HOH RAINFOREST

GPS: 47.860714, -123.934639

DATE: MARCH 8, 2019

HI THERE!

While doing my research for visiting Olympic National Park I found some pretty interesting things about the park. It has mountains full of snow and everything winter while simultaneously being home to a temperate rainforest. It sounded interesting and I began looking through pictures and could not believe the amount of moss present. So without hesitation I added it to the list of must see places while in Washington.

For context think about this: In New York we get about 42 inches of rainfall annually. In the HOH rainforest however, they get 140-170 inches of rainfall annually. And 30 inches of that is from the fog alone! The visitor center has plenty of information for those seeking to be informed hikers. They have free pamphlets with drawings to help you identify plant life and animal prints.

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GETTING THERE

From the town of Forks, WA, the drive is 45 minutes. From Port Angeles it’s closer to 2 hours. And what a drive it is! You can watch the trees changing in height, color and type as you approach the park. You’ll arrive to the booth to pay admission. We paid $30 on a credit card. The fee grants you access for the week.

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HOH RAINFOREST

I just love seeing these brown signs! I get so excited when I cross the threshold of a national park. As though I have made it to a secret land where only beauty, fresh air and freedom exist! This is one of two we saw on our way in.

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Right outside the visitor center there is a bulletin board with information about the surrounding area. There are maps and daily weather updates which are super helpful if you’re doing the long hike. The hall of mosses is .8 miles, the Spruce Trail is 1.2, and the HOH river trail is 35 miles to Blue Glacier (not this time ONP!) and back.

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I spotted this wild Diana perched on a trail sign (Haha!) The trails are all very different lengths and the mini trail which isn’t shown here is wheelchair accessible.

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Right after crossing a cute little bridge over a stream that’s a small vein of the HOH river you climb a short way up. Passing this gorgeous tree just commanding your attention. It’s impressive when you look to its last branches. IT. IS. TALL.

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Soon you arrive to a sign pointing you in the direction of the Hall of Mosses loop. It was fun reading that we were entering an older part of the forest. Primeval spirit? Yes, absolutely…

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The higher we climbed the more snow was present. Or ice I should say as it was a little slippery. This beautiful tree looked like it was taking a nap. Or taking a bow. I don’t know. I just know this tree was way more graceful than anyone I’ve ever seen.

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Look at this amazing moss!!!

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So green!!!

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I couldn’t help myself so I hugged this gentle giant. I owe so many good shots to my sister Diana. She grabbed some great pictures. But we also shared some good laughs with the phones put away in our pockets or backpacks.

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Amidst our walk we spotted this hoof print. We weren’t sure how fresh it was but how cool!? Was he coming or going?

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My sister saw this tree and claimed it as her own. She said there was enough room in there to call it a condo. A one bedroom condo she said by New York City’s standards lol.

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This fungus was interesting. When seen higher up in the trees it looks like there are sea turtles sticking out from the tree showing their under bellies.

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I asked my sister to sit on the other side of this log. We sat for a couple of minutes in silence and closed our eyes. We concentrated on the sounds of the rainforest, birds, stream and trees. There weren’t many other people at the park so we were able to take it in unbothered.

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Before leaving the HOH rainforest (when I least expected it and wasn’t looking at her) Diana was taking a rest. She said that it helped her hips and back after laying there for a little bit. I believe the poor thing. We were using every ounce of daylight to sightsee everything we could.

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The hall of mosses was gorgeous. We were so happy to have seen this part of the Olympic National Park. Considering the time of year it was, it wasn’t nearly as cold as we anticipated. Chilly yes, but not cold…

If you’d like to see more about this trip, click the links below:

“Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle”

-Unknown

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RIALTO BEACH HIKE

HEY THERE!

Looking for the sentimental exciting (maybe boring?) stuff from our trip to the PNW?! Check out THIS post for all the feels regarding this trip.

Looking for more posts related to this trip? Click below:

For those of you strictly interested in Rialto Beach info, here you go:

GPS: 47.921225, -124.638120


TIME: 2 HOURS


LENGTH: 3 MILES

SUPER IMPORTANT!!!

  • Please make sure you check the tide charts to ensure a successful visit. We were up before sunrise to make it to Rialto by low tide. Parts of the beach are impassable if the tide is in.
  • Now… back to your regularly scheduled program 🙂

GETTING THERE

From Port Angeles my sister Diana and I drove west on the 101 for 52 miles. That was about an hour-long. Then we turned right on 110 and drove west for just under 8 miles. And then another right on Mora Rd for another 5 miles. It was super easy to find. I downloaded an offline map from google maps right to my phone as I knew I wouldn’t have service. Your cell phone provider should have maps online of where you have coverage. Total trip takes about an hour and a half if you’re not stopping for pictures at Lake Crescent.

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Sunrise behind us on our drive to Rialto Beach.

The further west we drove the colder it got. The snow and ice were more present.

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This picture is from Mora Rd.

And then, after driving through 5 miles of beautiful snow-covered trees the ocean appeared. The formations in the distance in this picture are from across the Quillayute River. They are A-Ka-Lat (James Island) and Little James Island. Great read on that HERE directly from the Quileute Nation website.

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RIALTO BEACH

When you arrive to the beach you’ll see these two signs posted, you made it to the beach! Turn right and you’ll find parking, a pit toilet (very clean!) and some signage regarding the area.

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Fence to the left leading to the reservation was closed.
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The trail map box was empty. It’s a relatively easy walk out and back so luckily it wasn’t needed.
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Snap a pic and you’ll have your guide of the area.

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“The sea makes the rules”

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We parked across from the pit toilet because we knew we were heading north on the beach. You can cross the massive driftwood right away towards the ocean and make a right once on the sand to begin. We chose to walk through the designated picnic area first and then cross the driftwood.

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My sister heading down to the beach.

We walked north approximately an hour on the beach. We thought we were the only ones there because there were no cars in the lot. Turns out there was another pair walking around too. We found two sets of small prints, seemingly from earlier in the morning amongst our fresher set.

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Raccoon maybe?

There’s also something to be said about the sand/rocks we were walking on. Since day’s first light hadn’t hit the beach yet it was very crunchy. Ice was holding the stones together and it actually helped with walking.

We reached Ellen Creek. We crossed and there are definitely parts that are deeper than they look. I’m talking entire foot and ankles deep. Really glad my sister and I planned for this and had appropriate footwear. The rest of the hike would not have been as much fun.

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After walking 1.5 miles, we made it to these GIGANTIC stacks. They’re so large they don’t seem so far, but it took us just about 45 mins to reach them.

The hole-in-the-wall can be seen in the following picture. Never having hiked with keeping tides in mind we chose not to add the extra half mile (RT) to the hole. We were already concerned with the tide creeping in through the stacks in the time we were there.

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On our way back towards the car we found the beach sublime! (Sorry terrible attempt at using sublimation in a joke to describe the picture below).

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We also found Ellen Creek a little deeper.

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I hope this was helpful and informative! I’ll leave some pretty nice pics we grabbed here. Feel free to send me a message or comment if you have any questions about Rialto Beach. I will do my best to answer them 🙂 When you have some time to spare and are interested in seeing what else we did in the PNW, you can read about it HERE.

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I could never stay long enough on the shore. The tang of the untainted, fresh and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought, and the shells and pebbles and the seaweed with tiny living creatures attached to it never lost their fascination for me.

-Helen Keller

OLYMPIC PENINSULA – DAY 2

This post is TWO 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 🙂

So what’s jet lag? Super determined to get through the crazy itinerary I worked so vigorously to build, I didn’t let that thought creep in to my mind. But in retrospect it would have helped explain the tired faces getting ready at 5:30am.

We snagged the free coffee and waffles at the Super 8 and took it to go. My sister ate first, and then helped me eat as I drove. Multi-tasking at its finest.

We drove for 70 miles, equaling 1.5 hours to Rialto Beach. I have an entire post of that beautiful experience HERE. Below a pic for reference of that gorgeous beach.

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When we left the beach we headed over the Quillayute River for second breakfast at the River’s Edge Restaurant. They had a breakfast special of 1 pancake, 2 eggs, and 3 bacon strips or sausage links. We both got the same deal and I decided to have coffee #2. River’s Edge had a nice view and we were so lucky to have sat near the window. We were treated to spotting two bald eagles and a pod of seals.

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After enjoying a delicious breakfast and some wonderful views at First Beach (a walk up the road from the restaurant), we were on the road again. This time towards Forks, WA.

Insert screaming Twilight Fangirl here…

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I COULD NOT be so close to Forks and NOT go. It would be a complete betrayal to who I was circa 2008. Not to mention I never fangirled anything so hard in my life since the Spice Girls. Still can’t believe I won’t be able to go to their reunion tour in England this year 😦

Anyways, Forks… It still has more Twilight references the closer you get to town. And once you’re in town you’ll see movie posters in windows alerting to twilight things sold inside. I can only imagine what it must have been like back when Twilight reached its zenith. However, it is March and for all I know it still gets busy here. Maybe not Twilight busy, but most certainly people heading into the Olympic Peninsula to be outdoors busy.

As we headed back to the car my sister spotted the Rainforest Art Center. It was a neat display of props and costumes from the movie. Things you can see in Edward’s room in Twilight and costumes from the saga. They even have the board versions of Jacob’s wolf that acted as a stand in.

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Having shopped and had my fill of Forks I happily got back in the car and headed towards our next destination: HOH rainforest.

The rainforest, part of Olympic National Park, still had snow on the ground. The trail was so green and mesmerizing. The carpet of moss on the entirety of the trails was otherworldly. I have another post, mostly pictures of the rainforest. If you’d like to see it click HERE.

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Now it was time to drive back to Port Angeles. The drive was just under two hours. We remembered the receptionist shared details of a good sunset spot. So once in Port Angeles, we went to Ediz Hook. We were in for a nice sunset. My sister couldn’t believe that was Canada on the other side of the water.

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We stopped at Anime Kat to peruse for a while until dinner time. My sister was in the mood for noodles. We drove around for a bit looking around and ended up eating Pad Thai at Jasmine Bistro. The spring rolls and pad Thai were delicious!

After a full day of activities and a full belly it was time to turn in. I have two other posts about our two days in seattle. If you’re interested in them check them out!

Thanks for reading 🙂

MARYMERE FALLS

HEY READER! Looking for the sentimental exciting (maybe boring?) stuff from our trip to the PNW?! Check out THIS post for all the feels regarding this trip.

For those of you strictly interested in Marymere Falls, here you go:

GPS: 48.056716, -123.787458

DATE: MARCH 7 2019

TIME: 1.5 HOURS

LENGTH: 1.8 MILES

GETTING THERE

We drove to the storm king ranger station. As usual I assume I don’t get service in the woods. So just in case I had my trusty google maps download the area onto my offline maps. It was only a 30 minute drive from the Super 8 (20 miles west on the 101). Very convenient!

We parked right in front of the ranger station. You can see it off to the right of this picture. You can see a tiny sliver of Lake Crescent in the background. And to the left of this picture there are some bathrooms. Parks with facilities are always a win in my book.

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MARYMERE FALLS

We walked right passed the sign and past the closed ranger station to begin our hike. There are signs for the hike and if you miss those, the ground is very worn from where everyone else walked. It’s hard to miss. Don’t forget to look up at these amazing trees while exploring this hike. They’re huge!

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After walking for some minutes you’ll come across this tunnel. It’s meant to keep hikers looking for Storm King and Marymere falls off the road. It isn’t very long or creepy in the daylight hours. Walking through there at night however is a different story.

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I wasn’t exaggerating about these trees. Can you see my sister?

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The “snow” was actually just straight up ice. It was slippery and definitely will add to your overall hike time. Walking on the edges of the dirty snow was our plan but the truth is we should just invest in some traction attachments. I’ve ended up on icy trails on more than one occasion now, including winter hikes in NY.

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And then there was the sign. Originally I had planned to conquer the Storm King Trail. It’s approximately a 2000ft. elevation gain hike and has views worth the sweat. My sister and I, having done Breakneck Ridge back home several times, would have attempted this without hesitation (my favorite hiking blog has a great post on Breakneck HERE). However, the ice added a new element we were not prepared for. I like to push my body’s limits, but I don’t like to risk injury. So we snapped a picture and kept walking toward the falls. Something tells me I’ll be back one day when the snow and ice have melted…

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After a while you’ll come across this cute sign letting you know you are on your way to see something awesome!

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You come across this first bridge. This one is made of metal and wide enough to fit 2-3 people across. We made sure to have great foot placement as it was very slippery.

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From the area of the first bridge you can see the second bridge you’ll be crossing shortly.

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The second bridge is wooden and very narrow. One person at a time narrow. Again, watching our footing we trekked across and no one slipped. Thank God!

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After crossing the wooden bridge you start ascending towards the falls loop. I have to stress how tense our legs were here. We knew we were going to have a hard time coming down because it was so slippery going up. My sister is actually placing her feet in grooves in the ice to make her way up.

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After finding the first flat-ish portion she’s turning around to check on me. We had a brief discussion about whether it was worth ascending the ice to see the falls. We luckily decided on continuing. We made that decision because there are banisters the entire way up and we could use them to stay upright.

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You’ll come across this sign pointing to the left for the one way loop. You’re almost there!!!

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As you walk on the loop, the bend doesn’t let you see the falls. But you can definitely hear them.

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There are two portions to the Marymere falls. But the top one… WOW!

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I stole this one from my sister’s SnapChat 🙂

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And this one from my GoPro is actually where someone dimmed the light. It happened so quickly it was alarming. It went from perfect daylight to darkness in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t help that the sun probably went lower than the mountains around us and the trees make a very dark canopy.

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Needless to say, I have zero pictures of our descent on the ice. I needed both hands to hold on to the wooden guard rails at the speed we were going. But I found an instagram post that can give you an idea of what it was like HERE. It’s a 30 second video. We didn’t “snowboard it” like he did, but it was intense! I mean just look at how dark the trail got. And we were the ONLY TWO people on that trail.

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Haha!!! This picture makes me laugh because its lack of focus shows how fast we were walking at this point. No time for pictures. We had headlamps with us just in case, but I’m no fan of the dark. We were moving out there lol.

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By the time we reached our car at 6:45pm this is what that same sign from earlier in the afternoon looked like from the car.

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Ice and darkness were interesting to experience in what felt like the middle of no where. No other hikers around and the whole place was ours. I don’t regret skipping the Storm King trail seeing how hard the Marymere falls loop was coming down. And that was with guard rails. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like having darkness descend on us while climbing down Storm King. Can you say scary?

Don’t get me wrong, this hike was so much fun! And on our first day in the Pacific North West it definitely set the tone for the adventures to come that weekend. I have a post of all the fun things we did in the PNW HERE. Check it out 🙂

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

-Sir Edmund Hillary

OLYMPIC PENINSULA – DAY 1

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.

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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!

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That is until we got further west as we headed to Port Angeles.

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During our first hours in Washington we experienced sunshine, rain, sunshine again, and then sleet. I would say that was a pretty appropriate welcoming.

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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.

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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.

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We hiked in mud, snow and ice to Marymere Falls. I have a post about it HERELet’s just say it was interesting to see how fast it got dark out.

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Afterwards we headed to Sergio’s Hacienda where we devoured a veggie burrito and chicken en crema dishes.

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“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”

Margaret Mead

BLACK ROCK FOREST HIKE

GPS: 41.41867, -74.01048

TIME: 3H 40M

LENGTH: 5.5 MILES

ELEVATION: 1,391 ft

HI THERE!

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!

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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

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The face I make when I realize it’s actually a snowstorm coming in!
Hike Info
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Go up the Stone Staircase and walk right past the green gate on the gravel road.

Cross Mailley’s Mill Bridge.

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Cross the second bridge.

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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.

 

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The rocks looked like they would be high enough to keep me out of the water.

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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.

 

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There are a couple of log benches there as well. But please no swimming!

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!

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Cross the bridge over the bottom section of the spillway.

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Continue to walk up the small hill alongside the reservoir until you are standing at the bank.

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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!

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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.

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In about 10 minutes you’ll come across two boulders. Walk between the boulders and hop onto “Buster’s Bend.”

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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.”

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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