My experience with swamps is fairly succinct: When I was in 8th grade we took a class trip that included a jaunt down to the Okefenokee Swamp. A brief raft ride, some pointing at alligators, and I think someone may have drank the swamp water after the guide assured us it was cleaner than it looked.
And that’s been it really. As such, I think I should be forgiven for expecting to do any hiking in the vicinity of a lake swamp in Louisiana.
I’ve gone my whole life without ever setting foot, driving through, or really knowing anything about Arkansas. It turns out that the south western bit of Arkansas is a lot like the two states it borders: Texas and Louisiana. Sort of a hybrid really…pine forests with swampy bits rather than the dense pine forests of Texas or the swamps of Louisiana.
Our walk (I can’t call it a hike because it was short enough to not bring our packs) took us through the woods around Millwood Lake in Millwood State Park. The path was mostly submerged. If you’re not into waterproof shoes – this hike might make you reconsider.
As I am already a waterproof mid-height hiking boot wearing kind of guy I was able to take it in stride.
If you ever find yourself in the San Pedro de Atacama area of Chile, Lascar will prove to be an easy volcano to spot. Its not the famously conical shaped one that everyone takes pictures of, that one is Licancabur.* Lascar is the flat topped volcano streaked with white. The white streaks aren’t snow (most of the time…occasionally it snows too) but are sulfur deposits. Also, on most mornings you can see a small cloud over Lascar, due to the fact that Lascar is an active volcano.
Not only is Lascar active, it is the most active volcano in Northern Chile. Its volcanism is the cause of one of the strangest climbing difficulties I’ve ever heard of: toxic clouds of sulfur. If the wind is coming from across the crater the hike can get very unpleasant. It is sometimes so bad that the hike can’t be accomplished.
Sometimes along our journey the logical route between two predetermined points takes us through, well, what could perhaps be described as the middle of nowhere. I’m not certain that Watonga, OK is in fact the middle of nowhere – Oklahoma City is only a short 70 miles away.
Ok, perhaps slightly to the right of nowhere.
And to the North of slightly right of nowhere is the park we spent a couple of nights at: Roman Nose State Park.
Sometimes I would like to have the opportunity to meet the individual responsible for naming places. Some names have history, others describe appearances or animals you might happen across (looking at you Golden Warbler Trails in Texas).
And then there are names like Devils Canyon. Obviously the namer thought of this name before he saw the canyon and was just itching to put it to a canyon, any canyon probably. Is there much devilish about this place? Well, its hot. Even in late March it can approach miserable. This is a place I would advise against hiking in high summer. Or at least doing so in the early morning, with lots of water and a hat.
Devils Canyon as best as I can discern is but one of a series of canyons near the Colorado National Monument. As it is near but not in the Monument it is free! Yay!
Ah, espresso. The finest of all beverages. For those of you who adulterate it with milk or cream or sugar…try it plain. Honestly. And not out of a paper* starbucks cup**. Out of a properly preheated ceramic (or if your budget suits: borosilicate) cup.
I considered putting a picture of espresso in here…but honestly pictures just don’t do it justice.
Prior to hitting the road in 16 feet of trailer I had my morning espresso (or 3…or 4…) made in a proper espresso machine. It weighs about 20 pounds/9 kg, and there is not a single cabinet big enough to store it in in the trailer. So I was forced to go without espresso for the duration of the trip.
No. That isn’t how it went. Not at all. Because that would be unacceptable.
I tend to avoid naming names when it comes to products, and have only made exceptions twice that I can think of. This will be the third time. Because for those of you thinking “I want to travel around the country in an RV but how will I have my espresso while dry camping in the Mojave?” there is a solution!
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel to the Atacama Desert in Chile. Many hikes were had. Many were awesome. This one was probably the most awesome.
Copa Coya is an almost volcano. It tried, but never quite made it. Evidence of its attempt include geothermal springs and geysers nearby. If you’re touring the Atacama a lot of groups visit Copa Coya just for the geysers and springs. If you’re into hiking, skip the geysers and go for the hike. You can always take a dip in the hot springs after the hike. Continue reading →
We arrived at Hecla Junction Campground at around 5pm, greeted by a sign announcing “Hecla Junction Campground Closed” in construction-orange lights. Blinking the disbelief from my eyes I spluttered something along the lines of “But I had reservations…”
I wish I had said something a little less whiney at the time. Next time I’ll say something pithier.
County Road 194 is a dirt road that the internet advised me to take caution on as it involves 12% grades. I have learned to respect steep grades, and the steepest labeled grade I’ve driven with the trailer was 10%. That road was paved, with guard rails and what not. And although I wouldn’t hesitate to take that road again, I did have a tiny touch of concern about going steeper. Not to mention the fact that I was of the impression that the road was 12 miles of unpaved steep narrow dirt road leading to the campground. Only 5 miles previously we had seen a fairly cute bed and breakfast with a name invoking something cute about goats.
Our other choices? Well the GPS had decided that it didn’t want to navigate in Colorado. Something about not having the maps blah blah blah, and not having service to download them. Interestingly I could trace the line perfectly well using the road map in the GPS. So I knew the way to this campground. But I knew not a lick about the next one. Sure, I could have gotten it off the internet, had there been any. But there wasn’t. And unlike this campground that I had reservations to, I did not to the next so I didn’t have the convenient confirmation email telling me how to get there.
So a goat themed B&B or 12 miles down a dirt road to an uncertain fate? The dirt road it was. Continue reading →