August 26, 2014

The Roman Ramblers Hike in Utah

The Roman Ramblers were called the "Chicks with Sticks" while hiking in Utah.  

Six Roman Ramblers traveled to Park City, Utah earlier this year for the hiking trip of a lifetime.  The Roman Ramblers is a group of ladies from Rome, Georgia, who like to hike, eat, and shop (not quite sure of the order). The trip was full of all three activities, but most important, we enjoyed some wonderful hiking in the beautiful state of Utah, known for its diverse landscape and many outdoor opportunities.

Each Rambler contributed her own special talent whether it was planning, navigating, driving, trail research, photography, or meal planning. Hear is a glimpse of our hiking trip to Utah:

After arriving at Salt Lake City, we picked up our rental car and drove to our accommodations for the week, the Westgate Resort, in Park City.  Here is more information on the resort.  

Our first day in Park City (Sunday) was devoted to shopping.  We especially enjoyed the Park City Clothing Company where I purchased a Dorfman Pacific western-style hat which instigated the hat craze. Before the end of the week, every Roman Rambler had purchased a hat.
Monday was a hiking day. The resort provided transportation to Round Valley where we were photographed by driver, Sinisa, before starting our trek.   

After quickly conquering Round Valley, we moved on to Guardsman Pass where a well-constructed cairn provided the perfect trekking pole photograph.  (Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin.) 

A cairn is a mound of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark, typically on a hilltop or skyline.  (Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin.) 
After Guardsman Pass, we drove to Big Cottonwood Canyon for more hiking.  There were many scenic overlooks along the drive, and even though it was late May, snow was still on the ground in the higher elevations.  

Big Cottonwood Canyon is in the Wasatch National Forest.  (Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin.) 

Our destination was Donut Falls. Due to slippery trail conditions, we played it safe and turned around before arriving at the Falls. 

Big Cottonwood Creek 

Tuesday took us to Salt Lake City for a tour of Temple Square, the Humanitarian Center, and the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

On Wednesday, we hiked at Mt. Timpanogos near Provo, Utah. 

After listening to warnings from the park rangers on the difficulty of the trail, we hiked the 1.5-mile paved trail (3 miles round trip)  to Mt. Timpanogos Cave.  The trail rose 1,092 feet to an elevation of 6,730 feet.  Even though the Roman Ramblers aren't accustomed to hiking in this elevation, we made it fine. 

On Thursday, we decided to explore nearby Sundance Mountain Resort, made famous by Robert Redford. 

We rode the ski lift to the Black Forest Loop trail and hiked down the mountain for 2.5 miles. 

Sundance Mountain Resort offers many activities including hiking, biking, and skiing.  (Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin.) 

A little rest and relaxation with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid  after our shopping spree at Sundance where a couple of hats were purchased.  

A view of Mount Timpanogos from the ski lift at Sundance Resort. 

After hiking and shopping at Sundance, we drove to Cascade Springs through this beautiful grove of Aspen trees. 

A scenic view on the drive to Cascade Springs. 

Cascade Springs

We ate at some wonderful restaurants while in Park City, but the Silver Star Cafe was my favorite.  Previously featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, it didn't disappoint.  Here is more information on the cafe. 

Showing off a few of our hat purchases while dining at the Silver Star Cafe. 

I recently heard a quote that goes like this........"some women go shopping, but real women go hiking."  Not quite sure where the next trip will take the Roman Ramblers, but in the meantime, we plan to "Keep On Hiking."  

Special thanks to Patricia McAlpin for generously sharing her timeshare with the Roman Ramblers and for her photography skills. 

August 1, 2014

My Favorite Hike: House o' Dreams at Berry College

The House o' Dreams is a large stone and board-and-batten cottage. 

Winter, summer, spring or fall, my favorite hike is to the House o' Dreams atop Lavender Mountain on the campus of Berry College near Rome, Georgia. There are several reasons why this is my favorite hike: it is close to home and I can be at the trailhead in 15 minutes, my love of hiking was developed on the 40+miles of hiking trails at Berry, and I am an alum of Berry College.

The House o' Dreams was built in 1922 by students and staff as a gift to Martha Berry, founder of Berry College, on the 20th anniversary of the school.  It was financed by Mrs. Emily Vanderbilt Hammond, a friend of Martha Berry's, along with alumni and friends.  It sits on the highest point of the school's 27,000 acres and offers a superb view of the campus, the city of Rome, and the mountains of northwest Georgia.

All of the materials needed to construct the house were found on the mountain. Students built the furniture, and designed and wove the fabric for curtains and slipcovers. A full restoration project was completed in 1984 which assured the preservation and continued use of this historic structure.

It was used by Martha Berry as a mountain retreat as well as a place to entertain.  Today, it is still used for meetings and "dreaming" sessions by faculty, staff, and student groups.

Below are more details on how you can take my favorite hike:

Frost Chapel 
After entering the college campus off U.S. Highway 27 (also known as the Martha Berry Highway from Tennessee to Florida), follow the directional signs for three miles to Frost Chapel, located on the mountain campus. There is ample parking at the chapel.

Continue to follow directional signs for the six-mile "in and out" moderately, strenuous hike.   

The trailhead  as well as the beginning of service road to the House o' Dreams. 

The service road is used frequently by college personnel and students, so be aware of vehicle traffic. 

You're a third of the way when you reach this sign. 

Even though you're hiking on a service road, there are many delights along the way. 

Follow the service road to the official entrance. 

In case you need a rest, there are several benches to the left of the entrance. The installation of benches was a 2014 Alumni Work Week project. 

Much of Lavender Mountain is part of a Wildlife Management Area.  Check here during deer and turkey hunting season to make sure there are no managed hunts on the property. 
The climb gets more difficult once you reach the rock wall, but don't give up; you're almost there. 

After you've made the three-mile trek from Frost Chapel to the House o' Dreams, it's time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings:

"Room With A View." 

Gardens are beautifully maintained throughout the year thanks to the efforts of a full-time caretaker and Berry's student work program.  

A nice spot for snack or lunch. 

Goldfish pond with water lilies. 

The summer is my favorite season at the House o' Dreams. 

Who doesn't love daisies? 

Another view of the gardens. 

Berry's 27,000 acres are abundant with deer.  The terraced garden full of fruit trees and berry patches is a great place to spot one. 

Bathroom facilities are provided at the Outhouse o' Dreams. 

This lovely arbor was also an Alumni Work Week project.

The Big Guy can't resist the hammock. 

The fire tower, which is normally locked, offers a grand view of northwest Georgia if you are are up to climbing the 50-plus steps to the top. If you hike during the week, feel free to ask the caretaker or a student worker to unlock the tower so you can enjoy the view. 

No elevation gain on the return hike. 

Even Fido enjoys the hike to the House o' Dreams. Dogs are allowed on the trails at Berry, but must be kept on a leash at all times. 

Hope you've enjoyed my favorite hike. "Keep On Hiking."