Fall 2019 Social Hike? DONE! Today some of my bravest friends met me for the first social hike ever planned by Salvi Nomad. Some were friends I have hiked with several times before, and others who would be joining for the first time.
It was a difficult task deciding which trail to do. I wanted to give everyone enough of a challenge by having a little scramble and elevation. But not be too difficult to discourage anyone from joining in on future hikes. My other concern was knowing there was a good mix of athleticism and not wanting anyone to be slowed down or pushed too hard.
So after going through my pictures to recollect which hikes kicked my butt just enough, but not too badly, I came across the answer. The group would venture onto Storm King Mountain. And it was perfect for today’s group.
We took 2.5 hours to hike 3.0 miles and reached and altitude of 1,339 feet. The beginning of this hike really gets your heart rate going with some steady climbs. And you have a couple of descents where you can catch your breath before another steady climb. I’m also glad to report only one person fell took an unplanned seat (extremely graciously I might add lol).
I followed Hike the Hudson’s guide because he has a great 3.0 mile loop. Make sure to check his page out HERE if you’re venturing into the Hudson Highlands!
Click HERE for the coordinates to the parking lot. And below are the spark notes version of the trails we followed today:
From parking lot follow ORANGE
Continue on ORANGE past ruins
RIGHT onto Yellow/blue (NOT LEFT)
RIGHT to Stay on blue/yellow (when blue/red intersects)
LEFT to stay on yellow/blue (when blue blaze intersects from right)
Follow BLUE/YELLOW down until WHITE.
Follow WHITE (sometimes BLUE/WHITE) all the way back to car
Eat snacks you left in car 🙂
Below is a picture of my favorite type of hiker, the four legged kind. We saw at least three of them today and it makes my day every time! You can also see there’s still a lot of green left on the mountains. I was hoping there would be more red and orange. That just means I’ll have to come back again soon to make sure I don’t miss it.
Overall I would say this was a successful hike. We even went into town to have lunch afterwards. There are several places to sit and dine or grab a quick bite at a deli. And maybe I’ll see you out on the trail for the next social hike: Winter 2019.
Life was meant for good friends and great adventures.
Any self respecting Game of Thrones fan would know that Kirkjufell is a must see when visiting the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. We were lucky to find an inexpensive Airbnb that was right on the water. From our Airbnb we could see Kirkjufell mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss, circled below.
[Sidebar: If you are new to Airbnb and would like a discount on your first stay, please use my link HERE. If you’re already a member and would like to book the same Airbnb, click HERE.]
Iceland as an entity, as a whole, is chock-full of beautiful backgrounds and breath taking landscapes. I would randomly take pictures of my sister and no matter where I did that, it was a beautifully detailed Icelandic background. However, with social media exposing locations at an all time high, the serenity of it all has been lost in the more touristic spots. If you’re a reader, then you know I prefer hard to reach places. It was hard to fight my urge to avoid tourist while wanting to fan girl GOT filming sites.
So we parked at the lot seen below. We watched the desperation of drivers trying to find a spot to place their rentals. I even lost my cool myself when someone tried to skip the line and take my spot! Then we got out of the car to find that the walkway was flooded (see red arrow below). That forced us and everyone else to walk uphill on the road to get around the flooded area. I didn’t know at the time, but there is a new parking lot up the road. It’s much larger and can save you some time waiting for a spot. And more importantly, save your sanity.
I want to give you realistic expectations when visiting Kirkjufell. This picture below has 5 people poorly edited out of the shot. So if you want the place to yourself, I would recommend getting up before sunrise. And even then I cannot guarantee you’ll have the place to yourself considering this was off peak season. But good luck!
You’ll have people who don’t care about the railings and climb over them to get their “perfect” shot. These same people are the ones that will most likely be in your shots too. Patience is key in these situations!
Here’s what it actually looks like:
The person in the red jacket didn’t move once the whole time we were there. So frustrating!
And here’s what it’s like when the trail has flooded: The people walking up the road will also be in your shots lol.
If you give up trying to capture both the waterfall and the mountain in one shot (and you wait patiently) you can get a nice group shot with just your friends and Kirkjufell in the background. And at the end of the day, isn’t it really just about traveling with close ones and making memories? Looking at these pictures brought a smile to my face, other tourists and all lol.
As for the Game of Thrones reference: Kirkjufell can be seen in S6 Ep5, S7 Ep1, S7 Ep6. I would post an image here but as a newbie blogger, I’d like to avoid copyright infringement 😉
Overall here are my thoughts on Kirkjufell. It’s certainly an odd shaped distinguishable mountain. Is it worth going to Kirkjufellsfoss to see the waterfall and mountain in one shot? Probably not. Simply because the mountain can be viewed from different angles on road #54 and there are waterfalls everywhere in Iceland.
However, the next time I’m in that area I’d like to hike Kirkjufell. Now that’s a view I wouldn’t mind sharing!
“Iceland, I’m in love with that country, the people are incredible.”
Selvallafoss, also known as Sheep’s Waterfall, is located off of Road #56. It’s a lesser known waterfall you can walk behind. Surprisingly when we got there only one other car was in the lot. There are picnic tables to help you spot the area and trailhead. I’m using the word trailhead loosely here because it took us less than five minutes to find it and the loop we did isn’t the most difficult.
The GPS coordinates for the parking lot are: 64°56’29.9″N 22°54’15.7″W. In the picture below you can see the worn trail to the left just above the left-most pillar.
Stay on the path from the picnic area for a couple of minutes. Enjoy the views, there are mountains in every direction. If you’re lucky enough to be traveling with family, you’ll spot some crazies too!
As you approach the waterfall, the sound of rushing water will get louder. Follow the sound and find the waterfall to your left.
Don’t be afraid to explore the different paths in the area. There are some great photo opportunities within short walking distances. Just remember to be careful as the rocks, mud and moss make the area very slippery. You can walk to the foreground to capture the tiers as my cousin did below.
You can also walk behind the waterfall all the way to the other side. Standing next to this waterfall gets really loud. Even standing where I was in the picture below I was getting wet from the mist of the falls. A waterproof jacket is perfect here if you’re crossing to the other side behind the falls.
Fair warning though, there is VERY low clearance on the other side of the falls. And it is extremely muddy. Do not wear shoes you do not wish to have covered in mud. My cousin can be seen crossing at the beginning of the video below.
Once all six of us made it to the other safely, we continued following the trail for a couple of minutes.
We made a hard left off the trail and climbed to the top of the hill. Essentially climbing to the top of the waterfall. This portion of the hike didn’t seem like it, but was very steep.
We followed the water up stream to the road and crossed back over. Below you can see Jessica in her beige jacket leading the group to the road. I prefer to do loops than in and out hikes. So this was a perfect way to get back to our rental car.
Here’s an amazing panoramic image of the area while we were trying to figure out which way to get back to the car.
Overall I would say that if you’re in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula this is a great spot to add to your itinerary. In the small amount of time we were there, we didn’t encounter many other tourists. We freely enjoyed the waterfall and didn’t have to break out into a hardcore hike sweat session to get back to the car. All in all, a wonderful waterfall option!
“I have fantasies of going to Iceland, never to return.“
I have biked different parts of this trail and completed different distances per visit. I love this place for it’s location, access and options. Want to walk hand in hand with a loved one? Want to fish without having to take the boat out? Want to bike 20 miles? Want paved or dirt paths? Want to hang out with the resident swans, ducks, geese, fish, etc? It’s a versatile trail with a little bit for everyone.
My brother and I went for a bike ride Sunday. This time we started on Sunrise highway, unlike last time where we started on Merrick Rd. The good thing is that there are several different places you can park along the way. I’ve parked in Plainview and headed south on the trail too. You can essentially choose to start the trail wherever you find an entrance. Just please park responsibly and be courteous to the neighboring residents when deciding where to leave your vehicle.
The trail begins in Cold Spring Harbor and ends in Massapequa. Here’s a screenshot of my google maps so you can get an idea of the trail and it’s location.
There’s a few things you should pay attention to when biking this trail.
1. Always stay to the right and be courteous to the pedestrians sharing the trails.
2. There are dirt paths as well, but pay attention to fallen trees (my brother was almost taken out by one as he likes to pedal fast).
3. Bring bug spray, especially if you’re going in the later afternoon.
4. STOP at the stop signs when crossing roads or ramps. The cars are supposed to yield, but wait until they come to a complete stop before crossing (better safe than sorry).
5. As expected, bring enough water. Especially in the summer months.
There isn’t much else to say about this trail… So I’m going to share pictures from different parts of the trail below. These pictures are compiled from the different times I’ve gone throughout the years. My hope is that if you haven’t gone to this park yet and live locally, that you would take advantage of this backyard space we all share. It may not be a crazy mountain or have spectacular 360 views, but it’s a great place to forget we live in a densely populated suburban area for a while. And if you have gone, maybe I’ll see you there sometime soon!
What do you do when you have a free weekend in North Carolina? You brainstorm in a group chat with your cousins. One of your cousins will come up with the amazing idea to hike Grandfather Mountain. I saw one picture online and was immediately convinced!
So I landed at 9am in Charlotte. A car with 3 female cousins pulls up full of snacks, water, excitement and fear (more on that later). The drive from Charlotte airport to Grandfather Mountain takes over 2 hours when you stop for gas and pee breaks midway. Long enough to feel away but close enough to not need a hotel room if you live in Charlotte.
We were fine until we stepped out of the car. Not only was it a lot chillier than Charlotte, but the thunder was audible in the distance. I had asked the young lady at the entrance kiosk what time the rain was supposed to hit the mountain. She said 5pm and I thought that would be plenty of time to go up and back (assuming the rain didn’t come down earlier).
The lot attendants informed us that hikers park in the Black Rock parking lot. As you can see, the lot had plenty of cars when we arrived at 12:30pm.
It’s hard to miss the sign pointing the way up. None of us had been here before and we weren’t counting on the extra .4 mile hike to the start of Grandfather Trail. But thems the rules!
It’s an unmarked trail, but very easy to follow. Many of the stones having been placed like “stairs,” which makes the walk easier. You’ll soon come across the bridge. And very soon after that the parking lot.
If you need facilities or want to buy a magnet to prove you came to see grandpa, this is the time to do it. Trust me, you won’t want to do anything after hiking the mountain. You’ll cross the parking lot and see this sign:
You’ll need the color/make/model/plate number of your car to fill out the permit. And take special notice of the “return to your vehicle by 6:00pm.” This is important so a search party isn’t sent out for you. We were on our way up, and the view from over my shoulder includes the mile high swinging bridge, the upper parking lot, and Linville Peak on the right.
Follow the blue trail markers the whole way up.
When you get to “The Patio” there are wooden benches and a nice view to take in. Yup, that’s where we were hiking to, MacRae Peak. This is a good place to drink some water and catch your breath!
We came across the Grandfather Trail sign and continued hiking the blue blazed trail until we reached Grandfather Gap. This is another awesome spot to stop for snacks and water.
After our break we came across what looked like a rope on the trail. I had read about the 9 or so ladders and was just finding out about the cable. It’s meant to assist your ascent, especially if you’re wearing sneakers.
When you’re done with the cable, you’ll meet the first of nine ladders on the blue trail. The nine ladders include the final one you’ll need to climb to summit MacRae Peak. You can see that one of the ladders (second ladder) is tucked between two large rock formations. You’ll walk slanted to reach that one, and find a cable at the top to assist you. I won’t undersell the ladders, they are difficult. They are spaced wider than your average ladder and can be found next to very exposed sides of the mountain. If you’re afraid of heights like my cousin, I would avoid looking down! I saw the look of fear pass through our little group a couple of times. HOWEVER, I wouldn’t deter you from attempting the climb. One of my cousins had never been hiking before and was able to complete the climb (so proud!) without dying quitting.
Here’s an awesome pano I took while waiting for the hiker traffic to pass atop one of the ladders.
And as we continued to hike the blue trail I spotted a ladder in the distance. It’s at the bottom-center of the picture below. I didn’t know at the time but I was looking at the only ladder on the Underwood Trail. That ladder would round us out to 10 ladders total for the day.
Finally! MACRAE PEAK!
Just kidding lol, there’s another ladder first (ladder #9).
Ok, now I can say it…
We took so many pictures up there. But one of my favorites is this one. I had made it to the clouds. The 360 degree view was nice and the snacks were totally welcomed.
Views? Check! Time to hike down? Yup! We continued past MacRae Peak into the saddle and found a cable heading down on the blue trail.
We made a left at the Underwood Trail to make a loop out of our hike. It’s a great way to avoid lines at the ladders as well.
And here’s the 10th ladder I had seen in the distance a while back.
The Underwood Trail dumps you back onto Grandfather Trail for a little bit. We made a right in the direction of the swinging bridge. At the next junction we hopped onto the Grandfather Trail Extension, which by-passes the swinging bridge. We were cutting it close and needed to be back to the car by 6:00pm.
We got to the car at 5:58pm and we were exhausted. Luckily we didn’t get rained on and we were back unscathed.
Truth be told, we were drawn to the park because of the swinging bridge. But after conquering MacRae Peak, none of us cared to walk up to it. Maybe next time we’ll get there earlier and cross the bridge, buy some magnets and make it all the way to Calloway 🙂
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” — Lucille Ball
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”
We get to the trail head just in time to hike up to humpback rocks and see sunset. Fingers crossed. It was 7:15pm and sunset was at 8:25-ish. At the trailhead there are several different options for trails. We walked up to the kiosk and saw this posting. There was an alert for bear activity but there were several other people on the trail. So not really worried… As the sign said, the trail to humpback rock was right behind the kiosk.
To ensure hikers are going the right way, they also have these signs. We were only doing the 0.8 one way, but it’s many feet to climb in a short distance.
For anyone worried about the steep climb, there are benches along the way. It’s perfect for someone who needs to pace themselves to reach the top.
The trail is wide and has blue blazes all the way up. They almost felt redundant as the trail is very clear to follow. However, in the dark the blue blazes were helpful. As we climbed the steep trail, I almost stepped on this little guy. I was so glad he was a bright orange color because it caught my eye and he got to live another day.
You’ll come across about 45 wooden stairs that have been placed in the middle of the trail. It helps to gain some elevation rather quickly.
So, let’s talk about the bear. At this point we are still following the blue blazes and people are steadily heading down dogs and all. After the section below, the trail turns left. There was a black bear about 20 feet from the trail. The woman who saw him before us said they saw each other but the bear did not seem to want to interact. We decided it would be best to wait for two girls who were a few minutes behind us and walk up as a group. And that’s exactly what we did. One of the girls had seen a bear before on this same hike and said nothing came of it. Good to hear.
And then you’re almost there! Even though this hike is only 0.8 miles long, it felt eternal. After the bear, every dark shape seemed like it was another bear to me. The tension and adrenaline did not help make the hike any easier on my body either.
Then out of what feels like no where, you turn a corner and see this opening. I completely forgot about the bear and was so happy to see this view.
If you’re dumb brave enough, you can climb up on either side. I climbed up the right side and Nicole captured this shot from the top of the left side. It was a hazy evening, but the view went on for miles. Days with clear skies must have what seems like a endless view. But alas, no pretty sunset. FYI, those rocks are also super sharp and gloves would have been a plus to have on my person.
I have zero pictures of the descent from humpback and with good reason. By 8:25pm it was getting really dark really fast. Knowing that bears are dawn and dusk animals we made lots of noise on our way down. We essentially were running downhill yelling at each other and clapping randomly. We didn’t want to give a bear a chance to sneak up on us. And I’m sure we looked like a pair of crazies. But as Beyonce says, “I’d rather be crazy.” Below is the view from my car as we left the park.
“True Compassion is showing Kindness towards animals, without expecting anything in return”
The picnic area where the trail head is located is encompassed by a one way road. You’ll see a large sign next to a facilities structure. When we arrived at 7:20am there was plenty of parking.
There are two options for this waterfall hike. You can do an in-and-out hike to the observation point or a loop with the option to hike down to the waterfall. There was no way I was skipping standing at the base of the waterfall. So I mentally prepared for the long climb back.
From the parking lot you walk onto a well defined trail. There is a slight decline as you walk deeper into the trail.
When you approach the AT (Appalachian Trail) cement pillar, you’ll have a clear idea of which way to go. Whether you’re doing the loop or the in/out hike continue straight on the path past the intersection.
You’ll follow the blue blazes down. Keep in mind that every step you take carries you deeper into the valley. Meaning you’ll have to climb back up if you decide to retrace your steps. There are a few portions where stairs have been made on the trail. They seem to also serve as retainers for that corner specifically.
It took us just under an hour to reach the overlook. It had rained the night before and there was plenty of water flowing down from the South River. Unfortunately, the trees obstruct the view a little. The falls are only slightly visible from this point. If you decide to walk down to the falls that will add on an additional 1.5 miles that are very steep. Trust me, my calves have not recovered yet lol.
Like I said, I wasn’t missing this waterfall. So we kept walking past the overlook until we came upon another pillar. We made sure it was pointing towards the base of the falls and we headed deeper into the valley.
You’ll get to another point on the hike where the pillar below is standing. This is not the end of the hike. Continue following the blue trail blazes on the tree to the right.
Not too long after you’ll have an awesome view of the falls. It was awesome to be the first ones there that morning and have the place to ourselves.
The blue trail takes you right up to the falls on the right hand side.
After about an hour of hanging out and taking pictures we saw the first sign of humanity. An older couple from Naples, Florida joined us at the waterfall. They were amazing. They shared their stories with us of traveling to Iceland, Peru and several states to visit national parks. They are retired and have decided to travel as much as possible in their golden years.
Having had our fill of stories shared with the elderly couple, we were ready to head back up. We decided to save time and retrace our steps. Truthfully it was so nice and tranquil by the waterfall that I didn’t want to leave. But it was also a nice idea to leave the waterfall to the nice couple for them to enjoy alone.
I also learned a couple things about myself that day:
I cannot wait for Tony and I to retire to travel whatever corners of the world we haven’t reached by then. We have done a good amount of traveling since we started dating in 2012 but is it ever enough? For me the answer is no. God willingly we live long lives and get to do something like the couple from Naples.
I will hike the most strenuous hikes with steep inclines. So long as I’m going UP first. That means I’ll be hiking down at the end of my hike and I love that. I am NOT a fan of down then up hikes. Especially when gaining over 1000 ft in elevation. If I’m somewhere that requires me to do a hike like this, I’ll still do it. But I remain steady on NOT being a fan.
We also saw a few creepy critters on this hike as well. Some hiding in plain sight and others camouflaged to their environment. The frog and crayfish were hardest to spot:
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”