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 outdoor adventures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outdoor adventures. Show all posts

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.

28 July 2017

Mount Shasta

It was easily over four hours from the bay area up to the pristine mountains of Mount Shasta in northern California. Years before a friend of mine had shown me a picture of them hiking here, and that was all she wrote. I took a mental note and planned for the day that I would one day witness the beauty with my own eyes.
I pull into my cabin by the lake, and unpack my groceries of fresh fruit and whiskey, break out the ice and relax on the porch. I only want to be here now, no other place to be. In this moment, with just you and me.
Oh yes, just be here now.

25 July 2017

The high country around Cortez

Dirty and disheveled, the lone wanderer makes his way along the scenic backroads through the high country of the Navajo Nation on his way to Cortez, Colorado.

Lone crows call out his name like psychotic girlfriends from prior lives. The sun paints haunting images in the sky.
He finds a place called Negro road that is the loneliest place he can recall being in for the longest time. A single tree seems out of place amongst the tall weeds that sway gently in the breeze. He feels like resting his back against the tree trunk and letting his body die.

It wouldn't be a bad place to go.
A semi appears out of nowhere and rumbles him back to reality. He shakes off the dire thought of death and focuses of the peacefulness of this place.

Peace, not death, instead of peace from death.

13 July 2017

Mesa Verde

Sometimes a road trip can alleviate all your stresses and worries that come from every day life.
I leave Phoenix at mid-day on a Friday and head to the remote town of Chinle, arriving as the sun sets. In the morning I make it the rest of the way to my destination, Mesa Verde. My last time here was in 1997, traveling with a potential girlfriend to a wedding in New Mexico. We didn't do much exploring as it was November.

This time around was much different, and more my style of exploration.
If you can just imagine yourself as an Anasazi Indian, living in the adobe cliff side dwelling, you can get a real sense of the lifestyle here a few hundred years ago.
The park lets you wander and explore the rooms found here, which is a rare treat for such precious artifacts. Be careful, take your time, and explore the wonders of Mesa Verde National Park in the four corners area of colorful Colorado.

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.

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.

24 May 2017

The Rocky Mountain Sheep of Willow Beach

We end our eight mile kayak down the Colorado river at Willow Beach, Arizona. During our time on the river, our guide was always telling us to look up at the mountain tops for signs of Rocky Mountain Sheep.

Animal sightings though were sparse until the end.

As we are waiting for the van to arrive so we can load our kayaks, a lone sheep makes it's way over the hill just in front of us. It's majestic curled horns are on display for all of us as it searches for food along the shoreline.
The van arrives and we load the kayaks up, then head to the marina store for cold beers and greasy burgers. As we all are sitting on a picnic bench enjoying ourselves, an entire herd of sheep appears on the hill above us.

Our Canadian friends call them "goats", but whatever name you prefer, I love these creatures.
It was the perfect ending to an incredible day.

23 May 2017

Kayaking the Colorado river

My kayaking adventure with Evolution Expeditions entailed eight miles of awesomeness down the Colorado river. Due to the construction of the Hoover Dam, the river only flows when the dam releases water downstream, so we found that kayaking would be more work than anticipated.

It was time to work those arm muscles, and paddle down through some of the most amazing desert scenery.
Our guide gives us history lessons as we go, from the early explorers of this land to the massive undertaking that went into building the Hoover Dam. We see remnants of Native American culture and early pioneers.
A little over halfway and we come to the Emerald Cave, named from the crystal clear green waters that are found.
The last few miles take every last bit of energy I have to complete, yet when I see the docking area at Willow Beach, Arizona, I'm filled with a rush of adrenaline and accomplishment in finishing this epic adventure.

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.

24 April 2017

Horseshoe Bend

I had about an hour before sunset when I pulled into the parking area where the trail to Horseshoe Bend begins. I climb the sandy trail as a cottontail pricks up it's ears at me before scamping off into the sagebrush. The wind flute of the Navajo echoes below.

I feel a great presence here.
Tiny human
dots rise on the red rocks, standing before the mighty formation. The closer I approach, the more I find myself catching my breath. Not from exertion though, but from the raw power of Nature's beauty that the Colorado river has created.
I creep towards the edge, then sit meditation style on the rock lip of the great Bend and watch as the sunset lights up the area in brilliant colors.
The next morning I rise well before the sunrise and start hiking in the darkness back to this special place. A coyote meets me on the trail today, but pays me no mind as I can't satisfy his hunger.

My coffee quickly becomes cold in the chill of this winters morn. I lay down on the edge of Horseshoe and marvel at the quiet sound of a sunrise.
Few places bond my spirit back into one solid piece like the mighty Horseshoe Bend outside of Page, Arizona.
******

04 April 2017

Mountain biking at Usery

In what seems to be a never ending quest to find new things to do here in Arizona, Usery Mountain Park fit the bill last weekend.

My mountain bikes have looked ever so sad just sitting in my garage, and so to alleviate this problem, I go to hit the gnarly trails at Usery.
Sweet single track sand trails interconnect through this part of the Sonoran desert. I rush past towering Cacti and flowering desert plants, small lizards hurriedly dart under bushes as my tires roll on by.
I'm not sure what wiped me out first; the increasing heat or my weak muscles but after two and a half hours, I was done until another day.
I foresee that another ride will be in my future soon though.

04 March 2017

shuffling through the volcanic ash of Sunset Crater

Just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, there is a protected area known as Sunset Crater. The ground is covered in soft black volcanic ash, crevasses and fissures can be explored.

The Native American Great Spirit is strong here.
Start along the boardwalk to get a sense of the area, then head out on a trail that will lead you up and around a mountain.

Your views once you reach the summit are worth the short hike.
I come around the mountain and back down as the sun starts to set in the west. I head back to camp, start a fire and watch the night sky unfold.
Another peaceful starry Arizona night.

25 February 2017

alone on Ajo Mountain

Across the desolate highway is a dirt road with a faded sign that leads to Ajo Mountain.

The wanderer crosses the blacktop like a hurt tortoise, then meanders onto the desert sand, and starts the journey under the mid morning sun.

The rain clouds follow.
It doesn't take long before all signs of civilization vanish. The imposing cactus tower his vision, the desert starts to play it's tricks on his mind.

Careful, don't fall down the rabbit hole. Stay focused.
Clouds gather and disburse quickly along the skyline. The Lizard King spews an ancient truth in the afternoon wind.

"The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first."
He listens to the wisdom of the past as it sets a framework deep in his mind. The trail feels surmountable now, and he rambles on into the late afternoon, worry free and present about his own personal revolution.
******

13 February 2017

Snowmobiling in the San Juans

As the train slows to a stop in the mountain town of Rockwood, I spot the white van in the sparsely filled parking lot. I exit and start to make my way towards a tall, lanky young gent.

"Are you the one that wants to snowmobile?"

"Oh yeah. Am I the only one?"

It turns out that I was the only one, but that didn't seem to bother him. He introduces himself as Dion as we head up the road to the top of the San Juan mountains.

He is easily twenty years my younger, but surprisingly the conversation flows without effort. This is his last snowmobile tour, as he is moving to Springdale, Utah, in two days to be a rock climbing guide.

He is trying to get his life together, a story I know all too well. We arrive at the trailhead, an elevation at a little over 11,000 feet. The skies are growing darker, and a light snow starts to fall. I tell him it's been about 20 years since I last rode a sled.

A quick refresher course and we are off, just the two of us. The scenery is truly epic.
We race up the mountain side, the snow coming down faster and harder the higher we go. Quickly our visibility goes to almost zero. Dion checks in with me to see if I want to brave it, and we keep climbing.

I feel so alive.

We come across another group, and after talking to them we finally decide to turn around. It's a total white out, and I'm not even sure where the trail is.

I just don't want to get stuck, or worse, dump the machine over.

We take a break on the edge, overlooking the valley below. Dion tells me about the summer he traveled to Patagonia, with stories of climbing and world adventure.

I smile and relay some stories of my own.
So I find a kindred spirit up in the mountains of San Juan as we cascade through the snow, fly up and down hills, weave in and out of trees, and just live in this moment.

15 January 2017

along the Deschutes (part 2)

The road heading West was long, unassuming and empty. After a few miles of travel, I pull the car off to the side, strap on my pack, and walk into the wilderness.

I've no idea where the trail leads.
A couple of miles in, I hear the faint sound of rushing water, which I hope to be the mighty Deschutes river. I need the life force of this valley to be by my side on my walkabout.
The waters here go from narrow, rushing rapids at the bottom of a deep canyon gorge to a flooding, wide open plain.

I watch birds nest in the flooded plains, hold my imaginary son's hand on the canyon's edge.
At mile five or six I measure the amount of drinking water I have left, trying to gauge how far to continue before I must turn back.

My mind starts to play tricks on me out here in the open landscape.

I strap on protection from the unseen dangers that may be lurking around the next bend in the trail.
I find a perch high above the raging water below and get a bite to eat, calming the rampant paranoia that was overwhelming the conscious mind.

A paddle boarder slowly comes into view from behind a tree.

A dog with his owner are playing fetch with a stick.

A man on a mountain bike rides past me in ambiguity.
I watch the rushing water in slow motion, looking for salmon running upstream, or perhaps the glimpse of a greater truth in the water droplets as they dance in mid-air.

I see nothing, which perhaps is everything. I listen to that truth.

Can you hear it too?
The Deschutes river goes from a raving mad rush to a stillness that reflects everything. I come to the edge and look down, deep into the clear and picturesque landscape that is being reflected before me.
I realize that this here, this moment, is all I was wanting, searching for, hoping to find.

I feel a smile of contentment form across my tired and weary face....
and follow the Road home again.