Sunday, March 3, 2019

Jim and Barb Go on a Hike!

Palo Duro Canyon. In the flat lands of Texas it is the last thing you would expect to see is a 120 mile 800 foot deep canyon filled with deer, turkey and other wildlife. “Palo Duro” is Spanish for “hard wood” in reference to the Juniper trees throughout the park.  There are several campgrounds within the park. Last year we stayed in the Mesquite Campground, this year we opted for the Juniper Campground. Site 108 and 107 to be exact.
Site 108

Site 107

With our Texas Parks Pass we paid $26/night for 3 nights and $13/night for 2 nights. Forget internet or cell once you are in the canyon. You will have to drive up to the top to check voicemails and emails.
Cloudy day in the canyon
We were anxious to hit the trails and do some hiking so we hit the trails shortly after we got set up. We started out in the lowlands with a nice easy hike and since all the trails here are dog friendly we decided to bring them along. The Juniper Riverside Trail winds along the bottom in the middle of Park Road 5 loop.
Headed down Juniper Trail

They even did some rock climbing!
We followed that for about a mile then cut across the road to the Juniper Cliffside Trail back to our campsite.  The dogs were panting like crazy when we got back, guess we need to break them in a little slower!0058 0078
So glad to be home!
We saw lots of Roadrunners!
The next morning Barb and I started out on the Lighthouse Trail full of energy.
It was a brisk 26 degrees, the trail is rated as moderate and follows along a wash much of the way. 0084
As we were going down the trail we tried to remember the last time we were hiking. Not counting our walks on the beach, we counted back the weeks. Florida, no hikes. Pennsylvania, no hikes. North Dakota, no hikes. We found ourselves coming up with August 30th when we hiked in Custer State Park with Dino and Lisa. A couple days short of 6 months ago!

As we walked along we started talking about past hikes. What was our favorite hike? What was our most challenging hike? What hike do we really want to do that we have not done yet?

We had a hard time picking out our favorite hike. We kept going back and forth between a handful of hikes that made the top of our list. Each one was memorable for its own reason; beauty, scariest, most challenging…… in the end we did not come up with our top hike but instead came up with our top 6. The links will take you to the blog posts of that hike with more details and pictures.

For beauty Kanarraville Falls/Spring Creek Trail in Utah is hard to beat. It is not a well-known hike but it is one we will never forget as much of it is in a narrow slot canyon that you have to hike through water. It’s okay, your feet go numb after a while and you don’t even feel the water!
Kannaraville has two ladder climbs
The second ladder climb
The first time we saw pictures of Antelope Canyon we knew we wanted to take this hike. We debated whether this was really a hike or a tour, you could argue both sides. One thing you cannot argue is its beauty.
You cannot beat the beauty in Antelope Canyon!
For daring, there are two hikes that come immediately to mind. Picacho Peak and Angels Landing in Zion. Both are considered difficult hikes with cliff edge sections where a wrong move and send you plummeting several hundred feet.
Picacho Peak from afar
What Picacho looks like up close
Angels Landing, that is the parking lot waaaay down there!
Barb headed down the Angels Landing Trail
We tend to gravitate towards these types of daring or unique hikes and are glad we did them but would probably never do them again. This is what led us to a particular hike in Lake Mead. We were turned onto this trail by our friends Steve and Joan as we had never heard of it, in fact I still don't know the name of it. Starting out we did know of what it entailed but it quickly became one of our top hikes. It had a combination of rope climb challenges and beauty that led it to make our list
Going down on of the ropes
And up another!
Our most challenging hike was surprising to us. We don’t know if it was truly this challenging or if we were just out of shape but either way Sheep’s Creek Trail in the Yukon kicked our @sses! This 5km trail ascended 1,400 feet with some very steep sections requiring us to stop for a breather every 50 to 100 yards. We wanted to turn back several times but finally made it to the end.
Views on the way up Sheep's Creek
Incredible views!
But back to the hike at hand; Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro is the most popular hike in the park. This 6 mile round trip trail starts out near the top of the Park Road 5 loop at the bottom of the canyon. The trail guide tells you that it is 2.7 miles to the end of the trail.
We are headed to those two pinnacles
The trails in the park are well marked with both the trail name and mileage markers. 0090
What they don’t tell you is that 2.7 miles is the end of the established trail and that it actually goes on for about another ½ mile up some steep grades with some scrambling required before you actually get to the lighthouse formation.
The trail narrows and gets steeper

Almost there!

Just a few more feet!
Made it!

View from the top

Looking for handouts
The next day we chose the CCC Trail which starts out at the Visitors Center and winds 1 ½ miles down the canyon to the Amphitheater.

It was 37 degrees when we started our decent. Although the trail is rated as difficult we did not think it was that hard at all. The most difficult thing is navigating around the constant golf ball to baseball size rocks in the trail. Definite ankle rollers so you had to be careful.
You had to watch your footing most of  the way

Along the way there are several CCC built bridges and three geocaches, Barb found each of them and even left one of her precious travel bugs!
These bridges were built in the 1930's

Found it!
About a mile into the hike you have the option of carrying on to the Amphitheater or turning onto Goodnight Peak Loop. We chose the peak loop which took you to another overlook of the canyon.
Beautiful vistas throughout this park! After exploring the peak area a bit we hiked the mile and a half back up to the Visitors Center to our truck, the total trip took about 2 hours.
Barb contemplating her upcoming birthday
Saturday was moving day as someone had our site for the next few days so we move across the road to site 107. It was also winterizing day as Saturday night was forecasted for teens, Sunday was not going to get above freezing and Monday we head north to the frozen tundra.
Ready for the deep freeze!
So we are winterized for the foreseeable future. Looking at the long range forecast for Pringle, we are hoping to de-winterize about the 15th of March, hopefully sooner.  

Although none of these hikes made our top 6 it was nice to get out on the trails. Two hikes that are at the top of our “someday” list are The Narrows in Zion and hiking the Grand Canyon from rim to floor. I am sure there are other equally as beautiful hikes but they are not on our radar at the moment. If you know of any “must hike” trails please send us a note so we can get them on our list!

Sunday was a big day is it was Barb’s birthday! I probably shouldn’t tell you exactly how old she is but I will say it was a milestone birthday! How did we celebrated? I took her to Amarillo for a day of fun!
Nothing but the best for my Barb on her birthday!
After that fun we went to The Texan Steakhouse. The weather was a bone chilling 10 degrees with a little snow. We better get used to it!
Tomorrow morning we pack up and hit the road pointing the rig towards Nebraska. It was a good decision staying the extra couple of days as the lows in Pringle are -12 and -14 last night and tonight. When we get there Tuesday we will be basking in highs in the 20’s and lows around 0. Time to break out the shorts!


  1. Stay warm ... we hover at around 23F overnight and up to about 41 during the day right now ... really cold for us here on the island. We could be about 48 to 55 during the day and only 40 overnight. We still have frozen snow on the ground which is unheard of for more than a week. We have had snow on the ground for a month. I see though that in 2 weeks we will finally warm up. Yeah. Then hopefully the fish will be out so Ray can go fishing.

    1. It seems like it is cold eveywhere! The temps in Pringle SD this time of year should be in the 40's instead it is single digits. Looks like it will get back to normal in a week or so.

  2. Happy belated Birthday to Barb! She sure had a clean start to a new year ;-) Thanks guys for taking us along the hike to Palo Duro Canyon. I enjoyed the vistas and nice pictures. You are an inspiration.

    1. Barb was just thrilled to celebrate her birthday doing laundry! Despite that we had a great day and are now on our way north.

  3. Happy Birthday Barb!
    Since you winterized, I assume you will have to stay only at campgrounds all the way to ND? We are hoping not to freeze up here in PA! Won’t be over freezing for almost a week! Single digit lows for 3 nights in a row! We have our furnace, electric heaters (including one in the basement) and a halogen lamp outside (for the fresh water intake area). Worst case we go inside til things thaw. Safe travels!

    1. We are doing our trip to SD in only two days. 9 hours one day and 4 hours the next. We hope to get up to our RV spot on our property where we can at least plug into electric.

  4. Oh my God! that is so cold hiking at the Lighthouse! It also took us some effort to find the trail leading to the top, it must be a secret. You guys are hardy folks but because you are on a mission the freezing cold won't bother you :)
    I used to post about our top ten hikes, but two years later I gave up, we have done so many hikes that rating them is getting difficult and we have too many favorites.
    If you find yourself in Grand Junction, CO try Mt Garfield, it is short but strennuos perhaps similar to the Sheep Creek Trail you did in the Yukon.

    1. We had no idea that the Lighthouse Trail continued beyond the 2.7 miles until we got to the end and saw a trail going into the bush. It was very confusing trying to find the right trail but we figured it out!

      A couple people have mentioned Mt. Garfield, we will have to check that one out.

  5. You are much braver than us. We did the Narrows when we were in Zion, but Angels landing looked too scary. We love Palo Duro. Happy Birthday, Barb!

    1. There are a couple of sketchy spots on Angels Landing but you can do it and will not regret it. It has always been too cold to do The Narrows when we were there. Someday!

  6. Happy birthday, Barb! At least he took you to a nice laundromat. 😊

    Dakota looks like Mufasa on the tip of Pride Rock.

    1. It was a struggle getting Dakota up on that rock but she eventually did it all by herself!

  7. One of the most challenging for us was the Sand dunes in Colorado. That was brutal. Also Mt. Garfield in Grand Junction. I think it is still too early to be up north. Just saying. Happy Birthday Barb!

    1. I bet those Sand Dunes would be killer, I think we will stick to more solid ground.

  8. Lower Calf Creek falls Escalante,UT. Hike to a large 126' waterfall oasis in the middle of a desert Canyon. It's an easy hike (5miles RT) with great scenery on the way. There are old Indian ruins on the cliff walls and petroglyphs to see. Best part is you can take a dip under the water fall to cool off.

    1. Lower Calf Creek sounds like it is right up our alley, we will have to check that one out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Great Hikes that you will always remember.
    Happy Belated Birthday Barb!
    I think our cold weather days of wearing shorts is over.
    Be Safe and pull on the Woollies to keep warm.

    It's about time.

    1. I actually bought some flannel lined jeans at Cabela's here in Sidney NE tonight. I think I will stick with those!

  10. All that hiking looked wonderful! I'm adding that waterfall/ladder hike to our UT list in case it works out. Nice birthday dinner choice! Next time you're near Apache Junction, you gotta hike Flatiron!!

    1. You will love the Kanarraville hike! I remember reading about you doing the Flatiron hike, that sounds like another challenging one.

  11. Happy Birthday Barb.
    Great hikes, much more daring than I am.
    Hope it warms up fast for you folks heading to the frozen tundra. Safe travels.

  12. Hmmm, Palo Duro may need to go on our list of possibilities when we head north at the end of the month. Looks like a great spot.
    I hope you were kind enough to at least help Barb with the laundry and not just take pictures of her doing all the work!
    Safe travels back to SD.

    1. ummm, ya, I helped! If you have time you would really like Palo Duro.

  13. Beautiful country, we did to head back west:)

  14. Happy Birthday Barb love the area you were hiking safe travels and keep warm.

  15. You have been on some great hikes for sure. I'm still angry I didn't finish Angels Landing and we have to see Antelope Canyon, we were close but not this time. The current hike looks awesome too, good find. Hope everything is going well in the colder weather. Looks like a challenging forecast! We start our slow roll north on Friday but not to Alberta until the weather doesn't hurt my face lol.

    1. Well, you better slow down as we worked outside yesterday and our cheeks were burning by the end of the day!

  16. Palo Duro is an interesting park. We visited at the opposite end of the thermometer! It was close to a 100 when we were in Amarillo so we only did a day trip to Palo Duro and did a short four miles earlier in the day. You certainly have some chilly weather going on. Love, love the dog photos!!! So cute!

    1. There were warning signs everywhere about hiking in the heat, bringing water and sunscreen. We would much rather hike in cooler weather than those temps!

  17. We are missing real hiking, haven't had any since early October. Next time at PD I want to try some of these other hikes. Happy Belated Barb!!! Safe travels, stay warm.