Category: Hiking

Moxie Falls (The Forks, Maine)

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Moxie Falls is one of Maine's tallest waterfalls and is an extremely popular dayhike. We were able to do it during non-peak hours on a Friday and had the falls area all to ourselves. I was joined by Mike, Mike, and Joe and we were in the area for a whitewater rafting trip at Northern Outdoors that weekend.

The hike to the viewpoint of the falls is easy with minimal elevation gain.

Once you get down to the falls, you are granted with a spectacular viewpoint that has you screaming “WOW.”

But the fun wasn't over for us, as we opted to take the path less traveled down to the river. This is not advised for people who are afraid of heights or are not comfortable on very steep, nearly vertical terrain in spots.

We got up close and personal with the waterfall. If it was warmer out we probably would have tried to swim in it, which ..

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now! Follow me at facebook.com/justinraphaelsonauthor, instagram.com/jraphaelson, and twitter.com/jcxc44!
Moxie Falls is one of Maine's tallest waterfalls and is an extremely popular dayhike. We were able to do it during non-peak hours on a Friday and had the falls area all to ourselves. I was joined by Mike, Mike, and Joe and we were in the area for a whitewater rafting trip at Northern Outdoors that weekend.

The hike to the viewpoint of the falls is easy with minimal elevation gain.





Once you get down to the falls, you are granted with a spectacular viewpoint that has you screaming "WOW."


But the fun wasn't over for us, as we opted to take the path less traveled down to the river. This is not advised for people who are afraid of heights or are not comfortable on very steep, nearly vertical terrain in spots.



We got up close and personal with the waterfall. If it was warmer out we probably would have tried to swim in it, which is apparently allowed at the falls.


I highly recommend that if in the area, you explore these falls. Some may even call it a destination hike, but for me it wasn't given its brevity. If you can combine it with other activities in the area this is a must-do adventure.

Total Time: 44 minsTotal Distance: ~2 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~305 feet
GPS Track

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Connections – The Shakedown Hike, Day 2: 10 miles (20 total)

I slept well under the waning strawberry moon.

Morning was clouded up, and I was excited for the prospect of a day without sun. Temps would be much cooler and good for hiking.

A gradual cross country section brought me to a pinch-point and I scouted around a bit to find a good way down, twisting my ankle in the process.

“Walk it off,” we say, and that works…sometimes.

With the uneven and rocky weaving around sagebrush and the odd white mariposa lily, walking through cheatgrass just dried out enough to start sticking in my socks, but protected by my gaiters for just that reason, I found I wasn’t walking it off. I was slowly and methodically watching each footstep so I didn’t repeat the twist, and the ache remained.

Then road! But a rocky one, so the attention now went to avoiding the fresh cow pies. Oh yeah, the cows are out, and we are all going the same place: water.

The road exits a dramatic cut in the ridgeline and descends to a fenced and quite lush looking reservoir with p..

I slept well under the waning strawberry moon.

Morning was clouded up, and I was excited for the prospect of a day without sun. Temps would be much cooler and good for hiking.

A gradual cross country section brought me to a pinch-point and I scouted around a bit to find a good way down, twisting my ankle in the process.

“Walk it off,” we say, and that works…sometimes.

With the uneven and rocky weaving around sagebrush and the odd white mariposa lily, walking through cheatgrass just dried out enough to start sticking in my socks, but protected by my gaiters for just that reason, I found I wasn’t walking it off. I was slowly and methodically watching each footstep so I didn’t repeat the twist, and the ache remained.

Then road! But a rocky one, so the attention now went to avoiding the fresh cow pies. Oh yeah, the cows are out, and we are all going the same place: water.

The road exits a dramatic cut in the ridgeline and descends to a fenced and quite lush looking reservoir with piped water into a cattle tank. Score! This set up can provide some of the best water if it’s piped from a spring – or a cattle-free source. (Note: the danger remains that it might be pumped from the dirty cow tank behind you. I filter or treat most water when I don’t see it coming out of the ground….maybe thats just because I do so much hiking in cow country.)

Back to roads. I walked slowly up towards the top of something again. Basin and range: true sagebrush steppe walking. Except for the road that disappeared into the folds of sagebrush as far as the eye could see, it was unbroken.

The sun never came out and I walked happily under the bluish-gray moody day.

And then: a cattle truck. I knew I might run into a rancher or two with all the mooing on the landscape, but this one was really far away, I wasn’t quite sure until I got closer…thinking it could all be a mirage.

Then…a rider on horseback racing up the grade of the next climb. The human is going home.

I am pleased that I’ll have my solo bubble intact for this 24 hours. It’s been a while since that has happened.

Another creek, and then camp. The birds are chirping away and I set up expecting a bit of rain overnight.

Mooooo.

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Connections – The Shakedown Hike, Day 1: 10 miles

I’ve got to shake it off.
Shake off the time between my last solo backpacking trip and now. Those months have been filled with one unsettling event after another; my sweat is toxic with them the first day.
I am headed into the desert with modest but exciting goals: hike 10 miles a day, find water, and piece together some dirt roads stitched with cross country sections. Why? To groundtruth ideas I’ve had about linking together the Oregon Desert Trail in the Owyhees to the Blue Mountains Trail in the Strawberry Mountains, a personal plight…you might say for curiosity’s sake.
June provided a rare mild week right before summer solstice. Add in some well-deserved time-off after a week of work in the backcountry, and I had the time and good weather for a solo adventure.
This was also to be an experiment: can my rehabilitated planter fasciitis foot hold up to 10 miles a day for 5 days? I was optimistic, but am hedging my bets by going slow and stretching constantly. Oh, that, and the stick ..

I’ve got to shake it off.
Shake off the time between my last solo backpacking trip and now. Those months have been filled with one unsettling event after another; my sweat is toxic with them the first day.
I am headed into the desert with modest but exciting goals: hike 10 miles a day, find water, and piece together some dirt roads stitched with cross country sections. Why? To groundtruth ideas I’ve had about linking together the Oregon Desert Trail in the Owyhees to the Blue Mountains Trail in the Strawberry Mountains, a personal plight…you might say for curiosity’s sake.
June provided a rare mild week right before summer solstice. Add in some well-deserved time-off after a week of work in the backcountry, and I had the time and good weather for a solo adventure.
This was also to be an experiment: can my rehabilitated planter fasciitis foot hold up to 10 miles a day for 5 days? I was optimistic, but am hedging my bets by going slow and stretching constantly. Oh, that, and the stick roller in my pack.
It was a shakedown hike!
I leave for the Appalachian Trail in a few weeks, so am testing my gear setup for the first time. Bits and pieces of gear always change between long trails. Each trail has it’s own gear needs, and I was preparing for hot and humid and maybe rainy weather.
I couldn’t possibly replicate those conditions in the dusty and scrubbed desert northwest of Lake Owyhee State Park, but enough pieces were in place for me to realize I was packing way too many clothes. It will take a while to dial in my AT pack…but with many options to ship things home or have Kirk send them ahead to me on the trail, I was giddy with excitement at how different a hike on the AT will be. I’ll find actual trail, people, (lots and lots of people), towns, different ecosystems and geology, trail angels all over the place, shelters, lots of water, lots of shade, lots of memories.
20 years ago from March 20 to August 22 I called the Appalachian Trail home, and I will be going home again for 2 months.
But back to the sagebrush sea.

I wandered 10 miles on rocky dirt roads that hadn’t seen any traffic in weeks if not longer. These roads are my favorite. They are everywhere in the desert and take you to water, cool things, and they are usually too rough to drive, so walk them!
Many many miles are like this on the Oregon Desert Trail. Sometimes they are whispers of a former road and you have to read the contours of the ground in front of you, and look for the ghosts of missing sagebrush. Last weekend when I was backpacking with my volunteers up into the Trout Creek Mountains, we turned onto one of those roads and the spaces where the road had been was filled with flowers. There are so many flowers in the desert right now!!! Our very rainy and snowy spring is soaking the ground frequently, so I’m hiking with great optimistim that the water marked on the map will be there…I also viewed the potential water sources on Google Maps…the detail in the satellite imagry is downright astonishing.
Even when I take my time it doesn’t take me long to hike 10 miles, so I need to purposefully slow down, take epic long breaks, linger over coffee, and read one of the 4 books I brought with me (3 digital of course!).

It’s a vacation hike! A belated birthday hike? I turned 45 on that volunteer trip last week, I ate cake with 20 people in the desert, which was amazing, but now I was treating myself to a little hike.
I intensly enjoy walking through the folds of the earth and knowing with 96% certainy that I won’t see any other humans. I am of this place and sometimes I feel this most intensily when I am alone.

Bring me back to the present, here and now. That’s what backpacking is good for. And I was brutally reminded of this when I stepped shin-deep in a mud-cow pie wetland at a desert spring. The rare desert nectar was stomped to death by their large, thirsty bodies. They wallowed in this spring, so I’m definitely filtering and treating it. 100% fecal contaminated.

Fence all the springs please!
Back to it: the walking was hot, I deployed my sun umbrella much of the afternoon, and my pale and pasty legs turned red in my new purple rain adventure skirt.
Breaks were taken in the old roadbed where my footprints joined those of deer, pronghorn, and cows, i was all spread out on new and crinkly tyvek.

It will take me at least a day to sweat town away, maybe longer. I have 5 days. Happy birthday to me!

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Too much to do

I’ve been making lists for months now, and even though my summer hike is getting closer and many things have been crossed off, more are added.

It’s been a while since I’ve planned for a multi-month adventure, especially one with such a different climate. Hot, humid and rainy…that’s about as different as it gets to the Oregon desert. There are lists of gear to dos, work to dos, home to dos, to do to dos…

And in my final few weeks before I fly out there are work trips….so many work trips.

I am days away from departure and the to dos haunt me when I try and concentrate on other things, but this last work trip has been a good lesson in “be here now.”

I am out working with our Tribal Stewards crew, a group of 8 young adults from different tribal nations around the country. The Steward program started in 2019 (a partnership between ONDA and Northwest Youth Corps) and is designed to engage tribal members in learning about careers in conservation, stewardship and public lands management wh..

I’ve been making lists for months now, and even though my summer hike is getting closer and many things have been crossed off, more are added.

It’s been a while since I’ve planned for a multi-month adventure, especially one with such a different climate. Hot, humid and rainy…that’s about as different as it gets to the Oregon desert. There are lists of gear to dos, work to dos, home to dos, to do to dos…

And in my final few weeks before I fly out there are work trips….so many work trips.

I am days away from departure and the to dos haunt me when I try and concentrate on other things, but this last work trip has been a good lesson in “be here now.”

I am out working with our Tribal Stewards crew, a group of 8 young adults from different tribal nations around the country. The Steward program started in 2019 (a partnership between ONDA and Northwest Youth Corps) and is designed to engage tribal members in learning about careers in conservation, stewardship and public lands management while working on restoration projects across Oregon.

This week we are repairing Beaver dam analogs…weaving branches of lodgepole and ponderosa pine in between posts that had been sunk in the creek bed….an effort to mimic the water retaining magic of a beaver dam in these desert creeks…in hopes of enticing Oregon’s state animal to move back into the area (most were trapped out of existence during the fur hat craze of the late 1800s.)

After work we go swimming in a high lake deep within the forest, finally cooling off from the 90 degree day.

And as the morning breaks on the calm surface of Magone Lake and the birds flit about looking for breakfast, I am here. Now.

The lists will be there when I get back, the things will get done, and for a day or so I am able to focus on what is important…these people and this work.

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Connections – The Shakedown Hike, Day 4: 8 miles (43.7 total)

The wind was cold last night. I thought about taking the rainfly off the tent because its mind-numbing flapping was barely tolerable, but the thin nylon was shielding me somewhat from the chilling wind. As it was I snuggled deep into my 40 degree quilt.

My morning route took a right onto a road as it crossed over another drainage, but I walked by the area, failing to see the road. I thought I could spy where it met the rise a couple hundred yards away, so turned around and looked closer. I finally noticed the gate. This road hasn’t been used as such in many decades. The tracks were gone where it crossed the drainage (with water of course) and thick vegetation obscured the way.

Here I go soaking my feet again, I thought. It wasn’t exactly the bog of eternal stench, (Labyrinth anyone?) but I was rock hopping just the same and got to the other side, dryness intact.

I’m glad I put my gaiters on this morning. The road walking was essentially cross country walking, then the next span of c..

The wind was cold last night. I thought about taking the rainfly off the tent because its mind-numbing flapping was barely tolerable, but the thin nylon was shielding me somewhat from the chilling wind. As it was I snuggled deep into my 40 degree quilt.

My morning route took a right onto a road as it crossed over another drainage, but I walked by the area, failing to see the road. I thought I could spy where it met the rise a couple hundred yards away, so turned around and looked closer. I finally noticed the gate. This road hasn’t been used as such in many decades. The tracks were gone where it crossed the drainage (with water of course) and thick vegetation obscured the way.

Here I go soaking my feet again, I thought. It wasn’t exactly the bog of eternal stench, (Labyrinth anyone?) but I was rock hopping just the same and got to the other side, dryness intact.

I’m glad I put my gaiters on this morning. The road walking was essentially cross country walking, then the next span of cross country walking was cheat grass walking.

I could see the lush farmland of the Malheur River valley below. I was working my way towards the highway where i would walk the last 5 miles to my car at Harper.

For the last bit I followed the contours of an open canal…with water! I can’t get over all the water I’ve come across on this trip.

Then the road. Just as I step onto the pavement a semi blasts me with air and send my hat flying. I walk carefully after that, moving far away from traffic as I slowly inch around a looong corner, listening to a podcast to take my mind off speeding vehicles.

Then, a car pulls over. I thought I might see some sympthatic recreationists on their way from the Skull Grinder bike race in Burns that weekend; I had spent the day there Wednesday as part of an Eastern Oregon Recreation Summit (talking trails and bikes) and the summit hosts were expecting hundreds of people for the race and festivities that weekend.

Ok, the car. Out gets Kate! Kate was with me at the summit and is the recreation lead for Eastern Oregon Visitors Association. I told the group I’d be out here walking, and here I am. Kate asked if I need anything, and I suggest getting a ride the last 1.5 miles to my car would be most excellent. She agreed and I hopped in. A short and lovely encounter on the side of the road. Thanks Kate!

I changed into my chacos and went inside to tell Brian about my trip. On Thursday when I showed up I convinced the owner of the gas station and store/bar to let me park my car there. Backpacking wasn’t a traditional past time in Harper, but I must have made a convincing argument because he agreed. In fact, my judgement may have been hasty. As I was walking away he waved me over to another Harper local to meet Jeanie. Jeanie’s brother had thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and most of the Continental Divide Trail. Love it!

I enter the bar, remembering Brian had said he sells sandwiches. Rootbeer and sandwich…yes please! A few locals were nursing drinks, and Brian welcomed me with a Coors Light, then a rootbeer. Some of the cows belonged to a rancher at the counter, and I delicately mentioned how nice it would be if the cows were kept out of the springs… the conversation centered on the land, and I quizzed them on features and names of things. All and all, it was a great way to end the trip.

Ah, but it wasn’t over! At least I didn’t want it to be over. I had another day to play with, as my long miles on day 3 had me finishing ahead of time. So what is a big part of the hiking experience on a long trail? A town day! I decided to go the extra little bit to Ontario, Oregon and get myself a hotel room and nice dinner.

I wasn’t ready to go home yet. Home means the end of the trip.

But getting in the car means the end of this blog….see you soon when I start writing about the Appalachian Trail! The countdown is on 😁

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Connections – The Shakedown Hike, Day 3: 15.7 miles (35.7 total)

The birds chirp all night.

On my last few outings this spring, the moon has been out and the birds don’t know to stop singing. Surely they know, but just don’t care? Do birds pull all nighters on a full moon?

I walked up the grade I saw the horseback rider on yesterday and found a better road to the spot. There was no way a big cattle truck would have taken the road I walked in on, but then again, you find astonishing things via these rough 4wd roads.

My next water source was a pleasant cruise down a grade filled with soft green hills. Patches of cloud cover rolled over the scene and the idealic setting took me to a beautiful tire-filled spring. These are the water sources we dream of. Little did I know this would be the best water of the day. I only took a liter and couldn’t resist holding it up to the light. Clean and clear.

I walked next to and through a creek the rest of the day. It was nice.

Is it the cottonwood trees that are so fragrant? Their perfume sweetens the air.

I..

The birds chirp all night.

On my last few outings this spring, the moon has been out and the birds don’t know to stop singing. Surely they know, but just don’t care? Do birds pull all nighters on a full moon?

I walked up the grade I saw the horseback rider on yesterday and found a better road to the spot. There was no way a big cattle truck would have taken the road I walked in on, but then again, you find astonishing things via these rough 4wd roads.

My next water source was a pleasant cruise down a grade filled with soft green hills. Patches of cloud cover rolled over the scene and the idealic setting took me to a beautiful tire-filled spring. These are the water sources we dream of. Little did I know this would be the best water of the day. I only took a liter and couldn’t resist holding it up to the light. Clean and clear.

I walked next to and through a creek the rest of the day. It was nice.

Is it the cottonwood trees that are so fragrant? Their perfume sweetens the air.

I lunched at a spot called Hanging Rock Spring. I failed to see the hanging rock, but then I wasn’t about to go rooting in the brush for a view. It must have been a modest hanging rock.

Speaking of rock, the near-by drainage was named “Hoodoo Canyon” and the terrain did become very south-westish. Definitely Utah or New Mexico vibes.

Again, I should have filled up my water when the road crossed the creek and I walked about 30 feet through it. I had already tried walking around, but once I was on the sandy talus above the drainage, the view showed me that I’d be trading a clean walk through the water for a marshy mud-foot crossing. No thanks. That’s a good way to lose a shoe.

Then I evaluated. My end of day water source wasn’t far off, as the crow flies, so decided on a cross country option up and over a few rises…such a cool way to hike! You can go anywhere out here…it’s wide open. Partial fire scars cleared the sagebrush and left cheatgrass in its wake….terrible for the ecosystem, but ok for walking.

The spring is hammered. Cows protest my approach to check it out and I find nothing but a cow paradise…there are flowers and green all around. It must be a lovely place to wallow if you are a cow.

Ok, next one looks to be a mile or so of cross country hiking. This is the part where the hills start looking like mesas and the soil turns an ashy white. Definitely a different look for this hike so far. Oh, and cactus! Blooming catus 🙂

This next spring is the worst by far.

No way. Not drinking that.

Now it’s 3 miles cross country, up and over a long climb. It’s early, walking only 10 miles is a big challenge for me when my pace is 3 miles an hour. I slow way down on a cross country sections, and in general am hiking slower on this trip, but I was cruising on this morning’s road walk.

I decided it had to be done. I could camp with what I had, but only if I eat a cold dinner and skip coffee in the morning. No thanks! Onward. One step at a time.

Ooo, there it is, my first blister of the trip. Day 3, not bad! And only when I pushed it over 10 miles. Good job body! By the way, my problem planter fasciitis foot was feeling good too.

On the other side of the saddle that sat between the water sources I came to a spring cut deep into a narrow ravine filled with grasses and flowers. I found a way down on a cow trail (#^@%^$), but the cows haven’t mucked this one up too bad, so was able to get some cleanish water.

Whew.

Camp, eat, hide from the sun, read, close my eyes while the birds chirp me to sleep.

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Heading to Slovenia

When we finished the CDT last year in Glacier National Park, we felt like we were ready for some time without the work of planning a big hike. However, as the winter months went by, SweetPea started to get a bit antsy for a hike this summer. Since this year is SweetPea’s 50th birthday (her birthday is about 2.5 weeks before we start our hike), we wanted to do something special to celebrate this big milestone. So, for her 50th birthday, she got to choose the 2022 “adventure.”

For some unexplained reason, SweetPea has always had a fascination with Croatia and that general area of the world. Knowing that the Croatia National Trail is a longer of a hike than what we wanted to do this year, she widened her search. She had heard of the existence of the Slovenia Mountain Trail (but hadn’t really looked into it) several years ago, so it was on her radar.

The Slovenia Mountain Trail is about 380 miles long, and usually takes a month or more to complete. It starts just outside of the town of..

When we finished the CDT last year in Glacier National Park, we felt like we were ready for some time without the work of planning a big hike. However, as the winter months went by, SweetPea started to get a bit antsy for a hike this summer. Since this year is SweetPea’s 50th birthday (her birthday is about 2.5 weeks before we start our hike), we wanted to do something special to celebrate this big milestone. So, for her 50th birthday, she got to choose the 2022 “adventure.”

Slovene Mtn Trail Guide Book and Birthday Hat

For some unexplained reason, SweetPea has always had a fascination with Croatia and that general area of the world. Knowing that the Croatia National Trail is a longer of a hike than what we wanted to do this year, she widened her search. She had heard of the existence of the Slovenia Mountain Trail (but hadn’t really looked into it) several years ago, so it was on her radar.

The Slovenia Mountain Trail is about 380 miles long, and usually takes a month or more to complete. It starts just outside of the town of Maribor in the north-east of the country. The trail heads due west and then takes a sharp turn and heads due south until it gets to the town of Ankaran on the Adriatic Sea. The terrain seems to vary from dark spruce forests to stark limestone peaks to rolling vineyards. We will hike through the Pohorje Plateau, the Karavanke Range, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the Julian Alps and the Dinaric Plateau.

This trail will take us to extremes in a variety of ways…on the one hand, we are expecting some of the trail to be VERY difficult and steep. So steep in fact, that parts of the trail have via ferrata routes, meaning set cables in the rock where we will clip in with harnesses. We have never done anything like this, so it is a bit of an unknown for us. Based on the guidebook we purchased for the hike, there will be many days where we should not expect to be moving more than half a mile per hour! We are expecting to have multiple days under 10 miles (yet taking 10+ hours to complete)…definitely different than every other hike we have done.

On the other end of the extreme nature of the hike, is the fact that this will be a hut-to-hut hike. And, we’re not talking about “shelters” like on the AT…these are full-service huts, where we will be able to get breakfast, dinner, and maybe even a packed lunch! We will be sleeping in the huts each night…even in an actual bed (wild camping is not allowed in Slovenia) and won’t even bother to bring a sleeping bag with us. The pictures of the huts along the route that we have seen really intrigue us…they look like alpine paradise :). Take a look at this Google image search.

The attitude we are taking on this trip can be summed up as “go with the flow.” There are multiple unknowns as we head off on our month of hiking. While, we have created a spreadsheet showing an itinerary of daily mileage and sleeping locations along the SMT, we accept that we might not have enough time to finish the whole Slovenia Mountain Trail (if we have delays due to weather, etc.). In addition, we might find that we just aren’t comfortable with the via ferrata routes and may decide to hike alternative trails. We may even find some of the huts full which would cause us to change our itinerary. Basically, we are keeping our plans as open as possible and the basic idea of “we are hiking in Slovenia” in July/August as our anchor.

Some Slovenia Mountain Trail facts:

  • The elevation on the trail ranges from a high of 9,400 feet at the summit of Triglav to a low of 0 feet as the trail ends at the Adriatic Sea.
  • It is a point of pride for most Slovenians to climb Mount Triglav at least once in their lifetime.
  • There is a “passport” for the trail, where we will accumulate 80 stamps at notable spots along the trail (peaks, huts, etc.).
  • The trail has several names in Slovenia: Slovenska planinska pot, the Transverzala and Route 1.
  • Like the Appalachian Trail, there are painted markers along the route to follow (the mark looks like a red and white bulls eye with the number 1 next to it).
  • A large part of Slovenia is made up of limestone, which is quite porous, so there are not a lot of lakes, streams, and other surface water sources.

One might wonder what we will be carrying if we are sleeping indoors with sheets and blankets and buying cooked meals each day. Well, the answer is not much. We will each be carrying two sets of hiking clothes (a real luxury!), with the thought that we will be able to rinse out our clothes each evening and have a clean, dry set of clothes to wear the next day. We will also have our rain gear, down jackets/hat/gloves, our hammocks (just for lounging in on short days) and of course our via ferrata kit with helmet. So, definitely a light load. We don’t really have large daypacks (which would have been perfect), so we decided to just use our ULA Ohm backpacks, even though they are overkill for this hike.

When we arrive in Slovenia, we will spend a few days in the capital city of Ljubljana. We will hitting a few of the noted outdoor stores there. There are certain pieces of gear that we need to get or replace, and the options in Mexico, where we live, can be pretty minimal or expensive when available. Hopefully we will be able to get over any jet lag during those few days, so that we will be ready to hit the trail.

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West Hartford Reservoirs Recreation Area (West Hartford, Connecticut)

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The West Hartford Reservoirs is an incredible hidden gem (probably not so hidden to Hartford locals). But to the unassuming Massachusetts resident, this was a spectacular find. There are miles and miles of trails on gravel roads, asphalt roads, and single track mountain trails that ascend some pretty steep terrain.

JS and I began at the main parking lot on Farmington Ave. It had just started to rain, so most people were clearing out. Luckily for us, it stopped just a few minutes later and we had the trails to ourselves.

Using a combo of the aforementioned asphalt, gravel roads, and single track trails, we blazed a path up and over some of the hillier terrain where we were afforded some great views of Hartford.

The trails in this area were not well maintained and we had to navigate using my GPS. Coupled with my bad ankle, this wasn&#039..

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The West Hartford Reservoirs is an incredible hidden gem (probably not so hidden to Hartford locals). But to the unassuming Massachusetts resident, this was a spectacular find. There are miles and miles of trails on gravel roads, asphalt roads, and single track mountain trails that ascend some pretty steep terrain.


JS and I began at the main parking lot on Farmington Ave. It had just started to rain, so most people were clearing out. Luckily for us, it stopped just a few minutes later and we had the trails to ourselves.


Using a combo of the aforementioned asphalt, gravel roads, and single track trails, we blazed a path up and over some of the hillier terrain where we were afforded some great views of Hartford.





The trails in this area were not well maintained and we had to navigate using my GPS. Coupled with my bad ankle, this wasn't the best trail to take, but it was a good sampling to see what the area has to offer.


After descending a slippery, rocky, and eroded mess of a trail, we found ourselves back on a pristine gravel road and looped back toward where we started, passing some extremely scenic parts of the reservoir.



This is one of the coolest conservation areas I've been to in New England so far and I hope to be able to explore it another time when my ankle is healed and I am in the area.

Total Time: 46 minsTotal Distance: ~3.37 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~335 feet
GPS Track

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Crandall Park (Tolland, Connecticut)

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Crandall Park in Tolland, CT is a nice little conservation area right off I-84 that has enough trails to keep you occupied on a hike, run, or mountain bike. JS and I opted to hike it (with a little jogging at the end), as my ankle is still working back up to trails.

If you're local to the area, this is a great place to get out into the woods with decent elevation gain and plenty of trails to choose from.

There are stone wall remnants of the old farming areas which are always fun relics to see.

Some of the trails seem as if they were recently cut for mountain biking, but for the most part they are easy to follow and you can make a number of loops out of these trails. I would definitely recommend this area to locals, but it isn't a big destination for those who don't live near it.

Total Time: 39 minsTotal Distance: ~2 mil..

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Crandall Park in Tolland, CT is a nice little conservation area right off I-84 that has enough trails to keep you occupied on a hike, run, or mountain bike. JS and I opted to hike it (with a little jogging at the end), as my ankle is still working back up to trails.

If you're local to the area, this is a great place to get out into the woods with decent elevation gain and plenty of trails to choose from.


There are stone wall remnants of the old farming areas which are always fun relics to see.


Some of the trails seem as if they were recently cut for mountain biking, but for the most part they are easy to follow and you can make a number of loops out of these trails. I would definitely recommend this area to locals, but it isn't a big destination for those who don't live near it.

Total Time: 39 minsTotal Distance: ~2 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~262 feet
GPS Track

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Mount Meader, West and East Royce via Mount Meader Trail, Basin Rim, Royce Trail (NH)

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This loop of Meader and the Royces was one of the best adventures I did last year. Unfortunately it slipped through the cracks and I forgot about it until I stumbled across the pictures a few weeks ago. It's a desolate, quiet journey through trails that don't see much traffic for much of it until the Royces, which are quite popular peaks.

The trail *seems* like it starts at the picture below, but in fact it's a little further south from this trailhead and on an unsightly path that barely resembles a trail and looks more like someone's grassy driveway. Unless you were doing all the trails in the Whites, it wouldn't mean much to you. But that was the beauty of this trail.

This hidden gem leads you right to where you want to be. An orange hued pool and waterfalls await you!

The best part about it is I only saw one..

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This loop of Meader and the Royces was one of the best adventures I did last year. Unfortunately it slipped through the cracks and I forgot about it until I stumbled across the pictures a few weeks ago. It's a desolate, quiet journey through trails that don't see much traffic for much of it until the Royces, which are quite popular peaks.


The trail *seems* like it starts at the picture below, but in fact it's a little further south from this trailhead and on an unsightly path that barely resembles a trail and looks more like someone's grassy driveway. Unless you were doing all the trails in the Whites, it wouldn't mean much to you. But that was the beauty of this trail.



This hidden gem leads you right to where you want to be. An orange hued pool and waterfalls await you!





The best part about it is I only saw one other person on the trail during the busy 4th of July weekend. As it gets higher, it becomes a bit more eroded though.

But once you start to pop above treeline, the views are glorious.


Though Meader isn't officially part of a list, nearby Eagle Crag is, with its bald summit. I didn't tag it this time around, as my goal was to head north instead of south.




This next stretch of trail was wild and rugged, with plenty of ups and downs along the way over toward West Royce.



The area near the Rim Junction was particularly impressive. The views were astounding and it made me smile to see such an incredible backcountry view with no other people but me.







There were also some pristine single track sections of trail–my favorite!

Especially this section!!!

The views near the top of West Royce are nice, but it was actually recently removed from the 52 With a View list because it is getting overgrown. East Royce has far better views, but it is in Maine technically.


The stretch over to East Royce was busy, steep, and wet, but the views were remarkable–this was my first time up there.





The final piece of this puzzle was a descent down the very steep Royce Trail. It was rocky, wet, rugged, and kind of nasty for the first section, but as you get lower it gets more manageable and eventually flattens out.



It also passes by Mad River Falls, which is a cool little detour.




To get back to my car, I had to run several miles on Main Road south, which went by pretty quickly since I was itching to be done by this point! This was an awesome adventure that isn't for everyone. A lot of ups and downs and elevation including the road run at the end made for a difficult day. But I loved every moment of it and can't wait to get back to long mile days once my ankle finally heals!

Total Time: 4 hrs 27Total Distance: ~14 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~4688 feet
GPS Track

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