10 Gifts Under $100 For The Adventurous Person In Your Life

We all have that one friend that can’t seem to get enough of the great outdoors–but it can be so hard to find Christmas presents for them! Continue reading

Advertisements

Grey Rock, Laporte, CO

Although in the last month I have re-done a number of amazing hikes, I’ve already covered those in previous blog posts (Check out Horsetooth Falls and Arthurs Rock!). My latest (and now favorite) hike of them all is Grey Rock, located in Laporte, Colorado.

14480694_1624536047839646_7729568778050650721_o

This hike was about a twenty minute drive from my apartment, but unfortunately, the trailhead I mapped out was not the correct one. It was 4:30 am when I left, and going into the mountains at that time means absolutely no light. The trailhead I was led to had closed gates, and since I didn’t want a trespassing ticket, I headed further into the mountains in search of phone service. There is literally no service at 90% of places throughout the mountains, but if I could get some I would be able to map out a route to a new trailhead.

Whether it be fate, or getting lost in the right direction, I found the actual trailhead for Grey Rock about 7 minutes further down the road, and an open (and free!) parking lot. It was great–and proved that I didn’t get up at four in the morning for nothing. No way did I want to turn back at that point, so you can imagine my excitement when I found the real trailhead.

I wish I could tell you what the first half of the hike looked like–but walking in the middle of the forest, with only flashlights on the path in front of you at five in the morning, kind of neglects you of that courtesy. But don’t worry!

By around 6:15, I could see light peaking up over the edges of the trees and hills that surrounded us. We began to turn our flashlights off as time went on, until we were completely in light around 6:45 am. Our goal was to reach the summit of Grey Rock around sunrise (6:50 am), but we weren’t to the top until about 7:15 am.

It will take you about an hour and a half to two hours to reach the summit–keep that in mind for sunrise or sunset hikes.

So, I have to say that the view was amazing, breathtaking, awesome. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was my favorite hike by far. Whether that be that I couldn’t see all the elevation gain I was doing in the dark, or the summit’s outlook, or the whole feel of the hike itself–it made it all absolutely worth it.

On the way down, I got to see what we actually had accomplished on the way up. The hike started on a rocky dirt path, intertwining between a stream, and a majority of the time was spent on this type of trail (about one hour). Then, the path becomes more elevated, leading you to a false summit, where you then can view the actual Grey Rock in its entirety.

14446217_1624537947839456_6758110507096736274_n

Following the trail and eventual cairns, you are rock climbing to the very end. This last half mile is difficult and I suggest breaking often, as well as constantly checking that you are going in the right direction (as one wrong move might lead you off a cliff). The view is spectacular. I mean, I’ve been on top of plenty of mountains, but this one was my favorite.

I can’t wait to go back–and I hope to do that very soon!

Some tips: Bring plenty of water, bring sturdy hiking boots or shoes (that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty), bring your camera, and bring your friends!

As always, safe and happy hiking.

14468687_1624534924506425_2228833813488625923_o.jpg

Matthiessen State Park, Utica, IL

June 2, 2016

13332736_1580457072247544_2628304566302893267_n
Dogs are allowed (and encouraged!).

Having been to Starved Rock State Park already, Matthiessen State Park, just further down the same road, seemed like the next hiking day on the to-do-list.

Compared to Starved Rock, Matthiessen seems to have less elevation gain and loss as a whole, but also many more untamed trails. Starved Rock is pretty well-kept and popular, whereas Matthiessen is more of makeshift bridges made out of bridges and trucking through mud.

As a whole, Matthiessen was pretty dang cool. One thing I didn’t account for is how muddy the park was going to be, as well as the amount of water I would be walking in. I would suggest not wearing any favorite shoes or being willing to get them soaked in all the elements. If I had known earlier, Chaco’s would have been my choice.

13332852_1580457032247548_3677384646864663297_n

For this adventure day, the sun was shining and it couldn’t have been any nicer weather. For the most part, the canopy of trees provides great shade and there are multiple waterfalls to keep cool.

The first fall we visited amazingly big. It was easy to climb up and behind, as the rocks weren’t too slippery, although the water was freezing. Getting to this waterfall was a challenge, with all of us ankle-deep in mud and barefoot. Not to mention, there are plenty of creatures on the way to wonder about and if they are now sticking to your feet as you trudge through the mud. It was totally worth every second.

13327409_1580457175580867_7493402964566835047_n

From there, heading the opposite direction, a small river led us to an opening. We waded our way to the main river path and sand filled our shoes. The rest of the day consisted of us being in the company of each other, following random trails, and some great hiking. It’s easy to have fun when you get to spend the day frolicking through the woods with the people you love.

Matthiessen had some awesome secret spots to check out for sure, and I definitely wouldn’t mind going back. Although I like Starved Rock just a little bit better, Matthiessen is a very close second. And when it comes to Illinois, I couldn’t be more grateful that these two state parks are only an hour drive away.

Here’s to more hiking this summer.