Overseas Highway (Key West, Florida) 06-Feb-2018

Key West Florida

Years ago, work took me to Key West, Florida; a type of work that did not allow The LovedOne to join me. So when she expressed an interest in seeing Key West for herself, we planned a mid-winter trip to drive the Overseas Highway (I’d only flown to Key West before), spend a few days in the Keys, and also visit some of the national parks in South Florida. Our thinking was that this would be a nice break from the snowy winter we were expecting, and from all the snowshoeing we’d be doing.  Well, we haven’t had much snow or any snowshoeing, but it was a very nice break just the same.  We prepared ourselves for our visit by re-reading some of Carl Hiaasen’s nominally fictional novels about life in South Florida.  Call them “fiction” but his stories do capture the eccentric and frenetic gestalt of Miami and points south along the Keys.  The Conch Republic has its own special take on different, so Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey is essential reading for Key West visitors!

Continue reading “Overseas Highway (Key West, Florida) 06-Feb-2018”

Antelope Island State Park (Utah) 18-Sep-2017

WAntelope Island State Park Utah

After hikes in the Ruby Mountains Wilderness and Great Basin National Park, we decided to enjoy some “big city” civilization (and a wider selection of microbrews) by heading over to Salt Lake City. Once there, we found time – amongst the bookstores, microbrews, and restaurants – to visit Antelope Island State Park, located about 40 miles north of the city.  On our last and only visit to this park – while escaping briefly from a conference in Salt Lake – we’d had to deal with a fog so thick that we couldn’t see much beyond the hood of our rental car.  But we’d heard that it was quite a beautiful area – when visible – so we took this opportunity to actually see it for ourselves.  Well, long story short, it is an amazing outdoor venue, with spectacular views of the Great Salt Lake, along with the Historic Fielding Garr Ranch and free-ranging bison (among other desert animals of various sizes and temperaments).  The folks in Salt Lake are lucky to have someplace this nice so close by…

Continue reading “Antelope Island State Park (Utah) 18-Sep-2017”

Wheeler Peak (Nevada) 16-Sep-2017

Wheeler Peak Great Basin National Park Nevada

Another goal for our visit to Great Basin National Park was a hike to the summit of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak. This is the highest peak in the Park and the second highest in Nevada, the first being 13,147-foot Boundary Peak [climbed in 1985] near the California border.  State boosters are quick to point out that, since part of Boundary Peak slops into California, Wheeler Peak is the tallest peak entirely within Nevada (so there!).  There is also some glowering when the uninformed confuse Nevada’s number two Wheeler Peak with New Mexico’s highest point [climbed in 1993] which is – wait for it – also named Wheeler Peak (good old George M. Wheeler sure got around).  Anyway, the climb of Nevada’s Wheeler Peak is a straightforward hike on a clear and easily followed trail, the only tricks being the weather and the altitude (the hike is all above 10,000 feet).  Fortunately, we were able to wait for good weather and we’d also spent a couple of days acclimating elsewhere in Nevada.

Continue reading “Wheeler Peak (Nevada) 16-Sep-2017”

Ruby Mountains Wilderness (Nevada) 13-Sep-2017

Ruby Mountains Wilderness Nevada

This hike was part of a hastily arranged roadtrip to Nevada to escape the wildfire smoke that was smothering Southern Oregon.  It was also an opportunity for me to visit a few localities I’d missed in years past, such as the Ruby Mountains Wilderness, which is located on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest about 30 miles southeast of Elko, Nevada.

Continue reading “Ruby Mountains Wilderness (Nevada) 13-Sep-2017”

Tettegouche Lakes Loop (Minnesota) 09-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Our second to last day on the North Shore suffered less than optimal weather, necessitating excessive sitting around, so we decided to do a longer, more involved hike on our last day to compensate for such sloth.  The rest of the family decided that sloth, or perhaps golf (?), worked better for them and that we were on our own for this romp in the woods. After consulting Andrew Slade’s Hiking the North Shore guidebook (2014 edition), we settled on the Tettegouche Lakes Loop (his Hike #24) because it seemed to offer some wide views interspersed with close-ups of lakes.  At 10 miles of hiking and 900 feet of elevation gain (depending on how you measure it), plus a scramble up the “Drainpipe,” it seemed like a great way to further fritter away our golden years.

Continue reading “Tettegouche Lakes Loop (Minnesota) 09-Jun-2017”

Isle Royale National Park 07-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Since we’d all journeyed way up to the North Shore, almost everyone agreed that we needed to behoove ourselves of this opportunity for a daytrip to Isle Royale National Park. The park is only accessible by boat and we lucked-out in that the transportation boat, the Seahunter III, was starting its season the week we would be visiting.  The Seahunter III is a 65-foot twin diesel vessel that provides passenger service between Grand Portage, Minnesota and Windigo, Michigan, the park headquarters on the southwest end of the island.  There was some trepidation about riding a small boat across a large lake but conditions on our day of travel were sunny, clear, and glass smooth.

Continue reading “Isle Royale National Park 07-Jun-2017”

Superior Gondola Hikes (Minnesota) 06-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

To honor the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, we decided to squeeze two short, but different, hikes into one day: a gondola-facilitated hike around Mystery Mountain on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT)  (Hike #35 in Andrew Slade’s Hiking the North Shore guidebook (2014 edition)) and another on the SHT to big views from the summit of Carlton Peak (Hike #32 in his guidebook).  For the first hike, I think we just wanted the novelty of a gondola ride to the top of Moose Mountain.  For the second hike, it seemed essential to soak in the views being offered to us by the run of clear, sunny, cloudless weather we were experiencing here on the North Shore (unlike the rain and snow we’d be enduring if we were back home).

Continue reading “Superior Gondola Hikes (Minnesota) 06-Jun-2017”

Eagle Mountain (Minnesota) 05-June-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Eagle Mountain, at 2,301 feet, is the highest point in Minnesota.  We first hiked it in July of 2001, as part of our quest to reach all of the high points in the United States [we’ve got six left; unfortunately, these six are among the hardest of the lot].  We remembered the trail to the summit as pretty straightforward and therefore likely suitable for a family-style hike.  The lure of a high point was even sufficient to draw one of our typically non-hiking members out on to the trail. So six of us found our way to the Eagle Mountain trailhead (not far from Lutsen, Minnesota) and set out on our summit bid.  Since our first hike here lo those many years ago, the popularity of this high point seems to have increased, and the trail is now a well-worn and obvious path through the woods.

Continue reading “Eagle Mountain (Minnesota) 05-June-2017”

Knife River Trail (Minnesota) 04-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Having hiked on the North Shore only once before years ago, we wanted to squeeze in a short “familiarization” hike between our departure from Superior, Wisconsin and our meet-up with the family in Lutsen, Minnesota.  We needed a personal sense of trail and (more importantly) flying, biting, sucking insect conditions.  Getting a feeling for local conditions and practices seems (to us at least) the basis for safer and more enjoyable hikes when we’re away from home.  So we put some more money into the local economy with a purchase of Andrew Slade’s Hiking the North Shore guidebook (2014 edition) and selected from its pages a short out-and-back hike along the Knife River (Hike #11), one of the largest rivers on the North Shore.

Continue reading “Knife River Trail (Minnesota) 04-Jun-2017”

A Week on the North Shore (Minnesota) 03-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Our family is scattered across the United States and follows different schedules and lifestyles, so arranging a get together involves solving numerous multi-body problems.  Our animating criterium was for a place where we could all be together but still have different things to do (because, inexplicably, we’re not all hikers).  A secondary criterium was for that place to be new and different (for most of us at least).

Continue reading “A Week on the North Shore (Minnesota) 03-Jun-2017”

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks (New Mexico) 23-May-2017

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument New Mexico

For our last day in the Southwest, we decided to visit Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. The Monument, which is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is located between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, a short distance off Interstate-25. It’s notable for the cone-shaped tent rock formations that are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Also visible are numerous hoodoos of various sizes, most protected by a precariously perched boulder cap of harder, less erodible rock. A potentially apocryphal story suggests that Doctor Seuss was inspired by some of these formations.

Continue reading “Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks (New Mexico) 23-May-2017”