|2016 I review my year||December 31, 2016, 11:28 pm|
This is a huge blurb of text basically stating everything that I did this year as far as Doom, Movies, & Hiking goes. This is meant more for my own personal use, but I'm sure someone else might find something interesting to read here if they choose to do so.
[spoiler]This year has been a pretty good one for Doom & also for my evolution as a mapper. I only made 4 maps this entire year, way down from the previous 3 years, but the quality of this years maps are a vast improvement compared to previous efforts.
My first map released this year was Desolation, a pretty small map for TNT Revilution done in the style of Tom Mustaine maps. E3 was getting filled with some damn big & hard maps so I felt the need to make something short & of medium difficulty. I spent a few days making it & I'm pretty proud of the end result.
My second map released this year was Launchpad for the 28th Abyssal Speedmapping Session. This one was my one failure map of the year, I don't really know what went wrong here. I somehow ran out of time, which hasn't been a problem for me in any previous ASS.
The third map I released this year was Europa which was another map for TNT Revilution. This is by far my biggest map to date & it took me forever to complete, well over a year of development. Europa actually started off as E3M3 of Ultimate Doom in Name Only, I decided to drop out of that project because I felt that I wasn't capturing what Pandemonium meant with my map. It then sat abandon of a number of month's. Later I would join TNT Revilution with the intention to make map 32, after a number of failures in creating something original & the unwillingness of others to take over mapping for the 32 slot I eventually decided to revive my unfinished UDINO map & finish it off as Europa. I do have a few minor gripes with the map, but overall I'm happy with the end result.
The last map I released is by far my favorite & may be my best map yet. This would be The Military Industrial Complex for Bloody Rust 2. The map takes influence from a number of places including Doom 2 map 12, American McGee maps, & TNT map 19. I also learned how to make Dehacked monsters for this project thanks to guidance from Mechadon. I can't wait for this project to be released to see how people react to it.
I should also mention that the first Bloody Rust was released this year, while I didn't make any maps on my own I did do the monster placement on map 4 for AD_79 & also made some improvement to map 1. I was glad to help get this project released after FireFish was banned, even if I did get a lot of shit for kicking Joe-Ilya out of the project.
Another thing that I was able to do this year was update a few maps for my in development megawad Could You Would You in Box. I'm pretty disappointed that I've not devoted more time to this project, but for now I'm putting priority on getting TNT Revilution released first.
There are a few other project that I've made maps for that still haven't been released yet, those being Undeath94 & Switcheroom 2. What's really annoying is that both of these project have essentially been finished for the entire year. Hopefully the project leads will take some action to get these projects finished sometime next year.
Speaking of next year I've got a number of things planned, first & foremost is to Get TNT Revilution released, I was hoping to get this one on ID Games by March 1st, but that's starting to seem like a bit too much to ask for at this time. Either way I have already decided on my next big project after Revilution, & that is going to be a Perditions Gate fan sequel. I'll get some community input & take a month break after Revilution is released before starting this one. As for minor projects I hope that Bloody Rust 2 gets done next year & then I'll probably keep this series going for awhile, just altering the dehacked & texture pack for each project to keep things interesting. Then of course I want to make more progress on my megawad, but I don't see a 2017 release as being realistic for that project as of right now. Last but not least I need to make some headway on my map for REKKR, I've been kinda neglecting that map since October & I know people are looking forward to that project.[/spoiler]
[spoiler]Outside of Doom one of my favorite things is going to see movies at the cinema. Sadly this year has been pretty mediocre for movies. I saw 30 movies this year, while that is up from last year it's still on the lower end of things, not too much caught my interest this year.
Things started off fairly decently with The Revenant, I was already familiar with the story of Hugh Glass before watching this film so I just went into this one to be entertained. The movies introduction is a pretty fantastic battle sequence, but then from there the movie becomes pretty hit & miss. The problem ultimately stems from the fact that this film was made simply to win Oscars, so you get beautiful cinematography & great acting, but the story suffers & you get those weird dream sequences & other BS to give the film a deeper meaning :P Also I hated that the film makers felt the need to give Hugh Glass a son in order to give him motivation for his revenge. What did they feel that being left for dead in the middle of nowhere wasn't enough motivation to get revenge? A very stupid decision on their part. Still I would recommend giving this one a watch simply because of that opening sequence & for the fact that the story of Hugh Glass is pretty freaking amazing.
Kung Fu Panda 3 - Probably my favorite animated film from this year. It's not to the same quality as the other two film, but it's still pretty good. My biggest gripe with this one was the ending, I felt that film should have taken a more serious tone when Po used his Qi to create a dragon in the Spirit Realm to defeat Kai, but instead they went way to heavy with the comedy in this part & I felt that it really clashed with the overall tone of the moment. Also there were a few dull scenes in the panda village, but again overall the film was pretty good.
Hail, Caesar! - This was a fairly average film from the Coen brothers, it seems that most people really hated this one, but I thought that it was just average for them. There were however two extremely hilarious scenes in this film. The first was one where Josh Brolins character meets with several leaders of various christian denominations to see if they approve of the depiction of Jesus in the film he's producing. Then the second funny scene was one where Ralph Fiennes character tries to tech an actor how to act in a movie he's directing. You can catch both of these scenes on youtube if you don't want to watch the whole film.
Deadpool - Boy did I disagree with everyone on this film. I hated everything about this movie, I though the story sucked & I didn't think it was very funny at all. The whole film just seemed like a low budget fan film, & I guess that's why it didn't work for me, because I've never read the comics so I can't consider myself a Deadpool fan.
The Witch - Boy I wanted to like this film more than I did. Ultimately I didn't think that this film was truly scary, it certainly had an unsettling feeling to it though. One thing I do have to give the film high praise for is its very accurate depiction of a 17th century Puritan family & for some seriously good acting from everyone in this film including all 4 children. I still recommend giving this one a watch, you may find this one to pretty good, I just felt that it could have use a few more tense moments.
Zootopia - I had first heard about this film sometime in 2013 when the plot sounded something more like a rehash of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I didn't follow the development that much but I knew I wanted to see the film when it came out. Turns out that there was a massive script rewrite sometime in 2014 so the end result was very different from what I expected when I sat down to watch the movie. I found this film to be pretty enjoyable, nothing really groundbreaking, just another nice entry into Disney's film catalogue.
10 Cloverfield Lane - Now this was an intense film to watch. John Goodman absolutely steals the show here with his portrayal of a paranoid survivalist when the world is seemingly under attack from some unknown force. The first 2/3rds of this film are quite good, but in the third act things go down hill fast, I did find a leaked script of the original ending online & sadly I though it was actually worse than what we got. Still this one is very much worth a watch & no this film has nothing to do with Cloverfield & it's not found footage either, thank god.
Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice - I actually liked Man of Steel & it did well as it's own self contained film. This film on the other hand was made purely to set up the DC expanded universe & it doesn't try to hide this fact at all. Batman's dream sequence was probably the worst part of the whole film, I'll bet you $50 that we'll see that scene return in some future DC movie & that pisses me off to no end. They spent to much effort setting up their future projects that they didn't ensure the quality of the film that they were making & there is a lot to complain about here. This film fails as a Superman sequel, is a piss poor introduction for Batman, & leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the future of the DC comic movies.
The Jungle Book - I don't know what I was expecting when I saw this movie, so far none of these Disney live action films have been good & this one wasn't either. This will be the last one I see. Though I will admit hearing Christopher Walken try and sing I Wan'na Be Like You was almost worth admission.
Captain America: Civil War - So this ended up being my favorite film from 2016, this one really surprised me with it's quality. I'm not the biggest fan of the Marvel comic book movies, I think that they play things way to safe & you never get something unexpected out of them. This one at least did a few interesting things, one of my favorite aspects was making the main villain of the movie just a normal guy. He see's all the bad things that have happened since superheroes have showed up in the world & he tries to put and end to them. I think that it makes the film more relate able rather that just putting super powered good guys against a super powered bad guy out to destroy the whole world or something dumb like that.
X-Men: Apocalypse - Takes all the great aspects of X-Men: Days of Future Past & then just rehashes them. This film doesn't bring anything new to the table & ends up just being a forgettable entry into the franchise.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows - So the first film in this series is kinda a guilty pleasure of mine, this one though wasn't able to capture the fun as well & just kinda falls flat. I did like the elements they included from the old cartoon series such as Krang & the Technodrome, but they don't prevent this movie from being bad.
Finding Dory - Oh how the mighty have fallen. I used to look forward to Pixar films, but they really have been in a major slump for the past few years now, making all these sequels isn't helping things either. To me this almost seemed like a direct to DVD sequel in quality. Wile Finding Nemo felt like a massive journey across the entire Pacific Ocean this one mostly takes place in an aquatic zoo so it just feels like a smaller less ambitious movie. I suppose that was the intention to make it less of a repeat of Finding Nemo, but it in the end it just makes the film look cheep.
Independence Day: Resurgence - I was probably one of the only people I know who was excited to see this film. Independence Day was made during a period in time when the USA was care free & movies that depicted mass destruction were just dumb fun. Then ever since September 11, 2001 the US has constantly been in a state of fear, all the action movies need to be "Dark & Gritty" two words that when attached to a movie make me immediately not want to see it. Independence Day: Resurgence is pure camp, this may turn off a lot of people to seeing it, but for me this is exactly what I needed after seeing so many darker action movies lately. I also like that this film gave Independence Day an expanded universe. They make it pretty clear that there are many other worlds in the universe, & now I'm interested in seeing some of those worlds explored in future movies. I really would like to see the franchise turned into some kind of Star Trek like series, I think it could be a lot of fun.
The Legend of Tarzan - Have you ever wanted to see Tarzan portrayed like a comic book super hero? No, well then avoid this film. I sure wish I had.
Ghosbusters - I already talked about this film in the Most Recent Movie You've Seen thread. Just a recap, I though it was an okay remake, noting really special, but nowhere near as bad as people were saying it was.
Ice Age: Collision Course - I know I saw this, but for the life of me I can't remember anything about it. Something about a meteorite blowing up the Earth blah blah boring & forgettable.
Star Trek Beyond - This film really surprised me. I wasn't expecting anything great after the disaster that was Star Trek Into Darkness, but this ended up being my favorite film of the rebooted series. The plot was great, totally captures the spirit of the original series. There were a few problems, the villain didn't really make any sense & I had trouble following what was supposed to be happening on the space station at the end of the movie, but I enjoyed it far more that I was expecting to.
Jason Bourne - Paul Greengrass is a shitty director & he needs to learn that the shaky cam gimmick has far outstayed it's welcome, not that it was ever welcomed in the first place. But again 9/11 has influenced Hollywood to use "Realistic" filming techniques. Anyways besides that the story just sucks, it's just the same plot that was used it Bourne Supremacy & Bourne Ultimatum, nothing new was brought to the table with this film. The most annoying thing is that I liked The Bourne Legacy, it took the ideas of the Bourne films it took them in a new direction. I hope we get another Bourne sequel, just bring back the Bourne Legacy team, not Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass.
Scuicide Squad - This film was overly ambitious, it tried to do too much too soon in creating a universe for some DC villains. They should have cut the number of main characters in half & the Enchantress shouldn't have been included in the film at all. There wasn't enough time to set up the rules of this universe nor to explain the motivations for the Enchantress other than "I want to kill everyone because they don't worship me." The whole Joker subplot was pointless & didn't bring anything to the film. The whole thing was just a mess that needed some major reworkings & a lot of restraint.
Kubo And The Two Strings - This is the first film from Laika Entertainment that I have seen. Their other 3 films didn't really sound appealing me, but this one did. Wile the stop motion animation is great, the story didn't really connect with me. Nothing wrong with the story, it was just a film aimed at a different kind of audience so I didn't really get into it.
Mechanic Resurrection - I liked the first Mechanic so I decided to give the sequel a watch. Unfortunately this is as much a sequel to the Mechanic as Quake 2 is a sequel to Quake. Mechanic Resurrection is just a rather below average Jason Statham action flick. Nothing to see here, move along.
Don't Breathe - Ever since watching the short film Ataque de Pánico! by Fede Álvarez I wanted to see him direct a feature length film. Then the most amazing thing happened, he was attached to direct the Evil Dead remake, Holy Shit! Sadly that film ended up being one of the most horribly cliche horror films I have ever seen. I was willing to give Fede one more chance with this film though, & I'm very glad I did. Fede has much more freedom to create something original with this film & I though he did very well. The plot seems to take some inspiration from People Under the Stairs, but goes for a much more horror heavy tone. The sequence in the basement with the lights out was spectacular & horribly terrifying. I do have a few gripes, everyone seems nearly invulnerable to dying & the fact that the bad guy gets away at the end it pretty far fetched, I guess the police didn't notice all the blood & torture chamber in the basement while searching the house. Still a pretty good horror film that's worth checking out.
Sully - A nice small film from director Clint Eastwood & actor Tom Hanks who plays Sully. The film accurately displays the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 & what happened to the pilots after that event. It really gets into what makes a person a hero without being preachy. It's just a nice small film that tells an enjoyable story & for that it's pretty dang good.
The Magnificent Seven - This was bad & I feel bad for watching it. Go watch the original instead, no better yet go watch Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai which is a fucking masterpiece of film making.
Shin Godzilla - I was not a fan at all of the 2014 american Godzilla fan so I was so excited to hear that Toho was making their own Godzilla reboot as well. This is great film & I highly recommend it if you are a Godzilla fan.
Hacksaw Ridge - A mostly enjoyable war film that depicts the true story of Desmond Doss a Medal of Honor recipient who rescued 75 soldiers during the battle of Okinawa.
Dr. Strange - So I've seen a lot of DC fanboys whining that critics show favoritism toward Marvel films over DC film. While I ignored those comments or simply though they were wrong, my opinions changed after seeing this film. While watching this film I was shocked at how similar the plot was to the 2010 Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern film, which was a film that everyone hated, but for some reason everyone loved Dr Strange. This film was pretty bland suffering from the problems of most Marvel movies, a generic plot that play things safe, generic bad guy, the film just doesn't do anything interesting or innovative. Also Strange seemed oddly willing to go rush off to Nepal to use mystic medicine to heal himself, it seemed really out of character for him at that point in the film.
Moana - I really enjoyed this film. I thought the songs were great, the animation was great, & the story felt like it could have been taken right out of Polynesian mythology.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Well it was better than The Force Awakens I guess. I place the failures of this film firmly in the hands of director Garth Edwards who continues to prove that he doesn't know how to properly pace a film or how to get anything out of his actors. This film should have been so easy to get right, just look at the Clone Wars TV series, they didn't have any trouble with filling in the gaps between Episodes II & III and they had some damn good stories in that show. This film however is just filled with forgettable characters & a mediocre story. There were only 2 characters in this film that I thought were well done, those being K-2SO who was mostly memorable for being the comic relief & having some nice one liners, & Orson Krennic the director of the Death Star construction. Though speaking of Krennic I don't think that this character needed to exist at all, Krennics character really should have been Grand Moff Tarkin. Speaking of Tarkin, WTF was that CGI, why not just recast him like any other movie would. Hell Ben Mendelsohn looked like a younger Tarkin in this film why were there two different characters here when it should only have been one. Anyways the last third of this film is where things really get good, the action scenes are well done, which I will admit is where Garth Edwards does shine. Overall this is a movie that should have been great but was held back by a weak story & bad director.[/spoiler]
[spoiler]In addition to Doom & Movies I love going out & exploring new locations & hiking new trails, this year was no exception.
January 16, with dad
Things started off on a chilly Saturday at Kitchel/Lindquist Dune Preserve in Grand Haven Michigan. This was a pleasant park with a few miles of hiking trails, most of them unofficial trails that don't show up on any maps. At the top of the dunes I was able to get a good view of Downtown Grand Haven & the Grand River. Not too much to see as far as wildlife went, just a few winter birds & some squirrels.
March 12, with dad
After having finished off all of the hiking trails north of the Big Sable River I returned to Ludington State Park with my dad to hike the ski trails south of the Big Sable River, even though it was March there was no snow on the ground at this time, otherwise these trails looked fantastic for some cross country skiing. There was some pretty interesting Jack Pine forest habitat here, though we were here too early in the year for much wildlife activity to be seen, all we saw was a family of deer.
April 9, with dad
Having only hiked half of the ski trails at Ludington State Park we returned about 1 month later to hike the remainder. There was a bit more snow on the ground on this trip, but still not enough to actually ski the trails. The migration of birds back north was starting up now so we saw plenty of waterfowl wading in the Big Sable River.
April 12, with Saphira (my dog)
After having enjoyed the hike at Kitchel/Lindquist Dune Preserve earlier in the year I decided to hike all of the larger parks around the Muskegon area. I started off with Lake Harbor Park, I had been here many times previously, but only to walk to the beach and back. This time I spent an hour hiking 2.5 miles along the trails up and down the dunes all throughout the park.
April 12, with Saphira
Later that day I took Saphira to the dog beach for a swim at Kruse Park, I also briefly jumped into Lake Michigan, but then quickly got out because it was damned cold. I tried walking the boardwalk at Kruse Park, but because the city doesn't know how to manage funds I found it impossible due to severe damage & neglect. Eventually I walked up the beach & entered into Beachwood park where I had to leave the beachfront & continued my hike onto the forest trails, I then returned to my car having hiked around 3 miles at both parks.
April 13, with Saphira
The next day I returned to Grand Haven to hike about 6.5 miles of trails at Hoffmaster State Park, probably should have left Saphira at home for this hike because I had to walk along the beach for quite some distance. Luckily for me it was too early in the year to run into any DNR officers :D
April 14, with Saphira
The next day I again returned to Grand Haven, this time to hike the trails of The North Ottawa Dunes. This was the first time that I had ever been to this park & it proved to be rather enjoyable to hike. I hit about 7 miles of trails & the whole time I was chased by one very territorial Bard Owl. I hadn't brought my camera on this trip, but I could have gotten some great photos of him as he would get to within 20 feet of me & act all aggressive.
April 15, with Saphira
Back in Muskegon the next day I headed north to hike around Muskegon State Park. Things didn't go too well here, Muskegon State Park has a lot of open sand dune & this was a pretty hot day so it can be like hiking around in the desert. Saphira being half Husky & still in her winter coat wasn't doing well here at all so I cut the hike short after having hiked just over a mile.
April 16, with dad
I decided to give Saphira a break from hiking so me & my dad drove down to Saugatuck to hike all of the trails at Saugatuck State Park. There was a lot to explore here & we spent the entire day hiking. We were going to finish off the day with a ride on the Dunes Mobiles, but we ran out of time & they were closed by the time we got done hiking.
April 20, with Saphira
I had talked quite a bit with my dad about my hiking tips around Muskegon & I learned that I had missed about a miles worth of trails at Kruse Park. So I returned there with Saphira to hike those trails, I found myself in a awkward situation when I ran into a couple teens having sex at the top of a dune under a tree filled with bras & panties.
April 23, with dad
I took another trip to Ludington State Park next. Having hiked all of the trails at the park we were here to do some exploring off the trails around the Lost Lake islands. This ended up being a lot of fun, we didn't have to get to wet as the water is pretty shallow around these islands, no more than a foot if you know where to walk. We ended up seeing nearly a thousand ducks that had stopped in Lost Lake on their migration north which was pretty amazing.
April 30, with dad
Finally on the last weekend in April I got to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, my absolute favorite place to hike in Michigan's lower peninsula. On our itinerary was to find out what had become of the mysterious "Meadow Trails". If you know where to look, you will find one map in the Sleeping Bear Dunes that has remained there since at least the 1980's. On this one & only map you will find a system of trails called the meadow trails that don't appear on any of the modern park maps. We were going to attempt and find out what had happened to them & why they were seemingly abandon. I took a photo of the map & when we go to the spot where they seemed to originate from we found a rather well worn trail that must have been a very old roadway that looked to be abandon since the 1920's. After walking along this old roadway for a few hundred feet we soon learned why the trails had been decommissioned. This part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is close to The Homestead, a privately owned resort where rich assholes from Chicago & Detroit go for a vacation or to live for a few days out of the year. When the Sleeping Bear Dunes was setup in 1970's The Homestead sold 2 parcels of land to the US Government encumbered with an easement which would allow them to set up a seepage area for their waste water. After several years The Homestead would outgrow its then current sewage system. So in 1992 they made a plan to clear cut their 2 parcels. After public complaints & a few lawsuits the park superintendent at that time made a compromise & allowed The Homestead to clear cut the smaller of their 2 parcels to set up an above ground waste water disposal system. This is when half of the meadow trails were closed off to the public. Later in 2005 The Homestead would once again outgrow it's waste water disposal system & was once again allowed to clear cut it's 2nd parcel which in turn lead to the remaining meadow trails to be closed off forever & taken off any modern hiking trail maps. Unfortunately The Homestead has a permit to continue dumping it's waste water onto public lands through 2020.
May 7, with dad
After learning of what had happened to the Meadow Trails we decided to return to the Sleeping Bear Dunes the next weekend for something more enjoyable and less depressing. We wanted to follow as best we could the old rail road track set up by D.H. Day in 1911 which was used to transport lumber from his sawmill on Glen Lake to Glen Haven. This ended up being pretty successful, we started in Glen Haven & followed the recently built bike path which followed the old rail road track for quite some distance. At a picnic area at the end of West Harwood Dr is where the bike path and old track diverged. We were able to follow the track fairly easily in a South West direction right up until we got to the edge of the swamp, though you could easily see the path for several hundred more feet into the swamp. We returned to the end of Harwood Dr & then from there climbed up the dune to view The Devil's Hole, a large section of open sand dune.
May 21, with dad
This was a somewhat ambitious day for hiking. Seeing that it was peak migration my dad wanted to visit a honey hole for birds that we found at Silver Lake State Park one year prior. While we didn't do as good on this day it was still pretty dang good for viewing birds. Also found a snapping turtle laying some eggs near Silver Lake.
May 21, with dad
After stopping at Silver Lake State Park we drove up to Nordhouse Dunes, which is just north of Ludington State Park, to do some more bird watching. Also we wanted to explore the damage path of a Tornado that had hit Nordhouse Dunes in June of 2008.
May 21, with dad
Then after hiking around Nordhouse we traveled south to explore the last few uninvited islands situated around Lost Lake. We ended up being here well after dark. I was during the pitch blackness where I learned how the Screech owl obtained it's name. There we were hiking along the dunes talking about random stuff when out of nowhere I heard something screech & snap it's beak as it zipped right in front of my face. I nearly pissed my pants right there it freaked me out so bad. We must have been near a nest because we stood there for a good half hour trying to get a photo of him. He kept screeching & zipping past our heads the whole damn time.
June 4, with Mike (friend from the Air Force) & Saphira
June 4 marked the start of my one big trip of the year. I had picked up Mike in Rolla Missouri & the first stop we were were going to make was at Driskill Mountain the high point of Louisiana. Driskill Mountain was at an astounding 535 feet above sea level :D Weirdly enough it wasn't the easiest high point that I've climbed, it took about 30 minutes to walk up the road to the top from the parking area with a gain of 100 feet in elevation over a very short distance. Still it's pretty dang easy to get to the top & unless you are in terrible shape anyone should be able to get to the top of this state high point.
June 5, with Mike & Saphira
The next day early in the morning we found ourselves in the vicinity of Sicily Island Louisiana in search of the states tallest waterfall. We found Rock Falls in the Sicily Island Hills State Wildlife Management Area. Wile not super impressive Rock Falls sits at a respectable 17 feet tall which I suppose is as much as you could hope for in such a flat state.
June 5, with Mike & Saphira
Sometimes it's pretty clear what the tallest waterfall in each state is & other times, like with Mississippi, nobody has a freaking clue. So I set out to determine first had which of Mississippi's waterfalls was actually the tallest. First stop on that list was one of many waterfalls in the Clarks Creek Natural Area which is situated right along the Mississippi River about 35 miles north west of Baton Rouge. There are many miles of trails to hike here & many waterfalls to visit along these trails. We were able to visit 3 falls here, the tallest of which was 40 feet high, many of the other falls were inaccessible due to lack of trail maintenance. I would later do research to find out that we did in fact visit the tallest waterfall in the park.
June 5, with Mike & Saphira
The next waterfall in Mississippi that we visited was Owens creek falls which was at a roadside park about 2 miles south of the city Rocky Springs. These falls were rather unimpressive, nowhere near as tall as the waterfalls at the Clarks Creek Natural Area, we were quick to move on to our next destination.
June 5, with Mike & Saphira
The next Mississippi waterfall that I intended to visit was Mint Falls located somewhere in the vicinity of Vicksburg National Cemetery. Sometimes you just can't find these thing by using the internet alone I planed on just asking the park operators where the fall were located. Annoyingly though when I asked where the falls were I was told that they are not accessible to the public. I was a little more than pissed off, but after a bit of snooping around I did locate them. Unfortunately they are a real pain in the ass to get to & it didn't help that the Park was closing when we got there so I was forced to abandon this one, I'll have to go back sometime in the future to get a better idea of how tall Mint Falls is. One cool thing I did get to see though was the remains of the USS Cairo an old Union Ironclad that was sunk during the Civil War.
June 6, with Mike & Saphira
The last waterfall I would visit in Mississippi was Rawson Gully Falls located a short ways west of the city Meridian. This hike sucked. Things started off bad right away, when got to the pull out we quickly noticed that this was a trash dumping ground for red neck southerners. There was garbage everywhere, old washing machines, dead animals, & all sorts of other filth. The next problem we had was that we couldn't see the waterfall well at all from the top of the cliff that we were on. In order to really see the falls we would need to get down into the gully. Heading West along the cliff would have put us into some guys back yard so that was out of the question, so we started heading east along the cliff, after getting about a quarter mile from the car we got to a spot where is seemed safe to climb down into the gully. It wasn't safe. Turns out the gully walls were not so much made of rock but more of a tough clay, which isn't really good for climbing on. Anyways I slid about 25 feet down the gully walls on my back getting scraped up as hell. Then the dog jumped after me taking a tumble into the water & then Mike slipped down as well shortly after that. At least we were at the bottom of the gully so we could walk to the base of the falls, we would worry about how to get up to the top of the gully walls later. Unfortunately as we made our way toward the base of the falls we came to a large pool of water which was impassable unless we swam through it. There was no fucking way I was touching that putrid trash water, especially after having scraped up my back so bad. So defeated we walked for a very long distance before we found a spot where it was actually same to climb back up the gully walls. So I didn't get a good look at this waterfall but in the end I don't really give a shit, even it really is the tallest in Mississippi, I will never go back to this waterfall again.
June 6, with Mike & Saphira
After the disaster that was Rawson Gully Falls were we happy to leave Mississippi for Alabama. Our destination was Cheaha Mountain the state high point. The top of Cheaha mt sits at 2,407 feet above sea level, there was no hiking here, there's a road right to the top along with a large stone building that gets you above the tree line. I like this high point quite a bit it kinda reminded me of Arkansas high point, one that I had visited in 2014.
June 6, with Mike & Saphira
Alabama's tallest waterfall is a rather tricky one to get to. It's located in a privately owned cave it the north east corner of the state. We decided to skip this on in favor of hitting Amicalola Falls the tallest waterfall in Georgia. Seeing as these falls are firmly located in the Appalachian mountains they are very tall, 728 feet tall to be exact. My favorite thing about these falls were the fact that the steps leading from the base to the top were all made of a metal grating instead of wood like every other board walk in existence. Saphira was having a rough time on the steps so I picked her up & carried her up all the way the the top. My back still hurts :P
June 7, with Mike & Saphira
The next day we visited Lower Whitewater Falls in South Carolina & Upper Whitewater Falls just across the border in North Carolina. Neither of these falls were the tallest in their respective state, this was more of just a fun stop for photos & swimming.
June 7, with Mike & Saphira
What is the tallest waterfall in North Carolina though is Glassmine Falls. In order to view these you must stop at a pullout along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the fall are 1/2 a mile away across the valley from this pullout. There isn't really a way of getting to the base of these falls & even if you did manage to get out there, you wouldn't even be able to see the falls due to all the trees that would be in you way. A weird note about this fall is that it's just a few miles from Mt Mitchell North Carolina's high point.
June 7, with Mike & Saphira
After the quick stop to photo Glassmine Falls we continued along the Blue Ridge Parkway right to the top of Mt Mitchell. Situated at 6,684 feet above sea level Mt Mitchell is the highest point in the US east of the Rocky Mountains. Again with most of the Appalachian high points there was no need to do any hiking to get to the top. There is a large spiral walk path that allows you to see above the tree line.
June 8, with Mike & Saphira
The next day our plan was to spend the whole day hiking around the Great Smokey Mts. Though after making a stop at Clingmans Dome, the high point of Tennessee, we decide against that plan. The Great Smokies were shockingly crowded & we just didn't want to be there any longer than we absolutely needed to be. I don't have any intention of returning to the Great Smokies anytime soon.
June 8, with Mike & Saphira
We decided it would be a good plan to cut out trip short & start making our way back home, but we would still make a few stops along the way. The first of which was to Woodall Mt, the high point of Mississippi. This was another rather unimpressive one, it's not so much a mountain as it is a glorified hill. The top sits at 806 feet above sea level.
June 9, with Mike & Saphira
On the last day of the trip we hit 2 waterfalls at the very southern tip of Illinois, those being Cedar Falls & Burden Falls. Neither ended up being the tallest waterfall in the state, that distinction would belong to the 75 foot tall Wildcat Canyon Falls at the Starved Rock State Park in the northern part of the state which I visited in 2014. Still they were fun to visit & I totally got my car airborne on a poorly marked rail road crossing near these falls.
June 30, alone
Decided to take a nice trip out east over the 4th of July weekend, again aiming to visit a few state high points & tallest waterfalls. I started out with Campbell Hill in Ohio. I think that calling this high point a hill was being pretty generous, there was noting noteworthy about this one at all. The high point is at the end of a parking lot at some kind of a technical college just outside the city Bellefontaine. I was in and out of here all within 10 minutes.
June 30, alone
Ohio's tallest waterfall on the other hand is a pretty good one. Big Spring Hollow Falls is approximately 100 feet tall & is located in Hocking Hills State Park it takes about 30 minutes to get from the parking lot to the waterfall.
July 3, alone
I spent three days in Pittsburgh attending Anthrocon, but once it was over I was back on track to do some hiking. The only thing I had time to do on this day was to hit Mt Davis, the high point of Pennsylvania. The hike was really short, only a few hundred feet from the parking lot to the top. There was an old fire tower at the top that was converted into a public viewing platform to get you above the trees.
July 4, alone
The first place I stopped on the 4th of July was Hoye-Crest the high point of Maryland. This was a pretty decent hike, took around an hour to reach the top and get back down. It was pretty early in the morning on a rainy day so I was almost fogged out, luckily it wasn't to bad at that time.
July 4, alone
My next stop brought me to Blackwater Falls in West Virginia, this fall ended up being the shortest of 3 that I would visit in West Virginia at only 57 feet tall.
July 4, alone
Spruce Knob the high point of West Virginia ended up being the last state high point I visited in 2016 & the 25th state high point overall. Half way there :D The rain had really started to pick up so I got a bit wet while hiking around the top of this mountain.
July 4, alone
The thunder storm was in full swing by the time I reached Falls of Hills Creek, so I got drenched while hiking around these waterfalls. There was a series of 3 waterfalls along the river here, it was the bottom of the 3 that was the tallest here at 63 feet tall. Which still doesn't make it the tallest waterfall in West Virginia.
July 4, alone
The last waterfall I visited in 2016 was Cathedral Fall, which was also in West Virginia. The storm was still raging when I arrived at these falls so I got pretty wet once again. These falls ended up being the tallest in the state, they were located an a small roadside park in the city Gauley Bridge.
July 31, with dad
At the end of July I made my final trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes for 2016. The hiking goal for this trip was to follow the historic path of the the Sleeping Bear Dunesmobiles which ran through the dunes from 1935 to 1978. Even though a Dune Buggy hasn't driven on the Dunes for 40 years it was very easy to follow the old path due to the fact that Louis Warrens had set up a gravel road along the 8.5 mile loop & thanks to hikers still using the trails which prevents dune grass from taking over. It's interesting to view historic photos & postcards from the Dunesmoblie ride and then comparing them to photos that I took while there. In the past 80 or so years there has been some major wind erosion that has reduced the famous "Sleeping Bear" to just a fraction of it's former size. It also seems that the 450 foot tall dune plateau has had a number of landslides which makes comparing photos taken at the edge of the dune nearly impossible. Also the most shocking to me is the vast encroachment of dune grass. In a weird twist of fate the DNR shut down the Dunesmoble rides to protect the open sand dune, but in doing so it allowed dune grass to take over vast swaths of land on top of the dune plateau.
August 4, with dad
This would be my final trip to Ludington State Park in 2016. Some how we discovered that there was another trail in the park south of the Big Sable River that doesn't appear on any park maps. This one was kinda strange it was a very well worn path & even had a few recently added park benches. Seems like the park is willing to maintain this trail, but they don't want people to use it due to it's proximity to the sand mine, which has had an easement on that Park since it's creation.
August 26, alone
Okay so this is the one hiking trip that just blew my mind when I did it. I had just planed this to be a quick in and out stop on my way to Indianapolis Indiana, but I spent about an hour exploring this place. If you ask anyone in Michigan how many waterfalls there are in the lower peninsula they will most likely say just one Ocqueoc Falls. I was someone who believed this until this year when I stopped by an RV resort called Bear Cave Falls. Not only was there a real waterfall there, but there was also a decently sized cave, one that also has quite a bit of history to it. It was used as part of The Underground Railroad to help hide escaped slaves & it was also used to hide the spoils of an 1875 train robbery that happened in Ohio. In addition to the waterfall & cave the tallest Tulip Tree in Michigan is also located at this park. It is called the Potawatomi Conference Tree, there is a very large branch that comes off the side of the tree that the Potawatomi used as a sort of watch tower.
October 1, with Saphira
This was my last trip to Silver Lake State Park in 2016. I didn't really plan on hiking at Silver Lake on this day , my intention was to get a bottle of wine from The Fox Barn, a local winery. They were closed when I got there so I ended up heading to Silver Lake while I waited for them to open. This was kinda rainy day so the hiking wasn't all that fun. I did get my wine though.
October 6, alone
My last hiking trip of the year was an hour long stop at Oval Beach in Saugatuck Michigan. I stopped by here as I was making a trip down to Cincinnati Ohio. This was a nice send off to the years hiking trips. I found a nice trail system to explore along with some interesting historical sites, such as the historic outlet of the Kalamazoo river, the current outlet lies 3/4 of a mile north of the historic outlet. The outlet was moved in order to make it easier for ships to enter and exit the Kalamazoo river.
|My Bird Photos, current subject Sanderling||September 10, 2016, 5:10 pm|
I was out at the Muskegon Lake channel today looking to get some photos of the storm passing through, but I didn't get anything good from that. What I did get though, was a pretty good photo of a young Cormorant.