2 more hikes in the Berkshires – {Ashuvillticook and Greylock}

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen walking along bike trail. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

In April we decided again we needed a break and choose to hike another couple of areas in the Berkshires. As in the Adirondacks, spring brings wet and soggy ground so there are times when finding a good spot to hike can be difficult especially because you don’t want to damage the trail. One of the great things about rail to trail bikeways are that in the cases where the trail has been covered in macadam, the hard surface makes a stable walking and bike-riding platform. Since we had decided not to bring our bikes as they are still in storage we ventured out to the bike path near Pittsfield. Ashuwillticook Rail Trail was 11.2 miles long and goes all the way to Adams, Massachusetts running along Route 8 (the trail was wheelchair accessible). There are four entrance points on the trail, one at each end and two in the middle. The first day we entered the path near the Berkshire Mall. A long time ago we had found this bike path in the winter and the three of us when Lucy our golden retriever was alive, had enjoyed a winter hike on the trail. So when we were again in the area we thought we would check it out. This time we were on the edge of winter releasing it’s grip and spring starting to take it’s own. So the weather had warmed up, it had been raining instead of snowing but the buds were still not quite out.

Evidence that beaver are nearby. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The first day we hit the trail it was busy with both walkers and early bikers. Our challenge was to find a place to park. Once awarded a parking place we headed out on a nice little stroll, soaking up the sun and listening to all the early peeps and croaks of the animals around us. At one point we heard these loud sounds that we thought were ducks and when we approached the area we could not see any! But the sounds around us were so big and that was when as Eileen studying the water she pointed out the source of all the sound.

“Hey Jelane, look it’s the frogs, that is what we are hearing!”

And to our amazement they were everywhere floating on the pond letting us know spring was here! As we moved on Eileen saw what looked like a beaver dam out in the waterway, and moments later I saw a large brown object over to the side near the shore. We slowed down and as we approached closer we stopped to watch hidden there in the tree’s a beaver  hanging out scratching its’ belly and taking a stretch. As it eased quietly back into the water we noticed around near by evidence that a beaver had been munching on some of the tree’s.

Beaver swimming – the water is great! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

A couple days later we would again find ourselves at the bike trail but this time we drove further toward Chester, MA and accessed the trail at another parking lot. It was quieter here and less congested than the entrance near the Berkshire Mall, next time we will use this entrance to the trail again for this reason. This section of the trail allowed us to walk along the waters edged. We had great views of the mountains and found ample places to park along with less congestion along the trail itself. Again while walking along we were fortunate to see a beaver again, this time the beaver swam toward us, made eye contact and turned and swam back further out into the water. We felt so luck to have spotted beaver twice! In both hikes on the bike trail we enjoyed a great hike and little mud with great views.

Trail sign for Bradley. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

For our next hiking adventure we headed to Mount Greylock State Reservation. We had not been back there in a while. We weren’t sure what the hiking conditions would be but we hoped we could find a dry enough trail so not to hurt it with slogging through mud. As luck would have it the Bradley Farm Trail was fairly dry and we enjoyed looping up along the river and up through the woods. We found evidence of the old farm stone fence along the trails we walked. We both thought about how much work making the fence would have been and how sturdy the stone fence was, many years after the builders had passed on! It was another sunny day and we enjoyed a great view of the mountains from the parking lot of the visitor center. We were disappointed it was closed and only open the weekends during the winter/ spring. We had hiked here also before with Lucy but with our snowshoes. It is always so different to hike an area in different seasons. Winter snow offers such a flattened surface for hiking as compared to spring, summer and fall when you need to watch your boots carefully as you step over large rocks and hidden roots. Again it was a great day to walk in the woods and we enjoyed the gurgle of running water and seeing the winter run off cascading over little falls. It was so good to be out in the woods.

Stone fence on Bradley farm trail hike. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

It was always so interesting to see the woods in the in between times. The land was wet, the trees were bare and you got a small sliver of a hint that spring may be around the corner. No flowers were up and there was the faintest glimmer, if you looked carefully, of buds starting to form on the trees. You could hear the beginnings of birdsong and the woods starting to awaken from their winter nap and just around the corner in a few days or weeks spring was waiting to surprise, in it’s full bloom. It always seems that one day everything was quiet and you wonder will Spring come and all of a sudden overnight the trees will blossoms and the forest will awaken but at this point it has yet to happen and right now all was quiet on the edges.

Funky Birch Tree Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

© Jelane A. Kennedy and Eileen A. McFerran

 

 

 

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Spring Photo Essay – 2017

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Spring sprung 10 days ago but here in the Northeast it still feels as though winter is trying to keep it’s icy grip!!

Although the light is at a new angle, at times when I got out in the morning it feels like we are just starting winter. The good news is the calendar says it is the end of March and that means April flowers will be showing up soon. As I look in our garden I am beginning to see the heroic tulips busting up through the snow.

Most of the photos that I’m sharing are from after the March 2017 blizzard.

But I’ll start with a photo taken this February after my truck was out one night and as I went to work this was what I found.

My truck after I made it to work with a truck bed of snow. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

After the blizzard and the roads were clear, Eileen and I headed to Thacher Park  for some snowshoeing. This year we had more snow than last but it came in spurts with lots of melting between so we did not get to snowshoe much.

Eileen at Paint Mine, the snow plowed high.

Eileen captured this great set of tracks in the snow.

Tracking the wild. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

The last of the snow up at Pyramid Lake, catching the reflection off the river.

The river in melt. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen dressed in her trapper hat by Pyramid Lake.

Are you sure it’s Spring? Eileen at Pyramid Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Happy Spring!

(c) 2017 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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2 day hikes in the Berkshire Mountains

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Great little map! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Great little map! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

After two great snowstorms in the Northeast this month it was time to enjoy a couple of hikes. We decided to take a trip to the Berkshires, for a change of pace.

One of our favorite places for a great little hike is in Lenox off of Route 7 & 20 at John Drummond Kennedy Park. The park has multiple looping and connecting paths. I read somewhere that they are old carriage trails. This is probably one of the best-marked looping path parks that we have been to. The park is open from sunrise to sunset. Parking is available at several spots near the trail. Volunteers do a pretty good job of keeping the trails up, it appears that there is not a culture of dog owners picking up their dog poop so if it is a busy day you may have a few to dodge.

Eileen decked out to hike. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen decked out to hike. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

There are green signs in several locations to help you navigate along with signs that lay out the whole park with notes to show you where you are. I found the markers very helpful as l jumped from loop to loop. One of our favorite spots is to hike is up to the gazebo and enjoy the view from the top seeing Mount Greylock on a clear day. The park always seems busy yet we are still able to find solitude as we hike. We have only visited this park in the winter so I’m not sure how it would be in other seasons with mountain bikers buzzing around.

On this trip we were prepared to snow shoe but as the temperature rose we decided that our micro-spikes might be best in the slushy snow. We also saw a few folks come by on cross-country skis and people dog walking. It was a great day to be out and everyone was taking advantage.

Gazebo on the hill looking up. Kennedy Park. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Gazebo on the hill looking up. Kennedy Park. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Our second hike was over to Laurel Hill Association trails in Stockbridge called Goodrich Park and Memorial Bridge. The history of Laurel Hill is fascinating: The association was started in 1853. It is the oldest association in the US that was to be involved in village improvement. There are multiple properties and 3 trails that they maintain.

We found this hike with Lucy our golden retriever a number of years ago. We usually have done the Mary V. Flynn trail, which is a loop of 1.2 miles along the river. It is wheel chair accessible as it is mostly built on the bed of an old trolley line. It is great hike listening to the joyful gurgle of water. Dog walkers seem to find this a popular hike. Again the dog poop factor can add to the challenge and seems to be more of an issue here than at Kennedy Park. But on a good day it is a lovely little hike.

Eileen at the bridge entrance. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen at the bridge entrance. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

This year we decided to try Laura’s Tower Trail, a hike that we had not been sure in the past where it went. But with the snow well tramped down we could easily see the path. At the end of the bridge that spans the Housatonic River we continued to walk straight toward the railroad tracks, on the other side of the tracks we picked up the trail. The trail makes a 1.5-mile loop and is listed as being Moderately Difficult with a 600’ vertical assent.

There were markers occasionally but not as frequently as I like which is that I can stand at one marker and see the next up head of me. Anyway it was a great hike with multiple switchbacks, which helped as we made the trip to the top of the hill. We then went up the tower.

It’s a great small mountain hike. On this particular day the view from the tower was terrific. And there was a cool sundial like piece placed in the middle the tower, similar to one we like at Glacier National Park. A sign said that it was erected in 1931. The dial showed the directions and labeled the mountains we could see from that point. This included the Catskills, Green Mountains and Mount Greylock. It was a great hike on a clear day! The other, hike that we have not yet tried branches off from the Tower hike at the ¼ mile marker is Ice Glen. Ice Glen is a 1-mile round trip hike listed as difficult because of having to climb some of the boulders. The hike can be made into a 2-mile hike by coming back via the road.

Jelane putting on her micro-spikes. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Jelane putting on her micro-spikes. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

We again used our micro-spikes for this hike and at times found we slipped a bit but overall the entire hike was great. The coming back was fast but we were careful not to slide down the mountain. Just before we started the Tower hike, another hiker let us know that she needed to use the toes of her boots coming down because it had become so slippery at times. So we heeded this warning. It was late in the day when we did this hike so the sun was in a great position to really see into Vermont and New York. This was the steepest hike we have done in a few years since I hurt my left leg; it felt really good to be able to complete this hike.

It’s these little excursions that feed the soul and remind me why I enjoy winter. I love a bright sunny day, with the light dancing off the snow. It’s as though the air sparkles. I’m warm in my winter clothes and enjoy breathing the clean mountain air. I just can’t help but smile.

Mountains off Jelane's shoulder Laura Tower. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Mountains off Jelane’s shoulder Laura Tower. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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How we start the first of the year – winter hiking!

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Guided hike on January 1st. Saratoga Spa State Park photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Guided hike on January 1st. Saratoga Spa State Park photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

For several years now we have been going on a hike on New Years Day. When our schedule permits we have also made the first week of the new-year our re-boot time in nature. Usually our “first” hike has been on snowshoes although with the changes in weather we have been experiencing in the last few years we sometimes have found ourselves dealing with ice. So we have added micro-spikes to our gear and this has helped add to our safety. One of the things I love best about winter hiking is that there are no bugs! I spend less time swatting mosquitos and more time smiling at the scenery. Winter hiking requires more clothes and sometimes layering off and layering on as the hike progresses.

Our winter gear has a variety of choices; it always starts with nice warm insulated boots. Sometimes like this year if the path is well trod and packed it is all we need. Our first hike for 2017 took place at Saratoga Spa State Park, in Saratoga Springs, New York. Governor Cuomo started the program a couple years ago where a few State Parks are open and some offer guided hikes. Many States have a similar program.

Horses romping at Saratoga Spa. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Horses romping at Saratoga Spa. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

This year was our first time to participate in a guided hike. We met at the Park Office with about 20 other hearty souls. The air was crisp and clear. Everyone seemed excited to go. We were each given a scarf and a small tasting cup. Our hike was to learn about the “waters” as they say. The young man who was our leader explained the era of the buildings and the important symbolism related to the water all round. We then began a loop hike down to taste several of the springs, from the light tasting to the more strongly effervescent sulfur tasting. The sun was out and it was a great day! We even saw a group on horse back playing in the snow. I would encourage anyone to take a guided springs hike any time of the year.

On the second day of the year this year, we had a great hike with friends to one of the sweetest little hikes in the Schroon Lake region, Gull Pond. The hike is only a half-mile long and makes little changes in elevation. So round trip makes it a mile. If you want to do a little extra you can walk over the camping area and round more of the pond. During high summer it can be challenging with mosquitoes that are pretty oppressive. But in winter and spring you can make this little stroll without them being an issue. The view of the pond with the large stonewall that just pops out of no where at the top of a rise, is the big reward.

As our friend Larry says, “Little effort, big reward!”

Our favorite micro-spikes! Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Our favorite micro-spikes! Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Our past New Years week hikes have included hiking in North Conway, New Hampshire. Which is where we ended up with learning about micro-spikes. That year there was more ice then snow. They were a Christmas present to ourselves that we can’t imagine living without. They have really given us the opportunity to expand our hiking during those in between times and icy times that we have been experiencing more of late.

Another winter hiking area we have enjoyed has been Moreau Lake State Park just south of Glens Falls, New York. This is another of the State Park’s that Governor Cuomo has opened the last few years. There is a great warming hut that is open during the winter.

Eileen heading into warming hut. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen heading into warming hut. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

We have also gone snow hiking in Ticonderoga area. One of the hikes we like in that area is Lost Pond. We were introduced to this hike from a staff person at the Best Western in Ticonderoga. It is a great hike that is just at the entrance of Putnam Pond camping ground. You can easily miss the parking area if you are focused on the entrance to the campground. It is just off to the left just before the park entrance road. Lost Pond follows a creek that many times you can still hear during the winter. The terrain is a bit up and down. The view of the pond is well worth the hike.

Eileen winter hiking in North Conway, NH. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen winter hiking in North Conway, NH. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Adding to the list is a fun winter hike is at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox Lake, New York. The road to the Center is wide and flat. Many times we park off the road and walk into the Center. Walking along the road is a great way to really see the marsh. Once getting to the main parking lot we also walk many of the roads in the center. If the lake is frozen we have also snow shoed across the lake.

Winter hiking is one of the things I love most about the winter season. The crisp air, bright sun on the sparkling snow, the feel of the cool air on my face while being warm in my winter gear. The snow many times reminds me of sand dunes when the wind has add the little ripples as it sculpts the snow. Reboot your time in nature and enjoy a great winter hike!!

Sun on a Winter path - Pyramid Life Center, Paradox, NY Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Sun on a Winter path – Pyramid Life Center, Paradox, NY Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© 2017 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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Winter Solstice 2016 – Photo Essay

By Jelane A. Kennedy

From the Autumn Equinox to Winter Solstice has been a time of change in my life. At time of endings, saying good-byes this year. A time to finish up. Which in many ways seems appropriate as the time from September 22 – December 21 is a time of harvest, completion and preparation for winter.

Living back north as compared to when I lived in the south, I am more aware of the changing seasons. There is a distinctness about each season. In Fall it’s time to bring in the crops from the farms a time of harvest. The leaves on the tree’s change colors in dramatic ways from the subtle greens to reds, oranges and yellow. And as they make their final descent to varieties of russets to browns. The weather temperatures drop and rain moves on to snow.

The following pictures are reflections of the move to Winter Solstice:

Tomato Harvest from our garden:

A variety of cherry tomatoes from Eileen's tomato patch.

A variety of cherry tomatoes from Eileen’s tomato patch. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

I leaned something new, we had so many green tomatoes this year in our harvest we had to find the best way to make them into a base sauce. In the process I learned that tomatoes ripen from the inside out – who knew?

Cherokee Purple Tomato

Cherokee Purple Tomato Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

October biking in Maine – I love rails to trails bike paths:

Eileen on the bike path in Saco, Maine.

Eileen on the bike path in Saco, Maine. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The change in lighting as the sun shifts over time, Autumn light on the ocean at Old Orchard Beach:

Ocean rocks, Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Ocean rocks, Old Orchard Beach, Maine Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Leaves changing and frost at Thanksgiving::

First snow:

The road to Pyramid Lake, Paradox, New York Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The road to Pyramid Lake, Paradox, New York Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Happy Winter Solstice – the longest night and the beginning change to incrementally more light. May 2017 bring more joy and may we find peace in the chaos.

(c) Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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Tripping over Grand Teton National Park!

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Visiting Grand Teton National Park Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Visiting Grand Teton National Park Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

When we visited Yellowstone in 2004 on our last grand road trip, we had hoped to visit the Grand Teton National Park via Yellowstone and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. But we were stopped by a snowstorm that October. So when making our plans this time we decided to head there after our time in Glacier National Park. It was hard to leave Glacier but the season was coming to an end, they were in process of closing for the winter. The drive to the Grand Teton was our transition from one park to another. We made a stop in Idaho Falls and replaced my daypack as I had blown out a shoulder strap and the duck tape was irritating without wearing lot of clothes for padding.

Idaho Falls was a nice surprise. We were able to pick up some more information about other National Parks nearby along with the Grand Teton. The Idaho Falls River Walk added a great an urban hike to our experience. Part of what made it fun was the benches that lined the path were all created by different artists each depicting a different theme, everything from a big Idaho potato to a horse. The views of the Great Snake River and Falls were terrific.

Having dinner and watching the sunset on Jenny Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Having dinner and watching the sunset on Jenny Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

After such a calming exit we were unprepared for the chaos of Jackson Hole! It was overcrowded and insane to drive through. We stopped near the park entrance to gain some information about camping in the park after visiting a gravel parking lot that was suppose to be a campground! We had to ask a couple of times about camping as we got some confusing reports but in the end a female ranger helped us out.

Our first night we camped at Jenny Lake campground. It was crowded and the bathrooms were not well maintained by the campground host. So even though the view was terrific, the next morning we drove over to Colter Bay to check out their campground. It was a designated as a RV park with electrical hook ups but no options for a campfire so we decided to look further. We finally found, Signal Mountain Campground on Jackson Lake and really liked the facilities. They had a convenience store, gas station, restaurants, marina and gift store. But we were most interested in good bathrooms that were clean. After we had camping sorted out then we could settle into enjoying the Grand Teton’s.

The marina at Colter Bay. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The marina at Colter Bay. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

It was the last week for The Indian Arts Museum to be open in the park. It would be closing and no specific time was in place to replace the museum. The museum had an incredible collection that had been given to the Park by David T. Vernon. We felt very formulate to see so much of the collection. While we were in the park we went to a couple of the ranger talks about the museum collection and visited the resident artist, DG House, we loved her art work and decided to purchase two small prints for our home and one for a friend. (The Visitor Center at Colter Bay has been remodeled since our trip and 35 of the over 1500 artifacts from the Vernon collection are on display currently).

Ranger hike Eileen and Jelane. Photo by Ranger Molly

Ranger hike Eileen and Jelane. Photo by Ranger Molly

The Grand Teton National Park follows the mountain range and has several lakes within the park. We loved driving the length of the park and observing the range from several angles. We became Junior Park Rangers. At this park they opened the program to everyone regardless of age. During our Ranger Hike (Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point), Ranger Molly encouraged us to become a Junior Ranger, she joked “The best and least expensive souvenir in the park!”

She was right, for $2.00 we tested our park knowledge, received a patch and a badge along with pledging to respect and appreciate the park. It was great fun and we enjoyed completing the work sheet. It gave us a chance to focus in on some areas of the park we knew the least and prompted us to check out more. They told us their oldest Junior Ranger was in his 90’s.

Jackson Lake beach at Signal Mountain. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Jackson Lake beach at Signal Mountain. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

One of the things we loved about the campground we stayed in was slipping down from our site to Jackson Lake, watching the sunset. I took a ton of photos, playing with the light and walking the beach. The Lake is the largest in the park.

We took several hikes and visited String Lake and Leigh Lake. A unique thing about the park was that they had multiple signs up with hikes listed so you could use them as markers to where you were. But they missed placing “you are here” marks so that several times we got a bit confused as to where we were on the trails and some of the maps were truncated so it was good that we had a complete map from the visitor center. Several times we helped other lost hikers find their way. It was easy to get turned around.

Hike to Phelps Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Hike to Phelps Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

One of the other trips we made was to the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. The Preserve is just inside the park. It feels like it is outside the park but it is a separate space along Phelps Lake. There is limited access allowed, so only when a parking space opens can a new group of travelers enter the park. This keeps the area from becoming overcrowded and guarantee’s a certain level of solitude. We hiked the Lake Creek and Woodland Trail Loop. It was a lovely moderate hike of 2.9 miles and it allowed us time since it was late in the day when we visited, to enjoy a hike and spend time in the Visitor Center and library with comfy leather chairs.

Once we got beyond Jackson Hole and into the park, we fell in love with the Grand Teton’s. Our time again was too short and we would have loved more time to explore. The combination of the mountains as a backdrop to the lakes and the open view of the range were once again awe-inspiring. What a gift that I, an average citizen can venture into such beauty that in many places in the world only the rich can partake. Mother Nature!

Hike at String and Leigh Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Hike at String and Leigh Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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Bryce Canyon National Park – An orange experience!

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Red, orange and white, another view of Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Red, orange and white, another view of Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

In 2004 when we were in Cedar City, Utah we tried to drive to Bryce Canyon National Park but our VW Vanagon would not have it (too much snow and the engine overheated). A couple of days after that aborted trip, the engine blew in the VW so it was probably good thing we did not make it that far. So when we were again in Cedar City, Utah this time with our GTRV, we knew that we wanted to try again to make it to Bryce Canyon.

It was fall and the leaves were changing colors. The drive was pretty and the air had that special combination of warmth and crispness to it. At some point about halfway to Bryce we drove through a large grove of Aspen tree’s that encircled both sides of the road. The leaves had all changed to orange and it was like driving through flames as we were engulfed. The drive was a precursor to the red orange hoodoos and canyons we would experience at Bryce Canyon. This park was one of the smaller parks we visited, at just under 60 acres.

Hoodoos on the path in Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Hoodoos on the path in Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The campground was near the park visitor center, which gave us easy access to the shuttle. Luckily during our visit the shuttle bus system was still running so we took full advantage the first day to ride the length of the bus route, which gave us a great overview of the main section of the park where we would spend our time. We had wanted to take the shuttle out to Rainbow Point but we had no luck getting a spot. (Maybe at another time in the future it will be on our list). The trip out to Rainbow Point according to our book was a half-day, so we decided to enjoy our time in the main area, since we knew we would not have a full week in the park.

Eileen as we hiked the rim. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen as we hiked the rim. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Our ideal campsite was usually near the restrooms, since we do not carry a toilet with us. At the campground this was a challenge since many of the bathhouses were being renovated. The terrain in the campground was also a bit of a challenge as Abbey does not have hydraulic jacks to level her out and we have not found leveling blocks that don’t hog lots of space. It can be tricky to find a spot that we aren’t lopsided, which can make sleeping and day-to-day living in Abbey awkward. With some hunting we found a workable campsite.

One thing we liked about Bryce was that we could move pretty easily from the rim where you can look down into this forest of red orange hoodoos that make up the amphitheater of the canyon into the canyon itself and walk amongst the hoodoos and see them towering above you. Unlike when we visited the Grand Canyon where accessing the canyon floor was more difficult, Bryce’s terrain offers more options. One of the hikes we took a couple of times was along the rim trail from the lodge complex back to our campground. The view of the amphitheater was awesome.

Looking up at Hoodoos at Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Looking up at Hoodoos at Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The lodge complex included the lodge, a general store off to the side in a separate building with the showers and laundry for campers. There was also a small pizza shop in another little out building. One afternoon, when we need down time to do laundry (and because I was not feeling well), we also took showers and hung out on the porch of the lodge to write post cards. The lodge was the only hotel in the park. It was built in the 1920s with local stone and timber. It was one of the smaller lodges that we have visited in some of the western National Parks. A couple of times we took advantage of the pizza shop for dinner and walked back to our campsite, it was a nice evening event that broke up our usual camping fare.

Jelane hiking in the Canyon. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Jelane hiking in the Canyon. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

We went to an interesting ranger talk where we learned about how the amphitheater below in the canyon was formed and we learned about the weather on the rim. We were warned about how quick and dramatic storms could be. The ranger shared with us to be alert for sudden afternoon storms and warned us to stay away from the rim during thunderstorms because of the lightening. She spoke with us about casualties, which had occurred in the park.

Hiking down into the canyon was amazing; we did two shorter hikes, Navajo Loop Trail and Queen’s Garden Trail. Walking down into the canyon required hiking down multiple switchbacks to the floor. We were then immersed in the orange glow of the canyon and loved exploring the rock formations that we were in, out and around. Looking up and seeing the amazing hoodoos and cliffs above us, took my breath away. Of course what comes down (lots of switchbacks) must go up and by the end of the day climbing out of the canyon was a bit strenuous, we were tired but a good tired.

There was so much to see, again another place we could have stayed for several more days. But it was time to move on. Each park is so awe-inspiring! I am constantly amazed and humbled by the beauty.

One the trail in Bryce. Photos by Jelane A. Kennedy

One the trail in Bryce. Photos by Jelane A. Kennedy

© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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