Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park covers an area of 230 square miles with a chunk of the Painted Desert in the north end.  A 28-mile road runs north-south, with many pull-off areas to see various sights.  There are several short hikes available but there are also 43000-acre and 7000-acre Wilderness areas – in the north and south respectively – for longer hikes and overnight stays.  Even if not venturing into the Wilderness areas you can spend most or all of a day here seeing the sights, which include desert and badland landscapes, the remains of ancient pueblos, petroglyphs, interesting geology, and more petrified wood than you can shake a stick at.

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Lighthouse Trail

My first hike in Texas, and the first stop on a 2-week sightseeing and hiking excursion through the southwest.  Palo Duro Canyon, just south of Amarillo, is billed as the second biggest canyon in the U.S.  The State Park encompasses only a small part of the canyon but it’s still pretty big, with about 45 miles of trails open to hikers.

Palo Duro Canyon

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Winding Stair Mtn – Boardstand & Old Military Road loop

It was my second time around this 22-mile loop.  The first trip 7 years ago was also New Year’s weekend and was my first time in the Ouachitas.  I remembered some things but was surprised at some of the nice scenery I forgot.  Accompanying me were RC – back for his second time as well – and CC & TC, both visiting the Ouachitas for the first time.  We started at the Holson Valley Road trail head Friday afternoon and went counter-clockwise – along the Old Military Road trail up and over Winding Stair Mountain, then along the ridge on the Ouachita Trail, then back on the Boardstand Trail, arriving back at the trail head late Monday morning.

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Wind River Range – a Bomber Basin & Ross Lakes loop

This year’s trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range was 7 days in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness, in the northeast area.  Starting at the Trail Lake trail head south of Dubois, we ascended south into Bomber Basin to near Turquoise Lake, then east over a saddle into the adjacent basin, then descended north past Lake 10359, Mile Long Lake, Upper Ross Lake, and Ross Lake.  Both of these basins were gouged-out by glaciers and it really showed, with the characteristic U-shape and lots of grooved granite slabs.

Nancy Pallister’s great book describes the route (#42 in 2nd edition) as 22 miles but most is off-trail so we expected some tough slow hiking and that’s exactly what we got.  Oh, and some snow too.

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Grays and Torreys Peaks

Grays Peak (14278′) is the 10th highest peak in the Rocky Mountains and along with neighboring Torreys Peak (14274′), is a very popular destination.  RC and I were fresh from the Never Summer Wilderness trip with 3+ days of altitude-acclimation and figured that was a pretty good warm-up for climbing a 14er or two.  RC has climbed many 14ers but not Grays nor Torreys.  I tried Huron 6? years ago and failed, but learned some stuff.

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Never Summer Wilderness – Baker Gulch, Parika Lake

Colorado’s Never Summer Wilderness borders Rocky Mountain National Park on the west.  7 of us did a 2-night trip along the Baker Creek, Baker Gulch, and Parika Lake trails.  Highlights included great scenery, mostly-good weather, wildflowers, more moose than any of us had seen before, and a bear!

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Marmot Fortress 2P tent

Another new tent, this Marmot Fortress 2P is intended (by me) for “front country” use – a.k.a. car camping.  I’ve used a Marmot Early Light 2P for several years in this role.  It was my first backpacking tent but I quickly realized it was way too big and heavy for that.  The Early Light’s fatal flaw is that it has 2 transparent windows in the fly.  After 7 years the adhesive failed and the windows started detaching and leaking.  I reglued them but have no confidence it will hold so I think it’s time to retire that one.

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Leave No Trace

Today I joined the ranks of Leave No Trace (LNT) Master Educators. I graduated with 8 others from a 5-day course conducted at the Steel Creek area of Buffalo National River (BNR) by 2 trainers from the Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics.  The cost of this training is typically in the $650-900 range but a grant from the Walton Family Foundation covered all our costs so that is greatly appreciated by all.

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No more advertising!

Since starting this web site almost 7 (!) years ago, I’ve used WordPress’ free service
where they run ads to offset at least some of their cost.  For about 15 years I’ve used Privoxy to eliminate most advertising and tracking stuff while browsing.  I recently saw what my site looks like to the rest of the world  – without Privoxy – and was a bit shocked at how intrusive the ads could be.

I’ve now upgraded to a paid-for service level that eliminates the advertising. I’m sorry it took so long.

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OHT Stack Rock Reroute

Construction of a 1-mile reroute around the May ’17 landslide near mile 152 of the Ozark Highlands Trail is nearly complete – close enough that a detour is no longer needed.

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