A Tour of Texas – Hiking Big Bend & Mexican Border Road Trip

Join me for a Tour of Texas, from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to a Hike in Big Bend NP, via an adventure along the Mexican border. 

For this adventure, I’ll be travelling (via air) from Philadelphia to San Antonio, Texas.  After landing, the plan will be to grab a rental car and immediately travel 7 hours west, following a route along the Mexican boarder, to Big Bend National Park.  Big Bend holds the distinction as America’s largest protected swath of Chihuahuan desert.  Another of Big Bend’s unique distinctions is that around 118 miles of the Mexican / American boarder lay within it’s boundaries, hugging the deepest point of the Rio Grande.

My plan is to arrive at Big Bend National Park before sunset on day one and make a mad scramble for the Window Trail, which is said to boast some amazing sunset views across the Chisos Mountains.  Assuming I pull this off, my next task will be to awake just before that burning globe comes back around again, and make way for the tallest peak amongst the Chisos Range – Emory Peak.  After that – a quick retreat to the car, a modest rehydration and clean up, and then it will time to hop back in the rental car once again.

Just to keep thing interesting, my plan will be to take an alternate 7 hour route, further to the north, to return to San Antonio.  At that point, I’ll scoop up Sara and head an additional 3 hours west to the Gulf of Mexico.  More specifically, the Corpus Christi region, for some beach front camping, which would be a first for us.

Of course, all of these plans assume that everything goes as expected.  I mean, they never get unexpected or sever weather on the Gulf Coast, do they?  Wait…  do they?

That Time I Hiked with a Broken Face – Backpacking the Great Gulf Wilderness

Join TJ & I for 3 days of hiking, camping & backpacking in New Hampshire’s Great Gulf Wilderness.  Oh, & I also fall on my face.  

For this adventure, we’ll be revisiting an attempt at a hike that I originally did as a solo backpacking trip a few years back.  A rather aggressive loop, chalking up 30+ miles and over 15,000 feet gross elevation gain, the plan was to give it another go while giving TJ an ultimate sampler platter of the White Mountains.  As fate would have it, things would corkscrew towards another outcome…

Great Gulf Loop Route Overview - Sintax77

Great Gulf Loop Route Overview – Sintax77

Trailhead Used: Imp Trailhead on Rt 16 – N44° 19.408′ W71° 13.016′

Full GPS track data and waypoints for various POI’s on this trip are available for download on the Trip Data Page.

Trails Used, Day 1 (in order)
Road hike north on Rt 16 to Dolly Copp Campground
Daniel Webster Scout Trail
Appalachian Trail South
Sphinx Trail
Camp along Sphinx Trail, just before junction with Great Gulf Trail

Great Gulf Loop Day 1 Elevation Profile - Sintax77

Great Gulf Loop Day 1 Elevation Profile – Sintax77

Day 1 Mileage: 12.5 miles
Day 1 Gross Elevation Gain: 6,661′

Trails Used, Day 2 (in order)
Double back on Sphinx Trail
Appalachian Trail South
Trinity Heights Connector to Summit of Mt Washington
Have a Chili Dog at the Summit
Nelson Crag Trail
Appalachian Trail South
Great Gulf Trail
Camp near Gulf Trail along ridge

Great Gulf Loop Day 2 Elevation Profile - Sintax77

Great Gulf Loop Day 2 Elevation Profile – Sintax77

Day 2 Mileage: 9.2 miles
Day 2 Gross Elevation Gain: 3,658′

Trails Used, Day 3 (in order)
Great Gulf Trail
Short road hike back to car parked at Imp Trail Head

Great Gulf Loop Day 3 Elevation Profile - Sintax77

Great Gulf Loop Day 3 Elevation Profile – Sintax77

Day 3 Mileage: 3.9
Day 3 Gross Elevation Gain: 108′


Mileage Grand Total for Trip: 25.6
Gross Elevation Gain Grand Total for Trip: 10,319′

Maroon Bells Pt 1 – Roadtrip! Philly to Aspen in 29 Hours

It’s 4:30 PM on a weekday. Can Mike and I make it from Philly to Aspen, Colorado by tomorrow night for a hike the next morning?  Hop in and join us for the drive. 

For this multi-part adventure, we’ll be faced with two challenges.

Phase 1 (seen in this video, Pt 1): Driving on a substantial time crunch from the east coast to Colorado, without any hotels or road food purchases.  This will not only keep the budget low, but will also save us a ton of time by not having to check-in/out, be tempted to sleep in, decide where/what to eat, stand in lines etc.  Sleeping will be done in the car (while the other person drives) and all meals will be comprised of cooler-stored left-overs and pre-purchased beverages.  The only stops allowed: bathroom breaks and gas pumps.

Phase 2 (covered in the next video, Pt 2) will be a multi-day hike of the Four Pass Loop, within the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, located just outside of Aspen Colorado (about 3 hours west of Denver).

Departure time:  4:30 PM, after work on 8/30/16.

Total Distance: 1,900 miles (one way)

Time allowance: (yes, without speeding):  32 hours, which would get us to the trail head before midnight the next day.

States traversed: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado

Vehicle: Honda Pilot equipped with queen size air mattress and Igloo Wheelie Cooler.

Catskills Hiking & Trail Pizza – Backpacking with our Dog

Join Sara, our dog Denali, & I for some Catskills hiking, trail cooking, backpacking, and hammock camping in upstate New York.

For this backpacking trip, we’ll be hiking and camping near Slide Mountain and the East Branch Neversink River in the Catskills, complete with a visit to the summit of Table Mountain and Peekamoose Moose Mountain.  The mileage will be low, but the star of this trip isn’t the trails.  It’s the food.  Good old, classic trail cooking.

What’s on our backpacker’s menu?  Well, Sara had a craving for some trail pizza in the middle of the woods somewhere, and I was up for the challenge.  Were we successful?  You’ll just have to come along and find out.  Either way, it’s bound to be an adventure.  😉

Full GPS data for this, as well as all of my other trips, is available on the Trip Data page.

Trailhead Used:  
Denning Rd Trailhead  N41° 57.924′ W74° 27.144′

Trails Used Day 1, in Order

Pheonicia East Branch Trail
Peekamoose Table Trail
Set up camp after second bridge (the double log one) at N41° 58.474′ W74° 25.734′
Continue up Peekamoose Table Trail towards summit of
Table Mt and Peekamoose Mountain
Lunch / Snack at summit and
Return to camp on the East Branch Neversink River

Day 1 Mileage: 7.8 miles, including summit round trip (about 3 miles each way)
Day 1 Gross Elevation Gain: 2,130′

Trails Used Day 2, in Order

Peekamoose Table Trail
Pheonicia East Branch Trail
Return to vehicle at Denning Rd Trailhead

Day 2 Mileage: 1.8 miles
Day 2 Gross Elevation Gain: 

Trip Total Mileage: 9.6 miles
Trip Total Elevation Gain: 2,276

Trail Pizza 

Boboli Pizza Crust, Individual Size – 2 Pack
Boboli Pizza Sauce Individual Pack (comes in 3 pack box)
Cabot Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded – 8 oz package (2 cups volume)
Hormel Pepperoni, pre-sliced – 6 oz package (enough for 2 pizzas, plus snacking)
Camp Cooking Gear Used for Pizza

Pair of cheap aluminum tongs (from dollar store, or whatever)
Coghlan’s Camp Grill  – rack used to hold pizza
Fozzils Bowlz (used as a plate / prepping dish / cutting board)
Sea-to-Summit Alpha Utensil Set

Denali’s First Hike – Backpacking with our Dog

Join Sara and I as we take our puppy, Denali, on his very first backpacking trip.

For this adventure, we were joined by a brand new hiking partner – our 7 month old puppy dog, Denali.  While Denali is no stranger to walking and hiking (we’ve tried to make that a regular part of his life since we adopted him at 2 months old), this will be his very first foray into an overnight backpacking trip.  Or to put it in terms from his perspective; his first time sleeping out in the woods, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, nary a shred of carpet or plush dog bed to be seen.

Denali's First Backpacking Trip Route Overview - Sintax77

Denali’s First Backpacking Trip Route Overview – Sintax77

Our chosen destination was a 14 mile loop comprised of several trails in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.  I was made aware of this trip via the super-helpful website called “Hiking Upward”.  For those of you hikers along the mid-Atlantic who haven’t heard of this site before, I highly suggest checking it out some time.  Since this was a bit of a last minute trip, coupled with the fact that it was our pup’s first time backpacking, I wanted everything to go nice and smoothly, and their detailed trip reports were a welcomed asset.

The first half of this circuit was of the higher elevation variety, consisting primarily of a ridge walk along a the Neighbor Mountain Trail, as well as a section of the Appalachian Trail.  Day two would be mostly along the Jeremy’s Run Trail.  As the name would suggest, the Jeremy’s run trail closely follows the contours of Jeremy’s Run, a stream that we would traverse 14 times before returning to the metallic confines of our car.  Below is an overview of our route, along with trailhead parking ocation and other points of interest.  For those of you interested, I recorded full GPS track data during this backpacking trip. along with campsites and other notable POI’s which can be downloaded on my Trip Data page.

Trailhead and Parking: Jeremy’s Run Trailhead N38° 44.456′ W78° 18.716′ (by Elkwallow Picnic Gound and the Wayside Store)

Trails Used Day 1 (in order)
Starting from the Jeremy’s Run Trailhead,
Take the Appalachian Trail (south)
Turn right (west) on Neighbor Mountain Trail
At intersection, turn right (east) on Jeremy’s Run Trail
Set-up camp along Jeremy’s Run at N38° 42.629′ W78° 21.913′

Day 1 Total Mileage:  9 miles (This is the mileage to the actual campsite. My solo mileage for the day, including scouting and backtracking, totaled 13.5 miles)
Day 1 Total Elevation Gain: 1,785′

Denali's First Backpacking Trip Day 1 - Sintax77

Denali’s First Backpacking Trip Day 1 – Sintax77


Trails Used Day 2 (in order)
Continue on Jeremy’s Run Trail
At intersection, continue north on Appalachian Trail
back to the Jeremy’s Run Parking Trailhead and parking area.

Day 2 Total Mileage:  16 miles (This is the mileage to the actual campsite. My solo mileage for the day, including scouting and backtracking, totaled 13.5 miles)
Day 2 Total Elevation Gain: 1,391′

Total Mileage for Trip: 15 miles
Total Elevation Gain for Trip:  3,176′

Denali's First Backpacking Trip Day 2 - Sintax77

Denali’s First Backpacking Trip Day 2 – Sintax77

Red River Gorge Revisited – Kentucky Hiking, Hammock Camping & Backpacking

Join the crew as we revisit the Red River Gorge for 3 days of hiking, hammock camping and backpacking in Kentucky.

The Red River Gorge a unique Geological Area within Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest.  This area hosts an impressive collection of natural arches (or natural bridges, as they’re often call), spread across some relatively young forest in the hills of eastern Kentucky, about 1 hour shy of Lexington. The Red River Gorge has the highest concentration of rock arches east of the Rock Mountains (over 100). This makes Red River Gorge a visually impressive hiking area, as well as one of the world’s top rock climbing destinations.

This is actually my second exploration of the RRG.  My first backpacking experience here was a solo hammock camping trip in October, a couple of years back.  On that trip, I covered more ground and saw a nice sampling of the area’s more well known arches, but helpful feedback from some of my viewers who were more versed in the area alerted me to the fact that I had missed out on some pretty cool unofficial trails and spots.  In fact, I had walk right by a few of them.  I made a mental note to get back down to the Red River Gorge some day and give it another go.

Finally, the opportunity arose for that trip, and to sweeten the deal, I managed to round up an outdoor posse for this renewed exploration the RRG. This time around, I’ll be joined by my wife as well as my friend Mike and his wife Danielle.  And while my last trip was a 2 day, higher mileage affair, we decided to extend this backpacking trip to 3 days and to drop the mileage back a bit to create a trip with more emphasis on time to relax at camp.  Actually, our night two camp site was one of the very areas that several viewers had suggested I check out on my next visit – an unofficial (but completely legal) camping spot called Hanson’s Point.  The actual point has an amazing view out into the gorge, and the nearby camping opportunities are large, flat, and nicely shaded.

The route we chose for this trip starts out at the same trailhead as my previous Red River Gorge trip video, but shortly after starting, it deviates onto an unofficial spur trail for another viewer suggested feature, called Indian Staircase.  This area offers an impressive view into the gorge as well.  It also boasts a pretty cool feature that gives it it’s name – a series of foot and hand holds carved into it’s sandstone face to assist with traversing it’s steep grade.  As the name would suggest, legend says that local Native Americans originally created these features, but who actually created these carvings remains a mystery and the source of some debate.  Regardless of the true history, it’s a very cool place and well worth checking out.  While I didn’t personally find the route overly steep or exposed, it should be pointed out that this trail could be a bit nerve wracking for some sensitive to heights.  Leaving you pack stashed at the base is certainly helpful and will save you a few ounces of sweat as well.

GPS track data along for each day’s hiking route, along with waypoints for campsites and other points of interest, can be downloaded on my Trip Data page.

Trails Used, in order (with Trail Numbers):

Park at Bison Way Trailhead 37.83685,-83.609546

Day 1
Bison Way Trail 210
Unofficial Spur Trail to Indian Staircase at GPS coordinates
Sheltowee Trace Trail 100
Cross State Road 715 and River via suspension bridge
Rough Trail 221
Set up camp along Chimney Top Creek
Stats for Day: 9.2 Miles ; 1,413 feet of elevation gain
RRGR Elevation Profile Day 1 - Sintax77

Day 2
Rough Trail 221
Hanson’s Point Spur Trail (unoffcial)
Set up near near Hanson’s Point
Stats for Day 2: 3.2 Miles ; 731 feet of elevation gain
RRGR Elevation Profile Day 2 - Sintax77

Day 3
Hanson’s Point Spur Trail (unoffcial)
Rough Trail 221 (short segment towards Sheltowee Tr )
Sheltowee Trace Trail 100
Road Hike along Red River back towards Bison Way parking area.
Stats for Day 3: 5.9 Miles ; 377 feet of elevation gain.
RRGR Elevation Profile Day 3 - Sintax77

Grand Totals for Trip: 18.3 Miles ; 2,521 feet of elevation gain