Field Trip - Inks Lake State Park

 texas never ceases to amaze us. 

with the water levels of our normal haunts forever dwindling we set out in search of something new.

driving through the winding roads of the texas hill country we came to a vista and before us lay inks lake, one of the bigger bodies of water we've seen in the past few years. surprisingly this lake is almost untouched by the multiple year drought that we are currently in the midst of. 

boats, canoes and kayaks making their way through the middle of the lake, swimmers lining the shores, and tree covered peaks in the distance. it was actually a scene quite reminiscent of lake winnipesaukee in new hampshire where we both grew up. 

we made our way to devil's waterhole where we spent the afternoon jumping off the surrounding cliffs and basking in the big texas sun. 

 inks lake is only an hour outside of town and yet this was our first time there, it is truly inspiring and surprising that texas has so much to offer. even after two years full of exploration there is still so much of this big state that we have yet to discover and experience.

National Park Road Trip - Day Seven

 day seven; black canyon of the gunnison and mesa verde national parks.

we arrived in colorado right after sun down the night before and would already be in new mexico before sunset of day seven. spending less than twenty four hours in such a beautiful state almost seems criminal, but so it goes. the day started in the misty morning dew as we packed up the tent we had hastily set up a mere eight hours ago in the woods of the black canyon of the gunnison national park. 

we spent the morning hiking the rim trails of the canyon, an endless sea of green in front of us as far as the eye could see. a sight that reminded us of our childhood in the woods and mountains of new hampshire. and something that we haven't seen in two years as we've been fully immersed in exploring the dry and arid landscape of texas and the southwest.

driving out of the park was like entering a postcard. surrounded by rolling hills lush with pine trees, snow capped peaks can be seen in the distance and running parallel with our path is a roaring river fueled by the spring sun hitting those peaks that we are headed towards. 

we drive up and down through the hills, the uncompahgre national forest on our right and the san juan national forest on our left. the hours fly by as we take turns behind the wheel so we both get a chance to get lost in the allure of the mountains

before we know it we are already pulling into mesa verde national park. after a brief chat with a ranger we decide which tour we are going to take and make our way over to the ancient cliff dwellings.

by four o'clock we are already back on the road. with the car pointed south we head towards new mexico.

National Park Road Trip - Day Six

day six; arches national park and island in the sky district of canyonlands national park.

waking at the crack of dawn we hit the road under a star filled utah sky. racing our way through the empty roads of arches national park trying to beat the sunrise. we pull into a near empty parking lot as the first rays of the day begin to illuminate the bright orange sandstone; beautiful in any light, but especially so in the golden morning shine. 

grab our packs. quickly look at a trail map. go go go, up the rocky plateau after a mile and a half the view opens up and below us lay an amazing labyrinth of smooth sandstone curves and monolithic arches. in the distance we spot what we were looking for, the delicate arch. we head towards the famous landmark and are quickly able to take some photographs and talk with the three other people who made the early morning trek, we all sat in morning glow admiring what the elements had created. 

by time we were heading from our first stop to explore the rest of the park there were hoards of people coming up the trail from a now full parking lot, a few even questioned to us "how much further" and "how close are we" less than one hundred feet from where they had started. 

with the mid day sun beating down on us we head to the second entrance of canyonlands national park, the island in the sky district. while this park is filled with breathtaking arches, domes and overlooks, we were on a mission to find what they call the "false kiva". a kiva is a subterranean stone circle used by ancient puebloans for religious rituals. our destination is called the false kiva as it is not underground, but instead tucked in a cave within the canyon wall. 

the false kiva is not located on the park map and there are no signs or plaques indicating where or what it is, but if you know about it and ask a park ranger they are obliged to give you pointers on how to find it.

we started on our way by hopping over a wooden barrier and began to follow the lightly beaten path down into the canyon. while parts of the trail had been blazed much of the second half was rambling over loose boulders and rocks, the only indication that we were headed in the right direction were the cairns placed along the way by explorers past. as we approached the wall i knew we were getting closer, but i still couldn't believe that someone had found this place years ago. as you look up from the canyon floor it is nearly impossible to tell that there is a cave above you, let alone the stone structure that we were seeking.

we basked in the solitude of our find. spending a considerable amount of time taking in the sweeping view of the canyon below perfectly framed by the cave we were sitting in. reading the register inside the false kiva it is obvious that many have been here before, but we still had this feeling of discovery. within a national park that sees half a million visitors a year, we were alone.