Soaks, Snow, and a Sea of Sand

The US Dept of Interior recently posted on Facebook, “Moonlight brightens snowy dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. Experience the park after dark by stargazing, listening for owls along the foothills or going for a full moon walk on the dunes. Cold temperatures are the norm in winter, so bundle up with warm clothing and sturdy footwear for an unforgettable nighttime adventure.”

I find this an odd promotion, considering the park is miles from nowhere, and they have closed the one and only campground within the park.  Continue reading

If A Tree Falls in the Forest…

NOTE:  Thanks for all your wonderful comments and support on my “Dear Mr. President” post.   I’ll get back to life in Mexico soon, but first, I have a few posts to catch up on, lest I forget the last days of my southerly winter migration…

If a tree falls in the forest and I can’t remember seeing it, does it still count?  If I visited a national park but can’t remember a thing about it, does it still count?

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a national park junkie.   I have lofty aspirations to visit all 59 with the official “Park” status. Continue reading

One Last Look Over the Rim

Just how long can one stretch out a story about the Grand Canyon, one might ask?  Well, longer than the average visitor spends on the edge of the rim…

I decide to stay one more day on the snowy South Rim, after all, no one seems to notice that the Winnie is taking up space in the empty Backcountry Office parking lot.  Continue reading

It’s All About the Layers

The “wake up knock” comes on the Phantom Ranch women’s dorm door at 5:00am.   I’ve signed up for the 5:30am early breakfast in order to get on the trail as early as possible.   The sun doesn’t rise until 7:15, so this will mean hiking for about an hour in the dark, but I figure it’s better to put in the dark time at the bottom of the canyon rather than risk having to hike in the dark at the top where it’s covered in snow and ice. Continue reading

The Ranch to Ribbon Falls

I make it to Phantom Ranch’s Canteen in plenty of time to down a couple of beers before they close at 4:00pm to prepare for the evening meals. But first, Kate, the bartender/hostess/receptionist/wait staff tells me to go to the dorm first to secure my spot.  “Pick any available bed that has a towel folded on it.”  It’s late in the afternoon, so I am thinking I’ll be lucky if I can secure a lower bunk.  Continue reading

Rim to River

It’s eight degrees when I wake up in the Backcountry Information Office parking lot on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Even Siri says “brrrr!”img_0419

There are three Hiker’s Express shuttles that go directly from the Backcountry Information Office to the South Kaibab Trail at 7:00am, 8:00am, and 9:00am.   I figure I will shoot for the middle shuttle, and that will still allow me one other chance if I miss it.   Halfway through my morning routine, I vacillate between slowing down for the 9am or speeding up for the 8am.  I am having a tough time cramming all my belongings for a two night stay into little more than a day pack, so I think maybe delaying another hour later won’t hurt. But then I remember the magnitude of the hike and shortness of the Continue reading

Lees Ferry, Lake Havasu Latkes, and Leaning Toward the Ledge

Once back from my white knuckle drive from White Pocket, the rains roll in right on cue, just as forecasted.   I am feeling a great deal of gratitude for making it back safely without getting stuck.    Rain on the 10 mile sandy stretch could possibly help pack down the loose sand, but the rest of the road is likely to be a muddy mess. Continue reading

Going It Alone

I write a lot about the physical aspect of going it alone on this blog, but rarely delve into the emotional aspect.  People often recoil at the notion that I am traveling/hiking/biking/kayaking/RVing alone.  I recently had a man stop me on the trail just to ask if I was hiking alone.  He remarked that he was seeing more and more solo women on the trail, and did I think it was because of “the book?”   I replied perhaps, but I have been hiking solo 20 years before Cheryl Strayed wrote the “Wild.”  In fact, traveling alone is Continue reading

Seeing Zion in a Different Light

I only planned to stop in Zion for a few days, just long enough to say a quick “hello” to my friends and revisit a few of my favorite places.  I came with my usual “list:” Ride my bike to the end of the road, stopping for soft serve ice cream at Zion Lodge.  See a couple of movies.  Spend time with my favorite cottonwoods along the Virgin River as they turn from green to gold.  And hike at least one trail I’ve never hiked before.    But once I arrived, so did Indian Summer.  Continue reading

Geezers in Great Basin National Park

I recently hit that major milestone all RVers look forward to, the National Parks Senior Pass.  Or as I hoped it was really called, “The Golden Age Passport.”   I’d much rather view life from the “golden age” than that of a “Senior.”   I came to hike over 6 miles at 10,000 ft elevation, which doesn’t make me feel much like a senior, but if that’s what they want to call free admission for life and 50% off of all campsites, Continue reading