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Entries about murktravels

2019 14ers - Blanca - Colorado USA

more hiking up tall mountains

rain 60 °F
View 14ers 2017+ on MurkTravels's travel map.

Blanca

This peak is part of potentially 4 that one could down in southern Colorado near the Great Sand Dunes. Again, this is a hike that I needed the 4Runner. There's 7 miles of road up to a lake to where the real hiking trail begins. I drove about 4 miles of the road before it got really rough - the truck could have handled it, but my off roading experience isn't quite up for that challenge yet. We camped out overnight in a protected pull off site and starting early the next day.

Even a 6 am start was tough going to cover the 3 miles of rough rock road, and then another 4 miles up what is basically a big pile of rocks. There were definite steep drops off some cliff faces, and exposure to high winds as we climbed up a ridge to the top. One section was pretty much boulder climbing and many minutes I just laid low and hung on to whatever rocks were closest.

The goal for the day was to also do Ellingwood, which shares part of the same approach, and there's a ridge connecting the too. However, we were exhausted, it looked even tougher to climb and we couldn't find where the path split off (remember that it's a pile of rocks with a rock path going up it and piles of cairn rocks to guide your way, so it's tough to spot which are the real rocks to follow). Later, we're glad we headed down early as we got a downpour of water for the last 2 or so miles of hiking. What a fun challenging hike, one of the toughest ones I've ever done.

Relive video of the hikes

Grays & Torreys link: https://www.relive.cc/view/vr63JEV23dO
Blanca link: https://www.relive.cc/view/vRO7GpVG5KO

Pictures

see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums
and 14ers album

One of the easier sections of the road to the trailhead. This is after we parked, and didn't see any vehicles after this point.
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Chasing the sun up the mountain
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One of the many lakes we hiked by
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Climbing up Blanca's ridge, with Ellingwood in the background
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Proof at the top
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Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 18:24 Archived in USA Tagged me waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises mountains lakes trees snow nature hiking colorado lake sunrise sunsets usa rockies hike denver roadtrip 14er murktravels 2019 Comments (0)

2019 14ers - double take - Colorado USA

climbing the Gray-Torrey duo

sunny 60 °F
View 14ers 2017+ on MurkTravels's travel map.

Gray's & Torrey's

These twin peaks are a somewhat close drive from Denver, but I heard horror stories of the road leading from the highway to the trailhead. If you don't have a high clearance 4WD, then it's another 3 miles each way before and after your hike. These are a couple easier hiking options, but I didn't ever want to add 6 or more miles of gravel road walking. Now that I have the 4Runner, Chris and I decided to knock these peaks off the to do list.

A semi early departure of about 5 am got us to the road. It certainly was rough, but did see some lower cars made it up part of the way. They must have some adventurous drivers. We got near the trailhead for parking and saw quite a few people had camped there over night. Good idea for future trips. The most used path up to either peak is straight forward and has a consistent up hill grind. There's also a Kelso Ridge route option that gets more into class 3 to 4 rock climbing, but we decided to wait on that for a future trip.

The most exciting part of the trip was on the way down. We had to cross a snow field. Previously hikers had crossed and worn down a path, enough so that we could slide down part of it but on a gradual descent section on the trail. We thought that was it, but next saw some people just off the trail, sliding straight down the mountain in a valley. What I came to learn was 'glissading'. Before I knew it, Chris jumped into the snow and started sliding down too. So I followed. It was slick, steep, and scary. We slid for several hundred feet, and then dropped off a ridge and onto an even steeper part. It took a few minutes to probably drop down 700-800 feet of elevation. Quite thrilling, and only ended up with some soaked pants and jackets.

Relive video of the hike

Grays & Torreys link: https://www.relive.cc/view/vr63JEV23dO
Blanca link: https://www.relive.cc/view/vRO7GpVG5KO

Pictures

see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums
and 14ers album

the moon is still out
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the sun is on the way
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view farther into the Rockies
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celebrate
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at the top
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an easy section to walk/slide down
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the steep section we glissaded down - you can't even make out the few little specks of people at the top or the path we slid down
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Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 18:18 Archived in USA Tagged me trees snow nature hiking colorado sunrise usa hike denver challenge 14er murktravels 2019 Comments (0)

the Great Sand Dunes National Park 2019 - Colorado USA

highest sand peaks in all of North America

sunny 100 °F

sand everywhere

We went down to southern Colorado to check out a strange natural phenomenon. First, there's just this great big pile (30 square miles) of sand sitting in the middle of a circle of mountain ranges. But in May, June, and July, the melting snow runoff creates a temporary river right beside the sand. And there's some 4WD only off-road paths to take, which made the 4Runner happy.

But be warned, the water also brings out the bugs for those months too. and the sand gets HOT during mid day, so the best dune hiking is early morning or late afternoon. We also were lucky to even get a camping spot at the national parks campground. I checked 6 months before our trip and they were all sold out except for a few spots. We even had to move between sites the two nights we were there (luckily they were close).

And it was HOT during our stay (got to 100 degrees), so make sure to have shade and plenty of water. Good time to take a nap in the middle of the day in the tents and then drive around a bit in the vehicle with the A/C blasting.

Recommend:

  • bring water to hike up the first peaks of the dunes (will take about 2 hours)
  • reserve your campsite as early as possible ... or check out campgrounds that are outside the park
  • bring bug spray and sunblock
  • enjoy the river during the spring/summer months
  • if going off-road, make sure you have a high clearance 4 wheel drive (not AWD) vehicle and a way to deflate and inflate your tires
  • cardboard and regular sleds don't work to slide down the sand, but there's a place that rents boards just south of the park entrance

Pictures

see more on Facebook Murk Travels - National Parks album

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Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 12:26 Archived in USA Tagged mountains hiking colorado usa camping nationalparks murktravels 2019 Comments (0)

Nagoya 2019 - Japan

one stop

overcast 55 °F
View Japan 2019 on MurkTravels's travel map.

light show

We didn't spend much time in Nagoya. Got in late one night and left early the next morning, but there was one reason we went. South of town, there's Nabana No Sato. For a couple months each year, this is a cherry blossom and festival Christmas lights extravaganza. We saw, by far, the most and biggest showing of cherry blossoms in the gardens of the site. There was also so many lights. It included sections of long tunnels of lights, tree covered lights, water shows, and a whole set of lights that was set to music and had moving images covering historic parts of Japan. It had a big section shaped like Mt Fuji. Very entertaining.

Japan Trip
Tokyo
Kyoto and Hakone
Nagoya
Osaka

Light Show Videos

Nabana No Sato Mt Fuji
Nabana No Sato Light Walk Tunnel

Trip Map

Pictures

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Murk Travels - Japan album
see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums

Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 03:07 Archived in Japan Tagged japan asia murktravels 2019 Comments (0)

Ramen and Sushi tour : Tokyo 2019 - Japan

Shibuya and Shinjuku

overcast 60 °F
View Japan 2019 on MurkTravels's travel map.

Our trip to Japan involved packing in as much as we could. So in 10 days, we checked out multiple areas of Tokyo, Kyoto, Odawara, Hakone, Nagoya and Osaka. We experienced authentic and historic Japanese culture as well as their more modern advantages.

just a bit of Tokyo

We started and ended our trip in Tokyo, since that's where we flew into and out of. So there were a couple days right after we landed where we checked out the most popular neighborhoods ... out of the 30+ that we got recommendations on or heard about. There's plenty to see and do in this mega-city for several trips.

The first night was the arrival around 8pm. I had to find a bus from the Narita airport (a little farther away from the city center than the Haneda Tokyo airport) into the main Tokyo station. We stayed in the Hanzomon area. There's not a lot going on there, but it's close to a lot of where we wanted to go. It's very convenient to get a local suica metro card to ride all the trains between neighborhoods. Also, get a local sim card (with unlimited data) from stores in the airport, or most metro stations. It helped a ton with directions, websites, translations, and train schedules.

The first full day we spent checking out Shibuya and Shinjuku neighborhoods just a little west of central Tokyo. They are both large areas with huge metro stations. We walked through the Shinjuku Gyoen national park and botanical gardens to see the start of the cherry blossom season. Close to that is Yoyoji park with the Meiji shrine. While there we saw a traditional Japanese wedding, followed the local customs with fountains to cleanse the evil spirits, and made wishes into the great unknown. We finished off the day with some crazy entertainment at the Robot Restaurant.

Robot Restaurant is a type of story told with humans, robots, lasers, and a number of other secrets. Yep, it's specifically over the top touristy, but it's worth it for a unique take on the culture.

The second day involved getting our breakfast extra fresh at the Tsukiji fish market and visiting the shopping mecca in Ginza, before catching a ride on a bullet train to our next destination (check out the Osaka, Kyoto, and rural Japan posts).

A week later we came back to Tokyo and had a few more partial days. That included a trip out to the Odaiba man made island of entertainment where we saw a statue of liberty replica, the amazing Team Labs Borderless exhibit, and plenty of shopping. I had an extra day after Sharon left and checked out Asakusa for the temple, markets, and river walk.

Borderless labs is a huge warehouse of multiple rooms of a diverse range of interactive art. Some you physically crawl and jump on, others you draw and visually interact, and others are nature based moving images. I don't want to spoil it for anyone that goes, but it is a MUST DO.

Of course the city is famous for it's ramen, sushi, and a ton of Michelin rated restaurants. We tried a lot of local food places and they were all delicious. Other sites and activities we saw included: the Shibuya scramble/crossing which is said to be the busiest pedestrian intersection, the observation floor at the Tokyo Government center, an izakaya (bar) alley for locals, walking through Yanaka (old school Tokyo), Ueno park, Akihabara electronics nirvana, shopping in Omote-sando and Harajuku, and catching more cherry blossoms by the Meguro river walk.

Recommend:

  • Team Labs borderless
  • Robot Restaurant
  • any of the green spaces in the city : Yoyogi park, Gyeon gardens, imperial gardens
  • eating at the fish markets, or any of the local noodles and sushi places
  • Asakusa sites

Japan Trip
Tokyo
Kyoto and Hakone
Nagoya
Osaka

Videos

Robot Restaurant neon dance
Robot Restaurant dance
Borderless Labs crystals
Boderless Labs lamps

Trip Map

Pictures

Gyeon national gardens
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endless city skyline
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liberty replica
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Robot Restaurant
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Borderless labs
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Murk Travels - Japan album
see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums

Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 18:54 Archived in Japan Tagged art trains tokyo japan travel asia murktravels 2019 Comments (0)

Europe 2017 - Belgium

the great European chocolate hunt

overcast 50 °F
View Peace & Chocolate (Europe) 2017 on MurkTravels's travel map.

Europe 2017

A continuation of pictures from the spring trip to Europe.
See the previous article for more info and pictures from the Netherlands .

map

pictures

All travel and events albums on Facebook : Murk Travels albums
Belgium Album
Netherlands album

Belgium sites:

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Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempted at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 13:25 Archived in Belgium Tagged europe belgium 2017 murktravels Comments (0)

Europe 2017 - Netherlands

the great European flower hunt

semi-overcast 70 °F
View Peace & Chocolate (Europe) 2017 on MurkTravels's travel map.

Europe 2017

Decided to explore around western Europe. The trip lined up with a friend also traveling away from that same region. So I got to house sit for a few weeks in The Hague, Netherlands. I took the time to visit some other close cities too.

The Hague is an absolutely incredible city. There are plenty of personal and public transit options (big trains, light rail, bus, bike, walk) to get around easy. The city is home to several buildings and museums related to world peace. Somewhat related, it's home to the world court that handles disputes between international countries. You can walk through parks, go out to the beach community, or explore the main metro area that has a range of old castles, new age buildings, and all the hippest coffee shops. I grabbed some local delicious food, both at a farmers market as well as with fast food and the cities finest restaurants.

For some day trips, I checked out Antwerp and Brussels in neighboring Belgium. Antwerp has an incredible train station with gold everywhere. The local shops are known for their jewelry and chocolates. Brussels has Grand Place, Delirium, mini-Europe, the Atomium, and lots of cool architecture.

Another trip was farther north into the Netherlands to check out Leiden. It's a smaller city with a castle and city square where locals hang out. But the big attraction in the spring is the surrounding farms and the Keukenhof gardens to see the tulips blooming. Also checked out the main metro cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

These two little countries are an amazing region of Europe, and one of my favorites.
Continue to the next article for the Belgium pictures.

map

pictures

All travel and events albums on Facebook : Murk Travels albums
Belgium Album
Netherlands album

Netherland sites
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Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempted at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 13:19 Archived in Netherlands Tagged museums chocolate beer history netherlands europe belgium 2017 murktravels Comments (0)

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