Tag - hike

Essential Camping Gears You Can’t Live Without

    Image courtesy of: flickr.com/emerald isle druid/

Image courtesy of: flickr.com/emerald isle druid/

Exploring the outdoors is a favorite activity for everyone yearning to be close to Mother Nature. When planning for the camp out, it is important to make a checklist of the essential tools that we have to bring. These are the very basic and most essential gears that should be on top of our list:

First Aid Kit

Safety should always be your primary concern in camping. Secure yourself and family from potential harm brought by accidental wounds by keeping a first aid kit all the time. A first aid kit is essential for immediate treatment of wounds and injuries. It is necessary that wounds are given immediate attention and treated properly to avoid infection. It is much better to anticipate accidents while camping so you can prepare well for it.  As a camper, there’s a great possibility of occasional scrapes, scratches and cuts while enjoying your camping adventure. Be prepared by filling your first aid  kit with gauze and bandages of different sizes, pain medicine, sterile wipes, antiseptic ointments and creams, anti-diarrhea medicines and even scissors and body thermometer.

Swiss Army Knife/Multi-tool

A Swiss Army Knife/Multi-tool is a must have item for every camper, hiker and mountaineer. This tool serves multiple purpose that are all useful to the activities performed by outdoorsmen. The Swiss Army knife has a sharp blade which is very useful in cutting ropes, tree branches, etc. It also contain various tools such as can openers, screwdrivers, mini scissors, bottle opener, etc. These tools are stowed through a pivot mechanism and are kept inside the knife’s  handle. The compact design of this Swiss Army Knife/Multi-tool makes it easy for campers to bring it anytime and anywhere without hassle. The Swiss Army Knife originated from Switzerland where top-notch Swiss knives can be found. It is always smarter to buy trusted brands of Swiss knife even though they’re a bit pricier than the other ones available in the market because quality is always assured.

Water Containers

Water is the most important item for survival. No person could live without water and so, outdoorsmen should never forget to bring it. In addition, the strenous activities in camping would definitely require your body to take plenty of water.  Even though there will be available water in streams, lakes and rivers near the camping site, you cannot always trust them because of the possibility that bacteria are living there or the water is already contaminated. Bring large but easy-to-carry water containers where you can keep large volumes of water that will surely keep your body hydrated.

Waterproof Knapsack

An ordinary type of bag wouldn’t do much in camping outdoors.You need to have a waterproof knapsack to easily carry your things and protect them from being soaked into the water especially when the rains starts to fall. Keep your clothes, gadgets, foods, etc. on a safe and secured waterproof knapsack. Buy one from a trusted brand known for providing high quality waterproof knapsack that does not compromise quality and usefulness for price.


In camping, you will need fire just as much as you will need water. You’ll need fire in cooking your food, for clear vision and warmth during the night. However, starting a fire outdoors could be troublesome without using a flint. Unlike matches which easily become useless once soaked with water and lighters which are not safe to use, flint is much safer and easier to use in creating fire.  You can easily start a fire with a flint by scraping it to a rough surface. A flint is composed of ferrocerium metal which is very safe and reliable in creating spark for fire.


Geraldine Mills is an African safari enthusiast and writes travel tips and guidelines for tourists interested in traveling to the southern African Region. She is also a Community Outreach Coordinator for www.andbeyondafrica.com. Follow her on twitter @geraldinewalks.

Archers National Park- Moab Utah

Archers nat park, Cr-smarttravelinfo

Archers nat park, Cr-smarttravelinfo

A weekend at the Archers National Park

Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural stone arches. This National Park is a red, arid desert, punctuated with oddly eroded sandstone forms such as fins, pinnacles, spires, balanced rocks, and arches. The 73,000-acre region has over 2,000 of these “miracles of nature.” The park is 5 miles north of Moab downtown and it’s open 24h a day. The cost would be $10 per vehicle but the ticket is valid for 7 days. The prices vary if you are local, senior. It’s recommended to visit the arches in the afternoon when the sun hits the rock formation. It has the most beautiful red colors you can imagine. When the sun sets, the colors turn into yellow or brown.

How to get there:

When you arrive in Moab, take the highway 191 and if you follow up to 5 miles, you would see the entrance to the park. Go to the visitor’s center and buy your tickets and you are all set to go.

If you drive, you have parking places all over the major rock formations, if you don’t have any, just park on the road and no one will blame you. The rock formations are amazing and it’s not recommended to pick up rocks or venture around. The rocks are fragile.

The visit takes up to 3 h even if you are driving. Some hikes and some bikes, everyone has to share the road. Every 5 mn, you would see new rock formation and sometimes you wonder how it was eroded that way it is. The most amazing rock I’ve seen is the one looks like a fish head with its eyes, mouth a nice face, the others look like a family gathering.( three women standing )

it is hard to describe the beauty of the rocks and if you never seen those before. Make sure to take more pictures. A paved two-lane road runs about 18 miles one-way through the park, with a few short turnoffs along the way. Many of Arches’ sites are visible from pull-offs along the road, but the best views take some short hiking over well marked trails

The best thing to do when you are in the park is to walk to the famous  delicate arch. It’s a treacherous and hard path to follow. You have to able to climb a huge rock for 15mn at least then have to go through some sand dunes then at the end, you have to be brave by following the narrow path leading to the arch. On one side, you see the free fall with huge rocks and the other side it the rock wall everyone want to hold onto. You make sure that you are safe and would be able to walk. If you are taking kids with you. Just make sure they are always with you and hold on to them. When you reach the arch. It’s gorgeous and no world to express the beauty, especially, if you are there during the evening. The area is wide but to get to it, you have to crawl over some rocks and it’s not for everyone. You might have vertigo and most walk back.

Fun things to do:


If you like to camp,there are few camp ground you can reserve but I would recommend you calling the reservations couple weeks in advance if you plan to go during the busy summer.

You will also be able to find hotels around the park for over $100 a night. During the season, the prices are high, just be aware of it.

Hummer safari

The other fun thing to do is to take a Hummer safari, which consists of renting a hummer with a driver for 6 people, and climb the rocks like rock climbers. It is the scariest ride you would ever experience. The hummer climb steep ricks with a 70 degree angle and the driver stops in the middle of the course. The ride takes up to 2h with a small dinner at the end. When you come back it’s dark and exhausted. The ride cost $80 per person and it is worth it.

Sky diving



Balloon flights

Off road driving

Speed boat tours

Rock climbing

White water rafting

Hourse back rides and much  more

Do not worry about food. There are so many restaurants in Moab but if you drink, you have to pay for the alcohol tax. It’s Utah wired drinking law. You have to buy a pass for $5 non refundable and in case you change the bar. You are entitled for another $5.00  not because you are drunk but it’s the law. Moab is a vibrant city and it’s jam packed during the summer time. You would notice jeeps all over the city. I thought it was the jeep city. Everyone has one and many are going off road driving. I recommend you going to see those formations if you are a nature lover. There are so many hikes inside the park and you would appreciate them.

Winter In Wellington- New Zealand

 Wellington harbor

Wellington harbor

Vacationing in the middle of winter isn’t that fun. Cold weather is not the problem but gusty winds coming through the Cooks straight is the concern. There are few sunny days but it rains a lot. Some areas of Wellington get wet and muddy. The view of the ocean was spectacular and the bay area is breathtaking on the clear or sunny days.  Being told NZ has more boats than people every harbor we saw was packed with boats of every variety, a nautical dream.  The walk alone the Wellington harbor is full of energy  from the exercise enthusiasts, walkers, runners, bikers, to the young mothers and their kids enjoying the many wild birds singing to all who wish to enjoy their song. Although You don’t get to see a lot of tourists during this period, the locals are always friendly and willing to give great tips on places to eat or things to see and do.

The walk along the Harbor is always spectacular but the weather can be unpredictable you never know if you suddenly need to cover up to avoid some gusty winds but on a sunny day; it’s almost heaven on earth, a perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and take in view.

We stayed in Johnsonville, the outskirts of Wellington, 30min by train and 4h hike from downtown.  If you post an ad before you go you can almost always find a inexpensive hostel or flat in someone’s home that rents by the week, making your travel experience a bargain and with the great public transportation getting to wellington is never an inconvenience. The hike from Johnsonville to Wellington via the Northern walkway is something you need to experience, it you feel you are ready for a challenge. It takes a little over 2 hours, but winds all over, from the top of hills, to walks through towns, at points you are even hanging over the edge looking at the shore.  There are hundreds of hikes I could recommend but its worth it to stop by the visitors center where there are hundreds of free maps of the best walks in and around Wellington and the staff is always helpful on which train to take to get to each one. Just a reminder If it rains, the trails can  be muddy and slippery and many of the trails are used by cattle and sheep, they can be a little intimidating if they outnumber your group three to one. Many trails are long, and have steep stairs and not all are well maintained, always take plenty of snakes and water, you may be on a longer hike then you planned on, I remember we went on one trail that was suppose to take about three hours, we got mixed up and took the wrong trail and ended up walking almost eight hours, we have never been so happy we had taken extra food and a large thermos of coffee.

Wellington is rich in history and so much to see.  Almost everything is free, museums, botanical gardens and art galleries.  The Te Papa museum is a must see, it is the best way to get to know the history of New Zealand.  On the 3rd floor, there is a nice lounge you can enjoy fresh prepared  food or a cup of coffee looking at the harbor.

The botanical gardens are free as well but is built on a hill and has long walks that take up about the city, if you have the energy to take this long challenging climb you will be rewarded with one of the best views of the wellington harbor.  On the walk you will be rewarded with the many gardens such as the famous rose garden and the tropical flowers and plants section. Some days it rained pretty hard, making it nice to just find a quiet café to sit and enjoy. The umbrellas aren’t any help due to the strong wind. You don’t carry one in Wellington. It’s the Windy city in the southern hemisphere.

Take the ferry to the Sommes Island. Its a small island where they used to capture prisoners from the world war II.
They don’t allow anything coming to the island from anywhere because it’s a preserved island with its own echo system and its own animals and plants. So, avoid bringing any food and other stuff that might harm the inhabitants. The boat ride is very nice and it takes about 15mn to get there. It’s cold on the deck  because of the wind but if you are brave enough, you get to see a nice view.

The suburbs of wellington are far away and sometimes, not interesting. The Days bay is a must see and especially if you are an avid hiker. You would enjoy the fantastic hikes off the boat. Don’t forget to collect fantastic sea glasses on the beach. It’s one of the beaches around the world where you find great sea glasses. You might have to push the seagulls and the oyster-crackers looking for food on the beach.

If you are in town, go see the Catherine de Mansfield Birthplace, the famous author and writer who died young just for N$20. The zoo is a must visit place and you will save money just by keeping your bus ticket. Show it to the counter and you will get a discount. You will admire few animals such as Kiwi, Tui bird.

If you are looking for internet, good luck, there are few places but its  expensive and its rare to find WIFI or hotspots to connect. Few Starbucks have them but it cost us N$4 per hour. So, it might be hard to stay connected while you are in Wellington.

If you want to stay in a cool place, try the backpackers, its cheap, clean and located in the heart of downtown near the Central train station. Renting a car might cost you money but if you can drive on the left side of the road. It would be N$80 a day with insurance and I recommend taking it if you have difficulties driving on the other side.

Climbing Hallasan, East of Jeju City, Korea

Mt Hallasan, cr-lexparadise.blogspot.com

Mt Hallasan, cr-lexparadise.blogspot.com

Highest Mountain in the Republic of Korea on Cheju Island

The trail from Gwaneumsa Temple to the summit of Hallasan leads the climber to the highest point in the Republic of Korea at 6,396 feet atop a dormant shield volcano.

This 5.4 mile trail to Hallasan begins at Gwaneumsa Temple six miles east of the harbor of Jeju City on Cheju Island, Korea. There is no other way to get to the trail head other than by rental car or taxi where there is parking for forty vehicles or so. The starting point of the Gwaneumsa Trail up Hallasan is 2,033 feet above sea level. Hikers should sign the register just beyond the temple in Korean or English.

The best times to climb Hallasan are early May through mid-October. Be aware that sudden snowstorms can cover the summit in May and in October. The worst times to climb this shield volcano would be from mid-October to late April. The only hazard on this trail is toward the very summit where there are man-made cables to grab while climbing the sheerest part. These cables can be frozen in early May and in mid to late October. It is absolutely necessary to have warm gloves in May and October.

Once Under Way the Hiker Can Enjoy Coastal Views

Once beyond the beautiful Gwaneumsa Temple with its one hundred statues of Buddha, the hiker can almost immediately enjoy great views into the East China Sea. The first several miles of trail go through susuki grasslands with occasional large Asian oak trees. One such oak is identified with a sign in Korean and English as being the Virtuous Tree. Legend has it that during times of famine a maiden of an ancient Korean king prayed for help at this very tree until acorns came tumbling down like manna from heaven.

Be on the Lookout for Ring-Necked Pheasants

Here in the grasslands many ring-neck pheasants can be seen strutting about in their natural habitat. The hiker may also see an occasional wild horse. As she climbs higher on the trail, grasslands give way to beautiful cedar forests some two miles beyond the trail head. If the hiker is climbing in June, he will be treated views of beautiful mountain azalea in full bloom. It can become quite windy up here, but at the half-way point up Hallasan a daepiso (day shelter house) can be found at trail side nestled in a little hollow of cedar bushes. Here on can visit the restroom, buy drinks and snacks and even a detailed trail map.

Full Views of the Great Shield Volcano of Hallasan

As the climber continues hiking over a landscape that is said to resemble the back of a giant ant, she is afforded a fine view of the dormant shield volcano of Hallasan, so called because of its very thick and solid geologic structure (see photo). The trail winds its way for a little over a mile to the very base of the shield volcano. From up here the hiker can see half of Cheju Island with its pineapple fields and the seas beyond, The steepest part of the trail begins at the base of the shield volcano over four miles from the trail head.

Climbing Up Landscapes That Resemble a Chinese Scroll Painting

The way up is so steep that waist-high steel cables have be set in volcanic rock at trail side, so that the climber can easily have more secure handholds while going up a vertical pitch of black lava fringed with delicate oriental cedar trees. It is almost like climbing through the landscapes of a Chinese scroll painting, especially if there is mist. After a mile or less of hard work, the climber will finally stand at the crater’s edge to peer down into a beautiful blue lake (unless it is frozen in mid spring or mid to late fall.) If it is a clear day, the hiker can see far out into the East China Sea and the Straits of Korea as well as the entire Cheju Island.

A Full-Day Hike in a Unique Landscape

The hike up Hallasan takes up to a full day (round trip) with a vertical gain (over some of the most unique landscapes on the planet) of 4,363 feet. Bring sufficient water (even though drinks can be bought back at the daepiso) as there are no water sources on the trail nor any restrooms (except at the daepiso). You can buy a map at the trail side day shelter or download a detailed verbal description of the trail in English or Korean at National Parks of Korea web site (see Hallasan National Park).


Climbing Mount Elbert- Leadville,CO

Mt Leadville, cr-coloradoguy.com

Mt Leadville, credit-coloradoguy.com

Second Highest Mountain in the Lower 48 States in the Sawatch Range
The Half Moon Creek trail rises over 4,000 feet in eight miles to a lofty elevation of 14, 433 feet , highest point in Colorado and second highest in the lower 48 states.

The eight-mile long trail to the summit of Mount Elbert begins at Half Moon Campground about ten miles southwest of Leadville, Colorado at the trail head of the Half Moon Creek Trail. There is no other way to get here but by private car where there is ample parking for over 60 cars. The starting point of the Half Moon Creek Trail is 10,060 feet above sea level. Hikers should sign the trail register just beyond the parking lot.

The Best Times to Climb Mount Elbert are Limited

The best times to climb Mount Elbert (named after Samuel Elbert, Secretary to Territorial Governor Evans) are from late June through very early September. Be aware that at elevations this high, it can snow any day of the year. The worst times to climb this peak would be from early September through almost all of June. There are no man-made hazards on the trail but the hiker should be wary of altitude sickness and spend a few days in Leadville to acclimate.

The Hiker Should Start From Half Moon Campground No Later Than 6 A.M.

In order to avoid afternoon thunderstorms atop Mount Elbert, the hiker should begin her climb no later than six o’clock in the morning. Once she is under way, the hiker will enter a dense Hudsonian forest of silvery-barked sub-alpine fir and red and scaly-barked Engelmann spruce trees. Growing along or near the trail will be an abundance of wildflowers including red Indian paintbrushes, blue chiming bells and yellow heart-leafed arnica. Be on the lookout for gray Canada jays and black and white Clark’s nutcrackers. Deeper in the woods in the meadows, the hiker may see grazing elk.

The First Three Miles of Trail are Part of the Colorado Trail

As the hiker slowly gains elevation, the Half Moon Creek Trail joins a segment of the Colorado Trail where he will begin to see broad vistas of the Leadville Valley below. The Colorado Trail goes all the way from the New Mexico border to the Wyoming border, so some of the people along this portion of the trail may be long-term hikers who have been at it for several weeks. The higher the hiker climbs, the thinner the forest becomes. In approximately an hour and a half, the hiker will arrive at the junction of the Colorado Trail and the Mount Elbert Trail to the right. Here is a good spot to rest, drink water, have some snacks and chat with fellow hikers. Be prepared for the beginning of a long workout on the Mount Elbert Trail. If necessary take frequent rests and drinks of water, especially as you approach 13,000 feet. Notice an array of alpine flowers at trail side including delicate blue alpine forget- me-not, dwarf pink Parry’s primrose and late in the summer bright yellow alpine sunflowers. Small gray, fluttering birds making a piping sound are pipits and birds with a pinkish breast and brown feathers are rosy finches; they are summer-time residents up here.

There are Two False Summits Before the True Summit of Mount Elbert

The hiker should not lose heart when he at last stands on what looked like (from below) the summit of Mount Elbert. Take a rest and enjoy the hoary marmots running over the rocks and making a high-pitched squeak. Tiny gray rabbit-like pikas may also be seen perhaps with grass in their mouths as they prepare for winter. The trail proceeds ever upward to yet another false summit above 14,000 feet. From here, the climber might spot tiny specks of people standing atop Mount Elbert another quarter of a mile away.

Views From the Summit of Mount Elbert Are Phenomenal

Hopefully the hiker will arrive at last on the true summit at 14,433 feet (almost half way up Mount Everest), by noon or so. Take a deep breath and a well-deserved rest up here and enjoy the views of La Plata Peak to the south, Pikes Peak to the very distant east, the entire Sawatch Range to the north, and the Elk Range to the west. The hike takes up to a full day with a vertical gain of 4,383 feet. Bring sufficient water and energy snacks as there are no water sources along the trail, nor are there any rest room facilities. You can pick up a trail map at U.S Forest Headquarters in Leadville or download one from USGS website Mount Elbert Quad.

*Mount Elbert is 61 feet lower than Mount Whitney (14,494 feet) in California.

Climbing Medicine Bow Peak, West of Laramie, WY

Medicine bowl peak, cr-Wikipedia

Medicine bowl peak, credit-Wikipedia

The climber is given key information about the Lewis Lake Trail to the summit of this snow-lined peak at 12,013 feet, the highest point in southern Wyoming’s Snowy Range.

The two-mile long trail to Medicine Bow Peak in the Snowy Range forty miles west of Laramie, Wyoming begins at Lewis Lake just beyond the parking lot that holds thirty or so cars. There is no other way to get here other than by private car. The starting point of the Lewis Lake Trail is 10,750 feet above sea level and just 800 feet shy of tree line. Hikers should register just beyond the parking lot at the beginning of the trail.

Be Aware of Possible Sudden Snow Storms

The best times to climb Medicine Bow Peak are between late June and mid-September. Be aware of sudden snow storms that can occur as late as the latter part of June and as early as Labor Day in September. The worst times to climb this peak would be from mid-September through late June.

There are no man-made hazards on this two-mile trail, but the hiker should bring along walking sticks to assist him/her over angled snowfields higher up toward the summit. Once the hiker is on the way, she will descend slightly to cross the Lewis Lake outlet whose shoreline is usually laced with sub-alpine wildflowers.

Striking Views of the Snowy Range and Brown’s Peak

As the hiker walks along the trail past rocky up-crops, he is afforded constant views of the granitic Snowy Range with the high- rising bald summit of Brown’s Peak directly eastward with sparkling Lewis Lake directly below. Less than a quarter mile from the trail head begins a very lush shoreline marsh laced with bright yellow marsh marigolds and white-yellow glacier lilies. Just beyond the marsh, the trail bounds upward through narrow rocky crags at a forty-degree angle. The rocks are lichen-covered in varying colors of orange, green and rust. In sheltered spots one may find clusters of blue columbines. The spruce trees at this point are quite dwarfed and twisted by winter winds. As the trail approaches a high and treeless plateau, one cannot help but notice many chunks of white quartzite, sometimes pinkish in color on either side of the trail.

A Grand View of Medicine Bow Peak and the Sugar Loaf

After about one mile, the trail winds across a high plateau where one can see Medicine Bow Peak rising to the northwest and the trail-less Sugar Loaf (11,400 feet) rising directly to the south. The Sugar Loaf is so called because of the abundance of white quartzite chunks up and down its slopes. At the north side of the plateau, the trail begins to switch back and forth as it gains elevation on the flanks of the Snowy Range. The hiker should pause along these switchbacks to appreciate the panoramic views of Lewis Lake below and Lake Marie to the west and the Colorado Rockies to the south.

Snowfields Await the Climber at 11,500 Feet and Upward

The trail straightens out at about 11,500 feet when one begins to look down on the summit of Sugar Loaf. It is in this zone that one might encounter in June and July snowfields angled at forty degrees on so. Use extra caution while crossing these snow-covered portions of the trail. They may be as long as thirty or forty yards. Use your walking sticks for balance! The trail winds its way through rock slabs until it reaches the final ridge-line. From here to the summit, a quarter mile away, one will encounter a perpetual snowfield that is crusty and usually around three or four feet deep.

Panoramic Views of Colorado’s Rawah Range and Wyoming’s Sierra Madre Mountains

Once on the summit marked with a rock cairn and stake, the climber can enjoy sweeping panoramas southward to the Rawah Range of Colorado, westward to the Sierra Madre Range of Wyoming, northward to Elk Mountain and eastward to the Laramie Plains. The hike takes up to two hours with a vertical gain of 1,263 feet. Bring sufficient water as there are no sources of water along the trail nor are there any restrooms. You can pick up a trail map at Medicine Bow National Forest Headquarters in Laramie or download one from Medicine Bow National Forest web page.

Climbing Slide Mountain, West of Shandaken, NY

Slide Mountain-cr-Wikipedia

Slide Mountain-cr-Wikipedia

Highest Mountain in the Catskills of New York State

The Curtis-Ormsbee Trail up Slide Mountain (4,203 feet) offers the most sweeping views to the hiker including the summits of Cornell, Wildcat, Table and Lone Mountains.

The four-mile Curtis-Ormsbee Trail to the summit of Slide Mountain (4,203 feet) begins at Big Indian, two miles southwest of Shandaken, New York. There is no other way to get here other than by private car where there is enough parking for twenty-five cars or so. The starting point of this trail is 2,400 feet above sea level. Hikers should sign the register just beyond the parking area. The best times to climb Slide Mountain are mid-April through mid-October.

Be Aware of Possible Summer Thunderstorms

Be aware that afternoon thunderstorms may develop making the trail quite muddy. The worst times to climb this mountain would be from late October through early April. There are no man-made hazards on the trail but the hiker should take care while walking after the first mile or so when the trail becomes quite rocky.

Once the hiker is under way, she will enter a lush mixed hardwood forest of maples, birch, oaks, aspen and hemlocks, and one may be treated to a summer forest floor of wildflowers and ferns.

A Very Rocky Trail Cuts Through the Woods

After the first mile or so of a woodland trail that is soft underfoot, the trail bounds upward over a very rocky/lumpy terrain through beautiful hardwood forests. Though one may be anxious to gain the summit, one should stop and enjoy the many flowers that seem to set the forest aglow. One such flower is the white beam (sorbus aria) that grows at the foot of maples and oaks in a bright circle of white blossoms. The lower forests are full of chirping thrushes, vireos and sparrows. This rocky portion levels a bit at a 3,500 foot marker over two and a half miles from the trail head.

A Solid Evergreen Forest Begins Above 3,500 feet

Above 3,500 feet, the Catskill Mountains are capped with an evergreen forest of aromatic spruce and pines. This zone is marked at trail side as being more fragile and hikers should not camp above this elevation. The climber will notice here a distinct chill in the air, even in summer time. The lush ferns of the lower woodland are mere unfurling fiddle-heads up here. Even the white beam flowers are much smaller with barely blooming rings of blossoms. Yellow birch up here appear gaunt and struggling; some of the dead or dying ones may serve as perches for woodpeckers in search of insects within the tree bark.

A Laurentian Forest Takes Over at 3,900 feet

As the trail winds back and forth steadily gaining elevation, one is treated to sweeping views, three miles from the trail head, of the entire Catskill Mountains including Wildcat and Table mountains and distant Shokan Reservoir. It is easy to see why the author John Burroughs loved to climb this mountain over a hundred years ago. At 3,900 feet the hiker enters a distinctly Laurentian zone of northern balsam firs housing, in the springtime, arctic longspurs. A few hundred feet higher as one approaches the summit above 4,000 feet, one gains views of Wittenberg, Panther and Peekamoose mountains as well as all of Shokan Reservoir in the misty distance. If one were to climb to the summit of Slide Mountain at night, he would see to the south a brilliant array of the city lights of New York. The hike takes up to a half day with a vertical gain of 1,800 feet. Bring sufficient water as there are no water sources on the trail nor are there any restrooms. You can download a trail map from the Catskill 3500 Club web page.

Climbing Humphreys Peak, NW of Flagstaff Arizona

Highest Mountain in Arizona in the San Francisco Peaks

Humphreys Peak-cr-arizona-leisure.com

Humphreys Peak-credit-arizona-leisure.com

The hiker is given key information about the Kachina Trail in the Snow Bowl up to 12,633 foot Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona.

The five-mile long trail to Humphreys Peak begins in the Snow Bowl Ski Area seven miles northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona at the trail head of the Kachina Trail. There is no other way to get here but by private car where there is enough parking for at least forty cars or so.

The starting point of the Kachina Trail is 8,800 feet above sea level. Hikers should sign the trail register just above the parking area. The best times to climb Humphreys Peak are late spring through early fall. Be aware that freak blizzards can occur in early June. The worst times to climb this peak would be from late October through mid-May.

There are no man-made hazards on this five-mile trail but the hiker should be wary above tree line of loose volcanic rocks and the possibility of afternoon thunder storms. Once the hiker is on the way, she will shortly enter a large and flowerful meadow that , at the height of summer, will be coated with black-eyed susans and tall, purple lupines.

A Striking View of Humphreys Peak

From the upper end of the meadow, the hiker is afforded at striking view of Humphreys Peak rising 3,800 feet above. After a half mile from the starting point, the trail enters a sweet-smelling Ponderosa pine/aspen forest that harbors in mid-summer, dozens of mushroom clusters along the trail side. In this pine forest grow many white columbines (elsewhere, usually they are blue) and deep blue Penstemon flowers. Shortly after entering the woods, the trail begins to switch back and forth to gain altitude at a twenty to thirty degree angle. Pause to listen for the jack-hammering of sapsucker woodpeckers and the screeching of Chickaree squirrels.

Broad-sweeping Views of Volcanic Terrain

As the trail gains altitude after a mile to a mile and a half from the trail head, there are broad-sweeping views of volcanic terrain to the west and northwest. With the increase in elevation, the pine forest has changed to mostly spruce. Be careful up here because there are now many exposed spruce-tree roots crossing the trail.as well as lumpy rocks.

At three and a half miles in, the trail comes to a saddle where one is afforded views eastward of the entire volcanic basin San Francisco Mountains with jagged peaks rising above the ancient crater. Agassiz Peak to the south is one such peak, and it is important to note that this peak is closed to climbers as it is a ceremonial site for the Hopi Indians who plant prayer plumes on its summit for their desert corn crops to get sufficient rain from the kachina spirits.

Four False Summits Lie Ahead

The last mile or so of the trail rises abruptly toward four false summits. The hiker should not get his hopes up until he sees clearly the true summit of Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona. Going up and down over the loose scree of the false summits can be dangerous. It is important to maintain balance and never look at the views until you are completely stopped.

Once past the false summits, the trail zig-zags up to the lofty summit of Humphreys Peak. From up here the reddish-colored north rim of the Grand Canyon can be seen as well as perhaps a quarter of the State of Arizona if the weather is clear.The hike takes up to a full day with a vertical gain of over 3,800 feet. Bring sufficient water as there are no water sources on the Kachina Trail nor are there any restrooms.

You can pick up a trail map at the Coconino National Forest Headquarters in Flagstaff or download one from Coconono National Forest webpages or the USDA’s website.