Friday, May 21, 2010

Side note...

It's interesting because while we have been traveling I have realized how important it is to make friends with the locals. The more friends we make the more information we get on things to do and sights to see. I like not knowing what we are going to do next and relying on the kindness of strangers to lead us in the right direction.
Day 3 - Moab mountain biking excursion

Days are begining to run together for me and I am having a hard time remembering the route we took. After the set back in Grand Junction we woke up bright and early once again, and headed off to Moab. Since we have Kelty with us we knew we wouldn't be doing much in the National Parks so we looked for other options. Brandon had been talking about mountain biking and really wanted to try it so we went to a local shop and rented some bikes. We were told Moab has some of the best mountain biking trails in the world so we needed to try it out. It definitely was an experience. I was fairly certain I would be heading over my handle bars during the journey but we finished the trail unharmed. It sure was exhausting! We did a twelve mile beginner - intermediate trail, and let me tell you there was nothing beginner about that! I felt like I was plummeting to my death a few times while riding the brakes down the mtn, but after I relaxed a bit the ride went much smoother. All in all the ride was a blast, and now we are both ready for our next big purchase... a mountain bike.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What next?

Brandon and I have been on the road now for almost two weeks. During this journey we have done some great hikes, met some interesting people, and learned a lot about how to travel on a budget. We are both tired from packing so many things into what seemed to be a short trip but we're excited to get back to Estes and start our summer.

I'm not even sure where to start for this trip because it seemed to fly by and what we did at the begining of the journey seems like it happened last month!

Day 1 & 2 - Grand Junction, Palisade, Colorado National Monument

The start of our trip took us a short drive to Grand Junction. While we were there we of course visited all the city has to offer... Palisade (just outside of GJ) is in the bananna belt we were told which makes it a great climate for grape growing. We visited some of the many wineries, breweries, and even a distillery, and called it a night. We found a great state park to stay for the night and decided to throw everything into the front seats of the explorer, lay the seats down, and roll out our sleeping bags. What a great way to camp! Easy set up, no fee, warm, and comfortable... We got very used to this as the nights went on.

The next morning Kelty woke up of course before sunrise, so we were up bright and early to head to the Colorado National Monument. The morning was beautiful but the forcast called for rain so we were certain we would get rained out for our plans later in the day. After hiking around the Monument, Kelty was ready to get out of the car and we wanted to get to the Black Canyon for a backpacking trip. Brandon had researched this hike and was so excited for it. There was great fishing, sights, and a great hiking trail for Kelty. After driving two hours from the Monument we head down a dirt road to get to the trailhead. This road was another 30 minutes at the least and we still weren't there... We look into the distance and there is a huge grey cloud that looks as though a storm is near. I wasn't sure what to do because I knew Brandon had been looking forward to this hike, so I started packing things up. Hiking in the rain is one thing but when you are backpacking and all the stuff in your pack has a chance of getting soaked it could be a long night... then add a wet dog on top of that.. I did not think this was a great idea.

After talking it over we decided.. with much hesitation.. to turn the car back around. We were in the middle of nowhere, on a dirt road, and if the road got flooded from the rain we would be stuck in mud for who knows how long. This made me nervous, of course, and I was glad to be heading back to town towards the rain.

As we drove we noticed that the storm cloud never seemed to get closer (and we were driving towards it). We looked back to where we had come from and that storm cloud was there now! I was so confused... I have been in the Mountains for two summers now and have never misjudged a storm this much. To my surprise we find out it was a dust cloud. It was hovering over the city all day and the rain never came. I just wanted it to rain. But it never did.

Now that we had lost the entire second half of the day - and when I say that I mean two-thirds of the day because we were up by 5 - we decided to head to a brewery and get some happy hour drinks. As we were ordering our first two beers, a local of Montrose, CO, started conversation with us. We told Randy of our plans, or lack there of, and he had some suggestions for us. He seemed to know the area of the entire SW very well, so it was great information. We seem to make friends everywhere we go and here was no different. Randy, a contractor, was on his way to Telluride to work on a house there and he invited us to stay the night if we would be passing through anytime in the next week. What seemed to be a great offer and sounded like a lot of fun, we decided to pass because it was out of our way. Maybe next time we are offered to stay in a multimillion dollar house we won't pass it up. We exchanged numbers and went our separate ways for the night. Going back to the same state park we stayed at the night before.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Superior Hiking Trail

Well, we took four days to backpack the SHT April 16-19. We hiked 45 miles from Crosby SP to Silver bay and brought the pooch along on her first real adventure in the backcountry. The early spring allowed great weather in the 60s, with no snow and few people. This was our longest backpacking trip yet!

Day 1
We arrived in Silver Bay around 3 pm and hitched a ride with a local, so we could park our car at SB for our return on Monday. This is where we met Tony, our "cab driver," and took off to Crosby State Park. Us being unfamiliar with the area and Tony's lack of knowledge, left us stranded at Findland rec center, 7 miles away from where we originally planed to start. Not realizing this until he had already left, we had a 7 mile hike to the SP along the road. It wasn't ideal but who plans a trip where everything runs smoothly? Not us. As we hiked, we soaked in the great wilderness and it felt as if we were in true solitude. We walked beside moose and wolf tracks that were quite fresh on the shoulder of the road, and punched out the 7 miles in no time. We arrived at the SP before sunset, and set up camp in a nice spot by lake Bensen - in a no camping allowed area of course - oh well.

The road ahead.

Baptism River

Wolf Track

We made it!

Camp site Day 1

Day 2
We woke up early to get on the trail and make up for some lost mileage. We passed though beautiful birch forests and flowing streams. Kelty, our dog was loving every moment as she was free to roam as she pleased. This gave LeAnn some peace of mind knowing she wasn't going to be the one to encounter a wolf first on the trail, as Kelty was chasing anything that moved. Along the way Kelty was flushing many deer and grouse. In the back of our minds we were thinking what if Kelty encountered a moose or a wolf, would she chase that? Probably. Well, then what would happen... would she be a snack? Probably. I guess we were going to take the chance, she was having a ball. She's a scary dog she could probably hold her ground... ha!

Morning Day 2

Start of trail


Our first stop was Sonju Lake about 7 miles in, it was beautiful. The trail dropped down towards the lake and we grabbed a much needed lunch. LeAnn wrote in the register and me and Kelty scoped the lake for fish. I didn't see much going on so i kept the fly rod packed, and we were off on the trail again.

Sonju Lake

Next stop was Egge lake a few miles further and we soaked in the great views and grabbed some snacks. The sun felt so good after such a cold night in the tent. It must have dropped to the high 20's that night. On we went still trying to gain some miles for the day. We knew we would have to put in almost 20 miles in order to take the next 2 days easy. Around mile 14, Kelty was exhausted. We faced a dilemma to stop now, or to go another 4 miles to the next backcountry site. We decided it would be best to push Kelty another 4 miles so we could make it back to the car in time on Monday. She wasn't to excited about the decision as we looked at her all curled up ready for a nap. LeAnn and I were quite exhausted ourselves. LeAnn was feeling blisters setting in, and I was just aching from my heavy pack. We arrived at the Section 13 campsite around 5pm and we were all ready for some grub. The campsite was beautiful with a great panoramic view in which you could see for miles. Lake Superior was off in the distance to our east; what a beautiful view. Ready to eat just about anything, we cooked up one of our backcountry dinners and it smelt like a million bucks! As we dipped into the pasta we quickly changed our minds. After the first bite I looked down at the dog food that was getting devoured and almost thought that it might be a better choice. I never knew backcountry food could actually taste bad when you are so desperate for food. We opted for the alternative just add water rice and vegetables along with mashed potatoes. Which was much much better. We watched the sun set and set up camp, hung the bear bag, and then we're off to get some much needed sleep.

Kelty playing on "Old Trappers Cabin"

Kelty's condition 11.3 miles in on day 2



Camp site day 2

Hangin out

Day 3

We woke up numerous times during the night struggling to stay warm, I think Kelty felt the same. She's not the cuddling type but on this night she found a cozy spot between the two of us. I didn't think the warmth of the morning sun could come soon enough. At the first sign of light we were out of the tent and ready to tackle the new day. We cooked up some delicious oatmeal and drank our much needed instant coffee, and we were off again. The trail took us SE overlooking the Superior lake shore, up and down over bluffs. There was one stunning view after another. After such a long Iowa winter it felt so relaxing to be in the outdoors hiking and taking in the beautiful day. We approached an over look of Wolf lake about 6 miles in, and the vistas were amazing. Kelty ran to every edge looking down 200 ft cliffs every chance she got. LeAnn wasn't impressed with her daredevilish acts, saying "Kelty get back here!"

Morning Oatmeal

Me and Kelty

We entered Tettegouche State Park 4 miles later and hiked through a pine forest that was absolutely beautiful. We began to feel as if we were back to some sort of civilization, as we surprisingly approached a dog on the trail followed by a couple who was doing a day hike in the park. These were the first people we had seen in 3 days! On we went to high falls, where we stopped for a second lunch.

High Falls

We continued our adventure through the SP coming to a sign where we decided our destination for the night would be. We decided to try and make it to Bear Lake. That would put us at 16 miles for the day leaving 4 miles on day 4. As we neared the lake Kelty was looking quite worn out. We noticed this when she started to run ahead and lay down in the shade right in the middle of the trail. We took a few short breaks but encouraged her to press on. She was relentless and gave it her all until we reached the lake that evening. The second you think she has had enough she proves you wrong! Even when you think she's exaughisted she'll still find enough energy to chase anything that moves. With a couple miles to go she darted off trail and over a hill. Me and LeAnn looked at each other and just shook our heads. What is it now we asked ourselves. She came running back but then darted back over the hill out of sight. A second later we hear rustling and Kelty lets out a vicious snarl. She came sprinting back faster than ever and looked terrified... only for us to look up and see a porcupine scrambling up the tree. We checked her and were pleased to see that she hadn't been quilled.


We all arrived at the lake uninjured and ate up the rest of our food. We had the best meal of the trip (maybe the best backcountry meal ever) chicken noodle soup! I wet the line a bit before the sun was down and called it a night.

The next morning was a breeze and we arrived at the car (Siver Bay) around 10am! 45 miles later we were all exaughisted and decided to drive to Two Harbors for a real breakfast and a bloody mary!

Bear Lake

The trip was a blast and we might have over booked ourselves as far as miles goes but now we know for future reference. This was one of our favorite backpacking thus far! Enjoy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Me and kelty are sitting at home trying to figure out how to start this blog