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Seals, Isle of Shoals, Maine and New Hampshire

When I’m not taking photos, I love to scuba dive. It’s a great sport that takes us to amazing places where we often encounter some incredible things underwater. Recently, we took a trip to the Isle of Shoals, which is a small group of islands that span the border of Maine and New Hampshire in the Gulf of Maine. These islands are a summer haven for seals who haul out onto the rocky shores and rest – especially on Duck Island on the northern part of the chain.

Backpacking to Quartz Lake, Colorado

Thanks to a helpful coincidence in work travel, I was able to make a trip to Pagosa Springs, Colorado to see my parents for a few days. While planning my stay, I decided I also wanted to add some solo backpacking to my visit. My first plan was to hike the Lime Mesa trail to Emerald Lake in the Weminuche Wilderness, but while the stretch from the trailhead to the overlook is well documented, I had trouble finding information about the trail down to the lake itself. With the overlook portion sitting well above tree line, I realized I did not want to be caught there during one of Colorado’s infamous afternoon monsoons – especially given the lightning danger. I would be taking on a lot of risk if I couldn’t make the supposedly tricky descent down the unmaintained trail to the lake before lunchtime.

Thankfully, I had a good last-minute recommendation from my mother and one of her friends to switch my plan to Quartz Lake in the South San Juan Wilderness instead. The trail to the lake is well documented, and it had just as much scenic promise as the original plan. Even though I had never been to the lake, I had previously hiked a portion of the trail as a day hike – a plus because I knew what I was getting myself into. After some quick map reading, Google Earthing, and GPS checking, I locked in my plan and set out the following morning.