IntroductionThis is just a simple log to keep track of our 2011 trips.
See the 2010 Trip Log for 2010.
See the 2009 Trip Log for 2009.
See also the 2008 Trip Log for 2008.
DECEMBERDecember 31: Morne Trois Piton (Dominica)
Shaylee and I made a climb of Morne Trois Piton today. Trois Piton turned out to be the most difficult mountain we have climbed on our Dominica/Puerto Rico Trip.
From Roseau we were able to find a bus that would drop us off at Pont Casse. From there we walked the highway to the trail and started up the mountain. A family that lives near the trailhead asked us if we were going to the top and gave us some strange looks when we said yes.
The trail going up is very steep, but there are log steps along the way. Unfortunately some of the logs are quite rotten and the trail is somewhat overgrown, so my legs got really scratched and beat up (I was wearing shorts, but Shaylee was wearing long pants).
We kept waiting for the climb to get easier, but it actually got more difficult the higher we climbed. There were many logs to climb over and some rock scrambles as well. Eventually we found ourselves at the summit, but it was a hard won summit to say the least. It was misty and rainy and we didn’t get any views.
The climb down was more difficult than the climb up. The logs were all incredibly slippery and we both had several falls each. We were also plagued by torrential rainfall. When we (finally) got down the mountain, I was guessing that the torrential rainfall would help us get a sympathy ride back to Roseau, but this was not to be. The driver of one car that stopped said “I would give you a ride, but you guys are all wet”. We started walking down the highway and eventually we got a ride back to Roseau in the back of a pickup.
December 30: Morne Bruce (Dominica)
After 10 days of steady hikes and climbs, it was time for an easier day. Today Shaylee and I walked through the botanical gardens at Roseau before climbing Morne Bruce (which is more a hill than a mountain). We walked the trail known as Jack’s walk to the summit. It was some a nice hike and we saw several huge millipedes along the way.
December 29: Titou Gorge/Middleham Falls (Dominica)
In the morning, Shaylee and I walked to the Rainforest Arial Tram from Roxy’s in Laudat. We wanted to see if Shaylee could do the zipline across the Breakfast Gorge, but they said that she was too young. We then walked to the Titou Gorge to poke around before walking the road all the way to the Middleham Falls Trailhead. We did the hike to the falls and then all the way back to Roxy’s.
December 28: Morne Nicholls/Valley of Desolation/Boiling Lake (Dominica)
Shaylee and I went for a hike over the top of Morne Nicholls to the Valley of Desolation and Boiling Lake. We started out with two other people who invited us along and who were using a guide, but it was quickly obvious that they were moving rather slowly, so we gave them some money and just went on by ourselves. We passed three other guided groups along the way to Mount Nicholls. We enjoyed the spectacular views from the summit and the weather was great.
The route to Morne Nicholls and to Boiling Lake is actually well marked and the horror stories about the difficulty of the hike are much exaggerated. The hike is steep in places with some minor scrambling and many stairs, but it only took us 2 hours 31 minutes to reach Boiling Lake (Shaylee is seven years old). The walk through the Valley of Desolation was spectacular. Below the Valley of Desolation were many turquoise colored pools and waterfalls.
At last we found ourselves at the final scramble and we hiked up to Boiling Lake just in time to eat a nice lunch and to watch the lake boil. It was quite a sight to behold.
After hanging out at the Boiling Lake for an hour, we headed back down, meeting the group we started with at the bottom of the last scramble. They had given up and were headed back down. We passed them and rather quickly made our way back up to the top of Morne Nicholls. After passing two more groups we made our way down to the trailhead and then took the long way to Roxy’s so we could stop and buy ice cream at the small store in Laudat. The hike to Morne Nicholls, Valley of Desolation and Boiling Lake was one of the highlights of our trip.
December 27: Lower Titou Gorge to Trafalgar Falls (Dominica)
Today Shaylee and I went canyoneering. We walked part way down to Trafalgar before getting a ride to the Trafalgar turnoff where we walked to the canyoning office near Cocoa Cottages. After some practice rappels our group headed off to the gorge near Laudat that is below the more well known Titou Gorge. We rappelled down several waterfalls and swam many crystal clear pools while heading deeper into the gorge. It sure was a spectacular slot canyon. Shaylee had a great time and she got to rappel several times without being lowered.
We exited the canyon just above Trafalgar Falls (which takes very long ropes to negotiate). It was a great canyon and a great day.
December 26: Boeri Lake/Freshwater Lake/Trafalgar Falls (Dominica)
Shaylee and I had a long, but spectacular day. First we hiked all the way from Laudat to the Boeri Lake Trailhead. After that we made the nice hike up to the scenic Boeri Lake. After resting at the lake and admiring the views and watching the clouds and mist swirl around the nearby peaks, we headed back down to Freshwater Lake. We hiked around the lake and climbed a peak to the SE of the lake. After enjoying the lake we hiked back down the road a short distance where we got a ride to near the Trafalgar turnoff.
After chatting with one of the guides at Extreme Dominica (whom we were to go canyoning with the next day) we got a ride to near the Trafalgar Falls Trailhead. We hiked to the spectacular waterfalls and climbed up to them. After enjoying the two falls we headed back to Trafalgar and started walking to the main highway. We tried in vain to get a ride back up to Laudat so we walked most of the way back to Laudat before finally getting a ride. It was a very spectacular, but long day!
December 25: Lower Micotrin (Dominica)
Today I took a late evening hike up the concrete road towards Freshwater Lake to the lower slopes of Micotrin to orientate myself to the area and to look for the routes up Micotrin (I was just looking for the beginning of the route, not looking to climb the peak yet). It was getting dark and I didn’t find the main route before I had to head back down. After it got dark, there were many jumping glowing bugs all over the ground.
December 24: El Toro/La Coca Trail (Puerto Rico)
Shaylee and I left for a climb of El Toro in Caribbean National Forest near El Yunque. It had rained hard the night before and the trail was extremely muddy. The trail isn’t used that much and there were some big washouts that we had to bushwhack around. Because of all of the deep mud, Shaylee said that she wanted to try another trail. We hiked back to the trailhead and drove to the La Coca Trail, which was the last trail we hadn’t hiked in the El Yunque area.
We found the La Coca Trail to be just as muddy as the trail to El Toro, but we persevered anyway. We hiked down across the river and continued along the muddy trail to a nice waterfall. After enjoying the waterfall we hiked back up the muddy road to the trailhead. After reaching the trailhead we found that the trail was barricaded and closed for “dangerous conditions” (it wasn’t closed when we started the hike). It wasn’t dangerous, but it was extremely muddy.
December 23: Los Picachos/Pico El Yunque/Roca El Yunque/Monte Britton (Puerto Rico)
Shaylee and I climbed all the points in the El Yunque area today. We started out at the Baño de Oro Trailhead and hiked up the mountain up to the turnoff for Los Picachos. We climbed the side track to Los Picachos where enjoyed the views before heading back to the main trail and climbing up to the summit of Pico El Yunque.
We decided to also climb the Roca El Yunque so we headed west and found the track to the scrambling route up to the summit. We found the Roca El Yunque to have the nicest views of the bunch and the scramble to the summit was fun.
After climbing the Roca we headed towards Monte Britton so we could climb that too. We climbed up the tower on top of the peak and then headed down to the Monte Britton Trail and back to the trailhead. It was a really great hike and with the paved trails, mountains don’t get that much easier in the tropical rainforest. There was some rain, but it wasn’t bad.
December 22: Big Tree Trail (Puerto Rico)
In the morning Shaylee and I attended the iguana feeding at the hotel and after that we went horseback riding so we only had time for a short hike by the afternoon. We chose to hike the Big Tree Trail in the El Yunque area. We hiked the trail to the Cascada La Mina, a beautiful waterfall.
After enjoying the waterfall we hiked back to the trailhead and on the way back we stopped to check out the Cascada La Coca.
December 21: El Portal Trail/Angelito Trail (Puerto Rico)
After arriving at the San Juan Airport at 3 am we caught some sleep before picking up a rental car and heading to the Caribbean National Forest and the El Yunque area. We were tired and only had some time for some short hikes.
The first hike we did was the El Portal Trail. We completed the loop trail and saw some really big snails and lizards along the way. Shaylee also liked to play with the huge dead leaves on the trail.
After the El Portal Trail, we drove to the Angelito Trail so we could hike it. We hiked down the trail to the beautiful pool at the river and watched the fish swim in the crystal clear pool before heading back up to the trailhead. It was a great day, but we were tired from the previous flight.
See the trip report for more details:
The Wild Caribbean
December 17: Sleeping Giant [Elk Mountain] (Colorado)
Today I climbed Sleeping Giant near Steamboat Springs/Milner. The mountain looks nice from afar, but wasn’t a very fun climb, at least by the route I took up (west ridge). It was a battle between posholing through snow (much of the ground was bare, so I couldn’t wear snowshoes), loose scree, and frozen slippery steep slopes.
Since the climb appeared short while looking at the map, I left pretty late. I struggled to the west ridge and followed it to the summit. Along the way were several elk on the summit ridge.
Since the climb took longer than I thought it would, it was dark by the time I reached the car.
December 10: Devils Canyon (Colorado)
Kim said that she was really tired and needed a rest. I asked her if she'd enjoy me taking the kids for the weekend to give her a break and she said yes.
Kessler, Shaylee and I threw some sleeping bags in the car and drove down to the Colorado River State Park (Fruita) to camp.
Since we were headed for the desert, I didn’t bring wool socks and my toes got cold. I woke up at night to build a fire and I watched the lunar eclipse (I didn't wake the kids for it-it was 9F anyway).
After a visit to the Dinosaur Museum, we hiked Devils Canyon. We completed the seven mile loop in 2 hours and 25 minutes. The kids had to wait for me-twice.
December 2-3: Mount Columbia (Colorado)
We had a big group (10+ people) planned for the attempt on mount Columbia, but in the end, only two of us ended up going. The weather forecast kept going back and forth between a light and a big snowstorm. By morning, the snow predicted wasn’t very much, so Brian and I met in Buena Vista for an attempt. We waited for about an hour before it was clear that no one else was coming.
After driving to the trailhead, it was obvious that while places like Silverthorne and Breckenridge were really dry, the area around Columbia got pounded during the last few storms.
The road to the trailhead was closed at the Harvard Lakes Trailhead and we had to walk from there. The snow was deeper than expected and soft and we made it to the bridge crossing before setting up camp.
It snowed throughout the night and by morning it was 7F and still snowing. We climbed up towards Horn Fork Basin and we found that there was over 4' of soft powder (new) at about 10,500 feet and even more higher.
With the slow progress, and with brutal trail-breaking, it was quite obvious that we wouldn’t make the summit by nightfall. We were also worried about the vehicle getting snowed in at the trailhead and since failure was inevitable, we didn’t try that hard as far as making a serious attempt on the summit. We knew that avalanche danger might be high in spots and with poor visibility we wouldn’t be able to see what’s above us.
By mid-morning we headed back down the mountain without getting close to the summit.
NOVEMBERNovember 28: Red Mountain; Black Mountain (Nevada)
Kimberly wanted to take a tour of the Hoover Dam in the evening, so we decided to do a hike nearby to that location. Climbing Red and Black Mountains in the River Mountains near Boulder City looked interesting, so Kessler, Shaylee, Kimberly and I decided to climb those. We opted for the longer of the two standard routes since it would provide a good workout.
It was a beautiful day and we made our way through the maze of trails until we were in the canyon leading up to the saddle between Red Mountain and Black Mountain. It was a pretty trail and after reaching the saddle, we opted to climb Red Mountain first. There was some new development at the top (zip line) so we went over to climb the more pristine Black Mountain.
After enjoying the great views of Las Vegas and Lake Mead from the summit of Black Mountain, we hiked back down to the trailhead.
November 27: Sloan Canyon (Nevada)
After church (in Henderson), Shaylee, Kessler, Kimberly and I went for a hike up Sloan Canyon near Henderson. The road to the trailhead was rough so it took much longer than expected. Because of this we didn’t have as much daylight left over as we had hoped.
We started hiking up Sloan Canyon, passing several minor obstacles along the way. We found many petroglyph panels and took some time to admire and photograph them before heading back to the trailhead. It was dark by the time we reached the trailhead, but we were told of a shortcut driving route back to Henderson. We took a few wrong turns, but the road back was both shorter and less rough.
November 24-26: Havasu Canyon (Arizona)
After waiting around and taking a cave tour at the Grand Canyon Caverns, Shaylee, Kessler, Kimberly and I drove to Hualapai Hilltop to start our hike to Supai. We started our hike at 1 pm and with short daylight hours, we knew we had to hike fast.
We hadn’t need worry though since Shaylee was mad at her brother and would run off ahead. We did the entire 8 miles in three hours.
The weather was perfect and the hike down to Supai was prettier and more interesting than I thought it would be.
Today was the big one and the day we had all been waiting for. We would hike down to Beaver Falls, visiting all the other waterfalls along the way. Navajo was the first falls and we also quickly hiked to Havasu Falls. Mooney Falls was next and there was where the most challenging obstacle of the hike was. You have to climb through a few tunnels, a ladder and some rock steps to get down a cliff.
On the way down someone coming up warned us not to do it, but it wasn’t bad and the kids had no problem. Below Mooney Falls were four creek crossings up to waist deep and then it was a long streamside hike down to the Beaver Falls area.
After admiring the area, we returned back up canyon and back to Supai, but we stopped to explore several caves along the way.
It was a beautiful day and the scenery was some of the best in the world. We completed 10 miles, but it seemed a little longer with all the creek crossings and obstacles.
Today we hiked from Supai and back to the rim. The climb out was faster than expected and we completed the 8 miles in four hours. After that we drove to Las Vegas.
November 23: Lomaki Pueblo; Citadel Pueblo; Doney Craters; Wupatki Pueblo; Lava Fields Trail; Lenox Crater (Arizona)
On our way to Havasu and the Grand Canyon Caverns, Kessler, Shaylee, Kimberly and I spent a day doing several hikes in Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monument. We did the hikes to Lomaki Pueblo and Citadel Pueblo before climbing both Doney Craters. After climbing the craters we quickly hiked the loop hike around Wupatki Pueblo before heading to Sunset Crater National Monument.
In Sunset National Monument we hiked the “Long Loop” on the Lava Fields Trail and then climbed Lenox Crater in fading daylight. We reached the summit and watched the sunset before heading back down the mountain.
All of our hikes were fairly short, but we packed a lot of them in a single day!
November 18: Model A Peak (CO)
Shaylee and I climbed Model A Peak after school and in great weather.
November 17: Sand BM (CO)
I did a night climb of Sand BM on a windy late evening.
November 16: Yampa River Trail (CO)
I hiked a section of the Yampa River trail on a cold day.
November 13: Chamber of the Basilisk (UT)
The weather was looking very cloudy, but the route through the Chamber of the Basilisk doesn’t have high flash flood danger, so we chose to do the route anyway. Only a little precipitation fell on the drive to the trailhead; the route itself was dry.
This is the kid’s favorite canyon and they were eager to show everyone else the canyon. Twelve other people joined us, which was a good crowd, but since the route is all hard packed dirt and sand, it is well suited for a group.
Since we had done this canyon previously, we knew the route well and we were able to go directly to the starting point. We climbed into the canyon to where it slotted up. The thing that makes the Chamber of the Basilisk so unique is that the slot canyon disappears into a hole in the ground!