When we started planning our vacation to Nevada, we started asking questions of our hiking friends on Facebook. And one of the people we had met along our journeys lives in NV and suggested that we drive up from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park. (parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire) We had driven through on 2013, but not really stopped to do anything. (It was afternoon and REALLY hot.)
This time, we planned to see the sunrise and get an early start on the Fire Wave. (Thanks to 2beagles.1jeep on Instagram for the suggestion.) We got to the park just as the sun was peeking over the hills. It was beautiful!
We stopped in at the visitor's center hoping for a park map, but all we found was a couple of big-horned sheep. They were very fun to watch. After they got out of the road, we headed up to the trailhead for the Fire Wave. All of the rocks were amazing in the morning light and the hike was a wonderful start to our day!
After the Fire Wave, we knew the visitor's center would be open, so we headed back there. The rangers there were trying to keep people away from a group of big-horned sheep that had gathered at a water source in front of the visitor's center. They suggested that we hike Mouse's Tank Trail before we headed back to the city to see the petroglyphs. We are always up for finding some cool historic things on our trips, so this sounded perfect.
All in all, our first hikes in Valley of Fire State Park were VERY awesome! We intend to return for more hikes in the future! Please watch our video to see the whole adventure! Until next time, keep on Trekking!
HOLY COW (or CONDOR)! When we set out on our hike up to Widforss Point on the North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park, we hoped for some solitude and some great views of the canyon. We got more than we hoped for with our lunch stop at Widforss Point. The picture taking at 11:00-noon is not the best because of the harsh sunlight, so we were hoping for a few good shots.
I enjoy watching birds. I love watching them fly, but enjoy watching them sitting too. I saw a HUGE bird flying over the canyon to our right and started filming. I am SO glad I did! We later confirmed with a ranger that what we had seen was a California Condor. The view finders on our cameras are very little and we didn't want to get this wrong (and look stupid on the Internet).
It was AMAZING and awe inspiring to watch this majestic animal fly across such a majestic space. I felt small and insignificant in these moments, but special at the same time. Please enjoy and share the video and know that you are part of something special now too. Keep on trekking!
The weather was gorgeous and we had to be outside. Saturday had been crazy, so Sunday was our day. But we had made no plans (not like us at all). We got in the car and started driving towards our usual treks with cameras, packs, and snacks ready for an adventure. Since there are SO many great parks and trails near our home in St Charles County, Missouri, we knew we would come across a good idea quickly.
We had been introduced to The Historic Daniel Boone Home at Lindenwood Park (www.sccmo.org/1701/The-Historic-Daniel-Boone-Home) a couple of times in the last year, but hadn't taken a tour. Thus, we chose that park as our destination. We knew there would be some thing fun to take pictures of at the park. We had no idea that the gardens and prairie restoration would have so many butterflies, bees and other pollinators to target for pictures. It made for a fun morning of watching them gather food. We also enjoyed seeing a couple of deer and a flock of Turkey Vultures. You can see those in this video.
We got so caught up with taking pictures and enjoying the river, that we lost track of time and forgot about scheduling a tour. The park has a Self-guided tour with a booklet. We decided that that was the way to go. Without the guide, we couldn't get into any of the buildings, but we enjoyed our time none-the-less. (And we have a great reason to go back.) You can see pictures from the park in the video below.
Sunday was a great surprise day outside! We will certainly revisit this beautiful and interesting park in St Charles County! Keep on trekking!
When we decided to start the public face of Happy Trails Hiking a year ago, we hadn't really thought about describing why we had chosen to start hiking. "We just like being outside and together." That was our answer to our friends and family when they wanted to know why we spent so much time hiking.
It is our escape from the busy, loud, and crazy world we exist in every day. It is also our research lab, think tank, kitchen table, and place to plan our life. So, hiking isn't an activity that we "do". It has become a place we go to make our life happen.
We have been hiking (and living) together for more than half of our lives. Through Happy Trails Hiking, we are inviting you to come along on our exploration of the world. Please enjoy the pictures and videos of life as we see it.
One year ago, a couple of former colleagues came to visit with me for a fun day in Historic St Charles, Missouri (www.historicstcharles.com/). Little did we know that this would start an adventure to visit every state park in our state and a YouTube channel!
Jennifer, who has challenged herself to get EVERY stamp in the state, still needed to visit Castlewood State Park (mostateparks.com/park/castlewood-state-park) for her stamp, so we decided to meet for a morning hike. It had been quite a while since I had visited Castlewood State Park. It was a great morning for a hike and for animal spotting. Take a look at our adventure. Keep on trekking!
Our first stop on our Spring adventure in March of 2017, was Death Valley National Park. (www.nps.gov/deva/index.htm) We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and got checked in to the Furnace Creek Ranch (now called The Oasis at Death Valley www.oasisatdeathvalley.com/) After we checked out the grounds, restaurants, and the pool, we headed to Zabriskie Point for some views of the badlands at dusk. It was BEAUTIFUL and a great introduction to Death Valley.
On Sunday morning, we had an adventure planned to Scotty's Castle. The castle and grounds were damaged in a flash flood in October of 2015 and has been closed since then. So, when we found out that the Death Valley Natural History Association (dvnha.org/) was offering Restoration Tours, we signed up to get tickets. It was a great tour where we learned quite a bit about flooding in the desert as well as the history of Scotty's Castle.
Early Monday morning, we started our day with a sunrise hike in Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch. This hike was a little over 5 miles. It was stunning! Since we started so early, we had no crowds! Just what we needed.
Our afternoons were spent with short side trips and the swimming pool at the Ranch. Take a look at our overview video for those side trips. Death Valley was a great vacation and nothing like we imagined it to be. We have already planned our second trip to DVNP, so stay tuned! Keep on trekking!
In March, we had a Spring get-away vacation and got to hike in Zion National Park (www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm)
We had a great trip and hiked many miles during our stay. We arrived on a Tuesday and settled in for a great stay at Zion Lodge (www.zionlodge.com/). We decided to not let the time change affect us too much and would get up our normal time (CST) for hikes and sunrises. Our first morning was beautiful on the Canyon Overlook Trail! Check out our time-lapse as well as the hike video!
The rest of our day was spent exploring the park using the Shuttle System. It's free and in March, it wasn't that crowded. (If you go in the Summer, plan to WAIT and be patient.)
While on that tour we stopped at the Temple of Sinawava. It is here that we took the Riverside walk to the "Narrows".
On our second full day in Zion, we hiked the East Rim Trail and added a spur up to Cable Mountain. It was a 17 mile hike. That is our longest hike together (so far) and it was fantastic! We got a ride to the East Entrance from Zion Adventure Company (www.zionadventures.com/) before dawn. That way we could just ride the shuttles back to our car when we were finished with our hike. We used flashlights on the first mile of the hike, so we didn't get to see much of the scenery on that part of the trail. The first part of the trail is very sandy. Kind of like walking on a beach.
Once the sun came up, the scenery was BEAUTIFUL! With all the snow and snowmelt in the area, we had lovely and majestic waterfalls and streams on our trek. It also made for a very muddy trek sometimes.
All in all, this trip to Zion National Park was wonderful! We were relaxed and refreshed when we came home. That's exactly how a vacation is supposed to end. Until next time, keep on trekking!
On June 10, 2017, we participated in a hiking race! It was the first of it's kind in the Missouri State Parks! We hit the Ozark Trail early on Saturday morning with 30 other co-ed teams of two. It was a great time! Check out our footage of prep and from the trail!
With Summer approaching, it is time to starting thinking about how to stay cool and still get to hike in our Missouri State Parks (mostateparks.com/). We have hiked in several Missouri State Parks in the last few years and we have a couple to recommend.
1. Johnson Shut-Ins State Park - Most famous for its geologic formations in the river. Johnson Shut-Ins has a great place to cool off after a day of pretty views in the St. Francois Mountains.
2. Echo Bluff State Park - Echo Bluff State Park is Missouri's 88th park. This park has a wonderful creek called Sinking Creek that flows below the park's namesake, Echo Bluff. This creek is a great place to relax and is used for floating, tubing, and fishing.
3. Onondaga Cave State Park - Cooling off in Missouri's State Parks is not only about getting into water. We have great caves! One of our favorite cave State Parks is Onondaga Cave. Most people take the main cave tour when visiting, but we took the Cathedral Cave tour last Fall and loved it too. If you have time, spend the day in both caves. You'll be in the "cool kids"group.
4. Hawn State Park - This park is known as a wonderful place to hike. Pickle Creek makes it a wonderful place to cool off in the Summer! This Missouri State Park has great picnic grounds very close to Pickle Creek Trailhead. This mountain stream has huge boulders that are great to sit on if you want to put your feet in instead of going for a swim.
We know we have missed some great places to cool off in Missouri. That just means we get to keep on trekking! Where should we trek next to cool off?
Me (Kay) and my sister, Lori, have a tradition of going on a trip together each year. And since we bought our "National Park Passport books, we have tried to incorporate parks on our trips. In the Mid-west, that is kind of hard, sometimes. We had a destination set for Oklahoma this year, so Lori decided to look up State Parks we could hike in. (Thanks for that, Lori!) Along with many other states, Oklahoma is having budget whoas. In looking to make cuts, it has been suggested that their State Parks might be on the chopping block. We had no idea about this when we started our search.
Anyhow, Lori found a Osage Hills State Park in Northeast OK and thought it looked good for a hike after we got to our hotel. We headed out and found a gem of a State Park! The Campground is large and seemed to be well taken care of. The hiking trails were well groomed, but not well marked. After checking in at the Ranger Station and getting the lay of the land, we decided on 2 trails to see the water features of the park, the creek and the falls.
The bluffs were beautiful and reminded me much of Missouri. I could have sat here all day. It would have been a great place to picnic, but that wasn't the plan this time.
The Falls were not what I had had in mind when we saw them on the map. They are more of a "step-down" falls than the waterfalls we see when we go into the mountains. Sand Creek was VERY full from lots of Spring rains. It was beautiful! We saw many people "hanging out" on the rocks near and in the creek. In talking to the locals, we found out that this was a refuge for them and they were quick to tell us that we should enjoy it before it was gone.
All in all, I hope that this State Park is around for me to visit again. It is a great place to enjoy nature and seek refuge from life for awhile.
Check out our video of our Adventure!
Kay and Matt enjoy hiking all over the USA. We have a YouTube Channel to video our adventures, this blog, and we are working on building an app to allow others to go on adventures too.