Couple at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego California

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

While in San Diego in May 2017 Alexis and I decided to visit Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for some beautiful coastal scenery and to take a few photos of ourselves as well. It took us a while to find our way there, one of the roads had been closed and we had to drive in a large circle to get to the park but it was worth it! Upon first arriving it was a very cloudy day but the sky cleared up and made for some beautiful photos.

Torrey Pines for me was just one of those places; where it’s hard to stop taking photos because everything is breathtakingly beautiful and creates a space for this feeling of calm, peace, and contentment. I wish we had spent more time here but we had to get to Balboa Park and see the dinosaurs before the Museum of Natural History closed so we did about 1.5 miles in 1-1.5 hours.

Torrey Pines is named so for the endangered Torrey Pines that are common throughout this protected landscape. We found an endless amount of lizards running around in the area during our visit.

I used a trigger release and my trip to take photos of Alexis and I anticipating a beautiful location (you can kind of see me clicking the release in some photos).

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

12600 N Torrey Pines Rd,
La Jolla, CA (near San Diego)

Trail Map
2,000 acres
No dogs, smoking, food, or drones allowed

Campground dog sleeping outside or tent all night at the Havasupai Reservation

Backpacking out of Havasupai

Saying goodbye is never easy. We found the experience no different when leaving the campground at Havasupai. We rose early to pack our things and begin backpacking out of the canyon before temperatures rose. I found Kumkuat (the honorary name we had given one of the dogs who live here) sleeping outside our tent where he had apparently been all night. Not enjoying our packing he kept trying to distract me lying on top of the tent as I broken it down trying to get me to pet him. He visited everyone while they packed trying to distract them until as we were finishing up he left.

Not eager to leave but concerned about backpacking in the full heat of the sun we set out by 6:30am for the village. The two miles to the village uphill in full sunlight with the packs weighing us down was not an auspicious start to our journey, even though it was cooler this time. We stopped for a short rest on the trail and one last viewing of Havasu Falls, here we were greeted by four sleepy dogs who had chosen the path way as their bed. They took a liking to Alexis became his companions, following him as far as the village. Before we continued on a mule train passed us along the way heading down to pick up their load.

Our last sighting of the Havasupai falls and cascades along the way was a sad and it felt like a final goodbye. As we left this otherworldly place and headed on we knew more adventures were ahead of us but that what we left behind would be sorely missed.

We all struggled through the first two miles of the hike at different paces. Meeting up again at the same village area where we had checked in. A few of our group had stopped to inquire about having mules carry the bags out, but they require 24 hour notice. The general store had frozen Gatorades, other drinks, snacks, and ice cream so we all grabbed a cold treat and continued our trek.

The rest of our journey was a struggle for most of us. Carrying our heavy packs back up out of the canyon. What is easy to forget with the excitement of the journey to Havasu Falls is how the entire path there is either slightly or significantly down hill, and more often than not involved walking on sand or little stones which makes for challenging footing. Leaving as well as having to hike uphill this time had our spirits down a bit. We often split up all moving at our own paces and stopping frequently.

When we started the final ascent, 1.5 miles uphill with switch backs, at this point in midday sun, despite it all we were relieved to be able to see the finish line. We passed frequent travelers and mule trails on this part of the trail.

After our long hike out of the canyon we grabbed snacks from a woman selling chips, candy, drinks, and hot dogs at the top then began the drive to Las Vegas, NV. Vegas was just a stop in our journey to rent a hotel, shower, and eat some real food. Then we would continue on to Zion National Park in Utah.

Trees growing out of rocks in the spring

5/15 Gooch Caves

I have some exciting news, that is also why I haven't posted in so long, last week we found out we will be moving into a new home at the end of June and have to start packing to move our of our apartment by the end of May! While we are very excited we have a lot to do very quickly so I may be short on posts for a while.

That said, this past Sunday Amanda, Wruggles, and I took a short walk at to the Gooch Cavesas Amanda called it in Hammond Pond Reservation, near Boston College and Newton Centre. We parked by the theatre at Hammond Pond and headed into the woods. We walked a bit in this part of the woods, passing climbers and other people walking their dogs, and lots of rock, trees, and swamp or marsh areas.

Walking trail in Newton, MA
A branch near the bottom of a tree turns growing into a rock

Eventually we got to the road, Hammond Pond Parkway and crossed before the train tracks. Once we crossed the street we quickly found the Gooch Caves, a bunch of rocks that had fallen and broken in ways that formed little caves. Here we explored the different caves. We found trees growing on top of the rocks and one had a branch growing out from the bottom of it that ended in rock. We also ran into a dead rabbit before continuing our walk.

Tree roots in beautiful patterns coming out of the ground
Amanda walking her dog Ruggles in the woods

As we continued to walk we decided to turn in that way that seemed to be  circle so we wouldn't get lost. We ran into a well laid path and found it lead to another parking lot, wishing to continue our walk we headed back into the woods.

Ruggles the dog hiking in the woods climbing rocks
Tree leaves blowing in the breeze

We immediately ran into more large rock formations which we followed Wruggles up. On top we found more than we expected, it was not rock alone but it's own little environment up there with lots of small trees, grass, and moss. While on top of the rocks the tops of trees were much closer but while one side of the rock seemed well above the ground the other side met it easily. If we had come from the other direction we might not have thought it was a significant rock formation.

Fallen tree with moss growth and a new tree springing from it

After we climbed down we noticed we were close to the road again but first we stumbled upon a fallen tree and saw quite literally how things return to the earth and bring new life. There was a baby tree growing right out of the fallen tree and strangely enough it was covered in wreath leaves around the bottom. Moss had also made its home all along the length of the fallen tree and it looked a bit like a path as your eye followed it along the trunk.

After spending some time here we continued back across the street again and back to the car.

Below you can see a map, taken from google, that estimates the path we took.

Google Map of walk to Gooch Caves in Newton

© 2015 Google Inc, used with permission. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

Behr and Ruggles the dogs walking around Middlesex Fells

4/10 at Middlesex Fells

As I mentioned in the previous post, this past Sunday Amanda and I took Behr and Ruggles to hike Middlesex Fells. We had planned to go out Sunday after Saturdays walk but hadn't chosen a location. Earlier in the day Sunday I had been driving by and noticed the waterfall at the Fells. Given the heavy rain that had happened recently I knew that it was likely at a high flow compared to summer and wanted to check it out before it tapered off.

So we headed out and parked on a side street off Washington St in Melrose, MA. We grabbed the dogs and walked right over to the waterfall called The Cascades and hung out for a bit. I took a bunch of photos and we just sat and enjoyed the sound of the water falling.

The Cascades waterfall at Middlesex Fells Boston
The Cascades waterfall at Middlesex Fells Boston
The Cascades waterfall at Middlesex Fells Boston

We saw a few trails that seem to head up into the park, we decided to take the unmarked trail that looked a bit like stairs heading up towards the top of the falls. Behr was always getting in front of us and had to run back to walk the same ways as us.

The Cascades waterfall at Middlesex Fells Boston
Behr the dog walking around Middlesex Fells

When we reached the top we found the stream that fed the waterfall and it was very small, hard to believe it split over the large rock and fell in so many different directions with any amount of force. We crossed a little bridge and continued our exploration. We found the trails rather quickly and decided to take the paths that always went up.

Behr and Ruggles the dogs walking around Middlesex Fells
Behr the dog walking around Middlesex Fells

We let the dogs run ahead of us so they would pull us up the hills and rocks and they had some fun. We came to a rock with a beautiful view of the Medford, Melrose, Malden areas outside of Boston and stopped for a short rest to enjoy the view.

Amanda and Ruggles the dog hiking Middlesex Fells Boston

We then climbed a few more rock and circled back to the waterfall where we enjoyed a few more quiet moments and headed back home.

Behr the dog walking around Middlesex Fells

This is a quick guess of about where we hiked in the Fells.


© 2015 Google Inc, used with permission. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

Moss, Tree roots, Rock, creating beautiful patterns at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston

4/9 at the Arnold Arboretum

This weekend I actually did some hiking/nature walks both days so I'll have two posts for you! While it wasn't the warmest weekend in this New England spring it was nice and sunny. My friend Amanda and I took our dogs, Ruggles and Behr, to the Arnold Arboretum on Saturday and Middlesex Fells on Sunday. This post will be about Saturday at the Arnold Arboretum.

We parked by the entrance to Peter Hill and decided to start there, we walked right up the hill and got a pretty view of Boston. We then wandered around the hill at a leisurely pace. While on one of the paths we found a Sequoia from Asia and I noticed some other interesting trees and a little puddle of water near by. We drifted over to take a look at the trees and the water, as we assumed it might not look the same again, the water was likely because of the recent heavy rain.

Waterhole and beautiful tree in the spring in Boston

While by these beautiful trees and their reflections in the water we ran into a little boy and his mom, he was confused by my position while taking photos. I was lying on the ground shooting up, as I often do, and he came over and said hello. We decided to keep walking after a little bit. I can be a little annoying to hike or walk with if you want constant movement as I'm always stopping to take some photos so I try not to stop for too long. The boy and his mom also continued walking and he ran right up to us and tried to say hi to the dogs. Ruggles is a little shy so Behr said hello.

After we finished walking around Peter Hill we decided to check out more of the park since we hadn't gone too far. We both hadn't realized it but the other entrance we were near featured all of our favorite spots (well, those we'd discovered before, since neither of us has seen the whole park) which was exciting. First we followed a stream a bit further down and then realized it was the location where a bridge went over the stream and there were some small rapids in the stream.

Stone pathway in the Arboretum in Boston
Moss, Tree roots, Rock, creating beautiful patterns at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston

We kept stopping to look at all the mossy exposed roots of trees by the stream. When we crossed the bridge we were happily surprised to find a hill covered in the same moss, exposed roots, and rock which made for some beautiful and very green scenery.

Moss, Tree roots, Rock, creating beautiful patterns at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston

Moss and Rock at the arboretum in Boston
Moss, Tree roots, Rock, creating beautiful patterns at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston

It was slippery to get up the hill and pretty steep so we didn't go all the way up with the dogs. After we came down we went back across the bridge and continued. We immediately came upon a favorite tree of Amanda's, that little blue flowers grow under.

Purple flowers in the spring at the arnold Arboretum in Boston
Moss, Tree roots, Rock, creating beautiful patterns at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston

And here's a silly one of Behr because he's cute.

Behr the dog having fun hiking

If you're looking to find some of the same spots we did, here's a map of our walk.

Walk in the arnold Arboretum on a map

© 2015 Google Inc, used with permission. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

Happy Dog

Hiking 3/09: Middlesex Fells

This post is a little late but since I knew I'd be missing this past Sunday's hike (March 13th) and Wednesday March 9th was going to be 70 degrees in New England I just had to go hiking. Since I didn't want to take a full day off work we stayed local. I went with my boyfriend Alexis and our dog Behr. We parked in the same parking lot as last time by Flynn Rink and used the same entrance to the park, but we turned left immediately instead of right.


Since I knew that Rock Circuit Trail gained the most elevation we took that trail. We came across a few fallen trees and bridges along the way. It was hard to get Behr to take the small bridges instead of going through the mud so he ended up a little dirty. We had Behr play around with walking on 3 different fallen trees. The first fallen tree fell right across our path and was just one normal tree. The second we found broke in a very cool way, you could walk in part of the middle of the tree by the stump. The third was a few trees attached to a large piece of displaced earth and we tried to get Behr to walk on a higher branch but he quickly lost his balance and we kept walking. We also found a tree with a hollow base and stuck Behr through the hole for some photos, I might have to revisit that tree for some other photos too!

Eventually we started gaining in elevation, and reached a higher point. At this location we stopped for a minute to give Behr some water. The moss covered rocks, the fallen pine needles, a view of only trees around us, and the breeze made for a very serene stop. Then a runner passed by us on the trail ending the spell and we kept walking. After a while hiking we decided it was getting late, and close to rush hour traffic, so we should try to find the fastest path back to our parking lot.


I pulled out my Maplets app with the Middlesex Fells Reservation Map open and tried to figure out the quickest path back was. We found the orange path which connected to the blue path was the fastest way back. We quickly found the orange path but got turned around figuring out the blue path but eventually found our way back.


Based on using My Map by Google Maps we walked about 2.7 miles in just under 2 hours. The actual walk highlighted here is a little shorter, we took a few detours by accident.

Map of our hike in Middlesex Fells

© 2015 Google Inc, used with permission. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

I used Google Maps - My  Map ( to create the above map.

Rock balancing in in woods while on a hike

Sunday Hiking: Middlesex Fells

I hope to find the time and go on some kind of hike or walk every Sunday with reasonable weather and shot a few photos, even if they aren't particularly interesting. Just to get outside, get some exercise, and play with my camera. If I stick to it you will see a hiking post every Monday. The photos here are from the first of my Sunday hikes.

For the first Sunday hike I went with my friend Rachel. We didn't have much time as we both had family parties later in the day, so we decided to stay local but go to a park we hadn't tried before. We chose a parking lot that seemed easy to find and meet at, the Flynn Rink parking lot. Of course when we got there that particular lot was very full from all the kids who play hockey, but we got lucky and there was a small lot just up the street we could park at.

Small bridge over water on the Woodlawn Trail in Middlesex Fells Reservation.

We had some trouble deciding which path to try first so we went with the one that looked like you might gain more elevation for a more challenging hike. We started by just following a trail right off the road marked in blue, called Woodland Path. We eventually came to another road through the park, Fellsway E, and decided to find a path that headed back in the direction we came.

I pulled out my Maplets app with the Middlesex Fells Reservation Map open and tried to figure out where the path marked in white, which appeared to head back the way we'd come, was. We found it quite by accident when we decided to climb some rocks for fun but we turned ourselves around and ended up by the road again. Eventually we found the correct direction to walk on Rock Circuit Trail to head back towards our parking lot.

Once we got on the Rock Circuit Trail in that area we saw a few beautiful hazy views of Boston.

View of Boston in Middlesex Fells on the Rock Ridge Trail.

Pinecones by the old Observation Foundation in Middlesex Fells Reservation

Along the way back we found part of an old stone foundation which is all that left of the old observation tower. A friend had mentioned it's existence to me previously as I am always looking for locations to shoot photos but had suggested I might not find it quickly as the park is very large. So I was pleasantly surprised we happened upon it on our first hike in the park. When we found the foundation we also found people had stopped and done some rock balancing and created a sundial here as well. While I wasn't expecting to find the foundation so easily, I really was not expecting to find more than just the foundation when I came to it. This made the area all the more intriguing and exciting to find. We stopped to take a few photos and stopped again a little further along the path when we found a grove of trees covered in pinecones.

Rock balancing in in woods while on a hike

Pinecones in a trees in Middlesex Fells Reservation

Google Map of my hike in Middlesex Fells Reservation, MA Based on my friends fitbit we climbed up 54 flights of stairs (540 feet) and based on using My Map by Google Maps we walked about 2.7 miles in just under 2 hours. The actual walk highlighted here is a little shorter, we took a few detours by accident that added about 0.3 - 0.5 miles to the trip.


Google Map of my hike in Middlesex Fells Reservation, MA

© 2015 Google Inc, used with permission. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

I used Google Maps - My  Map ( to create the above map.