Canyon Ridge Trail – “Peak” into Canada

Wildflowers on Canyon Ridge, with the Canadian Cascades beyond...the boundary runs along the nearby hills.  Canyon Ridge Trail, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Wildflowers on Canyon Ridge, with the Canadian Cascades beyond…the boundary runs along the nearby hills

There are two really good things I can say about the Canyon Ridge Trail: 1) it wasn’t too terribly difficult, and 2) it gave a very different view than the other hikes around Mt. Baker (into the Canadian Cascades).  Add to that the fact that the wildflowers were nearly in full bloom (just past peak, I’d say) and it really was a pretty hike, even if it couldn’t compete with the grandeur of the hikes that include Mt. Baker and / or Mt. Shuksan in their views.  (There are actually some views of Mt. Baker, but mostly the view is of the surrounding peaks.)  In all, we hiked 6.3 miles, which got us up to a very nice viewpoint just before the trail dipped back down into the trees.  (Actually, in all honesty, if we hadn’t just done the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail and then done Skyline Divide (review coming soon!) the next day, we would have called this trail “spectacular”…but as it was it was just “nice” in comparison!)

 

TackleDirect.com

 

Mt. Baker is also visible from the Canyon Ridge Trail, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Mt. Baker is also visible from the trail

I had actually planned to hike up to Excelsior Pass via the Damfino Lakes Trail …Read More

Tags: , , , ,

Read Users' Comments (0)

Sunrise on Mt. Hood at the Cloud Cap Inn

The sun rises though the dead trees around the Cloud Cap Inn for a stunning presentation, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

The sun rises though the dead trees around the Cloud Cap Inn for a stunning presentation

What’s worth getting up very early in the morning for?  A sight worth seeing, I’d say.  A sight that can only be seen early in the morning or that take so long to get to, you’ll have to get an early start.  I usually don’t mind getting up early (like, before 7am Eastern Time) for a trail or really good view like hiking Horseshoe Mesa in the Grand Canyon or Mt. Elbert in Colorado.  At the Cloud Camp Campground on the side of Mt. Hood, though, I didn’t expect to get up “early”.  I knew we were heading home and so we’d probably get up as normal, have breakfast, and hit the road.  So I was a little surprised when one of my group members woke everyone up with a simple statement:  “If anyone wants to see the sunrise on Mt. Hood, now’s the time to do it.”

 

Equal Exchange - Organic and Fair Trade

 

Mt. Hood in the predawn from the Cloud Cap Campground, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

Mt. Hood in the predawn

The van literally came alive.  Sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows went flying as …Read More

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Read Users' Comments (0)

DIY Shelving Unit for The Back of a Van or other Vehicle

The shelving unit, ready for boxes of camping supplies and the cooler

The shelving unit, ready for boxes of camping supplies and the cooler

We’ve always packed in boxes.  They’re so much efficient when it comes to space.  But lifting and moving the boxes every time you need to get to something underneath was a bit of a pain.  So when we moved from traveling in a station wagon to a van (one of the best moves we’ve ever made, I think) one of the first things we did was to build a shelving unit in the cargo space (behind the back seat) so we wouldn’t have to move so many boxes.  Four boxes can fit on each shelf, so we only ever have to move a maximum of two boxes (the ones in front) to get to the one we you want.  There’s also space for the cooler, and the sleeping bags all hang out on the very top shelf.  Pretty cool, huh?

 

TigerDirect

 

What you’ll need to make your own:

Angle iron, pipe, or pieces from an old shelving unit for uprights – something strong enough to hold up the shelves and steady enough to do so without the shelf collapsing.  Pre-made holes are a plus (and make the shelves more adjustable), but aren’t vital. …Read More

Tags: ,

Read Users' Comments (0)

Artist Ridge Trail – So Short, So Awesome Shuksan!

Mt. Shuksan from Artist Point, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Mt. Shuksan from Artist Point

Artist Point, at the end of the Mount Baker Highway in northwestern Washington, is a very popular place (at least when it’s thawed out – which is about two to four months of the year).  Cars drive in and out all day long; some of the owners stay to hike the longer trails or walk the shorter ones, but many stop, get out of their car, take some pictures, and drive away.  (Granted, you wouldn’t want to walk – let alone hike – in some of the outfits these drivers are wearing, but you get the point.)  The most popular of the trails is the Artist Ridge Trail, a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) (max) RT walk with fabulous views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan.  Even when it’s snowcovered, plenty of people take the walk or snowshoe along the ridge.  It’s well worth the hike, too – the views are incredible the entire way!

 

TackleDirect.com

 

Hikers pause to enjoy the view near a frozen lake on Artist Ridge, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Hikers pause to enjoy the view near a frozen lake on the ridge

We did the Artist Ridge Trail late one afternoon in late July. The snow had melted earlier than …Read More

Read Users' Comments (0)

Genesee Riverway and Erie Canal Path: History via Bikes

The Broad Street Bridge that used to take the old Erie Canal across the Genesee River.  I'm biking on the Genesee Riverway Trail.  Rochester, New York

The Broad Street Bridge that used to take the old Erie Canal across the Genesee River. I’m biking on the Genesee Riverway Trail.

For some reason, I’ve never biked (or even hiked) the Erie Canal Path.  It really isn’t that far from where I live and I’ve driven across it more times than I can count.  But for some reason, it’s never been a destination.  That all changed a few weeks ago when we decided we wanted one last hoorah before the kids started school.  Our last bike ride went so well, we thought it would be fun to do another.  Two canal locks, a dam, Rochester’s signature bridge, and 18 miles (29 km) later, we were sure: it had been a wonderful ride.

 

Equal Exchange - Organic and Fair Trade

 

Times Square Building, near where we began our ride, Rochester, New York

Times Square Building, near where we began our ride

I actually started by researching the Genesee Riverway Trail.  The problem was that …Read More

Tags: , , ,

Read Users' Comments (0)

10 Ways to Pack More Efficiently

Box full of cans, raisins, and macaroni and cheese (not to mention a few granola bars), ready to be packed in the van

Box full of cans, raisins, and macaroni and cheese (not to mention a few granola bars), ready to be packed in the van

So how do we get 10 people and all their clothes, food, trip info, and amusement for a three week adventure into one full size van?  Well, I’m certainly not going to give away all our tricks (because you probably don’t want to know, lol) but there are things we’ve found out along the way about how to pack more efficiently.  It helps that we’ve some pretty amazing packers who fill every nook and cranny with stuff (and then can find what we need without unpacking every last thing), but I think I can share a few things that could be used with (almost) any vehicle.

 

TigerDirect

 

Food, waiting to be packed

Food, waiting to be packed

#1 Ditch the suitcases.  Really!  They’re terrible …Read More

Tags: ,

Read Users' Comments (1)

Heliotrope Divide and Coleman Glacier – Fantastic Views!

Mount Baker and the Heliotrope Glacier from the

Mount Baker and the Coleman Glacier from the “end” of the Heliotrope Divide Trail

If you want a jaw-dropping view you don’t get most other places, try the Heliotrope Divide Trail on the side of Mount Baker in Washington.  Seriously.  The trail itself may not be that exciting (save for the four stream crossings), but at the end is a view you won’t easily forget.  A huge glacier spreads upward, beautiful yet ugly blue crevasses pitting the surface in neat yet natural streaks up the side of the snow.  After the shock of the glacier, look up to the cone of Mount Baker, or ‘way across the valley to the waterfalls that roar out from beneath the ice and snow.  Really: you don’t want to miss this one (especially at 6.5 miles (10.4 km) RT).

 

TackleDirect.com

 

Close-up on some of the ice and crevasses on Heliotrope Glacier, Mount Baker-Snoqualie National Forest, Washington

Close-up on some of the ice and crevasses

I hadn’t actually planned to hike Heliotrope Divide on …Read More

Tags: , , , , ,

Read Users' Comments (0)

Cape May Zoo: Free – and a Good One, Too!

This cheetah is pacing the fence because she can smell the white tailed deer on the other side!  Cape May Zoo, New Jersey

This cheetah is pacing the fence because she can smell the white tailed deer on the other side!

The Cape May Zoo is definitely something special.  Ok, sure, it has some of the same animals you’d find in almost any other zoo.  But what other zoo – besides the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. – has over 500 animals…and charges no admission prices to the casual traveler?  And the zoo is clean, the animals well-cared for and happy, there are no pushy donation displays, and the enclosures just small enough to let you get close to the wild animals…  What other zoo would I drive 4+ hours in horrible traffic, just to visit for a few hours?

 

Overstock BLOWOUT! Everything MUST GO!

 

I first read about the Cape May Zoo about 7 years ago.  However, a …Read More

Tags: , ,

Read Users' Comments (0)

Book Review: John Fielder’s Best of Colorado

John Fiedler's Best of Colorado Book

John Fiedler’s Best of Colorado

I originally wrote this review of the book “John Fielder’s Best of Colorado” for the now-debunked E-pinions website, so if it’s a little different style than what I usually publish, you’ll know why.

 

TackleDirect.com

 

Pros: Great information for the whole state; information about attractions for everyone; good index; outstanding photography

 

Cons: Doesn’t include admission price info; there aren’t pictures of everything

 

Climbing Fitzpatrick Peak was a last-minute decision when we read about it in John Fielder's Best of Colorado, Sawatch Range.

Climbing Fitzpatrick Peak was a last-minute decision when we read about it in the book.

I originally got this book out of the library when I was planning a family vacation to Colorado.  We even went clear across the county to get the book, because it was new and they wouldn’t do an interlibrary loan for us.  Well, I can tell you that the book was worth every mile we drove to get it, and worth the price to buy it.  I’d recommend it to anyone going to Colorado, no matter where they were going and what they are interested in doing, because this book has information for the entire state, both east and west (although it focuses on the mountain areas), and has helpful information about just about every activity available, from gaming, hotels, and restaurants to hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing.  And, oh, did I mention that the photography is excellent?

 

North Clear Creek Falls on a misty morning, Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado

North Clear Creek Falls on a misty morning

John Fielder has written many, many books about Colorado.  He is also an excellent photographer, and in the book he often will give tips on how to take the best shots.  For example, about photographing Black Canyon of the Gunnison he says, “In order to create a sense of depth, employ perspective by including foreground in your scene when composing views into the canyon.  Foreground objects could include a pinion pine, juniper tree, interesting rocks, or a friend standing on the edge of the abyss!  If you wish to photograph in direct light, find vantages that allow you to see up or down the canyon.  Although the canyon runs on a northwest/southeast axis, find places where the rising and setting sun shines into, not across, the canyon, thus reducing the amount of shadow that can ruin the image.  Visit in winter when fresh snow creates highlights on the rock walls.”

 

Attop Hallet Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park.  This hike wasn't mentioned in the book, but the trail to get up here (Flattop Mountain) was.

Attop Hallet Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park. This hike wasn’t mentioned in the book, but the trail to get up here (Flattop Mountain) was.

The way that the book is laid out also just makes a lot of sense: John Fielder takes each section of the state, and then divides it up into town areas (for example, Vail is one town area, and Georgetown is another) with information about activities in and near the town.  I found this very helpful as I was looking in specific areas of the state for activities, and having all of the information in one place was great.  Activities include main attractions, hiking, cycling, rock climbing, mountain biking, gaming, museums, restaurants, and even rock hounding (the activities listed depend on what is in the area).  This is great; I can skip all the gaming and go straight to the hiking descriptions!  There are also special icons that indicate when he is talking about 4-wheel-driving and activities that are good to do with children.  Occasionally, there will also be information boxes with Colorado lore.  An added bonus is the “Scenic Location”s where the author talks about some of his favorite places to go (usually scenic drives, but all of which have great photo opportunities).  That’s another con: way too often he say this specific view is the absolute best scenery in Colorado!

 

Although from his description I wasn't sure if I'd like Creede, Colorado, it turned out to be a highlight of the trip.

Although from his description I wasn’t sure if I’d like Creede, Colorado, it turned out to be a highlight of the trip.

If you’re looking for a specific attraction, but can’t remember where it is in the book (very easy to do—there’s so much information!), the index is also excellent.  Just about every city and attraction that is mentioned in the book is in the index.  This is a very big pro for me!

 

Chihuahua Lake.  This book inspired me to climb my first 14er - Grays Peak!

Chihuahua Lake. This book inspired me to climb my first 14er – Grays Peak!

As I said in the cons, the one drawback with the book is that he doesn’t tell if there is a fee for the activities (except hotels and restaurants, where he gives general pricing information; for example, $-$$$).  Because I was planning for a large group, this information would have been helpful, especially if the fee was per person (per vehicle isn’t so bad since we all drive in one vehicle).  Another drawback is that there is so much information that he can’t possibly give a lot of information on anything, so you may want to research some of the attractions on the internet (like I did) before you go.  Still, his directions to the attractions tend to be very good, especially if you have a good map to follow as well.

 

Bottom of Long Draw Route, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado

I don’t think the Long Draw Route to the bottom of Black Canyon of the Gunnison was included in the book, but there was enough info about Black Canyon to get me interested in researching it on the internet.

To sum it up, this book is incredible, and gives enough information that you could probably plan a vacation anywhere in the mountainous part of the state using this book alone.  (OK, I did look up the attractions on the internet, but you wouldn’t necessarily have to do that.  Also, it might be better to find hotels and such in other travel guides as he doesn’t list each and every hotel or restaurant in a given town or city.)  The librarian at the library we got the book from said she loved it because she felt like she could travel to Colorado in the pictures, and she had a hard time returning it to the library.  So, that’s another use for the book: the photography is so good you can take a trip without leaving the comfort of your armchair!

 

What’s your favorite travel book about Colorado?

Climbing St. Mary's Glacier, Colorado - another highlight discovered in the book.

Climbing St. Mary’s Glacier – another highlight discovered in the book.



Imagine what it would be like to take a trip through Colorado with John Fielder as your tour guide, or to be on location at a Fielder photo shoot. Now is your chance to do both! The celebrated photographer who has traveled the state for more than 20 years in search of its most beautiful vistas shares his love for Colorado's rugged beauty, as well as his knowledge of Colorado's historical, recreational, and cultural richness, in this extraordinary guidebook. Through lively text and spectacular images, John reveals more than 160 of his most treasured Colorado locations to photograph so you can work magic with your own camera. You can enjoy some of the state's prime offerings while you travel, as John profiles his favorite restaurants, hotels, hiking and biking trails, and area attractions. Local lore and cameos of influential Coloradans through the ages highlight the state's fascinating heritage. Whether you're a longtime local, a new resident, or an out-of-state visitor, John Fielder's Best of Colorado guarantees the ultimate insider experience!
List Price: $29.95 USD
New From: $26.00 USD In Stock
Used from: $0.50 USD In Stock

 

TigerDirect

Tags: , ,

Read Users' Comments (0)

Ptarmigan Ridge – So Many Exclamation Points!

Mount Baker, as seen from the meadows near the end of the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Mount Baker, as seen from the meadows near the end of the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail

“Ptarmigan Ridge or bust.”  That’s what he told me one beautiful morning a few days before we planned to leave on a trip.  I stared at him in disbelief.  Usually a quiet, easy-going guy (particularly when it comes to which trails to hike), I wasn’t expecting anything quite this strong from anyone, let alone him.  “Ok,” I said – and set out to make sure that if everything else blew up, we’d be in Washington and do that trail, 10+ miles (16+ km) RT through the snow or not.

 

TigerGPS

 

Why I hike the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail: Views of Mt. Shuksan, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Why I hike the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail: Views of Mt. Shuksan

We’d done the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail about five years ago as a side-jaunt while doing the …Read More

Tags: , , , ,

Read Users' Comments (1)

 Page 1 of 25  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »