Hello, Upper Bristlecone Trail at Mt. Charleston, and Zumo the Keeshond

During my routine once-every-two-months one-week-long air trip to Las Vegas to take care of all my errands all at once while road tripping across the country, I met up with two of my friends to go hiking at Mount Charleston, northwest of the Las Vegas Valley in Nevada. Also joining me this time around was Zumo, their Keeshond.

Before heading up to Mt. Charleston for our hike, we stopped by a gas station to get some beverages and snacks. Apparently there was a dog treat for sale at the gas station, so Zumo got a snack as well; if you look closely, you can see the small mess he left behind below his mouth.

As we got closer to the trailhead, we came across what appeared to be a wild horse. I’ve seen a ton of horses throughout my road trip, and even went to the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville to learn more about horses, but this is the first time that I saw a wild horse just roaming around out in the open.

Our trail of choice was Upper Bristlecone. We made it to the trailhead, which was right next to the Lee Canyon ski resort.

Near the trailhead was a large helicopter landing area. I walked over to the edge of the landing zone and snapped a photo of the mountains to the north­east.

The trail itself wasn’t too special for a majority of the hike—it was basically just a well-formed path cutting through forest. I did come across a few wild­flowers, like this red one.

Being a breed with a double-layer coat, Zumo got very warm very fast, and he had to take a lot of breaks to cool down.

In a sparse area of the forest, we found a little hut made out of branches and tree trunks. One of them even had a little entryway, so I climbed inside with Zumo for one of our breaks.

Eventually, we made it to the lookout point of the trail, which I guess you could consider the summit (there was no true “summit” because the trail con­tinued to an intersecting point of Upper and Lower Bristlecone, before turning into the regular Lower Bristlecone Trail). Immediately upon arrival, Zu­mo found some nice, cool rocks on which to lay down and cool down.

By this point, a thunderstorm had started to roll in. There was a decent amount of cloud coverage over by The Sisters…

… and clouds had completely engulfed Mummy Mountain.

The lookout point had a tree that was blossoming flowers with a very unique scent.

The storm clouds were rapidly approaching and it started drizzling, so we started making our way back down the mountain.

We arrived back at our vehicle just in time—with literally about half a minute to spare, it started pouring rain right as we got Zumo cleaned up and back in the car.

Unfortunately, my Fitbit activity tracker refuses to start tracking if I don’t have a data connection at the beginning of the hike (even if it can catch a GPS connection), so I wasn’t able to map this hike. However, based on other people’s maps on All Trails, it looks like our round-trip total was 3.2 miles (5.15 kilometers), with an elevation gain from base to lookout of 626 feet (191 meters).

Because the starting elevation was 8,692 feet (2,649 meters), the oxygen was sparse and it felt like much longer of a hike than it actually was. Even with the decent number of breaks we were taking to allow Zumo to rest up, I still got a little out-of-breath at times, and wished I had brought more than just a 28 fluid ounce (828 milliliter) bottle of Gatorade Zero.

There are a lot of great hikes at Mt. Charleston, and if it’s your first time, I’d recommend something like Cathedral Rock instead. Regardless, it was a good hike at Upper Bristlecone, and it was a nice opportunity to get away from the 100+°F (38+°C) heat of the Las Vegas Valley for a bit.

 

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Hello, Jetty Island in Everett, Washington

Since starting my road trip and living out of hotel rooms, I generally roam around to wherever has the most affordable hotel rates. This methodology recently brought me to Everett, Washington, a city inside Snohomish County on the northern end of the Seattle Metropolitan Area.

For one of my tourist activities, I decided to explore Jetty Island, an island about a thousand feet (a little over 300 meters) off the coast of Everett. Jetty Island is a popular tourist area, and it recently opened up for tourism via the passenger ferry.

After parking my truck at the lot, paying a few dollars for the ferry ride, and making it onto the island, I started my hike by heading north.

There was a short trail that had been cleared, but in general, hiking was fairly difficult because I was part of some of the first batches of tourists arriving on the island for the season. I ended up being one of the trailblazers flattening wild grasses under my feet to form a path, or climbing up fallen tree trunks in areas where the grasses were too tall.

Continuing off the path and into deeper vegetation led me to a swampy area.

Eventually, it became a bit unmanageably muddy and difficult to proceed, so I retraced my steps for a little bit, then started heading towards the beach.

On the beach, I saw some sea foam that was a lot more colorful than I’m used to seeing—it was a rich tan color, as opposed to off-white like I’ve seen before.

The shoreline also had a lot of random tree stumps.

As expected, there were also plenty of shells. This one had an ornate, purple, stone-like substance on the outside.

I eventually made it to the northern tip of the island, where I saw a flock of seagulls perched on some rocks.

After looping around and continuing on the east shoreline, I saw more seagulls, and even a few seals.

There was a row of rocks surrounded by upright logs; I’m not sure if this was intended to be a path at some point, but the rocks seemed far too slippery to be reliably safe, so I continued trailblazing through the grassy area.

I have pretty bad eyesight, so I didn’t realize this at the time, but when I was browsing through the photos I took, I noticed something in the corner. Upon zooming all the way in, I discovered a colony of seals poking their heads out of the water.

Jetty Island is known for being home to a lot of bird species, so I saw a lot of loose feathers lying around. I came across one that was sticking upright out of the sand, which I found intriguing, so I reached down and picked it up… then proceeded to immediately regret doing so. I stabbed it back into the sand and took a picture of it, pretending like it had never left the ground…

After making a figure 8 and making a long trip down the west coastline, I walked past the more popular beach area, then came across a flock of geese taking a dip in Possession Sound.

Even further south, I noticed a wrecked and abandoned ship.

Eventually, I made it all the way to the southern tip of the island. If I was a risk-taker, I could’ve continued further south on the tree trunks and rocks, but after slipping and falling on rocks at Sacred Cove Beach in Rancho Palos Verdes, California earlier this year that left me with a painful bruise that lasted months, I decided that just taking a picture would suffice.

This southern tip also had a lot more algae than other areas of the island. I found it very intriguing that algae in moderate volumes would make it look goopy.

Overall, my adventure across the island was a little over four and a half miles (7.39 kilometers) and took over 2 hours due to taking many stops from photos and navigating carefully through the wilder areas. If you like exploring nature, this is a great trip that you can knock out in one day.

If you just want a day to relax, there is a nice beach not too far away from the ferry unloading zone where you can enjoy the sand and water. If you’re a bird­watching enthusiast, it is definitely worth heading to the northern part of the island, bringing a lawn chair or something to camp out, and watching all the interesting species on the island.

 

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Hello, Manito Park in Spokane, Washington

On my way back from Canada, I re-entered through Idaho and drove across through the panhandle for my second visit to Spokane, Washington. I had a great time exploring downtown Spokane during my last visit, and this time, I decided to visit Manito Park, about a mile south of Interstate 90.

I parked in the northern-most lot northwest of the roundabout connecting East 18th Avenue and South Tekoa Street, then started walking around Mirror Pond. Most of the paths were paved with asphalt, but there were a few dirt trails around the northwestern area of the park.

The northwestern area also had the Lilac Garden, containing, as you may have guessed, lilacs.

Next up was Rose Hill.

After Rose Hill, I crossed West 21st Avenue and looked at some of the flower arrangements east of Rose Garden Path.

South of this was Duncan Garden, a manicured garden with a very pleasant display of flowers and trimmed shrubs.

The steps going up from Duncan Garden led to the Gaiser Conservatory.

The Gaiser Conservatory had two sections, with the one to the east having a more humid environment.

The west side of the conservatory was drier and featured vegetation you’d see in an arid climate.

I continued my walk down south near the playground and kickball field, then circled back around through the picnic area to where I had parked. Back by the pond, I saw some ducks waddling around in the grass.

Even with partly cloudy skies, it was still pretty sunny and got pretty warm. I think Manito Park would be a great place to find a spot in the shade and relax if the weather is nice, and a pleasant (and free) place to go for a walk if you like looking at flowers.

 

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Hello, Lethbridge Viaduct and Old Man River in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

After spending two weeks in Calgary, I started making my way back down to the United States. I wanted to break up the drive as much as possible, and I found a Fairfield Inn & Suites in Lethbridge, Alberta, so I decided to spend a night there.

The drive from Calgary to Lethbridge was only about two hours, and with the long days and late sunsets in the summer, I was able to go exploring during the evening of my arrival in Lethbridge. The thing that Lethbridge appears to be known for is the Lethbridge Viaduct, so I drove over and went for a short hike.

As I got closer to the viaduct, I saw an increasing number of teenagers loitering. At first I was a bit confused, but then I realized that, due to how the viaduct is a bit out of the way compared to the rest of the park, it was likely the “cool kids hangout spot” for the teens of Lethbridge.

After walking for a bit parallel to the viaduct, I connected onto Indian Battle Road South and saw a long flight of stairs leading to a gazebo at the top of a hill.

Of course, I went all the way up, my efforts of which were rewarded with vast, sweeping views of Indian Battle Park.

Overall, my hike was a little short of 2 miles (or a little over 3 kilometers). There were some smaller trails cutting through the center of the park, but I opted to stay near the perimeter with less shade coverage because I ended up with around eight mosquito bites.

 

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Hello, Pearce Estate Park and Prince’s Island in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

On the rare days that it wasn’t raining, I squeezed in a few walks around the downtown Calgary area. It actually reminded me a bit of my walk around down­town Spokane, in that there was a lot of nature directly surrounding downtown, and it was designed in a way that made it very pedestrian-friendly.

For my first walk, I went to Pearce Estate Park, which isn’t quite exactly in downtown, but was nearby in the Inglewood neighborhood by the zoo. A short walk from the parking lot on Bow River Pathway led to some nice views of the Bow River. I am assuming it was because it rained a lot recently and it washed a lot of dirt into the river, but the water was unusually brown, opaque, and muddy.

Continuing northbound on the shoreline made me end up at the Harvie Passage Lookout, a nice structure surrounded by flowers that had an elevated view of the Bow River, Hughes Island, and the surrounding area.

After going as far as I could on the sand, I cut back into the park and explored the winding paths and smaller trails in the center of the park. There were a few small ponds and waterfalls, as well as some open areas where people were having picnics. The landscaping crew was also out maintaining the park, so large sections of the park had the nice, refreshing scent of freshly-mowed grass.

For my next walk, I wanted to get a bit closer to downtown. As is expected for a downtown area, parking was paid, so instead, I parked on 1 Street North­east (yes, apparently Calgary names its streets with numerals, rather than cardinals like 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. like the United States does) over by Rotary Park in a free parking zone. From there, I cut through the park, crossed Centre Street North, walked down Memorial Drive Northwest, and went onto Prince’s Island.

With a t-shirt, gym shorts, sneakers, and white above-the-ankle socks sticking out, I don’t think I could’ve looked more like a tourist. I ended up getting stopped by every single solicitor asking me to buy something from their business or donate to their charity. I felt like I had been walking pretty briskly the entire time, but according to my GPS tracker, my mile split times were comparable to climbing up a mountain because of them.

On my way back to Rotary Park where I parked, I stopped by Mt. Pleasant View Point and got a nice shot of the Calgary skyline.

The GPS tracking map probably isn’t as interesting for these walks as they usually are for real hikes, seeing as I was just walking on paved roads and tak­ing a lot of stops to capture photographs and tell solicitors I’m not interested in what they were offering, but here they are anyway:

 

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Hello, Boulder Mountain Lookout Trail and Moses Falls in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada

To put it simply, visiting Canada has been an amazing experience so far. I will have a dedicated blog post about traveling into Canada and my long-term stay in Calgary, but until then, here’s a hike I did near Boulder Mountain in Revelstoke, British Columbia, one of the stops I made along the way to Cal­ga­ry.

I started the first trail on Westside Road at the base of Boulder Mountain, just before the bridge across the Jordan River where it meets with the Co­lum­bi­a River.

Some areas were still muddy, but because of bridges, tree stumps, and tree trunks that I could walk on, it wasn’t too difficult. After about a fifth of a mile, I arrived at a clearing where I was able to get a nice view of the Jordan River.

From here, I got a bit confused and thought that it was already the end of the trail… which made no sense, because I had looked up this hike on AllTrails prior to arriving, and it was at least a mile and a half. I started wandering around in confusion, going off-trail to find where the path was, until I noticed a long rope coming down from a cliff.

Hikers on AllTrails had marked this as “easy,” so I questioned whether climbing the rope up the cliff was the correct path. Fortunately, as I was looking around for an answer, a family of hikers coincidentally arrived at the same time. They had previously done this hike before, so they confirmed that the correct path forward was to climb the rope, and they demonstrated that the rope was indeed sturdy enough by climbing up themselves.

The rest of the trail up wasn’t too bad—it was steep enough that I would get out of breath if I went too fast, and some areas were pretty muddy, but I made it to the summit without any further issues.

On my way back down, I found a slug (and, considering how bad my eyesight and depth perception is, I’m impressed at myself for noticing it and not step­ping on it).

Because this was a relatively short trail at about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) round trip with about 620 feet (189 meters) of elevation gain, I continued driv­ing northbound on Westside Road to a second short hike.

I eventually made my way to a parking lot near Moses Falls. Part-way to the waterfall, I met a nice older lady who was trying to get to the waterfall be­cause she saw it on Google Maps, but was a bit concerned that she would get lost and not be able to make it back up the relatively steep terrain. My pres­ence there instilled enough confidence in her to follow me to the waterfall, where she asked me to take her picture, then offered to take mine.

She retraced her steps back to the parking lot, while I went deeper down towards the base of the waterfall.

Eventually, I made it to the bottom where the waterfall emptied into a small reservoir that connected into the Columbia River.

To the northeast of the Columbia River, I could see where it passed through the Revelstoke Hydroelectric Dam.

Unfortunately, because I went on this hike after I had already spent the day driving from Kamloops to Revelstoke, it was later on in the evening, and the Revelstoke Dam Visitor Centre was already closed.

When I plan out what cities I visit and for how long, I usually go by hotel prices to ensure that my travel is as cost-effective as possible. However, after trav­eling through this area, I’m realizing the major flaw in that strategy. Especially during the summer months, the nicest, mountainous areas in the north attract a lot of tourists, resulting in relatively high hotel prices. However, I think the high lodging prices are worth it for the great experience ex­plor­ing these areas.

 

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