Here are a few of the places I have been most recently. Hopefully when I get a little more time I can put up some actual pictures, but until then, here's a little about them and how to get to them.

Ramsey's Draft Wilderness

This small wilderness perserve is in the Shenandoah Mountains in western Virginia. It is known for its virgin hemlock forests and other wildlife which have been protected. Unfortunately, more recently wolly adelgid has been found within Ramsey's Draft, making it likely the hemlock could be killed within the next four years. I definitely would recommend visiting it for a day or two and here's a little about my two day trip.

Although the weekend I went started out a little rainy, the area was beautiful and the rain may have added to the experience. Two of my friends and I started hiking the trail back through the valley where the trail winds back and forth accross the river, sometimes making it difficult to find. As we reached the back of the valley and began the gentle ascent, the rain had stopped and the sun finally came out. The undergrowth steamed as the sunlight filtered through the trees, making beautiful columns of light. We moved on to Hardscrabble Knob for a great afternoon view and then found our way back on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail. Its a little hard to find a campsite away from the trail along the ridge, but after spending the night there, we had a short hike the next morning back to the trailhead.

This loop was about ~12 miles, and there is also a shorter (about 4 mile) loop using Jerry's Run Trail. The loops also make it easier to bring only one car. The trail crosses the river several times, so expect to get your feet somewhat wet, especially soon after it rains. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club offers good directions for getting there and an online map of the trails.

Holy Cross Wilderness

Among the 160 miles of trails within this western Colorado wilderness area, there are many beautiful trails and loops for backpacking. There are several 14,000 foot mountains in the area and the valleys offer easier hikes through meadows and patches of snow.

The orginal plan had been to go up Cross Creek Trail and return on Fancy Pass Trail, but there is still snow on the passes until late July. Following Cross Creek, it passes the Mount of the Holy Cross, named after a permanent snow field in the shape of a cross visible on its side which is about where we stopped for the first night after an early afternoon start. The trail then leads into Reed's Meadow which is a long and wide glaciated valley with very easy hiking, patches of snow and wildflowers along with several cabins, a mill and reminants of the area's mining history. At the end of the valley, the trail climbs turns and climbs steeply above the treeline to Treasure Vault lake, where the trail intersects the Fancy Pass and Missouri Lakes Trails. In mid-July, these passes where still covered with snow. We camped at the end of the meadow the second night, and since we didn't have equipment for backpacking through the passes, we decided to make a day-hike out of the trail over the Missouri Pass. Here, at around 12,600 ft we had a beautiful view of both the Missouri Lakes and Reed's Meadow before we made our way back down the Cross Creek Trail.

The area was virtually deserted mid-week dispite the fact it is only miles from I-70 and Vail. It offers some beautiful trails, which are relatively easy except for some wet areas and the passes that can be snow-covered. Great Outdoor Recreation Pages gives a good description of Holy Cross Wilderness Area and directions and summaries of several of the trails along with the names of necessary trail maps.

More trips and photos will hopefully be up soon.
Last updated: 12/27/98