When hiking at Catcoctin Mountain Park in Maryland, I felt like everything was easy. There were some rocky paths and steeper climbs, but I was just enjoying it so much that I didn’t notice the difficulty of the terrain or the 8 miles we walked. The things I noticed were the beautiful scenery, the great weather, and having good conversations with a friend. It’s easier to notice all the good things when you’re in a better mood, and I noticed these really cool flowers once we returned to the trailhead after a great hike.
On a side trip from our main hiking destination we headed to Allamuchy State Park for a quick day hike around a lake. The landscape changed quite frequently on the overly flat trail through the woods. The changes in landscape were a nice surprise that kept the otherwise normal trail interesting. I especially enjoyed the fern-filled section near the end of our trail. It feels like you are totally engulfed in the plants while standing off the side of the trail and the green overwhelms your vision.
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.
While I was in Florida briefly I decided I was much too close to Everglades National Park to not go visit. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of time to get to the places I’d really like to, but I did go to Shark Valley Visitor Center where there are a few short trails on boardwalks and paved road through the protected area. The amount of people on bikes and trams didn’t seem to bother the gators at all. They were out in full force. Along with the many gators I also saw a lot of turtles, fish, and birds, including a giant crane that took off while I stood a few feet away. It was a brief visit, but it was a great escape from work and the city.
While in Georgia we hiked several short trails on the Appalachian Trail. Since Joanna had hiked the entire trail last year she knew all the best places to check out. Blood Mountain was a slightly challenging hike uphill to a beautiful view overlooking the endless mountains. It was nothing like her amazing accomplishment last year hiking 2,185.3 miles, but it was a great day for a hike, and we got to pass out some Kind bars to thru hikers, and she did a great job encouraging them to keep going all the way to Maine.
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.
Hiking to Arethusa Falls in the White Mountains of New Hampshire was a lot of fun in heavy snow. The path was pretty well packed down for us, but it was certainly still slippery and deep in some places. Sometimes being sure of where the path was could be the part we had to figure out. I loved to just stop once in a while and look ahead at the completely blanketed forest and wonder where the path might lead us. The serenity and beauty of winter have been really fantastic to experience this year.
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.
I think Okemo ski resort is my favorite place to ski in the east. It has so many great trails, it’s beautiful all over, and you can’t beat the heated, wind-shielded lift. Most resorts have a long, winding trail that cuts across most of the mountain and at Okemo, that trail is Rum Runner. If it weren’t for the pretty views along the way it might not be worth it since it’s a relatively flat trail so you don’t get much speed. That allows you to look around and take in the snow-covered trees and the mountain views along the way.
With the impending snowstorm set to hit the northeast US, I was thinking about how we haven’t gotten any big snowstorms yet this year. Strangely enough it seems to me there have been quite a few snowy days that I’ve been out hiking around locally in freshly covered trails. This is another from a trail I rarely take at South Vineland Park. I really like the scene in snow as it’s not usually quite as visually pleasing without it.