• the first encounter.

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

Oct 18, 2014

Mount San Jacinto State Park. Palm Springs, California

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Mount San Jacinto State Park
This week, I finally made my first trip to Palm Springs to hike in Mount San Jacinto State Park. My girlfriend and I had a few consecutive days off and we made the decision to drive up at midnight the night before. I found a cheap hotel about ten miles down the road in the town of Desert Hot Springs through Travelocity for $60. The Aqua Soleil looked nice in the photos, so we booked it and headed out at 10 a.m. the next morning.

We made it to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway around noon. Tickets for the tram cost us $24 each. You're basically forced to take the tram, because if you tried to hike from the bottom, it would take you around 7 hours and ten miles of hiking with 8,000 feet of elevation gain. People who have hiked it say that its worse than hiking Mount Whitney. The tram ride takes around ten minutes. Once we reached the station at the top, the temperature was  around 30 degrees cooler than on the desert floor below. It was a nice change to hike in 60 degree weather in the middle of a desert. The tram station at the top has a few small restaurants where you can buy food and snacks. I bet a lot of people never make it outside of the tram station.

We opted to start with an easy trail. The Desert View Trail is about 1.5 miles round-trip with a slight uphill elevation gain going in. This is the trail that most of the tourists do. There are 5 overlooks along the trail with views of the valley floor below. I was surprised to see so many large Jeffrey Pine trees in the park. I have no idea where they are getting water from because the creek was bone dry and we haven't had a significant rain or snow in several years now. October is a really great time to see Mount Jacinto. We could not have wished for better weather. My only regret was that we should have done this trail during sunset and not in the middle of the day. You can see all of Palm Springs below and I bet it looks amazing at night.

The next trail we hit was the Round Valley Trail. For this section of the park, we had to stop at the ranger station and fill out a permit. It only took about 3 minutes, it was free, and the ranger gave us a map. The hike to the Round Valley Campground from the tram is about 4 miles round-trip with approximately 1000 feet in elevation gain. It took us less than two hours and we stopped a bunch and goofed off. We really should have hiked the last mile past Round Valley to Wellman's Divide, but I was really sore from playing basketball the day before and I was really looking forward to a seafood dinner and a bottle of wine in Palm Springs. If you plan on hiking all the way to the top of Mount San Jacinto you would follow the signs and continue on past Round Valley. It gets rough from this point on, so make sure to bring enough water and allow yourself enough time to make the last tram out. The hike from the tram to the peak of Mount San Jacinto and back is about 11 miles round-trip and may take as long as 7 hours because of the thin air and elevation gain. I would like to come back and turn it into an overnight trip sometime and just camp at Round Valley.

All in all it was a pretty awesome trip, but a little more expensive than our typical day hikes after we racked up a bill at the restaurant that night and then drank ourselves into a coma at the bar. We found a couple of cool places around Palm Springs that I thought I would mention:

Tonga Hut
An awesome little bar in Palm Springs that serves tropical drinks. The bartenders were rad and we spent our night sampling beers with them.

Ruben and Ozzy's Oyster Bar
A east-coast style Oyster Bar. The Campechana appetizer was glorious. I tried to bribe the waiter to steal the recipe for me.

It was $60 for a room midweek and the rooms had just been renovated. They have two hot tubs and a large pool. The pool and hot tubs were open 24 hours and we had them to ourselves. 

To do for next time:

6 miles roundtrip
Trailhead in the Indian Canyons located on S. Palm Canyon Dr.
Admission charge; Information (760) 323-6018

TahquitzCanyon
3.5 mi roundtrip, 300 ft. gain, 2 to 3 hrs 
Trailhead: at the Tahquitz Visitor Center located on Mesquite Ave.


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Aug 6, 2014

Angel Falls on Willow Creek. Oakhurst, California

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Angel Falls near Oakhurst,California


Since  Yosemite National Park is currently on fire, you might be looking for something to do outside the park. I thought I would do a post about Angel Falls near Oakhurst.
Angel Falls is located about 7 miles from the town of Oakhurst California. If you’re headed to Yosemite from Orange County of Los Angeles, you’re most likely going to be driving through Oakhurst anyway, so Angel Falls is definitely worth a stop.  

Angel Falls is a series of cascades and small waterfalls along Willow Creek. The largest waterfall is probably around 20 feet tall. In the summer, these waterfalls are really popular among the locals. There are several great swimming holes and a few great places for cliff jumping if you’re brave enough, or dumb enough, depending on how you look at it. If you head upstream, there is a trail on the left side of the creek that leads uphill, but I prefer hiking through the creek. The granite has been polished over the years by the water, so be careful if you decide to try and climb up through the rocks. Wet granite can be as slick as ice and it would be easy to crack your skull if you slipped and fell.

I visited the falls in mid-June this year for the first time and the water in Willow Creek was cold, but not unbearable like some of the creeks and rivers in Yosemite.  Diving off the rocks into the crystal clear pools was one of the highlights of my Yosemite trip this year, and when you’re talking about Yosemite, that’s a real compliment. If you’re looking to budget your time on the way into Yosemite, I would say that 2 hours would be sufficient to explore the falls and take a swim. There is another larger 50 foot waterfall about a mile upstream from Angel Falls called Devil’s Slide Falls. I only found out about this "secret" waterfall by accident a few days later when I was browsing the internet in our hotel room. I definitely plan on coming back next year to see it. 

A word of warning: I’ve read that Angel falls can get really crowded on the weekends with kids partying.  It was basically empty on a Wednesday afternoon in June, so you may want to plan your trip accordingly. 

Direction to Angel Falls:
Drive North of Oakhurst on Highway 41 for approximately 3 miles. Turn right on Highway 222 (Bass Lake Road). Follow Bass Lake Road for approximately 3 miles and bear left onto Route 274. Continue for 1 mile and look for the dirt pullout on the left-hand side of the road just before the small bridge.  Parking can be difficult on weekends.

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Aug 3, 2014

John Muir Trail. Yosemite National Park

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John Muir Trail 2014

If nature would've cooperated, this post could have been a happy tale of 4 people trekking across green meadows and sleeping under stars. As it happened, our 3 day backpacking trip was cut short by a freezing cold rainstorm at 10,000 feet and our tent which kept out the water about as well as a single slice of Swiss cheese.

My brother had planned our little backpacking trip a few months ahead of time.  The plan was to hike 8 miles from Tuolumne Meadows to the Sunrise High Sierra Camp on the first night, then 5 miles to a spot on Sunrise Creek the second night, and finally 11 miles to Half Dome and back into Yosemite Valley on the third night to stay at the backpacker’s camp.

We headed out from Tuolumne Meadows early on the first day and headed to Sunrise High Sierra Camp on the John Muir Trail. This 8 mile section of the John Muir Trail is one of the most beautiful trails in the United States.  You pass through redwood forests, towering mountains, across pristine meadows, past glacial lakes and granite domes.  There were several natural springs along the trail where you could fill your water bottle directly from the creek.  We had blue skies and 65 degree temps all day. It was a glorious day.

The Sunrise High Sierra Camp is built along the hillside of the High Sierra Trail. The canvas cabins were still down and the stone lodge was closed, so the only amenity we had was an outhouse and a creek for filtering water.  The mosquitoes were out in force, so we started gathering wood for a campfire the minute after we set up our tents. We made a huge pile of wood at the community fire ring. There were about a dozen other people at the camp when we arrived, but no one lifted a finger to help us gather wood. By contrast, you should have seen the amount of "help" we got when were actually lighting the fire. We spent the evening sitting by the fire, boiling water for our Mountain House Meals. The Mountain House “Chicken with Rib Meat ad Mashed Potatoes” is quite literally the best freeze dried meal I've ever eaten. By sundown, there were about 20 people hanging out by the fire with us. 

Fast-forward to 4am. The temperature outside plummets to 38 degrees and the rains starts, slowly at first, and then it turns into a torrential downpour that lasts 6 hours. By 10 am, our 2-man tent is sagging on top of us. Water has soaked our sleeping bags and all of our gear. My girlfriend is on the verge of tears. We can’t access the weather through her phone, so we have no idea how long the rain is supposed to last. The forecast had called for clear skies, so the rain was a complete surprise. There is no hell on earth like laying in a soaking wet sleeping bag in near freezing conditions, miles from civilization, while you're girlfreind is sobbing next to you.  We made the decision to break camp and head back to Tuolumne Meadows, rather than risk 2 more nights in the rain with a useless tent and soaked gear.

We hike 8 miles over the mountain in less than 2 hours with our wet packs that weigh twice as much as they had the day before.  The rain literally never lets up and temperature never really gets above 45 degrees. We stopped once for 5 minutes to eat a granola bar. The trail that had been so beautiful the day before, was now completely blanketed by a heavy endless fog. We passed at least a dozen other hikers on the trail who looked as miserable as I felt.

We reach our car around noon and change into dry clothes. We drove into 2 hours to Oakhurst and shelled out 189$ for a motel room that would have cost 40$ anywhere else in the United States. We spent that night in the motel watching cable movies and eating BBQ Brisket in our comfy queen-size bed.

My brother and his girlfriend actually continued on to Half Dome.  A bear raided their campsite the next day and rummaged through their gear. Other than that, he says they never ran into any more problems and they made it to the dome. 

I guess the lesson here is to splurge for a better tent? 
Cathedral Lake. John Muir Trail

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