A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about canyon

Moving West and first camping experiences

sunny 30 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

As we were having technical issues to access the internet for the first couple of days, we simply used a good old map (thanks Janis!) and still got along fine. Even though the scale is not enormous, it shows enough for us to find the interesting places. And as not all campgrounds are shown in the map, but all state and national parks are, this is where we went. Already our very first experience in Sangchris Lake State Park had been excellent. And while at Meramac Caves we accidentally ended up in a private campground vs. the State Park a couple of miles further on, we also liked that location in a small valley directly next to a river very much.
So no wonder that Sam picked another State Park for our first night in Oklahoma. The Map read ‘Honey C. S.P.’ next to Grove, OK and that’s where we wanted to go. As we had left fairly late from our previous campsite, it was already quite late, everyone was hungry (and who knows me, knows that I’m then usually not in my best mood). So after a couple of unsuccessful tries in locating the state park, we eventually decided to go back to one of the two RV parks we had seen along the way.
Eagles’ Landing RV Park was located next to a large lake and seemed very nice at first sight. Unfortunately, the nice location had a hefty price tag of 45$ (vs. 20$ which we’d most likely have paid at the state park). In addition, the pool turned out to be a pool table only and the playground was located far away from the water in the section of the 40’ RVs. What turned out to be strangest of all were the bathrooms though: They featured a sign ‘bathrooms open now – new and remodeled’ and in fact they tiles used were quite classy. But as it seems in the refurbishment it was forgotten put in bathroom doors – very strange!
The extremely windy and cloudy weather did not help either to make up for the other topics, so despite the nice location more than 300’ away from all other campers directly at the water we were happy to leave the next morning.
Sam got to drive the part when it was pouring rain to Tulsa and I got the sunshiny bit to Oklahoma City. That’s where we took a lunch break at a park with a huge playground. Max loved it – especially the climbing wall and the slides. He easily made friends with a younger boy and it would have been very hard to eventually get him to leave if he wouldn’t have been stung by a bee into the foot. Some cooling and five gummi-bears later he was happy again. But he was afraid his foot would hurt too much and therefore did not want to go back to the playground.
So we headed off to our next destination, the Red Rock Canyon State Park a bit west of Oklahoma City. It had sounded nice on the map and in fact it turned out to be very nice. The canyon was maybe a mile long, the weather was bright sunny, there were hardly any other campers and we found a spot directly nest to a playground. Perfect!

IMG_4122.jpg IMG_4105.jpg

So after four days of driving it was time to make a break and stay for longer than just one night.
We enjoyed a full day taking it easy and exploring the canyon. And in the evening we finally cracked the internet issues and stayed up late to upload another blog entry. The pictures were not ready yet, but never mind, at least one entry was live again…
Our next destination was Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Even though most people never heard of that canyon, it is in fact the second largest canyon in the US after Grand Canyon. We had heard about it once before in a picture documentary of the Rotenburg songwriter Shiregreen at the Hünfeld Stadtcafe. So we knew that we definitively wanted to go there. And it was definitively worth the detour from Amarillo.
The first night we already realized that all around our campsites were holes in the earth – the home of some hamster like creatures (we’re not really sure what animal it was). On the next morning we were welcomed by a group of turkeys – one male with four hens following him.

IMG_4249.jpg IMG_4244.jpg
IMG_4321__2_.jpg

From our campsite we took a great outing along the river ‘Paseo der Rio’ and then went part of the way to the Palo Duro landmark rock formation ‘Lighthouse’. Max was doing the full way with his little bike. Soon after starting the Lighthouse trail, he attempted a detour and fell into a cactus – but after removing all of the spikes, was ready to start over right away. It was a very fun outing with great sights along the way – the red colors of the rock contrasted really nicely with the blue sky.

IMG_4274.jpg
IMG_4277.jpg
The next morning, we were greeted at our campsite by some deer. Not shy at all, they were grazing directly next to the tents and RVs. Really nice!

IMG_4227.jpg

We then headed off towards New Mexico and were amazed by the wealth of information that we were given at the welcome information center directly at the border. Based on that information we defined our plan for today and the next days. We wanted to head into Santa Fe and then head north west from there.
So that’s what we did: after a long day of driving with more than 320 miles, we arrived at our campground in the Santa Fe National Forest. We were lucky to still get a site, as it was already quite late on a Friday afternoon.
And contrary to Palo Duro, we were allowed to make a campfire. Max enjoyed sausages, we enjoyed some steak – excellent!
That evening we also met a couple of German travelers – easily recognizable by the German license plate on their van. They had started their journey in Buenos Aires in November, were going down to Patagonia and all the way up along the Panamericana. They will be travelling until July when they’ll head back to Germany. They gave us a couple of tips on where to go and we returned them the favor by telling about the places we stayed in lately. It’s always great to meet others who are sharing the same passion in regards to travelling.
Saturday morning, we headed into Santa Fe and were surprised by free parking due to the Community Day which took place at the central plaza. What an excellent coincidence. This was the perfect opportunity to see lots of locals and children in action, to see what the local clubs and community programs are like and to admire the fire engine No 1 and the Mustang police car.

IMG_4403.jpgIMG_4390.jpgIMG_4392.jpg

But independently from that special event, we had an excellent impression of Santa Fe. It looks like a really sympathetic place to be. The local style of architecture and the good food certainly help…

IMG_4430.jpgIMG_4360.jpgIMG_4358.jpgIMG_4400.jpg

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 22:17 Archived in USA Tagged wildlife canyon camping texas newmexico oklahoma Comments (0)

Taking it easy at Lake Powell

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

semi-overcast 20 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

Navajo National Monument turned out to be a nice spot. We had originally not planned to go there, rather ended up there as a base for the night.
Being there we also took one of the hikes and were surprised to see a once more an enormous overhang with cliff dwellings in which Ancestral Puebloans have lived somewhere between 1250 and 1300 when they suddenly left. There still seems to be lots of scientific discussions and speculations around their leaving, with the most likely explanation being an over 10-year drought that the Puebloans took as a sign that it’s time to move further on their journey towards the center.
With the overhang being a bit closer to the valley floor vs what we had seen in Mesa Verde, the whole setup seemed a bit more realistic and I could actually see how a large group of people could live there – warmed by the winter sun in their overhang, while protected from the summer heat at the same time.
The next morning, we headed off to lake Powell. Contrary to our travels up to now, we have a reservation coming up and want to be in Page on Monday to take a tour of Antelope Canyon. So Lake Powell was going to be our base for the next days. As it was a Saturday, we tried to get to the campsite rather early in the day in order to make sure we’ll still get a slot. In retrospect this was not necessary, as the campground at Lone Rock was a huge beach. We picked a slot directly at the beachfront a bit away from the next campers and enjoyed a nice day at the beach.
It was a relaxing day. If it wouldn’t have been for the episodes of hefty wind or rather storm resulting in d a deep skin peeling, a perfect day. Specifically Max enjoyed being at the beach and in the water.

GOPR5567-1.jpg

On Sunday we wanted to go into town. After an easy start into the day and a clean-up session of the van our first destination was Wahwaep campground, just a mile south of where we had stayed. As we longed for a shower, wifi and had a pile of laundry to do, it just made sense to invest in a campground again with all of these services – after all we had not been paying for camping for four nights in a row… After having secured ourselves a slot, we then stopped at Glen Canyon dam and the visitor’s center before going into Page for Sunday lunch.

GOPR5581-4.jpgGOPR5583-5.jpg

At the Mexican restaurant we met three guys from Saaldorf, easily recognizable by the ‘SV Saaldorf’ shirt one of them was wearing. Saaldorf is just around the corner from my home town and used to be and still is one of the standard destinations when we’re going out for lunch with my family. So it was a nice coincidence and we used the opportunity to exchange travel recommendations, as the three had started in Los Angeles and were headed towards Denver and we are headed in the other direction.
Before heading to Horseshoe Bend, we did stock up again our supplies shopping at Safeways. While initially we were a bit put off by the masses of people headed to the Bend, in fact the people dispersed quite quickly and were loosely scattered along the rim. And the sight of the Horseshoe Bend with the blue green band 1000 ft underneath us was absolutely worth it. What a dramatic view and what a nice blue greenish band underneath us!

IMG_5025-14.jpg GOPR5592-7.jpg IMG_5023-12.jpg

While Sam and Max went down to the beach, I did our laundry and uploaded the blog updates from Mesa Verde to Navajo NM. Unfortunately. the wifi was more than poor, so it took ages to upload all the pics. But better than no connection at all – after all we did not have wifi nor network for the last couple of nights. And during the days we usually have more interesting things to do than spending our time where there’s connection to the internet.
The next day started with another stop at the beach before we headed towards Antelope Canyon. We had cancelled our reserved tour the day before after we had heard from our Bavarian acquaintances that they had gone directly to the Lower Antelope Canyon on Saturday and got to go at 11am after just an hour’s worth of waiting. Knowing that around noon the light is best for taking pictures of the canyon and that they paid only 28$ per person whereas our tour would have cost 102$ for the three of us and would have started only at 3:30pm, we figured we’d take the risk. And we were lucky in fact. We got into the canyon shortly before noon and given that only the adults had to pay for much less money than what we’d paid otherwise.
The canyon was amazing! Breathtaking. I’m not sure how many pictures we took between Sam with the wide angle DRL and me with the GoPro. With every bend of the canyon there were new formations and the light playing on the sandstones. I was so happy that we went onto that tour. And even though Sam would probably have loved to take a photographer’s tour, we did get great vistas also on our tour. And we were lucky with our tour guide Tiarnen – he not only had all the information about the canyon, but was also a keen photographer and made sure we got the right pics in the right places.

IMG_5092-25.jpg IMG_5085-22.jpg
IMG_5166-37.jpg IMG_5147-35.jpg IMG_5140-34.jpg IMG_5060-17.jpg
IMG_5134-33.jpg 36806574A69529A16E3AE5E1A03C9762.jpg
IMG_5132-32.jpg IMG_5170-39.jpg
IMG_5109-29.jpg 36806574A69529A16E3AE5E1A03C9762.jpg IMG_5129-30.jpg IMG_5178-40.jpg IMG_5076-19.jpg

I’m really happy that I had insisted on going to Antelope Canyon. It was definitively worth the visit and most likely otherwise we would not have gone to Lake Powell at all. And specifically Max loved the opportunity to play in the sand and water at the beach.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 14:09 Archived in USA Tagged canyon arizona lake utah antelope powell Comments (2)

The National Parks around Moab

Capitol Reef NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP

semi-overcast 37 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

We had a full day’s worth of activities in front of us and consequently started earlier than usual. The first place on our list was the scenic drive in Capitol Reef National Park, the least visited of Utah’s five national parks.
Once more we were impressed by the scenery and the ever changing landscapes around us. But even more so we liked our stop at the orchard on the way out again: it was apricot season and we had lots of fun picking them. In the process, we treated ourselves to eat many of them and eventually could not resist to take five pounds with us.

IMG_8815.jpg IMG_8820.jpg IMG_8823.jpg

After a bit of a break in the shade of large trees next to the river, we continued our journey towards Little White Horse Canyon. After all, we had met a French and a German family who had been equally impressed by the hike and highly recommended it to us. And they promised that it would not be too crowded – which we perceived as a big plus given the many people we had around us in Zion and Bryce National Parks.
Already the way there was very nice and there were lots of photo opportunities along the route.

IMG_8833.jpg IMG_8836.jpg IMG_8839.jpg

By the time we arrived at the trail head, grey clouds were looming over the canyon and we had a bit of concerns as if it was safe to go in or not. But fortunately by the time we had finished lunch, the clouds had left and we were safe to go.
And we really liked the hike. After a bit of a hike along a wash in the glaring afternoon sun, the interesting part started with a bit of climbing over some rocks stuck in the narrower parts of the canyon and soon after we found ourselves in a slot canyon which somewhat resembled Antelope Canyon – except that we had it alone for ourselves and the light was not as perfect as it had been there.

IMG_8872.jpg IMG_8875.jpg IMG_8876.jpg IMG_8880.jpg IMG_8886.jpg

After our drive it was time for the last stretch of road for today to reach Moab. And it was faster than expected, as it was the first time we were allowed to drive 80 mph on an interstate.
And arriving in Moab also meant taking a bit of a timeout from traveling around. We had booked a spot in the local KOA campground for three nights and used that time to just relax a bit. Our main activities consisted of going to the pool, playing table tennis and mini golf. And we also caught up with our families back home and got the blog entries up to Las Vegas uploaded and published.
While I had really needed that break, Sam was already keen to move on. So eventually we moved on again. Our first stop was in town at the Moab Brewery to get some lunch. The food was excellent and great value for money.
We then headed on to Canyonlands NP and enjoy the grand vistas of the canyons the Colorado and Green River have carved. The part of the park is called Island in the Sky for a good reason – only a narrow bridge allows to access the large table that is surrounded by canyons on all sides.
Then it was time for getting a bit of exercise and we hiked to Mesa Arch which is located in a spectacular spot right along the cliffs going down towards the canyons.

IMG_8889.jpg IMG_8893.jpg IMG_8895.jpg IMG_8912.jpg IMG_8928.jpg

Our campground was on top of the Canyonlands area, just outside the park and with clouds and thunderstorms approaching we felt a bit exposed. In the end it was not too bad after all. We got treated to a nice sunset and the storm must have decided to change its direction such that we only got a bit of rain.

IMG_8932.jpg IMG_8943.jpg

The next day we started with a hike of the two trails at our campground before hitting the road and checking out Arches NP. The park is amazing and we loved the different rock formations and obviously the arches. Max’ favorite was Sand Dune Arch – less for the arch, but much more so for the huge sand dune underneath it. Sam even hiked the bit further to also get a glimpse of Broken Arch while we continued enjoying the sand.

IMG_8967.jpg IMG_8969.jpg IMG_8974.jpg IMG_8978.jpg
IMG_8986.jpg IMG_8990.jpg IMG_8995.jpg

In the late afternoon we even attempted the hike to Landscape Arch – luckily there was already a bit of shade by then. To do this hike at midday temperatures and full exposure to the sun would probably not have been a smart idea. Already along the way we got to see a couple of other arches and nice features.

IMG_9006.jpg IMG_9013.jpg IMG_9017.jpg

Even though the top attraction in Arches is the hike to Delicate Arch – the official landmark of the park and of the state of Utah – we did not attempt it. We were fine with all the other sights we had seen such as Balancing Rock. And we’re pretty sure that this was a wise decision and we were much better off with just retreating to our campground along the Colorado River.

IMG_9026.jpg

The next morning, we had a very early start to get into Moab, as Sam had arranged for a motorbike tour with a KTM 350. Renting a motorbike and going offroad had been on his list of things to do on our trip. And which place would be better suited for that other than Moab?
And he was happy to having gone. There were lots of offroad trails for motorized vehicles to choose from (and there would have been even more for mountainbikes). His favorite trail was the ‘Cliffhanger’ where at certain instances he had to think through if he dares to go down the steep inclines, as afterwards he’d need to be sure to get up again on his own.

IMG_9056.jpg
large_IMG-20160802-WA0000.jpg

But also Max and my day was filled with lots of fun. After exploring the local BMX park and enjoying the rides there, we headed to the city pool where Sam met us once he was done motorbiking.
After having excellent food at legendary Milt’s Stop and Eat, presumably one of Moab’s oldest diners (another recommendation we had taken from Jakob’s ’36 hours’ book), it was time to say good-bye to Moab and to head off towards the more northern and cooler parts of the country. Given that it was already quite late in the day, we did not go too far and stopped along the Colorado River again at Hittle Bottom campground. The location of the campground was simply great in what seemed to be an enormous natural amphitheater. The rock formations reminded us a lot of Monument Valley and we got to enjoy them in the great evening light.

IMG_9074.jpgIMG_9076.jpgIMG_9079.jpgIMG_9080.jpgIMG_9086.jpg

At night we were treated again to a beautiful night sky featuring the milky way and lots of shooting stars. And thanks to the camera suite Otmar sent to Sam, now Sam was even able to experiment with longer lens openings than the 30 sec maximum he had to deal with so far.

IMG_9097.jpg

Moab had been a nice place for staying a couple of days. The mix of national parks, adventures and lots of backcountry to explore makes the town a good base for spending some time.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 23:47 Archived in USA Tagged park canyon colorado national pool arch moab koa Comments (0)

Rain and snow – hey, that was not the plan!

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

rain 5 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

That last night at Jasper NP we did get awfully cold. Lucky us that our van has a heating system, but as we somehow don’t want it running all night, it did eventually get just too chilly for my taste. Hadn’t we planned our tour route such that we’d be skipping winter this year?
After warming up a bit over breakfast with hot tea and hot chocolate, we headed off towards the Edith Cavell mountain and its Angel glacier. Due to recent rock fall resulting in a sudden flood and mudslide we were not allowed to get close to the lake, so we had to content ourselves with the view from the distance. It was pretty cold up at the glacier and as it had snowed in the night before, we did get to see quite a couple of small avalanches.

IMG_0739.jpg IMG_0733.jpg

As we were heading south along the Icefields Parkway, which is often dubbed to be one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the world, the Athabasca Falls were our next destination. We were lucky to stay dry during our stop there. Despite the lack of sunlight, it was surprising how intense the colors looked.

IMG_0744.jpg IMG_0761.jpg IMG_0748.jpg IMG_0754.jpg

And in regards to the scenery, we were impressed by the beautiful mountains on both sides of the huge glacier valley we were driving through. Most likely (certainly) the views would have been even more impressive if there would have been a bit more sunshine. We consoled ourselves with the fact that the nice white snowcaps of the mountains around us were a very pretty sight as well which we would have missed in warmer or nicer weather.

IMG_0767.jpg IMG_0774.jpg IMG_0782.jpg

As we reached the Columbia Icefield, we briefly stopped at the local visitor center, only in order to realize that it is extremely catered to everyone being willing to spend lots of money on commercial tours driving onto the Athabasca glacier and spending a couple of minutes there such they can justify buying T-Shirts and other paraphernalia saying ‘I stood on a glacier’. We skipped the questionable pleasure of doing so and rather hiked to the toe of the glacier in the next morning.

IMG_0787.jpg

It was actually a quite scary experience even just to drive down to the parking lot from the visitor center. Every couple of hundred meters there were signs with the year when the glacier’s toe was at that location. Quite frankly, I had not realized that the glacier had started retreating already massively since 1885 when it still reached all the way up to where today the visitor center is located.
But even more impressive was the hike up towards the glacier realizing how much the retreat of the glacier speed up in the more recent past. It was quite a hike from the 1985 sign up to the actual glacier. We hiked over large slabs of stone engraved by the glacial ice. And due to the severe winds and cold rain, I must admit that Max and I did not even complete all of the hike, but headed down again once we had reached an intermediate overlook. Sam continued and was lucky enough to catch a quick episode of sunshine on the bright glacial ice.

IMG_0796.jpg IMG_0798.jpg IMG_0791.jpg IMG_0792.jpg

As we moved on the weather got a bit more pleasant again. At least it stopped raining and we got to see a bit of the landscape around us.

IMG_0803.jpgIMG_0804.jpg

Also at the trail to the Mistaya Canyon we were lucky to have no rain. The canyon reminded us much of the Antelope Canyon in the sense that we saw how the forces of water formed a slot canyon just like there. But other than in Arizona, as long as there are glaciers around in the Canadian mountains, there’s no likelihood that in the near future anyone will be able to wander into these slot canyons without being washed away by the forces of the Athabasca River – one of the three river systems starting in the Columbia Icefield and ending in the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.

IMG_0818.jpg

Next on our list of destinations was a hike to Peyto Lake, that Ralf had praised already back in Zion when we talked about the Canadian National Parks. Unfortunately, when we got there it was pouring rain and there was no view whatsoever. That was quite a pity and we once again realized at that stage how lucky we had been with the weather so far during our trip. With hardly any days of rain and lots of sunshine, we had been blessed with picture perfect photo opportunities so far. And being spoiled as such, it was a bit hard to accept that we’d simply not get to see one of the highlights of the Icefields Parkway. We did get a look at bow lake though, which was pretty nice as well!

IMG_0822.jpgIMG_0824.jpg

Luckily enough, our night at Mosquito Creek Campground was absolutely free of mosquitoes. In pouring rain at temperatures just above freezing, they would have had a hard life. We did have it a bit warmer in our van, but we would not have complained about a couple of degrees more.
The next day, we realize how low the snowline had come down during the night. A pretty, but also very cold sight!

IMG_0827.jpg IMG_0829.jpg

A bit later we did get to see a very still Lake Herbert before heading to Lake Louise.

IMG_0836.jpg

Our guidebook claims that Lake Louise is the most visited mountain lake worldwide. Even though I’m doubting the truth of the statement, we were simply amazed about the masses of people we saw there. The massive ‘The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’ did not help either to restore a sense of romance of being at a very beautiful glacial lake. Neither did the weather: it started snowing lightly out of very low hanging clouds.
After a brief look at the lake, we gave up all sightseeing activities and headed to Banff in search of a nice and warm café. We were very happy with that choice. Being in a pleasant place having a hot tea felt much more heart-warming than continuing to be out in the cold.
But our luck was soon to turn: after grocery shopping in Canmore and checking out one of the local skate parks, we headed to our place for the night. We were invited at Carola, Uwe and Aiyana’s who we had met a week earlier in Lake Country.

IMG_0872.jpg IMG_0867.jpg

We had pizza for dinner, lots of pleasant conversations and Max enjoyed playing with Aiyana until late in the night. It was simply great. And all of us were so happy to spend the night inside in a warm and comfy bed vs. staying outside in temperatures below freezing.
Life is beautiful! Thanks, Uwe, Carola and Aiyana!

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 13:56 Archived in Canada Tagged snow rain canyon lake glacier castle icefields freezing Comments (1)

Picture perfect Canadian Rockies

Canmore, Johnston Canyon, Banff, Lake Louise, Radium Hot Springs, Fort Steele

sunny 19 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

It was a great night staying inside Uwe, Carola and Aiyana’s house in Canmore. And luckily enough, Carola had a day off that Monday such that she and Aiyana could join us the day to do some hiking. They suggested to go to nearby Johnston Canyon and it was an excellent choice. And the weather was simply perfect!

IMG_0901.jpg

The kids enjoyed the climbing and balancing options the trail to the upper falls had to offer and the adults were pleased with the kids entertaining themselves and therefore having enough time to enjoy the views of the canyon and the waterfalls.

IMG_0917.jpg IMG_0926.jpg IMG_0936.jpg

After nice lunch at the Canyon Diner, we headed back towards Banff and Carola was kind enough to stop at multiple occasions such that Sam could take nice pictures of the Rockies in sunshine. What a difference a little sun makes – not only in regards to pictures, but also in terms of our mood. It was great!

IMG_0937.jpg 20160912_165024__2_.jpg IMG_0947.jpg [IMG_0954.jpg

As if the children did not have enough activity already, we got home to Canmore and headed off right away in direction of the local bike park, where Max and Aiyana were racing the hills. Eventually we had to stop them and move on. A herd of deer had come to the park and one of the deer seemed a bit nervous about all the activity going on so close by.

IMG_0957.jpg IMG_0964.jpg IMG_0965.jpg

So we headed back home, where Max and Aiyana had fun playing together and we enjoyed having nice conversations about Germany, Canada, cultural differences and the standards for building houses in both countries. It was a nice evening and we felt sad to say good bye again to our kind hosts. Still, there are good chances to host them again when they’ll be in Germany once we’ll be back, so we’ll be looking forward to that.
Still, Sam and I also took a bit of time to firm up our plans from there on. There were several options and after a bit of brainstorming, we decided to go back to Lake Louise once more to see it again in nice weather and to head on to Radium Hot Springs from there.
We took the scenic drive up to Lake Louise along the old parkway and luckily we did, as otherwise we’d not seen the deer crossing the river.

IMG_0990.jpg

Lake Louise looked quite different in nice weather than two days earlier in fog and snow. This time, we had a really nice view of the lake and Victoria glacier in the background. And at the lake shore around the Fairmont hotel, it was very crowded.

IMG_0997.jpg IMG_1000.jpg

So we did not stay for long down there, but started to hike the 3.6km up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse right away. That was not only a nice hike, but allowed us to get away from the crowds. And we were rewarded by excellent tea and cookies at the teahouse including a breath taking view Lake Agnes in the afternoon sun. And by the time we got back to the lake, there were even a bit less people there. Seems like the bus tours had left by then.

IMG_1004.jpg IMG_1011.jpg

It was late enough in the afternoon, that we enjoyed the ride through Kootenay National Park to Radium Hot Springs, but did not make any stops or hikes along the way.

IMG_1013.jpg IMG_1018.jpg

The next morning, we went from the town of Radium Hot Springs back into the National Park to the actual hot springs. And it was really relaxing to enjoy soaking in the hot water.

20160914_144332__2_.jpg 20160914_115421__2_.jpg

After all that soaking and relaxing, we continued towards the south, which proved to be a really nice drive through the Eastern Kootenay Rockies. While we were surrounded by mountains, they were a bit in the distance such that we found ourselves driving through a long hilly landscape. We really liked the area around Lake Columbia and commented to each other that this is the kind of landscape we could see ourselves living in. Well, at least theoretically. I’m not quite sure if we’d really want to live hours away from any larger towns.

IMG_1020.jpg IMG_1024.jpg

Eventually we reached our campground at Fort Steele, a really nice spot hidden away from any roads. So it was really, really quiet. It was just a very short drive the next morning to get to the Fort Steele Heritage Site, which is more or less an outdoor museum featuring many buildings from the gold rush era. In the years around 1865, gold miners dug more gold out of Wild Horse Creek than in all of California.

IMG_1033.jpg IMG_1041.jpg IMG_1043.jpg IMG_1052.jpg IMG_1053.jpg IMG_1055.jpg IMG_1056.jpg IMG_1065.jpg IMG_1066.jpg

We enjoyed our day at Fort Steele and were happy that we went there. Not all attractions were still operational, but we probably preferred anyhow having less people around and more solitude. Even though the railroad was not active that day, we took the detour to have a look and that side trip clearly paid out.

IMG_1069.jpg IMG_1070.jpg IMG_1073.jpg IMG_1072.jpg

Still, eventually we had to take the decision that had been pending for the last couple of days: Option 1 would mean to continue east via Canada, passing through Fernie and then following the trans Canadian highway east towards Regina and Winnipeg. Option 2 would go down into the USA, lead us though Glacier National Park and then east along US highway 2.
We did a bit of research, found out that the Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier NP had just opened again today after a couple of days of being closed due to snow and ice. And we concluded we might as well go there, as we had met so many people on our travels who praised the park. So it was time to say good-bye to Canada on a gorgeous day, wondering when (there’s no question about the if) we’ll be back again.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 09:12 Archived in Canada Tagged springs canyon fort lake museum sun hike hot outdoor teahouse goldrush Comments (1)

Discovering history - windows into the past

Hamelin Pool, Kalbarri

semi-overcast 29 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

After more time than planned, it was time to leave Denham and its nice playground again. We suspect that it was probably just installed a couple of weeks earlier for the 400-year celebration of the first documented European landing in Western Australia. In October 1616, Dutch captain Dirk Hartog on the Eendracht was on his way to Batavia (today’s Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies when he discovered land. He named the land Eendrachtsland / unityland – a name that obviously did not stick.
We stopped at Eagle’s Bluff to check out the boardwalk with its great view of the sea. Being spoilt by the marine life we had seen from Skipjack Point, the two mantas we observed we did not make us stay too long.

large_20161209_121931.jpg

The absolutely white Shell Beach made us stay much longer. As its name says, it is a beach made out of tiny white shells that pile up a couple of meters high. Without any predators in a hyper-saline environment they thrive. Even though we did not suspect to see any animals in the water that is roughly twice as salty as regular sea water, Sam noticed a jelly fish. Max and I held our distance, but Sam was keen enough to take a picture.

IMG_3751.jpg IMG_3760.jpg

At Hamelin Pool Caravan Park, we immediately headed to the pool. At 38 °C it was one of the hotter days since we had left Broome.
Only shortly before sunset we headed out to explore the stromatolites. While they actually looked like rather pretty but boring stones in the sea, their history is stunning. Some 3.5 bio years ago, the cyanobacteria covering the stromatolites were some of the earliest life forms on earth. They are also supposed to be responsible for increasing the amount of oxygen in the early phases of earth's history, eventually leading to the development of higher life forms. Today, they are only found in areas with extreme environments such as the hyper saline waters of Hamelin Pool – one of the reasons for Shark Bay being a World Heritage Site.

IMG_3772.jpg IMG_3778.jpg IMG_3781.jpg

Also the rest of our hike provided some interesting insights. At the shell quarry, early European settlers had easy access to light, well insulated building materials made of compacted shells.

IMG_3783.jpg

After an excellent dinner with some of the best burgers we had so far on our journey. After all, only Australians seem to be using beet-root in their burgers – an excellent addition as Sam thinks.
We then joined a tour of the Hamelin Pool telegraph station and learned a lot about the history of communications technology in general. And in addition, we heard a lot of anecdotes about early Western Australian communications. A long and interesting evening!

IMG_3790.jpg

The next morning, we headed towards Kalbarri. Shortly after starting, we already discovered two emus. A good start into the day!

IMG_3767.jpg

Up to our lunch break at Murchison River, we drove along the typical roads we have driven on already the last couple of days: A grey road framed on both sides by red sand cut mostly straight through the endless bush. The river surprised us, as it was not dry, but flowing continuously. There were ducks, black swans and other birds enjoying the cool waters.
Admittedly, we were not prepared at all for the sudden change in landscape once we had crossed the river. Suddenly, there was no more bush, but fields of grain. We had reached the Western Australian wheat belt. Even if that might sound rather strange, but we were really excited!
As we eventually reached National Park, the bush was back. And it was colorful: the orange flowers of the Australian ‘Christmas tree’ dotted the landscape together with the smaller bushes with pale violet flowers.

IMG_3800.jpg IMG_3796.jpg IMG_3817.jpg IMG_3958.jpg

Despite the heat, we decided to hike down to Murchison River. We all liked the scenery and Sam was thrilled to find gigantic spiders in their nets. At the second lookout, we just took in the view before retreating to the car and putting the aircon to the highest setting.

IMG_3808.jpg IMG_3814.jpg IMG_3810.jpg

Fortunately enough, our campground in Kalbarri featured not only a bouncing pillow to keep Max happy, but also a pool. And with its setting between large eucalypt trees, it smelled really nice.
The only downside to the otherwise excellent campground were the ubiquitous ticks. And they were not just normal ticks, but gigantic. And if there’s one thing I really hate, that’s ticks! Luckily enough, in the two days we stayed there, I only discovered one that was trying to crawl up my leg, but was not bitten.

IMG_3837.jpg

The next day was our first rainy day since we came to Australia. And in fact, it was not raining continuously, but rather on and off.
Later that day, we ventured out for an excursion to the skatepark and the river foreshore. On the way, we saw a couple of kangaroos and lots of galahs. Contrary to us, the galahs seemed to be thrilled by the rain. We were not. At least we were lucky to get back home just before a major rain shower.

IMG_3830.jpg large_IMG_3823.jpg IMG_3822.jpg IMG_3833.jpg

The next morning, it was time to explore the coastal cliffs of Kalbarri NP. The Red Bluff lookout provided some nice views of the cliffs and the beaches.

large_IMG_3844_stitch.jpg IMG_3853.jpg

Close to Red Bluff, at Wittecarra Creek, the first European residents of Australia are believed to have set foot ashore. Once again, we discovered an intriguing story: In 1629 the Batavia of the Dutch East Indies Company shipwrecked on her maiden voyage. What followed was a mutiny and massacre among the survivors. Eventually, the most of the mutineers were sentenced to death, but two youths were cast ashore. There are no written records of what happened to them. But a clan of rather fair haired Aborigines in the area might be an indication that they were integrated in the local community.
A bit further down the coast, we stopped at another lookout and also had lunch there. The view was great and as a bonus we even got to watch some dolphins playing in the waves underneath us.

IMG_3857.jpg IMG_3861.jpg

The road to Geraldton was a real highlight in itself and not boring at all. Around every bend of the road, we got treated to new scenery. The highlight along the way was the pink lake. Its color is due to the presence of a carotenoid producing algae. As it is a source of Beta-carotene, food coloring and vitamin A, the lake is also home to the world’s largest microalgae production plant.

large_IMG_3866.jpg
IMG_3862.jpg

Still, after a full day of exploring and driving, we were glad to arrive at our new base in Geraldton.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 16:38 Archived in Australia Tagged history canyon heritage algae telegraph tick galah stromatolite mutiny Comments (0)

Snowstorms in the desert

From Dalansadgad to Gurvan-Saikhan nuruu

all seasons in one day 8 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

We headed to a national park called ‚Gurvan-Saikhan Nuruu‘ (the three beautiful ridges) to see a beautiful canyon. After a couple of hundred meters of hiking into the deep cut valley, with lots of rock formations along the way that resembled various animals, we suddenly hit snow. By the time we reached the end of the canyon, we were walking on a thick layer of snow that reached from one side of the canyon to the other. And then there was a massive frozen waterfall - an amazing sight knowing that in fact we’re in the middle of the Gobi Desert. I must admit that I usually associate desert with heat, sand and lack of water – and in this case, none of those three elements proved to be true.

89ED7AA2CD199E7A657621C79BB4F16F.jpg IMG_1080.jpg IMG_1097.jpg IMG_1088.jpg IMG_1098.jpg

For sure it was not hot. Rather the opposite: we were freezing not only due to the low temperatures, but more so because of the heavy wind. Faced by weather like that, we took a quick decision to discard the plan to camp that night and to rather check if we can find a ger / yurt to sleep in for the night.
And indeed, we were lucky: we found a great looking yurt for the night. Inside it was very comfortable and – thanks to the oven that was fired with camel dung – pleasantly warm. Fitted with four beds surrounding a low table, we had all that we needed for an enjoyable night. While we marveled at the nicely decorated construction elements of the yurt. It can be assembled of disassembled in just an hour if there are a couple of people helping together and the various parts can be easily transported even by a camel or horses – the perfect home for a family of nomads that is moving to three of four different pastures in the course of a year.
Outside it was so windy, that Max and Sam had perfect conditions to test the paper planes they’ve built. One of the two models they built, flew a couple of hundred meters! And it was not just windy, but also extremely cold, temperatures around freezing. Walking the distance from the outhouse back to our yurt against the wind proved to be quite a challenge and we were more than happy to have such a comfortable home for the night.

89EDEAF306FCC48285FD4D2DDFF76E80.jpg 89EE6E2CD7B5EA6C246E8CBA28785D5F.jpg

The next morning did not bring any relief in regards to wind or temperatures. Rather the opposite: as we headed out of the ger camp, we found ourselves in the midst of a snowstorm in which the snow came towards us sideways.
Despite the awful weather, we wanted to explore today’s destination, the Lammergeier Canyon anyhow. All of us dressed with as many layers of clothing as we had and then we headed out. It was freezing. It did not help that most of the canyon floor was still covered by a thick layer of snow and ice, allowing the wind to chill down even further.

89F047DCEC818C4DEA118C96B38F95B1.jpgIMG_1125.jpg

We realized only after hiking into the canyon for quite a bit that coming back out was actually much worse: being cold already from the first part of the hike, now we had the wind in our face and soon felt that it was not just wind. It had picked up significant amounts of sand and we soon found ourselves spitting out the sand in regular intervals.

IMG_1127.jpg

All of us were more than relieved to finally make it back to the relative warmth of the car. And lucky us that we had the protection of the car: on our way back down towards the entrance gate, we got caught in a small sandstorm twisting its way up through the valley. We would not have wanted to be in that unprotected.
While the museum of the national park was not heated, it still felt extremely comfortable due to the absence of wind. We used a traditional Mongolian horoscope: by throwing four small bones, we got to count how many sheep, camels, horses and goats we rolled. Depending on the outcome, we were able to predict our future. It was fun, even though some of the predicted results left us puzzling what they actually meant. That was fun. But yes, we also toured the museum to see which animals and birds to look out for in the national park in the coming days.
Given the cold and the storm, it was not even a discussion if we should camp tonight. We all agreed that a ger would be a much better and warmer choice. So just outside the Lammergeier Canyon we headed to a small group of yurts and moved our stuff in for the night. Our plan was to have lunch and just to wait in the ger to see how the weather would develop.
Well, once again our plan did not work out: the owner of the ger was afraid to light the oven due to the heavy wind. And we were not able to light our gas stove, as somehow the gas bottle was leaking. Fortunately, we had a full thermos of hot water from this morning, which we were able to use for making hot instant soup. While we were eating, we repeatedly were afraid that the yurt would not resist the heavy wind and take off. The few times someone was opening the door, we were able to see the snow storm raging outside – with the snow coming sideways vs. from above. Eventually we realized, that the plan of staying in a yurt was not good enough for the storm we were facing.

IMG_1129.jpg 89F2A68CF56922DBDA2B32333B4A6D69.jpg

A couple of phone calls later, Amgaa identified a new option for us: he found a hotel room for us in the nearby town of Bayandalai. We were relieved: even if the hotel room was not heated, it would at least stand up to the wind and we’d be safe. Still, sitting in the heated car, none of us was keen to leave it and we used the excuse that Max had fallen asleep to sit there for another while until he woke up.
In the little hotel we also met another Austrian / German couple. It was fun chatting with them. They are traveling the world for six months and we had many similar experiences to chat about.
After dinner, the fierce wind finally stopped and gave Sam and Max a chance to head outside to the playground. I used the opportunity to have power available (as unfortunately the inverter we got to load our laptop via the car lighter did not work) to use the laptop and get some typing done. Even though we might not be having a possibility to upload any blog entries in the next couple of days, I still tried to stay somewhat up to date.

IMG_1133.jpg 89F38E81BDCFC390D488E804402D8863.jpg

The next morning we headed off towards the singing dune ‚Khongoryn els‘. The storm had stopped the night before and we had no problems on our 130km drive. Well, the track was fairly bad, but that just what you get when trying to travel the backroads of Mongolia.

IMG_1137.jpg IMG_1145.jpg

Shortly before we arrived, it starting snowing again. Amgaa found the right track without any issues such that we arrived in time for lunch at the nomads we’d be staying at for the next two nights. Uelzi and his family welcomed us in their own big yurt. As per local custom, we were offered milk tea and the snuffbox.
They had just arrived in their summer camp three days earlier, but the yurt was fully furnished and everything had his place as if it would have been there for ages. Even though we did not understand Mongolian, Oogii did an excellent job in translating what was going on for us. We learned that Uelzi’s nephew had hurt his elbow in a wrestling match with his cousin. We were able to provide him with some paracetamol and it did not take long that his face looked much more relaxed.
In the meantime, Uelzi’s wife prepared lunch for us. She cooked rice in black tea and then added dried camel meat. The soup tasted much better than expected. The only challenge was the chewy consistency of the meat that made it difficult to eat without the use of a sharp knife.

IMG_1150.jpg IMG_1157.jpg 89F84482F12E469FAB1B012EEBF5AFB0.jpg

Even though the snow storm had stopped while we were in the hosts’ yurt, it continued being very cold outside. So we spent the remainder of the day in our own yurt. We fired the oven and it got nice and cozy inside. The only notable exception was around sunset. The colors were so nice that not even the cold could keep us inside. Still, once enough photos were taken and the atmosphere absorbed, we all huddled around the oven again.

IMG_1168.jpg IMG_1174.jpg IMG_1178.jpg IMG_1182.jpg IMG_1201.jpg 89FCCDC590796152CE97AF9C2C860732.jpg IMG_1212.jpg

To make sure we’re not running out of fuel for our oven, Sam and Max spent the next morning collecting camel dung. Once they had collected six big rice bags full of dung, they figured that it should be enough to last not only us until the next day.
Around lunch time, Uelzi took us on a ride with his camels. We were sitting comfortably between the two humps of the camel. That was also quite warm – contrary to the outside temperatures. The slow swinging movements of the camels took a bit of getting used to, but were very relaxing.

IMG_1231.jpg

To celebrate an already great day, Sam prepared Kaiserschmarrn for all of us. In retrospect eating that much Kaiserschmarrn was not a very smart idea. After all, we headed out towards the sand dunes that afternoon. And let me tell you: hiking up 200 meters of altitude on a steep sand dune is exhausting no matter what. But with a full stomach it is even more of a challenge.

IMG_1261.jpg

Sam had a short moment of shock when suddenly his camera was not taking any pictures. It took him a couple of minutes of shaking the camera in all directions and suddenly it worked again. It would have been a very unpleasant thought to also lose Sam’s camera just a few days after our mobile phone gave up on us. Not having any possibility at all to take pictures of the remainder of our trip to Mongolia would not have been good at all.

IMG_1265.jpg

It was warm enough such that we could head up the dune without shoes and just with our socks. But as we neared the top of the dune, we realized that we were not the only ones heading up there: we suddenly saw a cow up there at the top of the dune in the sand. By the time we got up to the top ourselves, it was gone. And due to the strong wind, there were no marks remaining to tell which way it had gone.

IMG_1272.jpg 8A03C42CF36B0198038897E1642C89AE.jpg

On our way up, we were also treated to the spectacular ‘singing’ of the dunes. Actually, it was more of a humming sound, a bit similar to the noise of airplane turbines. The sound is created by the wind blowing the sand down the dunes. But we were suddenly creating it ourselves when heading up through the deep loose sand of dune. There was so much sand coming down as we moved upwards that we even felt the vibration of the sand and the associated sound. Very cool!
As the top of the dune we had a great view in all directions. Sam got a bit jealous when four motorbikers turned up and starting riding in the dunes. But the nice atmosphere at sunset compensated him.

8A0510BCFD1EB00EDB834C33B3A7D60C.jpg IMG_1266.jpg large_IMG_1296_stitch.jpg IMG_1280.jpg IMG_1326.jpg

It was really nice in the dunes as the sun went down. But the colorful evening continued much longer and back at Uelzi’s place, Sam got some nice motives with the yurts and the camels in the last light.

large_8A066D280D2E7643E54B885D8E171DE8.jpg 8A06D472EA070563A251FD99613A1E9D.jpg

And with all the sand we had on us, we all enjoyed a bucket shower before going to bed.
We were sorry to leave the next morning, as we had truly enjoyed our stay with Uelzi and his family. And even though it had been pleasant to stay in yurts and hotels during the last couple of nights, we were looking forward to do some camping again. At least the weather forecast was favorable, so we were hoping that it would hold true.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 02:28 Archived in Mongolia Tagged snow desert canyon storm museum sand dune cold yurt Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 7 of 7) Page [1]