Saturday morning we set off to hike in the Charon's Garden Wilderness Area. We had our sights set on finding the rock climbing areas in the Refuge. Several folks had told us that these were beautiful areas and Mr. Goofy definitely wanted to scope them out for future climbing trips.
We had to drive to the trailhead. We packed up our climbing shoes and harness and looked for the marker for the trailhead. We found a picnic area with some parking and lots of activity. "This must be it!" we thought.
We estimated that we would be at the climbing areas in about 30 minutes. Easy peasy, right?
From the map, it looked like we could head down the Elk Mountain trail and at some point there would be a branch to the right that would take us to the other trail and the climbing areas.
Stupid map. If Dora had this map, she would never make it to Tallest Mountain, that's for sure.
We hiked and hiked, gradually gaining elevation. At some point, we forgot to keep looking for a rightward branching trail. In hindsight, the hike was pretty great - lots of interesting terrain and enough rocks to keep you on your toes.
About 45 minutes later, we realized that we were NOT on the right trail, we were NOT headed to climbing areas, but rather the top of Elk Mountain. Gah!
Since we were already committed, we went ahead and summited Elk Mountain (probably about an hour's hike total). It was beautiful!
You see, most mountain tops are small. You summit, look around, take the obligatory "I made it to the top...see?" photos, then you head down.
But this summit was HUGE...spatious and beautiful. Lots of gigantic, round rocks, that we joked looked like whales, hippos and giant eggs. We probably spent another hour on top of the mountain, just exploring, taking pictures and climbing on rocks.
And we accidentally snuck up on this bison. He must have taken the wrong trail too!
NOTE: For WAY better pictures, taken by someone who actually knows what he is doing, check out Mr. Goofy's pics at Adventure Bound.