Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Hiking’ category

Hike Kentuck Trail/Visit Kentuck Knob

We hiked Kentuck Trail in Ohiopyle State Park – about 4.5 miles after the rains stopped. It was cool, but very humid, and we were the first ones on the trail, so we got all the spider webs. The river is the main attraction of the park, but there are 20,500 acres of beautiful forest and small streams. Behind Kentuck Knob Picnic Area is a beautiful overlook of the little town, the river and surrounding mountains. Hiking in the woods requires a reward for me to enjoy it. It could be along a trout stream, beautiful overlooks, exceptional trees (like the Redwoods), wildlife sightings or a variety of flowers and mushrooms. Our reward today was good exercise and a beautiful vista. 

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Just a mile from the campground is Kentuck Knob, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Hagen family. A smaller home than Falling Waters, it sits on a high hill overlooking Ohiopyle and the Youghiogheny Valley. It is built into the hill in hexagonal and triangular forms using native sandstone with a copper roof. It is a very cool house in a beautiful setting, and it has held up well over the years. The Hagen family made their money making Hagen ice cream, which is sold in the visitor’s center.

We just made it back before the rains came again, and it rained hard all night. I was going to float the middle Youghiogheny Friday, but might be a bit too much now. 

Fallingwater – Frank Lloyd Wright

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

We went to visit Falling Waters, a summer house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family, owners of Kaufmann’s Department Store in Pittsburgh. The property on Bear Run was once a country club. Then Kaufmann bought it for his employees to use in the summer, who paid $1/night to stay. There were cabins and activities of hiking, swimming, volleyball and fishing. Later Kaufmann asked Wright to design a house across from waterfalls on Bear Run. Wright pushes to build it over the waterfall. It is a very cool house with cantilevered balconies and patios, and steps from the living room down to the river. A small swimming pool was built as part of the house filled by the stream. I loved the huge fireplace with a steel grate and a giant kettle that swings into the fire to make warm beverages. It would be great fun to walk the beautiful grounds, but the rains came and we retreated.

After lunch, when the storm passed, we hiked the Fernwood Trail through the Peninsula. This was once built up with a hotel, boardwalks and other businesses, but once cars became prevalent, train travel to Ohiopyle dropped off and the hotel closed. Later all the buildings were removed and trees replanted. It is now a forest with only trails crossing it. For all the visitors who come here, they have preserved the wilderness feel. When you are on the river, you don’t see any signs of civilization. Ohiopyle is a cute, little town with outfitters for rafting, biking, climbing and fishing. The park is 20,500 acres of forest, streams, the Youghiogheny River, The Greater Allegheny Passage Bike Trail, Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (70 mi) and lots of other trails. This is surely one of the best state parks I have visited. 

Ohiopyle State Park

Monday, June 18, 2018

Getting an early start, we hiked the Ferncliff Trail around Ferncliff Peninsula. This follows a big loop in the river going through a gorge. There were a few side trails down to the river. On one, we were lucky to be there when a group of rafters came through. This is a big, powerful river with some big rapids. Although this group had guides in kayaks showing them the way through the rapid, there were no guides in the rafts. There were about 10 rafts, and they all got stuck in the middle of the rapid, some crashing into the ones already stuck. Amazingly, no one fell out. We were happy to have a guide in the boat for our trip this afternoon. 

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I was soaking wet from hiking in the hot and very humid forest, so we went back for a shower, lunch and a little rest. Then we went to Laurel Highlands Raft Company for a 3½ hour raft trip down the lower Youghiogheny River. Our team leader, Michelle, gave us instructions as we put on our life jackets and helmets. Then we piled into a van and drove 20 minutes to the put-in. As she drove, Michelle talked about all the adventurous things you can do in the park – biking, mountain biking, rock-climbing and a popular natural water slide. “We have many ways to get you injured” she said. At the landing, she positioned us in three rafts, each with a guide, ours being Toby. “Most drownings are from getting a foot wedged. There are many rocks, tires and redneck refrigerators on the bottom. Do not put your foot on the bottom. If you fall out of the boar, do not try to stand up. Lie on your back with your feet up to push off rocks”. the other biggest injury is getting hit by a paddle handle, so she cautioned to always keep you hand on the handle.  

Off we went, but the guides explained their instructions – all forward, all back, right side forward, all stop. We had a pretty good crew with two teen-age girls, a teen-age boy, Martha and three men, all nice. Toby told us the names of all the rapids, along with rock names, like ‘The Decapitator’. Then in the first rapid he went down side-ways so we would all get wet. The girls screamed. It was hard to tell when Toby was messing with us and when he just hit rocks. We were stronger on the left side of the boat, which made it a bit of a problem. 

We came to Dimple Rock in the middle of the afternoon. There was a large group of rafts getting instruction before going through. They had no guides in their boats, but several in kayaks. A huge sign warned of the dangers of Dimple rock, and there was a portage sign on the right side of the river. Geez! The leader of the large group let our three guided boats go through before them. We headed right at huge Dimple Rock, then Toby turned 40 degrees and yelled “All forward hard”. We did, but we still bumped the end of the rock, which turned us around, but we had passed the danger. I later read about this rapid. Dimple Rock is a V-shaped rock pointing downstream. The entire force of the river plunges into the open part of the V. Of the millions of people who have floated the river in the last 30 years 18 boaters have died. Nine of those were at Dimple Rock. 

There was another big rock where the river makes a hard right, a good place to get swept into the rock that is undercut, but we managed that one without incident. It was a seemingly less difficult rapid with heavy waves that we ran into a big rock on the left as we swept by. We had hit plenty of rocks, but we were going to hit this one pretty hard. Like a bouncing ball, the raft compressed when it hit, then released and threw three of us into the river. Feet up, on my back, I watched for big rocks. They got the other two quickly in the boat, but I was behind it. All I was thinking was not being able to see what was coming, the raft blocking my view. As we got to the bottom of the waves, Toby waved me to come on, so I turned over and swam to the boat where he quickly dragged me in. One of the girls dinged her knee pretty good, but seemed to be OK. Toby then moved people around to make the right side paddlers stronger. That sobered people up a bit, and we were a little more serious about paddling. We still managed to hit more rocks, getting stuck on a few. 

Having turned over plenty of times in canoes on much less powerful rivers, I have tremendous respect for the power of water. What you worry about is getting into a boat with people who don’t know. They think they are in Disneyland, laughing, talking, paddling lackadaisically. They think the guide can control everything. It’s really those hard turns where everyone needs to be a their best. Our crew really did pretty well. Laurel Highlands does a great job, and Michelle is a real pro. This river is absolutely gorgeous. You don’t see anything but trees and river. It’s as pretty a river as I have ever been on. The trout population is quite good here, but I have no idea how you would fish this section. It is way too deep and forceful to walk in. I didn’t see any driftboats, and this would be a challenge for them. 

Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and Port Renfrew

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Martha said I got to choose what we do today. I wanted to go back to Port Renfrew where we saw people lined up on a bridge over the Gordon River. There was nowhere to park the trailer, so we couldn’t stop, but I knew there was a big salmon run. It’s only 41 miles. I knew it was a long, curvy, bouncy trip with the trailer, but thought it would be faster with just the truck. I was wrong. It’s an hour and a half trip if you don’t stop. The Road to Hana in Hawaii has nothing on this winding road, but it’s worth it.

We stopped at French Beach Provincial Park and walked down. there is a beautiful picnic area, a playground and benches along to edge of the beach. It’s a round rock beach where the waves roll the rocks back and forth, a very cool sound.

Driving on, we came to a very cool spot, Jordan River, where surfers and paddle boarders worked some small waves. A fire kept onlookers warm, but it was a nice day by now. A coffee shop sits on the other side of the road, and a small campground sits right next to the water.

We stopped at China Beach, where the Juan de Fuca Trail begins. It goes for 47km along the coast next to Juan de Fuca Straight. We hiked it for two hours to Mystic Beach and back. Of course nothing can go in a straight line on this rugged, beautiful coast, and neither does the trail. It winds up and down hills in this section, and you have to be vigilantly watching roots that go everywhere. Martha slipped on one and took a fall. It could have been nasty, but she was OK. It was Sunday and there were a lot of people on the trail, and everyone had at least one dog. One young lady was running the trail with her music plugged into her ears. I don’t know how you would run this trail! It’s cool though. You can camp along the trail or on one of the beaches.

We thought about hiking another section, but decided against it. It was a beautiful, warm day when we arrived at the Gordon River Bridge, but chilly winds blew off the ocean and up the river. This is the look of British Columbia I love. A big river surrounded by mountains thickly covered in pine trees. It still appears wild and free. There was only one fisherman on the bridge. We gazed into the water and saw four, big salmon moving upriver. It certainly wasn’t a big salmon run like there must have been on our trip down. Maybe the tide has to be right. Another fisherman worked form a kayak in the middle of the river, while a couple sat under an umbrella, soaking up the sun.

We drove into town, now hungry for lunch. Two places were closed for the season, but we stopped at The Renfrew Pub, not knowing what to expect. Motorcycles, trucks and sports cars were parked in the lot. It has to be a great trip for motorcycles. It was busy with people out for a Sunday spin on a pretty day, maybe the last for the next spell. I ordered a salmon burger and fries, and Martha had seafood chowder and fish tacos. It was all very good with good service. We walked out back of the pub and down the dock. Martha posed next to a beautiful Indian Motorcycle. There were the cutest tiny cottages right on the dock with great views and gas fires to keep you warm. I asked Martha if she wanted to stay the night, but she declined. Looking into the water, there were thousands of small fish, sardines I suspect. On the other side, we saw two large crabs. It looks like a healthy, beautiful environment.

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Just north of Port Renfrew is the end of Juan de Fuca Trail at Botanical Beach. We walked down to the beautiful, rocky beach at low tide where a small forest grows on a rock. Then we got back on the road for the long drive back. Well, it’s not a long drive, but it takes a long time.

Cowichan River Provincial Park

October 12, 2017

As Lonnie suggested, we went to three day-use areas on the Cowichan River. We were astounded by its beauty. Lonnie said it is very busy in the summer with fishermen, so it is closed to fishing now below the falls. Steelhead run the river in December after the rains come. She said the river will be up 20 feet! People will still fish it in drift boats and pontoon boats. It is also very popular with kayakers, and I can see why. At the falls, there are two fish ladders, each for different water levels. I don’t know how you would fish this when it is rocking like that. This is a gorgeous river with a lot of uses.

We drove up to the town of Cowichan, which is at the bottom of huge Lake Cowichan. We stopped at the grocery to stock up on a few things, and returned to camp to sign up for another night and get some lunch.

We went up to Marie Canyon Day Use area, another gorgeous area on this beautiful river. In its summer form the river cuts through an impressive rock canyon. No wonder kayakers love this river. What is really amazing is how the water cuts concavities  and even holes right through rocks. One rock looked like a Mickey Mouse face. This park follows the river for a long way with hiking, biking and horseback trails. The Trans-Canada Trail comes through here. It is a very well thought out park, where picnic tables and benches are tucked into secluded places.

Back at camp we enjoyed a nice fire and told each other the stories our books told. I am reading “13 Hours in Benghazi” while Martha read “Fugitive Nights” that she picked up at a visitor’s center “Need a Book” shelf. Rain drove us indoors for dinner and early book reading. It rained all night. Dick was right when he said, “ You can set your calendar to October 12th for the rains to begin”.

Rain Forest Trail, Bog Trail, Information Center, and Tofino

October 10, 2017

We had rain last night, a good thing for British Columbia. It’s also good when it comes at night. Although chilly when we set out at 9:30, it was most pleasant for a hike. The Rain Forest Trail is only 1km, the whole way covered by a beautiful wooden walkway. Whoever built this was a real craftsman. This forest is gorgeous, so pretty it took an hour to travel the short distance, and I could have taken longer.

A raven clucked softly in different tones the entire walk through this magical forest. I wish I had recorded him or her. Huge trees, one giant cedar being born in 1247! Signs educated us about the forest, plants and trees. It told us about how huge, dead trees serve as nutrient for new trees. If you see a straight line of trees, you know they grew from a fallen one. Gardens grow on tree stumps and limbs. One sign told us one very old fallen tree harbored more insects and animals than all the humans on earth. Last night’s rain brought the forest to life, and the sun was perfect for pictures. I rank this hike with one of the best I have ever hiked, along with yesterday’s Wild Pacific Trail.

True athletes that we are, we went for another 1km hike at the Bog Trail through a totally different landscape. Warnings were posted for bears and wolves, but didn’t even see a sparrow. On to the Kwisitis Information Center.  It’s a great view from the deck of the Information Center of Wickaninnish Beach. The real treat was their movie. Like everywhere else, this area was ravaged by Europeans. The salmon were fished out. Whaling had been done here for thousands of years with little effect, but with more advanced methods, the whales were soon fished out. Then lumber companies were stripping the island of age old forests. Finally the Tla-o-qui-aht had enough, and their chief made a stand. In what became standoff battle, other residents and people from other parts of Canada joined the First Nation people. The story is the question of how to make resources sustainable. Vancouver Island is an incredibly beautiful place. How do you protect it and still let your citizens make a living. This is an excellent film that should be required for all inhabitants and visitors. If anyone has a link to this film, please share it.

We went into Tofino and had lunch at The Shelter. It was excellent – great food, great waitress and great view. Thanks Brian and Leslie, for the recommendation. Then we went to the library to post and read e-mails. It’s a very small library, but steadily busy for the two hours we were there. One lady ran the show, and while I was trying to write, I couldn’t help listening to her. The way she handled people was a delight. After helping a little girl find a book and telling her all about it, the little girl turned to her mom and said, “Do we have to leave”? That’s when I started paying attention. One young lady came in with a book overdue. She was apologizing right from the start, but the lady in charge said, “What are you? Canadian? Stop apologizing”. Cracked me up. A persnickety woman was searching for some magazine and couldn’t find it. The lady in charge went over and said, “Nope, we don’t have it. We don’t have any A’s”. Others asked about a book, and the lady had comments and suggestions about all of them. I wondered if she had read every book. I couldn’t write any more, I was so mesmerized by this woman, and sorry I hadn’t paid more attention from the start. I was really sorry when it was time to leave. I went up to her and told her she was the best ever. She looked at me quizzically and said, “Are you messing with me?” I told her I wasn’t. I didn’t tell her how many libraries I had been in since July – big ones, small ones, good ones, bad ones. This one may be small, but if you want a warm, comforting atmosphere with an incredible lady running, count your blessings. I said, “No, it’s the truth. You are the best. Thank you so much”. She stared at me, wide-eyed, mouth hanging open, and hesitatingly said, “Well, thank you”.

Wild Pacific Trail

October 9, 2017

We walked the Wild Pacific Trail central section in Ucluelet. It is a beautiful trail along the rocky coast with benches to sit and admire the beauty. Eagles, blue herons, sea gulls lots of small birds inhabit the area, along with some wolves. Keep your puppies close warned a sign. There are stunning views around every bend. We took a little loop through an ancient cedar forest. I had no idea cedars could grow so big.

We cruised the little upscale town, but it is Thanksgiving holiday, so all businesses were closed. We were surprised by the number of vacation houses, hotels and resorts. Bike paths went through town, and hiking trails went along the coast. It’s a very pretty area that is probably very busy in summer.

At 52 degrees, it was a great evening to sit by a big fire. Martha made a great split pea soup and bread warmed over the fire. We walked down to the beach for sunset. It is a beautiful beach with a lot of character – rock outcropping, trees and pounding surf.

Hike Cable Bay Trail and Nanaimo River Park

Friday, October 6, 2017

We hiked two pretty trails, the Cable Bay Trail and Nanaimo River Park Trail. The highlight was seeing four River Otters in Cable Bay. Martha went down to the point to get a closer look, and they popped up right in front of her, trying to figure what she was all about. Two eagles were yelling, unable to catch a fish. Maybe they were yelling at the otters, which are very good at catching fish.

The Nanaimo River Park would be a great place to bike. The river looks like it would be fun to canoe or kayak. Back at camp, Martha fixed a great dinner of ratatouille, pork chops and mushrooms.

Hike Squirrel Cache, Bike to Ralph’s for a Milkshake

September 29, 2017

As we got ready to hike Squirrel Cache Trail, Ken and Ruth came over. We had spoken last night as they were cooking dinner because they have a new 19’ Bambi. They are from Spokane and wanted to get their new Airstream out. They knew all about the campground and the area. Previously tent campers, this is all new to them, but Ken is an avid reader of the Airstream Forum. As we stood there talking, another couple came up. They too have an Airstream, a 23’. Both couples were very nice and interesting to chat with.

The Squirrel Cache hike was an easy hike, even though we made a wrong turn somehow. I keep looking at trees with holes all through them for a baby owl to be sitting in the opening.

After lunch we rode the bikes into Bayview and Ralph’s for ice cream and WIFI. Riding the Lynx Trail over gravel, rocks and tree roots slowed things down quite a bit. It makes it interesting for a while, but we rode on the road coming back. Bayview is really a nice, little town in a beautiful setting with big mountains surrounding a beautiful lake. I ordered a double scoop chocolate cone, while Martha went for the Huckleberry milkshake. Both were outstanding. I’m going to miss Ralph’s. He is sponsoring a fishing tournament this weekend and had 78 entries.

Back at camp, Martha cooked salmon, potatoes and brussel sprouts over an open fire. She is very good at cooking this way.

Finish Hiking AT in Shenandoah National Park

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

I had seven miles to walk to Compton Overlook to meet Martha. I was sore and tired, but it felt good to be finishing the hike. It was still blowing very hard when we got up, and it was cold. The water bottles weren’t frozen, but they had ice in them. Nick was nice enough to boil me some water for coffee. We didn’t know if Kelly got the messages through the InReach, so we didn’t know if Nick’s girlfriend or Martha would be on the way to pick us up. I figured at worst I would walk or hitch to Front Royal and get a room. 

I set out at 7:30 not knowing what kind of hike I had, but I knew by now that 7 miles is a 5-hour morning for me on this trail. I had a lot of layers on as I started up the steep hill form Gravel Springs Hut figuring I would take some off when I got to the top, but I didn’t. It was cold and that wind was really blowing. The first part was pretty level and the whole day was relatively easy with a couple of mountains to go over. I flushed a couple of grouse at the top of one. That was nice to see. I haven’t seen grouse in Virginia in a long time. Trying to take pictures at the top of the first mountain, the howling wind about knocked me over. It was dangerous, so I moved on, trying to stick to the business at hand – getting to the pick-up spot in reasonable time. I stopped for a breather at one point and a tree limb fell right in front of me. All it would take is for one of these trees to give up in this fierce wind and fall on you. Thank God that didn’t happen. 

The last mountain, Compton, wasn’t so big, but by the ninth day, everything was difficult. I knew it was the last one, so that helped a lot. I was surprised to see hikers at the top. It as Sunday, so I knew people would be out, but it was also cold and nasty with that wind. More hikers passed me on the way down the other side. Someone was bringing a group of community kids up the mountain for a hike, one having a Superman backpack. I shook his hand, congratulating him for hiking up this mountain. Cute kid!

It was difficult to control my pace as I got closer. I wanted to go faster, but you always know that one bad step and there goes a knee or an ankle of a pulled muscle. Every day I felt something sore. Of course the feet are always sore, one way or another, and I had plenty of blisters. Today I felt like I could pull a muscle behind my left knee, the top of the calf muscle. 

I got to the parking lot just after 12:00, but Martha wasn’t there. I had 3 bars on my phone, but couldn’t make a phone call. I could see that she got my message to pick me up, and she replied at 10:15 that she would soon be on the way. I knew that would take about three hours to get here. It was cold standing there in that wind. I drank more icy water in wind that kept wanting to blow my hat into Never Never Land. I took out my rain jacket and put it on for another layer. I didn’t want to take out my long john pants and put them on in the parking lot. People were coming and going, and there were probably 10 cars in the parking lot. I was impressed there were so many out on a tough day like this. It was 29 degrees and blowing gale-force winds. I didn’t see Nick anywhere, and hoped he had gotten through to his girlfriend. 

I walked down the side of the road a couple of hundred yards to keep moving and try to stay warm and also see if I could get cell reception, but that was no use. Even if I got through on mine, what were the odds that hers would have reception? I figured 1:30 was a good target, so I kept walking, once considering getting the sleeping bag out. It might look foolish, but it would be warm! Sure enough at 1:30 I saw that beautiful truck round the bend! It was so good to see Martha! She had a big thermos of hot tea that really hit the spot! 

I requested lunch at Skyland for lunch, although I wasn’t really hungry. I had eaten an energy bar while I waited, but I wanted to drink a lot of something and I wanted that split pea soup! I drank half of the tea on the way. Never having seen this part of the parkway,  we enjoyed spectacular views. It was interesting to drive back past all the places I had walked. It seemed like a long time ago as we went back. Nine days. It’s pretty amazing how far you can walk in nine days! 

When we got to Skyland, it was 28 degrees with a fierce wind. Martha scurried across the parking lot into the building. I didn’t have any scurry in me. No split pea soup so we ordered chicken and rice, which was the best ever, with big chunks of chicken. It was almost like a chicken pot pie without the shell, a meal all in itself. Martha ordered a wedge salad, which was great, and I had the fish and chips, stuffing myself. It’s worth the trip up here just for the soups!

Driving back along the parkway, I wound back the clock, seeing all the places I had crossed days before. It was a lot of mountains to slog over. I think Mary’s Rock was the most difficult, both going up and coming back down. It’s steep with a lot of rocks. On the other hand, I had met a couple from Culpeper who love this hike and come regularly. 

I’m glad I did it. I was sure tired and worn out. No doubt it would be a lot easier for a young person. 10 miles a day is an all-day job for me. I learned a lot, and saw places I have never seen. I feel more comfortable in the woods alone. I know more about how to get water and appreciate it a lot more. There are places I want to come back to with Martha, and I’d like to camp at the campgrounds. I have huge respect for through hikers who spend months on the trail. I can’t even comprehend spending four months hiking the whole thing! Then again, if I were 25 years old, I’d be very tempted. We have a great national park in our back yard. It needs our help. They are understaffed and underfunded, and it is tremendously porous. You can fish any stream with a fishing license on hundreds of miles of trout streams. You can hike hundreds of trails from the bottom and not pay a dime. The only way they get a fee is if you drive the parkway, and you can get a lifetime senior pass to ALL the national parks for $10. You can stay in these shelters for free!  Canada would not let you get away with this, and therefore their parks are in much better shape.