It was late in the day when I decided to hike the Lost Mine Trail at Big Bend National Park. It had been a day without a lot of physical exertion and it was set to stay that way with possible storms coming. I felt like I really needed to do it, so I got myself up and hiked very quickly up the gently steep trail. The views along the way were incredible as well, but the nice payoff at the end had me viewing into the canyons that surrounded me and past our campground. It was a beautiful feeling and I jogged down the trail back to my car after taking in the view for a few minutes.
On a drive through Utah from Park City to Provo I just happened to pass by some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen on the side of a road. This open pasture was just too perfect with grazing horses and a flowing stream, but to top it all off the snow-capped mountain range in the background makes the scene. This is just one of many amazing roadside attractions I wanted to stop and spend the rest of my day at along the way. If anyone wonders why I want to spend more of my time in Utah, this is the answer.
After waking in the dark and driving the sinuous roads that lead through the mountains of the Olympic Range I found myself walking quickly up a steep path in the early morning light. The sun had yet to cross the peaks, and it was chilly for August. After some switchbacks and open trail walking I made it to my destination. The top of Hurricane Ridge is expansive and majestic. Jagged mountains surrounded me while rolling meadows lay at my feet. Olympic marmots whistled to each other while everything else was silent above the clouds as the sun showed its face and washed over me as I sat in awe for an hour or more taking in the incredible power of nature.
Seeing views like this in New Jersey is something unexpected but always welcome. The beautiful views from High Point State Park are unmatched in the state in my opinion. They call it Skylands for a reason. Hiking up the steep ridge in the morning fog to find a view of the sun coming up over the smoky mountains northwest New Jersey was an amazing feeling. I could have stayed there all day, but as the sun got higher I moved on. The views persisted, but never rivaled those few moments of peaceful, silent beauty at this overlook.
Being up before sunrise has an energy that is invigorating. There is potential to the day while you wait for the sun to break the horizon. Staring at snow-covered mountains towering in every direction around you in the blue tones of early morning is magical. And when the first warm glow hits the peak of the tallest point, it radiates with life-affirming color while it slowly swallows up the darkness and ushers in the morning.
The landscape of southern Utah is so varied that it’s hard to identify at times. This shot is from somewhere near Buckskin Gulch near the Arizona border. Watching the road curve ahead into the distance is always exciting, especially with views like this. We took several dirt roads to get where we were going as you often have to in the backcountry of this area. They are often washboarded or covered with soft sand so travel becomes a gamble. We made it in and out of every one without incident somehow.
Summer is almost here, and my friend and I have been talking about how much we miss skiing. This happens every year, but I am happy that I got to ski quite a lot this season. It’s never as much as I’d like, but I did get to see a lot of new places and finally ski a few places out west. I miss the snow and especially the views from Park City. The atmosphere there definitely made me think I would like to live in a resort area for the winter sometime. I’m already looking forward to the next season.
The landscape of the American Southwest is amazingly varied and unique. Driving through the desert regions you could be among high mountains with snow then surrounded by endless flatness with dry bushes, tumbleweeds, and Joshua trees dotting the landscape. It is endlessly beautiful no matter where you go during the day, and the stars come out at night almost lighting up the pure blackness as the strange silhouette forms rise up on all sides.
Death Valley is an incredible National Park with so much more to offer than I ever knew. The sand dunes are some of the most surreal and amazing things I’ve ever seen in the morning light. The shadows play in such strange ways that it’s hard to tell what is real. This was an amazing way to start the day before hiking in slot canyons, up mountains, and along high ridges. This is definitely a place I’d love to visit more often.
Detours can be one of the best parts of a road trip, and yesterday we decided to head to Death Valley instead of Moab. We got here in time for sunset, and seeing the low sun on the amazing landscapes here was crazy. The biggest surprise to me the first time I came to Death Valley was how much colorful, varied formations were here. Everything is beautiful and carved by wind and water over centuries. This is one of my favorite places at Zabriskie Point.
After more than a week we are leaving Park City for now. We are pretty sure we will be staying away for a while, so this means our ski season is officially over. It has been a great season on the east coast and out here, but it’s sad to think I won’t be able to ski again until next winter. It always seems so long. The Utah mountains were good to us, even though it wasn’t the best snow. We didn’t wait in many lines and we ended up doing a lot more than we thought we would. I’ll be eagerly awaiting next year.
We’ve been having such a good time in the Salt Lake area that we decided to stay for a couple more days. We finally got our discs out today and played at the Creekside disc golf course in SLC. It was a little rainy, but we had a great round and there was a great view all around. The mountains surrounding the city are amazingly close and picturesque. It’s hard to see them in full sometimes, but we got a few great views and I really liked this frame looking back to the tee from the fairway.
After spending a week in one place it starts to feel a little like home. I’ve gotten used to the roads here and the pretty mountains are a little more normal to me now. I ventured out a bit today during our down time playing card games and went for a run along the trails around the hills. I ran along a creek and saw a herd of moose on a hillside before passing over several small bridges and then this ranch. The sun had fallen below the mountains already, but I really loved the silhouette sign for this place. It definitely feels like how the small town could have been before it turned into the major resort destination it is now.
It’s been a fun week spent in Park City, Utah skiing, hanging out with friends, and sitting in hot tubs. It was a resort experience without having to stay at a resort. Sort of. Either way, this place is full of fun stuff to do and there is beauty in all directions. There is a hill in the middle of town called PC Hill, named for the big “PC” letters that adorn the side of it, visible from most anywhere you are in the city. We hiked to the top of the hill last night to watch the sun go down on this great place one last time before we leave. This paints a nice pictures of a very Utah kind of city.
Everyone says skiing in the western U.S. is much different from the east. Unfortunately my first chance to ski in Utah was during the worst season they have had in many years. The snow was slushy and patchy, but it was still fun to be skiing no matter what. Oh, I can see one difference between the east and west right here: the views. The mountains in the distance are so amazing that we took easy trails just so we could get better views. It was a pretty good day of skiing, but an amazing day for scenery.
We spent the last two days in Rocky Mountain National Park. Despite the unexpected warm weather the mountains were still covered in snow, making for breathtakingly beautiful scenes around every turn. They are massive and all-encompassing on the horizon. It’s hard to explain the grandeur, but it’s something that everyone should see in person at some point. It was hard to drive away, but it was a nice ride out.
Couch surfing has been a big part of our trips for the past few years. Once we discovered the network of likeminded people who offered their homes for travelers to stay we have been getting more into it ever since. I’ve met some great people that I keep in touch with from all around the country and internationally. This shot is from the deck of last night’s host at sunrise near Lyons, Colorado. Cheri was a great host, and her house was beautifully located high up in the hills with views in all directions. I’ve really enjoyed all of my experience so far with couch surfing, and I can’t wait for more.
During our ski trip to Vermont we stayed in the small town of Rutland. It’s a cute, surprisingly bustling little city with a nice Main Street full of local businesses. I’d recommend the Yellow Deli for food and the Hop’n Moose for a local craft beer. I found my way to the roof of the parking garage for this fantastic view of the city just after sunset. I was glad I took the questionable elevator to the roof to experience a gorgeous blue hour from above.
I’ve almost forgotten how much snow I’ve seen this year. In November we hiked the Blueberry Cobbles trail at Giant Mountain in the Adirondacks. It was snow-covered and pretty the whole way and only slightly slippery in some places. We hadn’t gotten our spikes or snowshoes yet so they would have made things a little easier, but it was a perfect day for hiking and we had the place to ourselves. With the very low temperatures of the second half of winter in New Jersey I’m looking forward to warm weather and the West.. but not before a couple more snowy adventures on the East Coast.
The hike to the Lonesome Lake Hut in the White Mountains was a long and strenuous one even though it was just over a mile and a half. The uphill climb mixed with the snow, getting used to the snowshoes, carrying big packs, and overheating in our clothes made it for a taxing learning experience. We were never too cold (except maybe my toes,) and it got dark before we reached our destination. Luckily we could see the lights of the hut as we got to the other side of the lake and could walk across. This is our exodus after sub-zero temperatures pushed us to our breaking point and we realized it was time to head back to lower altitudes.
Bretton Woods is a great mountain for skiing and staying, and they are also very good at marketing themselves and their history. At the top of the West Mountain lift there is an old railway car from the Cog Railway that takes visitors to the top of nearby Mount Washington, which is a part of the resort. The colorful car sits perfectly among the snowy trees and the bright blue sky on an amazing ski day. I could spend days at this place.
On our trip to New Hampshire recently we had the opportunity to try out some new things. We did some snow hiking which required some new footwear including snowshoes and these microspikes for traction. Both were surprisingly comfortable and easy to adapt to walking with. It was exciting and fun to be able to venture into new places that would otherwise be inaccessible during the winter and experience them in their snow-covered beauty.
Some days the snow is just perfect, the sun is out, the skies are blue, and everything is wonderful. That was the case recently at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire. Two days of perfect conditions with few people and beautiful views. I looked forward to every run, and we had an amazing time. I’m hoping for more of this kind of days this weekend in Vermont!
Spending a couple of nights at The Lodge at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire was a great little vacation. Besides being a nice room, with access to a hot tub, pool, bars, and game rooms at the swanky Mount Washington Hotel, we also got this view just off of our balcony. We got ourselves up at sunrise (which is actually quite later than the posted time since the sun has to get over those mountains…) and had this brilliant golden glow fill the room as it filtered through the hanging ice and lit up the valley. Absolutely worth the wait.