Blue Jay/San Juan Trail – Cleveland National Forest

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Today I found myself thinking about why the heck I was hiking so often when it was hot out and the second the weather got nice I haven’t been in quite a while. I also found that I really don’t have an answer to this question other than pure laziness. What I do know is that I was super excited to get out there and hike today.

My friend Kirsten was going to meet me at my house at 7 and then we were going to take my car to the trail head. The wind was taken out of my sails for a moment when I went outside to find my back car window had been smashed! A quick text to Kirsten asking if she could drive instead and a shake it off post on Instagram, yeah I know, and we were back on track.

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Our goal today was to hike the Falcon Trail. As you can tell by the title of this post, we did not end up hiking that trail at all. Actually we never found the damn thing! Okay, in all fairness I am pretty sure that the trail head was in the Falcon campground that was clearly closed by a huge metal gate. Did we figure that out right away? I would love to say yes but the fact is we had a very fun time driving back and forth past a group of cyclists about six times while they were getting ready by their cars. We must have looked so confused with each pass, I am giggling now just thinking about how crazy lost we must have looked.

We finally figured that the place we were trying to go was behind the closed gate and opted for the San Juan Trail that is next to the Blue Jay campgrounds and all of the cyclists that pretty much think we are lunatics at this point. You are only as awkward as you feel right? Yup and I was feeling pretty damn awkward.

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We parked on the side of a dirt road across from the full parking area. There really weren’t many spots to begin with. If I did this again I would park within the campgound parking. There is a $5 day use fee. I started unloading my stuff and said to Kirsten, “Wow! I feel super nerdy hiking with all this tech.” I had a camera around my neck and my GoPro with Karma Grip and a new drone in my backpack. It was then that I grabbed my camera and tried to take a picture of the awkward place we ended up parking. And guess what? My battery was dead! No problem, I’ll just grab my spare battery. Or not! It was in my other backpack at home! Well shit! I shook off the stupidity and stuffed my camera back into the car since there was no need to bring it as a rather heavy necklace.

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Off we go again! We make it across to the parking lot say hello to the cyclists and check out the trail map to see just what the heck we had gotten ourselves into. It was just after that the I realized my GoPro battery was also dead! At this point I said rather loudly, “ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!” I had not checked my camera battery the night before so the camera was definitely on me but I had “charged” my GoPro battery the night before. What in the actually hell was going on? I give up! We walked, I marched, back to the car to put my Go not so Pro paper weight in the trunk.

I was feeling very defeated at this point but shook off the bad juju yet again and we were on our way. All of the pictures and the first video from this hike were taken with my iPhone 8. I am also happy to report that my phone was fully charged and did not die before getting home! For the win!

Alright lets get to it. This trail is primarily used for biking although we did run into a few hikers as well. All of the cyclists were very nice and everyone was respectful in sharing the trail. The trail was only wide enough for one person at a time. There were only a few spots where is was wide enough to not stand in a weird place. When cyclists would pop around a corner we would step off the trail to let them pass. This trail is rather rocky and I said several times that if I was on a bike I would have fallen about ten times and popped 4 tires before making it a mile in. More power to you cyclist friends! I tip my cap to you!

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I stop to take a picture of us only to find Kirsten inspecting some poop!

We made our way down the trail stopping once for a snack. We treated this hike as an out and back. We only went about two miles in and found a somewhat open crossroad area clear enough of trees for me to attempt to fly my drone. Full disclosure, this was literally the second time I have flown it and I have only gone up so far. I am not the most coordinated person when it comes to gaming so I am going to need more practice before I do anything that resembles real flying. I am having loads of fun just going up though so it’s all good. 😉

I was prepping my drone sort of squatting on the ground when I realized I was standing in a pile of crap. Yep, CRAP! Yellow, smelly, hopefully animal, crap! Ugh! Shaking it off…literally I finish linking my remote control to the drone and started my take off.

The vantage point where we were was not the greatest. We were basically in a hole surrounded by trees. I decided just taking the drone up to see what it could see at 230 feet would make my day. So that is exactly what I did. I watched my phone screen to see what the drone could see from so high above the trees. I was moving it around a bit to get a feel for the controls and feeling so very proud of myself because I felt like I was getting the hang of it. I brought it in for the landing getting super pumped to show Kirsten the amazing footage that I had just captured. It came in for a rather awkward landing but it survived. I dusted it off and guess what? I HADN’T PRESSED RECORD!!!! *face palm* Mother of Dragons! What is my problem today? I have never had such a struggle in a single day before! I felt so dumb! I looked at Kirsten in dismay and said, “Well let’s send her up again I guess!” One big sigh from me and a very deliberate press of the record button and she was up again. I don’t feel as though my footage was as amazing the second time, or maybe it would have been the same had I pushed record the first time. We will never know for sure. In any case, I am still having fun seeing the sights of such heights from the safety of the ground. I know I have mentioned before that I am not a fan of heights.

I brought the drone in for a landing. This one was much more graceful than the last. After packing up the drone and scraping the remaining crap off of my shoe we turned around and made our trek back to the car the same way we came in. The two miles back were up hill the entire time! My nose was running from the fresh cool air and my feet and lungs wanted to team up and strangle me! Thankfully they didn’t! We made it back to the car and patted ourselves on the back for a successful trip after overcoming so many obstacles. I have to say I was not looking forward to going home and cleaning up my car mess but I was looking forward to a shower and a nap!

Thanks for reading! Until next time…happy trails!

In case anyone is interested here are some links to the gear I use or rather attempted to use today!

DJI Spark Drone

Nikon D3400 DSL Camera

GoPro Hero5 Black

GoPro Karma Grip

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