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Capulin Volcano, NM

Every year, when we move from/to Colorado, we drive by Capulin Volcano, and every year we say “We should visit that thing!”.  Well, this year we did, and we’re glad we did.

Capulin is a cinder cone volcano, about 10,000 years old.  In a cinder cone, most of the lava escapes through cracks at the base of the volcano, not out of the top.  However, there is a lot of gasses and molten lava spewing into the air,  giving some unique features to the surrounding area.

The drive up is not for those with fear of heights, as there is no railing and a very deep drop off.  Once at the top, there is a mile long trail along the top.  A bit difficult as it is very steep but worth the effort.  Views are amazing!

 

Hike to Phoenix Park Waterfall

Although the Phoenix Park Waterfall is beautiful, it is not viewed often because it is so remote.  You either have to hike or use an ATV, and even an ATV can’t make it all the way.  The road is very rough with steep sections and 14 water crossings.  So we decided to hike in.  Hey, it’s only at 11,000 ft. altitude….

Admittedly, a rough hike but in beautiful surroundings.  And the falls were great, although probably a lot better earlier in the year with more water runoff.  So we hiked for some 6 miles with 1,300 ft.of vertical climbing.  Romola even managed to complete some of her least favorite hiking activities: crossing a creek on a log bridge.  This is what hiking is all about:  scenery, peacefulness, and no crowds.

 

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Today our adventure took us to the Great Sand Dunes, about 25 miles from where we are parked in Alamosa, Colorado. It was quite a spectacular trip, seeing all this sand in the middle of the valley, and surrounded by mountains. We had a nice hike, climbing high in the hills to get a spectacular views of the dunes.

The dunes were formed from sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over the ages, glaciers feeding the river and the vast lake that existed upon the valley melted, and the waters evaporated. Westerly winds picked up sand particles from the lake and river flood plain. As the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are slowly growing. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily.

One of the many 14,000 ft high mountains along the way.

One of the many 14,000 ft high mountains along the way.

A view of the dunes with some of the mountains

A view of the dunes with some of the mountains

Here you can see one of the rivers that feed the dunes

Here you can see one of the rivers that feed the dunes

A little posing along the way

A little posing along the way

Looking back from the top of the Lookout hike

Looking back from the top of the Lookout hike

Many people cross the rive to hike in the dunes

Many people cross the river to hike in the dunes

Sauk Mountain hike

August 2, 2014 Leave a comment

The Sauk Mountain hike is recognized as one of the most scenic in the NorthWest. But you have to endure a rough ride to get to the trail head, followed by a strenuous climb. But this time of the year the wild flowers are in bloom, the mountains still have snow caps, and the scenery is just gorgeous.

The “road” to the trail head is gravel washboard with huge potholes. It is narrow, has big drop-offs, and many switchbacks. Fortunately, we didn’t meet much traffic either way. And when you see the trail itself you do a bit of a double take… so steep! But watch your footing… the trail is narrow and the way down long!

The hike isn’t terribly long at 4.2 miles, but it gains 1,200 feet in the first 2 miles. But it is doable (even for us old farts) and the views from the top as well as along the trail are spectacular. On the way up there is a closeup view of Mount Baker, and at the top Mount Rainer is visible. Visibility was somewhat reduced from the forest fires but still quite amazing.

Check the "road" on the GPS....

Check the “road” on the GPS….

Can you spot the trail, heading all the way to the top?

Can you spot the trail, heading all the way to the top?

A really cute out house

A really cute out house

View from the top

View from the top

From half way up.  See our car far below?

From half way up. See our car far below?

A view of Mt. Baker

A view of Mt. Baker

Wild flower

Wild flower

Wild thistle

Wild thistle

Wildflower

Wildflower

Some of the scenery along the trail

Some of the scenery along the trail

Heading back

Heading back

Snow!

Snow!

Romola at the top

Romola at the top

More snow

More snow

Sauk Lake

Sauk Lake

Looking north

Looking north

Looking south

Looking south

Silver Falls State Park, OR

Thanks to an internet acquaintance, we learned about the Silver Falls State Park. This park has a 9 mile hiking trail, with 10 major waterfalls along the route. Known as the Trail of Ten Falls, it was too good to pass up, especially since we’ve hiked most all the waterfall hikes along the Columbia Gorge. It was a beautiful day, so the timing was perfect.

Right away, we were impressed by the falls we saw. The falls tumble over basalt lava flows, and erode the softer ground underneath. This makes for some excellent opportunities to walk behind the falls for a truly unique perspective. We opted for the slightly shorter route (6 miles) which gave us most of the major falls. Really a beautiful park, and highly recommended (although we hear that on the weekends it gets very crowded). Here are a few highlights; more images in our Flickr album (see blog roll).

South Falls, 177 ft.

South Falls, 177 ft.

South Falls from behind

South Falls from behind

A different view of South Falls from behind

A different view of South Falls from behind

Middle North Falls,  106 ft.

Middle North Falls, 106 ft.

Top of Middle North Falls

Top of Middle North Falls

Bottom part of Middle North Falls

Bottom part of Middle North Falls

Lower South Falls, 93 ft.

Lower South Falls, 93 ft.

Winter Falls, 134 ft.

Winter Falls, 134 ft.

Horsetail Falls, Columbia Gorge

July 10, 2014 1 comment

Took advantage of the great weather to take a hike up to Horsetail Falls. A nice hike, with three falls. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go all the way to Triple Falls as a landslide has blocked the hiking trail. But it was a nice hike, and the views of the Gorge are spectacular.

Lower Horsetail Falls

Lower Horsetail Falls

Middle Horsetail Falls

Middle Horsetail Falls

Underneath Middle Horsetail Falls

Underneath Middle Horsetail Falls

A view of the falls from behind

A view of the falls from behind

Main view of Middle Horsetail Falls

Main view of Middle Horsetail Falls

Upper Horsetail Falls

Upper Horsetail Falls

This was a little disconcerting, it was a long way down

This was a little disconcerting, it was a long way down

And this kept us from getting to Triple Falls

And this kept us from getting to Triple Falls

A view of the original road tunnel

A view of the original road tunnel

A view of the Gorge, looking east

A view of the Gorge, looking east

Oregon coast, Part 1

June 18, 2014 1 comment

Our first stay on the coast was in Florence. It is near the Oregon Sand Dunes, as well as the mid Oregon coast. Also close by are the sea lion caves, Heceta Head lighthouse, and Cape Perpetua. And, not to forget, the Spouting Horn.

The Oregon Dunes is the largest body of sand in the US, almost 47 miles long and 2 1/2 wide. It is both a natural preservation area and a much used recreation area for dune buggies. We learned that hiking in sand is not as easy as on dry land!

The Heceta Head Lighthouse was built in 1894 and is still in use today. The light is visible from 24 mikes out at sea, making it the most visible lighthouse on the west coast. It is a favorite subject of photographers.

Cape Perpetua is a prominent hill, with some of the best coastal views in Oregon. In 1933 the CCC built an observatory here to watch for enemy ships. It was quite a hike from sea level to it’s 800 foot observation point! Nearby is Devils Churn, Thor’s Well, and Spouting Horn .. all quite a sight when the tide is in.

Heceta Head lighthouse

Heceta Head lighthouse

Romola on the beach neat Heceta Head

Romola on the beach neat Heceta Head

Farm market in Eugene

Farm market in Eugene

More farm market in Eugene

More farm market in Eugene

Beautiful purple colors

Beautiful purple colors

Darlingtonia California, an insect eating plant

Darlingtonia California, an insect eating plant

Cape Perpetua, quite a climb to the top!

Cape Perpetua, quite a climb to the top!

Looking south from Cape Pepetua

Looking south from Cape Pepetua

Observatory on Cape Perpetua

Observatory on Cape Perpetua

Looking north from Cape Perpetua

Looking north from Cape Perpetua

Romola at the observatory

Romola at the observatory

Spouting Horn

Spouting Horn

Sand buggies on a climb

Sand buggies on a climb

Motorcycle vs. sand buggy

Motorcycle vs. sand buggy

Distan view of Heceta Head lighthouse

Distan view of Heceta Head lighthouse

Mt. Shasta, CA area

We spent a few days in Mt. Shasta, CA. Beautiful area, high mountains, waterfalls, meadows and lakes. The upper mountain trails were still closed due to winter snows, sure hope to come back here for more hiking.

Mt. Shasta from our camp site

Mt. Shasta from our camp site

Lake Siskiyou shore at our camp site

Lake Siskiyou shore at our camp site

Mt. Shasta from Lake Siskiyou

Mt. Shasta from Lake Siskiyou

Lower McCloud Falls

Lower McCloud Falls

At Middle Falls

At Middle Falls

Middle Falls, McCloud River

Middle Falls, McCloud River

Upper Falls, McCloud River

Upper Falls, McCloud River

A pedestrian bridge on the Lake Siskiyou hiking trail

A pedestrian bridge on the Lake Siskiyou hiking trail

Dogwood (?)

Dogwood (?)

Wild flowers

Wild flowers

Wild Flower

Wild Flower

Green Rocks, a 500 million year old rock formation

Green Rocks, a 500 million year old rock formation

Castle Crags, granite, and 150 million years old

Castle Crags, granite, and 150 million years old

Mt. Shasta, volcanic, and 500,000 years old

Mt. Shasta, volcanic, and 500,000 years old

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls are the highest falls in the US. And probably the most photographed, too! There also are several hiking trails; the Lower Falls is paved, wheel chair accessible, and very crowded. The Upper Falls trail is steep, rocky, and gains almost 3,000 ft. in 3 miles.

We first did the lower, then went halfway up the Upper trail to Columbia Rock. Whew, that was enough for us! But great picture opportunities along the way.

A view of Lower and Upper Yosemite falls

A view of Lower and Upper Yosemite falls

John, posing at the bottom of Lower Falls

John, posing at the bottom of Lower Falls

Halfway ip, and the view gets serious!

Halfway ip, and the view gets serious!

If you don't think it's steep,  look where you just came from

If you don’t think it’s steep, look where you just came from

Romola on her way up

Romola on her way up

Romola pointing toward Half Dome

Romola pointing toward Half Dome

Yeah!  We made it half way!

Yeah! We made it half way!

Valley of Fire, Nevada

May 24, 2014 2 comments

The Valley of Fire is located less than an hour north of Las Vegas, close to Lake Mead. It gets its name from the bright red rock formations, but also because it gets to be over 120F (50C) in the summer.

One area is known as “Mouse Tank” and contains a valley filled with Indian petroglyphs. Even though time is starting to erode them, it is still possible to make out the huge amount of indian art.

But there is more to it. There are many geologic formations of different colors and different shapes, giving an erie effect to the landscape. Perfect for hiking, and photography.

Very sandy in many places.

Very sandy in many places.

Slot Canyon

Slot Canyon

Baby arches (?)

Baby arches (?)

"Fire Wave" - unique formations

“Fire Wave” – unique formations

fire2-14 Hard to see, but lots of petroglyphs[/caption]

Indian petroglyphs

Closer view of Indian petroglyphs

Lava formations as far as the eye can see

Lava formations as far as the eye can see