Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gwern Gof Uchaf, Wales

Gwern Gof Uchaf
  Gwern Gof Uchaf - The Best Campsite Ever

I don't say this lightly

Owned by Sue and Bryan Williams this 750 acres of farmland is a little slice of heaven. The property is situated near Llyn Ogwn along the A5 halfway between Capel Curig and Bethesda.

Camping is £5 per adult per night


More info to come!

Tryfan from our tent

Sue & Bryan's House

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Corbin Cabin

Corbin Cabin
Nicholson Hollow
The Potomac Appalachian Club runs and owns several cabins scattered along the Appalachian Trail (see map here). These are all mostly primitive cabins with no running water or electricity. Most also require travel on foot to and from the cabin. Reservations can be made by calling (703) 242-0315 Mon-Wed 7-9pm or Thurs-Fri 12noon-2pm. Reservations are a two night minimum and the keys are either mailed to you or made available for pick-up at headquarters at 118 Park ST SE, Vienna, VA 22180. For more information on these cabins check out the PAC's information sheet.

So a friend of mine researched the PAC cabins and booked Corbin Cabin in Shenandoah National Park for a group of 9 of us for a weekend. This specific weekend ended up being very very cold with weather announcers over using the phrase "inclement weather." Unfortunately, the phrase "inclement weather" usually leads to Shenandoah NP closing the entirety of Skyline Drive. Even more unfortunately for us, this meant that the 1 mile hike from Skyline to Corbin was no longer an option and that the 4 mile hike from the Old Rag parking lot was our only option. This would have probably been fine if we had actually gotten on the 4 mile hike to begin with, but I read the map wrong and we got on Corbin Hollow Trail instead of Nicholson Hollow Trail. So the moral of this story is: look at your map before getting on the trail, i.e. "don't be stupid."
So we parked our car in the Old Rag parking outside of the park and hiked up to the upper lot, in the process completely missing the trailhead for Nicholson Hollow Trail which we passed up on the right (in retrospect, there is a large sign for it). So near the Old Rag Fire Road we hopped onto Weakley Hollow which connected us to Corbin Hollow Trail (which was the wrong one). Not only was this the wrong trail, but it added at least 2-3 miles onto our hike and involved an elevation gain of about 3,000 ft thanks to the nearby Robertson Mountain Trail (circled in red on the map). All in all, it was a very cold (about 18-19 degrees) and very steep hike. It took us from about 9am-1pm, but our packs were heavy and we weren't prepared for the length and elevation gain.
River Crossing

The following day hiking back we took the correct trail (Nicholson Hollow). This follows Hughes River so it is fortunately very flat, but there are at least 5-6 river crossings (green arrows on the map). In the summer or spring with Keens this would be no problem, but it was snowing and February (and the water was quite high), so a slip into the water would have been less than pleasant (and potentially dangerous). Also, crossing streams on uneven snow and ice covered boulders with 30+ lb packs on is not easy. All this being said, we did a fairly decent job and only got our feet wet [A quick tip, if you find yourself crossing streams in the winter with only one change of socks on hand, duct tape and trash bags make very good boot/tennis shoe liners]. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Stay Tuned!

Sorry folks, I've been MIA for a while, but stay tuned for a post about my Corbin Cabin adventure in Shenandoah!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring is Here!

Spring has sprung and the weather here has taken a turn for gorgeous and that means: HIKING!

Camped last weekend at Prince William Forest Park and did the Beaver Loop trail. It ended up being at least a good 9 miles and felt fabulous. Then revisited White Oak Canyon on a church retreat complete with some climbing and diving (not done by me). Today it's meant to be 80 and a friend and I opted out of Old Rag (we're tired and I need new shoes) and are revisiting the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls instead. Our last visit there was in hurricane-force winds so I'm thinking it may be a bit more enjoyable this time around.

Stay tuned for details on those trails and more! Happy Spring!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Purbeck Coast - Dorset

Just returned from some lovely camping along the coast in Dorset with some wonderful friends. Stayed at the Norden House campground which was conveniently close to hiking paths connecting to both Corfe Castle and the Purbeck Coast. Despite a 5 mile hike along the local highway at 1am, an early morning local dirt-bike competition, and some slightly rude claustrophobic nearby campers it was a wonderful time. Loads of beautiful walks, lots of picturesque scenery, and plenty of pear ciders. I swear I actually caught a glimpse of an elusive White Stag as well (though I have no camera proof). I do however have photographic proof that I was in Dorset AND that I actually have friends. So here you go:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fiordland National Park, NZ

Lake Gunn Campsite

Location: Milford Road, adjacent to SH 94, 78 km north of Te Anau.
Fee: $5.10 adult/night (no booking)
Accessible for smaller vehicles (we drove up in a sleeper van and got in just fine)
Standard Campsite: 10 tent sites, toilets (portable if I remember correctly), barbacue, picnic tables, only stream water available, no showers

This basic campsite is situated along the Te Anau - Milford Highway in Fiordland National Park on the edge of Lake Gunn.  Melita Peak and Consolation Peak form a beautiful backdrop to the lake. We parked our sleeper van here after driving and hiking through Milford Sound earlier in the day. The shore was quiet and serene with just a few other campers about - gorgeous. 

Milford Sound

 Milford Sound is  absolutely majestic. The Tasmanian sea is the mouth of this fjord on New Zealand's South Island. The sound was deemed the world's top travel destination in the 2008 Travelers' Choice Destinations Awards and is New Zealand's most famous tourist destination. Rudyard Kipling has once called it the eighth Wonder of the World and it's easy to see why. Clouds sometimes hang low shrouding the mountains in gray wisps as they rise mysteriously out of the surrounding waters. Take a cruise around the lake and you'll see waterfall after waterfall cascading down the peaks. With its unusually high rainfall, Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited area in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. The area wasn't discovered by Europeans until 1812 since the entryway from the ocean is so narrow. After its discovery it was named Milford Haven after the Welsh explorer's homeland.The Milford Track is a four day hike described by Kipling as "the finest walk in the world." It is a very well-traveled path by now and booking is required before hiking it.

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park

Deleware Seashore State Park

You know how you will sometimes research a place and after reading several bad reviews think, "Aw, people are just so harsh. It can't really be that bad!"

Lesson learned.

I took a group of friends beach camping one summer in Delaware. My park of choice (Cape Henlopen) had sadly been discovered by the rest of the world so it was completely booked. In my frantic search to find another nearby seashore beach I came across Delaware Seashore State Park. Now, in my past experiences State parks have usually proven to be quite nice and well cared for. The reviews I read mentioned nearby construction and cramped conditions, but I wrote it all off to pansy campers complaining too much and I naively assumed all construction would be halted since it was the height of beach season.


There is still ongoing construction at the Indian River Bridge and their website advises visitors to pay close attention to changing traffic patters. The campground itself was very cramped. The tent section had minimal space, little privacy and a scenic backdrop of construction vehicles. How rustic.

There are 146 family sites with water, electric, and sewer hookup, and 37 tent-only sites with no hookups. Electric, water, sewer and showers available April 1 through November 30 and electric and sewer only available year-round. Showers, laundry, ice and soda vending machines are all nearby. It's situated on the Indian River Inlet which is very scenic and made up for the campground a little.

One big issue: NO CAMPFIRES ARE ALLOWED. I'm sure it said this somewhere on the website when we were booking, but it certainly wasn't too obvious. We went into panic mode when we arrived and found it printed boldly on the campground's pamphlet since all we had for dinner was a cooler full of raw hotdogs and hamburgers. They allow BBQs if they are contained, so we bought a cheap one from a nearby WalMart. We may have pushed the envelope a bit far when we tried building a campfire within the BBQ...

Park Ranger: "Hey, there are actually no fires allowed in this park unless they are contained within a BBQ."
My brother: "Oh, but there's a BBQ under there."
Park Ranger skeptically examines the now-minor-bonfire
Park Ranger: "Yeeeeeah, um, I think this should still be put out."

There is a designated area for a group fire at the far end of the campground. The ocean is a short ways on the other side of the bridge and as long as you're facing the water you can't see the cranes and bulldozers behind you.

Pros: Close to the beach
Cons: Construction, cramped quarters, no campfires
Tips:  Reserve earlier and camp at Cape Henlopen
Rating: 1/5