Sunday, October 27, 2019

Kauai, Hawaii - Sleeping Giant, Ho'opi'i Falls, Waimea Canyon via Canyon Trail, and Kalalau Trail

Wow.  Never before had I been in a place where you can spend the mornings hiking, wandering through underbrush and up winding mountain trails to stunning panoramic views, and then retreat to the beach in the afternoon with less than a 20 minute drive between the two.  Kauai was a true paradise.  We opted to honeymoon here for that exact reason.  We wanted a combination of adventure and beach and didn't want to deal with a logistical headache or arduous travel plans to make both a reality.  It fit the bill.  Overall, the hikes were stunning, but when you read that they are muddy, you better believe it.  We had to hose our boots off at the end of the trip and my socks are still tinged with the red colored dirt.  Below, I'll outline a few of our favorite hikes:

Sleeping Giant (3.6 miles).  As you near the top, you get into more of a rock scramble with a few spots that those with a fear of heights might not appreciate.  Overall, stunning views!:
On the trail, not too far into the ascent

Views along the trail

A rain storm in the distance

Ho'opi'i Falls (2 miles total out and back).  Short, easy trail to waterfalls.  We liked the second waterfall much better than the first.

Old automobile frame.  I wonder how it got there!

On the trail

At the second falls

Waimea Canyon (via canyon trail) [the trail takes you to top of Waipoo falls]:

tiny falls at the top of Waipoo falls

View of the falls from a roadside pull off (since you can't actually see them from the trail we did)

Kalalau Trail To Hanakapai Falls (8 miles total; out and back).  If you don't book far enough in advance to get a parking spot, you'll likely have to take a shuttle in.  It wasn't expensive (I think $15 pp in Oct 2019) and took us from Princeville to the park.  However, it does only leave once per hour and fills fast in the afternoon, so we did have to plan our exit from the park carefully.  Even with that, this was one of our favorites of the trip (and maybe ever):

One of my favorite views on the whole trip. Napali coast

Falls from a distance

And we made it!

Seal at Hanakapai beach (~2 miles into the trail).

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Devil's Bathtub and Great Channels of Virginia

Casey and I would tell you that we live in Southwest Virginia, but last weekend, we took a deep dive into Appalachia and headed another 3 hours Southwest of our home in Blacksburg.  On our trip, we tackled two hikes that had been on the "to do" list for quite some time.  Devil's bathtub is a well known swimming hole near Duffield, VA and the Great Channels is a bit closer to home, near Elk Garden.  We started our weekend adventure in Abingdon and enjoyed a bit of the Highlands festival before making our way to Devil's Bathtub.  After the hike, we camped near High Knob and embarked on the Great Channels before heading home.

My thoughts:

At the bathrub

  1. Devil's bathtub: really, really neat hike, but the crowds took away a good bit of the appeal.  The parking lot and adjacent road was solidly full.  We managed to squeeze into a parallel parking "spot" on the side of the road, but not without a good deal of stress.  The gravel on the road to the actual lot was loose and deep enough that smaller vehicles with no 4-wheel drive were struggling to get into the lot.  One that we observed couldn't make it up and had to backtrack and park alongside the road.  The crowds were a bit of a surprise to me given how remote the location seemed to be, but I suppose it was a well known hike on a hot weekend day!  Unfortunately, the crowds also meant that there was a decent amount of trash around (not a ton, but enough that we filled a dog poop bag with trash and could have brought a bigger bag).  It also meant that we had to enjoy the "bathtub" alongside many others and with the smell of cigarette smoke in the air.  With that said, I have never had so many creek crossings on a single hike, so for that reason, the hike was still a blast.
  2. High Knob campground: Nice spot!  The water was out when we were there, so the flush toilets and hot showers were not a thing, but fortunately, we had packed plenty of potable water, so we didn't have a problem still staying there.  I only wish this had been advertised on the National Forest's website so that we could have known before driving 3 hours to get there.  However, the campsites were nice and secluded and the recreation area was enjoyable.  The high knob tower allowed us to watch a beautiful sunset.
  3. Great Channels: This was perhaps the highlight of the trip.  The hike itself wasn't much to brag about, but the channels were so neat!  There were enough people on this hike for it to feel traveled, but overall, it was pretty quiet and we were able to do most of the hike on our own.

Honey enjoys herself at the recreation area

On trail up to high knob tower

Sunset from high knob tower


Great Channels

More Great Channels

View from atop the channels (there is a railing not pictured here that you cannot cross)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Stiles Falls

I am on a mission to find hikes within a 30ish minute drive of Christiansburg, VA.  I have found that I really enjoy bringing animal shelter dogs on my hiking endeavors, but unfortunately the animal shelter hours necessitate that I find some shorter, closer-to-home hikes.  This time, Stiles Falls came to the rescue!  I cannot believe that I had never heard of this hike until now.  Apparently, I was one of the only ones because this hike was quite well traveled.  The hike leads to a pretty waterfall via a ~4 mile round trip moderate (edging on easy) hike.

Because I had the pup with me, I was a bit distracted with my photos and you'll notice that most are of her rather than the scenery, but hopefully you can look past the pup and get an idea about the hike!  The waterfall is at a pretty rocky area without a ton of room to spread out, and since it was a busy day and Azilia doesn't love other dogs, we didn't spend too much time at the waterfall itself.

In case you're looking for a hiking buddy, check out Miss Azilia.

Azilia was a rockstar on the hike. She was pretty determined to climb out of the hatchback area into my lap on the drive over, but once we got to hiking, she was a superstar. She loved the creek and even took herself for a dive at one point. Over obstacles, she took a "balls to the wall" approach and almost took us for a nosedive a time or two, but otherwise, she was a pleasure on leash.

She passed by numerous hikers happily and was even a joy to walk past the other dogs that we passed (we gave all a wide berth, but she was beautifully non-reactive and redirected her attention well for treats). She just exudes happy energy!

I don't think we fully tired her out, but she did nap most of the way home, so we'll call it a win.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Rice Fields (Again!)

I'm really struggling to keep up with posting when I go on hikes these days, but today was a unique experience that I'm excited to share.  I'm a regular volunteer with the local animal shelter and they allow seasoned volunteers to take the adoptable dogs out now and again for "outings."  This opportunity enriches the dogs' lives and allows the volunteers to have some fun with the dogs outside of the shelter and immediate surrounding area.  Today, Casey and I picked up "Olivia" a coonhound (or pointer?) mix and took her on a trip to Rice Fields.

Miss "loud and proud" was not pleased with the car ride, but was quite happy with the destination. She drooled a good quart before arrival at the hike, but spared us any vomiting in the car. For that, I was grateful!

She was thrilled to be freed of the vehicle and even showed us that she didn't mind wearing a hiking pack. It was too big for her and we didn't need any help carrying her stuff, so we didn't ask her to wear it except to snap a photo, but she didn't mind it at all.

She was marvelous on the hike up and at the top. She even made friends with a couple who was at the top with us. On the trek back down, she caught the trail of some hikers ahead of us and went into full coonhound mode. We apologized (loudly, above her baying) to the hikers in front of us. Eventually, they took a different trail - quite possibly to get away from the hound dog music - and the baying stopped. Who needs raccoons when you can track humans?

I wish I could say we tired her out, but I do think that she enjoyed her adventure. She was desperate to eat my sandwich at the top and still needs to work on her manners in that regard, but is starting to get the hang of "sit means good things come."  Overall, she's a wonderful pup and I so hope that she finds a fantastic home soon.