Prince Edward Island, Canada

After spending some time in Maine, we continued on up to Prince Edward Island in Canada in order to spend 3 full days sightseeing, hiking, and exploring the island.  We were quite impressed with the beautiful red landscape, especially the sea cliffs and sea arches.  I will go ahead and put together a trip report covering the highlights of Prince Edward Island in the near future.  Here are a few of my favorite photographs from our visit.

Prince Edward Island has some gorgeous red sand beaches to enjoy

Walking with Stefan along the shoreline of Prince Edward Island National Park

The park has many miles of roads, bike paths, and trails which showcase stunning red cliffs

Daria and Stefan posing next to Teacup Rock near Thunder Cove

A sea arch near Cape Egmont Lighthouse

The Kildare Capes area is loaded with sea arches including one known as Baby Elephant Rock

Hiking in Acadia NP, Maine

Last week, we got to spend a couple of days hiking in Acadia National Park in Maine.  The weather was fairly cool but we managed to avoid the rain.  We mainly focused on family-friendly hikes and ended up doing the Ocean Path from Sand Beach to Otter Cliff, walking around areas of Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain, the Ship Harbor Trail, the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse walk, and South Bubble Mountain.  As of right now, I don’t have any plans to release a trip report on Acadia NP or any of the specific hikes.  Although, I guess a combined single report showcasing the best spots might be a nice idea.  Here are a few pictures from our hikes.

Sand Beach stands out in the midst of the forested landscape

The Ocean Path has many sections of colorful pink granite rock outcroppings

A visit to Jordan Pond is mandatory during a trip to Acadia NP

The Bass Harbor Head Light has an amazing setting on the edge of sea cliffs

The summit of Cadillac Mountain has a number of trails to explore

Holding Stefan at the top of South Bubble Mountain with Jordan Pond in the background


Tree Searching Update #3

I am happy to announce the release of my long-awaited Tree Searching Update #3 on my Hyperion Redwood page.  The Hyperion Redwood and Tree Searching page is one of the most popular pages here on the site.  In the month of March alone, the page was visited 926 times.  Tree Searching Update #3 features two brand new photographs and an updated account of my return to Humboldt Redwoods State Park in order to search out trees 12-15 on the Top 15 Tallest list.  You can find the Hyperion Redwood page as the very first link on the Introduction Page or you can visit the page by clicking on the link below.  Once on the page, you can find Tree Searching Update #3 by scrolling all the way to the bottom.

Hyperion Redwood and Tree Searching page

Hidden Falls (Yosemite NP)

This past weekend we did a short trip to Yosemite National Park in order to carry out another exclusive hike.  This was our 6th exclusive Yosemite hike and it was to Hidden Falls (also known as Tenaya Creek Falls).  I’m hoping to put together a little report on this hike sometime in the near future, after I have time to put together the February Death Valley hiking reports.  Also, coming soon I will be returning to the redwoods to carry out some tree searching for the first time in 3 1/2 years.  The target will be Harper Flat.  So look for Tree Searching Update #3 soon.  Below is some video footage which I captured last weekend of Hidden Falls in Yosemite.

Returning to the South Pacific

Later this year, we plan to return to the South Pacific to carry out some additional hiking and snorkeling.  After our 2015 trip to the Cook Islands and 2016 trip to French Polynesia, we were very impressed with the scenery found in the beautiful islands located in the South Pacific.  For this upcoming trip, we plan to return to Bora Bora and visit four new islands — Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, and Easter Island.  I’m most excited about traveling to Easter Island and carrying out some hikes during the one week we will have there.  But the other destinations will be outstanding as well.  I even have an idea for an additional hike on Bora Bora that I missed out on last year.  This trip is still fairly far off, but I thought I would post a note on our upcoming travels which might result in new hiking reports here on the site.

On another note, I’m testing out some minor adjustments to the site.  The adjustments are: (1) switching the maps from Google Earth route maps to topographical maps and (2) switching the GPS coordinates to Decimal degrees.  The reason for switching the maps over to topographical maps is because satellite imagery is always being updated and I need to have the maps be in a format which will be more permanent.  The reason I didn’t do this before was because only recently I obtained software which provides seamless topographical maps when used in conjunction with Google Earth.  The GPS coordinates are being converted to the format that most people use today.  You can check out a test sample of the updates on the Tucki Mountain hiking report (currently listed as #7 on the site’s Main Page).  Please write in and let me know if you have any opinions or suggestions regarding these matters.

Backpacking in Iceland this summer

Just a quick post that I have confirmed plans and plane tickets to finally accomplish my goal of backpacking the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland this summer.  We plan to hike the entire 48-mile route from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork including the extension to Skogar.  I’ve been hoping to do this hike for several years now but it never worked out.  I’m mentioning this here because the Landmannalaugar area has colorful rhyolite hills that are somewhat reminiscent of areas within Death Valley.  It certainly will be nice to be back in Iceland for the first time in 10 years.  If the hike is successful (a lot will depend on the weather), I am considering hiking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland the following year.

On another note, don’t look for the new Death Valley reports anytime soon.  I’m going to be extremely busy in March and April and it is unlikely that any of the reports will be put together before May.

DV Feb 2017 Hike 4: Pothole Canyon

We wrapped up our short trip to Death Valley with a late afternoon hike out to upper Pothole Canyon.  We were able to fit this hike in since it begins not far from where the Cottonwood Slot hike begins.  This hike was quite fascinating as it started out on Cottonwood Canyon Road near the well-known giant cave.  We had to attain the eastern ridge above Cottonwood Canyon by gaining a quick 500 feet in elevation and then we headed southeast across a plateau with numerous drainages.  Eventually, we dropped into a wash which flowed into the wash of upper Pothole Canyon.  The narrows in the upper canyon were outstanding all the way to the pour-over into the first pothole.  Sadly, we ran out of daylight before we could circle around the ridge to get some nice views of Pothole Dry Fall.  But we did the best we could and were glad to have seen the beautiful upper narrows.  Here are a few teaser images from the full report which will come later (probably in a couple of months when life slows down just a notch).

A picture of me taken in the early part of the upper narrows

Beautiful canyon narrows with great variety on display

I love the smooth surface of this canyon wall

The canyon walls had great height to them despite this being considered a somewhat minor canyon

View at the end looking over the edge into the lower canyon wash far below

DV Feb 2017 Hike 3: Cottonwood Slot

Our third hike was into Cottonwood Slot.  Cottonwood Slot is virtually unknown to those who are not long-time Death Valley hikers.  However, frequent visitors to the park have heard of it and some have even hiked it.  Cottonwood Slot was a 5-hour hike for our group.  We first explored the 1st Narrows by hiking up them while climbing 2 medium chockstone dry falls.  The passable canyon ends at a major dry fall which cannot be climbed.  We then used the advanced high-difficulty bypass found before the 1st Narrows to drop into the middle canyon.  Hiking back down the 1st Narrows, we were able to climb down 4 medium chockstone dry falls.  We were finally stopped by a major chockstone dry fall that cannot be climbed down.  And, in fact, some hikers have gotten stuck in the canyon by attempting this.  A word of caution is in order here in case somebody reading this blog post attempts this hike.  Do not hike through these narrows alone and make sure that someone knows where you are going in case you get stuck and do not return.  Climbing down the 4 chockstone dry falls to get where we did becomes continuously more difficult as you go and there is a possibility that you may become trapped by not being able to climb back up them.  We only accomplished this by giving each other boosts and a helping hand to pull one another up.  This is a very challenging area.  I will expand more upon this in the full report to come later.  We next finished the hike by hiking all the way through the 2nd Narrows until the interesting portion of the canyon ends with rolling dirt hillsides all around.  Here are a few teaser images.

The passable 1st Narrows ends here when heading up canyon

Beautiful polished white marble narrows

Shades of pink on the white marble

Tiffany finding a Bighorn sheep horn in the 2nd Narrows

DV Feb 2017 Hike 2: Grapevines WSA Canyon

For our second hike, we did an epic hike into the northern Grapevines to explore a major canyon that had never before been documented.  This was by far the most isolated area of the entire range that I had ever hiked.  Reaching the starting point for the hike either requires backpacking in from Scotty’s Castle Road or driving up a 4WD road which starts from Hwy 267 outside of the park boundary.  We almost didn’t even get to do the hike because the first dirt road we checked was signed as closed.  But then we found a second dirt road which was open and went through.  Just before reaching the starting point for the hike, the road follows along what I call the “Rim of the World” portion of the drive, where you are 500 feet above a canyon wash looking over in awe the whole time (this is the east fork of the main canyon).  After we hiked down to the canyon floor, we were able to explore an incredible tafoni slot canyon and then move over to the main fork of the canyon.  The hike up the canyon had spectacular colors and scenery as we hiked toward the huge trees at the end of it.  A highlight was being followed up canyon by a huge flock of playful Gray-crowned Rosy Finch birds.  We then crossed over and looped back down via another canyon, which ended a mere 1 mile from where Grey Wall Canyon is generally considered to end.  You can see a sample of the colorful panoramic area in this canyon by checking out the secondary header currently being tested on the site’s main page.  I am informally calling the main canyon we explored Grapevines WSA Canyon for identification purposes because the east fork crosses from Death Valley into the Grapevine Mountains Wilderness Study Area.  Here are a few teaser images in advance of the main report to come later.

This picture shows the east fork of the canyon we hiked into along with the “Rim of the World” drive (top left side)

Grapevines WSA Slot #1 had spectacular narrows

A Gray-crowned Rosy Finch keeping watch on us

Tiffany and I with the northern Grapevines (7932T and P8460 ft area) behind us

Heading into the colorful area of the canyon we looped back in

DV Feb 2017 Hike 1: Borax BM & Corkscrew Canyon

My sister Tiffany and I just returned from several days of hiking in Death Valley this past weekend.  Tiffany had not been to the park in 5 years as she now lives in New Zealand.  We had a great time and carried out some wonderful hikes.  Because I will not be able to get to the full reports right away, I’m going to share some teaser images and basic overviews of the hikes here on the blog.

For our first hike, we did Borax BM.  There are a variety of routes which hikers have used to reach Borax BM, but we tried to use the most efficient.  Upon reaching the ridgeline, there were outstanding views all around including of Telescope Peak and Pyramid Peak.  Beyond Borax BM, we followed the ridge all the way until it terminated at 20-foot impassable cliffs.  Near there, we saw what looked like a previously unknown route from the ridge down into Corkscrew Canyon.  Not being ones to back down from a challenge, we went ahead and attempted it.  The initial slope was incredibly steep, but the soft terrain allowed us to continue down.  We then got through 2 medium difficulty dry falls and made it all the way through the canyon.  It was quite an experience and will make for an interesting report later.

Tiffany on the summit of Borax BM

Telescope Peak as seen from Borax BM (with a powerful zoom)

As we continued along the ridgeline, we had nice views of the legendary blue mountain

This was the slope we found dropping from the ridge into Corkscrew Canyon

Tiffany heading down spectacular upper Corkscrew Canyon