Friday, October 2, 2015

Emigrant Wilderness, Labor Day 2015

I had a four day weekend over Labor day this year, so Jessica and I went up to the Emigrant Wilderness. The Emigrant Wilderness is just north of Yosemite National Park. It is named after the settlers who traveled through the area on their way to California. The route through this area was not used much, as better passes for wagon travel were soon discovered.
We drove up Friday morning, and stopped by the ranger station to pick up our permit. This wilderness area is nice that there are no permit quotas. We had some lunch at the Crabtree Trailhead, then headed up the trail towards Chewing Gum Lake, which is where we stayed the night. The night at Chewing Gum Lake was the coldest and windiest night we spent out, but we stayed warm in our sleeping bags.
Heading up to Chewing Gum Lake.
We started to get some views.
Apparently I didn't take any pictures of Chewing Gum Lake, so here's one of me at our campsite near the lake.
The next day we headed out, and walked to Long Lake. The trail was in and out of the trees, and passed through a number of large meadows. There were even some cows, but they were too shy for me to get a picture. As it was Saturday, we passed a number of people on the trail. At the lake, we found a private campsite with a great view of the lake and mountains on the other side.
As a native New Englander, open spaces in the mountains still impress me.

Jessica modeling my rain coat.

If you look closely, there is a cow hiding in the trees.

The view from our campsite at Long Lake.
Sunday dawned, and we packed up for the day. We decided to bushwhack, and follow the lake and the outlet stream down to Deer Lake, rather than backtracking and taking the trails. At the end of the lake there is a dam, which we were able to check out. Heading down the hill with the stream was fairly easy, but there were a few steep or slippery bits. Back on the trail we stopped at Jewelry Lake for lunch. As we were eating, some smoke blew in from one of the forest fires that were burning. I'm still not sure which one. The rest of the afternoon was a series of ups, downs, and more lakes until we arrived at Camp Lake, where we set up for the night.
Looking back up Long Lake.

Oh dam!
Off trail, Deer lake is at the bottom of the hill.
We hiked along the bottom of an impressive cliff between Jewelry and Gem Lakes.
Piute Lake was my favorite of the day.
Look at that haze and smoke.
An unnamed lake between Piute Meadow and Camp Lake.

Monday morning we only had a few miles to go, so we packed up quickly, and headed back to the car so we could go to a diner for lunch. About a mile from the trailhead, we passed a mule train, the only pack animals we saw, despite there being a lot of evidence they had been there before. After a pleasant lunch, we put on the GPS for the drive back to the Bay Area.
Our campsite is packed up and ready to go.
Still very hazy from the forest fires.
Back into the woods.

Below is the route we took, marked on CalTopo (
If that isn't displayed below, try going to here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park is a new, fairly small park. It was raised from National Monument to Park a few years ago. It sits on the San Andreas fault, south east of Salinas, CA. The highlights of the park are two talus caves, and the high peaks region. The high peaks has many rock formations. It is also one of the places that California Condors are being released back into the wild.

On Saturday, 3-28 I went hiking with a bunch of friends. After getting up earlier than we wanted to on a weekend, we met up at Levi's Stadium to carpool down. The drive south of Hollister was rather scenic and fun. We did a loop from the east side of the park. The trailhead lots were full when we arrived, and there was an hour wait for the shuttle to them, so we had to change our plans and leave from the visitors center. From there we walked to the Old Pinnacles Trailhead, getting our first views of the rocks along the way.
First View of the High Peaks.
It was a pleasant walk along the Old Pinnacles Trail to the Balconies Cave entrance. The trail was mostly in the trees, but with plenty of breaks to see up at the rocks. Before entering the cave we stopped for lunch, then donned headlamps and entered the cave.
Balconies Cave entrance.
There are gates at either end of the cave so they can be closed when the bats come to mate. It was dark inside, and I discovered that my headlamp batteries were dying. This was no problem, however, because there were so many other people in the cave it was rather bright. At the other entrance a few of us went climbing up a slope, and while looking for a different way down saw a giant swarm of bees. This was interesting, but they were blocking the best path down. On the other side of the cave, and park, we stopped by the parking lot to use the facilities and fill up on water.
Near the parking lot on the West side.
Thus refreshed we headed uphill to the high peaks region on the Juniper Canyon Trail. This trail went through the eponymous canyon, and it was beautiful. There were lots of switchbacks, which I still think are a novelty. There were also a few climbers, which are fun to watch.
Somewhere in Juniper Canyon.

Looking up Juniper Canyon.
Coming down the hill were a large number of boy scouts. I think that there were three or four troops in the park that weekend. At the top of the hill, we turned right onto the High Peaks Trail. This is the section that is steep and narrow, and has the best views. There were many birds flying around, including a number of California condors. I remember first learning about them at the Grand Canyon, at a ranger talk. The ranger had a cutout that was the size of one of the birds, and it was big. It was really neat to see them in real life, and fairly close.
Thankfully, no one was afraid of heights, so the high peaks section went by without incident.
Steps cut into the rock.

A bridge. Don't look down!


Looking South

The condor flew right overhead!
After the excitement of the high peaks, the walk down was pleasant, on the shady side of the mountain. We took a break, and I took the chance to fly my mini kite.
Heading back.
When we got to the Bear Gulch trailhead we took the shuttle back to the visitors center, then drove back to the bay area. Overall, it was a great hike, and I would recommend checking out the park if you have a day and are in the area.
P.S. - After returning to work on Monday I found out that my boss had gone to the park the same day, and we only missed him by an hour or two. Its a small world.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Update, 4-6-2015

It has been a while since I posted any hikes, but a lot has happened in the past few months. I finally got a job, and packed up and moved to Silicon Valley, California. I've done a number of hikes out here, but work and the new area has kept me busy. Since the Mt Washington hike I last posted about, I did a 2-night trip to the Royce-Baldface range in ME and NH, then a final day hike on Franconia Ridge before flying to California. In the golden state I've done numerous hikes around the bay area, and this summer I plan to go further afield. Below are some pictures from my last NH hikes. Coming soon will be some Bay Area posts.
Happy Trails!


I'd like to apologize for the lack of labels, but it was last summer that I was there, and I don't remember exactly where/what everything is.
I would, however, recommend the hike, especially North and South Baldface. They were very pretty, with excellent views.

Franconia Ridge:
It was a bit cloudy on Flume and Liberty, but the day improved as I got closer to Lafayette. And as a bonus, there was a moose at the end of the hike!
I don't miss trails like this.

The Bonds

Back on the AT.

Summit of Lafayette

All of my moose pictures aren't very good.