Saturday, October 19, 2019
Hike: Riverplace Nature Trail
Hikers: Ian solo with full pack
Length: 6.5 miles
Hey it’s been forever since I last blogged, but I’m not dead! Here in Austin we had a really hot August and then the hottest September on record, where most of the month was over 100 degrees every day. This makes for really not fun hiking conditions, so most of my exercise was done inside on the Peloton.
I finally got back out on the trail this past weekend to train for my upcoming hike in Yosemite and Half Dome. My buddy Greg is getting married in Yosemite and, much to the dismay of our spouses and/or fiancees, four of us have decided to hike up to Half Dome and climb it with the cables down. Normally the cables on Half Dome are elevated on poles so they form a bit of a railing for people to hold onto while climbing up the 45 degree incline, but the poles are taken down in the offseason and the cables lie flat against the rock.
I actually think the way we are doing it is safer than with the cables up because we will be roped in and have two points of connection at all times. A woman actually died falling off the cables a couple of months back while they were up because she wasn’t roped in. That said, it’s going to be a tough hike and I’ve been training pretty hard for it and then my forthcoming PCT thru hike in the spring.
Well that certainly was a lot of words. On to the hike for this blog post!
Riverplace is the best and hardest trail in Austin. Unfortunately, the HOA out there has started charging people $10 per head to hike it and not only that, they also charge $10 PER DOG. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department told them they can’t do this and that the fees are excessive, but apparently it is still being litigated in some fashion. I personally think it is ridiculous to charge for dogs, but whatever. These people have to live with themselves and I’m only out there a couple of times a year anyway.
So after a bit of chiding the money-takers at the beginning of the trail and getting my wristband that proves I paid, I started off down the trail. I brought my full pack that I will be using for Half Dome and my PCT hike. I was missing a couple of small pieces of gear and clothing, and actually doubled up on a couple of others, so it wasn’t an exact replica of my full gear list, but I think I was within a couple of pounds either direction. Base weight was right about 17 pounds without food or water.
We have also had almost zero rain for the past couple of months, so the trail was very dry, with only a few ankle deep puddles here and there.
The stairs were tough, especially with a full pack, but I persevered and was pretty proud of how I handled the steepness. Peloton has been paying off I suppose.
The views at the top are always nice too.
And a few of the local flora to finish it off.
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Bull Creek Greenbelt
Just a few early morning pics from a quick hike at Bull Creek a few weeks back. August has been mostly 100+ every day, so hiking is not really in the cards. May try and hit up a trail early this coming Saturday, as it’s been too long.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Hamilton Greenbelt – Lakeway, TX
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Humid, but nice
Another trip out to Hamilton Greenbelt. Great little trail out in Lakeway that isn’t crowded and winds around through the woods and streams and eventually drains into Lake Travis.
Water was flowing well today and the dogs loved it. Saw one young deer with small velvet antlers.
Friday, June 7, 2019
Yellowstone NP – Mystic Falls Hike and Old Faithful
Mystic Falls – 3.5 miles
We woke up early again to try and get to Grand Prismatic Spring, which I was super excited about, but it was too steamy to see it. This was my biggest disappointment of the trip, but that just means I have to come back!
We moved on to the Fountain Paint Pots and saw a few other geysers and such before dropping Doc and Suz off at the hotel.
Court and I then went on a hike at Biscuit Basin to Mystic Falls. The beginning of this hike is actually part of the official Continental Divide Trail, so I have now stepped foot on each of the Big 3 National Scenic Trails!
The hike was beautiful. The beginning is a boardwalk with many more geothermal features.
Once into the woods, we climbed up to an overlook and saw Old Faithful erupting from a mile or more away.
Mystic Falls was at the far end of the loop and was very beautiful, as expected.
We closed the loop and headed back to meet back up with Doc and Suz for lunch at the historic Old Faithful Inn, built in 1904. The interior is just awesome.
After lunch we saw Old Faithful erupt, which is pretty impressive.
We spent the rest of the day hanging around Old Faithful and the Visitor Center. It wasn’t nearly as touristy as I expected and was a lot of fun.
The next morning we woke up to a blizzard in June! We got 8 inches in two hours! We had planned to drive out the south entrance of the park past the Tetons again, but with the storm, all roads were closed except for the west entrance. Luckily we were staying at Old Faithful because otherwise we would have been trapped and missed our flight back from Salt Lake City. It was fun driving in the snow and the scenery was fantastic. Snow in June. Crazy.
Once again we had an amazing trip with Doc and Suz. This was my first time to Yellowstone/Grand Teton and it lived up to every expectation. We will be returning, especially to see Grand Prismatic Spring!
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Yellowstone NP – Norris Geyser Basin and Lake Yellowstone
We drove from Canyon Village over to the Norris Geyser Basin on our way to Old Faithful. This side of the park was really interesting and definitely had the most geothermal activity compared to what we had seen so far.
Steamboat Geyser, which is the largest currently active geyser in the world, was set to erupt at any moment (it’s averaging every 5-6 days right now) and we stopped for a while to see if we could get lucky. The Geyser Gazers (those who follow geysers, waiting for them to erupt) were all there, but sadly it didn’t go off. We found out it went off that night around 1am.
We also saw Beryl Spring, which was neato, Gibbon Falls, and a quick side trip to Firehole Falls.
We got to Old Faithful Snow Lodge and checked in, but headed over to the Lake Yellowstone Hotel where we had dinner reservations. This was not only beautiful and classic, but was one of the best meals of the entire trip. We will be staying here when we come back one day.
On the drive back to Old Faithful we got caught in a bizarre storm. It wasn’t raining that hard, but the sky was green like right before a tornado and the sunlight was still peeking through the trees. It was really eerie. The next day would be our last and we would make the most of it.
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Yellowstone NP – Brink of the Lower Falls and Ribbon Lake hike
Ian, Court, and Doc
About 4.5 miles total
Another early wake up call had us at the Brink of the Lower Falls trail head with only one other car in the lot. It was chilly, but beautiful. Also, 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Fitting that I was at Yellowstone, which those men fought to make sure we will always have.
The hike is short, but very steep, with many switchbacks. Being right at the brink of the falls is quite thrilling.
We then headed back to Artist Point to get some better shots of the Lower Falls in the morning light before hiking out to Ribbon Lake.
The best part of the hike to Ribbon Lake is actually at the beginning as the trail follows the canyon and gives some more amazing views.
Once you turn into the forest it gets very marshy and there is even some volcanic activity on the trail, with springs bubbling up in the puddles and bacteria starting to grow.
Ribbon Lake was not that impressive, but the hike was nice. We headed back, got Suz from the lodge, and drove on to Norris Geyser Basin and then Old Faithful, where we would stay the next two nights.
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Yellowstone NP – Lamar River Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs
We woke up at 4:30am to make the 1.5 hour drive to the Lamar River Valley and catch the animals at sunrise. I was super tired, but it was beautiful and we saw some great wildlife. No wolves, sadly, but several bears, countless bison, elk, and pronghorn antelope.
We even saw a herd of bison crossing the river and one of the babies got caught in the current and started floating downstream. Its mother separated from the herd and went after it, finally guiding it to the side of the river where it was shallow and the calf could get back on its feet and rejoin the herd. It was like our own little nature documentary, complete with high drama.
Around 8am we turned back and headed to the Roosevelt Lodge to grab a coffee before we turned toward Mammoth Hot Springs on the north side of the park.
We made a quick stop at Undine Falls. Yellowstone has more waterfalls than any other National Park.
Mammoth Hot Springs was a lot cooler than I anticipated. The travertine features are so unique and they are always changing, as earthquakes and other forces change the underground plumbing, causing water to flow in different places over the years. The terraces are all accessible only by boardwalks and they are fairly steep in parts.
We then got to one of my favorite parts of the park (ok, there are a lot of favorites): The Roosevelt Arch. This Arch was built at the north entrance of the park at Gardiner, Montana and was dedicated in 1903 by Teddy. The iconic words at the top are a symbol of what the National Parks represent and how lucky we are to have them preserved:
For The Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People
Sorry, I geek out over Teddy.
After having lunch in Gardiner we headed back to Canyon Village and caught some views of the Upper Falls and also the Lower Falls from Artist Point. The light wasn’t the best, so we decided to come back again early the next morning.