Cedar Breaks National Monument = Bryce Canyon – (.5 * Bryce Size) – (.95 * Bryce Crowds)

Basically Bryce Canyon, but not as big and definitely not as crowded. Similar hoodoos though. I was there on June 22nd, driving from SLC to San Diego.

Later that night I slept at a rest stop on the California side of the CA-NV line. I-15. The idling semi trucks were like white noise. The person whose car alarm went off once every two hours will one day pay for his (her) insolence.

Long before that, though:

Cedar Breaks National Monument

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A marmot.

A marmot.

The road out.

The road out.

It’s a national monument that warrants about four photos and I *do* now realize that I should have taken more (a non-zero number of) pictures of the rest area. Although you’ve probably been there yourself – metaphorically if nothing else.

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Mills Lake Hike and Rocky Mountain National Park

This happened a long time ago. Before I did my dissertation defense. Before my niece even got married. A long time ago.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a National Park located in Denver. There are a ton of people since in Denver (fine, “in Denver”, where “in” means less than 90 minutes away). The Mills Lake Hike was one I found out about online. It was pretty good. Get to the trailhead early to ensure parking and that the way up the trailer won’t be in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I stayed at some campground just outside the park. It cost $26 because it’s in Denver.

Here’s the payoff from the hike:

Mills Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

Nice, right? I think it’s probably the highlight of the whole park.

On this photo, I think the horse’s head should be crossed out:

No Horses Sign

And somewhere along the way you see this:

Alberta Falls at RMNP

I think it’s called Alberta Falls. There’s no better angle without a helicopter and wires. Sorry. They should have angled the waterfall differently, I agree.

I actually remember thinking it was a great hike three of four weeks ago or whenever it was I actually did itt. I’m just a little jaded right now since I’ve been outside for the last week and seen a lot of mountains and lakes. Tomorrow I will see more mountains and lakes. We’ll see how disappointing they are. Here’s another photo of Mills Lake sort of with some mountains behind:

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There was an ice field you had to walk across close to the lake. I got to the parking lot by like 8:30 or so. No problem finding parking and not too crowded on the way up. On the way down, all of Denver was on its way up. And most of Denver is part of one of a variety of youth groups. Then some dude commented on my hat so he could get to his punchline about how dumb it is for Under Armour to make pink camouflage underwear for girls.

After the hike, I drove through the rest of the park. Given that it’s located in a major metropolitan area, the drive over the crest of the park (parks have crests now) was conducted in heavy midday traffic and looked like this:

The top of RMNP

Vorwärts. Immer vorwärts nur.

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Climbing Pikes Peak (in a Car)

Pikes Peak is super-close to Colorado Springs. It’s a 14,000+ peak to which you can drive. It is the highest elevation to which I have ever driven. It’s sort of like a toll road operated by the NFS.

Whichever of those peaks is the highest, that's Pikes.

Whichever of those peaks is the highest, that’s Pikes.

At the edge of civilization before you start climbing up to the pass toward where the entry booth is located, there’s a gas station+barbecue place. I used their restroom and bought a rice krispie treat there. The bathroom was the better of the two experiences.

  •  19 miles from the toll booth to the top (IIRC).
  • Somehow takes about an hour-plus to get up there.
  • Most people driving up it are totally reasonable, but it only takes one Minnesotan without the self-awareness to use turnouts to ruin everything.
  • Which is how it takes an hour-plus to get up there.
  • I get a little dizzy and light-headed at 14,000 feet.
  • Also my fingers get a little numb and tingly.
  • There are a lot of hairpin turns.
  • They tell you to only ever use first gear on the way down.
  • Halfway down there’s a checkpoint where an NFS employee tests the temperature of your brakes and if you’re over 300, they make you stop. Mine were 293.0 degrees (Fahrenheit I hope).
  • Here are some other photos:
Backhoes on the road also slow the procession.

Backhoes on the road also slow the procession.

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Probably enough.

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Black Mesa State Park: Highest Point in Oklahoma, Good Clouds

Driving from Norman to Salt Lake via Rocky Mountain National Park while avoiding Kansas results (or did in this case) in traversing the entire Oklahoma panhandle. At least Oklahoma is actually pan-shaped. Florida and Texas would be hard to cook anything in. Also not sure the Texas handle would provide enough grip for the entire state.

At the far western end of the panhandle, basically in New Mexico, is Oklahoma’s highest point, Black Mesa. They have a campground nearby, although the campground offers no views of the mesa, which doesn’t actually come off as being all that tall in reality. It does, though, have views of some swampy creek thing with a lake.

Black Mesa State Park

Viewpoint - Lake Carl Etling

They also have landscapes without swamp lakes.

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Camped there for a night. Super windy. Loud wind that inhibits sleep. Hard.

Next day, I drove out to the mesa. It was okay. There are actually a bunch of mesas clustered sort of together a few miles from the campground. Eventually one of them is Black Mesa. It might have been this one:

Black Mesa

There’s a trail you can take to the top of the mesa. I took it for about a half a mile instead and found scrubby trees.

Black Mesa Trail

And then I headed back toward the highway. Here is evidence of that portion of the overall journey:

DSC_3752.NEFLooks like something you’d expect to see in the far-western plains. I liked the clouds.

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Map for My Post-Dissertation Road Trip

Although it’s also sort of a during-dissertation road trip.

2014 Road Trip

Not pictured is the flying from San Diego to Pittsburgh and back. Long may it remain unpictured!

Presumed worst parts (in chronological order):

  • Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
  • OK to the Rockies
  • I-80 across Wyo (time permitting, maybe I’ll drive the Colorado route instead)
  • North Texas

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Packing List for the Next Road Trip

It’s not so much a road trip as it is living out of my truck for two months. Partly on roads.

This is my old list from the 48 state days, but with cross-outs to make me feel like I learned something.

  • Tent & Footprint
  • Flannel Sleeping Bag
  • Nylon Sleeping Bag
  • Inflatobed/Cot (or both)
  • Stove (+ Backpacking Stove?)
  • Fry Pan
  • Sauce Pan
  • Lantern
  • Water Jug
  • Cooler
  • Utensils
  • Flashlight
  • Hatchet
  • Mallet
  • Day Pack
  • Overnighter Pack
  • Rope
  • Headlamp
  • Knife
  • Camera (Point & Shoot)
  • DSLR
  • Power Inverter
  • Laptop
  • Kindle
  • iPod
  • Headphones
  • Earplugs
  • Trekking Poles
  • Legal Pad
  • 2x Pen
  • Pencil
  • Hike Boots
  • Hike Shoes
  • Water Shoes
  • Flip Flops
  • Dress Shoes
  • 2x Quick-Dry Shorts
  • 2x Normal Shorts
  • 1x 2x QD Pants
  • 1x Rain Pants
  • 1x Camp Pants
  • 1x Jeans
  • 1x Business Suit
  • 2x Ties
  • 2x Belts (one nice, one indestructible)
  • Nice Watch
  • Parka
  • Rain Coat
  • Tritium Watch
  • 7x Hiking Socks
  • 7x QD Socks
  • 3x Dress Socks
  • Long Underwear Top
  • Long Underwear Bottom
  • 10x 4x QD Underwear
  • 4x 10x Normal Underwear
  • 4x 1x QD T-Shirts
  • 3x Normal T-Shirts
  • 4x Long-Sleeve Warm Shirts
  • 2x Short-Sleeve QD Shirts
  • 2x Short-Sleeve Shirts
  • 2x Long-Sleeve Dress Shirts
  • 1x Golf Shirt
  • Stocking Cap
  • Boonie Cap
  • Baseball Cap
  • Thin Gloves
  • Thick Gloves
  • Beach Towel
  • Normal Towel
  • Camp Towel
  • Blanket
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hiking First Aid Kit
  • Kayak (Inflatable)
  • Paddle
  • PFD
  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Bike Shoes
  • Bike Shorts
  • Water Bottles (Bike)
  • Bike Gloves
  • Fishing Rod
  • Reel
  • Fishing Tackle & Box
  • Road Atlas
  • Gas Generator
  • Blackout Window Coverings
  • XBox & Screen (?)

Basically. Something like that. In that vicinity. I’ll probably take more normal-person clothes than this. If I’m going to backpack the Sierras, I’ll also need my sleeping pad. Probably also take my iPad, so with the legal pad I should be pretty well covered on pads.

Mostly I’m just looking forward to being able to say that I live in my truck again.

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Colorado National Monument: Canyonlands for People Who Don’t Want to Get Out of the Car

Real Canyonlands is better, or course, but it also requires getting out and hiking some.

Colorado National Monument is located near Grand Junction, Colorado. The drive is the interesting part; it looks like southern Utah, so long as you look toward the mountains. If you look toward the valley it looks like Grand Junction. And if you reach the top of the drive, it looks like a bunch of boring, scrubby trees. The in-between, though!

As testimony of the thing that Colorado National Monument does well, then, here are photos I took while driving.

IMG_0425 IMG_0413 IMG_0407 Colorado National Monument IMG_0369 Tunnel Entrance, Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument

  • I think the photos are shown in reverse order of when they were taken. I don’t know how WordPress decides.
  • For variety, one of those photos was taken through the passenger window rather than the windshield.
  • It seemed like they could have used more guard rails in places.
  • The road and trails and stuff were apparently a CCC project. Of course.
  • I hadn’t taken a bunch of pictures of red rocks since last time I was in southern Utah.
  • It was definitely worth the, oh, 90 minutes including bathroom time?
  • I did also take a walk to some view point. It was mostly for walking’s sake.
  • I was driving a rented Nissan Versa hatchback. It looked like this:
It looks better than it drives.

It looks better than it drives.

I’m still planning on one day putting together a photo essay entitled “Through the Windshield”. Maybe after the dissertation. Or maybe FOR the dissertation…! Probably not though.

That’s plenty.

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Saranac Lake Is a Town in New York Where I Took These Photos

First night of the trip I stayed in Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks in New York. Thought the place was cool when I was there in the fall of ’09 on my road trip (e.g., this 48stateroadtrip post), so was stoked to be back up there. Took about nine hours from my house in Pittsburgh to the Best Western in Saranac Lake.

One of the best things about that part of the country is its complete lack of pretension. Saranac Lake is a lake-based tourist town, but it doesn’t come off acting like it. Which I appreciate. For whatever reason.

So that’s about what the place looks like. Also they had icicles like this:

Which were pretty awesome. All we get in Pittsburgh are straight, boring ones.

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Glacier Lake Fishing (Beartooths, Montana)

It all starts looking the same. I should probably delay publication of this one for two weeks just to get a little air between this post and the last one. Fine, there, I’ve done that: an artificial two-week delay. Now maybe these photos will look exciting, fresh, or, whatever it is that they otherwise wouldn’t look.

So there’s a miraculous story here that explains how I ended up going to Glacier Lake at all. My cell phone (with Virgin) gets no reception between Minnesota and Spokane. That is to say, it doesn’t work in Idaho, Montana, or the Dakotas. When I was heading from Tacoma to Montana, I stopped in Spokane to call my brother in South Dakota to see if he wanted to join me for fishing in Montana. He said he couldn’t make it, so I figured I’d leave Montana Saturday after finishing the Lake Fork hike.

But then when I got to Butte or so, I checked my phone and it had received a text message. Somehow, *somehow*, despite being in coverage no-man’s land, my phone had gotten a text message from my brother saying he could make it after all. And then I found a pay phone and confirmed plans. Yes, they still have pay phones. Everyone who saw me using it was also surprised.

(And: I said the story was miraculous, not that it was interesting.)

Fishing at Glacier Lake was great. The guy at the hotel in Red Lodge recommended it. Good job, guy!

Garry crossing a creek.

 

Elevation: 10,000'.

Ibid.

Glacier Lake shoreline.

Fishing was, as said, good. Used dry flies trailing behind a plastic float. Mostly 12- to 15-inch cutts. Caught one 12-inch brookie. All were good fighters. Also caught this:

The largest trout I've ever seen.

Two pounds? Two and a half maybe? It was a big trout. Caught it on four-pound line and apparently my knots don’t suck. Took probably 10-15 minutes to get him ashore. He took a lot of line. Awesome fish, mad respect.

Gebrüder (I'm not really six inches shorter than him).

Emerald Lake (in Wyoming!), just below Glacier Lake.

  • This is a short hike, btw. Two miles each way.
  • But steep (ca. 1,500 feet in elevation gain).
  • And at high altitude.
  • Glacier Lake is a perfect fishing lake: no grass, plenty of shoreline, lots of places to sit.
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Beartooths: Lake Fork Trail Hike and Fishing (Day 1)

Mal sehen how that title works out for the SEO.

Originally planned to hike up to Black Canyon Lake and probably to Sundance Pass, camping, I dunno, somewhere. After about a mile of hiking, I realized that I’d just spent seven days at sea level and was now at 8,000 feet and climbing. Objectives were toned down accordingly.

The Lake Fork of Rock Creek.
Teeth of bear.
Broadwater “Lake”; the fishing guidebook says there are fish in here, but I saw none.
Called “Thunder Mountain”, although there were no trains, no dinosaur bones, and no bobble-headed turtles (as far as I saw).
Smoky Sunset on Keyser Brown Lake.
  • So ended up camping at Keyser Brown Lake — about seven miles from the trailhead and 1,500 feet of elevation gain (I think the lake is at a little over 8,000 feet).
  • Just about passed out trying to get my tent set up.
  • Took about 45 minutes trying to get my food appropriately hung.
  • Trail follows the river most of the way, although there are some miles where there are trees that get in the way of seeing the river.
  • Some dude coming down the trail said he saw a grizzly, but I’ve pretty much determined that grizzlies are merely legendary like, z.B., Sasquatch.
  • There was one other dude camping near the lake. He was from Minnesota and so, naturally, he helped me get my rain fly on tighter than it was. I told him he was only reaffirming the stereotype.
  • Mountain House lasagna is good, but it’s hard to get all the cheese off your fork.
  • The good campsites are all on the back side of the lake.
Fished a little bit here. Keyser Brown has a ton of five-inch brook trout in it, so if you’re into that kind of thing, you know, here you go. There’s also a weather thing in the area where every day (apparently) it’s nice all morning and early afternoon, then clouds begin rolling in around 2, then it rains lightly off and on until the next morning, sometimes with wind and thunder and lightning. Never rains hard enough to get anything too wet, though. So it’s got that going for it.
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