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.”
This post is one of four. It’s about my sister and I setting out to see the Pacific North West. Well, as much as we could in the time we had. She had school and I had work come Monday morning BUT THE LONG WEEKEND WAS OURS TO CONQUER!!! [insert fun, evil, maybe not so evil but slightly delusional from lack of sleep laugh here]
For those of you who came here in search of information for your own trip, or simply don’t care for the somewhat mundane fluffy stuff. I’m providing you with an out. Below you will find links to all the posts directly relating to the things Diana and I did in and around the city of Seattle. If upon reading this they’re not all updated, I promise I’m working diligently to get it all on here ASAP. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask 🙂
Now, where were we? Ah, yes! How were two girls who had never been to the state of Washington going to pull off covering 20 hours worth of distance and still make it back to the airport in time? (Say that out loud with one breath!)
I planned vigorously!
We also knew it was important to sleep on the flight because we were going into road trip mode the minute we landed. So we took a selfie and assumed the position. I had window and was propped up by all the sweaters/scarves. And Diana was middle and leaned on my shoulder/back. And before we knew it we were at SEA-TAC.
We rented a car from E-Z and I couldn’t have been happier. FYI, you have to take a shuttle from the terminals to get to the rental counters. There are signs everywhere for the bus stop to get there.
Once at the rental are, all the other companies had long lines. However, we walked right up to the counter. After signing the contracts we took the elevator down to be greeted by two lovely women. They gave us keys and had us on our way.
Side Note: I used to work in rental many years ago. When you get a vehicle that has damage but you don’t want to risk being delayed an hour, take ALL THE PICTURES. Our car had a broken license plate and marks all over the rear side. This is more of a precautionary thing I do to avoid issues upon return.
We were so excited to be on the road! First stop: Jack in the Box. My sister and I had never had it before. Wouldn’t you know it, the cook is out and they can’t prepare anything but fries and nuggets. So, reluctantly that’s what we ate. Whatever, excitement kept us going because we couldn’t believe it. We were in SEATTLE!!!
It was also sunny and the warmth of the sun felt amazing!
That is until we got further west as we headed to Port Angeles.
During our first hours in Washington we experienced sunshine, rain, sunshine again, and then sleet. I would say that was a pretty appropriate welcoming.
We were staying at the Super 8 in Port Washington. Few things to note regarding our stay. They were very cost-effective, free breakfast started at 6am, and the receptionist that checked us in was extremely knowledgable about Olympic National Park and the surrounding areas. She gave us a bunch of maps and answered some important questions I had. The rooms may not be the newest, but we got a great deal and we really just needed a place to shower and sleep.
Like I said, we had a lot of ground to cover and very limited time. We dumped our luggage in the hotel room, changed into hiking gear, and headed over to the Safeway supermarket to grab essentials for our two days in the peninsula.
Our first stop was Lake Crescent. There is a great pull off viewpoint you can’t miss due to its massive sign. But in case you do, here are the coordinates: 48.073554, -123.773199 It’s right before sledge hammer point and 28 minutes from the Super 8. There are a few pull off points to enjoy some decent views.
From this point it’s another 3 minutes to the Storm King Ranger station where the trails for the Lake Crescent pier, Marymere Falls, and Storm King begin. We parked in front of the sign ready to brave the cold. The station itself was closed, but the bathrooms to the left of this sign were open.
We hiked in mud, snow and ice to Marymere Falls. I have a post about it HERE. Let’s just say it was interesting to see how fast it got dark out.
Afterwards we headed to Sergio’s Haciendawhere we devoured a veggie burrito and chicken en crema dishes.
“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”
Let me tell you about my first hike of 2019! (Please feel free to skip this and scroll directly to the hike info below). We saw about a dozen people throughout the hike, and half of them with four-legged friends. I will pet any dog that let’s me, and two big fluff balls did just that. So pups on the trail are always a plus for me!
I am also a fan of running water during hikes. It’s so soothing. I had read that there are several creeks along this hike and was excited to see more water than usual. It rained the night before and drizzled on our way there. Little did I know that precipitation was going to be a pretty big theme for this hike.
I experienced something at Black Rock Forest that I have never experienced anywhere else in New York. Lake Effect! As we walked further into the trees we could hear precipitation falling. However, since it rained the night before we three assumed it was rain. I stuck my hand out to confirm the rain because it sounded a little different as it hit the ground. I caught a couple of teeny tiny hail-like snowballs. And just as quick as it started it would stop intermittently.
When we reached the summit what we saw in the distance and assumed was fog, was in fact a storm rolling in. FAST! I was posing for pictures for my IG and then it hit us in the face! You can see the video on my page HERE [WARNING: I curse in those videos] #sorrynotsorry
Go up the Stone Staircase and walk right past the green gate on the gravel road.
Cross Mailley’s Mill Bridge.
Cross the second bridge.
Follow the trail upstream (Blue Trail).
The Blue Trail ends where you cross the stream. If it rained the night before or that morning, be prepared to get wet. The water flowed right above the top of my Palladiums. Luckily they were tied tightly and close to nothing got in. The top of my socks got a little wet, but it was fine. Way better than squishy toes if you ask me. I was impressed and very happy about it considering we were just starting our 6.58 mile day.
The rocks looked like they would be high enough to keep me out of the water.
But then my right foot drops right into the water!
Back on the gravel road make a right uphill (Yellow Trail). Stay left at the fork and walk to the reservoir bank. Appreciate the stillness for a moment like my best friend Nicole does.
Continue walking on the road next to the reservoir.
After the “No Trespassing No Swimming” sign (facing away from you as you approach it) walk between the two yellow posts up ahead. But if you pass the yellow gate you’ve gone too far.
Turn right to continue on the Blue trail. It will be marked with three blue blazes on a tree and a couple of stepping-stones. We retraced our steps a couple of times here looking for the blue blazes. Trust me, just walk past those two yellow posts and in less than a minute you’ll see a tree with the blue blazes.
Ignore the white trail and stay on the blue trail until you reach the gravel road. Turn right on the gravel road and stay on it briefly.
Turn left at the wooden gate (it was closed so we walked around it). Keep walking and you’ll come across another reservoir. Walk around the right side of the reservoir. If it’s rained then you’ll definitely hear the water. So pretty!
Cross the bridge over the bottom section of the spillway.
Continue to walk up the small hill alongside the reservoir until you are standing at the bank.
Directly behind you there is a tree with two Yellow and two Teal blazes you’ll follow into the woods.
Once again ignore the white trail and continue following the Yellow/Teal trail. Soon after the white trail blazes pay close attention to the Yellow/Teal trail as it turns sharply to the right. You’ll see the gravel road to your left (don’t go that way!).
You’ll emerge onto Black Rock. Look at the view! No, seriously, look! That is lake effect heading my way. I thought it was a fog to be honest. And then in minutes we were all hit in the face by snow! Check out my post HERE to see videos of it coming in and surprising us all!
Ready to head down? Look out towards the view and then go left. You’ll see Yellow and Teal markers on the rocks.
Follow the trail all the way to the gravel road and turn left.
When you get to the intersection there will be a podium with a map. Make a left.
In a moment you’ll come across another intersection with a huge tree in the middle. Make a left.
In about 10 minutes you’ll come across two boulders. Walk between the boulders and hop onto “Buster’s Bend.”
After a short walk find the Yellow and Teal trail again. Make a right onto the trail towards the reservoir.
Follow the Yellow/Teal trail carefully as the White trail makes an appearance again.
Cross over the spillway bridge again.
Right after the bridge jump onto the White trail on the left.
Climb the stairs when you get to them, this is the White trail continued. We were on this trail for 15 minutes.
When the White Trail ends, which is marked by three White blazes, you’ll make a left onto the Blue Trail (this area is close to the first bridge you crossed earlier in your hike).
You’ll cross “Ben’s Bridge.”
Immediately after crossing the bridge, start following the Red Trail.
The Red Trail is going to meander for a while until you get back to your car.
The guide we read and followed HERE stated the hike was 5.4 miles and 3.5 hours long. However, with taking pictures and retracing our steps a few times, we did a total of 6.58 miles in almost the same amount of time!
I hope this post is helpful. Even if it helps one person have an better hiking experience, it’ll have been worth it. Until next hike!
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. — John Muir