Category Archives: Hiking

In Search of: Updates, Hiking Plans and Happiness

(Above photo: by the lake in Flores, Guatemala — taken by Terrell of Photo Anthems)

It would seem it’s been about 8,000 years since I last updated.  Okay.  Not really.  But it has been at least two months.  I can’t believe I’ve been away from the blog this long.  But what can I say?  I’ve been busy.  School has been a whirlwind, as this is my first year teaching an AP course.  I love the course, and even more, I love the fact that the students in the class are motivated.  But it’s a lot of work.  I’ve never taught this particular subject — lots of curriculum writing going on over here.

I’ve been mad at work editing pictures from the summer.  It’s amazing how much time goes into editing pictures after you’ve already done the work of taking them.  My goal is to complete all of the year’s pictures before December rolls to a close, just in time to make my year-end video.  I’ve also kept my eyes peeled for the perfect song by which to set the year-end photo extravaganza.  At first, I wanted to find a song whose lyrics perfectly represented the year.  That’s been a harder feat than I imagined, so I may simply use a favorite song that was released this year.

On other fronts, big hiking plans are emerging for 2013.  Possible hiking trips to Kauai and Ireland are lingering in the distance.  In addition to international treks, I hope to squeeze in a few amazing U.S. hiking weekends.  Backpacker magazine has been luring me to visit some of our stunning National Parks — some I’ve never visited and a few I have.  There are so many beautiful places calling my name!

And let’s not forget — I’m buying a house!  Or at least I’m trying to buy a house.  I’ve been in the market for a home in Las Vegas for a couple of months now.  The housing market here reminds me a bit of a frantic auction.  Houses are cheap and investors with cash offers keep beating me out!  But I remind myself to be patient — one of these days I’ll slip in an offer before a cash investor gets the chance, and damn-it, the homeowners and bank are going to accept it!  (This is my mantra anyhow.)  I’ll be sure to keep you updated with how this all turns out.

I think that covers the basics for now.  It’s Black Friday, and although I’m not planning to join the masses in holiday shopping, I certainly do plan to take advantage of the day off.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday!  Cheers to many more to come!!

Also posted in Ramblings and Rants

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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Also posted in Non-Local Hikes, North America, Outdoor Adventures, United States, Weekend Getaways Tagged , , , , , |

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!

Also posted in Non-Local Hikes, North America, Outdoor Adventures, United States Tagged , , , |

In Search of: Hiking and Singing and Dancing, Oh My!

Great news!  School’s — out — for — summer!!  Yes, I’m totally singing that 80’s hit in my head right now.  No, you may not laugh at me.  Because you know you’re singing it in your head now too.  Oh how I deeply love summer vacation.  Life is good, my friends.

One might imagine my first act of summer vacay would be to sit around and get my relax on.  But not this girl.  Instead, I hiked to the highest peak in Southern Nevada!  On Sunday, I checked Charleston Peak off my hiking wish list.  I’m pretty proud.  The route we followed was just shy of 18 miles, with an elevation gain of over 4,000 feet.  The first 4 miles were the worst, with the majority of the elevation gain being in the wicked switchbacks at the start.  But after that it was smooth sailing (okay, not quite smooth — but in hindsight, I can make that claim).

If you’re interested in mild torture to achieve your life’s goal of seeing the best view of Pahrump there possibly is, this is the hike for you.  (If you’re not from the area, I assure you, that statement is pretty damn funny.)  If you like a good challenge and peak bagging is your thing, this is also the hike for you.  And if you’re not interested in any of that, I still highly recommend you follow the route just past the halfway point.  There are some lovely mountain meadows that were calling out for the recreation of a certain Twilight scene and a damn good picnic.  Had I the time, I would have been happy lazing amongst those wildflowers for a few hours.  Of course, I was a man on a mission (or woman, as it would be), thus there was no time for dilly-dallying.

I reached the peak in time for lunch in the bunker (there’s a small bunker dug out at the peak, surrounded by rock walls, that protects you from the wind).  The bunker was my life saver.  It was pretty damn windy up there, and the wind made me cold.  But in the bunker — it was all sunshine and lollipops.

Want to take a peak at the hike (and some obviously professional singing and dancing)?  Take a look at my Charleston Peak video:

Also posted in Las Vegas Hikes Tagged , , , , |

In Search of: Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

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Valley of Fire State Park is one of my absolute favorite places on the planet.  The park is about an hour outside of Vegas, and it’s positively breathtaking.  These pictures only crack the shell of what Valley of Fire has to offer.  The rock formations and colors are so diverse, it’s like a world away from reality.  And you would never know it by the drive out there.  It’s amidst middle of nowhere dirt and rocks with nothing spectacular to see.  Half the fun is the surprise of driving through barren desert — that suddenly becomes a veritable rainbow of rock.

As much as I love this locale, I haven’t spent nearly as much time there as I would like.  It’s one of those locations Vegas is famous for — and by that, I mean it’s hotter than hell in the summer, so you have to remember to get out during the late fall through early spring months.

Seeing as how my hiking slows down tremendously as winter approaches (I’m a weather wuss, peeps), I sometimes miss out on this beautiful locale because, honestly, I forget to go!  Sort of like this past winter.  I missed it.  Someone slap me, please.  Trust me.  Valley of Fire is not to be forgotten.  So much so that I’m considering an overnight camp and and a 4am hike (to avoid the wretched heat of the day yet still revel in the beauty of it all).

Can you imagine watching the sunrise from atop one of those rock formations?  I bet it would be stunning.  And the stars out there?  Out of this world.

Who’s up for camping at Valley of Fire?

 

Also posted in Las Vegas Hikes, North America, Outdoor Adventures, United States Tagged , , |