Monday, November 30, 2009

Angeles Crest Highway

The Angeles Crest Highway re-opened today. I learned about it through a Pacific Crest Trail website and since I had a couple of hours to kill in between work, I couldn't resist the opportunity to see the devastation firsthand. It was an interesting experience. First of all, there was still a lot of construction taking place along the highway. Before entering the mountains, a small traffic jam formed as other eager visitors were waiting for their chance to tour the area. It felt like I was on a roller coaster, I too was excited to finally revisit this place. I knew it was going to be bad, but their were some encouraging signs.

I was surprised to see that construction crews had completely re-paved the road and painted fresh lines on the highway and parking areas. After driving for a few minutes, I was somewhat surprised they are allowing people to use the road. Rocks were literally falling down the hillsides and rolling out onto the road in numerous places. It also was very windy today and dust and ash spilled out onto the roads and filled the air at times.

One man I talked to said he could only drive so far before he had experienced enough. "It will probably take a hundred years before this place looks the same as I remember it." I told him it was like visiting a sick friend in the hospital. I also showed him some pictures I took of some flowering yucca plants I found further down the road. "I thought they only bloomed in the spring" he exclaimed. That's what I thought too.

There were small patches where the flames did not reach and the plants and trees were spared. There were also random trees that were unscathed for whatever reason in various spots along the road. I stopped by one of my favorite hiking trails and there didn't seem to be much of a trail left. It also appears hiking is going to be off limits for some time as the Forest Service has closed recreational areas for recovery.

It was hard not to rejoice for the survivors of this blaze and stand in awe of the resilience of life. Despite all of the destruction surrounding me, I felt like everything was going to be OK. How wonderful would it be to witness the recovery day after day, year after year in a place like this?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Angeles National Forest 2009

Here's a slide show of some pictures I took during the spring and summer of 2009 of the Angeles National Forest before the devastating Station Fire. Also included is another guitar instrumental I recorded in my room today.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wildwood Canyon

Happy Thanksgiving! Today I went for a hike on a new trail in a familiar mountain range- the Verdugos. My plan was to hike something a little less steep than what I'm used to doing in these mountains. That was not to be however. This hike was also a butt kicker. It was quite warm today as well as temperatures soared above 80.
One thing to be thankful about today was the good visibility. From the top, there were clear views all the way to the ocean and the distant Catalina islands. Also from the top, it was interesting to see all of the deciduous trees in the valley displaying their fall colors. I was surprised to see how many orange, red, and yellow trees, there are in the neighborhoods. From the top of the mountain, it reminded me how much I loved the fall in Asheville N.C. driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This chair was a great spot to eat a Thanksgiving snack of chocolate chip cookies, and watch and listen to the crows playing games in the sky above me. Of course family, food, and football would have been more ideal, but that was not to be this year.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pacific Crest Trail 2010

While hiking the John Muir Trail in August, each passing day filled me with confidence and hope that I may one day be able to fulfill my dream of thru hiking one of the three major hiking trails in the United States (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide). While in the Sierra's, it was comforting to feel how my body and spirit responded and thrived to the physical and mental stresses of long distance hiking. A major thru hike seemed a definite possibility as the physical limitations I feared before the hike never manifested themselves. I always thought the Appalachian Trail would be "the one" since I always lived and did most of my hiking on the East Coast. However, since Southern California is my current residence, and the timing feels right, I've decided to give the Pacific Crest Trail a push for the upcoming 2010 season.
I am currently plagued by a fair share of worries. Financial worries, economic worries, physical and mental worries of hiking 20+ miles a day for five months, just to name a few. However, I refuse to let the worries of this life get in the way of actual living! I have faith that all of these things will work themselves out the way they are supposed to.
So, as I make the next adventure official, I hope to share my planning and thought process over the next few months as I prepare to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Of course, all the planning in the world will mean nothing until I actually step foot on the border of Mexico and begin the long, northward, 2,650 mile trek to Canada. Pacific Crest Trail 2010!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Next Blog

Recently I was feeling bored and decided to click on "Next Blog" at the top of the page to see what others were blogging about. Most of the time, I was getting blogs from people who were into arts and crafts, having babies, advertisements, nothing that I found real interesting. A few days ago, the blogger seems to have automatically bunched the adventure writers together. If you click on "Next Blog" you can see other blogs from people who are writing, photographing, and sharing their adventures online. I thought it was pretty cool to see trips from other random people...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Red Rocks

I took a drive up to Red Rocks today. It's a beautiful little State Park located in the Mojave Desert, just east of the beginning of the southern Sierra mountain range. Oh, to see those Sierra mountains in the distance and how I long to explore them some more! The weather was surprisingly chilly, I actually needed to put the heat on in my car while driving. It was a refreshing change from the constant 8o degree highs in LA.
Before entering Red Rocks, I drove through the small desert town of Mojave.

In the high desert, Joshua Trees made their presence known.

What possesses someone to spray paint rocks I will never know. Perhaps modern day petroglyphs?

Maybe it's the same reason I decided to create some rock art.

The eroding sandstone cliffs reminded me of the Badlands in South Dakota.
After spending most of the morning exploring different areas of the park, I learned there was still more across Highway 14. In fact, I found this area more beautiful and it felt more remote.

I didn't pack a lunch today so I'll have to plan on returning again and spending more time in the area around the Red Cliffs.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Station Fire Update

Here's some information on the current state of the San Gabriels.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Full Moon

My roommate Fabio and I went for a hike this evening in the Verdugo mountains. It was the first time Fabio has gone hiking with me. Although we did not make it to the top of the mountain, we were still privileged to see an amazing sunset and full moon rise.