WA – PCT Section L . . . as in Lots to Love (Harts Pass to Rock Pass)

Piece by piece maybe someday I’ll complete Section L. In 2016, I only made it 8 miles north of Rainy Pass before I had to turnaround due to tendonitis in my shin (link). I landed in Mazama after completing a hike in Glacier Peak Wilderness, including a small piece of Section K (link), in need of a weekend adventure that wasn’t overcrowded.

Wildflower happiness.

Ptarmigan or grouse.

Long traverses.

Hello mountains, what beautiful texture you wear.

I couldn’t help but reminisce about a previous trip into the Pasayten Wilderness (link).

The trail was in good shape following fires the previous year. Thankfully it was a fairly short stretch.

Rock Pass campsite.

First light.

As I hiked through the area, I couldn’t help but visualize the terrain covered in snow as the southbounders experience it during their 30-mile hike to the border and back from Harts Pass. These photos illustrate the dangers and severe consequences. Definitely adds an element of eh gads to the beginning of their journey.

Slate Peak Lookout.

Just a short drive from Harts Pass is Slate Peak Lookout. Upon my return to the trailhead, I drove to the lookout parking area and then hiked up to the Lookout. This is the view of the lookout from the PCT.

There were a couple of nearby ridges worthy of a hike. I would have loved to explore this one but alas I had places to go.

The interpretive signage was helpful, especially showing peak names. I was surprised to learn the peak on the right was Jack Mountain. I hiked around that mountain a couple years previous (link). That’s snow-covered Mt Baker between the Jack and Crater Mountains.

Adventure Date(s):

  • August 3-5, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Register just past the trailhead for wilderness overnight stays.
  • There are three places to park for Hart’s Pass Trailhead access. I recommend passing the ranger station, and the restroom only parking area to the trailehad only area.
  • Mice seem to be a problem everywhere in Washington, and they seem to like to break into my car.
  • There were lots of bees out enjoying the flowers also. I tend to have quite the reactions. I think this was Day 2 and it stung through my shirt. It kept growing for a couple more days.
  • Be prepared for biting flies and mosquitoes. I’d sprayed my outerwear, pack and screen on tent in advance with Sawyer’s Permethrin (Amazon link), and applied Picardin (Amazon link) to my skin when needed.
  • Mazama, Twisp and Winthrop are good resupply locations
  • Dispersed camping is available on nearby USFS lands.



CO – Paint Mines Interpretative Park

While in Colorado Springs getting new tires, I noted my map was marked with a nearby POI flagged for geologic and photographic opportunities.

Flowers were nice accents among the sandstone formations. 

I bet these fields come alive with color a little later in the spring.

The bunnies seemed quite happy to claim ownership of the preserve. 

Well the bunnies do have to share with butterflies and ladybugs. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • May 15, 2018
  • Hiking Stats:



  • Park hours are dawn to dusk
  • Photographers will want to plan for best light on the formations; most are east facing.
  • Signage is excellent. 



NM – Bandelier National Monument . . . backpacking a loop

I spent a day at Bandelier hiking the popular sightseeing trails (link to related post), but then it was time to delve deeper into the backcountry. First stop was the Visitor Center to obtain a free permit and information about water sources and trail conditions.

Camping is by permitted by zones. On trail signage makes it easy to ensure compliance.

Recent fires and flooding have created challenges.

My plan was a 30-mile loop beginning with the Frijoles Canyon Trail to Upper Crossing to Stone Lions Trail to Capulin Canyon Trail to West Alamo Rim Trail to Mid Alamo Trail. Some sections of this loop require navigation skills and long water carries. 

Wildflowers were an unexpected pleasure. 

Water is a precious resource and requires careful planning. I was grateful the Visitor Center provided known sources. Finding unreliable water is a bonus.

Getting in and out of canyons can be fun. This is the Ponderosa Trail, one I was glad to avoid this trip. 

Stone Lions Trail leads to this shrine. 

For years, Zuni Indians from westernmost New Mexico have traveled from Zuni to a place near the Rio Grande north of Cochiti Pueblo, on pilgrimages to a shrine 200 miles from their village. Even within the past 3 or 4 years, Zunis have camped in Frijoles Canyon, on their way to this same spot. The shrine that draws the Zunis so far from home is a pair of rough figures of mountain lions, rudely carved on an outcrop of tuff, crouching side by side with extended tails. Each is about 6 feet long and 2 feet high, rudely done and in poor condition, worn and disfigured and scarcely recognizable as a lion. Indeed, they have been mistaken for lizards. They are enclosed by a low wall of unshaped stones. This shrine is on the Potrero de las Vacas, one of the long, high, narrow mesas of the Pajarito Plateau, in the rough, little-travelled southern portion of Bandelier National Monument, west of Santa Fe. It is one of the very rare instances of full-size sculpture in aboriginal North America north of Southern Mexico.

The Zunis believe that the stone lions guard the entrance to a place called Shipapolima, the dwelling place of the important supernatural being called Poshaiyanki. Why these rude statues in north-central New Mexico are so important to the distant Zunis is unknown. The ideas of the local pueblos about the lions seem to be entirely different.

The stone lions are important to, and venerated by, the Cochiti Indians who live only about 10 miles to the south. But to the Cochiti they do not represent, as far as is known, an entrance to the dwelling place of a god. The Cochitis call them the “sacred place of Mokatc”. Mokatc is the panther-fetich of Cochiti hunters, and is one of the most important animals in Cochiti ritual and belief. The shrine of Mokatc was used as a place of sacred pilgrimage by a secret religious society of Cochiti, probably the hunters’ society. The stone lions apparently are still objects of veneration to the Cochitis; tracks of unshod horses have been seen there within the past two or three years. The lions probably were made by the ancestors of the Cochitis who occupied the nearby ruin of Yapashi, which was probably occupied from the 13th to the 16th century. Source: NPS

Look carefully and you might find offerings. Please don’t disturb the offerings and be respectful of the shrine which is still in use. 

There wasn’t much remaining to see at Yapashi Pueblo; however, I read that this site has not been excavated.

Although the general LNT philosophy is to leave everything in place, in some areas it’s become acceptable practice to display findings. 

Expect to walk a wash and follow cairns on the Capulin Canyon Trail. The washes splits into a few side canyons so be wary of wandering into the wrong one. There are long stretches where finding a flat safe campsite is challenging. The water in this creek does not continue all the way to the West Alamo Rim Trail so I recommend being alert to the terminus  (around mile 16 into this trip) as there won’t be any water until you drop back into Alamo Canyon 8-10 miles from this point. I needed enough water for the night, morning until I’d reach the next source.

By far the highlight of my trip was Painted Cave. 

I was told by an unofficial source the artwork is repainted regularly by the local indians as part of a ritual thus the reason they are in much better condition than most rock art I’ve seen. 

Once a large population inhabited this canyon of Capulin Creek, but most of the evidences of habitation have vanished except for the extensive pictographs on the weatherproof back wall of the Painted Cave. The arch of the cave is shallow but wide, so that a smooth area over 50 feet long was available to the artists; several dozen drawings in a variety of reds and blacks adorn this surface. It is probable that many generations of artists used the cave, since space finally ran out and later drawings are superimposed on their faded predecessors. Moreover, evidence of historic, or post-Spanish, artistry is here—a sketch of a conquistador on horseback, another of a mission church complete with cross. Source: NPS

Wind continued to be an issue. Finding an appropriate campsite was challenging. Gale force winds in an exposed area or near burned trees is not my idea of living to hike another day. I’m always grateful I can check the weather report on my InReach. Wind was due to decrease significantly in the evening, making my campsite selection a little less worrisome.

I was even able to get enough cell signal to confirm the forecast. 

From my campsite I had a great view of the Rio Grande River. 

Crossing the Alamo Canyon was my biggest challenge of this trip. The switchbacks were technical and relentless. It took me 1.5 hours to descend into and out of this canyon.

But oh what a view. Look carefully in middle right of photo and you’ll see the switchback trail. 

The volcanic tuff in this area was an incredible geologic sight. Look at those formations! 

Gotta love the work that goes into trail building. 

Did I say steep? 

This section is shown as the dip around mile 26 or so on the graph below. 

I was so excited to reach trail again after hiking miles through the sandy wash, then navigating across the rim, and finally tackling the technical trail through the canyon. 

I liked finishing the trail looking down at the archaeological sites I’d visited a couple days previous. 

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: April 16-18, 2018
  • Mileage (per Gaia): 30
  • Elevation Gain/Loss (per Gaia, tends to underreport): 4,004’/3,920′
  • Elevation Low/High (per Gaia): 5,353’/7,314
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: some due to recent fire damage
    • Overgrowth: some including poison ivy
    • Signage: adequate on the maintained trails
    • Terrain: varied between smooth freeway to rocky to steps to lumpy
  • Navigation Skills: Minimal for all except Capulin and the Alamo Rim trails which I’d consider moderate
  • Water availability: Only two reliable sources but both run for quite a distance
  • Camping availability: Minimal! It was challenging to find appropriate camping especially in wind gust conditions
  • Solitude: High! Saw a group of 5 day hikers on day 1, a couple of backpackers on day 2, and no one on day 3
  • Bugs: A few gnats and mosquitoes; however, I was told ticks can be a problem
  • Wildlife: The rare, Albert’s squirrel, lots of lizards, a couple deer, old bear scat, a dead elk, cat prints
  • Precip: None, very dry
  • Temp: One night it dropped to 28F. Days were probably in the 50’s and 60’s.
  • LNT: No problems
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 3+ cherries (out of 5)


  • NPS maps, National Geographic maps and trail sign names do not match.
  • Be bear aware 
  • Be cat aware 
  • Lots of areas around Bandelier marked red indicating high security. You have to drive through a security checkpoint to reach Bandelier where they run your driver’s license. 



UT – Capitol Reef NP, Upper Muley Twist Canyon

In my opinion there’s nothing that defines Capitol Reef more than the Navajo Knobs you see along Notom Road. They really appeal to me and each time I see them, it’s a WOW moment. 

REWIND: After hiking to Upper Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante, I continued my drive north on Highway 12 before turning west on Highway 24 where I found myself at Capitol Reef National Park. Although it was late in the day and I wouldn’t be able to visit, I was excited to spend the night dispersed camping off Notom Road where I could feast my eyes upon one of my favorite geologic features which I call Navajo Knobs. Last spring I spent a few days enjoying this area (link to related post). 

The next morning, the sun’s golden glow warms the knobs. But all too soon it was time to continue my travels to Moab.

This was a special day. It was time for another J&J adventure with my bestie Joan. 

After discussing several options, we decided to spend time immersed in Capitol Reef National Park. First on the list was Muley Canyon, a place I’ve dreamed of since first crossing the Waterfold Pocket several years ago. Last spring, my blog post said “one day I’d like to come back and hike the Muley Twist trails.”

Look at that beautiful monocline. During my trip last spring I took a lot of photos and wrote a bit about the geology of the Waterpocket Fold (link to related post).

If you can’t hike the fold, driving through the fold on Burr Road provides many WOW views. 

According to the NPS handout, “Upper Muley Twist Canyon cuts lengthwise along the spine of the Waterpocket Fold creating a colorful, meandering canyon. The Navajo and Wingate sandstone layers are exposed here, tilted by the uplift and folding of the Earth’s crust and sculpted by millions of years of erosion. The Wingate, stripped of its protective Kayenta cap rock, has eroded into unusual forms including many large arches. Highlights of the hike are narrow canyons, expanses of slickrock, large arches, and dramatic vistas from the top of Waterpocket Fold.”

Walking the road toward the Upper Muley Twist Trailhead, we quickly spotted the first POI, Peek-A-Boo Arch.

Second POI, Double Arch.

According to the WOW guidebook, “Strike is a geological term for the axis of the fold.”

Looking down at Waterpocket Fold, Strike Valley, and the Henry Mountains. So much yummy geology!

Those are my Navajo Knobs in the far distance. 

Looking the opposite direction. So many shapes, colors and textures. 

Soon enough it was time to get serious and start hiking the canyon. 

We didn’t get very far before we found our first distractions. 

There were many arches to be spotted along the way including this one, Saddle Arch. 

One of the most exciting finds was petrified wood. 

This photo shows how everything is tilted. 

It’s quite a transition from the wash to the rim. 

What’s easy for long-legged Joan, becomes quite a challenge for short-legged Jan. 

Made it to the rim! Joan couldn’t help but being a little overwhelmed looking at the Henry Mountains, a place she’s dreamed of visiting.

We were excited to find water in the pockets of Waterfold Pocket. 

It was a very windy day on the rim, but oh those views made every minute a joy. 

The geology is beyond words. 

What do you do when you’re in Muley Twist country? Why of course you twist and shout!

As we worked our way through the canyon, it was impossible not to imagine what it was like for the Mormon Pioneers who traveled through with their wagons. According to the NPS, “From 1881 to 1884, the canyon served as a wagon route for Mormon pioneers traveling south toward San Juan County. The canyon was though to be narrow enough to “twist a mule”, hence the name Muley Twist.” 

Adventure Dates:

  • March 24-25, 2018


  • According to NPS, “The route not an official, maintained trail. It is marked with rock cairns and signs, but carrying a topo map is recommended. Route conditions, including obstacles in canyons, change frequently due to weather, flash floods, rockfall, and other hazards. Route finding, navigation, and map-reading skills are critical. Do not rely solely on unofficial route markers such as rock cairns which are not maintained by NPS. It is extremely hot in summer and water sources are unreliable.”
  • Free backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips and can be obtained at the Visitor Center.
  • Obtain a copy of the trail handout at the Visitor Center. It has tips about the POI’s as well as trail beta.
  • Be aware of biological soil crust. 



ID – Wildflowers of the Snake River Trail- Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Wildflower viewing was one of the primary reasons I wanted to hike the Snake River Trail in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Here are a few of my favorites, with names based on limited research. ENJOY!


Who am I?

Narrowleaf Skullcap (?)




Aster (Tragopogon dubius)

Paintbrush (bonus: tent worm?)

Three Flowered Avens (Old Man’s Beard)


Aster (?)

Redstem Filaree (?) Geranium (?)

Sweet Pea or Milk-vetch

Flax (lewisii)

Prairie Star (bonus: poison ivy)

Ladybugs love Milkweed? Yarrow?

Date(s) Hiked: May 4-8, 2017

Spring 2017 Road Trip: Days 67-71 (out of 78)



Trinity Alps – Long Canyon Trailhead (07/14)

The majority of hikers use the Long Canyon Trail to reach the Four-Lakes Loop, as I did last September.

Long Canyon trail lined with Dr. Seuss flowers, aka Western pasqueflower (Pulsatilla or Anemone occidentalis).

If you are one of the few who enjoy route finding, hiking off-trail, bushwhacking, and scrambling, you’ll love the lakes hidden behind this ridge.

From Bowerman Meadow, looking up at the ridge sheltering the lakes.

Lake Anna

Billy Be Damned Lake

Sunrise at Lake Anna

Sunbeam reflection upon Lake Anna

Infinity image at Lake Anna


Jan’s Tips:

  • Reference my Trinity Alps Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc.
  • For travel in the Trinity Alps, I highly recommend having a GPS device. Except for the very popular, over-used trails, most other trails listed on the maps and in guidebooks are overgrown, filled with deadfall or scree, or are nearly non-existent. Some trails have been rerouted, with no updated reference on GPS. For example, on the Bowerman Trail, GPS showed we were on trail, but there was absolutely no evidence for at least a mile.
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Alps Wilderness category.

Trinity Alps – North Fork Coffee Creek (07/14)

I go to the wilderness for solitude, so planning a trip for a holiday weekend requires a bit more thought and compromise. Thankfully the Trinity Alps Wilderness has a multitude of trails and access points.

In 2010, I’d taken a day hike from the North Fork Coffee Creek Trailhead to Hodges cabin and had fond memories of the meadows and creeks. With high temperatures predicted and it being prime wildflower season, my goal was to find a plentiful supply of both. Otherwise armed with maps and trail guides, the plan was to make decisions at each junction, my favorite way of hiking.

Cabin Tour:

Hodges Cabin – Sadly this cabin with an interesting history has experienced degradation due to neglect.

This miner’s cabin is supposedly sometimes occupied. Well . . . maybe by vermin.

Frank Schlomberg Cabin – He was a German cabinet maker who built furniture for the Hodges cabin.

The Wolford Cabin. Another reminder of not relying on hiking guidebook accuracy. This 2010 edition indicated that the cabin is open and available, but we found it locked up tight, and degrading like the others.

Wildflower Tour:

The flowers weren’t nearly as prolific as I’d hoped; however, as expected for lower elevation.

Finding this hidden spring-fed paradise was one the highlights of my trip.

Seeing aphids in the wild, accompanied by the ladybug munchers, was another unusual sight.

Lake Tour:

Lower South Fork Lake – a perfect place for swimming and lazing away a few hours.


Interesting rock formation and a peak down into the Scott Valley. On a clear day, you can see Mt Shasta.

Statuesque trees and rocks

Favorite tree

Trinity Alps ranges to the southwest

Creeks and Bridges:

Thankful for these steel bridges since I’m not the most confident with water crossings.

Just one of many refreshing creeks enjoyed during this outing.

Forest Mismanagement?

A lot of unhealthy forest and deadfall, accompanied by poor trail conditions in those areas.

Lest you think this lower elevation trip was a walk in the park.

Jan’s Tips: