Another weekend backpacking in Dolly Sods – Blackbird Knob and Red Creek Gorge

Red Creek next to camp - 10-10-2020

Total Distance: 9 miles (plus wandering)

Dolly Sods Trail Map

Route Map

Elevation Gain: ~1,500 feet

It was time for a long overdue hike into the woods. 2020 has been a strange year to say the least. It seemed like something came up every time I tried to make plans for a long-term trip. And at this point “long-term” is anything longer than a weekend.

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A weekend backpacking in Dolly Sods, WV

Fall colors in Dolly Sods near Blackbird Knob

And it was dry!

I open with that statement because Dolly Sods is notorious for wet and soggy conditions. It is a minor accomplishment to be there when it is not raining. There wasn’t much rain in the weeks leading up to our weekend, so that allowed for many of the “slushy” trails to dry up significantly.

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I guess it’s time to go home – returning coast to coast: what did it all mean?

Piedras Blancas in San Simeon - Pacific Coast Highway

Finally, the cross country drive is coming to an end. Based on when this is published and when the events actually occurred, you can probably tell I have been a little busy (and slow to write the final chapter). As much as I like to travel, I think I need a little break after this journey. Hopefully in the future I can stay up to date on everything. Either way, I hope you enjoy the finale of a wonderful journey across, around, and back across the United States.

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Is it really time to go? – One last drive through the Southwest

Waterfall in Orderville Canyon - Zion National Park

After a month and a half of free-spirited travel across the US, through California and the Southwest, I found myself at a crossroads. I could start driving home and hit a few places on “my list” on the road east, or I could take a week to try and squeeze a few more places into the itinerary in the west. There are too many options when it comes to exploring (especially in the US Southwest), so I had to pick a route. I have a friend that grew up in Wyoming (Laramie, not too far from Colorado) and he highly recommended Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s less than 2 hours from Denver, so after I dropped Lily and her parents off at the Denver airport, I decided I had to head west before heading east.

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The return inland – San Francisco to Vegas

Half Dome - Yosemite National Park - 7-31-2019

After almost 3 weeks along the California coast, it was finally time to drive to Vegas. It was a Tuesday and I had to be there Friday morning. No problem! What is on the way to Vegas? Well, Yosemite National Park is on the way (if you take a slightly longer route). Even though I had already visited Yosemite a few weeks earlier, it’s definitely a park where you need to spend more than 1 day. Also I wanted to summit Half Dome; something I was unable to do during my first visit as I did not have a permit (and I didn’t have enough time).

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That’s the California I know – Big Sur and the central coast

After driving out of Sequoia National Park and through the Central Valley, I stopped in Paso Robles to get an early dinner at Jack in the Box and inquire about campground availability near the coast. The answer: there wasn’t any. I called the San Simeon Creek Campground which would be the first one I passed once I got to Route 1, and they said they didn’t have anything available. I then talked with an employee at the Morro Bay location and he said “sorry we don’t have anything from here to Santa Barbara, the entire coast is booked”. It was Friday, it was the weekend in July, but I thought there would be something open!

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True Nature – 5 days in Hoover Wilderness

Gear list

This post covers 5 days of backpacking in the Hoover Wilderness, part of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. I divided up the days onto separate pages. This will also allow you to stop reading earlier if you tire of my tale since the pages will be shorter. I still hope you make it through the whole thing.

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Arches National Park, Moab, and crossing Utah in a day

Landscape Arch

I started my day early in an attempt to beat the crowds at Arches National Park. It was still the weekend so I assumed it would be crowded. I drove about 1 1/2 hours from the BLM Westwater campsite to make it to the Arches entry gate around 8:00. I planned on spending only a few hours here. The main attractions are of course the natural sandstone arches, of which there are over 2,000 inside the park boundaries. It’s about a 45 minute drive to get from the park entrance to the far northern end of the park, the location of Devils Garden, which contains a concentration of arches including the iconic Landscape Arch. Of course there are several places to stop along the way to Devils Garden, so it took around 2 hours for me to get there. There are two major offshoots of the main park road. The first offshoot is just past Balanced Rock, the road is about 2 miles long and takes you to The Windows Section where you can see Turret Arch, the North and South Window, and Double Arch. The second offshoot road is a few miles farther down the main road where the primary attraction is the also iconic Delicate Arch.

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Dolly Sods – a day (and night) to remember

Entrance to Dolly Sods

It’s been a while since my last post, and for good reason: I have been in the wilderness for most of the previous week. Saturday night I spent in Shenandoah National Park for a friend’s birthday, and the past two nights I have been camping out on my cross country car ride; all with no internet access. Since I was unable to make it across the country by bike, I decided I will now do the American thing and drive it.

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