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

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.

12 January 2017

Oregon's Lava River Cave

Created almost 80,000 years ago, the lava tube started to form as the top layer was exposed to the cool air and began to solidify.

While the top crust hardens, the lava continued to flow like a river underneath, creating an almost one mile long exploratory tube beneath the Earth's surface along Oregon's Deschutes river.

Fast forward to the modern day and you find a sole explorer with a lantern in hand, ready to walk down into this dark and cold wonder.
As I descend the man made steps, my lantern burns brighter as the darkness swallows the daylight. I soon find myself in the total black of the Lava River cave.

You have no guide, only the occasional glimpses of another explorer's light ahead of you.

I carry on.
Slow is the only way to proceed down here, as the cave floor has sudden drops in the unstable rock. My eyes start to adjust to adjust to the darkness like a bat, my hands feel for the cave edges as I reach out for some comfort.

Luckily, my lantern burns brightly.
One mile down, and the cave tube is diminishing in circumference quickly, forcing me to crawl on hands and knees until I reach a sign stating to go no further due to instability.

The quiet stillness is unnerving and calming in equal amounts. I can hear tiny droplets of water falling down onto the cave tube floor, playing a maddening, repetitive sound.

drip. drip. drip.....

I'll never forget the feeling I had as the light from the cave entrance became visible once again.
It symbolizes that no matter how immersed in darkness one may be, if you carry onward with strong resolve, grit and determination, you will always find light at the end of any dark tunnel.

Imagine what lies beyond, waiting in the darkness as you listen to your own echoes.

28 November 2016

going to church along the Timberline

The morning temperature was slightly above freezing, and the cracking of ice could be heard along the stream's edge. The trail to my church was just ahead.
The initial goal was to climb a peak that would summit above 15,000 feet. The morning rain quickly washed away that plan. I would not let that deter my spirit however, and let the beauty of the timberline lead me to an unknown sermon.

The rains dissipated quickly, and I reached my pew upon the lake shore. I stood in humble silence as the clouds passed by on the autumn breeze.
I find no church more comforting than the one found in the bounty of Nature.

02 November 2016

the story of how sh*t went down in Death Valley

The fourth of July this year landed on a Monday, giving us 9 to 5 workaday during the week folks a long three day weekend.

I took advantage of this time to go back to a place I first visited in December 2011, Death Valley National Park. Why did I want to go in the middle of the summer you may ask? I guess I like to push the boundaries of reason and sanity. Unfortunately, I went over the edge into an nightmarish abyss.
Saturday morning started out well enough. I land at the airport early, get a nice big truck for my rental, and start the 3 hour journey to the park. First stop is to find the ghost town of Rhyolite just outside the park entrance, and about seven miles from the town of Beatty, Nevada.

Driving along a dirt road as I'm leaving the ghost town, the low tire pressure light comes on. Confused, I put the truck in park and get out to examine the tires. Sure enough, I loud hissing sound is coming from the front left tire. Freaking out, I beeline it straight to back to Beatty, stressing as the PSI drops rapidly...

I make it to a gas station, and ask if there is a repair shop open around town (remember it is a holiday weekend). She gives me the cell number to the only mechanic. I call, only to find out he is on his way back from Las Vegas.

He can help me, but it will be a couple of hours. Eventually, he gets my tire replaced, using the spare on the rental.
I thank him, thinking my bad luck is out of the way. I'm behind schedule, but need to go back into the park to check into my lodging at Furnace Creek. Along the way I see road closures and pools of standing water along the road.

"Strange...."

An hour and a half later, I pull into Furnace Creek. There is a line coming out the front lobby, people sweating in the intense heat. I get in line....

I finally get to the front desk, only to learn that a major freak rain and lightning storm had rolled through the park the night before, knocking out all power to Furnace Creek. With no A/C, power or phone service, they had no way to contact us beforehand, but due to safety reasons, we couldn't stay in the park. Everyone was frantically trying to find alternate accommodations, all of which were at least an hour or two from our current location.

I decide to just drive back to Beatty, and find a small motel that has a room available for the next couple of nights.

"it can't get any worse, right?..."
The next morning, I head back into the park to explore new areas previously not seen. I'm limited due to most roads being closed, but I do find one open that takes me deep into the park.

Driving along the paved road smattered with small rocks that were washed up on the road from the previous rainstorm, I'm chugging along when the low tire pressure light comes on again.

"I can't be having another flat, can I?...."

Yet that is exactly what is happening. The right front tire this time, and the air is escaping much quicker. I'm not seven miles from a town like the day before, I'm about 50 miles from a major highway, 60 miles from any civilized town.

"This could be how I die."

I have no cellular service, so I do the only thing possible, and drive as fast as I can. Somehow, I make it back to the main highway, and about 4 miles from the town before that tire completely blows out. I pull over and wait for someone to help me.

No one does. Desperate, I try to call 911 with no cell service. The call goes through....

A hour later, just as the last of my water runs out, the police show up, and give me a ride back to town. They let me know that due to the rainstorm, rocks turn into razor sharp little bastards that wreck havoc on the roads, which is why my tires were being punctured.

They drop me off in town so I can call my rental car company to get a tow truck. I plop a quarter into the pay phone and dial...
The nice lady that answers can't even find my location at first on GPS to send a tow truck, but eventually we get it all worked out. Only problem is that the tow truck is a couple hours away...

Finally he arrives. I sit in his cab, no A/C but plenty of cigarette smoke. I breath deeply.
I tell him my stuff is in my hotel room back in Beatty, but he tells me that we will never make it up that road towing this truck, we have to go another route to get out of the park.

"just get me the hell out of here."

So I lost two tires, my luggage, and my sanity. I went straight to the Las Vegas airport and caught a flight home, trying to shake the unimaginable stream of bad luck that plagued me in Death Valley. 

24 October 2016

The South Rim

"Is it really one of the seven wonders of the World?"

"It depends upon who you ask, but I'll let you see it with your own eyes, then you can tell me what you think...."
As we step off the train from Williams, glimpses of the South Rim can be seen through the brush oak and pines. It's June, and the Arizona heat is beating down like a lunatic oven. Indian flute music is being played in the distance, and the notes bounce off the canyon walls and follow the Colorado river down stream.
We stop at the vista overlooks, and drink in the beauty in silence. Cbug tries to mirror his father and uncle with his own camera skills, crazylegs makes fun of selfies, Emily is making sure none of us fall off the edge.
I stop asking them if they are having a good time, as they are too young. Instead I will write here about how much I love and miss them. One day perhaps, they will find this post, laugh at the photos, click play on the video, and relive our times together at one of the seven wonders of the world.