Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bridge to Nowhere – February 12, 2011

Stats: 10 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Special: Bungee jumping option at the Bridge
Attendance: Dad (Mike), Jeremy, Andrea, Candice, Susan and me

“No Vertical Limits” is my dad’s slogan for the year. When Jeremy mentioned that he found a place to go bungee jumping off a bridge my dad jumped (pun intended) at the chance. Apparently there is only one place you can jump off a bridge in California, legally. Bungee America ( is the company who owns the bridge and runs the bungee operation. The location is the Bridge to Nowhere, East San Gabriel River, Azusa, Ca. The twist, as if you need a twist when going bungee jumping, is that it is a 10 mile roundtrip hike to the bridge. And not just a normal hike for 10 miles, but a hike where you will have to cross the river 6 times. And you will have to cross it, there is no saving the shoes, you will get wet. But we knew all this going in and that was half the adventure, the anticipation of it.
Candice and myself were the only two who were not planning on jumping. The rest of the group signed up. We originally were slotted to start the hike at 7:30am. But they called Jeremy and ask if he would like to move our group up to the 6am group since they were completely booked. Jeremy of course said yes. Those of us from Fresno, drove down Friday night, getting to Azusa by 9:30pm, where Susan met us at the hotel. We immediately went to bed since we would have to be up at 5am the next morning in order to get to the trailhead on time.
Morning came too soon but we got up and going and out the door on time. The start of the trail is at the end of the East San Gabrielle Road, which puts you pretty far up the Azusa canyon area. When we arrived at the trail head it was still dark. It took them a good 30 minutes to get the group oriented and all the paperwork in order. Then we headed out on the trail. It was a nice meandering trail that followed the river most of the way with only a slight elevation rise until the last half mile. We definitely got our shoes wet. But before the really river crossing we came to a section of the rock where if you climbed along a granite wall, very carefully, you could avoid getting our shoes wet. And like the lemmings we were we did it and it was exhausting work. Let me just say that on the trip back I laughed at how silly that was and how much energy we could have saved by just wading the shallow area next to the granite wall. But what did we know at the time, not much. In the main part of the river the water was flowing so deep and fast that they asked us to cross in pairs, we would grab the other person’s backpack and kind of get some leverage as we crossed the river. The water was really cold too. We got to do that 3 times at the way there and 3 on the way back of course. The only part that really goes uphill a lot is at the end when you reach the last half mile and you have to go up about 500 feet to reach the bridge. What a magnificent sight the bridge is and such an anomaly. The history is, back in the 1920s one of the work crews created by Roosevelt built a road through the canyon. Unfortunately, some flood water washed away the road but the bridge remains. When we arrived at the bridge they sat everyone down and gave a rundown of the rules and the basics of bungee jumping. Then the group was up and going. We all took turns taking pictures of everyone bungee jumping. It was quite an event. By the time everyone had jumped the 7:30 group was arriving. I was really happy that we had gone to the early group because this group was double the size of ours. And that also meant that by 11:30 we were hiking back to the car. This was on our own, so we did get a little lost because there is an area where a lower bridge used to be, but the place to cross the river is not very clear so we ended up wandering around trying to find a good place to cross. But other than that we made it back to the car in one piece.
We decided a nice fatty lunch at The Hat was just what we needed after that hike and jumps. So we filled up on pastrami sandwiches and chili cheese fries. Then we were off back to Fresno. We were home with plenty of time to shower and get to bed early. It was perfect.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Corbett Lake October 2, 2010

Stats: 6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet (we think)
Attendance: Dad (Mike), me and Mocha

I realize that this year’s hiking season has been a lot of repeat hikes but just as many new hikes. It is great to live near such a wealth of wonderful hikes and National Parks and coast lines.
My dad wanted to get another hike in before he and a group of his friends attempted Mount Whitney next weekend. Despite the fact that said thunder storms and 30% chance of rain, we hopped into the jeep and drove up to an old favorite of our. Corbett Lake. It is up the Kaiser Pass Road not quite to Florence Lake and definitely in the wilderness area. It is a great little place that not many people know about. We usually backpack up to the lake at the end of August but last year we replaced the trip with a weekend at Dinkey Creek with the Ocheltrees, and this year we weren’t planning it at all. I thought it was nice to actually squeeze it in this year. It was strange to go up with only a day pack on, but nice too. I should also mention that this is the same trail I broke my leg on 4 years ago and had to hike 1.5 miles out with a tree branch, 2 Advil and my dad carrying my pack.
The trail starts with a gradual ascent through the woods and across a granite field at 8,000 feet. From there you get to the switchbacks, which is really the worst part of the trail. You just go up and up and up. Once you reach the top of those switchbacks you enter the John Muir Wilderness area and pass through a wonderful little meadow. This time of the year the ferns were starting to turn a lovely shade of yellow and there were no mosquitoes which is a huge problem in the summer. My dad’s plan the whole way was to book it up the trail and then double back to me and repeat so that he could get some extra miles in there. Unfortunately this did not work out for him so well. The first time he turned around he seemed a little surprised to see me but we continued on. The second time he turned around he said that he hadn’t had to come back that far. And I thought that was most excellent, because I was feeling really good on the hike and the main reason I kept stopping was for oxygen not to rest my legs. We reached the top in what felt like no time and Mocha loved the lake time that she got, psycho water dog that she is. I beat my normal hike time on this trail by 40 minutes, maybe more, but we forgot to check the time when we left.
The whole time we had been hiking up the clouds had been gathering and then getting darker. Once we reached the top the wind started up and it was cold. We ate some lunch at one of the camp sites up there. So after not being there for very long I suggested we head back. We threw the stick for Mocha a few more times and then we were off back down the trail. It did not take us very long to get back. The sky continued to get darker and we definitely kept a very good pace going downhill. When we reached the granite field ½ mile from the end, the thunder and lightning started and a few drops of rain. Having just read “Shattered Air” I knew that granite is not what I wanted to be standing on when the lightning hit. We really picked up the pace from a fast hike to a brisk walk. We reached the end of the trail and the Jeep quickly and piled in. Mocha had not had anything to drink since we left the lake so my dad stopped by the stream near the campsites/road to let her drink. Right after they were done they piled in the car and we got no further than 2 feet and the heavens opened up and the storm when crazy. Unfortunately for us my dad had not had time to switch to the hard top on the Jeep so it was a very wet inside the Jeep. Poor Mocha was totally freaking out in the back because she was getting soaked and thunder is not her friend. At one point I saw a flash of lightning right in front of us and just as I opened my mouth to say, that was close, the thunder rolled. So I really did comment “That was close!” Hail started as we rounded the mountain and the landscape turned white from the amount of hail. Poor Mocha getting pelted in the back eventually shimmied her way into my lap on a very dangerous part of the road. So I held on to her for a bit while she shook with terror on my lap. We passed many campsites of the hunters that were up there. And a few sad people with canoes strapped to the top of their cars headed for Edison Lake. We eventually got down and out of the storm not too worse for wear. And I commented that nature was letting us know that summer was over. I thought that was very appropriate after our usual end of summer hike to Corbett Lake.
We didn’t take any pictures on this hike, sorry, you’ll just have to visualize the storm for yourself.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Roadtrip Hiking

Callie and I did several hikes on our roadtrip. Here they are in more detail.
If you want to read about our roadtrip go to

Carlsbad Caverns Loop June 7, 2010

Length: 1.5 miles loop
People: Callie and me

We did not have a lot of time to spend at Carlsbad Caverns National Park unfortunately. As a result we were not able to walk down through the natural cave entrance to the main cavern. Instead we took the elevator down 700 feet underground and exited into the dark gift show at the bottom. They have only the amount of lighting absolutely needed for the caves so it took our eyes a little bit to adjust.
As soon as we entered the main cavern we were completely awestruck. That something of this magnitude and beauty exists down here. And that we can access it is amazing. They have a well paved path that leads through and around all the pools, stalactites, stalagmites, abysses, drop offs, arches and bat guano. The whole time we were walking through we had our mouths open in wonder. We attempted to capture the cavern with our cameras but it was way too dark to show the place properly. Here are a few things we liked the most.

This is really one of those National Parks that you have to see it to believe it. Pictures don’t even come close to showing the vastness of the cavern. Which is almost 3 football fields long, it took us 1.5 miles to loop around the whole cavern.
I would love to go back, because we missed a few things, like hiking down through the natural entrance. There are also side trips to other parts of the caverns and other caverns in the area that you can do. And most importantly, I want to see the bats fly out of the cave in the evening.

Petrified Forest June 11, 2010

Painted Desert Rim Trail
Stats: 1.2 miles round trip
People: Callie and me

We of course stopped at the ranger station before we began our journey through Petrified Forest National Park. It was an overcast day for us while we were there, so unfortunately the Painted Desert was not as vibrant as it could have been. But we still thought it was lovely. We made our first stop at the Painted Desert Rim Trial that starts at Tawa Point and ended at the Painted Desert Inn. We did the short trail along the rim that gave sweeping views of the multi colored desert for as far as we could see. The trail was a nice red dirt trail that was fairly level and easy. It was .6 miles one way. Once we reached the Painted Desert Inn we turned around. It was not an impressive hike but we were limited on time so we wanted to make sure we didn’t do anything too time consuming.

Rainbow Forest Trail
Stats: 0.4 mile loop
People: Callie and me

After driving along the road that bisects the park we found our way to the end where the Rainbow Forest Ranger Station is located. All along the road we kept seeing outcroppings of rocks, which were actually parts of the Petrified Forest. The Rainbow Forest is a large clustering of the Petrified rocks that the ranger station has fenced in hopes of preventing any theft. Which is the big environmental emphasis in this park, Don’t take the rocks! The look starts out the back of the ranger station and winds you around and by large trees that have turned to stone where they lay. And little stumps and large parts of trees. It was really great to see all the different colors that were there in the rock/trees. And because we are good National Park people, we went over the gift shop and Callie purchased 2 boxes of petrified wood that was collected outside of the park.

Grand Canyon – Bright Angel Trail June 12, 2010

Stats: 3 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Wild Life Spotted: 3 mountain goats
People: Callie and me

When you are at the Grand Canyon it is a requirement to hike a little of the infamous trail down to the bottom of the canyon. Since we were once again limited on time, and definitely not fit enough to make the whole (18 mile/3,500 foot elevation gain) hike I decided that we should at least go to Restroom Stop #1. This was 1.5 miles down the canyon trail and right by our cabin. We started the decent with much awe, because as you go down the trail you begin to see a whole different side of the canyon, you really see the color changes at each level because you are walking right through it, and you get a perspective of how small you are and how big the canyon is. From the rim of the canyon you are wowed by expanse, from inside the canyon you look up and you are wowed by the enormity and depth. We only went 1.5 miles down and we passed through the top white area of stone into the red sandstone. It was an easy trip down and a longer slower trip back up. But we stopped a lot and took in the scenery, watched the afternoon thunderstorm roll in and look at the 3 big horned sheep we saw in the canyon with us. Because we started early we passed a lot of people coming down, a few for the whole trip and a few just to one of the restroom stops like us. It was really worth the struggle of the hike though as the hike was truly the highlight of the Grand Canyon stop. It began to rain as we reached the last ¼ mile of the trail so we booked it as fast as we could back to our cabin.
We had also meant to hike part of the rim trail later that day to see the canyon and hike on the edge of the rim but the thunderstorm lasted from around 11am to 5pm when we went to dinner, so we ended up riding the tram to each of the rim stops during that time and faced hailstorms and down pours of rain.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Yosemite Falls… Again May 8, 2010

Length: 7.2 miles
Elevation Change: 2,700 feet
People: Mike (Dad), Jeremy, Vitor, Rich and me

Let me start by saying, I think I took an insanity pill on the day I suggested we do this hike. 11 months almost to the day since I did this hike and here I am at it again. What was I thinking?! Had I forgotten the grueling switchbacks up the side of the hill, or the length of the hike? I had not, but I also remembered the stunning views and the sense of accomplishment when I reached the top… and the bottom of the falls. This is what lead me to take this hike again.

We all headed up the morning of the hike with my mom in tow and we all clambered out of the car at Camp 4, base camp for El Capitan. And in order to keep from repeating myself I will direct you to the trail descriptions of the Yosemite Falls hike from June 9, 2010. I will share with you all the wonderful photos I got just to prove to you how worthwhile this hike is.

This trip was a little different, first because it was sunny and beautiful. The weather was perfect for hiking such a strenuous hike.

Second, it was still early May, so there was a ton of snow in the surrounding mountains, making it very picturesque.

And last, there was a lot of water, everywhere on the trail and coming off the falls and coming from mountain side, it made the hike an adventure.

The hike was just as strenuous as before but I did not push myself as hard as last time so I made it to the top in 4 hours instead of 3.5 hours.

What I found at the top was SNOW! Lots and lots of snow. The trail over to the waterfall was covered in snow, and the trail over to the bridge and beyond was all snow.

I found my group, and I found out the Jeremy and Vitor had trekked through the snow and over to the Yosemite Point, the falls overlook, an extra mile of hiking (No Thank You!). I got to spend some time at the top and enjoy the view before I nearly froze.

We all headed back down the trail, I made it back in 2 hours.
Then we headed over the Awahanee for our traditional meal after hiking Yosemite at the bar. It was a wonderful way to end the day. It was also nice to have my mom join us before and after the hike because she could hear all the stories from the group and drive us home when we were all tired.
And I will not end this blog the way I ended my last Yosemite Falls hike, because to be honest, I probably will do this hike again, and it could very well be next year again.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bolinas Ridge Trail - March 20, 2010

Location: Point Reyes, CA
Length: 9 miles
Elevation Change 1,000 ft
People: Mike (Dad), Jeremy, Vitor, Serena, Josh, Jamie, Chris, Mocha and Lucy

We went to visit our friend Jamie for the weekend and get in a great hike. Friday night we arrived at Jamie’s and her boyfriend’s, Chris, mountain home around . They have an incredible home they are renting right on the edge of the Point Reyes National Seashore area. The house has one room, bathroom, living room and kitchen with a wraparound porch. Off the back side of the house and porch is an awesome little solarium at the top of a set of stairs that give a fantastic view of the city of Point Reyes.

Upon arriving Jamie informed us that there had been a mountain lion around that had eaten 2 of her chickens just a few days before. So we all opted to sleep inside the house and solarium. Mocha and Lucy became fast friends… in a sense (more to come on that).
The next day we took it easy while we ate fresh eggs from the chickens in the yard and caught up with Jamie and what is happening in her life. Then we discussed which trail we should or could take. Jamie’s house was literally right next to the Point Reyes rim trial which was one of the few trails that allows dogs. But we ended up going with the Bolinas trail outside of the National Seashore area.

The trail is a one-way hike so we dropped off the majority of people and Jamie and my dad went to drop off a car at the picnic area at the end of the trail. The beginning of the trail was on a farm road walking right through a herd of cows. I haven’t had much experience with cows, other than driving by them on the 99 in McFarland, so to walk by the cows I realized how huge they are and how small I am. Of course to Lucy, Jamie’s dog, thought they were just giant dogs that were meant to play with. Despite all the yelling we did at her she decided to chase the cows around the field.

The cows did not like this at all, especially because there were calves in the group and they started to charge Lucy. Chris got a hold of Lucy and we walked as quickly as possible through the cows. I am proud to say that Mocha started to follow Lucy’s lead but with a quick holler or two to her she stayed on the dirt road and left the cows alone.
The trail meanders up the pasture for about a mile where you have to walk through fenced areas and more cows. We managed to make it to the mile marker that told us we were on the right path. We followed it the rest of the way cow free, thank goodness. It meandered along a hill crest where there were views of the coastal mountains on both sides. Since we were still in the wet season everything was green and there were ponds and puddles all over the place. At one point we came to a grove of eucalyptus tree which were the thickest I had ever seen them get. Serena and I got a chance to hike quite a while together and chat it up. It was really fun to catch up and get to know each other.

Shortly after the eucalyptus grove we climbed a rolling hill and came to our turn off, 6 miles in. The turn off then took us 1.5 miles straight down the hill side on a fire road. I have never hiked such a steep trail! Serena and I went down it together and we had to stop a couple of time because our toes kept hitting the front of our shoes. Once we reached the bottom we found the dogs, Jamie, Chris, Vitor and my dad down by the river enjoying the scenery. We all continued together along a flat trail to a parking lot where we found Jeremy and Josh waiting for us because they didn’t know where to go from there.
From that point we traveled another 1.5 miles on a nice flat trail that was right next to the river. The dogs enjoyed being able to run along and not be hindered by cows. We ended at a nice little picnic area where Jamie and my dad had left the car. We pulled out the cooler and started frying up some burgers. I proptly pulled out the Renu Poison Ivy soap and washed all the exposed skin, just in case, because I don’t remember seeing a bunch of poison ivy, but knowing me, if there was even a leaf out there it would make me get oozing sores all over. The BBQ was a great way to end the hike, good food, good friends and the dogs finally calmed down enough to be normal. After that we all piled into the and headed back to Fresno.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Big Sur March 13, 2010

Little Sur River
Length: 5.6 miles
Elevation Change: 1,200 feet
People: Mike (Dad), Jeremy, Vitor, Mocha and me

We have recently found the beauty and attraction of the coast in the winter. While it’s cold and foggy in the central valley we can travel 2 hours to a warm sunny place called Big Sur. There are also great places like Carmel, Monterey and Pismo to visit too. And all those pretty coastline pictures with cliffs and bridges come from Big Sur, so you can imagine how spectacularly beautiful it is there.

We have been to Big Sur a couple of times before but this trip was specifically to do a nice hike and scope out fun things to do during Thanksgiving when the Nimon Family comes to Carmel, CA. As soon as we turned off of Highway 1 we were under towering trees and small moss covered houses. Jeremy’s tagline for the area was, “Hate Sun, come live here.” To get to the first hike we took a narrow winding road to the top of a coastal mountain. Once we reached the top we could see all the way to a small little campfire that was burning off in the distance,

which we assumed would be our end destination. The trail followed a fire road for the first 1.8 miles going very steeply down the hillside. The views of the Coast Mountains were gorgeous, definitely a different view of Big Sur. There was then a turn off before you get to the boy scouts camp that takes you down a deer trail the remaining 1 mile. It was nice and shaded.

Then we were down by the river, at a quaint little spot with 2 camping spots right next to the river. It was very pretty and tranquil and cold! We did not stay down there for long.

Then we hiked back out! And man did it suck! Or maybe I sucked… sucked air that is. It was entirely uphill, no flat area, no dips in the trail, just up, up and away.
The best part was once we got to the top my mom wandered down to walk the last ¼ mile back with me because she claimed that the boys ditched me. To which I laughed because I am so used to hiking on my own, as the slowest hiker in the group. Plus those 3 guys are close to the fastest hikers I know. Once at the top we hopped back in the car and continued to the next more scenic and easy hike.

Partington Tunnel
Length: 1 mile
Elevation Change: 280 feet
People: Mike (Dad), Jeremy, Vitor and me

This was a cool hike my dad found in the Day Hikes Around Big Sur book he has. The trail is right off Highway 1, a little hard to find but well worth the hassle. It takes you down a short but steep fire road and over to an old tunnel.

The tunnel cuts through a cliff and spits you out at a “Pirate Cove”. This cove actually used to be used for loading and unloading lumber in the good old days

before the Sierra Club… oops did I type that out loud?! It was a wonderful view, right up next to the ocean and the crashing waves and no sand on your feet or between your toes. In my opinion the whole coast should be like that. And look like that, smog free and salty tasting, so maybe there is a place in this world for the Sierra Club.

Out on the rocky, cliff side point there was a bunch of people fishing and there was a nice bench to sit and relax. It was a serene place. After that we hoofed it back up to the top to meet up with mom and Mocha at the car. Jeremy made sure to stay back with me while coming up the hill so that my mom wouldn’t get mad again.

McWay Falls
Length: 0.5 miles
People: Mike (Dad), Kathy (Mom), Jeremy, Vitor, Mocha and me

This is a hike we do every time we come to Big Sur. It is the picture on the front of the Big Sur hiking book and my dad had to find it. We also found out it is one of the most photographed places in California. And you will see why. The trail is very easy, flat for the most part. The trail takes you to a view point that shows the waterfall perfectly! And it also puts you right at the base of an old house that has been demolished and grown over for the last 50 years, the history person in me loves that. It is just breath taking. Which I know I have been saying on all of these hikes, but they really are spectacular, which is why we like this newly discovered gem we have found on the central coast of California!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Yosemite December 26, 2009

Who can resist the crisp cool air of winter in the mountains? That distinct tang or pure oxygen, pine trees and fresh snow. I know I can’t, so when my roommate mentioned that he was taking his parents to Yosemite on Saturday I pretty much begged to go with them.
The four of us piled into my dad’s SUV and drove up the windy mountain roads to the winter wonderland of Yosemite National Park. I have not been up there in the winter in at least 8 years, maybe longer.
It was beautiful, the contrasting white with the gray granite and green pine trees. Neither Jeremy or his parents had ever been to Yosemite before so I got to give them the grand tour. We started at Bridal Vail, because where else do you start in the park. There was a little bit of water still flowing from the falls but no mist.
The paved path had large patches of ice from all the foot traffic but it was an adventure slipping and sliding along the path. From there we headed to Curry Village, stopping briefly to check out the skating rink. We passed that up for some lunch over in the Curry Village. It was different seeing everything covered in snow, only the indoors eating was open. The other thing I have not gotten used to is the cabins being closed. I looked over there and spied the stone crushed wood of the cabin we stayed in when I did Half Dome.
After lunch we hitched a ride on the bus to Mirror Lake. We walked the mile to the lake, which is more of a large river basin. It was a easy hike other than trying to traverse the icy patches on the path. But the view was new, even for me. The trail brings you directly under Half Dome. It made the face look oddly obtuse, and added to the grandeur and mystic of the mountain.
I look forward to taking the trail further in the summer when it opens up and you can view Half Dome from the left side. After the stroll we made our way back to the car via the bike path instead of the bus. Then we drove to the Ahwahnee to see it all decked out in snow and Christmas decorations. It was super crowded in there, probably because everyone was trying to stay warm. After that we headed home. It was getting late in the day and we did not want to get stuck driving after dark.
The entire trip was a blast. We laughed most of the time as the Cole family recounted family anecdotes and crazy relative stories. And the most fun was just to get out of Fresno, even if it was just for a few hours.