.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America

Flatirons Vista Loop Hike, Boulder, Colorado

001 Flatiron Vista Loop Trail 09-2014

One of my favorite regions to hike is anywhere near the transition between the great Central Plains and the Rocky Mountains.  The region offers opportunity to explore several ecosystems and to enjoy grand panoramic views of the mountains and a seemingly endless prairie, with relatively little effort due to the flatness of the plains.

Flatirons Vista Trail offers a hike that’s custom-tailored to the above description.  It’s just south of the college city of Boulder, Colorado (where my youngest son is currently a postgrad in physics), immediately off Highway 93, and is a loop trail that  offers great views of Boulder’s famous Flatirons.  There’s lots of parking (for a fee for non-residents, so bring small bills with you).  The trail is quite …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

Hiking in Horseshoe Canyon; an introduction to Alberta’s Badlands

008 Horseshoe Canyon 06-2014

Most of the hikes I’ve featured on this blog are in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, with good reason.  The scenery in these mountains is truly spectacular, the altitude not overly taxing, and the long summer days are usually dry and sunny.  But there’s a lot more to Alberta than its Rocky Mountains.  Most of the province is actually composed of vast rolling prairies within which you’ll find limited regions known as “the Badlands”.  The Badlands are one of the most unique ecosystems in Alberta, a mostly treeless environment that offers expansive and colorful vistas of eroded, banded mesas, buttes, and coulees.

The easiest place to explore the Badlands is at Horseshoe Canyon, just over an hour’s drive north of Calgary, near Drumheller, …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Yosemite National Park: Hiking in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

The “Grizzly Giant” in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park

The state of California has some pretty remarkable scenery.  Where else can you find the world’s …

Oldest trees (bristle-cone pines)
Tallest trees (redwoods)
Largest/most massive trees (sequoias)…

…but in California?  I know it’s a rhetorical question, but there’s no area I know of that offers such variety.

As one might imagine, to walk in a grove of giant sequoias is a most memorable experience.  If you’ve never felt small and insignificant in life, you likely will when you stand beside an ancient sequoia tree.   The largest density of sequoia trees is in California’s Sequoia National Park, south of Yosemite, including the tree known as “General Sherman”, the world’s largest living thing.  Yosemite National Park has two groves of …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

Banff National Park: Hiking Tunnel Mountain

026 Tunnel Mountain Banff National Park

As summer is upon us, I thought  I’d feature another walk from the Canadian Rockies, this one directly accessible from downtown Banff on a trail that’s been around almost as long as Banff itself has.  The hike is up Tunnel Mountain, a misnamed place in that there is no tunnel and this “mountain” is really just a large hill when compared to the size and grandeur of the other Rocky Mountains peaks around it (it’s the smallest mountain by Banff, but definitely still a memorable peak).  There are wonderful views to be enjoyed from much of the trail, reason enough to make this a worthwhile hike.

The original name given to this peak by the natives was “Sleeping Buffalo Mountain” (because the …

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.All Trips / California / Southwestern USA

Crystal Cove State Park, Newport Beach, California

Crystal Cove State Park 3-2014 (7)

           “They call it paradise, I don’t know why.                   
        You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye. ”

                                  The Eagles

There’s a lot of great reasons to visit sunny Southern California.  It has a near perfect Mediterranean climate with months of sunny dry days.  There’s lots of fascinating sights to see, like those centered around the movie industry and the many family theme parks (Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland).  But you’ll certainly not find solitude here and there are very few “wide open spaces” left in the …

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

A visit to the Everglade National Park: Shark Valley’s “River of Grass”

012 Everglades Shark Valley Bobcat Trail 012 Alligator

This is the last in a three part series highlighting a visit to Florida’s unique Everglades.  The first part discussed the Cypress forests of the Everglades and the second part highlighted the coastal mangrove forests near Everglades City.  Today I’d like to share with you a great example of the major component of the Everglades, the “River of Grass” — tens of thousands of acres of partially submerged sawgrass.  Within this flat landscape are some small islands on which grow cypress, palm and gumbo-limbo trees.

The Everglades is characterized by a broad shallow river flowing from Lake Okeechobee into Florida Bay.  This river averages 40-50 miles (75  km) in width, 6 in (15 cm)  in depth and flows very slowly, …

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Florida’s Everglades: Big Cypress Bend boardwalk at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park

Florida Eveerglades Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk 2013 009

The Everglades is a fascinating and unique place — a broad shallow river slowly moving to the sea and covering a large portion of southwestern Florida in a thin layer of water.   Mostly the Everglades is characterized by its “River of Grass”, endless acres of saw-grass (run your finger along it’s edge and you’ll see how it got its name).  I’ll be writing about my visit to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park soon, Shark Valley being representative of this “River of Grass” ecosystem.  The mangroves are another face of the Everglades found along the coast, where fresh and salt water mingle, and we’ll also be discussing Everglades City which is in this region in a future post.

Today …

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“Pic of the Week”. February 7, 2014. Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

2014 003 Jan 17a Half Dome at Sunset, Glacier Point 07-96

One of the classic symbols of Yosemite National Park (or the USA for that matter) is Half Dome in Yosemite Valley.  This mountain rises 5000 ft (1500 m) above the valley floor and its summit is 8800 ft (2680 m) above sea level.  Half Dome is best know for being a half a mountain (as its name implies).  John Muir, the father of conservation of the Sierra Nevada, correctly postulated that this appearance was due to glaciation, half the mountain having been removed by glacial action not unlike a knife cutting a cake in half.

The color of the granite in the valley changes dramatically with changing daylight, as seen in the …

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