Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reno, Nevada, an adventure not to miss!

Slightly less lights, a little more trashy, with not as many scantily clad as that other city in Nevada, Reno is the Biggest Little City in the World. All the perks of Las Vegas can be found in this mountain town.
I stayed at Terrible's Sand's Regency hotel. Probably the best, cheapest casino that's within walking distance of everything fun. There are plenty of flashy casinos that weave their way into other even flashier ones. There's also the National Bowling Stadium in town and Lake Tahoe ski resorts within driving distance.

I was there for a wedding and it did not disappoint. If ever you wanted to get married at a chapel in a hotel with fake flowers, porcelain kittens and lace-trimmed,heart-shaped pillows on the wall, this is the place to do it. It took the greater part of 13 minutes for the ceremony and the photo shoot. I'm not knocking it though,you can get married with no hassles, then hit the slots, sing some karaoke, get a $12.99all you can eat buffet and win a stuffed animal elephant for about $250.00. And that's if you want to buy on the official, frame-worthy copy of the marriage certificate. It actually sort of made getting married sound appealing, but not that appealing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Not so LA anymore

I loved living in LA, but what I enjoyed most about it is all the trails and National Parks that are accessible by living there. With all that traveling to hike I found a new place that I love and I don't have to go anywhere to hike, it's all right here. So here I am 5 hours North of Los Angeles in Mammoth Lakes, California.

Mammoth Lakes is a sweet mountain town nestled in the Eastern Sierra's. This resort town of just over 7,000 people is surrounded by great recreational areas. To the west there’s Yellowstone, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National parks. To the east is Death Valley National Park, north to Lake Tahoe, and south to Mt Whitney. And of course right here in the Inyo National Forest is Mammoth Mountain ski resort with 3,500 skiable acres and a top elevation of over 11,000 feet. To learn more go to

The Hike:

Gem Lake is a moderately strenuous half day hike in the Ansel Adams Wilderness accessable from the town June Lake, 20 miles North of Mammoth Lakes. Start at the trail head across from Silver Lake ascending toward an impressive waterfall. Right about where the waterfall is you’ll start to wonder why there are power lines going up the mountain as well as a railcar system. It sounds a little strange but once you get up to Clarke and Agnew Lakes you’ll realize that there are Dam’s that create energy. The Technical term is Hydroelectric resevoir and it's owned by Southern California Edison. With that being said, once you get to Gem lake the view is worth the journey. This trip is 6.2 miles round-trip with many opportunities to continue into the Ansel Adams Wilderness making it a full day hike or a backpacking trip.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mineral King Valley- Sequoia National Park

One of the most remote areas of Sequoia is reachable by the 25 mile winding Mineral King Road. This isn't the place to see big trees, but it is a great area to go backpacking. A lot of people I came across on the trail were on 5 day trips. From there it's possible to camp at beautiful lakes, ascend mountain passes and even throw in a few peaks if you're so inclined.

With the limited amount of time I had for my trip I chose to do a short backpack to Franklin Lake and Franklin Pass. Hiking to the Franklin Lakes, there are actually 3, is about 5.5 miles through a beautiful valley with meadows, streams, wildflowers, and views of multi-colored mountains. As for wildlife I saw marmots, deer, hummingbirds and Ptarmigans. Franklin Pass is at over 11,000 feet with an amazing view of the entire National Park including a lot of 14ers and Mt. Whitney.

Don't forget:

Pick up a permit at the King Ranger Station and drive to the end of the road, across a small bridge to a parking lot. This is bear country and there are bear storage boxes for any food or items with a smell you may have in your car. Also be aware that there's a problem with marmot's damaging cars here during certain times of the year. To prevent damage to your car stop at the Silver City Resort on the way up Mineral King Road where you can get chicken wire to wrap around your car.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mt. Baden-Powell

Feel good about driving 55 miles on a winding mountain road into the middle of nowhere to go for a hike? Perfect, because that's what has to be done in order to bag 3 peaks in a day. This is a one way hike so you'll have to do some convincing to get friends to drive with you. Maybe leave out the part about the long windy road. Tell them how the drive is beautiful and around every turn in the road is a new view of rock formations and valleys! Throw in the fact that La Canada Flintridge would be the perfect town to have some well deserved dinner after the hike. Convinced? Good.

This hike is about 9.5 miles one way from Dawson Saddle to the Vincent Gap parking lot. You'll have to both drive to Vincent Gap and leave a car there and drive back to Dawson Saddle. Along the way you will be able to summit Throop Peak, Mt. Burnham and the highest, Mt. Baden-Powell. The latter is the 4th highest peak in the San Gabriel mountains at 9,407 feet. It was named after Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts and is the highest point along the Boy Scout's Silver Moccasin trail.

There are a few things to look forward to on this hike. First and foremost the ability to proclaim that you conquered 3 peaks in one day. Secondly, the views from the top are of course spectacular. Lastly, the elated feeling you will get while descending the last few miles while others are struggling on their way up. Seriously, going from Vincent Gap is brutal with a dizzying number of switchbacks. We encountered several desperate-looking groups asking the same question, "Are we almost there?" Going the way I have suggested is a much more pleasant, gradual incline.

The important information: Take the 210 to the 2 (Los Angeles Crest Highway). Follow this for about 55 miles until the Vincent Gap parking lot. The road is well maintained and not too curvy so it's possible to go at a decent speed and arrive at the lot in about an hour and fifteen minutes. Watch for fallen rocks in the road! There was an incident involving a rock on the way back which ended in a lesson on how to change a flat tire.

Don't Forget to display your Adventure Pass. They are available for purchase right at the start of highway 2 at the Shell gas station.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mount San Jacinto

The second highest peak in Southern California can be reached by hiking a grueling 10 miles with an elevation gain of 8,000 feet, or it can be reached in 6 miles and about 2,500 feet. I decided on the latter which includes a really fun tram ride up Chino canyon.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the only one of it's kind with capacity for 80 people, and the capability to rotate so everyone has a view. The tram is a great jumping off point for hiking or camping, but is just a fun day trip in itself. Take the family up for lunch and a hike around one of the nature trails, or take a date for dinner at the top of the world. The Lookout Lounge at the top serves lunch, dinner and cocktails with "ride and dine" specials daily. There's even a gift shop and food court at the base with the Chino Valley and a small waterfall as the backdrop. So go, you'll like it, but dress wisely because the Inland Empire is hot!

I skipped 6,000 feet in elevation gain by taking the tram so the hike to the top was very pleasant. The trail meanders though the valley and then ends with some long, moderately graded switchbacks. The 360 degree view at the end is well worth the hike. Seeing the Salton Sea was my favorite part! This area is also a great place to backpack, with a few camps to choose from. I stayed at the Round Valley Camp in a very isolated site that was perfect for the solitude I was looking for.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sandstone Peak

The Sandstone Peak loop is a sweet half day hike with beautiful scenery and a few landmarks along the trail. From Pacific Coast Highway head North to Yerba Buena road where you will travel 6.5 miles up a very narrow and winding road.

Start at the Sandstone Peak trailhead and continue 1.5 miles to the peak. There's a plaque and a register at the top with a few added bonuses people have left. Continue on towards Inspiration Point where there's a dial that points toward a bunch of different points on the horizon including Mt. Baldy and Catalina Island. Today there was a great marine layer covering Malibu, but Catalina and San Clemente Island were peaking out above it. Next is the Tri Peaks which is just .5 miles off the main loop trail. There are more gorgeous views and some bouldering to be had over there. From here there is a descent down to Split Rock where there's a picnic bench perfect for lunch time because you will definitely be hungry. This huge boulder looks like it just toppled over and split into three pieces. Lastly you will pass Balanced Rock which is shaped sort of like a giant Candy Corn sitting precariously on top of a small base.

Doing this hike will be the best 4 hours you've had in a while! There are plenty of sights to peak your interest. Plus, it's a loop trail which I love because then you never have to see the same things twice. Have fun!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

This lake is an oasis within the city. I briefly visited this spot today and it is immediately calming. It is a no camera, no cell phone zone, so I don't have any pictures. I encourage you to go there to relax. Take a book, or just take your stressed out mind and enjoy this lake. This site is for those days that you don't have quite enough time to go on a long hike, but would still like to relax and be outside. Here's the web site with hours and direction information. Have fun. Namaste.