HORSE SHOE BEND

LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING!

We’ve all seen the gorgeous pictures on the instagram accounts. The horseshoe and your amazing planned outfit. Maybe your shoes and the horseshoe. Possibly you, horseshoe and a blanket even. Maybe you’re a yogi or an athlete and have the perfect pose for the Colorado River. All I know is that no one, not a single one of them alluded to the trickery and deceit it requires to capture an image as such.

We arrived in the afternoon. Big mistake. Here is what my experience at horse shoe was…

First and foremost, if you are going with people who can’t take a decent picture of you, you’re doomed before you even start. I luckily travel with my husband and a friend that take shots from different angles in hopes that one good one is captured.

Secondly, if you think that people are going to wait for you to get your shot be prepared to wait for them instead. Tony and I patiently waited 10-15 minutes at least for this gentleman jerk to finish his photo session. When he got up Tony took a seat sitting on the ledge. And yes, I know we’re not supposed to sit on the ledge but that’s a convo for another blog another day. All of 20 seconds went by when the aforementioned jerk climbed on to the ledge again. Dude. I could not not say something. So I politely said something along the lines of, “Excuse me. We waited for you to finish and now you’re in our shot. We’re all taking turns here.” He could not have cared less and responded with an inconsiderate, “I’m almost done.” And resumed posing for his pictures.

Thirdly, there may not be anyone on your side of the rock, but the wider angled images all have people in them trying to do the same thing. Now I understand all the photographers that use photoshop. I get it you guys.

I am a sunrise type of hiker. If I want to be somewhere without too much human interaction I go early. I mean first car in the lot early. When friends and family ask me why I go up into the mountains to hike so early, this is why. Aside from wanting to capture an image with no one else in it (I like to scrapbook), I want to be alone with the space once the camera is put down. I don’t want to hear someone’s loud music, a phone conversation or experience people being super inconsiderate. That is why I go high up on the mountains. Away from the day to day struggle of interacting with humans.

What makes it harder is that this attraction is a very small hike away from the parking lot. I find that the harder it is to get to the actual money shot the quieter and more solitary it is. The horse shoe bend definitely falls under a low effort/maximum reward category. I definitely prefer maximum effort/maximum reward hikes.

Now… Could I have just posted the prettiest of the pictures I got and used horse shoe and heart emojis? Of course. Am I happy I got to see it with my own eyes finally and not through someone else’s filtered IG picture? Duh! But that’s not the point of this blog. This blog is to share my adventures with you. That includes the good, the bad and the ugly. And this tourist attraction encompasses all three. Do it, cross it off your list. I promise you, I’m not jaded. But be prepared.

“The early mornings while people sleep are the best”

– unknown
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FORREST GUMP POINT

GPS: 37.1013933, -109.9905065

DATE: APRIL 28, 2019

Sometimes you think you know where you’re going and what you’re going to do when you get there. That was me. After all my research, I thought I knew for sure that Forrest Gump point was going to be the perfect place to take that iconic picture. Turns out we were close, but a little off.

Now don’t get me wrong. You can get some pretty awesome pictures from that viewpoint, but if you look at the picture below I’ll share a secret with you: The better viewpoint, at least in my humble opinion, is just down the road.

There were no other cars there, no other tourist and plenty of road to get just the right pictures we wanted.

Taking these pictures was the closest I ever got to playing frogger in real life. Kind of fun and kind of scary at the same time. It is super important to pay attention to the road. It’s easy to get distracted trying to get that perfect shot. Remember the cars have the open road and don’t want to stop because they are avoiding a pedestrian. We were lucky because we had one subject, one person on the camera, and one person yelling “CAR!” It was a system where we rotated and it kept us all safe.

Below I’ll share some of our awesome shots from that second viewpoint. You can see Monument Valley is closer in the background.

And for those of you who scrolled this far, I’ll show you some behind the scenes and bloopers 🙂

“I’m pretty tired… think I’ll go home now.”

– Forrest Gump

VALLEY OF THE GODS

GPS: 37.236771, -109.815529

LENGTH: 17 MILES ONE WAY

DATE: APRIL 28, 2019

While researching for my trip to the southwest I read all about the limitations monument valley has regarding hiking. How there’s only one hike you can do unaccompanied and everything else must be hiked with a Navajo guide. I think guides are important to meet the locals and learn things not otherwise noted. However, I’m an advocate for also being able to explore at my own pace. So I came across Valley of the Gods and was pleasantly surprised to see you could walk right up to buttes and not need a guide. Just make sure when traveling to Valley of the Gods that you’re prepared. There are no facilities and no source of drinking water. And remember to carry out your trash.

We turned onto the 17 mile-long dirt road just north of Mexican hat. It’s a bumpy ride and we were in an SUV. I saw sedans on the road as well so I don’t think an SUV is necessary. But online it states that when wet the area is impassable, even in an SUV. So check the weather and enter at your own risk!

There were tents at the base of some of the buttes. I’m sure people who had stayed the night had an awesome experience there. It’s so peaceful and quiet.

The buttes have names and it’s fun guessing which ones are on the list. We found a very informative map Here. The one that struck me as the easiest to see was the lady in the tub. I couldn’t unsee her in that tub! It totally personified the butte for me.

After we drove the 17 miles we headed over to Moki (Mokee) Dugway. It’s also a dirt road and there are warning signs at the base before entering. Impassable during rain and 10% grades made for an interesting ride in the passenger seat.

But so worth it. The views were a bit hazy and the pictures don’t do it justice. Atop the dugway you can see the Valley of the Gods below. Can you spot the lady in the bath tub? On clearer days you can even see monument valley from there.

Overall Valley of the Gods and Moki Dugway are areas for people to explore with less crowds. You can have a real personal experience here in solitude if you wish. And that’s hard to come by in the ever growingly popular south west.

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”

Jennifer Lee

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

Is it absolute insanity to try and do Arches in a day? Yes. Did I attempt it anyways? Yup! I love a good challenge. This one required a dubious amount of research to execute flawlessly. And guess what happened? It still wasn’t as we planned, but it was a perfect day at Arches nonetheless.

I’ll break down the different points of interest we visited in the park. I’ll even include Wilson’s arch as an honorable mention at the end because of its proximity to the park.

Getting into the Park

We set our alarms super early and were on the road by 6:15am. We watched yet another lovely sunrise from the car.

Arches is a very large park and Arches Scenic Dr runs through a good chunk of it. As we drove on the road meandering through the park we caught this scene. I can NOT make this up. This is what the sky looked like!

We spotted the Three Gossips on the left and the Courthouse Towers on the right the further we drove into the park.

Double Arch

We drove to double arch super early as our first stop. Double arch is 0.5 miles RT from the trailhead and is home to the highest arch in the entire park. Honestly, we thought we were driving to delicate arch and didn’t realize it until we got to the sign at the trailhead. Not wanting to double back we carried forward with exploring these arches. From the car it looked very dark.

As the sun continued to rise it started filling the shadows with light. We were there just over an hour and the arches looked so different in that time lapse.

It was nearly impossible for me to capture both arches in a shot while standing beneath them. And with good reason as they are very large arches. The closest I got was with the fisheye lense I put on my iPhone.

When you’re sitting inside the arch the view towards the trailhead is nice too. You can see the parking lot so clearly, but they feel a world away standing in that space.

Delicate Arch, Petroglyphs and Wilson’s Cabin

We were so fortunate that someone was pulling out of a parking spot when we got to the end of the oblong shaped lot. Every single spot was filled, including the approximately 20 RV spots (filled with mostly non-RV-type vehicles). That’s why our first stop was supposed to be Delicate Arch. But everything worked out and we were pleasantly surprised to get a spot right away. Others may not be so lucky, so plan to arrive early!

This hike climbs 500 ft and is 3 miles long. But it is exposed. So exposed. Did I mention exposed? I went into sweaty workout-mode immediately with the help of the sun. There are very few places to rest in the shade and I could see people loosing steam on the way up. Make sure you are carrying enough water when you attempt this hike, especially in the summer months!

There’s a window on the way to delicate arch that’s easy to miss. I was curious to see what was on the other side and discovered this awesome view. Unfortunately, after taking some pictures here a line had formed. That was definitely a sign of things to come.

So you get the arch and now what? Want a picture with it? Of course! I did not hike in all of that sun up that super long rock to not capture a moment with the final destination! Well, this photo opportunity also had a line that had formed. I wasn’t happy about it. After all I’m a New Yorker and we do things on the move, never stopping/waiting. I was happy to see it wasn’t a very long line and it moved rather quickly for me.

One of our co-travelers didn’t have that same luck and was skipped twice! So Tony decided that while CJ struggled with the line and the skipping, he would take a much deserved nap in the shade.

Having had enough of the super touristy vibes it was time to head down. Going down is way easier and it gives you a completely different perspective of the landscape.

At the base of the delicate arch trail (at the entrance basically) there’s Ute Rock Art. The sign says it was carved between AD 1650-1850. You can walk right up to it, but DO NOT touch the art. Aside from preserving the art not touching it will also help you avoid a potential $250,000 fine and five year imprisonment. I’m glad they’re taking the preservation of these sights seriously!

After we completed the hike to delicate arch and viewed the Ute art, we visited the Wolfe Ranch. The first settler in this area, John Wesley Wolfe, built it in 1906. He’d been there since the late 1800s. It’s a one-room wooden cabin that housed Wolfe and his daughter’s family until the year 1910.

Landscape Arch

On the Garden Trail there are several options for arch viewing. We decided we would see the landscape arch because I read somewhere that it may not be around for much longer. The trail to the Landscape arch is 2.0 miles long and also very exposed. At the trailhead there are facilities and water fountains. There is no excuse, bring water!

Due to a rock slab falling in 1991, you can no longer hike right up to the arch. This is for safety reasons and the trail gets you to this point. Being closer would have been nice, but not worrying about a slab landing on me is really nice too.

Nicole and I were having a hard time capturing a photo with no one else in it. So the guys found this perfectly nap-able rock and got to it. Isn’t that a nice place for a nap?

When you’re walking back to your car, pay attention to the vista. Only in the southwest can you walk in the desert and still see snow 🙂

Balancing Rock

This formation is sandstone on top of mudstone. It had a counterpart that has fallen and it’s only a matter of time before the larger rock falls too. It’s interesting to see something so strong and heavy simultaneously be weak. What’s awesome trail-wise is that you park your car and walk right up to the base of this one. There isn’t any strenuous hiking and when you’ve had your fill you can run back to your car and pump the A.C.

As we got in the car and prepared to leave Arches we came across this view. I totally ran in traffic to capture this. I’m joking! I did it safely of course. Don’t tell my mom…

Wilson’s Arch

So Wilson’s arch is located just outside Arches National Park. It took us about 30 minutes to get there and there’s a large paved pull off for you to park. There aren’t any facilities here and when we arrived only two other cars were parked. Please be careful crossing the street here when coming from Arches. It’s not like the road inside the park with lower speed limits and tourist. This road has 16 wheelers and high speeds. This “trail” is about 1/2 mile long but steep. Watch your footing heading up and enjoy the view!

All things considered, Arches was beautiful. The arches are definitely something to see in person. To stand under and admire their grandness. I would love to come back and hike through the Furnace one day and share it with you. Want to know anything else about this day at the park? I’d be more than happy to share. Ask below in the comments section!

“An arch consists of two weaknesses which, leaning one against the other, make a strength.”

Leonardo Da Vinci

CASSIDY ARCH & PETROGLYPHS

GPS: 38.263715, -111.215994

TIME: 2H 30M

LENGTH: 3.5 MILES RT

ELEVATION CHANGE:  950 ft (Peak: 6,350 ft)

DATE: APRIL 26, 2019

We woke up super early and were on our way to Capitol Reef! We stayed in Loa and were only 25 minutes away from the park. State Route 24 is a beautiful road to drive on and we were going to use it to traverse the park that day. Gifted with many beautiful sunrises that trip, I was grateful to be traveling with people who understand the importance of seizing the day. I would hate to miss morning views like the one we got that morning.

Once we were in the park we drove on Scenic Drive for 3.5 miles and turned onto Grand Wash road. This dirt road took us to the trailhead 1.2 miles away. There are flash flood warnings and a gate that was open when we arrived. I did a great deal of research for all the areas that had potential flash floods and had discovered this video. So please make sure you check for storms (especially upstream from the wash). That family was lucky to get out but I could see being seriously stuck if the water was any higher.

Once we got out of the car I noticed there were facilities at the trailhead. It’s a pit toilet, but for us small bladder owners, that’s all you really need lol.

The moon stayed out long enough to capture this picture. You can see the sun touching the peak turning it yellow just north of where we stood. Soon enough it would light up the whole park.

We walked on the trail and simply followed the signs. It is very easy to follow.

Some of the rock formations you see on the trail are like that of another world. I would go as far as saying it could even trigger someone’s trypophobia.

As we made our way we could see the sun forming shadows and illuminating rock faces. We were still wearing sweaters at this point because it hadn’t warmed up yet.

At this junction we joined the frying pan trail. It’s a sharp left and up. There’s a portion of this hike that gains 600 ft. very quickly and in a short distance.

Naturally the slick rock (with some human assistance) forms “stairs” to help you climb the trail.

And during that steep climb stopping for pictures is a great excuse to catch your breath. It was also nice to take a moment to notice the sun spreading it’s yellow light as it touches the rock formations ahead.

And then as though someone had flipped a switch the sun was on! There is less than a 20 minute time difference between the picture above and below. Awesome stuff and we hadn’t even gotten to the arch yet.

There was a moment where I couldn’t see where the arch could possibly be. And then this trusty little sign let us know we were heading the right way.

When we turned the corner, there it was! The arch! Still had a ways to go, but so excited to see the destination in sight.

Did you know the arch is named for the infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy? I wonder if there is any unfound loot in the thousands of hidden corners of the canyon. For the history buffs who want clarification between fact and fiction: I found a great article in the LA Times.

There comes a moment where the trail becomes harder to follow on the slick rock and these small cairns start appearing.

They appear in rows to guide us hikers.

And sometimes a bit more scarcely. But they guided us just the same. Thank you to whomever left these here for the thousands of people who hike this trail.

Finally, we were at the arch. What a beautiful sight! Of course being my very adventurous self I walked right up to the arch. It’s not as scary as I thought it would be but it’s enough to get my adrenaline going. I still can’t believe I was there even now as I look at that picture. You know what’s even crazier to think about? There was no one else. Not a single soul but us. We had the entire place to ourselves.

And since it was my best friend Nicole’s birthday we had a photoshoot up there. We weren’t being rushed by other hikers so we took our time and got all the angles. I love scrapbooking and like when I can make sure I have the perfect pictures for my books!

Just past the arch there’s a great vantage point overlooking the entrance to the Grand Wash. Great place to see the different layers of the Earth.

Even above from where I was sitting there was all this area to explore.

The views went on for what felt like forever.

On the way down we were told by other hikers that they could see the rose gold balloons from their cars driving into the Grand Wash. Watching Nicole head down with the balloons attached to her has to be one of the funniest things that happened that trip. 😂

We retraced our steps and headed back down to our car. When we drove out of the wash we were treated to some contrasting rock colors and super blue sky. It didn’t look this alive when we drove in that morning prior to the sun illuminating the canyon. And just like that we were done with the arch and onto the next adventure…

Having an affinity to any and everything old and indigenous I could not leave the park without visiting the petroglyphs. I walked up to the boardwalk fixture they have just below the rock face and immediately spotted the markings. I have so many thoughts that whirl around my head when seeing this in person, even now my brain tries to put them into coherent words to share with you all.

When I travel I make connections with the spaces around me. Physical connections by touching a staircase handrail, visual connections by watching a beautiful sunset over the ocean, audio connections by hearing the birds, etc. The types of connections can be one or multi-sensory and impact me in different ways. I carry these connections I make with the world home with me. I think it’s the reason why I prioritize travel in my life. It makes me feel connected to the world as a whole. But at the petroglyphs it was more of a spiritual connection. The inhabitants of this area may not be our direct ancestors. But we are all human and come from the humans that have existed hundreds or thousands of years before us. It’s beautiful to stand in a space that they too stood in however long ago…

The etchings that have survived over time are at the base of the rock face. Try spotting them in the picture below. I’ll post a close up if you have a hard time spotting them from this distance.

Such a special place.

Here is the close up of the petroglyphs. I’m glad I was able to see them in person all these years after their creation. Hopefully you can see them one day too.

If you have already visited these or other petroglyphs, or if you’d like to one day, I would love to start a dialogue to share thoughts about what they mean to you. Leave a comment below!

“We’re all ghosts. We all carry, inside us, people who came before us.”

Liam Callanan

ZEBRA SLOT CANYON

GPS: 37.639323, -111.445054

TIME: 4H 45M

LENGTH: 5.2 MILES RT

ELEVATION CHANGE:  300 ft

DATE: APRIL 25, 2019

I have to start this post by saying the the Earth Trekkers blog was super helpful in completing this hike. We could have very easily gotten lost without their great posts with corresponding images. And on that note, let’s get right to it!

We drove east on route 12 from Bryce National Park. It took us about 2 hours to get to the trail head. According to my offline Google maps it should have taken us 1.5 hours, but we slowed down considerably when we hit the dirt road. The dirt road is just under 8 miles long and it’s called Hole in the Rock Rd.

We passed the cattle guards (pictured below) and made sure to count them. We knew from reading Earth Trekkers that the trailhead and parking lot were just after the third one. We were in an SUV and it was a bumpy ride. I don’t think you need an SUV but it wouldn’t hurt if you have the option.

We arrived at 11:00 am and there was still plenty of space for other vehicles. I cannot express how important this is: apply sunblock and bring plenty of water! Yes it’s April and summer hasn’t actually started, but dehydration is inevitable even in these conditions if you’re not prepared. It’s a long walk and you don’t want to be caught without water, trust me!

From the trailhead we started out into the desert. The trail is easy to follow at first. It’s worn and even if you accidentally follow the drainage, it’ll bring you back to the trail as they both eventually lead to the same wash. While you stroll along you’ll come across diverse rock patterns.

Tony wanted to further explore the rock formations on the sides of the trail. It’s hard to tell, but the rock is actually steeper than it lets on.

You’ll come across a gate. It’s perfectly fine to cross. The gates easily swing open when pushed. I had already crossed the gate and was waiting for Tony to cross too.

This is where you need to pay attention. There are false trails from all the hikers that get lost here. We followed the instructions we found online and made sure to stay left when the trails split off.

There was a nice big rock formation we decided to stop on for a water break/photo opportunity.

Making sure we stayed left in Harris Wash we finally found the entrance to the slot canyon. (Thank you Earth Trekkers!)

I found this neat little moqui ball as I walked into the canyon. There’s an interesting read HERE. Pay attention as you walk in because you’ll see some of them still stuck in the walls.

Soon enough you’ll start squeezing your way through. Your back pack won’t stay on your back much longer. I resorted to keeping it over my head many times.

And then this…

I had such a hard time getting through here. I have shorter legs than my three co-travelers and couldn’t extend the way they could. I tried multiple ways and angles until I finally managed to do it. Whereas Tony used his feet I used my knees.

Here’s a better picture of how to cross the narrower parts of the canyon where your feet don’t fit in the canyon below. CJ is taller than me and needed to go higher in the canyon. He also used his feet on the opposing wall. You can see me deeper in the canyon using my knees on the opposing wall instead of my feet.

I wouldn’t lie to you about the parts where I struggled. It wasn’t easy. But hiking that desert wasn’t easy either. And I wasn’t leaving there until I made it into the canyon to see the zebra portion.

TA DA! We made it to the zebra slot portion!

How amazing are these lines though???

The hike back to the car was long and hot. Now that I’ve done the hike I’m glad I’ve crossed it off my list. I think everyone should see and experience it at least once. But I’ve seen so many other places in Escalante that I would hold off on a repeat hike until exploring the rest of the area. Until my next adventure, I have so many gorgeous pictures of wave like rock structures and zebra stripes to reminisce with. : )

“In the desert, the line between life and death is sharp and quick.”

Brian Herbert

BRYCE NATIONAL PARK

I feel like this park is so underrated. I have taken so many pictures of this park that it was hard to decide which ones to add/leave out. It’s so cliche to say “pictures don’t do it justice” when you’re traveling. But I can’t help it if it’s true! This park! The hoodoos! And to think, I didn’t even get to see the whole thing because Navajo Loop was closed due to weather related issues.

So here are the points of interest with what I think are the best pictures we took of them:

INSPIRATION POINT

At inspiration point you’re standing at 8,100 feet elevation. This is where the main amphitheater is located and where we decided sunrise would be best seen from.

We parked in a lot that already had about 15 other cars in it and were standing at the viewpoint by 6:35am. I was so excited to see that the sun had not yet gone over the ridge. The next couple of pictures show how fast the sun actually rises. I feel so grateful to have experienced this sunrise. It was one of the best ones I’ve seen. And it lit up the hoodoos in such a way; I would describe it as setting them on fire.

6:35 AM
6:45 AM
6:50 AM

NAVAJO LOOP / SUNSET POINT

Our next point of interest was the Navajo Loop Trail. Unfortunately due to weather impacting the trail we were unable to do this one. The trail leads down into the canyon in the picture below. It’s the base of the really dark area. The second picture shows the beginning of the Navajo Loop trail and you can tell the trail is damaged. It’s not surprising really and people are lucky to hike it when it’s open. The rock is soft and crumbly in many areas.

The damaged Navajo Loop is visible in this picture

BRYCE POINT

There weren’t that many other visitors at the park yet so early in the morning and we were able to drive and park at each of these locations rather quickly. Bryce point was yet another delight. The green vegetation juxtaposed to the red rock and random white patches of snow were something to behold.

QUEENS GARDEN TRAIL

Queens garden is a pretty easy trail to complete. But it’s important to keep in mind that every descending step you take, you’ll have to retrace on the way back up.

I cannot make this stuff up! How perfect is this sunburst on Tony???

The queens garden trail ended up being the only one we did at the park. Once we were done with it though, there were many tour buses and a wave of visitors flowing into the park. We’d be moving on to another town soon and it was nice having it in the quiet of the morning. I was pleased to leave the crowds behind. I’ll have to re-visit Bryce National Park one day. The switchbacks from Navajo Loop are just begging to be crossed off my list!

“Hell of a place to lose a cow”.

Ebenezer Bryce

KANARRA FALLS

GPS: 37.539003, -113.174801

TIME: 2.5 H

LENGTH: 3.2 MILES RT

DATE: APRIL 24, 2019

🗣 Not all hikes are created equal!

We were done with the strenuous Angels Landing and took a nice stroll on Riverside Walk that day. However, it was early enough in the day where we could fit in another hike and still make it to our AirBnb in a decent time.

Having done so much research I had yellow stars scattered all along my offline google maps. So I started clicking around and found Kanarra Falls. It was perfect. Short enough to complete (the section we wanted to do is only 3.2 miles long RT) and on the way to our next destination for the night. I was also bewitched by the idea that we’d be alone in a narrow canyon and it’s awesome waterfall. When we arrived there were only two other cars in the lot and one was pulling out.

There’s a $12.00 per person fee at the trailhead just up the stairs from the parking lot. I had my first red flag disguised as a pleasant surprise when we saw the permit station employee. He was getting ready to close and saw that we were on the fence about paying $12 per person ($48 total). So he did us a huge favor and told us to pay $12 for parking and all four of us could get access to the trailhead. He must have known we wouldn’t make it all the way as the water was rising. Instead of questioning his decision to hook us up I took it and ran with it. He gave us a small map and it looked pretty straight forward.

At the entrance there are also signs to warn hikers about the rattle snakes. More on that later…

Excited to potentially do three hikes in a day we started our trek. The first 10 minutes of it are on a road. At the top of the hill there are facilities. And just past the facilities is the first encounter with water. Be prepared to wet your shoes, socks and pants. We crossed and were on our way. Below you’ll see Nicole leading the way and CJ and Tony behind me. We walked next to the creek the whole time.

Soon after however, we realized there aren’t any trail markers. That wouldn’t have been a problem where the ground is worn and the trail is easy to follow. We obviously know from high school geography that this creek leads into the falls. The problem arrises when there are false paths intersecting the creek and trail and you’re not sure which way to go.

We crossed the creek three or four times. We made it to what I believe is the portion where the rest of the hike is done in the creek. But at this point the water was really cold and the current was strong. The water was above knee level in certain spots for me (I’m 5’5″) and I was uncomfortable with the idea that it would only get deeper. We stopped and talked about the pros/cons of continuing for a while. Preferring to be better safe than sorry, we decided to turn around.

I realize as I write this that I don’t have video of the deeper creek crossings and I know exactly why. I was more scared concerned with not getting swept away by the current than taking pictures or videos for “the gram.” It was not worth risking a steady foot placement.

Now let me tell you about the snake. At one point on our way out I was walking right next to Tony. He said something along the lines of “what is that?” and immediately we heard a rattle. If you’ve never had the experience of hearing it in person, here’s a LINK. We were out of there so fast! I could not believe how close it was to the trail itself. That sound was ONE BIG NOPE! Almost running to the car, I made sure to stay away from the shrubbery at the sides of the trail.

Then we arrived at the first creek crossing we had at the trailhead, which was also the shallowest of them all. It was ankle deep when we started. By the time we were leaving it was just below Tony’s knees (he’s 6’1″). And the crossing itself was much wider than we initially saw it. The pictures below are screen grabs from a GoPro video I have of everyone crossing at the trailhead on the way out.

Nicole right before her foot drops into the deeper section
Tony crossing almost knee deep waters

By the end of our trip we named this the hike that shall not be named. Between the lack of trail markers, rattle snake and strong currents I felt defeated.

Finally in the car and out of our wet shoes, I pulled out of our parking spot. I couldn’t believe that just across the road, not even 20 ft. from us, there were three very large deers making their way down. After what felt like a very rough afternoon, it was calming to see them walking. Side by side, unbothered by the presence of our vehicle. It reminded me why we were out there in the first place.

I’ve said it in other posts and I’ll say it again. I can become so concerned with the destination of a hike that I forget about the actual hike itself. The journey that afternoon was adventurous! It gave us higher water levels to really concentrate balancing in, adrenaline from hearing the rattle snake, and conviction to complete every hike thereafter.

For the future, when I attempt this hike again, I will make sure to check out their website first. It looks like they are attempting to update hikers on a more daily basis. This would be super helpful for day-of hikers looking to check water levels and currents.

And yes, you read that correctly. When I attempt this hike again. It’s the first time I’ve prematurely turned around on a hike. Maybe it won’t be the last either. But I haven’t crossed it off my list and when I’m in the area again I’m determined to conquer it.

“The will to conquer is the first condition of victory.”

Ferdinand Foch