Rock House Trail

Rock House Trail

Sunday at Lake Vesuvius promised to see summer out in full force. As soon as we woke, the heat and humidity were oppressive. We quickly decided it would be a relaxing day – no long hike. We spent a little time driving around the region and then did one of the short hikes.

Lake Vesuvius Furnace
Iron Furnace

The Rock House Trail is only .42 miles long. It is paved and wheelchair accessible, at least in theory – roots have made much of the pavement rather rutted. Continue reading “Rock House Trail”

Lake Vesuvius Lakeshore Trail

Lake Vesuvius Lakeshore Trail

Labor Day may mark the end of the official summer season, but our trek around Lake Vesuvius was our sweatiest and most miserable exploration of the summer. Fortunately, we had amazing views and spectacular wildflowers to distract us. On more than one occasion, I leaned into the humidity, lush plant-life, and the cacophony of birds and insects and pretended I was on a jungle exploration. Fortunately, the weather was made manageable by the knowledge we would have a cold shower and air conditioning before bed.

We ended up at Lake Vesuvius because the Iron Ridge Campground had availability a month before Labor Day. The 8.25 miles of the Lakeshore Trail beckoned as a perfect way to enjoy our first day in Wayne National Forest. We set off from the boat ramp parking lot from which the Rock House Trail also departed. We were fortunate to encounter an employee at Kountry Kayak, the boat concessionaire, who offered a fantastic map of the hiking trails in Wayne National Forest. I had studied this map enough at home to be confident of finding our way by following the lake, but this was a waterproof version that covered lots of trails and will be a great addition to our map collection. Continue reading “Lake Vesuvius Lakeshore Trail”

Over the pass

Over the pass

Last night wrapped up with Ted befriending our neighbor Emmanuel, a single dad out with his girls for the first time. We invited him to share our campfire after their bedtime and therefore stayed up a little later than intended. Blue didn’t seem to care and got us up at 5am again. Ted put her back outside, but I was awake enough to read and doze rather than fall deep asleep.

Since we didn’t have reservations for the night, we were eager to get backed up and claim our first-come-first-served campsite. We finally packed everything up as fog oozed over the mountain ridge, layering us and our things with a glistening of water. We said goodbye to Hermit Park around 8:30am. We were sad to leave, but ready to explore another area.

The only way to the other side of the park is via Thunder Ridge Road. This 40 mile stretch of paved highway doubles back on itself again and again, climbing to over 12,000 feet. Few guardrails separate the road from 90 degree drop offs. It requires a confident driver, especially if you are towing 5000 pounds of trailer behind you. Ted wove uphill expertly. He paced with all of the SUVs, vans, and sedans. Downhill was another story. It was our first extended downhill grade and it took about half of the trip of looking in the manual to figure out how to use the transmission to slow us down. We think Blue might have been greatly distressed by the pressure in her ears and I worked on giving her chewy treats and trying to trigger yawns in her by yawning myself. Continue reading “Over the pass”

Our First Colorado Hike: Lake Isabelle

Our First Colorado Hike: Lake Isabelle

Blue remembered our promise to be up early again this morning and woke us at 5:30. Warming up took a little more time and we realized why when we glimpsed the 44* on the outside thermometer. We got breakfast, dug out warm clothes, and packed up to head to the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Since dogs are not allowed on the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, we sought out some of the beautiful surrounding areas. The Brainerd Lake Recreation Area was about an hour drive, but well worth it. We checked out the campground and filed it as a possible home base for later in the week. Continue reading “Our First Colorado Hike: Lake Isabelle”

Angel Falls

Angel Falls

Our second day at Big South Fork, we had intended to do a longer hike. But we decided to run into Oneida for some decent firewood. And if we were driving that far, we might as well do a hike in the Tennessee area of the park as well.

Angel Falls is an easy 4 mile out-and-back trail (2 miles each way). It follows the Cumberland River from the parking area at Leatherwood Ford. Continue reading “Angel Falls”

Princess Falls

Princess Falls

Big South Fork has so many amazing trails. We were looking for something pretty, but easy. Since we were staying at the Blue Heron Campground, the Princess Falls hike looked like our best option.

The Princess Falls trail is accessed at the Yamacraw Day Use Area, just east of where Route 92 crosses the Big South Fork. Park at the top of the hill. We were the only car there when we headed out. Continue reading “Princess Falls”

Wildflower Pilgrimage 2018

Wildflower Pilgrimage 2018

A perfect camping weekend for us is great food, great people and great scenery. The Wildflower Pilgrimage held by the Arc of Appalachia was all of these things.

I don’t remember where we first learned about the Wildflower Weekend, but it has been on our to-do list for a while. I was worried that this year’s late spring and the predicted constant rain would lead to a disappointing event, but I could have been more wrong. The registration fee is rather steep, but includes five delicious meals, two field trips, and two programs. The 2018 mini-theme was vernal pools and their accompanying amphibians. Continue reading “Wildflower Pilgrimage 2018”