Tag Archives: Distance Hiking

JMT Day 5 – Pinchot and Mather Pass (Mile 53.5 – 73)


It was a cool chilly morning, as we packed our things together. Izzie went to soak her foot in the river as I finished packing up the tent. Still not sure how she manages that first thing in the morning, it must be excruciating. The cold wind was low, water white noise high from the nearby creek when we finally strapped our packs on ready to take our first steps.

Waterfall in the valley as we climb towards the pass!

As we hiked up the valley we watched the creek roll down its belly in beautiful white cascading falls, sometimes fanning out, sometimes flowing over slick granite, others crashing onto large rocks. We left our hoods on as we climbed up the valley. Our hands shot with pain as the blood finally flowed back into our hands again. Izzie went to cross a creek and unwittingly placed a foot on an icy rock, slllip, wet feet on an already cold morning. The only saving grace is that we had a large climb to keep us warm.

Izzie, stoked to get moving and shake the frost
Camped beneath this little gem for the night.

The sun still hadn’t found our faces as we quietly passed the  uppermost trail camp a few miles below the pass. It was the last big forested refuge before the stark landscape above. There were still quite a few tents nestled below the trees, still quiet with sleeping hikers stowed away. As we climbed higher we heard a sooty grouse make his un-deniable mating call, a low woomph woomph woomphhh. I love hearing such interesting birds, especially far out in the backcountry!

Tall, twisted, and scraggly, guarding the trail
Up we go, towards Pinchot Pass!
Beautiful flowers, show their colors in the meadow.

The frosty soil crunched beneath our feet as we ascended to Pinchot Pass. The interesting ice columns that grew below the soil’s surface looked like miniature skyscrapers, glassy crystalline pinnacles crushing beneath our feet!

Just a tad chilly!
The sun keeps us company!
Ice patterns trailside

When the sun finally reached us, we had a view of a huge red ridge, frozen creeks trickling across the alpine, speckled with lush tundra. The water that flowed below the frozen creek’s surface pulsed like a lava lamp, trapped air bubbling together and flowing slowly beneath the ice. It was such a colorful pass, red iron rocks, green lush tundra with purple flowers, so much more color than the other fully grey granite passes we had encountered.

View back south of the pass
Views on the other side, beautiful colors in the rocks appear!

We finally reached the pass and sat for a snack to look over the vast landscape we had just traversed. Soon Goldie and Workout surprisingly came into view. We exclaimed welcomes and were glad to meet back up since our brief chat the afternoon before. Once snacks were done, we bid farewell and headed down the north side of Pinchot Pass.

Fun little sketch from the Pinchot Pass!

The valley was slightly different here than the last, small willows grew creekside, ice waterfalls led to beautiful emerald lakes across rolling planes, all under the watchful eye of the great sheets of grey granite that constructed the canyon walls above. Above grey, green and lush below.

Glacier lakes and granite as far as the eye can see
Purple flowers pop up sporadically throughout the valley

We bombed down the valley chatting on and enjoying the beautiful views. After a long drop we reached the creek bottom and stopped for lunch near Kings River. It was nice to kick up our feet after a long climb and descent. We finally packed up and headed north past fields of purple shooting stars, so far it seems to be the flower of the JMT.


After leaving the river bottom the scene seemed to open up. The green grass field speckled with boulders and lodgepole pines seemed to singularly dominate the landscape. As we climbed the trees thinned, and only sparsely speckled the landscape covered in tundra and a few lakes. The grey granite started to take over again. The padded trail soon changed to chunky rocks and eventually small boulders which we had to dodge. This really started to go to work on our feet as we climbed. Switchback after switchback as we inched up closer to Mather Pass.

The flowers doing their thing!
Izzie on another crossing.
The climb continues!

When we finally reached the top it seemed like a sigh of relief was in order, but a sigh too early. The downhill switchbacks were scattered with large rocks and we traveled carefully down trying not to roll an ankle, or stub a toe. The Palisade Lakes came into view but they seemed so far away. Yet, we pushed on, after rolling trail took us on a rollercoaster ride and really gave our feet a true beating we finally found ourselves on the edge of Palisade Lake. We put up our tent, cooked dinner, stretched, and crawled our tired yet satisfied bodies into our small snug tent. Another good day on the JMT!

Descending the Pass, headed to camp!
Almost to the lake and finally food and rest for the day =)
Camp at Paradise Lakes
  • Hike Stats
      • Miles: 19.5 Total:
        • JMT Miles  (Mile 53.5 – 73)   
      • GPX Track



JMT Day 4 – Woods Creek: Kearsarge Pass + (Mile 40.5 – 53.5)

oh that morning light!

An imposing granite face over Flower Lake was the first to catch the morning’s light. The sun started peaking through the trees and gave all the leaves a golden glow. Another magical morning in the Sierras! We finished packing up after breakfast and quickly got on the trail knowing we had some climbing to do today!

Trekking up towards Kearsarge Pass
Big Pothole Lake

Hoodies off, we set out, Izzie in the lead pushing strong after resting her foot/ankle in the afternoon before periodically forcing it into the shivering lake. We both kept our stride, even when the wind started whipping as we approached Kearsarge Pass. Down in the lake below the switchbacks we could see the wind and sun’s work on the water’s surface. It whipped and swirled while the sun gleamed on its surface making rapid moving shapes like a murmuration of starlings.

Finally we reached the pass and instantly put hoodies back on, the wind was unforgiving on the west side of the pass and nipped at our heels as we quickly descended, seeking refuge in the trees below. Small patches of ice were surprisingly still present on trail, we carefully navigated around them. Down, down, down, we went until finally reaching the trees, yet the wind still persisted. We could see Kearsarge Lake in the distance, and after a small hillock, the green Bullfrog Lake came into view.

Coming over the pass, nice and windy!
Kearsarge Lakes

We trekked on and soon found ourselves back to the junction where the JMT meets the trail to Kearsarge Pass. From there the hoodies were peeled and a good climb soon ensued north on the JMT. Not many people talk about the effort it takes to gain the view from a pass. You can’t get it daydreaming at camp, or really experience the feeling watching a video with some epic sound track in the background, it takes work to get there, and work we did. The work was good, and so were the views!

First thru-hiker we saw all day! Ghost

The climb persisted after a short respite on a leisurely plateau, we climbed up above Charlotte Lake, which was set in a beautiful valley that was clearly shaped by a traveling glacier. On the far end of the valley a U shape was left in the granite face, and it was so cool to see its mark still remained!

U shaped goodness

Climbing still, we entered the final approach plateau to Glenn Pass where all the trees were hooked and bent towards the top of the pass as if to praise it or simply point the way. The way was up! We kept climbing, and after a few false summits we found the jagged lip of the pass and paused for a snack and to soak in the view.

Climbing up towards Glenn Pass
Glacier lake right before the Pass

We started to run into people, Ghost a NoBo PCT hiker stopped for some small talk, 2 JMTers from Sacramento looking like they were having the time of their life, and finally at the bottom of the snow patched pass we met a couple who had just got engaged at Rae Lakes! The gal beamed with delight and we chatted on for a bit about their 60 Lakes loop.

Almost there!
Poking up and over the pass! Fun snow field ahead!

After leaving the couple we bombed down towards Rae Lakes. The upper lake was crystal light blue in the middle, green turquoise towards the edge and finally orange at the rim from the vegetation and shallow bank. It looked almost like a human Iris, glinting in the light, and absolutely breathtaking. We soon found a nice spot for lunch and took a cold plunge in the clear waters. Although the wind still lightly blew, the sun warmed our cold skin and we laid out like lizards hoping for warmth.

Beautiful Rae Lakes below
Happy chilly faces!
Snow traverse!

We packed up and headed around the lake. Grey Jays flashed by in streaks of grey, black, and white. Brook trout swam just feet from the water’s edge and in the distance a quaint cabin stood overlooking all this beauty. I could only imagine what it must be like to live there, even for a brief season.

Water bridge between the lakes!
Dragon Peak
Fresh and revived after a good swim =)

We started descending moss filled valleys crisscrossed with creeks, sprinkled with flowers and lush meandering meadows took over the plateaus. We descended a long staircase of plateaus from which each had its own lake and accompanying meadows, each lake would deepen in green as its size grew until towards the lower steps of the stair case the lakes were forest green.

Fin Dome
Sketchy sketch
Green meadows, headed down valley

On one such stairstep we met a Ranger named Mike and his wife Leanna who were staying in the Ranger Cabin for the summer. It sounded like a dream job, well perhaps not policing the public and making sure they are properly burying their feces, but I guess that’s a small price to pay for living in paradise. We chatted on about fish, fire, browning trees, mountains, all the important things, before finally saying goodbye and heading farther down the valley.

Coming past Arrow and Dollar Lake
Headed down South Fork of Woods Creek
Castle Domes in the distance

We headed down and at the far end of the valley a large granite south facing wall named Castle Domes could be seen that was clearly formed by a glacier. It looked like a big blob of ice had slowly slid down its face making new wrinkles and curves that still held up to the test of time. We soon found the flora starting to change. Around 9050 feet we found our first aspen trees of the trip! Soon after our first purple lupin, followed by Indian paintbrush, sage, and beautiful little green ferns. Cedars started to appear and soon after silver firs.

The flora becomes more lush and green as we head below tree line
Creeks are neat!
Pines are showing off their stuff
Snack ready?!

We took it all in until finally we reached the suspension bridge giving passage to hikers over Wood Creek. We passed over one at a time (as recommended by the signage). The bridge swayed as we walked, not only up and down, but also side to side, finding a wave pattern in harmony with the rhythm of our stride, it was a pretty cool experience to have in the middle of nowhere!


After crossing the bridge we started pushing up the final stretch of trail before camp. It immediately amped up the elevation gain. This southern facing hill was dominated by Jeffrey Pines, as it was in full sun most of the day, and only broke by small streams running down towards the canyon bottom where more lush loving foliage clung. A large creek rushed down slickrock in the belly of the canyon trailside as we hiked north. The sun began threatening to hide behind the mountains just before we finally reached camp! It was a mashed potato kind of night and we were both thankful to find refuge in the tent on a flat pad beneath the shelter of a birch tree. Man what another great big day!

Back up we go!
Woods Creek proper!
Neon moss, yes please!
Clouds get moody right before bed!
  • Hike Stats
      • Miles: 13.7 Total:
        • JMT Miles 4 (36.5 – 40.5) + Kearsarge Pass Miles (9.7)  
      • GPX Track



JMT Day 3 – Kearsarge Pass (Mile 36.5 – 40.5)

Morning View

Zippers, feet, and creeks. I started the day by pondering over zippers and how critial they are to backpacking. Tent doors, backpack pouches, puffy jackets, there are just so many things that would be so much harder without them . . . what’s the next invention to take the zipper’s place. I pondered this as I was packing up my sleeping bag and Izzie was boiling up some coffee for breakfast as a part of our morning ritual. We placed a stroopwaffle under our warm mug to make them like freshly baked cookies.

Cold in the shade but ready to trek!

Soon once all the cooking was done, Izzie went to the creek to tend to her foot, and I packed up our damp tent. Pro tip, if you camp near a creek or river, it’s highly likely you’ll have a ton of condensation on your tent and sleeping bag, so be sure to find some time at lunch to unroll them and dry out before you reach camp for the next night (no one likes to crawl into a wet tent). 

Golden tipped peaks warm our hopes while our toes are still frozen

Back to feet: Izzie suspected she had broken a bone in her foot weeks before on a work trip, and on the descent from Mount Whitney she twisted her ankle agrivating the injury and making both her ankle and foot painfully swollen. She was taking it in her stride, dousing it in the river whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Every turn is a mural, further down the valley we go following the river

After all was said and done, we were all packed up and left out of camp in good spirits. We were in the shade of the morning and only the westerly ridge was lit up by the morning sun, but our cool trail was still in shade. Izzie stopped abruptly in the trail and a deer appeared quickly bounding away. He hopped like a rabbit as if to say “look how easily I am gracefully bounding away, you couldn’t catch me if you tried!” It was our first big game sighting of the trip!

Izzie is still all smiles, despite her foot wanting to give up on her
We found the end of the downhill, next the climb to Frog Lake!
Someone found a friend! Plump and Happy!

The flora began to change as we pressed further north, we found fragrant sage, twisted currant, and our first lonely fir standing proud and plump! We finally reached the first climb up towards Bullfrog Lake and eventually Kearsage Pass. We both put our stride into low gear and steadily ascended the manzanita, snow brush, fir, and fern lined trail. Creeks leaped across the landscape and pines stood proud and well fed by the plentiful water here.

You can just see the excitement in Izzie’s eyes for the climb
Finally getting to see that valley floor from above! Climb climb climb

We finally popped out above the trees as the golden sun shone on the granite faces above. I started to think about how they always depicted Cleopatra, clad in flowing white dresses and weighed down with gold jewelery. I think of the mornings in the Sierra with white granite faces clad in beautiful golden sunlight. It’s nothing less than magical!

Had to stop for a photo op, and some air!
Only 3.5 more to Kearsarge!!!
Bullfrog Lake! Woot, first big climb done! One more to the pass!

We finally reached Bullfrog Lake, a beautiful blue teal with healthy green algae at its rim. We climbed up and past Kearsarge lake and the cold seemed to intensify as we passed treeline and the blustering wind picked up. We plodded slowly up the chunky granite switchbacks until finally we took the pass!

Mountains guard the lush green lake paradise
Onward and upwards!
Kearsarge Pinnacles looking rugged in the backdrop!
Kearsarge Pass, finally in sight!
Made it, woot!!!!!
Izzie with he stoke on 12! All down hill from here for the day!

We popped over the ridge and the wind seemed to subside, we could see hikers speckled across the winding trail below until it disappeared into the pines. We could see a few beautifully clear lakes and hoped to soon be at their shores. Hikers seemed to spring up like weeds, we would pause and chat, seeing day hikers, PCTers, fishermen, mountaineers, weekend loop backpackers, all sorts with their own story to tell. We finally found Maverick Lake and set up out tent for the night.

Big Pothole Lake, cooking crisp and cool! Anyone for a dip?!
Gilbert Lake, just before to drop to Onion Valley Trailhead

With Izzie’s foot being a nuisance, we decided to have her guard our gear while I hitched into town, grabbed our resupply, hitched back to the trailhead, and hiked back up to the lake in time for dinner (no easy task when you’re counting on the humanity of others, but I had faith!). With an almost empty pack I bombed down the trail! I would see a cascading waterfall, hear the buzz of a cicada, and finally a glimpse of the road leading to the Onion Valley Trailhead. I was stoked and pressed on briskly!

Indian paintbrush, snowbrush, and short scrub bushes lined the trail as I descended. I was soon at the parking lot, standing at the end with a big smile and a thumb out, hoping for the best in my stylish hawaiian shorts. It was only 10 minutes or so before I was picked up! A kind fellow who turned out to be an ex sheriff who loved the Sierras and jammed to some light Christian rock in the background of our hitch banter. We soon got to Mount Williamson Hotel and I quickly grabbed our resupply of 7 days of food for two and dumped it into my empty pack . . . . needless to say, I was laden down.

Down down we go into the warm desert below!
Would ya look at that?! Just look at it!

I got a ride from one of the shuttle guys who worked at the hotel and was (to my amazement) back to the trailhead at almost 3:00 pm! As soon as I stepped out of Doug’s shiny new Toyota Tacoma, I met Workout and Goldie, a couple trekking for 3.5 months on the PCT. We chatted on and soon figured out they were both biologists and I insisted they stop off for a quick break from the Kearsarge climb at Maverick Lake to meet Izzie and chat about fish and conservation. They led out like a couple of bats out of hell! That’s what happens when you have your trail legs on you!

New Friends, Goldie and Workout!

Switcher after switcher I just mainly tried to hold onto the send train and hoped I wouldn’t fall behind! We were soon at the lake after some aggressive uphill, hanging out, having a snack, while the chat of America’s fish future was discussed. I sat back quiet while the 3 bantered on. Soon they decided to press on and we made dinner, completed our required stretches, and found ourselves back in the tent, hiding from the cold wind and winding down for the night with some warm curry and a cozy sleeping bag. Another great day on the trail! 

Cheers friends!
  • Hike Stats
      • Miles: 13.7 Total:
        • JMT Miles 4 (36.5 – 40.5), Kearsarge Pass Miles 9.7  
      • GPX Track
Click to Enlarge



JMT Day 2 – Forester Pass (Mile: 16.5-36.6)

Golden light on the ridge in the distance

We woke to birds chirping in the trees as twilight gleamed its first light. We started up the morning ritual, of making breakfast and packing up. The pink sky watched over our labor and as we finished putting away the last piece of gear, the ridgeline to the west lit up in a golden orange lightshow.

All smiles this morning!

We led out from camp and gleefully headed down valley overlooking gurgling meadow streams where cutthroat trout played. The ridgelines towering above were as varied as the faces of the twisted trees we passed trailside.

Glow in the trees, gotta love watching the sun rise in the morning

The Ranger Station soon came into view on the far side of a beautiful green meadow. A creek bubbled and gurgled in its belly and song birds accompanied its tune. The air was delightfully cool and the sun had just started to reach the valley bottom as we passed by. Soon we turned north where the JMT and PCT meet and we rolled with the rising and falling of its hills as we went.

Trotting along
Beautiful bark

It was interesting to observe the felled trees across the hillside. Thinking about their lifecycles: downed dead trees with branches twisted and broken, thrust from the tree’s body as they fell; to baby trees growing next to their parents, guarded and well fed.

Blanket of snug clouds moving in
Someone found a twin!

The skies had become overcast and grey as the morning pressed on, yet as we we gained a saddle a window of bluebird sky glimmered some hope in the distance. The landscape was a granite boulder field and the trail was a dirty grey, like ground up granite with a flash of dirt, sprinkled with pinecones and bordered by boulders. As we descended towards Wallace Creek we heard a grouse call, a repeated low wooshing like someone swinging an enormous fan through the air. We finally reached the creek, filtered some water and took a moment to try and clean our dirty socks.

Beautiful ridges in the distance
More ridges to come
Hit the plateau, looking for marmots

After the creek crossing, we started a long steady climb, and at the top were rewarded with incredible vistas of a jagged ridgeline in the distance. We vowed to look up its name later, as if to get to know it better. We soon found the valley floor and the beautiful crossing of Wright Creek.

Marmot on the loose!
Fat little buggers
Onward, towards Forester!

We struck out on another long climb, and we watched as trees slowly started to fade out below until finally finding ourselves on Bighorn Plateau. We kept our eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, but we found only expectant marmots waiting for a feed from a careless traveler. Vistas were abound, Mount Whitney to the southeast, Barnard to the East, Mt Williamson and Tyndall to the northeast, the Kern Ridge to the west and Kings Kern Divide to the north. Moments like this are why we started the trail in the first place, absolutely breathtaking!

Rolling down the the valley floor
Time to go back up already?!
Forester inching closer
I spotted the top of the pass!
Gotta love that rich color!

Coming down from our Bighorn Plateau high, we found Tyndall Creek flowing well and a few hikers sitting nearby enjoying a snack. We joined them, chatting about Forester Pass ahead and where they were from. We were interested to hear the Forester pass was clear of snow, although hard to believe, we would soon find out first hand. We pressed on up out of the creek valley and onto an approach plateau just below the pass. Once again trees began to fade out, and ice covered lakes took their place. We climbed slow and steady up to the pass. We must have already begun to adapt to altitude as this ascent was much easier then Whitney the day before! We found no snow on the trail all the way to the saddle, which was very surprising, indicative of the dry winter this past year.

What a happy camper!
Glacial Lakes
Notch marks the spot! Forester Pass just over head

We found some new friends on top of the pass and chatted on about the low snow, the fires to come, and treks present, past, and future. We soon bid farewill and started down the north side of Forester. There were only a few snow patches to be found and the trail was quick and windy.


Made it to the top!
And down the other side!

We soon passed that magic 10,000 ft altitude and trees immediately sprung up. The valley we were entering was gorgeous, covered in moss, and cut through with gurgling braided streams. It was stark and beautiful, the tall strong granite mountains above fed the streams, like veins of the valley pumping the lifeblood to all the vegetation and animals here.

Stark beasts watching over the ridgeline
Oh hey, Friends!
All proud and ready for a swim!?
So nice to see for miles down valley

We continued north, dropping lower and lower into the valley ahead until reaching Golden Bear Creek. We stopped to top off our water before camp and rest our feet. By now some ominous clouds had moved in and the temperature started to drop rapidly. I didn’t suspect rain, but was perplexed by the strange white cloud looming over the peaks blocking out the sun’s warmth, and the distant peal of thunder. 

The lifeblood gift from the peaks
Down we go, Mount Standford and Gregory’s Monument in the background
Little lakelettes on the wat down
Beautiful views as clouds start to shroud the peaks
Dropping down into the tree line
Stoked and ready for dinner!
Clouds roll in hard!

We trekked on and found a gorgeous camp perched just above Golden Bear Creek. The jagged ridgeline lined the sky, beautiful pine trees and granite boulders scattered the landscape. We set up our tent, cooked up our dinner, finished the obligatory pre-dinner stretches before slinking off to our cozy tent in refuge from the cold night that was starting to set in on us. What a magical day.

Sketch from camp over Bubb’s creek
  • Hike Stats


JMT Day 1 – Mount Whitney (Mile: 0 – 16.5)


11:30 pm and the alarm blasted. The trees were all black now with some stars peeping through as I checked the time, nudged Izzie to start getting ready, and fired up the JetBoil for the much needed coffee to shake off the 3 hour nap we took under the forest at Whitney Portal. We were soon sorted, packs on, taking our first steps on the trail guided by our little bubbles of headlamp light. The town of Independence gleamed behind us to the west in the undoubtedly hot valley below, I was glad we were headed up into the alpine.

Backpacks, ready to go for the trip!

Miles went quick to the soundtrack of Lone Pine Creek roaring like a ferocious tiger in the night as we plodded up the canyon. The stars shone high above, blocked out only by the giant stone faces lurking in the dark. The dusty trail slithered through huge foxtail pines, up and around a maze of granite boulders. Sometimes we found millipedes on the trail, or the occasional flash of a mouse all under an amazing blanket of stars.

Sketch of Whitney Portal the night before our start

It was 3pm before we found our first snow patch, and in the dead of night the exhaustion started scratching at the back of our eyes, a stumble here or there shocked us back into alertness for fear of twisting an ankle.

Millipede on the trail

Finally the moon started to rise, and soon behind it the gleam of pink twilight from the rising sun revitalized our steady march. We were soon at the base of the 99 switchbacks and stopped to break out the Jetboil for a round of oatmeal and another instant cup of coffee. We watched the sun rise and stuffed our faces as we looked over the small camp below us, the mirror lake, and the gigantic granite faces coming into light with orange glow.

Sun begins to rise just before the 99 switchbacks
Smiling despite the lack of sleep =)
Izzie topping out Trail Crest
Up up and towards the summit

We were on the move again and as we rose in altitude, so did our heartrates. Even hiking a slow steady pace made you feel your heartbeat in your ears. We slowed, but finally made it to the pass just south of Mount Muir. Peering to the west we were slapped in the face with a sea of granite. It seemed to rise and fall all around us, yet frozen in time. Some great faces looked like a great granite pipe organ, while others looked like a million fingers reaching for heaven.

Checking out the Needles and the summit hut in the distance

We trekked on, stopping at the trail junction where the JMT heads west and the Whitney summit trail continues north to drop a pack and consolidate snacks and water. The trail itself was pretty easy, just some boulders here and there to navigate, but the pressure from the altitude felt immense, always trying to hold back your next step, making every inch an effort. It became a game of “not too much”. Not too much speed, not too much water, not too much heavy breathing, not too much food. Felt like making the wrong move would leave you trailside gasping for air. We pressed on, past the Needles, peering down the gaps between to look down on Owens Valley far below. One step at a time, and finally after what seemed like a long 1.9 miles from the junction, we saw the house at the summit.

One step at a time!

Relieved we had made it, we plopped down, pulled out our sleeping bags for quick warmth, water to rehydrate from the arid alpine, and snacks to fuel our journey down and north, further along the JMT. We had a quick nap, and finally decided our high altitude life had to be put on pause for the next adventure, and we headed down.

Mount Whitney Summit! Highest Point in the Continental USA.

The air was still chilly but the sun warmed you, so we plodded down, back to our packs in hoodies taking in the scenery and admiring the vast granite frozen sea. Little lakelets could be seen from the ridge, and eventually pines down in the lower valleys. We reached our packs, shouldered our belongings and headed north down towards the valley floor.

Let the decent begin!
Mount Muir in the background

An oversight we made was not filtering enough water before our Whitney ascent, so now, as we headed down, we began rationing our last liter of water. I had remembered there were creeks below, but every creek bed we came to was dry . . . we plodded on with parched tongues. Soon Guitar Lake came into view and we counted the seconds before we reached its only running stream. We were delighted to see flow, and quickly broke out our bottles for a fill. After the long dry last 3 miles, not to mention the rationing during the miles before, this was a godsend and our stomachs rejoiced.

Dropping down towards Guitar Lake (in the background)
I can hear the strings strumming!

We meandered over to Guitar Lake, found a nice spot for lunch and had yet another nap, should I be feeling guilty by now? Nah, we had a midnight start after all! We packed up once again and wandered on down the trail until we found a nice group of foxtail pines, singing birds, and a view of the meadow below. Soon with a tent pitched, dinner made, and stretches done, we crawled into our tent for some much needed rest after a very long day.

Guitar Lake lunch spot
On down the valley, towards camp
The pines always impress
The tree colors are stark against the grey sea of granite that surrounds us
  • Hike Stats
Day 1: JMT Map (Click to Enlarge)

PCT Day 144: Mile 2551.5-2576.5 Holden + Stehekin


I woke to a cold wet bag. I’m not sure if it was cool humid wind from the lake or my warm breath condensing inside of my bag, but none the less, it was town day! I got out of my tent and Pooper was already packed up. Pooper doesn’t mess around on town day!

We both took off, heading down the descent. It was immediately evident that the smoke was back. The valley below was filled and the sun rose red behind the curtain of grey. Pooper and I chatted on as we hauled down the hill. We could see the falls in the distance.

Sissyphus finally caught up and we trekked together seeing the first evidence of the town of Holden. Remnants of very old house foundations lined an old street as we walked into town. Finally we found old log cabins in the town center. We found our way to the hotel where they were still serving the tail end of breakfast!

We chowed down with a group of other dirty hikers. About half way through dinner a hiker came walking up to my seat, I looked up in surprise to find Pickle! I hadn’t seen him since Bishop Pass in the Sierras. I gave the guy a big hug and we caught up between the mouthfuls of food.

After finishing up and paying the bill I decided to explore the town. There was an old bowling alley, pool hall, barber shop, pottery studio, all kinds of cool little hidden gems in the mountains of a secluded town. Eventually we all piled onto a big bus headed for the ferry across Chelan Lake. The ENTIRE town came out to wave us off. It was like a scene out of some Hallmark movie. The bus rumbled down the dirt road packed with hikers and we all chatted on as we neared the boat dock.

Some swam, some bundled up, but soon the ferry arrived and we all piled on. Beer in hand from the boat bar we all sat down and chatted about realizing we were about to go to our last town and resupply. After a quick trip we arrived in Stehekin and headed straight for a nice big lunch. Hikers need fuel, it’s the first thing on our minds when in town!

Food, resupply from the eye-patched postmaster, hanging by the lake and waiting for the shuttle as our sleeping bags and tents dried out. Finally we piled into the shuttle headed back towards the PCT. Piling out of the bus, Sissyphus dropped his phone on the bus seat. To give him crap I picked it up and just sat back and watched him sweat a little. After a while I started taking selfies with other hikers until he realized it was in my hands. After a good laugh we all headed up trail to walk the 5 miles to camp.

Back into the canopy of the forest we plodded on pausing only for water. The chat continued on as our large group meandered to camp. Finally arriving we quickly set up and took over the first available area that was large enough to house 15 of us. It was such a good day. Only a few left!

App Suggestions for Pic Mods: Snapseed


PCT Day 109: Mile 1718.5 Ashland Zero!



Sometimes a litle rest is needed!

I woke early as usual, only now I wasnt in my tent. Where was I?! It took a moment before my whits came back and realized I was sleeping on the Hotel floore of Happy and ChilliBin.

We all went about our chores, starting laundry, packing our bags, and getting trail ready. I grabbed a quick snack and blogged for a bit waiting for Happy and Chillibin to return.

We went to a place called Morning Glory for a full on breakfast. If you are ever in Ashland, make it a point to go, you wont be dissapointed!

One breakfast was done we rallied together, got all our things out of the hotel and headed for the postoffice. A day of chores was upon us!

Once done we went to a nice spot for lunch and we looked at each other exhausted at the efforts of running around town and doing resupplies for the next 3 stops.

I suggested we go back to the hotel and get in the pool and have a true zero mile day. To my surprise everyones spirirts were lifted and it was unaimous. It was a well needed rest and well deserved seeing I had been hiking 30 miles plus everyday since Tahoe (with te exception of 25 mile resupply days).

We went back, checked back in, and plopped all finally enjoying our time in town. The next day we would be back on trail, heading further into the interior of Oregon!


PCT Day 38: Mile 444-454 Hiker Heaven


I woke wet and damp. It wasnt dew, but something finer, and once I got out of my tent I could see what it was. A fog had covered the surrounding mountains and its humidity must be the cause of the wetness. I got up, packed up, and hiked out of the KOA.

I hiked up and into the fog and it was delightful! At first I thought it would be irritating, but it wasnt cold and the wind wasnt howling. I hiked on and up into a landscape that held large rocks with formations that reminded me of a creek bed.

I saw a coyote stop me, leap from his morning rest spot and take off, tearing up the hill. It was some of the better wildlife I had seen so far! I kept snaking through the mountains. Up and up I went until I was fully engulphed by the cloud. Once I peaked the ridge, I could hear a roar from a road below. I wasnt exactly sure what highway it was, and I couldnt see it, but I could hear it through the thick blanket.

I decended further until I could make out the road and the valley below with the trail leading to it. Soon I met Apineglo, a bearded man in a kilt, from Canada. He was a funny guy and didnt have trouble pirting out obsenities, like water from a spigot. WE trekked on, chatting together and soon safter hiking through a tunnnel, beneath the road we saw incredibe area of rocks that were molded by water and air.

We kept treking in snapping pictures left and right before climbing up the hill on the other side and heading further towards Auga Dulce. WE passed Vasquez Rocks, a pklace with incredible formations. It so happen to also be a site where part of Blazing Sadles was filmed!

After the rocks, we walked a few miles by road into town. WE sat together chatting on while eating breakfast at an open diner. I headed over to the grocery, grabbed my resupply, and headed towards hiker heaven. Once there Sidetrail gave me the rundown of the place. They had laundry, shower, charging stations, computer to use, tv and a ton of movis, plenty of space to camp, and even trimmers to cut your hair if you needed! It was pretty awesome!

After making a quick Lyft run to REI, I returned triumphant with a new pair of shoes, new baselayer, and new sox! Fresh clothes and a shower, it really is the little things in life! Later that night I grabbed some wood and a bunch of us started a fire in the pit. One of the guys who volunteed at the place came over asking if we had asked for permission. The logs and an empty pit was more than permission for me, but then and there I was named Fire Marshall. Apparently I was in charge of extingushing the flame at the end of the night and I could tell anyone to go to bed. Hahha, laughs ensued and people joked about making it my trail name. It wouldnt be the first, and im certain not the last.


Wallowas – Eagle Cap & The Eclipse – Day 3 – OR (8.21.17)



We woke up, and started the morning ritual as usual: coffee, breakfast, packing up. We had a gorgeous view of both Eagle Cap and Moccasin Lake from our camp, and really had a nice time taking it all in as we got ready. Soon after filtering water and packing up, we headed towards the crosscut that would take us to the base of Eagle Cap. We pulled off our backpacks, stashed them, and I grabbed my day pack and filled it with supplies for the quick 4.2 mile round trip haul to the peak.

Which way? Oh yeah, up!

We started up from the base and all of a sudden the light changed. It was strange, the temperature dropped, and the normally bright day turned to a strange dimmed white light. Almost as if you were looking at artificial white light, it made all the colors of the surroundings mute. I looked at the time and it was right at 10:20. Both Izzie and I had read that the eclipse wasn’t going to start until 1pm, and because we hadn’t grabbed Eclipse glasses, there was almost no way to confirm. At first we thought maybe it would take an hour for the moon to cross.

Looking down on our ascent of Eagle

Light got a little weird and the temps dropped 10 deg!

We trekked on up the mountain hoping that this was only the start of the eclipse. We hurried on, headed up switchback after switchback, really keeping up a good pace. We ran into a group of people heading down and we wondered if they were just heading down and didn’t care much about the eclipse. We headed on, up and up, until we ran into another group, then a third. I feared we missed it and we stopped to chat with one of the hikers. “Oh you guys just missed it, it was at 10:20 this morning!” They were kind enough to hand us their Eclipse glasses and we looked up to see the moon covering about 70% of the sun. Little did we know, the surge of light that we saw was the closest to totality that we would see. We later realized that the eclipse had been posted in Eastern Time since NASA is based out of Houston Texas, and so our timings were three hours behind! Ooops!

Sick views on the ascent (Click to enlarge)

  • Snow!!!!!

It was alright though, we still experienced it in our own way. And besides, we were here in the middle of the beautiful Wallowas enjoying everything it had to offer. We trekked on towards the peak. Group after group passed us heading down before we finally reached the peak at 9572 feet. The snow-capped peaks in the distance and the glacier lakes at their feet were so awesome to see! We could see Razzberry Mountain from Eagle Cap, the Matterhorn in the distance, and all the way down the valley we had trekked in on, as well as the valley we planned to leave on.

Summit views! (Click to Enlarge)

More views from the top! (Click to Enlarge)

We took it all in, chilled for a snack, and chatted with other hikers before watching the last of the moon disappear from the path of the sun. We gathered our things once again and headed down to grab our packs. Reaching the base of Eagle, we strapped our backpacks back on and debated on which trail to lead out on.

Lil glassading action on the way down!

East Fork Lostine Trail 1662 (the trail we came in on) would save us some gain and a few miles, but we would see a whole different part of the valley by going over a pass to Minam Lake Trail 1670. I made the call and we started huffing up the crosscut trail to the pass that would drop us next to Minam Lake. I love me some gain! A few hikers we passed going up the pass saw us coming down from Eagle Cap just before and stopped us to make sure we knew we were silly for deciding to gain another 1000 ft for the pass after already hiking Eagle Cap. I smiled as Izzie and I passed them with full packs, sweating and huffing, but it was all worth it!

  • Back down from the peak, time to grab packs and head for the exit!

  • Pushing on!

We finally dropped into the next valley to the west and after a few miles we reached the edge of Minam Lake. We were both pretty tired and needed a break so it wasn’t long before packs were dropped, and we were in the water! Any chance to get a little clean on a backpacking trek is well worth it! The lake was just as cold as Razz but we stayed in this one a bit longer just enjoying the views and paddling around a bit. Afterwards we posted up on a nice big rock and traded food for lunch, stuffing ourselves with the last of the crackers and cheese, chips, apples, and PB&J we had. We only had a few bars to get us out, but that was more than enough to push the 7 miles!

Minam Lake, what a nice place to chill and take a dip!

Trekkin on =)

We once again packed up after recharging our batteries lakeside and headed towards the trailhead. We chatted as we trekked about how funny families can be, and the quirky dynamics that make them unique. The trek out was just as beautiful as the rest of the trip. Everything was so green, and we were accompanied by the sounds of the Lostine River most of the way. Once again we watched the sun set as we trekked towards the end of our hike.

  • Minam Lake

  • Rock on!

After some miles we made it back to the car, dropped our stuff, stretched out the best we could before throwing our packs in and hopping in Old Red headed to town for Mexican food! What a really awesome trek! Three days in the backcountry, awesome peaks, awesome lakes, awesome views, and awesome company! I can’t wait to come back and explore more!



  • Weather: Hi in mid 60s, Low – 40s, Clear
  • Water: 4 Liters (including breakfast)
  • Food: Instant Coffee, bagel, Triscutes and hummus, 1 PBJ, Orange, Apple, 2 Clif Builder Bar, 2 protein Bars, 1 Bag of Salt and Vinegar Chips, Gummy Worms.
  • Time: 11 hours
  • Distance: 13.7 miles
  • Accumulated Gain: ~2800 accumulated


  • 58 liter exos osprey backpack
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent
  • Big Agnes QCORE SLX sleeping pad
  • Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
  • Jet Boil – Sol
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
  • SPOT Gen3 Tracker
  • Sawyer Squeeze – Water Filter


  • Smartwool – long sleeve 195 shirt
  • Cotton hankerchief
  • Arc’teryx ATOM hoody
  • Threadless hoody
  • Patagonia Pants
  • Merrell – Moab Hiking Boots
  • Darn Tough wool medium weight socks

Wallowas – Razzberry Mountain – Day 2 – OR (8.20.17)


Morning view of Eagle Cap

The sun shone on the side of the tent warming it and waking us. I unzipped the tent and found, to my surprise, a thick layer of frost on the tent fly and everything else for that matter. It was most certainly cold the night before, but I never thought there would be ice! We got moving, starting the morning ritual of coffee, breakfast, and packing up camp. Soon we were back on our feet, feeling so much more refreshed from the night before.

  • On our feet again, Trip leader Tween heads out

Everything was so green and Eagle Cap (9572ft), our target for the next day, stared us right in the face and was perfectly framed by the two ridges that made East Lostline River Valley. We were soon back on the trail headed further into the valley, searching for our next camp. After running into a few other backpackers and hikers we made our way from trail 1662 towards Mirror Lake. What a view, everything was just so gorgeous. It was a bluebird day, the mountains were high, the weather was perfect, and the alpine lakes were calm and serene. After pausing at Mirror Lake to take in the views, we headed east to the far end of the lake were we found a sweet spot to set up camp for the night.

Mirror Lake!

Camp! Moccasin Lake in the distance

Moccasin Lake

Once we had camp all set up, I grabbed my day pack, loaded it with water and snacks, then we headed out in search of Razz Lake, and hopefully Razzberry Mountain (9314 ft) for a good view of Matterhorn and the mountains beyond. The area was like a backpackers dream, it seemed like once you paid the price of the 7ish mile approach hike you could camp just about anywhere and have an incredible glacier lake view with mountains all around! The breathtaking views didn’t stop as we made our way towards the approach to Razz Lake and eventually Razzberry Mountain! We passed Moccasin Lake just below our camp and trekked on passing Douglas Lake, Lee Lake, and just to the north of Horseshoe where the creek runoff from Razz thundered across the trail.

  • Down towards Moccasin

It was time to leave the well-trodden trail and blaze our way up. Izzie was game, with the promise of a lake to swim in just below the peak, she was just as motivated as I to get up the runoff through the steep trail-less woods. We pressed on, tromping through thick underbrush, downed trees and a few creek crossing before, out of nowhere, a trail appeared! “What was this?!” I thought as we trekked on along the faint trail. It seemed to be going the right way and before long we realized it was a small hikers’ trail heading through the beautiful woods and flower covered meadows headed up, towards the lake. Man what luck!

Razz lake! How beautiful!

Looking at the ridge line from Razz Lake, Razz Mountain looming just above!

We trekked on up, and up, until finally we popped out at the end of a large crystal calm lake. We had the place to ourselves, not a person in sight, and we decided to get in Razz Lake for a quick swim! Wheewwwww talk about cold! We were both shivering, but it was still a nice refreshing 40ish degrees! After a few minutes of trying to ignore how cold the water was, we both decided to get out and warm up on the lakeside rocks. What a beautiful day, I looked up towards the peak and the gnarly ridgeline we would need to cross in order to summit. I was curious what it would be like, and we chatted about the approach as we snacked drying in the sun. What a beautiful day, so perfect!

  • Ridge of white rock in the distance calling our name!

  • Taking the path less traveled

Looking down the east side of the ridge line dropoff

We packed up and started up the approach towards the ridgeline. The granite white/grey rock reminded me so much of Yosemite as we ascended. It wasn’t long before we were far above the lake we just swam in and seeing gorgeous views of the Wallowas in the distance. We reached the ridge after a loose steep chossey approach (2 steps forward 1 step back) and began to pick our way across the ridge. Move after slowly calculated move we made our way towards Razzberry Mountain. We clung to the rocks, sometimes Class 2, lots of Class 3, and a few Class 4 spots, the climb was a lot of fun! Junipers were the biggest pain, they tried their best to hold us back, guarding the peak like little soldiers. After an hour or more picking our way across the ridge, we finally made the last few moves and simultaneously touched the highest point on the mountain to gain the peak!!! Once again, we tuckered down and had a nice snack, taking in views of all the gorgeous mountains in the distance. How incredible this areas was, and it was so nice to be far from anyone else on a backcountry peak!

  • Scramble city!

Views from Razzberry Mountain!

After basking in the views, we headed down, back towards a saddle where it seemed the path of least resistance to Razz Lake (which of course is straight down!). It was a chossboss scree surf down some really nice sand/rock back to the trail below. Izzie was all smiles when we finally got down and we chilled by the lake one last time before heading back. We said goodbye to Razz, turned back, and headed back to camp the way we came. We enjoyed the sunset and views of Eagle Cap as we trekked on towards camp. After a few miles, we reached camp, cooked up dinner, and were soon crashed for the night ready to take on Eagle Cap to see the Eclipse!

  • Down we go, scree surfing!




  • Weather: Hi in mid 60s, Low – 40s, Clear
  • Water: 5 Liters (including dinner)
  • Food: Instant Coffee, bagel, Triscutes and hummus, 1 PBJ, Orange, Apple, 2 Clif Builder Bar, 2 protein Bars, 1 Bag of Salt and Vinegar Chips, Gummy Worms, 1 Mountain House: Chicken and Mashed Potatoes.
  • Time: 12 hours
  • Distance: 12 miles
  • Accumulated Gain: ~2500 accumulated


  • 58 liter exos osprey backpack
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent
  • Big Agnes QCORE SLX sleeping pad
  • Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
  • Jet Boil – Sol
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
  • SPOT Gen3 Tracker
  • Sawyer Squeeze – Water Filter


  • Smartwool – long sleeve 195 shirt
  • Cotton hankerchief
  • Arc’teryx ATOM hoody
  • Threadless hoody
  • Patagonia Pants
  • Merrell – Moab Hiking Boots
  • Darn Tough wool medium weight socks

Wallowas – East Lostine Valley – Day 1 – OR (8.19.17)


Izzie and I set out for the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon, in hopes for some good adventure and a good viewing of the eclipse. We had a pretty late start from Pullman headed south, and by the time we hit the trailhead it was 7:30pm (this has been a trend in our recent adventures). None the less, we arrived, ready for anything that was to come! We grabbed our bags from the car, already tired from the drive to get there, both ready to get out of the car and see what the area was all about.

The entrance to the East Lostine valley was from the north end, and from first glance, the approach looked relatively flat . . . at first glance. Within the first ½ mile we were already sweating and panting from the quick unexpected gain and switchbacks we needed to gain to get into the valley proper. The area was gorgeous though, pines everywhere, nice crisp air nipping at us as we pressed on, fighting against the last glimpse day light. We admired what we could see before we were benighted and it became that character building part of the day!

We trekked on, further inward, by headlamp. As we hiked on, the stars finally came out to play and we found large toads scattered on the trail. Perhaps it was mating season? We speculated to why they were right on the trail, as well as debated whether we were trying to dodge toads or horse poop (this was a highly used equestrian area). My headlamp began to die, but I wanted to push as far as we could get into the valley before stopping for the night. I swapped the batteries with another set that I had, but unfortunately it seemed as though they were on the way out too. I hiked by Izzie’s light as she led on, illuminating the toad speckled dusty trail.

Finally my headlamp died all together, luckily we were close to a nice flat area, and it was getting late so decided to set up camp and wait to get after it in the morning. Some good food and sleep would surely do us some good. Man I was tired and so was Izzie, not long after we had the tent setup in the crisp Oregon air, we were both crashed like tranquilized star fishes.




  • Weather: Hi in mid 60s, Low – 30s, Clear
  • Water: 1.5 Liters (including dinner)
  • Food: 1 Clif Builder Bar – 1 Mountain House: Chicken and Mashed Potatoes
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Accumulated Gain: ~1500 accumulated


  • 58 liter exos osprey backpack
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent
  • Big Agnes QCORE SLX sleeping pad
  • Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
  • Jet Boil – Sol
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
  • SPOT Gen3 Tracker
  • Sawyer Squeeze – Water Filter


  • Smartwool – long sleeve 195 shirt
  • Cotton hankerchief
  • Arc’teryx ATOM hoody
  • Threadless hoody
  • Patagonia Pants
  • Merrell – Moab Hiking Boots
  • Darn Tough wool medium weight socks

AZT #22 – Day 1of2 – Saddle Mountain in the Mazatzal Mountains (11.08.14 – 11.09.14)



The AZT (Arizona Trail – 800 miles) spanning from Mexico to Utah across the great state of Arizona was added to my list of wish hikes as soon as I found out about it. Unfortunately I don’t have the vacation or off time to be able to through hike it straight for 60 days, so instead I have been section hiking it when I can. I had the opportunity to knock out the 22nd section this weekend and I jumped at the chance!

I dumped my truck right off of Bee line highway 87 Saturday morning and set out on the trail. After navigating a wash that goes under the highway I popped out in rolling hills and wide open views. There are a few cattle gates to navigate, just be sure to leave them as you found them, be it opened or closed. The trek starts flat to begin with on a few 4X4 roads, the pushes you into some canyon washes that are hardly ever traveled. A small creek was running through the wash to my surprise. I pushed through the canyon around a few switchers where I was once again greeted with huge wide open views. There are some power lines here, what seems to be the last sign of civilization looking forward, turning back there are a few small farm houses in sight.

Pushing further on, the trail gets back to single track hopping up on creek banks and back into washes until once again your greeted with huge wide open views and a trail that meanders along through it all. I found myself skirting the lower portion of Saddle Mountain when I came across Kim and Norm, 2 hikers from Phoenix who were turned around and looking for Squaw flats. I was happy to have the company and invited them to join me until we passed their junction. We pushed on as a trio talking about experience in the “hiking business” and how long they have both been at it.

Wide open spaces
Wide open spaces – Saddle Mountain – Click to Enlarge

As the trail skirted further we came across Ranger Mark Suban and his trail maintenance crew of about 8 old and young. I had never seen a crew out working before and was delighted to stop for a second and chat with them and thank them for their service to the AZT. Those guys keep the trail going and it’s always on a volunteer basis!

Incredible views!
Incredible views! click to enlarge

Leaving the maintenance crew behind we trekked on until we found the switch back drop off into a patch of pines where the 3 amigos would split ways. We stopped for a quick lunch and chatted about our jobs and hikes we wish we could do. Soon I packed up and pushed the last 4 miles out to Peeley trail head where I would camp for the night. Those 4 miles were definitely not as forgiving as an easy trail skirt around the base of Saddle Mountain! Drop offs, washes, a section I affectionately call the ‘tunnel of love’ with manzanita and holly bushes surrounding a water channel. Big grind elevation gains with astonishing views and quite a bit of bushwhacking and trail finding through tricky washes finally brought me to the intersection of AZT#22 and #23.


The Peeley trailhead was just a 0.5 mile push ahead. It was only 4pm by the time I reached it and I was ready to just set up camp, make a Beef Stew Mountain house, and kick back for a bit finally cracking a book I purchased a month ago. What a good first day, as temps began to drop I crawled into my tent and read by headlamp for a few hours until I finally crashed. The next day would mean my return journey back to the truck with another section of the AZT in my pocket. (Post Continued on Day 2/2)

  • Tunnel that goes under highway 87 - this is a portion of the AZT!

Hike information: http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=2436


  • Weather: Hi 60s, Low in the upper 40s, Sunny
  • Water: 8.5 liters
  • Food: 2 Nature Valley Peanut butter granola bar, 2 Clif Bars, 1 Clif Builder bar, 1 Meal replacement protein bar, 2 Nature Valley Protien bars, 1 bag of beef jerky (3oz), 1/2 sandwich ziplock of trail mix, 1 avocado, 1 via Starbucks instant coffee, 1 Quaker Real Medleys, 1 Mountain House Beef Stew meal
  • Time: 8 hours day 1, 7 hours day 2
  • Distance:16.5 Miles one way


  • 58 liter Exos Osprey backpack
  • Big Anges UL2 tent
  • Flash REI sleeping pad
  • Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
  • Jet Boil – Sol
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • No water filter – I carried all my water in (8.5 liters – I should have brought 10) to train for a hike coming up where I would be carrying a lot of excess weight. Advise: Bring a filter! There are creeks and opportunities to use it.

South Mountain – Big Box Loop 11.04.14



South Mountain is one of those hidden gems that so many people seem to overlook and underrate for one reason or another (those of you who frequent this park know what I am talking about). I have news for you, this 16,000 acre Park is a powerhouse! So many opportunities to rack up huge miles, and really pick up some good gain if you know which trails to go after. Most people think of it as a Mountain bike haven, granted it is, but so much more!

This afternoon I let out from work with a distance training loop in mind to beat down before the sun set on me. I planned on starting on Holbert trail, then tying into National trail for a few miles before bombing down Kiwanis and finishing the loop with Los Lomitas trail and Box Canyon Loop to get back to the truck.

Temps were once again as they have been this week, just like baby bears porridge: just right (low 70s)!! I started out knowing I didn’t have much time to crank out this loop so I was on a mission to get my butt moving. Holbert trail is a great trail for anyone, and deff a recommendation of mine for people just breaking into the hiking scene. The elevation gain doesn’t kill to much and the milage is decent, especially if you take the offshoot to dobbins point for some great views of the city.

At any rate, I kept trekking on and was just totally humbled by the views of the sunset on the trail. I couldn’t put my camera down!! Every time I turned a corner there was another incredible Kodak moment to be captured, I couldn’t help myself but snap a few.

Finally the sun was setting as I descended the last stretch of Kiwanis trail and I was forced to break out the headlamp. I jumped onto Los Lomitas and followed it to Box Canyon Loop (I got off track a few times in the dark). Finally after a small road side trek I found Box Canyon Loop once again and finished out the loop. The following pictures show show some a progression of the trail and the incredible sunset I was honored to witness!

  • First view of holbert from the canyon - White water tank on left

Aerial topo shot of the GPX trail I completed.

7.0 Miles, 2 hours 23 minutes, Temps: 70s, 0.75 liters of water, 1 protien bar, 1 nature valley granola bar



South Mountain – Two Ridge Tango 11.02.14


View of the Northern Ridge of SoMo from the Southern Ridge up on National Trail (click to enlarge)

The Two Ridge Tango – a sweet loop on SoMo (South Mountain) consisting of 14 miles of some official and some not-so-official trails.

Was an awesome day in Phoenix with killer temps and even better views. Just needed to get out and grind down some miles to recenter myself. Nothing like some good quality time on a trail to get your head right!

I was surprised to see the amount of people out, but with such perfect weather (60s and overcast) how could you not take advantage. The hike starts with a grind up Warrior (non-official) trail. [Get to the trailhead by going south on 19th Ave until dead ending into SoMo] The gain is killer quick to start with 900 ft of elevation gain in 0.84 miles. I scared up about 5 coyote’s on the push up the ridge. After seeing these guys I hiked for a while with rocks in my hands like ready catapults just in case, but it was really cool seeing such a wild animal so close.

Hit the ridge and went to work on the loop. I came across 2 small groups of people on Alta trail coming from the neighborhoods in South Phoenix, another couple riding horses (sipping on cervezas), and later a big boy-scout troop putting down a 10 miler up on National trail.

I made sure to touch Maricopa peak (highest point near Alta trail) and Goat Hill (high point just east of where Ranger trail ties into National). Took a few picks, enjoyed the views and kept trekkin.

Finally dropped down Ranger and worked my way across the desert and found an old use trail that went up the Ridge, spoke with a cool family of 4 just hanging out and enjoying the views on the North Ridge of SoMo for a moment before pushing on, finishing my loop and getting back to the truck.

2.5 liters of water, 5 hours 0 mins Time, 1 clif bar, 1 avocado, 1 natur valley peanut butter bar, 1 protien bar, 1 plum

Nothing can be said for just getting out and putting a grind down on some trail and really just putting everything behind you and enjoying being outside!

Below is the aerial topo GPX for the loop