national park

#WayBackWednesday - Cedar Breaks National Monument

In 2017 I had planned to take a solo trip to Utah with two main stops: Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument. The trip went from a solo adventure to a BFF adventure and the points of interest on the “must see” list expanded just a little. I was excited, because why not share all of the beauty Utah has to offer with someone who gets me and who I hadn’t seen in months or more? We had an excellent trip and saw plenty of beauty, but the one place that stands out in my mind is Cedar Breaks National Monument. The vistas, the hike around the rim, and the drive to and from the monument are all burned into my memory. I still think of the views, over a year later. I must get back!

I arrived in SLC on Friday, as did my BFF Molly, and we spent the night in a southern suburb. Saturday came, and was spent driving and exploring the route from SLC to Bryce Canyon. We caught a sunset at BC and headed to Cedar City for the night. The original plan was to catch the sunrise at Cedar Breaks, but we got there a little after. The sun was up and the place was illuminated. We started at Point Supreme Overlook and were amazed. We hiked the trail along the rim out to Spectra Point. Standing out on Spectra Point is a moment in my brain that I’ll never forget and would never want to forget. After taking it all in, looking over the edge, and smiling a ton, we made it back to the information center.

I have never felt a rush quite like the one I felt hiking out to Spectra Point. It was exhilarating, breathtaking, and liberating all at once. I have not felt a rush like that of walking along the rim since then. Enjoy a few photos from the trip and feel free to comment/connect with questions or your stories regarding Cedar Breaks!

#WayBackWednesday - Bryce Canyon

Visiting Bryce Canyon during the summer was a dream come true. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I did get to go and I got to spend the weekend with my BFF. We drove into Bryce Canyon and went directly to Rainbow Point at the end of the scenic drive. We did a little hike around there and hopped back in and stopped at every scenic turnout back to the entrance. We ended the quick day trip at Sunset Point before leaving the park. The day was a whirlwind, as we drove from Salt Lake City that morning. I had only been to Bryce Canyon in the winter, so seeing it thawed and glowing of pink and orange was something special. Enjoy these photos - I hope they transport you to Utah and you find some inspiration for your next trip!

Click here to learn about the people who lived on the lands known as Bryce Canyon National Park before any white settlers even found it… Always remember to respect the land and the history associated with the land. If you visit Bryce Canyon, remember to leave no trace. Click here for more info on how to visit a place and leave no trace.

#ForestFriday - Driving Through the Big Trees

I love the giant trees of Redwood National & State Parks. I seriously think of them on a weekly basis and always try to find a way to get back to them. I love standing under them, hiking with them, and driving very slowly through them. Enjoy a few photos of the drive along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. (Photos from August 2017)

#MondayMotivation - Find your mountain

I want to backpack in or around Mount Rainier National Park the next time I go there. So, until solid goals are set, the motivation for any exercise or healthy habits is this photo:

Find your motivation and get to it. I really needed this little adventure to kick my ass into gear. I feel alive again, truly! I am thankful to have people in my life that were willing to show me these places that keep me wanting to be better as a human.

#WayBackWednesday - Arches!

My process for Way Back Wednesday:

  1. Create a huge list of possible ideas, become determined to pick something

  2. Forget about the list and just scroll through all of my photos until something just speaks to me

I love to plan things out, but I hate sticking to a plan. Whatever. Here are a few shots from Arches National Park this past August that stood out and whispered through the digital waves to share them again. Arches is easily one of my favorite places and I see it differently every time I visit. Enjoy this week of Way Back Wednesday that doesn’t go WAY back at all.

#WayBackWednesday - Cool at the Canyon

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This is going to have to be a quick post, but it’s my website so I can do whatever I want. This week has been busy, but let’s throw it back to March of 2015 at the Grand Canyon. My other half and our best friend Nikki set out on a road trip (which will be featured eventually - it’s a work in progress) to see the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and Zion. Here are a few photos from the South Rim on that cool March morning.

#ForestFriday - Sable Falls (Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)

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Sable Falls is located in the wonderful Upper Peninsula of Michigan within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore site. You take a short hike to a bunch of stairs and then there's a gorgeous waterfall. Along the trail, you can see Lake Superior just above the trees. I first saw this place on a 2001 road trip around Lake Superior with my grandparents and it's been one of my favorites ever since.

Here are some shots from both fall and winter, my favorite seasons, so you can get the full experience.

I hope you find yourself in a forest this weekend!

 
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#ForestFriday - the Ozette Loop

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to visit Olympic National Park up in NW Washington. I was referred to the Ozette Triangle because it is a spectacular trail with a mix of forest and beach hiking that gives you the perfect mix.  It is about a 9 mile trail that can be done in one day as I did or one that can be done with an overnight stay along the beach, just get a permit.  Here are a few photos from the forest portion.  Happy (Forest) Friday and I hope you can get out this weekend - I know I'm going to try!

#ForestFriday - Hoh Rain Forest

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When I visited this area of Olympic National Park in March, I had sunny skies and mild temperatures.  With my limited time, I opted to walk the Hall of Mosses trail and a little of the Hoh River trail.  The drive in and out of the Hoh Rain Forest was a real treat, following the river with little openings exposing the mountains in the background.  Enjoy the mosses, ferns, and trees from my quick, but beautiful trip.


The forested mountains peak through each break in the trees along the road in and out.


The water is so clear, everyone was standing around in amazement.

#WayBackWednesday - Big Bend

I've been thinking of Big Bend often and I can't wait to schedule a trip back out there.  The park entrance is about 7.5 hours from my house, with another hour or so of driving within the park to get to the Chisos Basin Campground.  Big Bend is HUGE and it can easily take all day to drive through if you're stopping for little hikes and viewpoints - as we did.  I'd really enjoy going back to spend time exploring one area or backpacking a specific trail. Being honest with myself, I'll go back in any way I can and with anyone willing to enjoy the experience.  Here are some photos from a trip in January of 2014 with my other half and one of our best friends. 

Classic entrance sign photo

A view while driving down into Big Bend

Morning views from the campsite in Chisos Basin Campground

More driving views

Rio Grande!

Sotol Vista Overlook views

Santa Elena Canyon views

Santa Elena Canyon Trail friendship selfie. <3

#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

#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.


http://justgetoutmore.com/camping-no-im-just-sleeping-at-a-campsite/
http://justgetoutmore.com/travel-camping-how-to-fly-and-camp-in-a-rental-car/
http://justgetoutmore.com/in-defense-of-traveling-fast/


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.

No Resolutions

Things I'm going to accomplish or adjust in 2018:

  • Since I've discovered podcasts, my audio book obsession has dwindled so I'm going to read more.  I have a stack of books and a few more on the Kindle waiting, here we go!
  • I'm going to make sure my Subaru Outback is in every adventure photo I can so I can prove to them I deserve to be a Subaru Ambassador.  I was rejected in 2017, but here's to hoping for acceptance in 2018.
  • I'm going to increase my overall hiking distance to 300+ miles from the 212 last year.  Check out more at 52 Hikes With Mike.
  • I'm going backpacking for a long weekend.
  • I will climb a peak - hopefully Guadalupe Peak at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
  • I will visit more National Parks, Monuments, and Preserves here in Texas this year.  I'm hoping to include Big Thicket National Preserve, Padre Island National Seashore, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and maybe even a return trip to Big Bend National Park.
  • I will be moving this year, in March, and the new place will have a room to store my gear so it's not disorganized and cramped into a tiny closet.

If you'd like to follow along as I attempt to get healthy, see my intro here and check back weekly for updates.  Here's to a healthy, happy, and prosperous year ahead.  If you'd like to hike with me in 2018, contact me through my about page or find me on Twitter!

Seeing can mean believing.

**Seeing can mean believing... more of my opinions on inclusiveness in the parks.**

I know some people who have gone to National Parks.  They have seen the majestic beauty, right along side me, and have proclaimed how beautiful it was aloud.  These same friends, they don't really go to National Parks that often or at all anymore which is okay.  These people saw the beauty, believe in the beauty, and will remember the beauty of these wonderful places forever.  THIS IS IMPORTANT.

A National Park may not be their family vacation destination every time, but they may return someday.  These people understand the importance, value, and impact these places have on the general population.  They get it - because they've been there.  Because these people have been there, they get why it's important to protect and fund these places.  These people then connect National Parks and the preservation ideals to other natural areas that need preservation.  It can build.

Visiting a National Park, once or twice, has left an impression on these people.  Will they return? Maybe.  Will they remember the good times there and what those parks stand for? Definitely.  It just takes one time, even if nature isn't their thing, for someone to fall in love with the idea of National Parks, Monuments, Forests, etc.

Plant the seed and see what grows.  We need to continue to get people of all areas of life/status/etc to these place to see for themselves - maybe only once.  Maybe it isn't their thing, but maybe it is.  Even if it isn't their thing, they'll remember the trip and could see how important these places are for our country.

 

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Vivid Memories

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It's amazing to me that I can remember so much from such a brief visit to a National Park.  I was thinking back to my first trip to Death Valley National Park today and I can remember it all like we drove through yesterday.  I remember the Devil's Golf Course, Badwater Basin, and Stovepipe Wells.  I remember hugging my first redwood just days prior up in Redwood National Park.  A year later, I was camping in Arches National Park after an edge-of-your-seat drive through a blizzard in the Rockies on the way there.  I remember the trails we hiked to go see the various arches and landscape views as well as the campsite and the view from the tent.  I remember it being something like 11 degrees and very windy with some icy spots on the trails - and a funny sign warning of falling on ice.  I remember the BLM land on the Loneliest Road in America - US 50 - and the campsite there with snow.  We pitched the tent, dug a trench to divert any melting snow, and made a fire.  That night, the sky was so clear and full of stars.  You could see US 50 for miles, and in that one night I only remember seeing two cars in the distance.

I remember something from each visit to Redwood National Park and I remember our brief drive through Olympic National Park.  I remember the moss growing on the old wood - making everything pop with green.  I can't recall a more worthwhile hike than the one Delicate Arch, despite not really knowing much about where we were going.  I can still picture Bryce Canyon, covered in snow, from Inspiration Point.  The hoodoos poking through massive snow drifts below is a sight forever burned into my brain.  Snow melting, muddy trails, and the spray of waterfalls in Zion in the early spring only make me want to return.

I could go on, and on, about things I remember without even a picture to trigger it.  I have so many memories from trips to National Parks.  I've experienced visits as brief as a drive through with stops at scenic lookouts to camping overnight.  The experience doesn't matter, as long as it happens.  If we get people that may not be able to or people that don't really know too much about the parks to the parks, they may have these little memories to hold on to and may be more inclined to help preserve them.  If people can develop memories or find meaning in these places, they may be more willing to join the fight to fund, protect, and expand them.  We must continue to fight to get EVERYONE out to the parks.  We must continue to fight the current administration and their desire to shrink, drill in, and/or eliminate these places.  Together, through collective thoughts and actions we can make these parks accessible to all people and create new ones for the future while securing proper funding.  I believe it is possible, do you?

Late Bloomer: How I fell in love with public lands in 2009.

**Disclaimer: This is a blog entry I've put together describing how I fell in love with our public lands and where I think we need to go with them.  I don't claim to be an expert and this blog entry is strictly my opinion.  My ideas are my own and are subject to change with conversations, education, and experience.  Thank you.**

Late Bloomer.

If we go back to my first National Park, it would be Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore or Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  I am almost sure I went to both as a teenager, with my grandparents, because my parents never took us anywhere out of the county - because of work, money, and time.  I grew up far away from the beauty that was Rainier, Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Rocky Mountain.  I knew not of these places until high school, but really not until college and beyond.  I've always had nature, just not public nature.  We had a couple hundred acres to roam, ample state land in Michigan, and plenty of friends with land.  I never really grasped the concept of National Parks, designated wilderness, or the like until college.  I took a course in wildlife management, learned a lot, and within the next few years visited some national parks.  I had student loan money, so I was invincible.  Not really, but it paid the tuition/rent and I had a few bucks left over for a spring break road trip.  I don't advise on having a few bucks left over - borrow only what is necessary.  I do, however, advise saving hard-earned money for a spring break road trip that isn't to some beach somewhere.  Traditional spring breaks did not appeal to me - but a road trip with my buds to places people weren't going sounded amazing.

In 2007, my two friends and I, set out on that spring break road trip driving from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Denver and through the Rockies and beyond.  We went right past Rocky Mountain National Park and visited a friend in Grand Junction, Colorado.  We drove down through Utah, right past the Arches and Canyonlands, and onward to Texas.  We drove past EVERYTHING because we didn't know much about it and one of us wasn't into the outdoors.  The next year, my outdoor friend and I insisted on a better, more thoughtful trip that included national parks.  We went from Grand Rapids to Seattle, down to Redwoods NP, and onward to Death Valley.  We saw two parks the entire trip - which was better than nothing for us;  we had to compromise for time and interest of the parties involved.  I mean, forget that we drove right by Badlands, North Cascades, Olympic, Crater Lake, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Petrified Forest.  If 2017 me went back to 2008, I'd punch myself in the face for being so dumb.  Anyway...

In 2009, my buddy and I drove out to Arches and camped - determined to see more of our public lands this year.  We traveled onward to some BLM land in Nevada and then over to the Redwoods.  Up the coast, we went to the Olympic Peninsula - which was pure magic.  Saw more, stopped more, spent more time on public lands - really understanding what they were now and what they meant to me.  This trip was the one that really cemented how important these places were.  When 2010 came around, and we were half in college, half not sure what life was all about, half employed, we naturally decided to go to Vegas in the spring.  Sin City was exciting, but I feel the real excitement was about the road trip to various national parks.  We hiked in Death Valley, saw the sights from high to low, and I saw how big that place really was.  From there, we went to Capitol Reef, Arches, and Zion before flying back to Michigan.  If 2009 cemented it, 2010 sealed that cement.  I was in love with our national parks.

In 2011, after moving to Texas I met a new friend and we went to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in October.  It is hard to put into words how I felt about the views, the yellow leaves, and the crisp air.  In love?  Probably.  2012 brought a revival of the random road trip with my outdoor buddy (since he moved to Texas) and we ended up in Tucson at Saguaro NP.  2013 Included Carlsbad Caverns, Arches again, and the Grand Canyon South Rim.  In 2014, we went to Big Bend in January and Rocky Mountain NP in August.  In 2015, my other half and I took our friend on a road trip to Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, and Zion.  Later in 2015, we went to the Arch in St. Louis.  In 2016 I made my return to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with visits to Redwoods, Oregon Caves, Point Reyes, and Golden Gate.  This year, we've visited Kenai Fjords, Redwoods again, and Sequoia/Kings Canyon.  It's true love.

In the past few years, I've spent more time exploring public lands than I had my whole entire previous existence.  I've hiked in national forests, visited the parks mentioned above, and have plans for so visiting so many more public lands.  I was lucky to find the parks in 2008 and luckier now because I can afford to visit more frequently.  The more I visit, the more I love these places and value their existence.  The more I visit, the more I want to fight to keep them public.  The more I visit, the more I see that they may be all of ours, but they're really not available to everyone.  The more I visit, the more I want to use my privilege to open these parks to those who have never visited or can't visit due to distance, cost, or any combination of reasons.  I can't imagine the level of passion and devotion I'd have if I'd been visiting these parks since I was a kid.  It is absolutely VITAL that youth of all backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, and age groups be exposed to (and educated about) these places.  Maybe these lands are not for everyone, but maybe a few of them will grow up to protect, love, and fight for them.  We need to work to include everyone in the outdoor world.  We need to diversify the DOI and hire people from all walks of life.  We need to designate more parks/monuments/etc in more places representing the spectrum of Americans that exist.

I'm not sure quite how to accomplish the tasks at hand, but I've decided a vital step is to find a way to get more people involved and interested in our public lands.  I need to immerse myself in projects, organizations, and maybe even a career shift to building a diverse following for our public lands.  It may be a new love, but it's a true love.  I feel as though I've finally found my place in this fight to make sure our public lands are open to all and I'm determined to make a difference.