Category Archives: Non-Local Hikes

In Search of: Hiking in Malibu

I lived in the Los Angeles area nearly eight years, yet somehow didn’t hike much while there.  One place I’ve always wanted to hike is Malibu.  With such stunning ocean vistas, who could resist?  Yet, I somehow did.  All beside the point because I’m making up for it now.  Just after New Year’s, Joe and I headed out to the Santa Monica Mountains for my very first Malibu hike.  I only had my portrait lens on hand, so I was a bit limited in the photog area, but I still captured some shots that let you get a feel for the spot.  And let me tell you — the Santa Monica mountains are stunning!  This will definitely not be my last foray out there.

Happy Friday, friends!  Enjoy!

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In Search of: Turquoise Falls in the Midst of the Grand Canyon

I visited a place on my bucket list a couple weeks ago — Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon.  I’d seen pictures online several times and was a bit awe-struck by the turquoise waters.  Granted, I also thought said photos had been Photoshopped.  Nonetheless, I had to see for myself to judge.

Last February I shopped the idea around to friends.  Turned out, I had a friend that wanted to check it out too.  So I called the lodge at Supai Village.  Reservations start each year at the beginning of February.  I called at the end of February.  We’re booked all summer, I was told.  After a little maneuvering with my schedule, I made a reservation for September and waited impatiently for several months.  (The lesson here?  If you want a coveted spot at the falls during the busy summer months — call February 1, on the dot!)

During my impatient waiting, I tried to find as much information as possible about Supai Village and the lodge.  I didn’t find much.  What I did find did not paint a pretty picture.  Reviews online made it sound like I would be vacationing in South Central.  I was fully prepared to spend two nights among rude people in a garbage infested village overridden with crime.  I opted not to bring the fancy camera and prepared myself for the worst.  (I wouldn’t let anything stop me from visiting what had been lauded one of the most beautiful natural phenomenons on Earth.)

You will be happy to know (as I was) what I found was nothing like the battle weary town I expected.  The first local I encountered was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and although some locals were on the quiet side, I never felt unwelcome or concerned about my welfare.  The village was not overridden with garbage.  Yes, there was the occasional piece of trash on the ground, but it was obvious the locals tried very hard to keep the village clean.  They take the trash out of the canyon by mule, and there’s bound to be a stray fallen piece here and there.  The lodge itself was exceptionally clean.  The room was basic, but I already knew to expect that (the Havasupai website noted this).  Below are some pictures of the hike into the canyon, the lodge and Supai Village (please excuse my ridiculously dirty lens when looking at the pictures of my room at the lodge — I wanted to include the pictures anyway to give you a good idea of what a room looks like).

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After being pleasantly surprised with the village, we spent the second day of our trip at the falls.  From the village, the easiest to reach falls (Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls) are approximately a 2-3 mile hike.  Because we had the entire day to visit each of these falls, we were able to relax and enjoy the waters.  The weather was warm and absolutely beautiful, and the falls were beyond stunning.  I can tell you right now, those photos you see online when you do a search for Havasu Falls are real.  The water really is that blue — the turquoise color really is that bright.  It’s stunning.  Really, really stunning.  Here’s a bit of a warning for you though: if you’re afraid of heights (or falling, as I like to call it!) Mooney Falls is a bit sketchy to reach.  As you begin to descend the cliff, a sign states descend at own risk.  And boy does it mean it!  We had no idea what we were in for, and it’s a good thing no one was behind us.  There is a rather exposed section after you get through the tunnels, and I have to admit, there were a few points were I froze.  I had to take a few breaths to convince myself to move forward (and figure out where to put my feet next).  In the end, I’m glad we went ahead and descended.  Mooney Falls is beautiful, and how many time in my life will I have the opportunity to play in such amazing waterfalls in the Grand Canyon?  After returning home, I heard there were grape vines growing down past Mooney Falls.  I wish I would have realized this, as I wouldn’t have stopped my hike there.  Perhaps next time!  As for swimming, I think Havasu Falls takes the cake.  There are several areas perfect for swimming and lots of shaded picnic tables.  Navajo Falls surprised me most of all.  I could have spent the entire day at Navajo without feeling like I missed out on anything.  Ah, so many inspiring vistas!  How does one choose a favorite?  Here’s what I suggest:  make a reservation and choose for yourself!

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In Search of: Lone Pine Lake at Mt. Whitney Portal

You may recall before I left to Guatemala, I decided to hike a big-ass mountain in the States.  Prior to the ridiculously long, 22-mile day hike, I trained for a couple of months.  And then on July 6, I headed up to Lone Pine, California, the city at the base of Mt. Whitney.  We arrived on the evening of the 6th and planned to acclimate to the elevation before tackling the peak on the 8th.  That left us with the 7th to entertain ourselves.

Lone Pine is a cute little western town (think old west or wild west), but if you’re not eating, there’s not much to do.  So.  We did what any sane group of individuals would do the day prior to a 22-mile hike.  We hiked the first part of the Whitney Trail up to Lone Pine Lake!  There’s nothing quite like a 5.6 mile hike the day before tackling Whitney.  Nope.  Nothing quite like it.

But here’s what I can say:  it was warm, the sun was shining, and it really was a lovely way to spend a day.  Enjoy the pictures!

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P.S.  I have to be honest — I only took a couple of these pictures.  Joe (the one in the pics above) had my camera, so he’s responsible for most of these awesome shots!

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In Search of: 4 Amazing Places to Hike

A while ago, I wrote a post about my hiking wish list — all of the places I want to hike in the near future.  I went looking for that post the other day to get some inspiration.  Summer vacation is inching nearer (okay, there are still a few months to go, but what can I say?  I get excited thinking about my summer plans!).  Anyhow, it would seem the awesome post outlining my hiking fantasies disappeared.  Poof!  It’s gone.  This makes me sad, yet at the same time — gives me an excuse to make a whole new list!

There are four big hikes I would like to undertake this summer.  I’m planning a five week trip to Guatemala and Honduras around the same time, so this makes planning a bit tight.  Luckily, as a teacher, I get summers off.  With the right hiking partners, this should be doable.

Here’s what’s on my mind this hiking season:

Havasu Falls.  A friend of mine hiked to Havasu falls last year and put it this way:  the turquoise rivers looked straight out of a Disneyland ride.  Enough said.  I’m a sucker for water, waterfalls and the color blue.  Turquoise rivers?  Yep, that’ll get me there.  It would seem the waterfalls of Havasupai are quite literally an oasis in the midst of a desert.  This one has been on my list for some time, and this June, come hell or high water, I’m going.

Lost Coast Trail, California.  I learned of this hike last year and haven’t been able to shake the thought of hiking along the coast of Northern California.  Three days spent along the Lost Coast Trail, the way it looked prior to masses of people moving in would be fabulous.  The trail is described as a spectacular meeting of land and sea.  My experience with the California coast in the area leads me to believe that description is likely spot on.  I’m also planning this trek for June.  (So much awesomesauce to look forward to, peeps!)

The Subway, Zion National Park.  This one involves a bit of route finding, down-climbing and rappelling — even a few bone-chilling swims.  The hike is about 7 hours, and from what I hear, it’s worth it.  (Besides, isn’t any great challenge in the outdoors worth it?)  What you get in return for all that work is simply awesome.  I would like to do this hike in August.  Who wants to go?

The Narrows, Zion National Park.  This is a 16-mile hike and requires an overnight stay (in a lovely lodge called Pop-Up-Tent).  The Narrows is a slot canyon, and my friends tell me it’s breathtaking (as do the pictures).  The route takes you through water and perhaps a few swims.  Nature at its finest.  I also plan to take this one on in August.  Any takers?

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Adventures at Snow Lake

So this whole hiking deal has become a weekly thing.  And I love it!  I went out with Christy over the weekend to follow the trail to Snow Lake. We had a blast, got really sweaty, got really cold, laughed a lot, made a few bird friends (and one chipmunk) and nearly got lost in the fog.  Good times.

The hike was beautiful; though, I can’t really tell you what the lake looked like.  By the time we reached it, we were enveloped by clouds.  Aside from fog, there wasn’t much to see past the immediate shore.  From the top of the mountain, we did look down and catch a glimpse of the lake, and from what I could tell — spectacular.

At the end, we stopped for a picnic at the perfect spot, complete with some seriously friendly wildlife.  The birds were so sweet up there.

This was an awesome trail.  Fog or no fog, prepare for some breathtaking scenery.  And be warned, the road is rocky.  You’ll likely wish for a foot massage once you reach the end.

Have you been on any great outdoor adventures lately?

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