Posts Tagged ‘hiking trails’

Blue Lakes Trail – Uncompahgre National Forest

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Lower Blue Lake

Lower Blue Lake

Do high-altitude glacier lakes surrounded by beautiful mountain views interest you?  Well then, you might want to read this and start planning your own hiking adventure on the Blue Lakes Trail!  At this point, I can honestly say that this is the most beautiful location I’ve come across in Colorado, and I highly doubt that it will disappoint you, even if there still is some snow on the ground.

Sure, the altitude may get to you (I topped out at 11,761 feet – a personal best), but if you take it slow and stay hydrated you’ll make it to the top and be happy you made every step of the climb.  The blue hue of the water and surrounding views are what brought me here, but pictures and videos cannot do the Blue Lakes justice… you have to see them for yourself!  You’ll know exactly what I mean, when you peer down onto the Lower Blue Lake, from the rocky cliffs above.

I took this hike as a birthday treat for myself, and camped out right above the Lower Blue Lake for 2 consecutive nights, where I was greeted by plenty of varmints scurrying around, a big buck checking out my campsite (while I ate dinner down the hill), and howling canines of some type up in the mountain tops, which provided me with a wakeup call.  It was truly a beautiful experience, and I’d gladly go back, perhaps sometime in August (to avoid all the snowdrifts), in order to conquer the Blue Lakes Pass and the smaller lake I noticed on Google Maps.

In fact, you can check out my trip right here:

HOW DO YOU GET HERE?

There are actually a couple different ways to reach the Blue Lakes, but I opted for the easier hike and the easier drive, so that’s where I’ll direct you.  So, CLICK HERE for directions to where you’ll want to park your car before you start your hike.  There seemed to be plenty of parking spaces available, and no one will mess with your car while you’re off on your adventure.  The Blue Lakes Trail starts at the other end of the parking area, as I’m sure you’ll notice the sign, info board, and trail logbook.

Want to see the path I took?

I just recently started tracking my hikes with the RunKeeper app, so that I can track my actual path, see how far I hiked, how long it took me, and the elevation change I endured.  So, if you’re interested, CLICK HERE for all the stats and map of the path I hiked (from trailhead to my campsite) on the first day.  You can also CLICK HERE to see the short hike I went on to see the two upper Blue Lakes, as well as proof that I actually was 11,761 feet up (looks like you need a RunKeeper account to see those stats)!

HELPFUL TIPS

Unless you really want a challenging hike, complete with giant snowdrifts to hike over and extra chilly nights, I wouldn’t plan on coming here until July.  I hiked this trail on June 20th and, as you got higher in elevation, there were plenty of big snowdrifts I had to hike over, in shorts.  The snow takes a while to melt off the mountains but, as it melts, it drifts down and crosses quite a few spots on the trail, so be prepared for that if you come here before July.

You will also have to wade through water to continue along the trail, at two different points, so wear boots and socks that dry quickly, if they’re not waterproof!  The first water crossing wasn’t that deep when I went, and only one of the footsteps I took resulted in a soggy boot, so it’s nothing to be too concerned about.  In fact, once you cross the first little creek, you’ll know that you’re about halfway to the first lake.  Now, the second patch of flowing water was a bit concerning for me, since the water was really flowing and it happens to be at the top of a waterfall, but with slow and careful steps you’ll make it across, even if the water does come halfway up your calves.  But you’ll only have to wade through water the second time if you plan on going up to the two upper Blue Lakes.

And, even though I’m sure this goes without saying, if you plan on camping here, pack as light as you possibly can – your shoulders and legs will thank you!  The 3.3 miles of hiking to the Lower Blue Lake is tougher than you might think, and you still have about a mile of hiking, as well as over 700 feet in elevation gain, to deal with before you make it to the Upper Blue Lake.

Where I Camped

Where I Camped

Want to camp where I did?  There’s an amazing view of the Lower Blue Lake below you and mountains to die for, but no one else seemed to set up camp where I did.  So, if you want a little privacy and the best spot in the area, then CLICK HERE for the exact spot I set up camp.  If you star this location, you should be able to bring up Google Maps on your phone on the mountain and have it show you how close you are to my spot, at least if you’re using Verizon.

WANT MORE?

If that wasn’t enough for you, you can check out their official site here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gmug/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=32558&actid=50

And if you’d like to enjoy the natural beauty without having to see my face, then you can watch the instrumental video here:

And here are more pictures:

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Backpacker’s Cache and UDAP Pepper Power

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Be Prepared.

Be Prepared.

Bears can be a really be an issue when you spend a lot of time outside, in THEIR territory, so you need to get yourself these two tools to ensure you stay safe on the trail.  I was going to walk from Delaware to California (cancelled due to financial reasons), and I would have covered a lot of ground out in the woods, so there was a chance I may cross paths with a bear.  And you can read up on all the tactics on what to do whenever you are spotted by a bear, but there is a way to keep them from coming at you.

You see, pepper spray is a great way to get a bear to stop running at you and think twice about coming after you again.  Yes, you will need to spray it at the right time and you need to be sure to spray their face, otherwise they might just keep coming, but not all bear deterrent sprays are created equal.  Some don’t shoot that far, some only give you a tiny stream of pepper spray, some aren’t that spicy and some run out after a few small bursts.  So what happens whenever the bear’s out of range, or you miss and end up using the whole can?  Well, you might be screwed at that point and have to play dead, or scare off the bear another way.

Or you could avoid a situation like that and get some pepper spray with a range of 35 feet, which shoots out a dense fog of the hottest bear spray formula around and is in a bottle so big that you’d have to hold the trigger down for 7 straight seconds to empty it.  And that’s exactly why I got some UDAP Pepper Power in the Super Magnum size (13.4 ounces).  This pepper spray will outperform any other bear deterrent out there, and for good reason… the president of the company was mauled by a grizzly bear!  Sure, they had some pepper spray, and put it to good use, during the attack but it wasn’t bear pepper spray and it was only a 4 ounce container.  So, he set out to make a bear pepper spray that outperformed every other spray out there, in every way he could think of, so that others could avoid what he went through.

And you can see me test out the spray in the video below, but sometimes you’re not even awake when a bear crosses your path; sometimes you’re asleep in your tent.  Did you cook too close to your tent?  Do you have food in your tent?  Did you hang your food from a tree the right way?  I mean, when a bear’s hungry they are going to sniff out some good food and you don’t want to get in the way of them.  But the problem is that hanging your food from a tree can be a hassle, and some parks don’t allow you to use that tactic, so what other choice do you have?

A bear canister!  And a bear canister is a sturdy container that a bear can’t pick up and take away, and can’t figure out how to get inside of it.  So, they end  up playing around with it for a bit, get bored and leave.  And I got myself a Backpacker’s Cache because bears haven’t figured out to get into these canisters and it’s a pretty big container.  And all you have to do is make sure not to eat in or around your tent, put all your “sniffables” inside the container and then set it on the ground, a good distance away from where you sleep.  It’s a lot quicker and more efficient.

But if you’d like to see how the canister works and how powerful the pepper spray is then check out this video…

WHERE YOU CAN GET ONE?

If you want to get the same exact can of bear spray that I have then CLICK HERE to get one, with a hip holster included.  And there are different sizes made by the same company, if this one is out of your price range.

But if you want the bear canister then CLICK HERE for that.  You can get a case for it on that site as well, and you might even be able to find some liner bags too.

HELPFUL TIPS

It’s probably a good idea that you test out your bear spray when you get it, just to be sure it works and that you know how to use it, but only do a short, fraction of a second burst so that you don’t waste it.  In the heat of the moment you want to be able to quickly spray a burst of pepper spray, and not end up spraying yourself or failing to pull the trigger in time, so practice a little bit.

And the liner bags will really help lock in your food smells, so it’s a good idea to get a few of them.  But the canister probably should also be filled with ANYTHING you’re carrying that has an appealing scent.  I mean, if you use lotion that makes you smell like a fruit basket then a bear might want to check out that lotion bottle, so put that in the canister as well.  If they’re not use to smelling it then they’re going to want to check it out, so don’t keep it on you in the tent.

WANT MORE?

If that wasn’t enough then check out the official Backpacker’s Cache site, here: http://www.backpackerscache.com/

And check out the official UDAP site, here: http://www.udap.com/

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Lifesaver Bottle 6000 (Ultra Filtration Water Bottle)

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Bottoms Up!

Bottoms Up!

If you plan on being in an area without clean water for an extended amount of time, or like to plan for the unexpected, then you need to get yourself one of these water bottles!  I got the Lifesaver Bottle 6000 to help keep me hydrated at all times when I planned on walking from Delaware to California (cancelled due to financial reasons), and I wanted to show it to you all because it’s an amazing piece of hiking gear.

I knew I was going to be going through areas that have no running water, like the deserts in Utah and Nevada, and I may not have been able to carry enough water to get me through those areas.  And after a lot of research I realized that the best option for me was going to be a Lifesaver Bottle.

Now, they’re not cheap, which is why I was hesitant at first, but mine will filter 6,000 liters of water before I’ll need to put a replacement filter in it, so it’s going to last a LONG time!  And they’re so easy to use, they pump quickly and it will filter out bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, chemicals, parasites, fungi, cysts, pesticides and even medical residues.  So, you could pretty much take someone’s sewage water, filter it through this bottle and then drink it, if you had to!

And THAT is why I don’t mind paying a little extra for it.  It’s going to last a long time, it filters almost everything out and it even will stop working once you’ve gone through 6,000 liters, so that you don’t drink contaminated water.

But if you need a little more convincing then check out this video to see how well it filters out what you see in that pitcher…

WHERE CAN YOU GET ONE?

If you want to get the same exact bottle I have (the 6000 model) then CLICK HERE and pick one up today!  But if you want to go with the cheaper model, which filters 4,000 liters, then you can CLICK HERE to grab yourself one of those.  They’re great for hiking and also for preparing for things like natural disasters.  And if you want to stock up on replacement parts they have extra sponges, carbon filters, main filters, padded bags and everything else you can think of, available on those pages as well.

HELPFUL TIPS

As I mention in the video, make sure your cap up top is really screwed on there well before you prime it and go to use it, otherwise it might leak and you’ll risk contaminating water out in the field.  Otherwise, as long as you leave a little water in the bottle when you store it and keep up on replacing the carbon filters and main filters then you’ll be good to go.  It’s pretty easy to use and it should last you quite a long time, but if you want to ensure that it lasts as long as possible then look into getting a padded bag for it.

WANT MORE?

If that wasn’t enough for you then check out the official site, here:  http://www.lifesaversystems.com/

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Quechua 2 Seconds + II Instant Tent and Selk’bag 4G Classic Sleeping Bag Suit

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Putting Them to the Test!

Putting Them to the Test!

If you’re all about comfort and hassle-free camping then you need to check out this instant tent and sleeping bag suit!  I was going to be leaving on my 7 month long journey, from Delaware to California, soon so I wanted to start testing out my gear and show you all what I would be taking with me, but I had to cancel the trip due to financial reasons.

But when I was planning this trip, I didn’t want the hassle of setting up a tent every single night and then having the same hassle of taking it down in the morning.  I mean, some days I woudl have been traveling 40 to 60 miles on foot, and I don’t think I’d be in the mood to waste any time getting some sleep.  So, I started looking into instant (pop up) tents and came across a company called Quechua.  They really seem to make the best instant tents out there, but the problem is that they’re not really sold in the United States.

But if you have a little time on your hands, and want to check on eBay, you can have one sent to you from overseas.  Now, I got the Quechua 2 Seconds + II Tent, to give me a little extra room inside, but not be too big that I couldn’t strap it to my backpack.  And I will admit that it’s a lot bigger than most hikers will want their tent to be, when it’s inside its carrying case, but it’s not too large that you can’t strap it to a good external frame backpack.  And you can have it up, staked into the ground and be inside it in less than 3 minutes, which is exactly why I got it!  And it breaks down just about as quickly.

I also got to thinking about how I hate waking up on a cold morning and having to crawl out of my toasty warm sleeping bag.  So, I started searching for some alternatives and came across a company called Musuc, who made an actual sleeping bag suit.  It has arms, legs, a hood and plenty of insulation.  So, you don’t have to worry about leaving that warmth until your body is warmed up enough to hop out of your sleeping bag!  And I love how the hood can double as a pillow, there is ventilation for warmer nights, you can pull your hands into the bag so that you’re completely covered and you can walk around while wearing your sleeping bag.

But, why don’t I cool it with all these words and give you some visuals!  Check out the gear in the video below…

WHERE CAN YOU GET ONE?

As I said, it’s kind of hard to find this tent for sale in the United States, but I got mine on eBay.  And even though the guy who I bought it from doesn’t appear to sell them anymore, you can >> CLICK HERE << to see who else is selling them.  And if you want a different model you can search around on eBay and I’m sure you’ll find it!  It might take a little longer to be shipped to you, and cost a little extra for the shipping, but they are awesome tents so it’s worth it.

But the Selk’bag should be a lot easier for you to locate; I got mine from Amazon but you can >> CLICK HERE << to see if anyone is selling them on eBay.  They have all different sizes and colors for you to choose from, so you can get one for the whole family!

HELPFUL TIPS

If you have any trouble breaking your tent back down, just study the pictures that are on the inside of the carrying case.  It might seem confusing, and you might think you’re going to break it, but once you get it pushed down far enough it starts to twist by itself, and suddenly the instructions start to make sense.

And you’ll want to make sure you get a sleeping bag that fits your body, so that your movement isn’t restricted.  So, if you’re around 4’11” to 5’5″ then go with the medium, if you’re 5’4″ to 5’11” then you can get the large, and if you’re 5’11” to 6’4″ you’re going to have to go with the extra large.  And hey, there are even kids sizes.  And it might be a little difficult to walk on a hill in this suit, since there’s padding below your feet, but use the velcro strap around your ankles and, after you tighted the strap, you should be able to walk a little better.

WANT MORE?

If that wasn’t enough for you then check out the official site for Quechua, here: http://tente.quechua.com/en/

And the official site for Selk’Bags, here: http://www.selkbagusa.com/

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Blackwater Falls State Park and Douglas Falls

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Blackwater Falls (57 feet high)

Blackwater Falls (57 feet high)

If you love amazing views and the perfection of falling water then you need to check this place out!  There is so much beauty to be absorbed by your pretty little eyeballs in West Virginia, so I highly recommend you plan a trip to this area.

My timing was a bit off, otherwise I would have made it to the state’s high point during daylight hours, but I did manage to see some great views and some gorgeous waterfalls.  And I came at the perfect time of year, to see the changing colors of all the leaves, but views like the ones at Blackwater Falls State Park can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

And I know I didn’t go to every overlook, or hike every trail, but I got a good taste of what this area has to offer and I will be going back to this exact location during my walk across the country.  There is a TON of natural beauty to explore, in and outside of the park’s limits, so give yourself plenty of time to absorb it all.

But enough out of me, check out the beauty yourself through the video below…

HOW DO YOU GET HERE?

If you would like to check out Blackwater Falls in Davis, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for the directions to the parking lot, above the falls.  There is plenty of parking, bathrooms and food provided here.

If you would like to check out the Pendleton Overlook and Pendleton Falls in Davis, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for directions to the parking lot, right next to overlook.  Once again, there is plenty of parking and it’s only a short hike to the waterfall.

If you would like to check out Elakala Falls in Davis, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for directions to the parking lot, right outside of the lodge.  Again, there is plenty of parking and it’s a short hike to the waterfalls.

If you would like to check out Lindy Point in Davis, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for directions to the parking lot, right beside the trail.  There isn’t a lot of parking here, but you can park on the side of the road if you need to, and it’s not that long of a hike to the vista.

And if you would like to check out Douglas Falls in Thomas, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for approximate directions to where you’ll park.  You will want to turn onto a gravel road called Rail Falls Road, which is marked with a green road sign, but drive slowly because there are a lot of potholes.  If you don’t have four-wheel drive, then just park your car on the side of the road whenever you don’t feel comfortable driving any farther.  It won’t be too long of a walk to the falls, but you will cross a bridge that looks like it’s constructed out of railroad ties and you want to keep going until you come to a gate, and then Douglas Falls is down the bank to the left.

HELPFUL TIPS

At Blackwater Falls they have a boardwalk, with a couple overlooks, so you won’t be able to walk right up to the base of the falls without breaking some rules.

But you will be able to get up close and personal with Pendleton Falls.  Just stick to the Pendleton Trace Trail, marked in blue, and go past a dammed area and over a wooden bridge.  Then, off to the left, you’ll see a small stack of rocks beside a trail and you should hear the falls in the distance.  Take that trail down the bank, but be careful because it can get a little tricky.  You’ll be able to see the falls from up top and the base.  And, if you check out the Pendleton Overlook, be careful around the edge of the gorge because some of the overlook locations don’t have any railing to keep you from going over the edge.

But the trail to Elakala Falls is clearly visible off to the left of the lodge parking lot and you’ll know you’re in the right place whenever you cross a wooden bridge.  Why?  Because you just walked over the top of the falls!  You can climb down the bank to see it up close, but there are actually three more sections to this waterfall, which are a little harder to get to.  So, if you want to see it in its entirety, then be prepared to slowly creep down the gorge, off the beaten path.

And there is a observation deck at Lindy Point, but there are side trails that allow you to walk right out onto the rocks, so be careful near the edge.

But don’t get confused when you’re looking for Douglas Falls, because there are a couple small waterfalls before you get to the true falls.  The first one is wide and falls a decent height but the rocks aren’t quite red at this point, and you’re looking for the reddish rocks, which mining helped color.  The second fall you’ll come across is really short, but now you’ll start to see the reddish rocks.  But you don’t want to stop walking, or driving, until you come to a gate, and you’ll hear the falls off to the left.  You’ll want to be careful on the rocks, but you will be glad you came down this rough road, outside of the park, to find this gem.

WANT MORE?

But if that wasn’t enough for you then check out the official site for Blackwater Falls State Park, here: http://www.blackwaterfalls.com

And if you’d rather not have me interrupt your viewing pleasure, then here’s the instrumental version of the video:

And here are some more pictures…

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