There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts

20 August 2017

McCloud Falls

Lately I've been waiting until I arrive at my destination before looking for things to do in the area. I like the spontaneity more than the prior planning. My last day in the Mount Shasta area of California finds me searching for a hike before I head back down the mountain to the airport.

Enter the tiny mountain town of McCloud, and McCloud Falls.
You can enter this hiking trail from a few different areas, but I choose to start at the bottom where Lower McCloud Falls is visible, and make my way upwards to Middle and Upper McCloud Falls.

In the early morning light I find only a single Native American woman, fishing for breakfast as her fire gets going to stave off the chill. I start hiking along the trail, but turn around momentarily and capture a picture of her casting her pole into the river. It starts my soul on fire as much as the kindling in her fire pit as the wood crackles and burns.
Further on up the trail I pass the occasional cluster of tents, their occupants still sleeping in warm blankets. I tiptoe past them in silence.
Morning mist dances above Middle McCloud Falls. A girl and her dog are splashing in the river below. I have a morsel of breakfast as I watch the mist and spray weave and turn in the power of the falling water.
A sharp incline has me climbing above the gorge and eventually I find myself at Upper McCloud Falls. The water rushes through the rocks more quickly here as the canyon narrows itself. I have not encountered another soul for this last little bit, and cherish the solitude.
The trail starts to fill with more adventurers as I make my way back down, the campgrounds come alive with the sounds of children waking and bacon sizzling on camp stoves.

12 August 2017

Bear Creek Falls

A Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu and a Christian all call water by different names, but it's all still just water.
These words echo in my head as I start the early morning hike up to Bear Creek Falls in Telluride, Colorado.

No more than ten minutes on the trail before I realize that my bear spray is still on my bed. I laugh uncomfortably to myself, say a pray for safety, and continue on. I have my intuition that will protect me.
For a Saturday morning, the trail is unbelievably empty. I see only a few other hikers as they pass me quickly and are gone from my view. I have this place to myself as I make the 2.5 mile journey to the Falls. I arrive as the sun starts to peak over the mountaintop.

I bathe in the waterfall spray.
No one intrudes my meditation principles up here. I rejuvenate in the clean air and forested beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Clouds start to form on my way back down, changing the landscape in dramatic fashion so that it feels like a new hike on the descent.
I knock out a 5 mile roundtrip hike before most people eat breakfast on a Saturday.

02 August 2017

Rincon de la Vieja

I've dreamed of being on the edge of a volcano, staring into the abyss that leads to the center of our earth. Rising smoke and golden molten lava.

Rincon de la Vieja in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica seemed to be my chance to make this dream a reality. As I arrive to the park's entrance, the first sign I see dashes those hopes....."volcano trail closed due to unstable activity..."

Bummed for sure, but my guide tells me of another trail that leads to an amazing waterfall, and we will still see the volcano along the route. I'm all in for this alternate adventure. As we get our tickets their is a table display containing jars of various poisonous snakes that have been caught in the park. 

My adrenaline skyrockets as we start our hike.
My shirt becomes a sweaty and soaked mess minutes into the hike as the humidity is no joke here in Costa Rica. I hydrate and carry on as my guide points out the wildlife in the trees. We make out way past aloe and agave plants, then come to an open meadow where the smoke from the volcano is rising in the distance like a slow moving marching band.

After a few miles, we start to descend into a canyon. We both slip on the rocks and smile as we take it slowly the rest of the way to the water. No reason to hurry and twist an ankle in the jungle.

I hear the deafening roar of the waterfall well before I see it. Once we arrive the cascading spray cools our skin in refreshing fashion as the clear blue water hypnotizes my senses. One old man is bravely stripping down and skinny dipping in the cool water.
We decide to hike around to get closer to the waterfall itself. We carefully cross the river over moss covered rocks, then make our way through the lush jungle to get behind and under the waterfall. As we near, I slip and feel a sharp pain in my groin. A protruding stick impales me and almost takes out my right testicle. Luckily though I am only bleeding on my upper leg, and the injury doesn't prevent me from hiking back out.
My guide tells me that sixty percent of the people that try this hike do not complete it, so I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Pura Vida my friends.

10 July 2017

Tonto Natural Bridge

In the dark of night I lay out my equipment on my bed for today's adventure to Tonto Natural Bridge just outside of Payson, Arizona. Believed to be one of the world's largest natural travertine bridges, I look forward to the possibility of seeing wild javelina, scenic Arizona beauty, and a caving adventure in the high country.
I arrive in the early morning with only a few other people already here. A large group of javelina's are grazing in the green grassy area just to the left of the Ranger's station. I keep my distance as I enjoy seeing the wild and ugly beasts having their meal.

I see that their are several different routes one can take to the bridge, from overhanging viewpoints to trails that take you down varying degrees into the canyon. I opt to take the trail that is farthest to the right of the parking lot and have unknowingly chosen the way that will require some bouldering and fighting of overgrown brush, but it is ultimately the best way to see the bridge.
Water cascades down from the lip of the canyon onto those of us brave souls at the bottom. The water pools and follows gravity as it turns into a flowing river to sustain the life down here.

The start of the mighty bridge comes into view, and I momentarily forget to breathe.
The Spring runoff makes the boulders slippery and treacherous. I decide that sliding on my bottom is the best course of action to get across these immense boulders. I come to the center of the bridge, and look to my East and to my West to see the towering entrances from both sides.
Humbled I am by the power of Mother Nature, and put into my place in the Universe by Tonto Natural Bridge.

I stay for a while, then start my ascent back up, cleansed and renewed.

06 July 2017

Puerta Blanca

The trail head signs are overshadowed by a larger warning :

"Illegals and drug smugglers may be crossing in this area. DO NOT attempt to approach them, immediately call the police!"

The morning fog is thick as I make my way along the White Door in the southern bowels of the Sonoran desert.

A lone coyote howls.
Here in the misty mountains of Organ Pipe I don the comfort of the gas mask, strapping  it on tightly before caressing the hollow bones of the Saguaro.
The hollow emptiness here is not conducive to even the bravest of smugglers, lest it be of the human kind or the other.
All souls just disappear into the mist.

21 June 2017

Horseback riding & secret Costa Rican waterfalls

I wake up to the smell of falling rain. It's my first full day up in the mountains of Guanacaste province in Costa Rica. I'm hoping to go horseback riding as well as get in some hiking, yet the weather is not looking like its going to cooperate.

A small truck appears out of the rain and the driver asks me if I'm ready. If they are willing to venture out in this weather, so am I....

As we get to the stables, the wind picks up and the rain is coming at us in sideways fashion. It's not cold though, and the fast moving storm clouds create an unreal atmosphere. I climb up on my trusty steed, and ready myself to get muddy.
The green hills around us spark the imagination of jungle creatures. We climb the rolling hills until we eventually summit. My fellow riders leave me at this point to do some ziplining but our guide and myself carry on.

We are going to find secret waterfalls.
Families of monkeys follow us from high up in the trees above. The rain has turned the trail into a slick waterslide, and I brace myself as our horses slip and slide down the trail. Eventually we tie the horses up to a hitching post and continue on foot.

A butterfly with the most stunning azure blue color on its wings follows me along the trail, eventually resting on my pant leg.

My guide tells me this is a good luck sign.
We come to two different waterfalls, both amazing in their own right. The best part is that it is only the two of us here. The quiet jungle sounds and falling water are the perfect morning symphony for my ears.
Our morning ends just as the rain starts to let up. We make our way back to the top of the mountain, and rest for a spell before our next adventure begins.

15 June 2017

The Peralta Trail

I've accepted the fact that one must rise up early to get in some Arizona hiking, but I don't mind. Six am can be beautiful in the desert.

The Superstition mountains continue to be my favorite spot to explore, and this early morning in March finds me at the Peralta trailhead. I'm hoping to summit and possibly find the wind caves.
Our wet winter has turned the desert into a green oasis. I wind through trees as the sun rises and sparks a fiery glow on the red sandstone rocks. Hawks circle overhead looking for a last meal before it gets too warm. I climb higher and higher.
The trail seems to disappear as I get close to the top. I find a cave, not too deep or wide though, and wonder if this is the famed wind cave.

I don't think it is, and circle around hoping to climb higher. Somehow though, I get turned around and find myself going back down the trail.

It seems as though this hike was a good introduction to the mountain, but like a gold digger or miner, it is going to require many hours of work and exploration of this mountain range to find all of it's hidden gems.

18 May 2017

Secret Hot Springs

We are all sitting on the shores of the Colorado in the early morning light, waiting for our kayaks to arrive.

John, our guide, lets us know they should be here within half an hour, but in the meantime, would we like to go hike up a slot canyon to some natural hot springs?
As we walk, the canyon walls become more narrow and the stream of water grows warmer around my feet. We scale some boulders and come to a ten foot ladder.
As we reach the top we find a warm pool of crystal clear hot spring water that is perfect for wading and relaxing. It feels so good on your skin, and soothes tired muscles from our morning hike.

I notice that the canyon continues upward, and ask if I can explore further. John lets me know that it's no problem, but does warn that the water gets hotter the higher up you go.

I wade upstream, and then scream out "Holy Cow!" which the sound reverberates endlessly down the canyon walls.
The water was definitely hotter than I expected.

16 May 2017

My hike to the Colorado river (prelude)

5am in Vegas, and the party was still going strong in the streets. I quietly sip coffee and wait for the Evolution Expeditions van to swing by and pick me up.

Today is the day I will kayak eight plus miles of the Colorado river.

We arrive just after 6am to the trail head. We have to hike through the Nevada desert for three miles to get to our launch point on the river. We stay warm and alert by searching for tarantula's that make their home in the holes of the rock.

As the sun begins its rise and lights the mountain peaks above, my adrenaline starts to skyrocket.
The trail goes from open desert to narrow slot canyon quickly. We find ourselves scrambling over boulders, squeezing through narrow passages, and climbing up steep hillsides.
Our guide, John, and I quickly become friends as we hike along. We have similar interests and philosophies about life and nature.

As the sun fully rises in the sky we arrive at the shores of the mighty Colorado. The waters are still as the current is controlled by the Hoover Dam. Yet we find that it is not quite time to start kayaking, as their is a surprise adventure that is in store for us first.....
but that story comes in part two.

12 May 2017

Desert Views

It was either November or December, I can't recall for sure, but the temperature was twenty degrees and snow was fairly high as I start out my day exploring the Desert View trail along the mighty Grand Canyon.
The original plan was to hike down the canyon to the Colorado river, then back up, and to complete this all in one day. I knew I was ill equipped for such a hike though with all the snow and little provisions.
So I scrapped that idea for another day and hiked through the passages of time along the South Rim.
The great thing about the Grand Canyon is that each visit can show you something new, even throughout the day light and shadow can change the canyon in new and unexpected ways. When you think about the true amount of time that it has taken to form what you see before your eyes, you can become overtaken with emotion.
So I start my hike today, and find that by the last of days light I've traveled back 1280 million years through the rocks carved by wind, water and ice.
Come with me, won't you?

09 May 2017

Lenox Crater. Cinder Hills. Alone.

I barely remember the Cinder Hills or Lenox Crater. I think I was outside of Flagstaff. Yes, that sounds familiar.
Lately, my mind has been filled with frustration, and I can't find the plug to pull and drain the poisonous thoughts. I need to just keep my mouth shut and remember the bigger picture in my life.

but that is hard to do.
I hope to write down these thoughts and purge the sickness, but even as I type I feel the process not working.

Fuck it. My life may just be as messed up as a Fargo story, with my only hope is that it may be as interesting.

08 May 2017

Inspiration Point

I haven't seen California this lush and green in....forever. I think the plane has taken a detour and I've been re-routed. The call to be in the mountains above Berkeley is even stronger now.
Tilden regional park just above the city offers great hiking trails and jaw-dropping views of both the bay and the inland valleys. I find a trail and just start walking....

I lone black cow comes across my path, and is just as curious about me as I am about it.

Woah big fella.

I keep going, and eventually find myself at a place called Inspiration Point. The clouds have partially lifted and the Golden Gate Bridge is visible.

A couple is sitting on a park bench overlooking the bay. It's the purest example of strained love I've seen in quite awhile.
and I find it beautiful.

05 May 2017

Organ Pipe's Desert view under Jedi steps

Darkness is quickly enveloping the desert landscape as the old Jedi pours the last of the moonshine down his parched throat. The teddy bear cholla watches in silence.
He fixates the beacon of light upon his head and makes his way up the trail towards the setting sun. The force surrounds all living things, including himself if he lets go of his fear, hate and suffering.
He carries onward in the dark, letting the small light  guide him safely along the path.
At the summit he reaches to find the valley in it's last glow of light as the sun disappears behind the mountains. He needs the light more than ever now, as the nocturnal creatures become more active in the blackness.
Fare thee well, the Jedi says to days last light....
and fades into the recesses of his camp for another night in the desert.

28 April 2017

Soldiers trail

I rise in the woods of a September morning to the sounds of crackling fires and bluegrass banjo's being tuned.

Let's go for a hike along the Soldiers trail and look for mighty elk.
Off in the distance I hear the sounds of Bob Marley playing.

I tap my feet along the trail, wondering...

Is it love, is it love, it is love that I'm feeling?
I find no elk, only curious Kaibob squirrels and the comfort standing next to a tree that has been struck by lightning.

27 April 2017

leaving despair in Sycamore Canyon

4.18.17

I had just returned to work after a few days in Mexico City, and I was excited to tell my friends all about it. I was giving one friend some rosary beads she had asked for, when my best friend appeared at her desk, visibly shaken.

"My fifteen year old niece just died..."

A flood of emotions took me over, and I went right back to that fateful day of my own when I got the call about my own sister.
4.19.17

It's been forever since we've spoke, but I get a message from an old girlfriend about her support group for MS. She is so young to have to deal with this disease. I know all too well it's devastating effects on a person, and I find no words to console her. I tell her she sounds strong, but the words are hollow and empty.

She doesn't reply back.
4.22.17

I wake before the dawn and driving three hours up North. I'm not prepared in any way, no food and little water, but I don't care. I need to get out of my head and into the wild.

I find Sycamore Canyon, just outside of Williams, Arizona. There is an eleven mile loop that will work, and I start walking.

Four miles in and I get lost. I want to circle the canyon, thinking that is the most logical route for the loop, but I am mistaken.

Further and further I go, off trail and deep into the heart of the wilderness. I hear no other sound than my labored breathing.

but my mind is clear.....

I eventually turnaround and retrace my steps backwards. My water is gone, the new formed blisters on my feet are screaming in pain, and the sweat along my brow has crystallized into salt from dehydration.

I find this to be therapeutic to my well being.

4.26.17

In the way of the world today, I see on social media about a family friend that suddenly died. Only twenty two hours earlier she had posted a picture of her granddaughter at a gymnastics meet, and commented on how proud she was of her.....

I'll be having Counting Crows on repeat for a while, and taking in the advice from Anna begins...

18 March 2017

The Mickelson Trail

It was a beautiful Autumn morning as I woke up in Deadwood, on the day of the 46th year since my birth. To celebrate, for lack of a better word, I went hiking along the Mickelson trail in the Black Hills.
Originally the Burlington Northern line that took trains from Edgemont to Deadwood, the Mickelson trail is now 109 glorious miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding. As I get started making my way out of town, I see a lone rabbit eating grass along the rivers edge. So intent am I watching this creature that I don't notice the man coming up alongside me.

He greets me warmly, waving his iron claw hands in the air. A veteran of WW2, he embodies the spirit that I love about this country, it's freedom and resiliency. He wishes me luck on my journey, and we part ways.
I'm soon immersed in the beauty of Fall colors on this October day, the sounds of town fading behind me. If time would allow, I'd complete all 109 miles.

I settle for 14 though, and it's a wonderful compromise. A couple of miles in, I chat with a lady on horseback, a family out for a picnic, and a couple of young mountain bikers. We all have the same grin on our faces from such a perfect day in the mountains.

I swig some water and carry onward.
I reach a summit and find a split in the trail, which is lucky for me as the alternate route is a loop that will eventually take me back to Deadwood, instead of having to return on the same route.

Hours later, I run into the same lady on horseback, and we smile as our paths cross again.

I wasn't aware that I had my camera on the "painting" setting, yet it captured the beauty of the hills perfectly, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results.
Of all the hiking trails in all of the places in this world, I couldn't have been luckier to find myself on this trail, on this day, in this place in time.