100 Days of National Parks: Day 37 – Cable Mountain, Zion National Park

Atop Cable Mountain

There’s something about climbing to the top of a mountain or ridgeline and looking out across the landscape laid out below that always appeals to me. I think it’s the sense of perspective, literal and figurative, that I get on the world and the places I travel. There’s no place I like to do this more than along the rims of Zion National Park.

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Cable Mountain

Atop Cable Mountain
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There’s something about climbing to the top of a mountain or ridgeline and looking out across the landscape laid out below that always appeals to me.  I think it’s the sense of perspective, literal and figurative, that I get on the world and the places I travel.  There’s no place I like to do this more than along the rims of Zion National Park.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 37 – Cable Mountain, Zion National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 36 – Mist Falls, King’s Canyon National Park

My first taste of hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains came in August of 2012, when I took a three day weekend and traveled up to King’s Canyon National Park in California, not knowing what to expect. It was my first solo camping trip in ages, and I’d just heard the Park existed. I knew about Sequoia, naturally, which extends to the south of King’s Canyon and forms one massive National Park area covering the majority of the southern end of the High Sierras, but King’s Canyon was a mystery.

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Mist Falls

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My first taste of hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains came in August of 2012, when I took a three day weekend and traveled up to King’s Canyon National Park in California, not knowing what to expect.  It was my first solo camping trip in ages, and I’d just heard the Park existed.  I knew about Sequoia, naturally, which extends to the south of King’s Canyon and forms one massive National Park area covering the majority of the southern end of the High Sierras, but King’s Canyon was a mystery.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 36 – Mist Falls, King’s Canyon National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 30 – Doe, a Deer; Olympic National Park

Wildlife encounters when you’re in the backcountry can be some of the most exciting, and unexpected times that you can spend in the wilderness. When I’m hiking or backpacking, I’m often lost in my own thoughts, and invariably get surprised when I come across another life along the trail, be it person or creature. Most of the time these moments are fleeting, an elk bounding up fern-covered incline above me, or a marmot scurrying behind a rock as I walk past. Sometimes these moments are terrifying, like a bear encounter in the mountains, or lifting my pack to find a scorpion the size of my hand. Rarely, though, I get the chance to really observe the animal I come across, to connect with it for more than those few brief seconds it takes for it to run away.

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Doe, A Deer

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Wildlife encounters when you’re in the backcountry can be some of the most exciting, and unexpected times that you can spend in the wilderness.  When I’m hiking or backpacking, I’m often lost in my own thoughts, and invariably get surprised when I come across another life along the trail, be it person or creature.  Most of the time these moments are fleeting, an elk bounding up fern-covered incline above me, or a marmot scurrying behind a rock as I walk past.  Sometimes these moments are terrifying, like a bear encounter in the mountains, or lifting my pack to find a scorpion the size of my hand.  Rarely, though, I get the chance to really observe the animal I come across, to connect with it for more than those few brief seconds it takes for it to run away.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 30 – Doe, a Deer; Olympic National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 21 – Arguing Old Men, Canyonlands

I’m a big fan of the pareidolia effect, seeing familiar patterns where they don’t exist, like seeing shapes in the clouds, or faces in tortillas. Walking through the spires and rock formations of Canyonlands’ Needles District, I find it impossible not to do this, as around every corner, there seems to be some new, alien rock formation that seems impossible to have been created on this planet.

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Arguing Old Men

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I’m a big fan of the pareidolia effect, seeing familiar patterns where they don’t exist, like seeing shapes in the clouds, or faces in tortillas.  Walking through the spires and rock formations of Canyonlands’ Needles District, I find it impossible not to do this, as around every corner, there seems to be some new, alien rock formation that seems impossible to have been created on this planet.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 21 – Arguing Old Men, Canyonlands”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 12 – At the Goblin Gates, Olympic National Park

The Goblin Gates of the Elwha River in Olympic National Park are fairly easily accessible, located just a few miles from the Whiskey Bend Trailhead in the northern part of the park. This dramatic start of the Elwha Gorge is breathtaking in person, as the narrow gap in the rocks funnels the river past in a rushing torrent, the swirling waters outside the “Gates” a dizzying eddy in the impressive, and important, river.
A few miles downstream from this spot, the Elwha passes through another, far deeper canyon, Glines Canyon, where the biggest dam removal project in U.S. history was completed in 2014, allowing access to critical spawning grounds for several species of salmon. This proved to be one of the most important ecological victories of the conservation movement in recent memory, and a testament to the importance of clear waterways. Since the dam’s removal, there has been a significant rise in spawning salmon and trout populations, and the ensuing increase in biodiversity has been directly linked to the removal of the dam. More information about the removal can be found here.
I look forward to my next trip up the Elwha, perhaps later this spring when the melting snow higher in the mountains pushes the flow through the canyon to its heights. It’s really an impressive place, and just one of many spectacular sights in the Olympic Wilderness.

At the Goblin Gates

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The Goblin Gates of the Elwha River in Olympic National Park are fairly easily accessible, located just a few miles from the Whiskey Bend Trailhead in the northern part of the park. This dramatic start of the Elwha Gorge is breathtaking in person, as the narrow gap in the rocks funnels the river past in a rushing torrent, the swirling waters outside the “Gates” a dizzying eddy in the impressive, and important, river.

A few miles downstream from this spot, the Elwha passes through another, far deeper canyon, Glines Canyon, where the biggest dam removal project in U.S. history was completed in 2014, allowing access to critical spawning grounds for several species of salmon.  This proved to be one of the most important ecological victories of the conservation movement in recent memory, and a testament to the importance of clear waterways.  Since the dam’s removal, there has been a significant rise in spawning salmon and trout populations, and the ensuing increase in biodiversity has been directly linked to the removal of the dam.  More information about the removal can be found here.

I look forward to my next trip up the Elwha, perhaps later this spring when the melting snow higher in the mountains pushes the flow through the canyon to its heights.  It’s really an impressive place, and just one of many spectacular sights in the Olympic Wilderness.