#ForestFriday - Michigan's Upper Peninsula

This week, I'm sharing some photos you may have already viewed over on my Hike 20 post from my recent trip to Michigan.  I don't care if it's a cop out, the forest was gorgeous and quiet and deserves to be shared again.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is about a 2.5-3 hour drive north of my hometown, where I stay when visiting.  It was a warm morning, and the sun illuminated the lower levels, highlighting the ferns and mosses with a beautiful glow.  Everything was green and vibrant, making it feel so alive.

Happy Friday, enjoy the weekend ahead, and enjoy the forest photos.

#WayBackWednesday - Cedar Breaks National Monument

In honor of booking my flight for the 2nd Annual BFF Adventure, I'm throwing it back to our 1st annual trip.  I originally planned a solo excursion to Utah, but my BFF Molly decided to go and now it's an annual adventure for us.  Once spot we visited last year really stuck out for me and that was Cedar Breaks National Monument.  What a breathtaking, intense, and gorgeous place to feel small.  While I don't see us getting back to Cedar Breaks, I'll always have these memories - so enjoy a few photos.

Classic sign picture

View from the rim

Spectra Point - was a bit overwhelming to feel so high above the hoodoos

What do you spy with your little eye?

This year, we'll be hitting the ground in Utah again!  Molly has not been to Arches National Park, so we'll spend the majority of our time there.  I hope to hike to Delicate Arch right away, before crowds and heat, and then hit up the rest of the park after that.  So much to do, so little time!  Where is your favorite place in Utah?  After a Saturday in Arches, what would you recommend for half a Sunday?  Comment your idea or send me an email!  As always, thanks for following along and happy trails!

#MondayMotivation - Long Drive Ahead

Tahquamenon Falls - Upper Falls - December 2015

The trip to Michigan for my brother's wedding is finally here!  We leave tomorrow, Tuesday June 12, in the evening and will hopefully be to my hometown by Wednesday evening.  In the past, driving across the country or back to Michigan seemed a lot easier.  Nowadays, I'm exhausted by hour nine and ready to pull over.  Most of the time when we go to Michigan, we have such a limited time frame, we can't really plan for multiple day drives up or down.  Powering through is the only option ahead, and I'm going to use my upcoming hike at Tahquamenon Falls as motivation.  Oh, I suppose seeing the family is motivation too, but those falls...dang.

This will be the first big adventure for Oliver the Outback, and I couldn't be happier about our destination.  It will be good to get some adventure miles instead of just the obscene amount of commuter miles I've put on since last July.

This is my first step in getting back on track with my outdoor plans and personal goals.  I'm using this trip, this drive, and this upcoming hike as motivation to get back to my normal existence.  I've had plenty of great days and fun destinations locally, but there is just something about a trip out of state to shake things up and make you appreciate life all over again.  Once I accomplish this hike, I know I'll want to keep going even once back here in the hot, humid, sun drenched land that is known as Texas.

These routes take anywhere between 19-24 hours, depending on traffic and weather.

#ForestFriday - Cape Flattery

"Walking through the forest on the west coast will always be a treat to me"

Today I'm looking back on a 2009 trip to the northwest tip of the contiguous US.  Two of my best friends and I were on one of our cross-country road trips and decided we needed to see Cape Flattery - if for no other reason than to say we went to one of the most northwest tips of the US.  The forest was lovely, as forests are, but I can still remember being amazed by the turquoise water crashing on the rocks below more than anything else.  I've attached a few photos of the trail and the views.

To park in the lot with the trailhead, you need to obtain a permit from the Makah Reservation.  I've included a link to get more information about where to find that pass and a little background on the Makah Tribe.

Makah Tribe Website // Cape Flattery Trail Information

The platform with all the views...

#WayBackWednesday - An August Weekend

At the cottage with my grandparents was one of my favorite places to be.  We always went on boat rides in the evenings, during cocktail hour before dinner, and spent the days prior soaking up the sun or swimming after yard work.  I miss being so close to the cottage, I miss Phil, I miss their old dog Abbey.  Things have changed so much, but I will never forget the good times that are frozen in time with these photos from August of 2009.  Forever my favorite place, with some of my favorite people.

The back of our family's cottage - my grandparents lived out here from late spring til fall.

View of the cottage from the front, out on the water.

Coreopsis - my grandmother's favorite

Clematis crawling all over the garage

My "step" grandfather (he was part of my life 1991 til his death this year) and my grandmother, on our evening cocktail pontoon cruise

Abbey the dog, in some of her best years.  This dog was just the best - lovable, fun, friendly, and always up for a boat ride.

Crescent Island - out in front of our cottage.

Nothing caps off a day on the lake quite like a sunset over the bay.

#MondayMotivation - Slacker Edition

Self-inflicted bullshit is the easiest to create and hardest to destroy.

I've been slacking.  I've been kind of out of control with certain aspects in my life and it's taking a toll on me.  Yesterday, I started to clean and organize the apartment and that brought some clarity to my brain.  It's time to take control and stop living in a free fall.  I need routines and structures and it will take a little while to build them up, but I'm working towards it as an overall goal.

Back to my hiking routines, cleaning routines, morning routines, and cooking routines.  I've been avoiding cooking, leaving laundry all over, not cleaning up after the cooking I do, and generally being a slob-lazy-bum.  It's easy for me to blame this on whatever, but really it's only I who can snap the hell out of it a get into a better head space.  I'm working to find the positives, find the organization, and crawl back up to a normal existence.

It's been a weird few months with the death of my grandfather, the onset of hot weather, the general boredom of local trails, too much alcohol, too much fast food, and the general dislike I've been feeling towards my body.  I'm certainly past due to get my shit together and get to hiking regularly, living within my means, smiling more often, eating food for fuel, and sleeping well again.

#ForestFriday - Special Edition

It's been a little while since I've made a post, mostly because I've been lazy but also because I've been doing other things.  Anyway.  This edition of Forest Friday is a few highlights from a very brief trip to Sequoia/Kings Canyon last August.  Enjoy and may the forest be with you.

General Grant Grove

The General Sherman

#MondayMotivation - Just keep going!

Personal goals are a way for me to focus my direction in life and fun way for me to keep track of activities, health stats, and personal achievements.  I used to set unattainable goals that weren't smart or helpful.  Now, I set goals in a much more logical sense that are both attainable and challenging while remaining flexible.

Current Goals:

  • Prepare to backpack this fall - drop some weight, increase cardio, etc.
  • Plan for an affordable trip w/ my BFF - sometime at the end of summer or fall that fits in to our busy schedules and doesn't cost a fortune
  • Hike 400 miles this year - which would almost double what I did in 2017 (hike your own hike, people)
  • Get back to the Olympic Peninsula this fall/winter, if an affordable option can be found for a long weekend
  • Lose 34 lbs by my 34th birthday, which is just over 6 months (a work in progress)
  • Fit into the puffy vest I bought that's a little too tight, by winter
  • Drink enough water to feel hydrated, daily
  • Stop using online shopping and eating as therapy for stressful days

Not everything goes as planned, but as long as I have the goals I have a path to get back to if I stray too far one way or another.  One day I may eat too much or not drink enough water, but I can correct that action and try again.  It may rain and prevent a hike or outdoor exercise, but I have other days or an indoor gym to use as a backup.  Travel may never be affordable enough in the time constraints of life, but we can always find something less exciting to work for our trip if necessary to hang out for a weekend.  I can always keep going and so can you.

My words of wisdom:  work towards your goals, set them accordingly, and don't beat yourself up if you have to change the plan to get to them.  Setting smaller goals, or levels of achievement towards a final goal, can really help break it down and make it seem less daunting overall.  Be realistic, yet push yourself to a new level.  (I'll be taking my own advice here, by the way)

If you've read this, I hope you have a great week ahead, thanks for stopping by! - Mike

#WayBackWednesday - Grand Canyon North Rim!

This week, the Grand Canyon North Rim opens for visitors.  It's a special place, and it's only open until early October.  I visited in October of 2011, and it was magic.  The aspens were yellow, the sun was bright, and the crowds were minimal.  This was my first time seeing the Grand Canyon, and it set a pretty high standard for the South Rim.  I finally visited the South Rim in 2013, and I must say the North Rim is my favorite but they're both spectacular.  Can't wait to make a trip back to the North Rim, but until then I'll just enjoy the memories through these photos.  I hope you you can find the time and resources in your life to visit this special place - it'll take your breath away in person.  Enjoy the photos and have a great hump day.

We arrived in the evening, here's the moon over the Grand Canyon.

Good morning North Rim!

October 2011 - Yellow aspens, snow on the ground.... almost closing time for the North Rim.

#MondayMotivation - Reflect & Regroup.

I think losing someone you love is a long, slow burn. There's the initial spark of immediate grief followed by the moments along the way when they come up and you remember again that they’re gone.  It's not bad, it's not good, it's just life. I feel eventually it’ll just be a low flicker or that tiny flame that will never go out. For now, with everything so fresh, it’s one of those big bonfires you have one when you drink a little too much.

It's been four years since my granny passed and only days since my grandfather and it's the same “woah” feeling every time I come across some random thing that makes me think of either of them.  A memory, a moment, something they would have loved, or something they helped me achieve. I’m not one to dwell on things, but I have been known to get caught up in a moment every now and then and completely lose it over something so small but so important to my memory.  Today I’m using the grief, the moments, the memories, and the flames of loved ones who have passed as motivation to continue to live a life I love and move forward with purpose. I remember the people who passed as strong, helpful, and wise in their own ways and if here, now,  would only continue to push me forward and motivate me to be a better human. Use your pain, past experiences, and downtrodden moments as fuel to keep moving. If you don’t have inspiration right now, take some of mine and run with it, I don’t mind.

Death has this cliche effect on me that causes me to reflect and regroup.  I think it’s natural, from what I’ve read, but I feel it's still cliche and a little absurd.  I wonder if I’m living life the way I should or taking care of myself enough, among other things.  I really do like the excuse to reflect and regroup, but I need to do it more consistently along the way - not just when I lose a loved one.  Here’s to more reflection, but not too much that I fall into a downward spiral of doubt - a happy balance.

Happy trails and I wish anyone reading this a wonderful week ahead.

#MondayMotivation - Driving helps me organize my thoughts

I'm looking back at the past 18 months or so and I can hardly believe that I accomplished something as simple and motivated as hiking every week for a year.  I finally got out to hike yesterday after being sick to my stomach the previous Sunday and it was as Invigorating as I had hoped it would be.  I went somewhere new, saw new landscapes, and felt the sun beat down on me once again.  I hiked five miles, not the furthest by far, but far enough to find joy again.  I drove three hours to hike and wander for just about the same, but it was worth every minute.  Driving used to be my thing - set some music, open the moonroof, hit the road, process everything in the world, and return in a better place.  The recent drive to the wildlife refuge in Oklahoma brought me close to that old feeling of driving therapy and made the hike even better.  My brain was relaxed, my mind was flowing, and my body was ready for the day.  I look forward to more long drives to hiking destinations to give me a moment with the open road, my thoughts, and nothing else.

I had some thoughts while driving home, this is a snippet of me just getting the words out so I can reflect.  I'm truly grateful to have the ability to live this life and I look forward to building on the experiences of the past year and a half.  I hope you all can find some inspiration out there and keep pushing forward.

#ForestFriday - The Greenbelt in Austin, TX

To any Austin, TX resident or visitor, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is a definite source for cooling off in the summer and exercising any time of year!  Here are some photos from my various visits to parts of the Greenbelt over the years.  Urban forests deserve all the love too!  Go love the trees and make sure you take care of your urban green spaces.

**Unfortunately, some people can't respect the urban trees and they take abuse like this graffiti

#NationalParkWeek ...I missed #ParkChat

I was a little busy during this week's #ParkChat, so I'm taking the opportunity to answer the questions now to help explore the topic for myself.  Feel free to read along or pass on this one, either way Happy National Park Week!

Q1: What is your favorite book about the national parks that we may not know about? Is there a book you love that features one of the amazing landscapes within our national parks?

A1: An interesting book that I read was Ranger Confidential by Andrea Lankford and it discussed the real life situations of being a park ranger at prominent National Park locations.

Q2: It’s #NationalParkWeek, let’s kick this off right by posting a picture of your favorite National Park! What makes this park particularly special for you?

A2: I could easily pick any park as my favorite, but the Redwoods are my special place.  I've been here the most, would return in a second, and have so much more to see.  This ecosystem is just completely fascinating, the height of the trees is remarkable, and the fact that the parks encompass a variety of areas is very nice.  I've been four times, with each time being a slightly different experience.  The more I learn, the more I yearn to return.

Q3: If tomorrow you could become the superintendent of any NPS unit, which one do you pick and why? #ParkChat

A3: Olympic National Park

Q4: What is the most unique or special souvenir that you have from a trip to the national parks? Share a picture if you have one!

A4: We collect magnets from special places – parks, points of interest, etc.  I try to focus on memories and photos, but if we can we’ll snag a magnet.

Don't mind the delicious Oberon in the way, just know there is a fridge full of magnets behind it.

Q5: Let’s celebrate the partners that make the #NPS work so well. Who is your favorite NPS concessionaire, in terms of activities, transportation, food, or lodging? Tell us why you appreciate their role!

A5: I really enjoy the WNPA and NPCA as coordinating groups for their work in protecting and preserving our parks.  I don’t know much about concessions, as I do not deal much with lodging or dining in parks, but these two organizations really stand out in my brain as immediate assets to the NPS.

Q6: Share a great budget saving tip for exploring #NPS units that we may not know about!

A6: Bring your own food or buy it from a grocery store on the way! Camp on BLM lands or state parks, and plan ahead to know exactly what it will take to enjoy the trip.  Here are some of my favorite reference points from a well-traveled, budget friendly adventure guy.


Q7: National park #61 is coming soon! Who do you think will win the race to #61?

A7: I don’t feel the need to contribute to this topic, though I’ll say I’ve been to #60 back when it wasn’t #60 and I think it could have stayed that way. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Q8: What historical figure do you feel is currently left out of the National Park System? Who should have their own site, where, and why?

A8: I feel we need to honor those who lived these lands before us as.

Q9: We love camping, but we also love lodges and hotels! What’s the most interesting lodge or hotel you’ve stayed in on a parks trip? Have you stayed at a lodge or hotel that is on your parks bucket list?

A9: Grand Canyon North Rim lodge was very memorable.

Q10: Which park has the best or most awesome visitor center? What is remarkable about it—the exhibit? The staff? The setting? The connection to the community? Do tell…

A10: I loved the staff at the Hoh Rainforest recently – very helpful and friendly.  I just love every visitor center because I learn so much.

#ForestFriday - Sleeping Bear Dunes Backcountry

In 2010 I embarked on the one and only backpacking trip I've ever taken, to date, and it was in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore White Pine Backcountry area of Northwest Lower Michigan.  Wow, that was a mouthful.  My buddy and I packed up, (he mostly) carried in a normal sized tent, normal sized gear, and beer, and camped at site number 1.  It was nice to be away from most people and so close to the lake.  The hike in was about 2 miles, and you can find out more information about the area HERE.  Enjoy some photos I found from the trip.  Enjoy the forest near you!

#WayBackWednesday - Delicate Arch

In today's look back, I'm going to Arches.  I've been there a few times, but one of the best visits included the hike to Delicate Arch in 2010.  This was back when I was still pretty inexperienced with hiking, so I remember the trek getting to the arch pretty vividly.  We hiked over expansive red rock surfaces, across streams of melting snow, and through snow that still existed in the shade.

Once at the arch, you realize that rock formation you saw from distance is HUGE.  It's overwhelmingly large, actually.  Stand there, at Delicate Arch, you feel small in only a way the best things in nature can do.  The red rock swirls around, there are formations in the distance, and mountains through the clouds.  We were lucky, the sun came out and it didn't rain/snow on us like it was off in the distance.

A year prior, my friend and I camped at Arches NP and hiked to many of the other popular landscapes, but the hike to Delicate Arch always sticks with me.  For more information on the hike, history, etc, check out this link to the NPS website.

Where have you hiked that left a particularly memorable impression?

#MondayMotivation - From puffy body to wearing that puffy vest

Disclaimer: This is a little more personal and a little less outdoorsy.  If that's not your thing, just check back for another post celebrating the outdoors later this week.

April 2012 - Bloated and puffy, motivational poster against drinking too much and eating whatever you want

This photo, from April of 2012, is one of my most motivating photos.  This photo showcases my puffiest time - the first time I was truly uncomfortable with my appearance and weight.  My weight has fluctuated so much in the past seven years, it's crazy.  Since moving to Texas seven years ago, I've consumed more calories per day than I ever have before.  From lazy days drinking on the water to just having more access to eating out, I know I have an unhealthy relationship with food.  Knowing this, it doesn't really mean I can manage the problem without a level discipline I often lack and can easily excuse.  In the past seven years, my weight has fluctuated 70 pounds which proves one thing: with discipline, I can make it happen even if it has been only temporary.

My favorite excuses:

  • I commuted, worked, commuted, and now I'm tired
  • We can't walk to the park
  • The trails are gross around here
  • I'm tired
  • It's just easier to go get food instead of making it
  • Portion control and good foods are boring
  • You only live once

Damn, I'm good at excuses.  I often use other people to get out of exercise or eating well, and I am really good at justifying anything bad because it tastes good.

What I know I need to do:

  • Cook at home, regardless of time or what my other half wants
  • Stop relying on other people to motivate me
  • Stop saying I'm tired - I can easily go walk a few miles after work
  • Stop drinking as much alcohol
  • Hike more and plan for it to be more adventurous
  • Really do the couch to 5K instead of just pretending

I always KNOW what I need to do - it's just a matter of doing it.  There's always an event, an outing, a celebration, SOMETHING.

This post is supposed to be motivational, or inspire change so I'm going to try.  I know what I have to do, and I know it can be done because I've done it.  I know health is an even more important factor than looking puffy, so there's that too.  Here's to trying new things, staying motivated, and knowing it's all about balance.  Here's to the 50th time I've tried this whole balance thing, and here's to hoping I've set up my plans and tools for success.

Sources of inspiration:

  • Fellow outdoorsy people - doing all the outdoorsy things I want to do
  • Mountains - I wanna climb your pretty rocks
  • All these damn babies my friends/family are having - I'd like to be the cool "uncle" who takes them on adventures and shit...can't do that from the grave or being out of shape
  • My puffy vest in my closet that is just a little too tight (and several other things, but mostly the vest)
  • Just the hope that I'll feel better about participating in group outdoorsy activities
  • My dog and his need to sniff and exercise too
  • My 2013 body, it was my favorite.  I wasn't my lowest weight, but I felt the best.

I have a lot of anxiety around hiking with people.  I always open my hikes to anyone interested in going, but I'm secretly terrified someone will judge my speed or ability.  I definitely hike my own hike - I sweat a lot, drink a ton of water, and am still mastering elevation changes.  I don't give up on my hikes, so why should I give up so easily on my everyday life?

Things I aim to do this summer that would be easier with a little less weight/a little better breathing:

  • Canoeing when I'm up in Michigan!
  • Hiking from Upper to Lower Tahquamenon Falls
  • Bike rides
  • Morning park walks w/ the dog
  • Evening hikes

I secretly love running.  Back in 2012/2013 I kind of got into it when I was living mostly alone and had a lot of time on my hands since my roommate worked away for weeks at a time and my other half was 40 miles away and in school full-time.  I used to incorporate running into my routine walks, especially up the hills and I always felt so damn alive.  I think I'd like to trail run or run a 5K or 10K, but I know it will require full dedication and a lot less bullshit than I allow right now.

I used to publicize these feelings and goals, then I stopped because I was such a failure and I'd essentially be lying about progress or motivation.  I'm trying again, to be vocal and public about this for my own reference and so people close to me can point it out and give me shit if they notice I'm a little too off course.

A few little goals:

  • In a healthy way, lose 34 pounds and maintain that loss before turning 34 in December
  • Before going to Michigan in June, drop some weight and at least be exercising daily until then
  • Start using the VERY NICE gym at our new apartment complex - baby steps, though
  • PLAN AHEAD to avoid most excuses... grocery shop like a normal person, check the weather for the week, and set aside time in advance

I had a real wake up call when I wen up the trail to Mt. Storm King... I am way the hell out of shape.  I don't want to feel that inadequate again - especially when exploring beautiful places.

Being chubby/fat/out of shape doesn't mean I'm incapable of doing things, it just means it takes a lot more work.  I'd like to work harder now so I can get even more out of my adventures, hikes, camping trips, etc.

I hope you all find your motivation, continue to enjoy life the best you can, and maybe even find some motivation in my endless post about excuses and bullshit.  Happy trails!

Here are some photos highlighting my general shape and face for each year beginning in 2012.

December 2012 - One of my lowest weights, wearing a size or two smaller shirt even!

May 2013 - Pants were several sizes smaller, shirt the same but fit better, and I looked good.  Up a little from 2012, but still good. GOALS...

August 2014 - We took a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and I'm puffy again.

March 2015 - Puffy AF at Zion NP and not even trying at this point in life

June 2016 - I had been trying, but soon gave up (again)

February 2017 - I had been working on losing weight and getting healthy before a trip to Minnesota, less puffy but it didn't last.  Puffy again by summer.

March 2018 - puffy again, but still capable

#ForestFriday - Herman Vogler Conservation Area

Back in my hometown of Rogers City, MI there is a park called the Herman Vogler Conservation Area.  The park has a few trails over the river and through the woods just down the road from my grandparent's house.

This place is special because my grandma would take us there to cross-country ski and walk the trails all throughout my childhood.  I have fond memories of muddy feet in the spring and sore back sides from falling while skiing in the winter.  This park is where I learned to love cross-country skiing and reminds me how much I miss it!

At the end of 2017, I was fortunate enough to be up in Michigan for the holidays and did my final two hikes of the 52 Hike Challenge 2017 here.  Hike #51 & Hike #52  Both hikes were through the snow, and both brought back memories instantly.  I hold this place near to my heart and look to it as a way to remember the good times from childhood, especially now that my grandparents are older and less active.

The photos below are from a visit my BFF Molly and I made in October of 2009.  Enjoy the forest and happy trails!

#WayBackWednesday - My first visit to the Pacific Coast

In 2007, I saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.  Two of my friends and I were on a road trip to see the country because we grew up in Northern Michigan without many trips out.  When I tell stories about adventure or finding my passion for public lands, they all start with this road trip in 2007.  I was 23 years old, didn't know what I wanted to do with myself, and was STILL in school because I was afraid to move on/got real lazy towards the end.  The trip of 2007, that had me seeing mountains, deserts, and the ocean for the first time really did change my perspective on life. 

Since the 2007 trip was adventurous and successful, we wanted more for 2008.  In 2007 we planned a bit, but much of it was improvisation.  For 2008, we planned a bit more and added thousands of miles to the itinerary to include a variety of landscapes.  In 2008, I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time.  Ten years and one month ago, I was driving south on US-101 from Washington to Redwood National & State Parks.  To this day, I can remember one of the morning drives and the smell of the sea air.  My first visit to the Pacific Northwest/Pacific Coast was memorable to say the least.  We stopped at many little beaches, got our feet wet, and watched the sun dance on the water.  Here are a few photos from that time in 2008 that continued to change my outlook on life, one gorgeous rest stop after another.  Is it any wonder why I've been obsessed with the Pacific Northwest since 2008?

#ForestFriday - Quinault Rain Forest Adventure

I had been to the Hoh Rain Forest before, but had never even heard of Quinault until my most recent visit to the Olympic Peninsula.  I was making my travel plans and took the suggestion of an awesome guidebook, and several people, to explore the Quinault area.  I didn't quite know what to expect, but I left from breakfast at the Kalaloch Lodge with an open mind and nearly an empty tank of gas - so I had to stop anyway.  I gassed up, turned on to the South Shore Road and was instantly in love with the area.

Highlights: Gorgeous lake views, rivers and creeks, waterfalls, moss-covered trees, mountain views, and more.

I drove South Shore Road, with a few stops to walk around, deep into the valley and back on the North Shore Road.  Do it however you want, but make sure you drive the North Shore Road.  Enjoy the forest, wherever you can!

You technically enter the National Park along the dirt road deep into the valley, I'm assume after leaving it for Olympic National Forest.  The borders and boundaries flow together.

Bunch Falls - just behind the sign in the first photo.

The road narrows further into the woods and as it comes around and becomes the North Shore Road.

The North Shore Road is more scenic with less houses and resort stuff overall.  Here's a narrow spot with a steep drop-off!

Along the Maple Glade trail, you'll follow a creek with vibrant green plants, moss covered trees, and plenty to see.

As you walk or drive through, you'll notice how these plants all live together - dependant on one another for survival.

A panorama along the Maple Glade trail.  You must see it in person to fully appreciate, but this is a good preview.  Stunning natural beauty.