Full disclosure: We did not walk up the mountain. Our intention was to wander around up top to get a feel for the altitude, so we chose the gondola for a quick and easy ascent. We were met with gorgeous 360 degree views from what felt like the top of the world.
Reg struck up a conversation with a couple who had made the walk up from the main lodge, claiming to have completed the 2,000 foot climb in about 2 hours. They seemed a little surprised that we had taken the easy way to the top. Feeling a bit wimpy and wanting to salvage our pride, we decided to walk back down the mountain.
It turned out to be a great decision. The hike was well marked, not too steep and filled with jaw-dropping scenery. The trail filled our morning, depositing us back at the lodge right about noon…just in time for lunch!
We put our hiking legs to the test Sunday morning and drove up to Mount Ashland where we picked up a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Southern Oregon has been experiencing hazy skies due to multiple fires burning in the area and in Northern California, but at the 6,300 foot elevation level the sky above us was clear and blue…and spring was in full bloom. Wildflowers of every size, shape and color decorated the hillside, some just past their prime while others were at their peak.
Hiking south, the trail wound up through open meadows to switchbacks and along a ridge line that offered 360 degree views. The occasional northbound hiker passed us, always with a smile and a nod, still cheerful after hundreds of miles traveled and with hundreds of miles to go. A large group was gathered about the drink-filled ice chest left trailside by a compassionate trail angel. The guestbook was filled with a colorful list of the trail names and dates of trekkers who had previously enjoyed a respite.
Just over 5 miles in and after thousand feet of climbing, the trail took a downhill turn, plunging into a thick forest with no end in sight. Deciding that we’d had enough, we turned and retraced out steps back out to the car, thankful that we didn’t have to search for a tent site for the night.
Our westward bound journey began with a two-night stop at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Kentucky. What a great family park…2,000 acres of forest and fun! We reserved a campsite over a week ago and were not disappointed with our choice.
The park has over 30 miles of hiking trails, half of which are multi-use trails for hikers, bikers or horseback riders. In addition, fishing, boating, canoeing, swimming, golfing and rock climbing offer something for just about everyone. If camping isn’t your thing, there are several overnight accommodations available.
There are plenty of caves to explore in this park. Some are self-guided (with a permit) while others require a guide. We opted to stay above ground this trip…maybe next time!
The Navaho Knobs Trail is the longest trail in Capitol Reef National Park. The 9.4 mile round trip climbs (relentlessly) about 2,000 feet to an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet. This was no small day hike for us, but we figured we could always turn around if the going got tough.
An hour later (at least) we finally reached the base of The Knobs. The trail led us around to the right where we scrambled up the rocks, as far as we dared, to take in the view.
As our Thanksgiving holiday approached and it became clear that we would be celebrating without family for the first time in many years, Reg and I chose to do our social distancing and turkey roasting in Washington State. We managed to rent a one bedroom cottage on Camano Island, perched right on the waters of the Puget Sound region. When the clouds allowed, we enjoyed a view across to Whidbey Island and the mountains of Olympic Peninsula beyond. It’s been the perfect getaway.
We were sandwiched between two state parks, each an easy one mile walk from our front door. Wednesday we headed to Cama Beach State Park, first detouring along the trail to Cranberry Lake. It seemed an appropriate destination for a holiday walk.
We chose not to linger, instead turning back to find the trail to Cama Beach.
We climbed back up to hike the Marine Loop Trail, enjoyed a perfect lunch spot and then finished our tour of Cama Beach State Park.
The following day we headed in the opposite direction to explore Camano Island State Park, choosing the loop trail which took us high above the beach, down to the shore and then back up again.
We drive home tomorrow, but squeezed one last walk in today. Another loop trail through the Camano Ridge Forest Preserve allowed us the chance to explore the opposite end of the island.
Friends Lan and Jeff stayed here (The Crown Villa RV Park) last month and provided good reviews, so we knew we’d be comfortable on our last outing of the season. Beggars can’t be choosers – especially when looking for 3 nights just one day in advance. This is a very nice RV park located inside the Bend city limits. We feel quite spoiled and are hardly roughing it.
We did get some good hiking in, so in spite of our pristine site, we managed get a little dusty. Shevlin Park was crowded on Sunday afternoon, but we found the last open parking spot and settled on a loop trail that took us on a 5-mile walk through the park canyon.
It was a nice warmup for the hike we did the following day. The 6-mile Matthieu Lakes loop trail is located off the beaten path outside of Sisters, Oregon.
We passed several small ponds along the way. Although we were in shirtsleeves today, one pond was edged with ice, evidence of how low the nighttime temperatures drop this time of year.
Following the trail around the lake, we found the perfect lunch spot.
Our return trip took us up high with views of ancient lava flows, a view of Mt. Washington, a bird’s eye view of our lunch spot and back through sections of fire damage. All in all, a great hike and a good end to camping season!
We huffed and puffed our way along the gentle Riverwalk Trail in Colorado’s upscale mountain community of Telluride. At an elevation of about 9,500 feet, we appreciated the relatively flat terrain. There was plenty of scenery and fall color to enjoy, and a beautiful little town park where we stopped for our picnic lunch.
After lunch we made the short drive to Mountain Village, a resort ski town where everything looks new and luxurious. It was here we took the free Gondola ride that connects the communities of Mountain Village and Telluride.
The gondola system was designed and built to promote clean air and discourage people from driving between the towns (like we did…oops). It opens early in the morning and runs until late at night, carrying skiers during the winter months and hikers, bikers and tourists during warmer weather.
So there we were, hanging high in the sky on our way to the high point of the ride – an elevation of 10,500 feet. The views were astounding. And then…we headed straight down.
Carryoncouple decided this was a much easier to travel than lacing up our boots. We could get spoiled!
What better way to learn the lay of the land than to walk the perimeter…and that’s just what we did today in Ouray (pronounced You-Ray), Colorado.
Trail guides vary, listing the circular Perimeter Trail as 5 1/2 – 6 miles with 1,600 feet of elevation gain and loss. All promise spectacular views.
The trail took us through tunnels, across numerous bridges and through some gorgeous fall color. There was a bit of climbing, mostly at the beginning and end. We chose to walk counter clockwise, saving our glimpse of the waterfall until the end.
All in all, this was a good days hike. By the time we reached our starting point we were hot and dirty and tired…but in a good way!