• 7 Moves
    37:48 h
    191.6 km
    15347 kcal
  • 6:18'37.2 Hiking
    1 week(s) ago
    Photo by theusualid
    6:18'37.2 Hiking
    1 week(s) ago
    Photo by theusualid
    6:18'37.2 Hiking
    1 week(s) ago
    Photo by theusualid
    6:18'37.2 Hiking
    1 week(s) ago
    Photo by theusualid
    6:18'37.2 Hiking
    1 week(s) ago
    Photo by theusualid
    6:18'37.2 Hiking
    1 week(s) ago
    Photo by theusualid
    6:18'37.2 Hiking
    1 week(s) ago
    Photo by theusualid
    6:18'37.2 Hiking
    1 week(s) ago
    Photo by theusualid
    8:59'52.1 Hiking
    27.4.2019

    There’s a rule that many long distance hikers follow when they sign up for a hike: The longer the drive to the hike, the longer the hike has to be to make up for the long drive. If a hike is an hour away and is only 15 miles long, and another hike is 23 miles long and 40 minutes to the trailhead, the longer hike wins. Some may not understand the logic but it leads to good long hikes. Saturday, the 23 mile hike won out over the 15 mile hike.

    At 8:00 Saturday morning, Carol Clark, Eleonora Patricola, James Womack, Maya van den Heuvel, Mia Spooner, Ralph Goldsticker, Theresa Gan, Claudia, Jacquelynn, Nohemi, Susan, Warren, Yannick and I met Tom for a preparatory hike for Tom’s impending climb up Mt Denali. Tom showed up with a large sack of sand and extra water bottles in his pack. The rest of us showed up ready for a good hike.

    Toilet facilities were locked up at Deer Park so there wasn’t any reason to stick around. After Tom rattled off a seemingly Byzantine description of the prop...

    Photo by theusualid
    8:59'52.1 Hiking
    27.4.2019

    There’s a rule that many long distance hikers follow when they sign up for a hike: The longer the drive to the hike, the longer the hike has to be to make up for the long drive. If a hike is an hour away and is only 15 miles long, and another hike is 23 miles long and 40 minutes to the trailhead, the longer hike wins. Some may not understand the logic but it leads to good long hikes. Saturday, the 23 mile hike won out over the 15 mile hike.

    At 8:00 Saturday morning, Carol Clark, Eleonora Patricola, James Womack, Maya van den Heuvel, Mia Spooner, Ralph Goldsticker, Theresa Gan, Claudia, Jacquelynn, Nohemi, Susan, Warren, Yannick and I met Tom for a preparatory hike for Tom’s impending climb up Mt Denali. Tom showed up with a large sack of sand and extra water bottles in his pack. The rest of us showed up ready for a good hike.

    Toilet facilities were locked up at Deer Park so there wasn’t any reason to stick around. After Tom rattled off a seemingly Byzantine description of the prop...

    Photo by theusualid
  • Greatest Moves
  • 22.6.2019
    • Hiking 14:24'52.6 Average heart rate 129 bpm, 71.09 km
      There are hikes and there are INCH hikes. INCH rates their hikes on a scale of 1 to 6, (there have been 7s though). The bigger the number, the harder the hike. INCH stands for Intrepid Northern California Hikers but perhaps the name should be changed to CNCH or Crazy Northern California Hikers. I’m not much of a burger eater these days, but a useful analog to INCH hikes is the Burger King Menu. An INCH 1 is a Hamburger, a 2, a Double Cheeseburger, a 3, a Whopper Junior, a 4, a Whopper, a 5, a Double Whopper, and a 6 is a Triple Stacker King. Yesterday, Steve, one of three fearless INCH hike leaders served up a Triple Stacker King of a hike, with extra bacon. The hike began at 6:59 AM at the Bear Valley Visitor’s Center at the Point Reyes National Seashore. Mihail Mihaylov, Jeff Fisher, Yipeng, Steve and I (sans Sarbinder who would show up later) did the customary INCH cheer and took off up the Woodpecker Trail. The race, if you can call it that, was on, as we branched onto to the Morgan Trail and then onto the Horse Trail for an uphill climb to the Z-Ranch Trail and onto to the Summit Trail, which took us to the top of Mt Wittenberg where I snapped the first of six requisite photos, or proof that I did the complete hike. As I arrived at the summit, Steve and Mihail were waiting, not for me, but for Jeff, with a small flask of tequila and shot glasses. This is Jeff’s 300th INCH hike so a celebration is in order. 300 hikes, I can barely imagine that against my (now) 11 hikes. Being that my hike count is below the 100 required to participate in an INCH toast (or so I’m told), I let the INCH “adults”, Jeff, Steve, Mihail, and Yiping get good and drunk while I took off. From the summit, I headed down to the Wittenberg Trail and onto the Sky Trail, where I snapped another photo where the Sky meets the Coast, and then onto the Coast trail for the next uphill climb. At that point, I had taken the lead but after hiking past the old Arch Rock and beginning the climb up, any sense that I might keep the lead vanished as Sarbinder, who came out of nowhere, appeared behind me. I let him pass and soon after, let Steve and Mihail pass. It seemed they bounded up the trail like gazelles and were out of sight before I could think goodbye. When I pulled into Wildcat Camp and watered up and out, I was alone but not for long, as Jeff and then Yipeng showed up a short time later. As the hike continued, Jeff and I hiked together while Yipeng took off. At around Pelican Lake I had to stop and patch up a nagging blister on my right heel. New shoes and the extra lift caused by inserts for Plantar Fasciitis had done the trick; my heel was near raw. As I raced to catch up I ran into the usual weekend crowd of Alamere Falls revelers and though that maybe I should hire one of them to carry a sign for me stating “Make way for the Real Hikers”, but thought better of it. After all we’re all hikers on this Lonely Planet. In time I caught up with Jeff and we breezed by the Palomarin Trailhead and up Mesa Road to the Ridge Trail, where we caught up with Yipeng. The climb up the Ridge Trail, is well, a climb and I was hoping it would finish soon. It did after about three miles when we hit the Teixeira Trail (yea, try and pronounce it). It took us to the Pablo Point Trail and then to Pablo Point, the whole point of the hike, which will go down in infinity as INCH 1181 - Pablo Point. Period. As Jeff, Yipeng and I sat down for lunch, 24 miles into the hike, I wondered what’s the point of hiking up to Pablo Point?” There’s no spectacular ocean view, no roadside attractions, no five star restaurant, just a sign telling us that Pablo Point is 900 ft away, and a meadow full of grass. There’s no there, there. I think that just might be the point, if there is one. Bt the time we were back on the Teixiera Trail, my watch had logged 25.88 miles. I consoled myself with thought of “I’ve done 16 mile hikes before, the rest of the hike will be a breeze”. I should have know better as that diabolical hike master, master hiker Steve, had planned the hike. Steve doesn’t do easy, at least when I’ve hiked with him. As Yipeng and I ran down the Teixiera Trail and then slowed to a normal pace on the Olema Valley Trail, the trees that had protected up from the warm sun vanished. As we crossed Hwy 1 and climbed up the McCurdy Trail I remembered how I had hiked up it about four years ago. That day was hot and by the time I got to the top I was ready to drop. Yesterday was better but at the top of the McCurdy I stopped three times, probably to reassure myself I could make it to the top of the trail, no to laugh at Yipeng’s comment “It's only two miles long”. Note to self: you need to train with more steep climbing in the heat….. or maybe you need to avoid steep climbs in the heat. I did manage though and soldiered on to the Bolinas Ridge Trail which luckily is beautiful shaded Redwoods at least until the Randall Trail, which luckily, I got to head down. Crossing Hwy 1, I headed onto the Randall Spur Trail and then I was onto the Oelma Valley Trail once more, until the Bolema Trail which took me to the Ridge Trail and the climb up to the Stewart Trail for a photo Op of the sign for the Firtop Summit, another requisite photo. As I branched off at the Greenpicker Trail, I saw Jeff coming off the Ridge Trail and mentioned he had to go up the Stewart to get a pic of the Fir Top sign. The Greenpicker took me to the Glen Camp Loop and Glen Camp where I filled my water bladder at close to 40 miles in. Lucky me as I had gone bone dry coming down the loop. Back on the Glen Camp Loop, I hiked down to the Glen Trail and onto the Bear Valley Trail for the final stretch. All I can say about that trail is that I’m not a big fan. Sure it’s a beautiful sylvan setting with babbling streams and cool air, but every time I’ve been down it, it’s been the end of a long hike, and it never seems to end. It did end though, after 44.17 miles, and 14:24 hours and 8,293 ft of elevation gain. If there had been one around, I might have eaten a Burger King “Triple Stacker King”, all 1,370 calories and all. Make that with extra bacon and cheese.
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    11.9.2018
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    • 24.8.2018
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      4.9.2018
    4.8.2018
    • Hiking 9:48'18.6 Average heart rate 131 bpm, 27.38 km
      When someone mentions the Monterey Coastline, you may think of the obvious, the city of Monterey. If you're a golfer, you may think of Pebble Beach. If the Human Potential movement left a mark on you, the Esalen Institute may come to mind. Reader's thoughts may turn to John Steinbeck and Cannery Row, Jack Kerouac and Big Sur or even Henry Miller and his beatnik life at Big Sur. For years now, thoughts of the times I took my daughter to the Monterey Bay Aquarium have come to mind. That won't change but from here on, I'll also think of Cone Mountain and the Limekiln Star Park in Big Sur. A trip up to Cone Peak is unforgettable. Cone Peak isn't a short drive away; it's over three hours from Oakland, where I met Giulia Hill and Milon at 4:40 AM last Saturday. Once Milon began the drive, it didn't take long for me to fall asleep for I had gotten up at 2:40, but I woke up around the time we got to Monterey and was wide awake as we drove down Hwy 1, with its sweeping views of the beautiful California coastline and adjacent hills and forests. The trip up to Cone Peak, for an INCH sponsored hike, began at Limekiln State Park, with a walk in the opposite direction, under a huge bridge that towers over Limekiln Beach. In a ritual move, Giula Giulia Hill and Milon, Karl Marek, hike organizer Peter Saviz, Adrien, Alan B, Brad, Chinyet, Mihail, Pal, Peggy P, Sophie, Yipeng and I dipped our toes into the Pacific, turned around and began the climb up. The first part of the hike, through the park's campgrounds, over relatively flat rolling terrain and along streams, redwoods, and carpets of clover had me thinking everything was going to come up clover. I should have payed more attention to the two wrong turns we took, one of which took us to the Lime Kilns the park is named after. After backtracking about a mile, we got back on the right path and began a climb up to a point where we looked down on the Hwy 1 bridge we had started the hike under. From that point to Cone Peak, things got steep, really steep, including a hike up the "Twitchell Elevator". Unfortunately, it's not the type of elevator where you tell the elevator person "Cone Peak" and he/she takes you up. We went up the hard way, first in a steep climb up to Twin Peak, including an even steeper rocky stretch just before that peak, then across a rocky saddle, and then finally, past a sign with "Cone Peak - 1/4 mile", through a series of switchbacks, and to the peak. The sign was either a big mistake or my heat induced near delirium misinformed me into thinking it said 4 miles. It seemed like 4 miles. OK I exaggerate. It seemed more like 2. At the peak, I sat with the others that had arrived before me, leaning against the sides of the peak's hut for lunch. The hut was shuttered up but has the look of one of those booths that sells firecrackers before the 4th of July. I seriously doubt the hut is open for firworks sales on July 4th though. In time, all of the group arrived at the hut and we began making our way down. Believe it or not, the steep climb in the heat was a cakewalk. The descent was the hard part of the hike. Note to Self: When you ask Milon, who has much more experience hiking in the heat than you do, how much water he's bringing up and he says 6 liters, or was it 8, follow suit. I began the hike with 4 liters and by the time I reached the peak, only steam remained. Even though I filled a liter bottle with creek water on the way down, it didn't help much as the descent was mostly in hot, open terrain until the last part of the hike. I never saw mirages, but by the time I got to the Twitchell Elevator, its steepness made me think I was in a bad dream. The hike down was over 10 miles, more than the 6 miles we hiked up after getting off track in the Redwood forest. Climbing up to 5,131 ft with over 6K of elevation gain in 6 miles, you're probably wondering how 10 miles downhill could be harder. First hike up the 6 miles, and then hike 10 down in the heat with a liter of water, and you'll have the answer.
    • 4.8.2018
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  • 23.7.2018
    • Hiking 12:40'46.8 Average heart rate 127 bpm, 34.37 km
      This year's Mt Whitney climb may have been the climb that never was. Despite numerous members of the group rolling the dice during the lottery for Mt Whitney permits, when the permit window closed, Lady Luck was frowning on us. We're a persistent bunch though. If at first you don't succeed, try getting a permit the hit and miss way, by checking the recreation.gov as often as time allows. That worked. In the end, four of us were able to secure 15 permits, and the climb was on. Ralph Goldsticker's 17th annual pilgrimage, or annual assault of Mt Whitney, started at Mammoth Lakes with a series of acclimation hikes to loosen up the legs, expand the lungs, and get used to the effects of hiking at higher elevation. The group started checking in from Wednesday to Saturday and we did 2 hikes to Mammoth Crest, and one to Mono Pass. Some of the group also did a short hike at the Devil's Postfile. There were no reported sightings of Lucifer there. Sunday was a travel day to Lone Pine. Some of the group detoured to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest for a hike among Bristlecone Pines while others made a beeline to Lone Pine. With the exception of Katie Kruzic & Hiujo, and Rhee, who were camped out at Whitney Portal, the rest of the group ate dinner in Lone Pine and then attempted to crash out. At 3:00 Am we congregated in the parking lot of the Dow Villa Hotel/Motel, and drove up in a car caravan to Whitney Portal, where Ralph Goldsticker, Kristy Su Lamore, Arnav & Salita, Bjorn, Crystal, Jacquelynn, Susan, Tiffany & Brian, Yannick, and I weighed our backpacks at the trailhead. At around 3:45, the race to the top was on with Katie Kruzic & Hujo, and Rhee taking an early lead as they left Whitney Portal at 2:30. The first part of the hike was with headlamps on and went by relatively fast, probably because the darkness hid the visual aspect of a purely uphill climb. As we passed by Outpost Camp we ran into trailside water but river shoes weren't necessary. Passing Trail Camp at around 12,000 ft, the sun was already peeking over the horizon. By the time we reached the cables section halfway into the 99 switchbacks, the sun was out in full. Unlike last year or the year before, the trip up the switchbacks was snow free. At Trail Crest's 13,700 ft, marmots were in hiding, but there were hikers resting after hiking up from the John Muir Trail. The trip to the summit over the final part of the John Muir Trail was uneventful except for the patches of hail remaining from the previous day's hailstorm and the icy flat rocks on the trail. They required careful footwork or avoidance as slipping on them could mean a long fall down. The first of the group's hikers reached the summit at 14,505 ft, between 9:15 and 9:35 with the rest arriving at a staggered rate. The weather on the summit was sunny with views far off into Sequoia National Park and down into the Alabama Hills and into the Owens Valley and over to the White Mountains. To the East, there was some foglike cloud cover but in time, the wind blew it away. The initial group waited on the summit for about an hour, then started leaving in staggered groups. Although the trip down from the summit is mostly downhill there are small sections of the trip down to Trail Crest that where you have to go uphill to go downhill. For the most part though, the hike back to the trailhead goes far faster than the uphill climb but not in the steep or rocky sections which require slowing down to maintain secure footing. About seven miles from the trailhead, I started hearing thunder and seeing a couple of flashes of lightning, the hiker's bane. I was worried about those behind me at highter altitudes, but it turned out they were ok. Five miles from the trailhead, the rain came. It was wet most of the rest of the way down but raingear helped. All the group hikers were back in Lone Pine by 6:30 and at 7, most of the group sat down for dinner at Lone Pine's Seasons restaurant before heading back to the hotel for an easy night's sleep before the long ride home on Tuesday.
    • 23.7.2018

      Sunrise going up the mountain

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      From the 99 Switchbacks

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      On the mountaintop

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      Heading down from the summit

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      View while heading down

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      View shile heading down

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      There be dragons on the mountain

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      View down into the valley

    18.11.2017
    • Hiking 15:08'15.1 Average heart rate 126 bpm, 36.05 km
      Early Saturday morning, Dmitry Nechayev, Alex and I started a climb in the darkness, from 262 ft below sea level at Shorty's Well in the Badwater Basin in Death Valley. Along the way up to Telescope Peak, we met Jeff, who hiked in from Mahogany Flats. By the time we reached the peak, we had climbed over 11,000 ft. We ended the day in the darkness, at Mahogany Flats. It was a long day, but the views up to and from the peak were equally long, and my memories of the hike will be too.
    • 17.11.2017

      Charcoal Kilns

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      Sunrise over Shorty's Well

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      Cactus convention

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      Lone Cactus

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      Cactus seen while heading up to the first ridgeline

      22.11.2017

      Ancient Bristlecone Pine

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      AT the summmt of Telescope Peak

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      Sunset while heading down to Mahogany Flats

    26.8.2017
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      Campsite on Mt. Whitney

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      Sunset on Mt. Whitney

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      Reached the summit

    17.7.2017
    • Hiking 12:55'59.5 Average heart rate 122 bpm, 31.83 km
      After the Mammoth Lakes hikes earlier in the week, on Sunday, Ralph Goldsticker, Bill and I headed to Lone Pine Ca, and then proceeded up to Whitney Portal. We’d be meeting Tom, Jacquelynn , Harriet, Yannick, William, Monika, Adam and Helen there at 3:30 Monday morning for our climb up Mt. Whitney. Although word on the net helped set expectations for the climb on Monday, there was still a point that needed checking out. Reports had it that a fairly large stream flowed over the initial part of the Mt Whitney Trail and it was a good idea to hike up the old Mt Whitney Trail to bypass that stream. Since none of us had ever hiked on that old trail, Ralph thought it a good idea to check it out. After hiking up the old trail to the point where it meets the Mt. Whitney Trail we headed down to the Whitney Portal Family Campground where Monika, Adam, Helen, Harriet and I would camp that night. The campground, placed in a beautiful sylvan setting is intersected by a roaring stream which seems to smooth one’s sleep at night. The five of us met the rest of the group at the old Trailhead at 3:30 Monday morning, and with headlamps and backpacks, proceed up the trail. Hiking up the Mt Whitney trail so early, under a wall of darkness, keeps hikers from seeing the impenetrable walls towering above and off to their sides. It also partially obscures the degree of ascent. Although it’s easy to tell that you’re climbing, the larger uphill visual context isn’t there. Just before we passed by the trail to Lone Pine Lake, we crossed a series of log bridges. There was nothing unusual here but the volume of water under the logs was larger than last year. It’s fun crossing the bridges with only headlamps to illuminate the way. One misstep and into the in places, calf deep water you go. Around Outpost Camp, we took off our hiking boots and put on “water shoes” to avoid the streams of water overflowing the trail. It must have been around 1/4 mile before we put our hiking boots back on. That isn’t the only time the large winter snowfall affected the hike up and down the mountain. As we passed Mirror Lake, we followed a trail of footsteps onto a snow field that required us to put on our micro spikes. As it turned out, the correct trail was off to the right, but was hidden by the snow. As we found back at Mammoth Lakes, the winter’s snowfalls made hiking up what are normally clear and obvious trails an iffy proposition. By the time we reached Trail Camp, the last campground before beginning the climb up the “97 Switchbacks” section of the climb, we had already turned off our headlamps and noticed the clear sky. At times hiking up the 97 Switchback section was the same as last year but there were areas of the trail covered by snow which in turn required scrambling off the trail over adjacent rock sections or traversing snow fields. At the top of the switchbacks section, “Trail Crest”, at around 13,600 ft of elevation we hiked down to about 13,500 ft of elevation to where the trail intersects with the John Muir Trail, and began the final push to the summit. The trek up to the summit at around 2 miles, is one of the hardest parts of the climb. Not only is there the increasing altitude to contend with, the trail is less pronounced and rockier than the lower portion of the trail. As we got closer to the summit, we branched off the main trail to an older trail so we could avoid the snow field covering much of the main trail. At the summit, we sat down and ate our lunches, took photos of the deep and spectacular panoramic views, and waited for all the members of the group to arrive. Getting up to the summit is only half the battle. Once on the summit, there’s no Lyft or Uber to call for a ride back down. There’s only one safe way down off the mountain and that’s to hike back down. The hike back, although mostly downhill is no piece of cake. The hike uphill is arduous, and demands strength, and endurance, which can be drained when it’s time to hike back down. During the first part of the descent, the air is just as thin as the last part of the uphill climb. Given that all of the hike down is in broad daylight, many of the sights obscured during the early part of the darkness shrouded uphill climb are visible on the downhill trek, including sweeping vistas, beautiful meadows and flowing streams, and huge granite walls. As we traveled down the 97 switchbacks, large kaleidoscopes of black butterflies came streaming by, a view that for some reason reminded me of a scene in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, “100 Years of Solitude”. To be in that area of the mountain as the butterflies flew up, over, and around us, had a magical quality, as if I was witness to another world. Marmots also appeared on the trail, seemingly associating humans as givers of free food. One marmot appeared to be somewhat of a ham, not turning away and hiding as other marmots did, but inching closer and closer, like a fashion model, seeming to egg us on for photo ops at shorter and shorter distances. There are things one learns while climbing up a mountain, particularly one like Mt Whitney, the highest in the contiguous United States. Among them is that if you’re going to make it up the mountain and back, your success depends on yourself. In some ways, climbing up the mountain is a solitary affair, even though you may have friends to talk to, or who will provide you with extra water or share their food. You may be able to blame a failed summit attempt on bad weather or dangerous conditions, but for the most part, you can’t blame others. If you don't make it up one time, there's usually another chance. 11 of us started the climb at 3:30 and 11 of us began the descent down the mountain at around 12 noon. For two in the group, this was the first time to summit Mt. Whitney. The remaining members of the group had summited 2 or more times. For Ralph, this was the 13th out of 15 summit attempts. Last year, immediately after the hike was over, I couldn’t see myself doing the hike again. It didn’t take long for me to change my mind. After this year’s hike, I know I’ll be doing it again.
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  • 12.11.2016
    • Hiking 16:41'21.4 Average heart rate 127 bpm, 36.08 km
      Last weekend, I drove over 8 hours for something billed by one of the Meetup groups I hike with, as “The I-m-possible Hike”, a hike from Shorty’s Well, near Furnace Creek in Death Valley to Telescope Peak, then down to Mahogany Flats, and ending at the Charcoal Kilns. From the summit of Telescope Peak, you can view the lowest point in North America, Badwater in Death Valley, to the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney. As is said, from the peak, you can see no further with a telescope, hence the name Telescope Peak. When I first read about the hike, the word impossible didn’t deter me, especially when I read on the net that others have made the same hike. Despite the hike organizer’s play with the letters of Impossible, the hike HAS been described as impossible, even by experienced hikers that have hiked it. Despite my eagerness to do the impossible, I drove down not knowing how I’d deal with the hike’s 11,000+ ft. of elevation gain. The most ever increasing elevation gain I’d hiked up to that point was for the Mt. Whitney climb back in July, and at just over 6,000 ft. of constant gain, that hike has a lot less elevation gain than the proposed hike. The Mt. Whitney hike is no walk in the park, although technically, it is, but lots of people have completed it. The trails up the Mountain are clearly marked and hard to mistake. The Impossible hike is different. The first 8 miles are up Hanupah Canyon Rd, a 4X4 dirt road that climbs up to around 3,000 ft. From there, until the hike hits the ridgeline at around 10,000 ft. that leads to the summit of Telescope Peak. there are no well trod trails, much less signs pointing in the right direction. You’re on your own on this hike, although it helps to have a map, a GPS app on a PDA, or a GPS watch as a friend. I ended the long drive from San Francisco,by driving to and parking my car at Charcoal Kilns where I met my hiking partner for the hike. From there, we drove in his car about an hour to Furnace Creek, had dinner at a local cafe, and went to a local campground to attempt to sleep. For the most part, I wasn’t able sleep except for an hour and a half before we left for the drive to the trailhead. We started the hike around 3:30 at the trailhead, at 262 ft. below sea level, 11 miles up the unpaved West Side Road and its intersection with Hanaupah Canyon Road. We began with headlamps on, hiking up the 4X4 Hanaupah Canyon Rd. After around 2.5 hours, the headlamps went off, and at close to 10 miles in, at around 3,500 ft. of elevation, we started a climb up a 19 degree slope, parts of which are scree. This 1st experience with scree was nothing compared to what we’d have to deal with later. On this part of the climb, if one looks carefully, footsteps of others can be seen , but for the most part, a hiker has to look up to the ridgeline and just hike in that direction. It was a steep climb to the ridgeline but once there, we could see deep views all the way down to Badwater. After a quick break for a snack, we followed the ridgeline up as it ascended, but also had some short descents. At around 7,000 ft. we hit a scree filled slope. This scree is where the real “fun” began. We had to contend with scree up until we hit the trail between Mahogany Flats and Telescope Peak, which at the point we hit it, is on a ridge line near 10,000 ft. To understand why scree is so much fun, a little about scree is in order — scree is the name for the mass of broken rock fragments that can cover the slope of a mountain. Scree is the result of rockfall, thermal stresses, mechanical and chemical weathering, topographic stresses and biotic processes. Scree includes large beds of smaller, medium, and larger sized rocks. For many reasons, you won’t find a trail blazed through the scree we walked through. The shifting, at times somewhat amorphous nature of scree along with the steep slope and the geology of the mountain, prohibits trails. Walking up a slope without a trail isn’t easy but it’s even harder on the small screen we ran into before the main ridgeline. It’s preferable to walk on larger sized scree as you can often find surer although not perfect footing on it. What makes scree so difficult when climbing up a mountain, is the slope of the mountain and the unsteady footing on scree. As scree gets smaller, footing gets more unsteady. The hike from 7000 ft to the ridgeline was on slopes with an angle of anywhere from 18 to 22 degrees. Walking on the larger scree slowed us down but as the scree got smaller, walking on it was like walking on shifting earth. Aside from the lack of sure footing, walking on scree is hard work, and any progress up the mountain is extremely slow. Walking on scree reminds me of the saying “For every step forward, I take two steps back”. Scree is frustrating, can be infuriating to some, and is very much energy draining. Walking up scree also bears a resemblance to the story of Sisyphus who was doomed to roll a boulder up a mountain, only to have the boulder roll down, after which Sisyphus would roll the boulder back up, only to have the boulder roll down, ad infinitum. At times during the climb up the scree, I felt as if I was starting the climb over with each step. Eventually, we hit the end of the scree at ridge line leading to Telescope Peak. After the climb up scree, it was a time for rejoicing for I knew that the impossible part off the hike was over. The hike would be much easier after the scree. On the ridge line are Ancient Bristlecone Pine and a clearly marked trail of switchbacks leading up to the peak. As we climbed up to the peak, I was able to get photos with a panoramic view down the mountain to Badwater. By the time we got to the top, at 11,043 ft., it was dark and chilly, and I didn’t run into too many photo ops, although I did get some. One problem I ran into is when I stopped and put on my down jacket. Unknowingly, while putting on the jacket, it brushed against my GPS watch, pausing it. It wasn’t until after we had hiked to the summit and started hiking down that I realized what had happened and set the watch straight. The walk down to Mahogany flats was in the dark, with headlamps. We moved quickly, also aided by the light from what would later turn into a supermoon, two days later. At Mahogany Flats we met a fellow hiker who started later but didn’t take the scree filled route. We ended up at Charcoal Kilns, in the dark, 17+ hours after we started, with over 11,000 ft of elevation gain and over 24 miles hiked. Like the Whitney climb in July, while I was hiking up the mountain, I couldn’t see ever doing the hike again, especially if it means repeating the trudge up the slope with the smaller sized scree. Now that the hike is over, in the comfort of my home, I ask myself if I’d do it again. The answer? A resounding yes! Just like the Whitney climb, I want to do it again so I can do it better and faster.
    • 12.11.2016

      The scree just about had me screaming. The degree of ascent was 21.8.

      12.11.2016

      Sunset view from the top

      12.11.2016

      On top of the mountain. The prize -- a USGS marker

      12.11.2016

      Bristlecone Pines

      12.11.2016

      Looking down from the mountain

      12.11.2016

      Cactus cluster

      12.11.2016

      The first steep climb -- at an 18.8 degree angle

      12.11.2016

      At Shorty's Well 03:30

    12.7.2016
    • Hiking 14:23'46.8 Average heart rate 121 bpm, 34.63 km
      This was my first Alpine hike. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to Alpine hiking. The day started with a 2 AM wakeup, a quick shower and breakfast and then meeting Ralph, Milon, and Yannick for the 1/2 hour drive up to Whitney Portal. We started the hike around 3:40 at about 8,400 ft, in darkness, with our headlamps on. We missed a lot of the beauty of the trail for the 1st two hours but discovered it later, on the trip down. That initial part of the hike seemed easy, despite the darkness. By the time we reached Trail Camp, at around 12,000 ft. the sun was starting to come up. Around there, I noticed that my body wasn't behaving as it usually does in lower altitudes, a feeling that only intensified on the hike up the 99 switchbacks section of the hike. Those seemingly unending switchbacks, along with the ever thinning air as we climbed higher and higher up to the 13,700 ft elevation at Trail Crest, would appear to be the hardest part of the hike. They weren't. The view at Trail Crest is fantastic, with a spectacular vista that includes the Hitchcock Lakes and a wall of mountains that obscures much of Sequoia National Park, which we were now in. The hike from Trail Crest to the summit was the hardest part of the hike, due to the technical nature of the trail but more so because my body wasn’t always listening to what my brain commanded it to do. The lack of air caused some loss of coordination, making the hike to the summit more difficult. The decreased air does make a difference. At the summit, I met up with the rest of the group who arrived before me. Despite reaching the summit, the hike was only half over. There are no cabs or busses at the ready for those wanting to opt out. There's really only one choice at the summit, to hike down. After a 1/2 hour wait, we started our return. Even though we were heading downhill, the return was no walk in the park, although technically, it was. There was still the lessened atmosphere to deal with, and the tiredness brought on during the 1st half of the hike. Over 14 hours after we started, we finished the hike at Whitney Portal, tired but happy to be done. This was the hardest hike I've ever been on, so I have to ask myself, would I do it again? Yes! The hike up Mt. Whitney is rewarding in many ways, if only as a test of one’s ability to do something physically and mentally challenging. It also provides great and varying scenery, if done in a group, a sense of camaraderie that isn’t available elsewhere, and to top it all off, a sense of accomplishment that tops the more mundane activities of one's life.
    • 12.7.2016

      Another view from the switchbacks

      12.7.2016

      Heading up one of the 99 switchbacks

      12.7.2016

      On top of the mountain

      12.7.2016

      View from the Trail Crest including the Hitchcock Lakes.

      12.7.2016

      Early morning view of sunrise

      12.7.2016

      Heading up the mountain

      12.7.2016

      hiking down from the summit, crossing a snow bridge

      12.7.2016

      On top yet only halfway done

    13.4.2016
    • Hiking 8:21'30 Average heart rate 136 bpm, 40.37 km
      This hike makes three times that I've hiked the Willow Camp Trail and the Collier Springs trail, and the first time I've hiked them both on the same hike. Both trails are quite steep so they were quite a workout, although not as much as in the past. The hike started at Mt Home. From there I took the road headed to Camp Alice Eastwood, turned onto the Troop 80 trail, and then branched off on the TCC trail. I hiked it to the Dipsea trail and took it all the way to Stinson Beach. After buying a Cafe Latte, I headed towards Willow Camp trail, hiking it to Ridgecrest Blvd, and then down to Laurel Dell. From there, I hiked down the Cataract trail, to the Helen Markt trail, then the Kent trail, followed by the Alpine Bon Tempe Pump Road, the Shadyside trail and into into the Lagunitas Picnic Area. After a quick bite to eat, I headed down the Rock Springs Road, to Lake Lagunitas Road, and hiked both legs of the Collier Springs trail to the end at at the International Trail. From there it was onto Ridgecrest Blvd for a short distance, then onto the Lakeview Trail, branching off it to visit the Mid Peak of Mt Tam. From there I hiked the Mid Peak Road, crossed Ridgecrest Blvd again and hiked up to the East Peak. After coming down from the East Peak, it was down the Eldridge Grade to a steep, unmarked shortcut trail that took me to another part of the Eldridge Grade. From there I made my way to the Wheeler Trail, hiked it to the Hoo Koo-E-Koo Road, followed it to old Redwood Grade, and hiked it back to the car at Mt Home. It was a long hike on a beautiful day.
    • 13.4.2016

      If you look closely, you can see the East Peak in this picture of the Mid Peak of Mt Tamalpais

      13.4.2016

      The signpost tells you what's coming

      13.4.2016

      Collier Springs Trail on the up and up. Like Willow Camp Trail, it's much steeper than it looks.

      13.4.2016

      On the TCC Trail

      13.4.2016

      View from the Dipsea Trail

      13.4.2016

      Alpine Lake through the trees

      13.4.2016

      East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais

      13.4.2016

      Poppies on Willow Camp Trail

    19.3.2016
    • Hiking 11:03'46.1 Average heart rate 136 bpm, 43.49 km
      This hike was with the Sierra Club Day Hikers Meetup Group. We began at 7:30 AM, by heading up Mt Wittenberg, and then hiking down the Sky Trail until we hit the Coast Trail, followed by a walk down to Kelham Beach. After a 20 minute "banana break", we headed back up the Coast Trail, taking it all the way to Wildcat Camp, with climbing and beautiful views along the way. After lunch at Wildcat Camp, we headed back onto the Coast Trail , breaking from it to the Ocean Lake Loop Trail, and back onto the Coast Trail. Due to time restrictions, we bypassed the Alamere Falls Trail, (a big disappointment although I'd hiked it before) and broke off the Coast Trail to the Lake Ranch Trail. We hiked the uphill climb to the Ridge Trail, followed by the Stewart trail, and then the Greenpicker Trail. From there, we hiked the Glen Camp Loop Trail into Glen Camp, and then continued on the the Glen Trail, then the Bear Valley trail and back to the car. The hike was hindered by too long stops due to knee injuries, and cramps, of some hikers. This wasn't a completely experienced crowd, although the hike was a demanding one, at 4,787 feet of elevation gain and 27 miles (a personal longest distance). Nevertheless, it was a fun hike, and a good group to hike with. Hikers were friendly and talkative. Despite the slowdowns, average moving speed was over 3 miles per hour, (according to Mike, another hiker) and watching my watch while going up the Bear Valley Trail during the last part of the hike, it was rare than we got below 3.9, usually hitting around 4.1 MPH and up to 4.7. The three of us at the head of the pack were really moving. At the end, we congregated for food and beers, apparently a tradition with the group. The avocado, corn and black bean dip I ate was delicious, but I skipped the beers, as I was tired from only 2.5 hours sleep the night before (don't ask) and I had to catch a ride with Alex, who I carpooled to the hike with.
    • 19.3.2016

      Coast Trail Northerly view

      19.3.2016

      If you look closely, you can see Alamere Falls

      19.3.2016

      Near Mt Wittenberg's peak

      19.3.2016

      Southerly view from the Coast Trail, including Alamere Falls.

      19.3.2016

      Heading to the Sky Trail

      19.3.2016

      Heading to the car at the end of the Bear Valley Trail

      19.3.2016

      Kelham Beach

      19.3.2016

      Ocean view from the Coast Trail

  • 13.2.2016
    • Hiking 6:53'42.9 Average heart rate 143 bpm, 33.28 km
      I haven't hiked this distance in quite a while and I just wanted to see if my knee would hold up. It did. It was a good long hike, across varying terrain with lots of elevation gain. It starts at Mountain Home, goes down to Phoenix Lake, gets up to Rifle Camp and then to the West, Mid, and East peaks of Mt. Tam, and ends up back at Mountain Home.
    • 13.2.2016

      Sunset

      13.2.2016

      Mid Peak

      13.2.2016

      East Peak

      13.2.2016

      West Peak

      13.2.2016

      Mid Peak

    12.6.2015
    • Hiking 6:47'04.6 Average heart rate 135 bpm, 29.95 km
      This hike up Grasshopper Mountain in Humboldt Couty was the highest elevation Cynthia and I have ever climbed, at about 3,376 ft. We made the mistake of climbing without enough water so by the time we reached the peak, we were all out. Luckily, we found a pipe and faucet at the Ranger lookout and were able to replenish our supply. We were wary of the water as it wasn't labeled potable and had some particulate matter in it, but we were too damn thirsty to worry too much. When we got back, it was well past dark and once we got off the trail, we had to walk about half a mile up the road to the car. Luckily, my sense of direction was in order and we were walking in the right direction. It was a great hike, but we were tired and sore at the end.
    • 12.6.2015

      View From Grasshopper Mountain

      12.6.2015

      Going down Grasshopper Mountain

      12.6.2015

      The top of Grasshopper Mountain

      12.6.2015

      Young grasshopper

    22.3.2015
    23.11.2014
    • Hiking 4:34'45.9 Average heart rate 140 bpm, 22.74 km
      This was my third hike on the Sky Trail, my first solo hike on the trail, and my 1st hike with a heartbeat monitor. I didn't start until about 12:00 and thinking I'd end up hiking after dark if I didn't push it, I really picked up the pace. Once I got back Cynthia pointed out that my max heart rate BPM was probably too high for my age group. Despite that, although going up Sky Trail is no walk in the park, I never felt like I was at my limit. Nevertheless, I need to find out how absolute the max numbers for my age group are.
    • 23.11.2014
      23.11.2014
      23.11.2014
      23.11.2014
      23.11.2014

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