Thursday, December 1, 2016

November 25 in Topanga State Park

Overlooking Santa Monica Bay
A beautiful day with Friends Mark and Barbara on a ten mile hike in our beautiful Topanga State Park.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

November Club Hike: Devil's Punchbowl Natural Area

Our November hike was 7 miles at Devil's Punchbowl County Park, on the north side of the San Gabriels. Weather was perfect, sun wasn't hot, and a good time was had by all. I hope the day was as good for the other 12 as it was for me.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Oct 15: Full Moon Hike with Hiking Club

Our October hike coincided with the full Hunter's Moon, and this month the Honda Hikers joined us for a big group of 28! We climbed Mt Lowe in the foothills above Pasadena just as the weather changed, and we got some great photos.
Moonrise over Mt Baldy
We summitted just as the first clouds rolled in to obscure the city view
The moon's weird illumination  through the clouds
Hiking down. This area burned in 2009, so a lot of dead brush still stands
Spooky. Wish I had tried taking video of this
On the return hike, in the Mueller Tunnel. Way cool...

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 10: Cirque Peak Loop

I got in one final Sierras trip, to climb 12900' Cirque Peak at the head of the Cottonwood Lakes basin. I ascended cross country on the north face, up about a thousand feet of scree and boulderfield, before summiting and descending the southwest slope to the PCT and Chicken Spring Lake, returning through Cottonwood Pass. On the summit was a Meetup group who took my picture.
The entire loop is almost 16 miles. I made this same hike in 2007 and liked it enough to redo it. It was a great day for climbing in the Sierras, and afterward I had a room waiting for me at the Dow Villa in Lone Pine.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

John Muir Trail progress, mapped

OK then, the fastest ultrarunner has finished the 212 mile John Muir Trail in under four days. By the time we finish we'll have taken seven years (about 55 trail days). But in breaking it up, and with the connector trails, we'll have hiked over 360 miles and seen a lot more of the High Sierra. Honestly, thinking back of all the connector trails we've used, how few people we've seen on the passes, and how pretty the valleys were that lead us to and from the JMT, it's all just as great.
Obviously we're not hiking it contiguously end to end
Looking NW from Lone Pine. Our final segment lies between the 2015 and 2017 pins.
Next year's segment will be eight days, 68 miles, five high passes (four are around 12000'), without resupply. We'll parallel the high wall of peaks named the Palisades, in Kings Canyon NP.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

John Muir Trail 2016: Finishing Yosemite

This year's JMT trip was shorter than others, at 40 miles, but we were able to fashion a five day loop trip with just a one-mile car shuttle. The segment that we needed to close was the 15-mile stretch between Half Dome and Cathedral Lakes. Weather was perfect, mosquitoes were rare, and we visited three of the High Sierra Camps along the way (Vogelsang, Merced Lake, and Sunrise).  80% complete now, next year will finish the trail with a 68-mile trip between South Lake and Onion Valley in 8 days, without a resupply.
Mark posted his best shots here.
After an overnight stay in tentcabins at Tuolumne Meadows, we're ready to start
Day 1: Crossing Tuolumne Creek, we won't see dayhikers again til day 5
Approaching Vogelsang Pass
Day 2: on the descent into the Merced River drainage
Day 3: hiking past Merced Lake
A fawn at Merced Lake
The trail on the floor of Merced Valley
Near our joining of the JMT, and looking at Half Dome's backside. We climbed Half Dome when we hiked that segment in 2010.
That stripe is the cable route. Can you see hikers?
See them yet?

Day 5: Cathedral Pass, Cathedral Lake and Cathedral Peak

Friday, July 29, 2016

June 2016: Southern Utah trip

Cataract Canyon is the last major segment of Colorado River whitewater that I hadn't paddled yet, and in 2013 I set up this trip, but then couldn't go. Five in the group still went, and raved about it. So I was waiting for at least an average snowpack year to reschedule. This time our group was eleven, mostly Hiking Club members, and I booked us a paddleraft trip.
Because flow in Cataract Canyon (the segment between the Green River and the Dirty Devil) is unregulated, springtime flow usually peaks at about 40000 cfs, making the rapids some of the biggest in North America, for a while. Really big years might see 70000cfs, so last year I planned this 5-day river trip for about ten days into June, which ended up perfectly timed. For three days, the flow peaked at 46000 cfs, and we nailed it exactly.
Five of us added extra days onto the trip for hiking in Bryce Canyon NP, Escalante NM, and Arches NP before meeting up with the others in Moab.
On the trail at Bryce Canyon NP
Hoodoos and tall fir trees
In Escalante NM: all day spent exploring slotcanyons. This is Zebra Canyon
Mark showing us how to keep his camera dry in Tunnel Canyon
An evening hike to swim in this pool at the top of a waterfall. Best EVER.
One of the biggest alcoves I have ever visited, 3 mi into Escalante Canyon
We were on the trail in total darkness to make the 6am sunrise at Delicate Arch (Arches NP)
Park Ave (Arches NP)
In Moab: we are now a mighty group of eleven! This is the BEFORE shot.
Finally, on the river! Our flotilla is powered over miles of flat water by a motor rig.
On a hike in Indian Canyon, Canyonlands NP
Sunset at our Spanish Bottom camp (Photo by Kay Roney)
Shade on a hike is always great, but this was unexpected: an entire room!
At the beginning of the whitewater stretch. Suited up!

We scouted Big Drop 1 from the right bank, and watched this oarboat go thru.

I guess this would be the AFTER shot. At the bottom of Cataract Cyn, in Glen Canyon NRA. Our last day on the river the paddleboats are lashed again to the motor rig.
The bridge at Hite, where Lake Powell starts. It's the first manmade thing we have seen since 5 days previous.
The day we were in rapids, the flow in Cataract Canyon peaked at 46000cfs. Average flow in Grand Canyon is probably around 16000cfs, for comparison. It's big enough that most trips only run motorized boats thru Cataract. As it turned out, our two paddleboats were the only ones in Cataract on that day, all the other boats were motorized.  As we pushed off the banks, a lot of the other crews on the river were pulled out, and watched us go through from ledge perches above. I know I'd have wanted to watch! In fact our guides had never guided paddleboats thru Cataract at water that big.
There was a pair of wooden dories that endo'd in Satan's Gut, wrecking them both. They were on the last afternoon of a 13 day trip. Luckily nobody drowned. We found the dories lashed to a giant S-Rig, later duct-taped together, to get them out, but the boats' structures were crushed. Our two paddleboats made it through, with only one swimmer getting washing-machined through Satan's Gut, and he was the guide! It was all good though and a great time was had by all.
Here's my one-minute iMovie version of the GoPro footage. 

Want more? Tohru's photos are here, and Mark posted some here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

April 16: Hiking Club at Topanga State Park

View of Santa Monica Bay
In Santa Ynez Canyon

Saturday, March 26, 2016

March 25 with Hiking Club in Santa Anita Canyon

We started early, so it's cool and shady
Some of the weekend cabins in the canyon. These are all walk-in
50' Sturtevant Falls
A lot of flowers in bloom right now
Five miles in, at Sturtevant's Camp. When this enormous old tree fell in the camp a few years ago, they carved a bench from this one section, and counted 800 annular rings.
Periwinkle was brought in early by cabin builders, so it's everywhere in the canyon now. It keeps the poison oak down, and it's pretty, so it's okay.

Monday, March 14, 2016

March 10-13 Hiking Club in Death Valley

Hiking in Gower Gulch, Zabriskie Hills

In Natural Bridge Canyon (Mark Ammerman)

Group photo at Zabriskie Pt (Mark Ammerman)
The valley floor got a rain shower Friday night, dropping snow down to about 6500'. Here we are as we start up the fan to Redwall Canyon. (Mark Ammerman)
Climbing a big pouroff in Redwall Canyon
Everyone made it!

Redwall Canyon Narrows #1

A lot of gold poppies came out this year
Redwall Canyon narrows #2
Flowers were everywhere, many tiny and delicate like these (Tohru Ohnuki)