Posts Tagged With: landscapes

John Muir Trail: The most beautiful lakes

We camped at Lake Virginia on Day 22.

We were surprised by the sheer number of lakes, ponds and watering holes scattered along the John Muir Trail. Most were so crystal clear that we could count the fish swimming about. Our group was lucky enough to camp at a few of them and Reg and I enjoyed lunch along the shore of others. In between, I snapped photos left and right, hoping I’d be able to remember which was which.

At Purple Lake, we paused and posed for a photo.
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John Muir Trail: Type 2 Fun

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Reg traverses the narrow path across the summit of 11,926 ft. Glen Pass, definitely Type 2 Fun.

The packers were sharing stories of some of their crazy adventures when I first heard the term “Type 2 Fun,” an experience that is no fun as you live it, but in retrospect, one of the best times of your life. For the record, “Type 1 Fun” is enjoyable from start to finish. The dreaded “Type 3 Fun” is that never again feeling you get when you simply hope to make it home in one piece.
Below is a link to an interesting article Outside magazine published on the subject. It explains why Reg and I keep going back to long distance trekking; the idea of a harmonious passion, or being absorbed in an activity that you choose to do because you love how it makes you feel.

Above are some examples of our Type 2 Fun days.

Slide 1 11,926 Glen Pass, Slide 2 and 312,130 Pinchot Pass Slide 4 and 512,100 ft. Mather Pass


Marie Lake shimmers below 10,898 ft. Selden Pass.

The mountain pass climbs were definitely Type 2 Fun for us, but once to the top, with gorgeous views like this, the experience quickly became Type 1 Fun.
Tomorrow I’ll share more fun from our journey to the top of Selden Pass. I promise you won’t want to miss it!

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John Muir Trail: Over the river and into the woods

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Crossing Wallace Creek and climbing 1,000 feet to the Bighorn Plateau eventually brought us to one of our more unique and out-of-the-way campgrounds near Tyndall Creek. The day was hot with long shadeless stretches that were especially tiring for all who had summited Mt. Whitney the day before.

The Shepherds Hut was well off the beaten path and one of the most unusual sites we camped in.

It might appear charming in the photo but by the time we all reached our campsite (a good mile off the trail and not well marked) it was late and getting dark. We all still had to set our tents up, organize our things and filter water for the next day…and we were all tired, cranky and hungry. Thinking back, this was possibly the low point of the trip for Reg and me. We went to bed wondering just what we had gotten ourselves into.

However, it wouldn’t be the last time that our itinerary seemed at odds with the reality of our day. We were learning that a John Muir Mile could not be trusted to cover the same short distance as a regular mile. And we had many more miles to go.

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Mount Whitney or bust

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Sunrise from the trail up Mt. Whitney.

It was pitch black when Reg shook me awake and said, “Honey, I’m leaving.” Up until that point, I don’t think Reg had definitely decided to make the climb. It was 4:00 am and having made the decision to take a rest day, catch up on chores and better adjust to the altitude, I grunted and rolled over.

While I puttered around the campsite with three others who chose to remain behind, Reg and seven hikers from our group, along with Lane, one of our packers, journeyed to the top of the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. There is no easy way to the top, and from what Reg said, much of it was a group effort of encouragement.

Reg continued up the trail and conquered the mountain, fulfilling one of the John Muir Trail goals he set for himself.

The afternoon brought good news from all seven hikers. Everyone had made it to the top, the weather was perfect and Reg managed to correct his wrong turn on the way down…before ending up at the wrong trailhead.

Pictured above is Lane, our walking packer who often brought up the rear of our daily hikes – checking on our progress and making sure we had what we needed. According to Reg, he was full of encouragement in the early morning hours of the Whitney climb. The photo on the right shows Guitar Lake, shaped like, you guessed it, a guitar. What a surprise!

What other surprises will John Muir’s Trail hold for us?

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Travels With Minnie: Miles and Miles to Minnesota

The restored 1918 barn houses the Wilde Prairie Winery tasting room near Brandon, South Dakota.

After our Nebraska Harvest Host experience, we popped back up into a corner of South Dakota for a night at Wilde Prairie Winery, another Harvest Host site.

The next morning we spent an endless day of driving into Minnesota, in part because I misdirected Reg down a narrow (paved) road with so many potholes and washboards that it took us a good hour complete the 20-mile “detour.” It wasn’t the only wrong turn of the day but I’ve got to say, Reg is getting really good at maneuvering the Minnie in tight spaces!

We arrived at Gull Lake Recreation Area, just outside Brainerd, Minnesota, for a three-night stay. As we settled into our oversized campsite, we silently thanked the Army Corp of Engineers for understanding what makes a great camping experience.

Tomorrow we leave this beautiful part of the country and continue east into Wisconsin, then down a part of the Michigan coast. We have a week of reservations ahead of us with relatively short drives…according to google maps. Google won’t let us down, will it?

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Travels With Minnie: A Biking Paradise

We stopped our ride along the Poudre River Trail to watch this brave soul test the water. He never took the plunge.

We arrived in Fort Collins, Colorado two days ago, eager to discover if the bike trails were as incredible as we’d heard they were.
Our Friday outing began in the small community of Laporte, just north of Fort Collins. The Poudre (pronounced poo-der) River Trail would lead us 9 1/2 miles downstream along a beautifully maintained concrete trail, eventually reaching Fort Collins.

Saturday we rode a different segment of the Poudre River Trail, joining it just south of Windsor, Colorado and aiming ourselves toward the town of Greeley, roughly 12 miles away.

Another gorgeous river ride on a wide, relatively flat path.

This was another easy ride for Reg, but for someone who hasn’t really ridden a bike much in the last 30+ years (like me), things were beginning to feel a little sore. We turned around after about 10 miles, found a spot for a picnic lunch, then returned to our starting point, convinced that the area bike trails are some of the best we’ve ever seen!

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Travels With Minnie: Great Sand Dunes National Park

A quick trip to see North America’s tallest sand dunes, including the 755 foot Star Dune, was today’s outing. Driving toward the entrance to the park, the Sanger de Cristo mountains dominated the skyline and left me wondering just how impressive sand dunes could be in comparison.

As we got closer, the dunes captured our attention.
It was impossible for me to photograph the entire length of the dunes.
The seasonal Medano Creek, shallow enough to wade across today, flows at the base of the dunes, requiring dune trekkers to get their feet wet.
The park colors are absolutely beautiful this time of year.

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Travels With Minnie: Colorado – Durango to Alamosa

A rare photo of the two of us. Many thanks to Rich.

Three days in Durango, Colorado allowed us to experience a range of weather conditions. Cold nights, windy days, a brief bit of snow while we picnicked and finally, a beautiful spring day.
The high point (literally) of our stay was the hike we took up The Animas Mountain Trail with college friends Emily and Rich. A great day and a long overdue visit!

Sunday morning Durango faded in the distance as we drove east, aiming for the highest mountain pass of our trip…so far. Today was new territory for us and the scenery did not disappoint.

Treasure Falls cascades 105 feet into Falls Creek and is visible from Highway 160. We pulled off for a quick photo, opting not to make the short walk up to the base.

We’ve got Minnie back on level ground for the next two nights, parked in the little town of Alamosa, gateway to Great Sand Dunes National Park. More adventures to come.

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Travels With Minnie: Cohab Canyon Trail

I convinced Reg this would be a short, easy hike today, but it started off with a series of stone steps rising 400 feet above the valley.

Once we reached the top, the trail dropped down into the shaded canyon where the walking wasn’t quite as challenging.

As far as scenery, this trail had a little bit of everything and at just under 3 1/2 miles, makes a nice outing for morning or afternoon.

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Travels With Minnie: Navaho Knobs

While Minnie remained at our campsite, Reg and I set off for a full day of hiking.

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.

It took us 2 hours to reach this spot where we finally saw The Knobs.

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.

While many photograph themselves perched atop a Knob, standing above the pile of rubble was good enough for us!
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