Sunday, December 3, 2017

December : Supermoon Night Hike to Mission Point

In LA, November and December are the best months for night hikes.  The clear, warm days are followed by early sunsets and cool evenings. One can get out for dark and still be home by 7pm. And there's Christmas lights. This night also offered a supermoon, bright enough to see by on the hike down. I only switched on my headlamp in the shadows.

At center is Glendale, left of center is the Verdugo Hills; right of center is Mt Lee, downtown LA thru the gap, and Hollywood Hills to the right. In the foreground is the beautiful San Fernando Valley.
Mission Point is the last big bump on the east end of the Santa Susana range that divides the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys but one can hike to this spot from either valley.

Thanksgiving: Vasquez Rocks ramble

Beautiful sunny skies and we had the park all to ourselves

November 11 night hike to Echo Mtn

The sun sets as we climb the switchbacks

It's dark by the time we arrive on summit

We made hot chocolate for everybody

That's Pasadena down there

Our group was 28, plus a doggie

Sunday, November 26, 2017

October: Long Weekend in New Mexico

After my friend Nina's recent move to Albuquerque, I thought it was time for my first visit back to the area in 20 years. We  hiked in the southernmost tip of the southern Rockies, the Sangre de Crostos, also the Sandias and in Petroglyph National Monument.

It was just past peak color in the Sangre de Cristo range

On another hike to the Sandia Crest. That's Albuquerque in the background
Dinner in Old Town Albuquerque
On a hike in Petroglyph National Monument

October: Canyoneering in the San Gabriels

I got an invite from the canyoneering group at one of our LA sites, and jumped at the chance to join them for a day in Big Tujunga Canyon.
Our off-trail route is highlighted
The day offered three quick drops (25', 50', and 130') before bottoming out into Big Tujunga Cyn, then a short bushwack to where the trail crosses the canyon bed and returns to the highway above. Upper Big Tujunga Cyn is riddled with short, quick descents that can be done in a day.
First rappel
Sandra on 2nd rap, with a pool at the base
2nd rap
Andy on the 3rd rap - 130'
At 130' the third descent was probably the longest rappel I've done to date. As Andy went over the brink he disappeared from sight. Once he was off the rope he blew his whistle to signal.

My turn

Everyone at the base of the 3rd rap
Ready to hike out
Hiking back to the road, looking back down into rugged Big Tujunga gorge

Friday, November 17, 2017

August Backpack Trip in the Sierra

Day 3, Admiring the view in Big Whitney Meadow
2017 was supposed to be the year of completing the John Muir Trail. But after a heavy winter, even though our trip was planned for late summer, the trip's five passes were all still buried in snowpack, with perilous creek crossings (three deaths on the PCT this summer, two in our segment).  So in July I replanned an alternate five day loop trip in Golden Trout Wilderness and southern Sequoia NP. The trip would be 6 days, totalling about 41 miles.
It's partly cloudy as we start out from 9800' Horseshoe Meadows Trailhead
Two hours out, after crossing Trail Pass, we get a bonus rainstorm, with hail
All's well that ends well. The rest of the trip was clear skies
Camp for first and second night
Day 2 we climbed 11000' Kern Peak for a tremendous view
Back in camp for sunset. That's Kern Peak behind.
Morning, Day 3, an uphill hike all day
Camp at the end of Day 3 was a dry camp below Siberian Pass. Few people come this way.
Day 4 - over Siberian Pass, we drop packs, make a camp, and hike into beautiful Miter Basin in Sequoia NP. Because it's off the beaten path, Miter Basin gets very little visitation
At Sky Blue Lake in Miter Basin
Looking up, LeConte Pk on the left, and one of those spires is Mt Corcoran
On Day 5 we hike over Army Pass into the Cottonwood Lakes Basin
Final sunrise on the trail
Last morning, packing up, but with smiles because the bear cans are empty of food
Midday finish back at Horseshoe Meadows
A good time was had by all


Saturday, July 29, 2017

July: Seeing friends in the Upper Mississippi River Valley

The was my first trip to see my old friends Laura and Matt at their home near Houston, MN.  It's the SE corner of the state, where MN borders Wisconsin and Iowa.
Overlooking the Mississippi River from Perrott State Park, WI
Of course there's great hiking in the area! I lost count of the hikes we did, and how many times I crossed the Mississippi River. The whole area is really pretty.
Look! A mountain that switched sides of the river!
Flowers everywhere. Bluffs overlooking the river rise 600 feet.
A timber rattler. This particular rock pile was filled with snakes.
On the Iowa River
We also spent a day paddling on the Iowa River, where we had several bald eagle sightings, also some kingfishers, herons, all the regular stuff. Great fun.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

June 10: Hiking Club on Mt Islip

It's drizzley and glum under that marine layer
 Hiking Club spent the day hiking 7 miles roundtrip to Mt Islip's 8250' summit. While the entire coast was under a deep marine layer all day, we were up in the sunshine admiring the view.
We met our friends from the Honda Hiking Club on the summit, who hiked came up from the LA side.
Little Jimmy Spring is flowing just like it always is

May 13: Hiking Club on Liebre Mountain

On the summit
Hiking Club made 12 miles today (6 out-and-back on the PCT), on an enjoyable cool spring day. A good time was had by all.
At the upper edge of the 2004 Pine Fire burn, the Colter Pines are 20 feet high. Here you can see the remnants of the previous forest, and the pathway that PCTA Trail Gorillas cut through the pile of blowdowns. Not many dead trees still stand but the new ones are growing fast.