Big Almaty Lake 

Big Almaty Lake is about 20 kilometers south of Almaty, deep in the Tian Shan mountains. I grew up in Almaty, but never had a chance to visit this lake, till 30 years after moving away from the city. 

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South Dakota – 50 by 50

This is my last lower continental state. All 48 have been visited. Plus Hawaii. Plus Puerto Rico. Now I have one more state to visit – Alaska. Hopefully can make over there sometime next year.

Yesterday we were checking out Black Hills in South Dakota. First went to the Custer State Park, looked at a few bisons and hiked the Lovers Leap trail. Half of the trail was nice, in higher altitude, the other half descended to a creek and was surrounded by poison ivy. I’m highly allergic to it and had to watch every step I made to avoid any contact with it. It was not fun.

We ended up driving up to Mount Rushmore to see the presidents. Late afternoon storm went over it as we got into the memorial and provided this nice drama. Lightning strikes were all over, but I didn’t get any…so just imagine it. After it dumped some heavy five minutes rain, the clouds moved to the east and it went back to the boring blue sky. BTW, if you want to see more photos from this trip and other, follow me on Instagram.

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North Dakota – 50 by 50

I’m almost done with my goal of visiting all 50 states. This is state #48 that I visited and put at least one photo on this blog. Today we did a long drive to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and did a quick hike. Never on any of my hikes I came across a carcass of large animal, prior to this one. Seeing bisons carcass was very surprising and made the whole drive to ND and hike in the 90F totally worth it. Pretty cool experience. It stank a lot. 

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Rabbit Mountain 

Fifth day in a row of doing small hikes. Today we went to the Rabbit Mountain open space, it has couple nice views over the surrounding area and all under four miles of walking. Can get pretty hot though as it’s fully exposed under the sun. Bring your sunblock!

This is looking over the Boulder valley. Way to the left is Boulder. Right under us is Lyons cement plant, and you might see Indian Peaks Wilderness poking out with snowy peaks on the right.

This is view from the Little Thompson overlook. Looking north west.

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Eldorado Springs Canyon 

Another day, another hike. Today we went to the Eldorado Canyon to hike Rattlesnake Gulch trail. About 5.5 miles with all of the side trips. It was pretty crowded, required $8 fee to enter the park and not mostly not that exciting. We were hoping to see a train on the Union Pacific railway you see to the right, but that didn’t happen.

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Diamond Lake 

Third day in a row with great hikes. Today we went to the Diamond lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, right of the 4th of July trail head. Very appropriate on the 4th of July weekend, don’t you think? 7 miles round trip with little side explorations. We looked at potentially going to the upper Diamond lake, but that trail is not really marked well and requires some steep climbing. Perhaps next time.

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Walker Ranch Loop 

Went for a new hike today. Walker Ranch Loop. It is officially around 7.8 miles and with all of the little side exploration we ended up clocking around 8.5 miles. Crossed over South Boulder creek couple times (over bridge) as it’s currently very crazy with early summer water in it. Great hike.

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