, battling a tweaked IT band! The bastard crapped out on me at about mile 8! haha >:( BUT I knew what lie ahead and dug deep to get there. And what an amazing valley it was! A flowing river cutting in between towering, nearly shear mountain walls with cascades and stunning peaks! While my body was soar and my knee was telling me where I could go F myself, this hike was TOTALLY worth it! :D