It should be noted that there are many trails and loops. But they are not for a casual hiker. We did the 8 mile loop, which ended up being closer to 10 miles since we did some exploring. But you can't beat the view. This is where we had lunch. Although it is difficult to see in the picture, just past my feet is a steep cliff.
Then there was the trail that was called "Steep And Narrow." It's not a misnomer. There were parts where the rocks came out so far that you had to hike leaning 45 degrees to get past.
I stole this from Rachael. Rarely do we get a picture of the both of us on an adventure.
There are California Condors that live in the area. They are an endangered bird, and according to Rachael, a big deal for bird watchers. We did see some soaring above us later on in the hike. I wish we had gotten to see them a little closer.
As we hiked on, we noticed that some of the rocks had pretty distinct forms. This one looked like Smaug the dragon to me. The left side has a bit of a snout and nostril. And it has a wicked looking smile. It's neck arches over the top of the main rock.
But, by far, the neatest part of the hike was where we got to go through a cave. Bear Gulch was closed, so we went through the Balconies cave. I accidentally took a picture while I was fiddling with the flashlight. Here's what the inside of a cave looks like.
Once you emerge from the darkness, you eventually end up in an area where giant boulders have wedged themselves in fissures of the mountain. They kind of reminded me of dragon eggs. Both Rachael and I decided that it would be a terrible place to be if there was an earthquake. Also, we felt a bit like we were in Lord of the Rings. Possibly the Mines of Moria.
When we left the cave area, we realized that we had probably been under that dragon looking mountain from earlier. So perhaps Smaug is actually a girl and we were in the Lonely Mountain. It was by far the neatest hike I'd ever been in. I'm looking forward to hiking it again.