We hope everyone had a great Holiday and finished 2017 with a bang. Now we turn our attention to a new year and, for us at least, this means planning our recreation!
Camped in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Moose
Apparently our 2016 plan to create a quarterly newsletter didn't work out because here we are nineteen months later and this is Newsletter #2. The same is true for our Gear Blog, Trail Reviews and Trip Reports. It's not that we don't have the time to do these things, it's we don't feel the need to make time to do them. Honestly, if we have to choose between writing this Newsletter and traveling to Nova Scotia where we can pitch our tent in a gorgeous seaside location and watch pilot whales swim across the cove while a huge moose munches fir trees behind us ... It's no contest - newsletter looses.
Now here we are at home, there are no pilot whales to be found anywhere in Montana and the house cats don't hold our interest as well as moose: Voila! Instant time to do a newsletter!
Kurt: If I had to describe Olympic National Park in a single word it would be diversity. At nearly one million acres in size I can't think of any park in the United States that contains as many protected habitats and animal species, many found nowhere else, as Olympic National Park. Starting with over seventy miles of wild coastline, traveling uphill through the only true temperate rainforest in the lower forty-eight states with bigleaf maple, sitka spruce and western redcedar, through montane and subalpine fir forests, and onto flower strewn alpine meadows with glaciers visible on not-too distant mountains, there's a lot to see in Olympic National Park.
Giant's Graveyard, Olympic National Park
This tour not only sees all the above environments, it actually takes time to experience them and I find that unusual among tours these days. Seriously, this trip wastes no time in immediately putting your feet to work getting off the roads and into these areas. Our initial hike of the trip is also our shortest, along the Quinault River, usually around four miles round trip, while the longest, past Sol Duc Falls to Deer Lake clocks in around ten miles. The two couldn't be more different experiences. Quinault Trail is a gradual climb in a rainforest dripping with mosses while Deer Lake is steeper, working it's way through montane forest to a gorgeous subalpine lake. Other days are filled with hiking to places like Third Beach and onto a coastal headland with the rock stacks of Giants Graveyard being pounded by waves, or hiking Hurricane Ridge's alpine meadows with Glacier capped peaks to the east, Canada to the north, the shiny Pacific Ocean to the west and wildflowers at your feet.
Roosevelt elk blocking our path on the Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park
I haven't even mentioned wildlife yet. Everything from banana slugs, to black bear to Roosevelt elk have been seen on these tours. On one trip last year we spent an hour after dinner watching orcas pursuing fish just offshore from our cabins at Kalaloch Lodge. Black-tailed deer often forage right outside our door at Lake Crescent Lodge. I've seen both sea otter and river otter in Olympic. Heck I've even watched gray whales breech far out to sea while I ate lunch on the beach.
Please consider joining Eve and me for Hiking Olympic National Park if you're interested in hiking this beautiful diverse National Park while staying in great lodges with fantastic food. I couldn't think of anything much better.
New Years 2018-19
Many have asked why we weren't at Old Faithful for the last New Year's celebration as this tour has been a standard for us for many years. Answer is ... we decided to alternate years with another couple. That means we are up to guide the upcoming New Years in Yellowstone trip! Nothing is carved in stone yet, I don't even know tour dates, but this trip fills within weeks of advertising so if you're interested I suggest you jump the gun and contact Off The Beaten Path today. Tell them you want the New Year's trip in Yellowstone National Park guided by Kurt and Eve.
Private Guided Tours
On a private guided tour to Rainbow Bridge National Park.
Ever think about how nice it would be to visit Yellowstone or Olympic National Parks with a full time guide accompanying just you and your friends and family? Perhaps you're interested in some of the smaller lesser known National Parks and Monuments, like Hovenweap, but find the idea of trip planning AND driving AND dealing with hotels a daunting one. Well ... Off The Beaten Path can most likely organize such a trip for you with a full time guide. Kurt spent nearly three weeks doing such trips in 2017 and will be taking two more out this year. If this type of trip might interest you drop us an email for an initial discussion and if it looks feasible, Off The Beaten Path will get involved making all the arrangements. Prices are a little greater than their regular outings but reduces on a per person basis as the number of participants increases. Think about it. Just another alternative for your valuable vacation time.
Our Personal Trips
A Canadian sunset.
Eve on trail in Nova Scotia
We often field numerous questions about what we do on our own vacations. Over the years quite a few people have chosen to follow our personal adventures on Facebook and we're always getting comments about the photos we take along the way or perhaps questions from folks who want to visit places we've been. We thought a brief mention of what we have planned for just ourselves in 2018 might be of interest as part of this newsletter. So here goes:
We will be exploring New Zealand's south island from mid-February through mid-March this year. We have reservations for three of New Zealand's most famous walks (we call them backpacks in the US). These are the Milford Track, Kepler Track and Routeburn Track. Doing these will leave us almost two weeks to explore the remainder of the island and search out interesting bird life. (Would really like to see a kiwi) The best way to follow along would be to join Facebook and follow either of our pages. We use Facebook just because it's quick, easy and doesn't take much time. There's also a chance we might start making short, rough, YouTube video journals but given our blogging history we wouldn't count on it. Anyway, New Zealand here we come.
The Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) is the reason Kurt's tour calendar doesn't have any trips between July 1 and October 1. Kurt's committed himself to attempting this 1200 mile solo hike from Olympic National Park's Cape Alava to the continental divide in Glacier National Park. The route traverses nine mountain ranges, seven National Forests and three National Parks. It promises to be quite the hike filled with highs and low, trials and tribulations, wildlife and cattle and perhaps a few pairs of shoes. Once again Facebook will probably be the easiest way to follow along on this adventure. However, Kurt is intending to video journal for himself and his family on this trip as long as the process doesn't detract from the experience. You may receive a YouTube link if that process gets underway.