Friday, June 19, 2015

South Shore of Lake Ontario

Did you know that there are pretty cool sand formations on the south shore of Lake Ontario? 

We camped at Fair Haven State Park.  It was pretty empty, the way we like it! We had a campsite right on the south shore of Lake Ontario, amazing sunsets.  

The Ranger let us know about the cool sand formations and how to get there, I found a better way!  My way included a LONG empty beach.  Just take the service road which heads out east of the campsites.

Basically, I just kept the water to the left of me on the way out. Much to my surprise, I found a pretty long empty beach. The boys were very happy.  This beach is excellent for dogs, as it’s all rocks, no sand, no one wants two sandy wet dogs, wet’s ok, but, add sand, that’s a pain. So, we just walked on the beach, I saw a romantic fog coming in, but I didn’t realize that was a storm front, we were just about 2km out when it started Thunder storming. Duke’s usually a mess during thunderstorms, he actually wasn’t too bad! Buddy was fine. I couldn’t remember if I was supposed to stay on the beach or head toward the forest during a thunderstorm. Buddy kept walking into the woods, and peeking out at us. Duke was just basically stuck to my side.  We went into the woods for a while, the thunderstorm was beautiful, it got pretty crazy. So, it lightened up a little, so we continued in the rain back.

Jerry was amused at how wet we all where.  Anyway, he made me the best meal every, again, and then make it perfect,  it cleared up enough for a beautiful sunset. 

Grand Canyon of the East!

Did you know that there is a Grand Canyon of the East!? It's in Letchworh State Park.

Didn’t know it was even here! BEAUTIFUL! Well worth the visit. 

The camping was excellent too.  I loved the shower pressure! I’d go back just for the shower pressure. Not the elegance of the showers, that’s for sure, but, when you’re camping, a good shower feels like heaven!

If you do not have a second vehicle, and you like to set up camp and not move your vehicle again till you leave, then plan to see the BIG waterfalls as you come in or leave.  The BIG falls and attraction is way too far from the campgrounds for most people. It was 10miles each way.

We secured our campsite, which was awesome by the way, then headed over to the touristy part, but, it was beautiful and well worth seeing. The view from the middle falls was my favourite.

I suggest you park in the middle and go up and down the ridge to all the three waterfalls.
Back at the campsite, the ranger said there wasn’t really any hiking, so, I had low expectations.
I was delighted to find he was wrong! On our hike, we kept on running into amazing waterfalls! FUN! I don’t know about you, but, I love finding non touristy waterfalls in the woods. Makes you feel very special. First hike we took was Trail Route 18, it was along the ridge overlooking the  river.  The trail is far enough away that you have no fear of slipping over unless you’re a curious dog! Glad Duke made it back, he’s an amazing dog! Don’t think he realized how steep I was.  I knew he’d be fine, he’s always been an amazing climber, but, it did look odd when he disappeared then a moment later all you could see was his head and two front legs on the ground.

The next day we took Trail Route 18 toward the road, took the road north till Trail Route 19.  This combination was awesome as far as finding Waterfalls.  If you’re going to take that route, just keep listening for the rush of waterfalls, then look for where there are less formal trails, follow the sound, and voila, waterfalls. LOVE IT!  

Hiking and jumping in puddles! Chapman State Park

We camped and hiked for a couple of stormy, yet very enjoyable days in Chapman State Park Pennsylvania.  

Chapman State Park is surrounded by over 500,000 acres in the Allegheny National Forest. Someone say hiking!  I live for trails! Our 10 year old Duke becomes alive in the trails. 

On our first hike, which was cut short due to the thunderstorm, we found the swing bridge on the Lowlands Trail. We had hiked just a couple of km pasts the swing bridge and the skies opened up - we were caught in a tremendous thunderstorm, Duke was glued to my side on this short hike, Buddy didn’t seem to mind.  We hiked back in the storm. When we got back, everything was so wet I had to ring out all my stuff.   I can tell you the pack I had was not water proof at all, my paper maps were all melted due to being so wet.

When the thunderstorm past, we went for a second hike through unpassable puddles, we heard a road was washed out, but, it was not a main road. So we walked through the puddles with my last pair of dry running shoes, water was past my ankles.  Forest was dripping too, so, again we were drenched, but, funny enough we didn’t mind at all. I felt like a kid jumping in puddles, nice! We took the Lowlands trail again from our camp ground, this time we were going to take it out straight out to the Forest Game Land, but, the signs reading “Hunt Carefully”, it put me off, so we turned back and crossed at the swing bridge again, took that trail till Game Lands Road, went right and caught Adams Run Trail which was rugged, hilly and very wet.  As it was late, and I didn’t have a dry map I could read any longer,  I thought I’d play it safe and turn back, retrace our step to the Game Land road then make our way to the 68 acre lake and then attempt to go around the lake. That worked, it was perfect.  We made it back, soaked again, but, very pleased at our adventure.

Next day, we were off by 6:30 am, we wanted to get an early start as they were predicting afternoon thunderstorms again. So, I had to wear very, very, very, very, wet running shoes, and socks that were dry, well, dry until I stepped onto our first trail.    Couldn’t tell a creek from a trail sometimes, but, again, it was enjoyable. We managed 15 km, first couple of kms were through puddles and hills.  The boys certainly had enough running water to drink from. We headed through the Lumber Trail aiming toward the 300 miles of snowmobile trails, those trails where on higher ground and dryer.  We circled back and walked around the 68 acre lake again and headed back to the camp.  We were wet again as it rained on and off, but, the raid doesn’t seem to bother us anymore.  

Well, as I write, this, we have only wet towels left, nothing dry, only wet socks and hiking shoes, but, it’s our last night camping, before we go visit friends in civilization, so, we’ll be just fine. I also realized that dry shoes and socks are over rated when it comes to hiking, WHO KNEW!?

8th wonder of the world

We stopped to see what once was called the 8th wonder of the world, in he Allegany National Forest, is the most amazing Kinzua Bridge. 

This bridge was built in 1882, it was truly an engineering masterpiece. It once soared 301 feet high and 2,053 feet across and was at one time he highest and longest railroad bridge in the world.  The engineer, who built it, Octave Chanute, also helped the Wright Brothers fly! I would have loved to have met that man! 125 men completed that bridge in just 94 days, that’s crazy!

It was an engineering breakthrough; they designed tall wrought iron columns able to resist vibration and buckling.

1900  they had the trains became heavier, so they had to erected with 6.7 million pounds of steel. 

Then in 2003, in 30 seconds, mother nature sent through a tornado. She tore  through the forest, ripped out 100s of trees and 11 of the bridges 20 towers were lifted and thrown onto the valley floor.

Now the bridge is a Sky Walk, they even added a window floor where it ends.
We were very impressed.  



Friday, May 16, 2014

Hiking 130KM in 15 days

Hiked 130km in 15 days through 7 States

WE LOVE TRAILS! This was a vacation focused on Trails! We wanted to stay close to home this trip, so, we traveled for less then 6 to 3 hours between adventures.

10km in Ohio's Geneva on the Lake

We started in Ohio, hiked around Geneva on the Lake.  We hiked the main drag through the marina lodge, through a State Park and back.  Enough for Buddy to find his first fish and ROLL! NOOO!
We like to start in Geneva on the Lake, see our good friends and enjoy this fun Summer town.

30km in Camp Creek State Park, West Virginia

Next we traveled to West Virginia were we hiked 30kms through Camp Creek State Park.

It's lovely. However, we had an adventure where Buddy went missing in the 5,300 acres of forest land. Duke rescued Buddy. To see all the details of that adventure please visit our blog Buddy Goes Missing, Duke to the Rescue. 

64 km (or 40miles) of trails, we only explored 30 km of them.  Two included finding waterfalls, LOVE that.

They had all types of camp sites. Sites with electricity were $23 per night.  

Camp Creek State Park's had excellent hiking through rolling hills.  The camping was good, not very private though, we'd have liked more trees, but we did back onto a small creek.

We were able to hike and view the waterfalls without any crowds. Trail maps were a little off, but, the trails were very well marked and an excellent challenge.

We met some wonderful people while there, they recommended we go to Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia for some excellent camping and hiking. So, that's where we headed to next.

20km Hungry Mother State Park, Virginia 

We ended up being the ONLY ones in a camping in the loop we were in. Just us and the Camp Hosts. The Camp Hosts were new, it was their first week was Camping hosts ever and the wife of the couple had never camped before. They were very excited. They get to camp for 6 weeks, while hosting those who come to the camp. Limited duties actually sounded fun!

The campsite was amazing, we had a site on the bend of the creek, so, we had a babbling creek on two sides of our site.

They had all types of camp sites. Sites with electricity were $30 per night.  
The trails at Hungry Mother State Park were excellent, the maps were bang on and there were a TON of other activities if one wanted. About 2,900 acres. The lake is 108 acres.
This park also has a wonderful lake with kayaking, canoeing and much more to offer.

20km Lake Powhatan right outside of Ashville, North Carolina

The hiking was excellent. The people in this state must be the MOST in shape and friendliest people anywhere.

Locals were running and biking up these hills like it was nothing.  People of ALL ages. 

Lake Powhatan Recreation Area is in the center of Bent Creek Experimental Forest, it's the is the oldest federal experimental forest east of the Mississippi river. 6,000 acres within the Pisgah National Forest near Asheville, 

Camp sites where well treed.  The hiking maps were very good and the trails were marked well.
 $22/night for full hook up sites.

The locals in North Carolina are also some of the MOST friendly people we've met. Everyone says hello are very welcoming. You can tell the tourist as they aren't as friendly.

There weren't very many tourists this time of year, the locals seemed to take breaks in their day to come up from Asheville to run or bike through the hills.

Exploring Asheville, North Carolina

The locals we ran into on the trails had said that dogs rule in Asheville, they're allowed in most of the shops. NICE! We had to go see. We popped into the City of Asheville.  

 We had fun exploring the 2nd oldest Pawn Shop in the US. They where very proud of their shop Finkelstein.  

The weather is perfect in May. I can't imagine how WARM it would be in the summer.

Last hike in Asheville! Love it.

20km in South Fork National Lake Rec Center Tennessee

125,000 acres to explore! Yes I think.. can't wait I think.. HAHA... BUT the maps they give you are terrible as they don't show much, and the rangers didn't even know these trails where there!

The rangers must have been new. I asked them where the trails were, they said we had to get into a car and drive a few miles to find them. GUESS WHAT?? The trail heads were actually right at our campsite! I'm glad we always take a walk around and explore on our own.

So, we explored.  They were completely different trails, filled with interesting cliffs and ladders to get to different levels. We enjoyed it.

With this kind of wet grassy world we were in, we had to be careful of Ticks. We pulled a number each day off of both dogs. 

The campsites were good, fairly treed and not very busy this time of year.  They were $22/night for full hook up sites. 

Mammoth Caves National Park 20km in Kentucky 

This was extraordinary.  125,000 acres to explore on land plus 400 miles of caves to explore underground. It was very impressive.  We took two cave tours, the dripstone and the historical tour. Very different tours exploring different parts of the underground world.

Campsite was called Primitive Camping, meaning, no water or electricity at your campsite. However, their facilities were excellent and they had laundry.

Jerry has his special pass so we get National parks at half price, so, I think this cost us only $8.50/night.

The trails were well marked, but the maps were pretty weak.

We found a very green river, called the Green River.  It was So hot the boys needed to go it, much to my worries.. But, they seemed to be fine and they VERY much enjoyed the swim.  I think that Buddy went in deeper than he hoped, he hasn't actually swam yet, Duke's the water baby.

We explored the caves the next day. The drip stone tour was excellent.  You entered the caves through a 250 step shaft straight down. 

This was the afternoon's  cave tour. Two miles 400 stairs up and down. Great history telling.

I love that Jerry wore his hat through the cave. This was a VERY narrow passageway. We barely got through.

10km East Fork State Park, Ohio

The beach was empty, all to ourselves. BUT, it wasn't really cleaned. I'm thinking it wasn't cleaned YET.  As it could be lovely. We were early in the season, they seemed understaffed or something.

Many of the bathrooms weren't open yet and the water wasn't on in any of the camp areas yet. That's all ok as we had our own water and bathroom.

It was a beautiful campsite.  It happens to be one of Ohio's largest state parks, 4,870-acre East Fork offers a great diversity of recreational opportunities and natural history only 25 miles from Cincinnat.

These sites were the best in size and shade, however, hard to beat the creek we had surrounding our campsite in Hungry Mother State Park.

We didn't have trail maps as the office was closed when we got there, so, couldn't really do the trails aggressively, it's ok, as it was SO hot.  91 degrees and we were starting to get tired (don't tell anyone that we tire.. ) So, we just did 10km over the two days we were there.

The boys were getting exhausted quickly in the heat.

They enjoyed sleeping on the cool cement picnic table in the shade or inside in the air conditioning.

Finally we visited the largest grocery store in North America, it's called Jungle Jims. It was nuts. Jerry was  a kid in a candy store.  But, more on that later, it deserves a blog all to itself.