Gonna rise up. Find my direction magnetically.

Tag: camping (Page 1 of 2)

Utah, Sierras and 360 degrees

Doing some research for our upcoming trip out to CA this summer, I ran across this site that provides 360 degree panoramas of different areas in Utah. I looked around this site for 30 minutes and still can’t get enough. If these don’t convince you to put Canyonlands on your todo list, nothing will. Julie and I haven’t gotten this far East in our exploration of Utah, but it’s on the list and until then I’ll have to simply make due with these virtual attempts to be there.

Here are my favorite:

Mount Whitney part of the Sierra Mountains in California

In regards to the CA trip, an opportunity to possibly climb Mt. Whitney just came up so I did some searching on that as well. Wouldn’t you know it… some 360 degree panoramas of that as well.

http://www.360cities.net/image/mount-whitney-at-sunrise#30.60,8.80,73.5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7QtvUF8qso (video panorama)

We are also planning on taking the girls on their first backcountry trek (2 nights) during our visit to Yosemite. It’s turning out that while our first week will be the annual family reunion, the second week will be filled with adventure after adventure in the Sierras. Can’t think of a place I would rather be than in the mountains surrounded by my girls and family. SO PUMPED for this trip.

August 30th – September 1st (Kayaking)

August 30th – September 1st (Kayaking)

See Apostle Islands for the intro to this trip report.

August 30th

The entire week prior to the trip I had been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast. Kayaking up in Lake Superior can be a pretty horrible experience if the weather picks up and you can become stranded on one of the islands pretty easily. So as we were preparing to push off at Meyers Beach, the forecast was for rain that night or possibly the next morning. We would be out of communication (no 3g in these parts) for the next couple of days and would have to rely on our old school ways of reading the clouds and taking an educated guess.

The first leg of the trip took us along sea caves that were actually on the mainland. Once we got north of the caves, we would find our campsite. There is only one mainland campsite and it seemed like it didn’t get very much use. There is a 4 mile trail that leads from this site all the way back to Meyers Beach if one was so inclined to hike it. The guided tours that come out here spend the morning looking at the sea caves, have lunch on the beach just north of the caves, and then paddle back to Meyer’s Beach.

The caves were unlike anything I had seen in the water. They certainly had more of a Utah/west coast feel than northern Wisconsin.

There was a very interesting woosh sound that the waves made as they pushed under the rock formations into the caves. You could also tell that this was not a place you wanted to be when the weather or waves picked up. We lucked out and had great weather with a very low chop.

Once we made camp, we were able to appreciate the view and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. One thing that we didn’t appreciate were the damn black flies. Those things were everywhere and bit hard. It got so bad that we ended up bringing our dinner inside the tent just to find some relief. I wore my long johns (top and bottom) for most of the time we were in camp.

August 31st

We were waiting for the rain to come, but it only drizzled a little and the big rain never hit. The next morning there was a stiff westward wind and it created some pretty good chop. This along with some looming clouds had us breaking camp and heading to Sand Island pretty quick… no point in hanging around and seeing if the weather gets worse!!

We paddled for a few hours and reached the bay on the east side of Sand Island. It’s amazing how close something looks while you are on the lake but spend the next 1-2 hours paddling just to realize you are half way. My back was sore from the previous day’s paddling so it probably felt longer than it actually was. Sand Island has a full time ranger stationed on it and it felt good getting back into some type of civilized environment. It was fun to be out on our own the previous day, but with the weather and kayaking in the open water, it just felt good to see some other folks around.

We made camp and then headed out to view the sea caves. These were AWESOME! Some of the best in all of the Apostles. You can get really far back into the caves and it’s shallow enough that you could get out and walk around if you were into that kind of thing. We had a great time paddling around and made our way to Justice Bay. This place looked like it could have been in the Virgin Islands. The sun was out, the water was clear and there was a sailboat right in the middle of the bay.

We hiked up to the lighthouse and got a tour from the resident ranger. It was pretty interesting to hear about the old lighthouse keeper and some of the stories about the area. Included in these stories was an interesting one regarding if the old keeper had killed his wife and then told everyone that she had ‘left’ him.  No one could figure out where she had left to… mystery and intrigue in the Apostles. We were able to climb all the way up to the top of the lighthouse and were rewarded with a view of several of the other islands. I also learned that the markings for a lighthouse on a map give you a lot of information. Height of the lighthouse, the color of the light and the frequency at which the light will flash.

Oh, and guess who we ran into? The guy who was working at the visitor’s center when I came in looking for my camera bag. So my dad took a picture of us with our cameras. Nice!

We enjoyed a nice sunset and I went to bed hoping that the weather would be agreeable enough in the morning to allow us to cross Sand Bay over to the mainland so we would make our scheduled pickup.

September 1st

We woke up, broke camp and made our way across to the mainland without much incident. I have to admit that crossing the few miles in the open lake did make me a bit nervous. Especially at the half way point when you look around and realize just how far away from land you are and that you are in this little kayak on top of the freezing cold water. It’s a good, healthy kind of fear. The kind that makes you glad to be alive and to be able to enjoy a trip like this with the old man.

This ranks up there with the top 1 or 2 breakfast spots I have even eaten at in my life.

I can easily see coming back up here with the whole family and doing another multi-day, multi-island trip. There is a lot to see in this area and it’s truly amazing how this unknown National Lakeshore is just sitting here in northern Wisconsin.

The old man on the hunt.

Mainland sea caves.

Loved this dock. The campsite on Sand Island is 100 yards back from this doc.

My current favorite picture of my dad and I. It turned out great and captures some of the beauty of the area as well.

August 28th and 29th (Bayfield)

August 28th and 29th (Bayfield)

See Apostle Islands for the intro to this trip report.

We spent the first two nights at a campsite just south of town (Apostle Islands Area Campground). It was a pretty quite place but the owner had a very disturbing resemblance to the owner of the cabins the Griswolds stayed at in the movie Vacation.  We had dinner in Bayfield, which was great but a little crowded. We figured this was due to it being so close to the end of the summer that a lot of families were getting in their last vacation before school started.

Sunday morning we went into town for breakfast and found this GREAT coffee shop,  Big Water Coffee. If you make it to Bayfield, WI at some point, you need to make sure to spend a morning here. Lots of locals and they roast their own coffee. Oh, and free wifi.

Our next stop was at Trek & Trail for our kayaking lesson.  You have to take a 3 hour lesson if you are going to take the kayaks out on your own (no guide). This is required by law, so we didn’t really have an option. As it turned out, it was a good thing that we took it since it built our confidence and improved our technique. There was a middle-aged couple that took the class with us, but they were denied the rental because they failed to do the wet exit in the lake. After they watched my dad and I do it, the female of the couple got…. wait for it… cold feet, and chickened out. The water was pretty darn cold, in the low 50s, so I can’t really blame her for not wanting to flip over her kayak intentionally.

We had originally wanted to get a ferry to see a few of the outer islands, but we couldn’t find any in town. Only some local tour boats that go out in the morning. So instead, we drove out to Little Sand Bay and enjoyed lunch while thinking about what the next couple of days had in store for us. We came back into town and I got a 4 mile run in before we went back to the campsite for a shower and to get ready for dinner.

The Camera Saga

When we came back into Bayfield for dinner, I went to the trunk of the car to get my camera bag and guess what… no bag. I searched the back seat… no bag. I went back to the trunk again, then to the car again, then to the trunk. Uh-oh!!! Before we left for the trip, I had put all of the video/camera gear that I own into that bag. My Nikon D90, a Canon SD1100, a Flip, several lenses and other gear. Not being able to find this was, to say the least, a bit concerning. At times like these, I usually start to freak out a little, but oddly enough, I was pretty calm. After discussing where it could be with my dad, we decided I had probably left it at the visitor’s center up at Little Sand Bay. We immediately drove up there, but since it was a Sunday night the center was closed. We walked around the center, trying to find it sitting in there somewhere, but no luck.

It was also at this point that I decided in my mind that if we couldn’t find the bag, I would wait until I got home to tell Julie. Why ruin my trip even more??? Right??? Love you hun.

The next morning we shot up to the visitor’s center to be there when it opened because we had to be back at Trek & Trail to get our ride over to Meyer’s Beach at 10. The guy working at the center had heard something about a bag being found, but he didn’t have any details. He called into the headquarters (located in Bayfield) and it turns out that once they opened it and saw all the equipment ($$), they decided it had to be put in the safe which they had at the headquarters building. So back to Bayfield we went… and we got my camera back. Lots of smiles all around. As a note of warning to others.

Always always always have something on your camera or in your camera bag that has your contact info on it! Stop reading this now and go do it. A label on the camera, a picture on your SD card that has your contact info (you can mark the pic to not be deleted when you sync), anything so someone who finds it can get it back to you.

Apostile Islands

Apostle Islands – August, 2010

I’ve been meaning to post about this trip that I took with my Dad back in August for a while and I finally found the time to put it together. The trip was a birthday gift to my Dad (he turned 60 this year). We planned to spend a few days camping and kayaking in the Apostle Islands. The trip was to be from August 28th to September 1st.

The Apostles

For those of you not familiar, and who could blame you, people I know who grew up in Wisconsin didn’t even know what they were, I’ll give you a little background.

The Apostle Islands are a group of 22 islands in Lake Superior off the Bayfield Peninsula in northern Wisconsin. The islands are a National Lakeshore (managed by the NPS)

The majority of the islands are located in Ashland County—only Sand, York, Eagle, and Raspberry Islands are located in Bayfield County. All the islands except for Madeline Island are part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

The islands are the spiritual home for the Lake Superior Chippewa. The islands were named the Apostle Islands by New France historian Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, who named them after the 12 apostles (even though there were 22 islands).

For more information about the islands, the Wikipedia entry has a lot of details: Apostle Islands.

The Trip

Saturday, August 28 – Drive to Bayfield

Sunday, August 29 – Take kayaking class, hang out in Bayfield (try to get a ferry trip to outer islands)

Monday, August 30 – Get dropped off at Meyer’s Beach and kayak past sea caves to camp just south of Sand Point.

Tuesday, August 31 – Kayak to Sand Island, explore island and sea caves around the island.

Wednesday, September 1 – Kayak across Sand Bay to Little Sand Bay where we would be picked up and then drive home from Bayfield.

Banff / Jasper – The Hikes

We did several hikes while in the Rockies. The girls (6 and 9) were with us for all the hikes so they are all family friendly. I tried to rank them based on the uniqueness of the hike, if what we knew about the hike turned out to be true, and my general feeling about it. I also have several more pictures of all of these locations so if you are interested, just email me.


Banff National Park

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=h&msa=0&msid=104267311669100252934.00048a0869ee923b4f2db&ll=51.351201,-115.944214&spn=0.51461,0.823975&z=9&output=embed&w=300&h=300]

Bow Falls (1 out of 5 stars)

Just outside of the city of Banff. It’s right in town and it was raining when we arrived to town so we felt like this would be easy enough to do and hopefully raise our spirits. It’s not worth it to try and view from the east side. Cross to the west and there is a nice view of the falls from an access road. The river rafting folks drop in just south of the falls and you can watch them from the viewing location.  Bow Falls seemed more like rapids, than falls.

There is a short hike to the top of the falls from the parking lot but the view wasn’t great and the pictures confirm this. On the plus side, it’s right next to town, on the downside, it’s hardly worth the effort.

Johnston Canyon (3 out of 5 stars)

The canyon was pretty nice but it felt a little wrong when we were walking from the parking lot and got to hear a tour guide explain the rules for the stop to a group of 70+ yr old folks that were about to do the same hike we were. It’s a really easy hike and the canyon is very interesting. There is a lodge right next to the trail at the beginning with an ice cream stand that made it feel pretty touristy which made me a little disappointed. There is a very, very cool little hole at the end of the trail that you can walk through and be right next to the falls. The kids loved that!

Lake Agnes Trail (tea house) (4 out of 5 stars)

This was a 3.5 km one way hike. It starts just to the north-west of the chateau and we didn’t realize it before we started, but you can actually see the tea house from the chateau. It’s way up there, but you can clearly see it.

The entire 3.5 km is all up hill and fairly steep. We had to keep Brooke motivated to keep moving but she finally made it. I was proud that she decided to push on to the tea house after reaching Mirror Lake since her attitude seemed to be turning for the worse. The tea house was very nice and the young folks that work up there were great. We did get to experience some foreigners being incredibly rude to the staff of the tea house which was sad and funny. Here we are, up in the woods at this cool tea house and there is one server for a fairly large crowd and this old man felt like he wasn’t being served fast enough. This gentlemen walked into the kitchen to tell them to hurry up with his order. Odd, you think he would have been happy to just be served hot tea in the middle of the damn wilderness!

It was a quick hike back down. The major let down for me was that this hike only provided one view of Lake Louise. I was hoping to get some nice wide-angle pictures but didn’t get any. If you want to get elevation above Lake Louise, don’t hike this trail to do it. The trail also started to get a little crowded on our way back down (around 1pm). It looks like this is popular since the start is so close to the chateau, at least that is my guess.

Did I mention there was a fair amount of snow? Nothing like a little snow-softball to break up the hike.

This is the only view you get of the lake during the hike.


Jasper National Park

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=h&msa=0&msid=104267311669100252934.00048a0869ee923b4f2db&ll=52.549636,-117.647095&spn=1.002084,1.647949&z=8&output=embed&w=300&h=300]

Athabasca Glacier (4 out of 5 stars)

Yeah, we did the mass-tourist thing better known as The Columbia Icefield Glacier Experience. We originally thought of hiking up to the foot of the glacier and just walk on, but there is a stream of water between land and the actual glacier. We were also advised against trying it (by some parks folks, but it felt a little like they were working for the Sno-coach people…). So we signed up to take the bus out to a transfer station where we moved onto the Sno-coaches and out onto the glacier.

You only get 20 minutes on the glacier to walk around which felt like way way to short of a time considering the $50/person cost of the trip. It was also a little sad to see the massive road they had cut into the glacier in order for the Sno-coach to drive on it. I understand that it raises awareness of global warming, but it felt a little anti-environment instead of respecting the glacier.  Julie felt the same way, cringing as we rode in this $1 million huge, gas guzzling Sno-coach but it was the only way onto the glacier.  It was a cool experience nonetheless.

We also filled up some water bottles and enjoyed some very, very cold and fresh tasting water. We have a few bottles left in the fridge!

Athabasca Falls (3 out of 5 stars)

You can tell this is a popular tour bus stop when you pull up. Lots of crazy angles from the various bridges that go over these falls allow for a pretty dense population of people to view the falls at the same time. We needed to fight for a few key photo taking locations when we got there. It was later in the day when we got here so the sun was high overhead and did not lead to any ideal lighting conditions for taking pictures. The kids hiked around a little and it was an overall nice stop.

This is the view if you turned around from the falls and climbed onto a road. This was a pretty nice payoff for looking the other way.


Kootenay National Park

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=h&msa=0&msid=104267311669100252934.00048a0869ee923b4f2db&ll=51.078508,-116.021118&spn=0.258833,0.411987&z=10&output=embed&w=300&h=300]

Stanley Glacier (4 out of 5 stars)

Stanley Glacier was our first real hike of the trip. When we got out of the car at the trailhead, the temp was a nice a cool 36 degrees. Needless to say, we had on multiple layers, gloves, hats, the works. This hike climbs up for the first 1.5 km and then levels out as you get into a valley between two mountains. It was a cloudy day when we started but the sun came out when we reached the valley. It was a really pleasant hike with small water falls cascading off from the tops of the mountains where the snow was still melting. We were hoping to be able to hike up to the glacier, but it was really really high and we were not going to push the kids on the first hike.

We stopped for lunch at the top and had a little snowball fight. We were first on the trail when we went out but a few others showed up as we were hiking back down.

Marble Canyon (4 out of 5 stars)

This little gem of a hike we heard of from another couple while we were in Johnston Canyon. It is a km or two past the Stanley Glacier hike and we had some time in the schedule so we decided to go for it. What an awesome surprise!! This canyon is in the process of being formed and instead of hiking in the canyon like at Johnston, you hike on top of it and can look down to see it being formed. At some points it looks like you might be able to jump across it or would simply miss it if it wasn’t marked, but when you look down into the canyon it falls a couple of hundred feet at some places.

This area was very well blocked off with nice fencing to keep the kids safe. It looks very new and we guessed it was in response to some type of accident based on a sign we read at the end of the hike. This was only a km or two round trip.

Notice the nice railings!


Yoho National Park

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=h&msa=0&msid=104267311669100252934.00048a0869ee923b4f2db&ll=51.356722,-116.332083&spn=0.01608,0.025749&z=14&output=embed&w=300&h=300]

Lake Ohara Shoreline Trail (5 out of 5 stars)

The best hike of the trip in my view. From the moment we walked up from the bus drop off, I loved this lake. Close your eyes and try to imagine the perfect mountain lake: the color, the views, the smell. That is Lake Ohara. I thought about this lake as we were driving home after the whole trip was over and I think I would go back to Banff just to spend a few days hiking the Lake Ohara area. I liked it that much.

This was highly recommended by a co-worker and needless to say, it didn’t disappoint. You have to call the park service a few months in advance to get a bus ride up to the lake and the day we went was the first day it was open for the season. They had been snowed in at the lake as recent as a few weeks before we were there.

We just did the basic hike around Lake Ohara but there are numerous hikes that shoot off from here and there is a lodge as well. The cabins looked really really awesome but when we looked into the price, it would be something like $700/day for our family to stay there. Just a little above our price range (yikes!). The water was clear and the sky was sunny with some clouds to add contrast. The hiking was easy and very enjoyable for the kids.

There is a little shop where you can get something to drink and a t-shirt if you want, but it’s pretty rustic. We took the 10:30 am bus and came back at 2:30. They only run the return buses every two hours so you have to plan ahead a little.

Somewhere in Utah

I got an email notification from my brother and dad from the spot that they are carrying with them. This cool GPS type device allows you to send out a ‘we are ok’ message to family and friends or a ‘we are in deep crap’ message to a central service that they dispatches local help. This thing is great and the coordinates it gave for their location are:

Latitude:37.57268
Longitude:-111.25769
GPS location Date/Time:04/24/2010 15:40:12 GMT

Throwing that up on google maps, you get this:

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=104267311669100252934.000484fdba4a1a267ff71&ll=37.57268,-111.25769&spn=0,0&t=h&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

They were planning on going canyoneering, so I can only imagine that the canyon in the map is where they went. I woke up this morning thinking about what they were up to today and if they made it out alright. We’ll see where the spot reports their location next…

Rocky Mountain National Park, Day 4

August 3rd

It’s 6 am and Julie has to use the bathroom. She gets out of the tent quietly and I drift back to sleep. Suddenly, I hear the zipper pull quickly and I sit up. Julie gives me this crazy look and tells me to get out of the tent quietly.

It turns out there are a couple of Elk right next to our tent… and I mean RIGHT next to it. Here is a shot of one of them walking up to our van. My camera does not do well in this low-light so I had to try to steady it. It was so awesome. We loved the Moraine campground and had been here 13 years ago when we were last in Rocky Mountain NP. You can’t get much closer to nature when you are car-camping than this!

Julie dreams of climbing Long’s Peak someday… but not today… not today.

We woke up and got moving shortly after the Elk incident and made our way back over to the Bear Lake area to do the Alberta Falls hike. This would give the girls a better taste for hiking on a real trail and see a cool river/waterfall at the same time.

When we were leaving the parking lot after the hike we ran into Cowboy Brad. Turns out, he is a park ranger during the day. The girls were so excited and he asked if we were coming back to see him that night since he was playing again. I’ll give you one guess where we were headed that night?? Brooke had a crush on him.

The weather looked questionable and we were not sure about having a 5 yr old go horseback riding for a couple of hours, but we did it anyway. How many times are you going to get a chance to do something like this? The stables that are right next to Moraine campground were very well run and the staff were excellent. We had a great ride and the weather held.

And here we are, ending our awesome trip with Cowboy Brad and dancing the evening away.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Day 3

August 2nd

Day 3 we started the morning by packing up camp at the KOA and heading into Estes Park. We were not able to get all our nights in the park because we decided to go on such short notice, but Julie was able to get us in the Moraine campground for 2 nights so it was time to move. Since we couldn’t claim our campground until later in the afternoon, we drove up to Bear Lake, which is one of the most popular hikes in the park because it’s beautiful and easily accessible.

All the guide books/online sites/and rangers told us to park in the mega parking lot a few miles from the trail head and take the big shuttle bus to the top. This would have been sound advise since there are only 100 or so parking spots (estimation) and they fill up really really early in the morning. But who are we to listen to EVERYONE that we asked about this… so we drove up to the top and BAM! Got a spot. Nailed it!

So if you are going here, I would recommend at least trying. There are very nice rangers stationed in the parking lot and they will not let you just wait for a spot to open or keep driving in circles. One trick I didn’t try, but would probably would have worked, would be to tell the ranger your kid has to use the bathroom so you can wait a little longer for a spot to open…. it’s worth a shot because that damn tram ride up did not look like any fun.

The trail is just a big circle around the lake. Nice, easy hiking and paved most of the way. I could tell the girls were itching for something a little more adventurous but that would have to wait until the following day. For now, it was great to just enjoy the weather (3rd day in a row of fantastic weather) and take in the beauty. Brooke did happen to find a snake that all of us missed except her. How cool is that? She was so proud.

One thing you can kind of see in this shot of the girls are some dead trees. This is one of the saddest things we saw on the trip. Rock Mountain NP has been devastated by  a mountain pine beetle epidemic. It’s very, very obvious when you drive through and on TRR. Not a whole lot they can do at this point, but you can just imagine all the green and how awesome it must have looked before the beetle arrived.

Mountain Pine Beetles

That night, we went back into Estes Park and went to hear Cowboy Brad. This guy plays free concerts in the main square a couple of nights a week. He is great family entertainment and seems like a really nice guy. He played songs just for the kids and some great classic western music. He got the whole family hooked on John Denver for the next couple of months. Rocky Mountain high baby… rocky mountain high.

« Older posts

© 2020 ± Up for Sunrise

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑