We’re thrilled to share a feature we wrote (as Amy Beth and Derek) for Southwest: The Magazine, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the U.S. National Trails System for the October issue.
Click here to read Steven Lomangino's essay, "California Dreams: Yosemite’s First and Lasting Impression." The scale and magnificence of the Yosemite valley has a profound effect on a teen who is steadily gaining self-confidence and independence.
Come hike with us via our video through the three main trails of Assateague National Seashore, the Life of the Dunes, Marsh and Forest trails.
Additionally, here are some other vantages at Assateague National Seashore. Photos by Derek Wright.
For more on Assateague, read "Morning on Assateague" by Martin James Wood.
Morning on Assateague Island
The following is an edited excerpt from Wood's Journal, written by Martin James Wood. To read the original and full version, click here.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Sky: Blue, with a very thin layer of stratocumulus clouds
Air: Still, warm and humid
Precipitation: None, but it rained night before
Ground: Dry, with some puddling
Temperature: 79 degrees
Time out: Mid-morning
Temperatures are moderate and pleasant. Bursts of storms with hard rainfall are short and intermittent.
With all of the harsh news of the world, there isn’t a place to find peace… Peace of mind. But step away, and look into nature. Look deep into it...
I head out to Assateague Island National Seashore to take in some of the primitive beauty of the day. A trail leads me out to the marsh, and also runs alongside the ocean. I notice the sulfuric smell from the marsh’s salty air. In the high grass I watch a young rabbit, looking for its mother, I assume. The young rabbit appears frantic as it regards my company; also, he’s not able to locate his mother. A little later on, I can see her further down the trail, fully indulged with grazing, and savoring the grass before her. She seems to be completely unaware of both my presence and the younger rabbit’s panicked state.
Off of the trail, there are quite a lot of fallen trees lying among the tall marsh grasses, which are growing up and around the limbs. I’m sure this makes perfect cover for these rabbits. Dark brackish water lies between these little islands of cover, with high grass and remnants of felled Loblolly. The silky long appearance of the grasses, plush and soft to the eye, is a perfect contrast to the coarse and jagged bark of both the standing and prostrate piney timber that is intertwined and interwoven throughout this sandy coastal forest.
Approaching the tiny and now frantic rabbit, I crouch down, and examine him a little more closely. I lay on my belly and hold the camera out. The little rabbit, which is no bigger than my fist, seems calmer and begins to eat at the grass around him. It isn’t long before mom becomes aware of the photoshoot. I can see her notice the little one’s moving about, and I watch her as she becomes concerned, and then moves quickly toward us.
I move further along the trail. A pair of cardinals touches down beside me, as if spontaneously deciding to stop in for an informal visit. But, as quickly as the spontaneous calling had come, the couple departs, perhaps remembering an engagement of theirs, so it appears…
The marsh opens to a vast expanse of sea green grass stretching almost as far as I can see. How beautiful are the colors of the grasses and the water in between, reflecting the sky. Standing amidst these colors is a perfectly white Great Egret. With my camera in hand, I study the long necked egret as it saunters through the water, in between the tall stems of grass. Eventually she decides to take flight as well, and leaves me staring out at the marsh wanting more, more of this peace…Peace of mind.
Step away, and look into nature. Look deep into it...
Nature enthusiast Martin James Wood is an outdoor writer and blogger for The Wood's Edge. He has spent his life among the forests and woods, admiring nature with a camera and pen. His writing, artistry, and outdoor photography celebrate nature’s simplicity and beauty. A Pennsylvania native, Martin James is a loving father and husband, and a friend to our nation’s forests who believes in protecting and preserving our wild lands.
We covered a lot of ground in all five of Utah's national parks and recorded some of the pathways and vistas that enlivened us during our visit; these virtual hikes provide some immediate context for specific trails you might be considering.
This is a meandering and level walk out to the beginning of the Zion Narrows, is a 16 mile walk along the Left Fork of the Virgin RIver through a slot canyon; this is a great trail for wheelchair accessibility and a satisfying two mile walk.
As you descend from the Queen's Garden trail, the hoodoos begin to tower; perspective changes vastly — hence our vertical video. Pick up the Navajo Loop trail to hike out of the canyon on the other side.
At Capitol Reef National Park, this trail cuts across the Grand Wash canyon though part of the Waterpocket Fold, a stairstep rise in the earth's crust. Trailheads are located along the park's scenic drive and by the Fremont River on Highway 24. Rock formations are a size that defies the imagination, summoning our impressions of a prehistoric era.
In the Devil's Garden section of Arches, at the north end of the park, a spur of of the Landscape trail will take you to Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch, and then onto Landscape Arch, which at 290 feet long is the fifth longest natural arch in the world. You can continue on for views of Navajo Arch and Partition Arch; check our Utah itinerary for some unique vantages though Partition Arch.
Also from Arches, this trail moves through what appears to be an arid desert — but it is surprisingly green, with some passages that resemble grassland.
Canyonlands National Park invites contemplation; it is literally a place to take a step back and consider the passage of time, and how the slow movement of water gradually changes earth and rock.
A unique trail at Canyonlands, to the rim of a mysterious crater, there are two theories; it caused by a meteor impact or the collapse of a salt dome. The trail takes you to two lookouts, and a half-day hike will lead you all the way around the perimeter of the Upheaval Dome.
Have you hiked these trails? What are some of your favorite trails in Utah's state or national parks?