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Punchbowl Falls, Angel’s Rest

August 16, 2017 Leave a comment

The Columbia Gorge is not only scenic, it has some great hikes.   We were glad to be back and have some nice weather to do two different hikes.  First we did Punchbowl Falls, 2 1/2 mile in on Eagle Creek.  This hike isn’t too strenuous, although there are some scary drop offs to watch for.  The Falls are gorgeous.

Our second hike was up to Angel’s Rest.  This is the only hike we do that is rated “Hard”, not because of the length (total distance maybe 5 1/2 miles) but it is steep, rocky, and high.  Elevation gain is some 1,500 feet, tough n old folks like us!  But the view is absolutely superb.  See the second set of pictures.

Punchbowl Falls hike

Angel’s Rest hike

 

Yellowstone NP

August 2, 2017 Leave a comment

Yellowstone National Park is a national park located in the U.S. states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first National Park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular features.  Since we’ve seen Old Faithful several times, we focused more on other parts of the park.

Our friend Beth Horton is Park Archeologist, so we had some extra incentive to visit the many sights.  Native Americans have lived in the Yellowstone region for at least 11,000 years.  Organized exploration did not begin until the late 1860s. Researchers have examined more than 1,000 archaeological sites.

The Park spans an area of some 3,500 square miles, comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent. The caldera is considered an active volcano. It has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years.  Half of the world’s geothermal features are in Yellowstone.   The park is the centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest remaining nearly-intact ecosystem in the Earth’s northern temperate zone.

Bryce Canyon NP, Utah

Bryce Canyon is located in south western Utah.  It is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. Bryce sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet elevation.

There are some very nice hikes in the area, but you have to remember:  they all start at the top so when you get down you have to climb all the way back.  And it can get steep, and hot, but the views are worth the effort.  Here is a photo collage I made of our visit.

Sunset at Arches NP, Moab, UT

We were scheduled to spend 5 days in Moab but we shortened it to one night.  Sitting in the sun in a tin can motor home is no place to be when the temps are predicted to reach 107F!

So we parked, turned on the AC, and went to Moab Brewery for a cool beer and some good food.  But we are in Moab, so we had to make a quick trip after dinner to check out some of the fabulous scenery of this area.  So here are some quick pictures taken close to and at sunset.

 

Hiking Smelter Mountain

This was one of the most difficult hikes we’ve ever done.  Not because it was that far, or that high, but it was so steep and rocky.  It gained 1,000ft in one mile, all rocks and boulders. And in the full Colorado sun…. good thing we had lots of water with us.  It took us from the base of Smelter Mountain to the broadcast towers on the very top.

But we made it, and the effort was worth it, with spectacular views of Durango and the surrounding mountains.  The trip back down was anticlimactic, we just made sure of our foot placement and we got down no problems (well, maybe for 100 yards or so when we made a wrong turn).

Granted, we questioned our sanity several times on the way up (hey, we’re in our mid 70’s) but it was definitely worth the effort.

Hiking Engineer Mountain

Engineer Mountain is located about 50 miles north of Durango, is about 12,900ft high, and very popular with hikers.  There is a trail that leads through the forest to an open meadow right above the tree line, then to a viewpoint called Eagle Nest, and finally the mountain top itself.  Very few people attempt the top, as you pretty well need to go on all fours to get up the last steep part.

The parking lot is at 10,600 ft, the meadow about 2 1/2 miles in and about 11,400ft elevation, Eagles Nest another mile or so at about 11,800ft.  The peak is another 3/4 mile but goes up another 1,100ft!

It’s been almost 10 years since my quadruple bypass surgery.  We’ve hiked here before, and thought this would make a good test of my surgeons skills.  And, in fact, Romola and I had little trouble hiking — until we got within a half mile of the meadow.  It started to rain, and thunder was heard.  It never is a good idea to be on a mountain in thunderstorms so we headed back down.

So although we shorted our hike by a mile or so, it was very pleasant.  The wild flowers are blooming, with the columbine — Colorado’s state flower — well represented.

 

Vallecito Lake

At 7,800 feet above sea level, Vallecito Lake is the largest body of water at or above this elevation in Colorado.  And, at only 18 miles from Durango, it is a popular vacation spot.  It boasts several lodges and RV parks, as well as camping and just day activities.  And even better for us, it is only 15 miles from our campground…

Although there is a road all the way around, part of it is private property so we did have to back track a bit.  But we found a nice hiking trail at the south end, near the dam.