Thursday, March 31, 2011

Grand Canyon (2008)

Here is an original song and slideshow of my hike into the Grand Canyon in 2008 before I started this blog.

It was, and still is, one of my favorite hikes of all time. I was driving across the country at the time, moving from Asheville North Carolina to Los Angeles. I decided to stop by the Grand Canyon, and on a whim, decided to see if I could get a backcountry permit from the ranger's office. I've heard that most folks need to reserve months in advance to hike the Bright Angel Trail, so I wasn't expecting much. My chances were slim to none, I assumed.

I remember walking into the office and the ranger behind the desk was not in a good mood. There was another man in front of me getting his permit and the ranger was grilling him about his preparadness.

"If you get lost, nobody is going to come looking for you!" the ranger barked.

I had done zero research about this hike, and really didn't know what I was getting into. I just knew that my trip had entered a lull and I desired an opportunity to spice it up a bit. Besides, I wasn't sure whether I'd ever be back to see the Grand Canyon again in my lifetime. As a result, I tried to appear as confident as possible when it was my turn to talk to the ranger, and see if I could obtain a permit.

I was amazed when the ranger told me that there was one backcountry permit outstanding. The person who it belonged to had cancelled at the last minute.

"I'll take it!" I exclaimed.
"Do you have crampons?" the ranger asked.
"Sorry, I can't give you the permit. The trail is too icy at the top of the rim, and you need crampons in order to descend."

I walked away dissapointed. When I imagined crampons, I assumed she was refferring to some expensive mountaineering boots which I obviously did not have. As I was walking back to my campsite, another ranger happened to stop his vehicle and said hi. In passing conversation, I mentioned the crampons.

"You can rent them at the store, they only cost 5 bucks." he informed me.
"No way!"

I ran to the store, quickly rented a set of crampons (they were only spikes that you attatch to your shoes) and ran back to the wilderness permit office hoping that the backcountry permit was still available. Sure enough, it was, and I was exilaerated about the good fortune that suddenly came my way. I was going to hike into the Grand Canyon!

Needless to say, the hike was incredible. I began the next day after spending the evening reading as much as I could about it with the information I had. It was very cold at the rim in the morning, but the further I descended, the warmer it got. It was a perfect temperature by the time I reached the Colorado River. My knees and legs had taken a beating though, it was a full day of nothing but descent. When I reached my campsite in the afternoon, I remember setting up camp, and simply enjoyed the warm weather, sunshine, relaxation, and food I brought. Restlessness kicked in however, and I spent the remaining hours of daylight exploring one of the trails meandering through one of the canyons. It was simply spectacular.

The next day, my body was extremely sore. My permit was only good for two days, so I had to begin my ascent up to the rim. A full day of climbing simply destroyed my legs. By the time I reached my vehicle in the late afternoon, I was too exhausted to organize my stuff. I remember simply throwing it into my vehicle where I could find space. Then, continued my journey west, heading for Barstow.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I took a walk after work yesterday in Ft. Bragg, it was nice to get out and stretch the legs a bit. I've been thinking about starting a running routine lately, since I'm not getting the regular exercise I was able to get hiking in LA. (Imagine that!) I also seem to be approaching food differently since finishing the trail. I still want to eat, eat, eat. I have a stove! I have an oven! Imagine what I could have cooked after finishing a long day of hiking on the PCT! It's probably an unhealthy condition, so I will have to compensate by getting good, regular exercise. Now, I just need to determine a start date...

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I feel like an idiot. My brother Michael sent me the pictures I took along the PCT a couple of days ago and when I was going through them, I was trying to figure out why I seemed to have missed taking a picture of Mt. Ritter. When hiking the JMT, I could have sworn that they were two distinct mountains, just a few miles apart. They are two distinct mountains, but I just happened to be looking at them from a different angle so I got confused. I thought that Banner peak was the entire formation above, and Mt. Ritter was a completely different formation a few miles away. When, in fact, Mt. Ritter is the point on the left, and Banner is the peak on the right. Ritter is actually taller, although by the picture, Banner looks taller. If you follow the ridge line off Banner, you can see that it comes down, and Ritter is actually slightly behind I think. I thought the saddle was connected, but I don't think it is. If anyone can clarify this for me, by all means, please do!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rain and Slides

It's not a good sign when 50% of the pictures in this post were taken from my vehicle. It's been a real challenge to want to do anything outdoors this month as we have had day after day of rain once again. These pictures were taken during my drive to Pt. Arena yesterday. Since the 128 was closed near the coast due to flooding, I took the Mountain View Road.
There are only a couple of options as far as roads go to get to the coast, and they are constantly under repair due to the hillsides crumbling, and sliding onto the road. A minor inconvenience for me. I can't help imagine how quickly Mother Nature would reclaim her mountains here if they ever were unmaintained.
I was able to go for a very short hike along the bluffs near Pt. Arena. As you can see, the ground was pretty much saturated.
Water was literally bubbling up out of a hole in the ground... (above)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


These amazing looking wildflowers are beginning to blossom in abundance on the floor of the Redwood forests.

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Day of Spring

There was a break in the rain today so I was able to go for a short hike along the bluffs in Ft. Bragg. I imagine these bluffs will be filled with color once the weather warms up a bit and the wildflowers bloom some more. This first evening of spring was cold and windy...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Shots From the Coast

Here's a few pictures of the Pacific while driving to work this morning. It's been a week of rain here in Northern California.

These giant lilies are all along the roadside.
As well as some red paintbrush making an appearance.
The sun peeked out for a little while on the drive home.
Sediment from the Navarro River turned the blue water brown near the shore.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring Wildflowers

Spring seems just around the corner. There was a break in the rain today, and temperatures were warm. I took a short walk near Lake Mendocino to see if there was any activity.
Ahh, the first blooming lupine of the year. These flowers seem to be a constant trail companion, and I was very happy to see them coming back to life.
With the lupine, there were these flowers that I assume are part of the pea family.

There were many more shooting stars blooming in the grass as well.
This area is very peaceful. I heard a lot of birds and frogs. Also the sound of running water as small creeks flow into the lake.
This was a new flower that I've never seen before. (above)

There were patches of miner's lettuce growing in the grass. I had to eat some for old time's sake.
Near the miner's lettuce was this enormous mushroom.
There were some flowers just beginning to bud.
I imagine there will be many more in the upcoming weeks.

It's good to see all of these old "friends" again...

PCT Trail Scenes #127 (Manning Park)

From left to right: (Swayze, Indie, Stumbling Norwegian, Spillz, Special 41, Flyboxer, Hojo.)

Well, this is the end of the line as far as Pacific Crest Trail pictures go. In the right sidebar, I added links to the three pictures. If you click on the picture it will bring you to the beginning of my posts on the John Muir Trail, this blog, and pictures from day 1 on the PCT. I also added a link to Indie's trail blog.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I took a hike along a logging road in Jackson State Forest today after work. I bushwhacked for a while looking for mushrooms but didn't find anything of note. The forest was very wet and damp as we have had a couple of days of rain here...

PCT Trail Scenes #126 (October 13, 2010)

Wide Angle's message to Billy Goat (above). Billy Goat, a PCT legend, told Wide Angle in Southern California, that he started too late to finish the trail. This was Wide Angle's response!
Wide Angle and Indie signing the register.
Here I am (above). I don't look convinced that I'm really happy to be finished this stretch. I wish it could go on forever...
Indie, on the other hand, couldn't be happier!
Into Canada...

Monday, March 7, 2011

PCT Trail Scenes #125 (Monument Day)

View to the east. I believe the snow covered volcano to the left is Mt. Baker.

Along the final dreaded 7000 ft. pass. I imagined several feet of snow up here, struggling to finish the PCT. Obviously, that was not the case. This is a view looking towards the south (above).
Again towards the east...(above)
North towards Canada...(above)

A mile or two to go. What weather!!! (above)

I can see the border clear cut running up the side of the mountain!