Posts Tagged With: Photos

John Muir Trail: Scenery galore

*Click on title above to activate slide show below

Peaks in the distance, forest and meadow below and rocks under our feet.

We entered Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks area, covering 20 miles in 2 days to reach Guitar Lake where we spent 2 nights. The trail eventually led us along Rock Creek where our second campsite was located. The next morning we had just over 3,000 feet of elevation gain before finally reaching (dragging ourselves) up to our Guitar Lake camp.

Guitar Lake, elevation 11,400 feet, is a popular starting point for the iconic Mt. Whitney climb. Due to the quickly changing weather conditions at the top of Whitney, morning is considered the best time to start the 3,100 foot climb…and the earlier, the better. Our group of climbing hopefuls was scheduled for a 4:00 am breakfast call. Who would attempt the climb? Who would make it to the top?

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John Muir Trail: Loaded and ready to go

We couldn’t believe the heavy loads mules are able to pack…about 20% of their body weight, or 150-200 lbs.

If you remember our last post, you’ll recall that over a month ago we were getting ready for the trip of a lifetime; a 243-mile, mule assisted trek along the John Muir Trail. I don’t know about Reg, but I certainly had plenty of misgivings right up to the moment we first set foot on the trail. We would be surrounded by wilderness with very few escape routes. A number of concerning “what ifs” had kept me up at night.

Regardless, our journey began on schedule August 2 at Horseshoe Meadow in California’s Inyo National Forest. We arrived to a bustling corral that looked straight out of a Hollywood western. Our final group count equaled eleven hikers, four packers with four horses and eight or ten mules…for some reason, Reg and I could never agree on the mule count.


*click on headline at top to view slideshow below*

Our 4.5 mile route for Day 1 took us up over 11,160′ Cottonwood Pass, then on to Chicken Spring Lake (11,242′) for the night. Total elevation gain: 1,400 feet. Was it really just 4.5 miles?

And so, after a dusty first day, we put up our tent, blew up our air mattresses, unrolled our sleeping bags, filtered our water for the next day and found just enough time for a short rest before dinner. What would the next 29 days reveal?

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A Mammoth Walk in California

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!

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Travels With Minnie: There’s No Place Like Home

There really is no place like home…that’s true for me at least. Friends of ours know those “happy to be home” feelings don’t last long with Reg. He’d just as soon sell the house and live the nomadic life. That is not a lifestyle he can have with me. I insist on a home base.
That being said, we managed to make a comfortable home within Minnie’s walls for the last 2 month. I thought it would be fun to share all our campsites with any of you who might be planning an extended camping trip of your own. A little inspiration perhaps. We cheated just twice with hotel rooms, once for convenience and once to avoid the Nevada heat.

With all the recent talk of increased RV and travel trailer sales, we were worried that finding space might prove difficult. Traveling in early spring with no firm plan seemed to help. We chose to drive a more northerly route first and found most campgrounds with plenty of open spaces. Not wanting to get stuck in a Walmart parking lot or roadside rest stop, we reserved 2-4 days in advance. There’s a limit to how much we’ll rough it.
Thanks to all who followed along with us. We plan to be back with more adventures soon.

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Travels With Minnie: Rainbows End

Located just off Interstate 70 in the Colorado town of Frisco lies the Rainbow Lake Trail. The easy walk winds its way up through a forest of Aspens and past the remnants of what must have once been a stand of evergreens. Acres and acres of cut trees, all neatly stacked pyramid style, left us wondering if the bark beetles had devastated the large swath of trees.

Rainbow Lake

We should be home tomorrow, having covered about 9,000 miles over 9 weeks on the road. It’s been a fantastic trip and Minnie has taken good care of us. That doesn’t surprise me though. The real Minnie, Reg’s Mother, Minnie Spittle, had some 1950s travel trailer stories of her own to tell. A strong woman, we like to think she’s watching over us as we criss-cross the country.

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Travels With Minnie: Kansas Fixer Upper

Our one and only photo from Kansas.

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Travels With Minnie: Katy Trail State Park

It seems we weren’t the only ones who planned a day on the Katy Trail.

We’ve had our eyes on the Katy Trail for years. First, as a potential distance walk. More recently, we wondered if we (more specifically, I) could go the distance on bikes.

Katy Trail State Park is the longest developed rail-trail in the country. It spans most of the state of Missouri, between Clinton and Machens, following 240 miles of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad corridor. Much of it parallels the Missouri River.

We had no plans (for now) to ride the entire distance, but our campground was a short drive from the cute little village of Rocheport. We read that this is known as one of the most scenic stretches and we were not disappointed. We pedaled east almost 10 miles, sandwiched between sheer cliffs and the Missouri River.

Returning to our starting point, we rode west of Rocheport, across Moniteau Creek and through a short tunnel. Although pretty and green, the terrain was fairly swampy in places and a sign warned a bridge was out 3 miles up ahead. After what seemed like a long, hot 3 miles with no damaged bridge in site, we called it a day and headed back to the car.

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Travels With Minnie: The Gateway to the West

We passed through St. Louis today on our westward journey. The Gateway Arch, the world’s tallest arch and the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, stood out against a clear blue sky.

Completed in 1967 and officially dedicated to the American people, it stands as a monument to our country’s westward expansion – a symbol of the American spirit.

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Travels With Minnie: It Never Rains on the Golf Course

The rain came down in buckets this morning.

Reg got the worst of it as he braved the storm doing the grunt work and hitching us up. A pretty miserable start to our day. Fortunately, the weather improved as we passed through Kentucky and Indiana on our way to the Grayville, Illinois KOA.
We’ve stayed at a number of KOA campgrounds over the years. The great thing about them is that they’re convenient and pretty darn dependable. Grayville, however, knocks the socks off any other we’ve ever stayed at.

The western motif is carried throughout the park.
I was tempted to take a turn down the slides.

But it was the Putt Putt golf course the really caught our attention. Reg couldn’t resist, so we each channeled our inner child, chose our clubs and balls and signed on for 18 holes.

Reg and I are pretty competitive so we did keep score. He threw out lots of golf terminology…birdie and bogey and double bogey and eagle. It was on lucky hole number 13, a par 4 hole at that, when I was able to shout out my one and only golf phrase.
Hole-in-one!

I was pretty excited, so I took this picture of my hole-in-one ball. To be fair, Reg got one soon after I did. It was a pretty close game so Reg didn’t bother to add up our final scores… I think I must have won!

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Travels With Minnie: Carter Caves State Resort Park

The Welcome Center & Gift Shop

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.

We didn’t have the best of weather, but we zipped up our rain jackets and took the short walk along Natural Bridge Trail.
This is the only natural bridge in Kentucky that supports a paved highway.

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!

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