Big Sur Reunion

McWay Falls

McWay Falls

 

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”
~Katharine Hepburn

Company of good friends and a dog named Huckleberry
Nice scenery
Light pack
Great food and drink
Natural hot springs
all coupled with feet that itch to burn some trail miles
= One great weekend

Late last summer, Silly Chili and I met at Big Sur, CA for a weekend overnight with Continental Divide Trail hiker friends, Drop n’ Roll, Love Note, Burly, and Huckleberry (puppy adopted while hiking the CDT). Drop n’ Roll was in California for work and we all jumped at the chance to make a quick backpack happen. The weekend to Sykes Hot Springs was filled with laughter, fun, and a bit of shenanigans.

Dramatic Big Sur is on the coast of central California. The route to Sykes Hot Springs is very popular with evidence of many violations of the leave no trace policy and poison oak along most of the trail.

If you are looking for solitude, this is not the trip for you. However, Big Sur features a rugged coastline, dense redwood groves, open meadows, rivers, waterfalls, arid inland peaks, and mild weather most of the year.

TRIP DATE August 23-24, 2014
LENGTH 20 miles out and back on maintained trail
TRAIL HEAD Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Pine Ridge Trail Head CA, Ventana Wilderness, CA
DIFFICULTY moderate
NAVIGATION  marked trail
BEST TIME TO HIKE Year-round
HIGHLIGHT Soaking in Sykes Natural Hot Spring

Day 1 – Pine Ridge Trail Head to Sykes Camp

Dramatic Coast

Dramatic Coast

 

Our route left from the parking lot at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on Highway 1 and followed the Pine Ridge Trail ending at the crossing of Big Sur River at Sykes Camp. Sykes camp is large with many available tent sites.

After dinner, drink, and a bit of swimming, our herd headed upstream to popular Sykes Hot Springs. The spring is a great place to meet other hikers and features a few tubs with varying degrees of water temperatures.

Day 2 – Sykes Camp to Pine Ridge Trail Head

After packing up and snapping a few family photos we reluctantly headed back.

As I mentioned earlier, Leave No Trace principles is widely lacking in this area. Evidence of garbage, food, and other unmentionables abound.

Burly even found a roller backpack full of trash and hauled it out by stuffing it in the top of his pack! Lovenote found an abandoned daypack with garbage and also hauled it out. Pretty scary actually.

I think it must be a lack of education for this to happen. Perhaps a solution is to require at trail heads on over populated trails, a short 5 minute interactive course on Leave No Trace ethics. The pamphlets apparently are not working.

 

A  picture is worth a thousand words

A picture is worth a thousand words

Exciting news!

Many of you who followed the Wandering Herd on the CDT a couple of summers ago, just may have wondered about Lovenote and Burly on the CDT.

Great and awesome news…they are getting married this August in the Sierras. Silly Chili and I plan on celebrating with them in full hiker trash regalia. 

I love these guys!

Links:

A Visit to Scotland’s TGO Challenge

Climbing Cairn Hillock - Lochnagar looming in the background

Climbing Cairn Hillock – Lochnagar looming in the background

This week sees the start of the 2015 The Great Outdoors Challenge. Between Friday, May 8 – 22, 318 intrepid backpackers will make their way from the west to the east coast of Scotland on the 36th annual coast-to-coast extravaganza.

Dan and I completed this epic trek that started this week, 1 year ago. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think, wonder, dream, or remember back to the land of Scotland.

What a better time to remember hill walking the Highlands, Monadhliath, and Cairngorm Mountains, than by creating a video!

Many of you followed and supported me along the TGO, but if you are new to Lady on a Rock this a great way to experience the trek. Who knows, some of you just might become a new Challenger next year. Just sayin’.

Wishing all the 2015 TGO adventurers safe travels and pleasant weather!

All this talk of Scotland has me itching for a new adventure. I think this weekend sounds good. Enjoy.

New Quick Reference Page Added:

A quick reference page for Scotland’s The Great Outdoors Challenge with route, links, and journal information is now under Trips in the top menu.

How to Hike Hands Free with an Umbrella

Panamint Valley - Death Valley National Park

Panamint Valley – Death Valley National Park

Rain
Snow
Sleet
Sun
Exposure
All part of a hiker’s life.

A lightweight hiking umbrella is standard in my backpacking kit. It can fend off heat stroke and exhaustion. In rain, it is the difference between being soaked to the bone or slightly wet.

Many of you have asked, “How can I hike with an umbrella while using poles?” or “I just don’t want to continually hold the handle of the umbrella while hiking, how can I hike hands-free?”

I have tried many different combinations of ties, pads, and small bungies. All have been okay, but moved around a bit. My latest system works perfectly. The system is balanced, stays in place, easy to attach and take off, inexpensive, and lightweight. The straps used to attach the umbrella were recycled off old packs and gear.

Materials:

  • narrow velcro strap
  • about 6 inches of 1/8″ cord with a  mini cord lock (we used cord with a slight stretch)

Note: Two cords with a mini cord lock would work also. The velcro strap just seemed to keep the umbrella in place better.

Velcro Strap and Cord with Mini Cord Lock

Velcro Strap and Cord with Mini Cord Lock

 

Assemble:

  • attach velcro near top of shoulder around pack strap (be sure this is attached to the pack: loop or suspension strap)
  • attach small bungie below sternum strap around vertical webbing, loop, or whole strap

Attach the Umbrella:

  • slide umbrella handle through velcro
  • IMPORTANT AND THE SECRET TO SECURING: slide umbrella handle under clipped sternum strap
  • slide end of handle in cord
  • tighten both sternum strap and cord

Note: Dan likes to loop the umbrella handle cord under bungie and sternum strap, so the cord does not flop around.

Examples shown below are on the new Gossamer Gear Gorilla and Mariposa, but these variations will work on most packs.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla No-hands Umbrella Set-up

Gossamer Gear Gorilla No-hands Umbrella Set-up

Gossamer Gear Mariposa No-hands Umbrella Set-up

Gossamer Gear Mariposa No-hands Umbrella Set-up

L2H – The After Party

IMG_1207

Without scary, we don’t get to be brave.
~Anon

All is good.

Last night Dan and I finally had a chance to celebrate completing our Lowest to Highest backpacking trip. I have healed quickly, my face looks pretty good with the help of essential oils, and I even went for a bike ride yesterday. Dan keeps dreaming at night of navigating with the GPS and I have simply slept sound and hard. I will admit that I have been a bit clingy to Dan after the tumble and for some reason crave oatmeal. What????? As we celebrated, we were able to reflect back on the trip and share our thoughts.

Many of you have asked about the emotional part of the trip and how our relationship fared on this adventure of extremes. First off, we HAVE been on a few trips that ended in strife and conflict, where we did not act as a team, but as individuals. Not good. Those take awhile to work through to heal, forgive and go forward.

Fortunately, the L2H was not one of THOSE trips. Dan and I worked together, making critical decisions, keeping each other calm, healthy, and took on the role of each other’s cheerleader. Teamwork. On this kind of trip you need to have each other’s back with a sense of humor.

Our Thoughts:

First off, we hiked L2H during the spring. On normal years, the snow levels getting to Telescope and Mount Whitney would make this trip very difficult. The recommended time of year to compete this route is in the late fall when temperatures have cooled down in Death Valley and early snow storms have not yet hit the upper elevations.

This is not a leisurely trip with pretty landscape around each corner. It is a trip with big swings, from elevation gain and loss (very low to very high), extreme temperatures (possible blazing heat to freezing cold temperatures), rough terrain (sand, rock, loose talus, some class 3 climbing), navigation skills with map, GPS, and compass, long water carries with heavy packs (at least as long as the California drought continues), some dirt road walks, a variety of snakes, and snow travel with ice axe and crampons (if hiking in the spring). If you are great with that list and want the challenge, this is the trip for you.

Day Hike Options:

If you aren’t okay with the risks, day hiking the highlights of the trip is very doable.

-Walk across Badwater to Shorty’s Well and back (start early in the morning).
-Climb Telescope Peak from Wildrose Campground. It is on trail and can be done in half a day.
-Day hike Darwin Falls Canyon up to China Spring Garden then up the very beautiful little canyon and back.
-Hike the 6 mile round trip Whitney Portal National Recreational Trail from Lone Pine Campground to Whitney Portal and back.
-Climb Mount Whitney during the summer when the trail is snowless.

Gear:

Gear thoughts:

  • Air beam sleeper regular – quiet, light, and quickly inflates and deflates
  • Cascadia 10 Trail Runners – great rock protection for cross-country travel, supportive, and super durable. The uppers and soles show little wear after the trip. Love the new design!
  • Dan’s Altra Lone Peaks did not fare the trip as well. He thought they were comfortable, but at the end of the trip the bottoms of his shoes were pretty smooth.
  • We used, liked, and needed all the gear we carried.

Food:

The heat changed everything on this trip. All our favorite foods became a chore to eat. I pretty much could have lived on Lay’s Stax Potato Chips and Cliff Shot Bloks. Bars, nuts, flavored powder packets were left untouched in our packs. Dan recommends bringing some kind of hard candies like Jolly Ranchers. A favorite new recipe that I loved and will definitely make again came from my good friend, Beekeeper at Jan’s Jaunts and Jabberings: Sweet Potato, Quinoa & Black Bean Cold Salad.

Photos and Video:

  • All trip photos are uploaded and ready to view on Flickr

Lowest to Highest: Badwater to Whitney Page:

L2H Day 7 – Whitney Wipeout

Celebrating finishing L2H on top of Mount Whitney

Celebrating finishing L2H on top of Mount Whitney

“When your life hangs from a knot, it helps to know who tied it.
~Peter Zuckerman

April 3, 2015 – Final Day
Whitney Portal up Whitney and back to Whitney Portal
22 miles
6,188 feet elevation gain, 6,188 elevation loss

A day of triumph, fright, and genuine thankfulness and gratitude…

So fitting for the finish of the Lowest to Highest, the trip of extreme contrasts.

Ya think that after all this hiking up and down, up and down that we would be zooming up Whitney with no problem. Well, I wish. Historically, altitude does not really get to me, but today I struggled. Both Dan and I just had to push through. And we did.

It is always hard to force a body out of a warm, cozy, sleeping bag for those alpine starts, but so worth it. Our plan was to hit the deep snow early to avoid post-holing and get down off the mountain before it was too icy and dark.

There were only 2 other climbers today. They started at Trail Camp, 3/4 the way up Whitney at 7:00 am. Climbers usually take the chute up the southeast side of Whitney instead of the snow-covered 99 switchbacks. The chute is long and steep.

It was butt cold the entire day which made the snow super tricky. The high temps over the last week and now the cold, created an ice crust on top and soft stuff underneath with intermittent solid ice.

We reached the top at 1:00 pm and quickly made some hot tea, ate oranges, and fresh deli lunch meats and cheese in the shelter. After a very rejuvenating break, hugs, high fives, and pics we quickly started our descent.

We reached the top of the chute just as the sun was covering the bottom half.

In 2010, a high snow year, I descended this very chute with my good hiker friend, Arrow. It was soft, fluffy snow and scarier than snot. How had I forgotten that minor detail in this plan? In 2010, we glissade down on our sides with our ice axes securely planted, using it as a type of rudder and brake.

Today, after securing any outside equipment inside the packs, including electronics, we carefully descended using various techniques: side-stepping, sitting down and stepping, digging in steps, and sliding a bit with our ice axe dug in. The snow changed to ice as we went down.

With a quarter left to go, I started accelerating with my ice axe dug in and close to my side. I kept going faster and faster and had trouble hanging on with the hand closest to my body.

I have been in a few mountaineering classes and know how important it is to keep the axe next to your body or you are in deep trouble. I couldn’t hang on with the blows to my hand over and over. My grip let go. The ice axe started flipping around and I knew I had to get that thing away from me afraid of being impaled.

After that things flew.
Racing down on my back feet first.
Ice flipped me around.
Sliding face first.
Ice tossed me up in the air several times.
Landing each time hearing body cracks.
All the time knowing I was heading for rocks at the bottom.
Flying in the air one last time and plopping to a dead halt.

So what goes through the mind at a time like this? For one, I was pretty sure I was done for or broke my neck, but all I could think of is that my dear husband had to watch the whole mess of a thing in horror. I wouldn’t want that for him.

I am very lucky, fortunate and very blessed. I know that God was looking out for both Dan and I on that mountain.

Poor Dan had to make his way down to me gathering all my equipment along the way. By the time he reached me, I had assessed all my parts, had some blood and figured nothing was broken. He was so sweet and said I had all my teeth.

Everything fell into place after that, I was okay to descend the 8 miles on my own. Dan was super worried I had a concussion and kept me moving down one step at a time. Above Lone Pine Lake, we met 2 older gentleman that showed up out of now where. I think they were my guardian angels. They talked to me the way down and offered to give us a ride to Lone Pine where our car was parked. When we got to the trail head, another young guy, Kip offered to give us a ride even though he had just arrived and wasn’t going down. Pretty amazing really.

So I am okay. Really bruised, scraped, and have a few pulled muscles, but all will heal with a bit of time.

Thank you for following along. This has been one heck of a spring vacation. Yes sireeeeeee.

What We Did or Wish We Did:

-Get an early start even if you are climbing with no snow in the fall.
-On a normal snow year, the snow level usually starts well below Whitney Portal. We have snowshoed from Lone Pine Campground to the Portal at this time of year.
-Bring extra clothing layers, you will wear all of them.
-The Pizza Factory in Lone Pine is open until 9:00 pm, if the Whitney Portal Store is open, get a burger there before heading down.
-Do not to fall going down the chute if climbing in the winter and please wear a helmet.

Sunrise over the Inyo Mountains

Sunrise over the Inyo Mountains

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Ledges before Trail Camp

Ledges before Trail Camp

Trail Camp

Trail Camp

One step at a time

One step at a time

View of Owens Valley and the Inyo Mountains

View of Owens Valley and the Inyo Mountains

Heading up

Heading up

Early morning ascent of chute

Early morning ascent of chute

Almost to the top

Almost to the top

Hitchcock Lakes and Guitar Lake

Hitchcock Lakes and Guitar Lake

Top of Whitney in sight

Top of Whitney in sight

Smithsonian Shelter at the top of Mount Whitney

Smithsonian Shelter at the top of Mount Whitney

Hikers getting ready to descend chute

Hikers getting ready to descend chute

Chute I slid down in afternoon shade

Chute I slid down in afternoon shade

Ice scrapes and bruises from sliding and tumbling

Ice scrapes and bruises from sliding and tumbling

L2H Day 6 – Nero Magic

Heading out of Lone Pine with Ice Axe and Crampons

Heading out of Lone Pine with Ice Axe and Crampons

“I just walked. I was VERY happy.”
–Bill Bryson, WALK IN THE WOODS

April 2, 2015
Lone Pine to Whitney Portal
11.5 miles
4,600 feet elevation gain

Dow Villa beds are the softest and most cozy ever. So much so I doubted for a few minutes whether we would ever leave, much less go on and climb Mount Whitney. But after a self-tune up, shower, and the beauty of a new day, organization for the next and last leg of this adventure commenced.

We readied for winter conditions on Whitney, as the ranger station had informed us that the snow level started at Lone Pine Lake at about 9000 feet. The temps are predicted to be in the teens. We traded out our desert gear for snow gear adding: crampons, ice axe, and warm clothing. I have climbed Whitney many times from all different directions, but the conditions always differ making it just as intimidating and physically challenging. After coming through the desert I feel depleted and my body feels confused, burning hot, freezing cold, burning hot, freezing cold. Like make up your mind already…..

Breakfast at the Alabama Hills Cafe is the best. If you happen to be passing through Lone Pine between 7:00 am and 2:00 pm stop and eat. Everything on the menu is delicious. Just go. I had steak and hash browns. Yum.

After a stop at the ranger station to pick up a Mount Whitney permit (quotas do not start until the end of April) and dropping our car off at Burly and Lovenote’s, we headed on foot at 3:00 pm with loaded packs through the town of Lone Pine.

The trek up to Whitney Portal is interesting and very scenic with an 8 mile road walk climbing 3000 feet, then hooking up with the Whitney Portal National Recreational Trail climbing another 1600 feet. We arrived at the portal at 9:00 pm, quickly set up our tent near the trail head.

It is super cold.

Alarm set for 2:45.

Alpine start at 3:30.

Ready. Set. Climb to 14,505 feet.

What We Did or Wish We Did:
-You will need a reservation to stay at the Dow Villa, if not the Whitney Portal Hostel across the street is wonderful.
-Eat breakfast or lunch at the Alabama Hills Cafe.
-Elevation Sports is very knowledgeable, has lightweight gear and snow gear rentals.
-Hike the recreational trail, not the road to the portal. It is beautiful and well designed.

A neat resupply

A neat resupply

Whitney Portal Road

Whitney Portal Road

Best road walk ever!

Best road walk ever!

Best road walk ever!

Best road walk ever!

Whitney Portal Recreational Trail starts at Lone Pine Campground

Whitney Portal Recreational Trail starts at Lone Pine Campground

Looking back at the Inyo Mountains and close to a full moon

Looking back at the Inyo Mountains and close to a full moon

Whitney Portal National Recreational Trail

Whitney Portal National Recreational Trail

Mount Whitney (middle)

Mount Whitney (middle)

L2H Day 5 – Fools on the Move

Morning break view of Owens Valley and the High Sierras

Morning break view of Owens Valley and the High Sierras

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”
~Dr. Seuss

April 1, 2015
White Mountain Talc Road to the Dow Villa in Lone Pine
30.3 miles
4,300 elevation gain, 5,400 elevation loss

Well last night was miserable and we never got warm. At about 4:00 am we packed it up and started climbing 3000′ up into the Inyo Mountains. It is a beautiful transition area from Joshua Trees to Pinyon Pines. It is my favorite.

Our mission for the day was to make it 30 miles to Lone Pine to stay at the Dow Villa Motel. It is amazing what a soft, cozy, and warm bed can motivate a body to do. What we didn’t figure in is how long it would take to get through Long John Canyon.

Hiking through the Inyo Mountains gifts the hiker with magnificent views in all directions. The jeep road through this section is in great shape to make good time, but after leaving this luxury, it is slow going.

At the crest of the mountain is part of the old Salt Tram. Just as we reached the top we had our friends the fighter jets literally buzz us. We could see the pilot’s helmet, it was that close. Again our own personal escort.

Our navigation through Long John was a bit off and cost us daylight and time. See below for navigation tips.

We reached our water cache at Owenyo Lone Pine Road so lovingly stashed there by Lovenote and Burly at about 10:00 pm and still had 4 miles to Lone Pine. I cranked my music up, enjoyed the moonlight reflection off the Sierras and marched on through Owens Valley.

At 11:30 pm we scooted into Lovenote and Burly’s home where our car was waiting with resupply for our climb of Mount Whitney. We quickly made a mad dash to find anything open in town with fresh food. Luckily, at the edge of town the Chevron convenience store was just closing. Loaded up with 3 big boxes of deli sandwiches, carrot cake, coconut water, and a V8, we checked into the Dow Villa at 12:15 am.

Yowwwwwwzzzzzzzzaaaaaaaaaaaa! What a long day!


What We D
id or Wish We Did:
-You will be trespassing in the area of Cerro Gordo Mine. We just walked quickly.
-Be prepared mentally for a very awkward traverse after Cerro Gordo Mine.
-Shortly after Burgess Mine look for duck on the left and leave jeep road. On the map it indicates the turn off is a jeep road. It is not. Go southwest a bit and meet a well-marked use trail.
-Biggest tip: pay attention to GPS and maps. The use trail will take you to the wash at the bottom of Long John, then you will leave the canyon and hike on the south ridge above the canyon. This is to circumvent a very high dry fall. The route then steeply dumps directly down into Long John before the spring. We stayed in the canyon and had to climb a steep class 3 up and around. Big mistake.
-We hiked the section around the Long John Spring at night, so we have no information on the water there. Everything did look dry.

3000' climb to Cerro Gordo Mine

3000′ climb to Cerro Gordo Mine

Nice welcome sign to the area

Nice welcome sign to the area

House at Cerro Gordo Mine

House at Cerro Gordo Mine

House at Cerro Gordo Mine

House at Cerro Gordo Mine

Historical Salt Tram and Mine

Historical Salt Tram and Mine

Challenging traverse

Challenging traverse

The  Inyo Mountains

The Inyo Mountains

The story behind the Salt Tram

The story behind the Salt Tram

Salt Tram at the top of the mountain

Salt Tram at the top of the mountain

Inyo Mountains

Inyo Mountains

Saline Valley

Saline Valley

My Sierras

My Sierras

Looking down at Long John Canyon

Looking down at Long John Canyon

Entering the Long John

Entering the Long John

Climb out of Long John after navigation mistake

Climb out of Long John after navigation mistake

12:00 am Welcome to Lone Pine

12:00 am Welcome to Lone Pine

L2H Day 4 – Characters in the Desert

Nice ride on Saline Valley Road

Nice ride on Saline Valley Road

 

“In this glare of brilliant emptiness, in this arid intensity of pure heat,
in the heart of a weird solitude, great silence and grand desolation, all things
recede to distances out of reach, reflecting light but impossible to touch,
annihilating all thought and all that men have made to a spasm of whirling dust
far out on the golden desert.”
–Ed Abbey

March 31, 2015
Darwin Canyon Wash to White Mountain Talc Road
24.9 miles
3,700 elevation gain

Extreme is the essence of this journey from lowest to highest.

Today started with some fun class 3 and 4 climbing through Darwin Canyon, a fairyland of water and rock, then across the long hot Darwin plateau, and now finds me in San Lucas Canyon shivering in my sleeping bag so cold I can see my breath.

In addition, there was a very nice mix of characters, both human and wild. Ongoing entertainment throughout the day included: goldfish, various snakes, a very upset wild burro, a nice ranger that carried out our empty water bottles, lots of happy, hippy people heading out to Saline Valley, our personal fighter jets continued to escort us overhead, a gentleman in an old Ford with a bike on the back for when the truck breaks down, and super sonic speedy lizards.

And for the scariest…

At the end of the day hiking by headlamps in San Lucas Canyon, way out in the middle of nowhere, a camper truck was parked on the side of the road. Very fishy. We immediately were alarmed by flashing lights inside the truck and loud music and turned our headlamps off. Then we heard very loud mean yelling in another language that sounded like an interrogation, not a fight. Quickly Dan grabbed my hand and we sprinted about a mile ahead until we felt we were safe. Super frightening.

You just never know what the desert will throw at ya!

What We Did or Wish We Did:
-The guidebook description in the book “Hiking Death Valley” by Michel Degonnet of the route through Darwin Canyon is VERY helpful for safety and time.
-Get water before China Gardens near the falls, unless you want to filter out of the fish pond. China Garden is kind of dumping ground.
-We stashed water at highway 190 and carried out 6 liters of water, but if you have time an additional water cache 8 miles up Saline Valley Road would be helpful, especially if it is warmer weather.

Lower Darwin Falls

Lower Darwin Falls

Talus route up to the next falls

Talus route up to the next falls

Upper Darwin Falls

Upper Darwin Falls

Class 3 and 4 climb to upper Darwin Canyon

Class 3 and 4 climb to upper Darwin Canyon

 

Darwin Canyon

Darwin Canyon

Upper Darwin Canyon

Upper Darwin Canyon

 

China Garden Fish Pond

China Garden Fish Pond

China Garden

China Garden

 

Darwin Falls Wilderness

Darwin Falls Wilderness

King or Coral Snake?

King or Coral Snake?

 

Darwin Falls Wilderness

Darwin Falls Wilderness

Wild burro

Wild burro

 

First sight of the Sierras in the distance

First sight of the Sierras in the distance

Cool ride on Saline Valley Road

Cool ride on Saline Valley Road

Look what we found in the desert!

Look what we found in the desert!

Lee Flat

Lee Flat

Joshua Tree Grove

Joshua Tree Grove

Sunset

Sunset

 

L2H Day 3 – Hot Topics

 

Beating the Heat

I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils.
I will believe it a good comfortable road until I am compelled
to believe differently.
–from the journal of Meriwether Lewis

March 30, 2015
Lower Tuber Canyon to Darwin Canyon Wash
24 miles on mostly flat in the heat (106 degrees)

I question my sanity after today.
Who hikes in 106 degree weather? It is just not natural.
In my defense, this trip was planned at this time BECAUSE temps historically average in the 80’s. Who knew that this very week would break the heat records of all time in California?
My umbrella was my best friend today and saved me from exposure and heat exhaustion. It IS that good.
With a pre-dawn start and long, brushy, and rocky Tuber Canyon behind, the water cache at Miretta road was a welcome self-created oasis. Heaven.
Dan and I made tea, rested, drank about 4 liters of water, and ate last night’s dinner (we were afraid to use our precious water for cooking last night). More heaven.
As we crossed Panamint Valley, fighter jets from a near-by military base flew overhead. I am sure the chrome domes are quite puzzling and cheery from the air!
We reached Panamint Spring Resort in the early afternoon, picked up our resupply from the store, ate burgers and fries, then showered at the campground. We rinsed our clothes out, put them on wet and the heat dried them in like 2 minutes.
We are camped in Darwin Canyon wash below beautiful Darwin Falls. My feet are swollen and red from heat rash and various other places as well. Now that is just special. Really, it is not natural to don a backpack in this kind of weather.
I am thankful for a gentle cool breeze.
What We Did or Wish We Did:
-Bring an umbrella. Period.
-Food at the cafe in Panamint was delicious.
-Don’t count on the WiFi at the resort. It doesn’t work.
-Loved camping in Darwin Canyon.

Panamint Valley

Wildlife

 

Yoga

Miretta Road Water Cache

Miretta Road Water Cache

 

Make your own shade

Make your own shade

 

Dry Desert

 

Panamint Valley: Temperature Outside - 106 degrees

Panamint Valley: Temperature Outside – 106 degrees

 

Panamint Valley: Temperature Under the Umbrella 91 degrees

Panamint Valley: Temperature Under the Umbrella 91 degrees

Panamint Valley: Crossing dry lake bed

Panamint Valley: Crossing dry lake bed

Creosote Bush and the Panamint Mountains

Creosote Bush and the Panamint Mountains

 

Short road walk to Panamint Spring Resort

Short road walk to Panamint Spring Resort

 

L2H Day 2 – Talus, Telescope, and Tuber Oh My

Top of Telescope Peak

Top of Telescope Peak elevation 11,048

 It’s mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. –Anon

March 29, 2015
Ridge above Hannupah Canyon to below Tuber Canyon Lower Spring
14.5 very long miles – 5,000′ elevation gain and 8,000′ down

Well this was one long and strenuous day, but super rewarding.

The air was cooler the higher we climbed up to Telescope Peak. The cross-country route is steep, of course, through brush, talus, and rocks. It is an interesting transition from the stark desert to alpine mountains in so short of miles.

We celebrated at the top with a high-five and quickly started the 8,000 foot descent into Tuber Canyon.

It grew hotter on the descent and we were glad we hauled 6 liters of water out of Hannupah Spring, because the spring in Tuber Canyon seemed to be dry. The canyon took way longer than we anticipated, even though we were warned ahead of time that the mileage on the maps might be a bit off.  Down through the canyon wild burros have made convenient use trails to follow and rattlesnakes abound.

Because of the heat and hoping to get much closer to our next water cache at Miretta Road, we decided to hike a couple hours into the night. The alarm is set for 4:00 am tomorrow morning.

What We Did or Wish We Did:
-Wear pants or some kind of leg protection up the ridge and in Tuber Canyon.
-Until our drought is over in California, don’t count on water in Tuber Canyon unless you are willing to dig.
-When the Trona-Wildrose Road is open again, stash water there. If not where the route meets Miretta Road in Panamint Valley worked great.

Sunrise over Death Valley

Sunrise over Death Valley

Looking up to the Climb Ahead

Looking up to the Climb Ahead

Ridge to the Peak

Ridge to the Peak

Cross-country Straight Up through bushes

Cross-country Straight Up through bushes

Using Phone GPS with Map

Using Phone GPS with Map

Up the Talus

Up the Talus

On the Way up Telescope Peak

On the Way up Telescope Peak

Almost to the Top

Finished Climbing over 11,000 Feet in 1 1/2 days

Finished Climbing over 11,000 Feet in 1 1/2 days

Looking Back at Badwater and ridge up

Looking Back at Badwater and ridge up

Snow Angels on Telescope Peak

Snow Angels on Telescope Peak

Looking Down at next destination - Tuber Canyon

Looking Down at next destination – Tuber Canyon

Tuber Canyon

Wash in UpperTuber Canyon

Wash in UpperTuber Canyon

Down into Tuber Canyon

Down into Tuber Canyon

Love Rock

Love Rock

Rattlesnake

Sunset in Tuber Canyon

Sunset in Tuber Canyon

L2H Day 1 – Hell to High Water

Crossing Badwater - 282 feet below sea level

Crossing Badwater – 282 feet below sea level

 “The Badwater Basin is the bottom of Death Valley, a blinding and barren desert of chemicals and mud left behind by a dying lake. It is an intriguing and magnetic place, and one of the weirdest hiking grounds anywhere. Somewhere out there you’ll find small blue-green pools rimmed with shiny crystals, frozen rivers of salt, giant salt saucers, fields of sharp pinnacles creaking in the heat – landforms straight from the far side of Pluto.”
~from Michel Digonnet’s Hiking Death Valley

March 28, 2015
Badwater to Ridge above Hannupah Canyon
17.1 miles
Elevation gain 6000
With the help of friends and family, we had an amazing sunrise start from Badwater in Death Valley National Park. Last night we successfully cached water in 2 locations and dropped off a resupply box at the Panamint Resort Store.
We had fun crossing Death Valley through Badwater, but as soon as the sun was over head the heat was intense. We left with 3 liters of water, but soon wished we had carried 4. I do not do well in heat and the temps were close to 100.
The route left the valley and steadily climbed Hannapuh Canyon to a running stream, then straight up a very difficult and slippery slope to reach the ridge that leads up to Telescope Peak. To make it even more challenging and interesting we carried 6 liters of water up the incredibly steep slippery talus chute.
We are set to have another early start to get a head start on the heat. This was a pretty hefty first day of the season with a full pack. 😳
What we did or Wish we Did:
-Take enough water. It is surprising how much you will need and drink.
-You will be doing a lot of bushwhacking through Hannupah. Maybe stay on the south ridge above the creek to avoid some of it.
-Yes it really is straight up from Hannupah. Just lean in you are on the right route. All is hard.
-The top of the ridge has a faint use trail with lots of  places to pitch along the way.
Badwater Basin

The Beginning

Heading out before sunrise and the heat

Heading out before sunrise and the heat

Crossing the crusty, sharp,and dry lake bed

Crossing the crusty, sharp,and dry lake bed

Sunrise in Death Valley

Sunrise in Death Valley

Salt Angels - Badwater

Salt Angels – Badwater

Scotty's Well

Scotty’s Well

Lunch Spot

Hannapah Canyon

Hannapah Canyon

Some cheer from the heat

Some cheer from the heat

Staying high south side of Hannupah Springs

Staying high south side of Hannupah Springs

Getting ready for the bushwhack across

Getting ready for the bushwhack across

Nice 4 wheel drive

Nice 4 wheel drive

Hannupah Springs below

Hannupah Springs below

It really is straight up cross-country

It really is straight up cross-country

Slippery Talus

Slippery Talus

Campsite on ridge

Campsite on ridge

Badwater to Mount Whitney: Backpacking as a Couple

Badwater to Whitney - Lowest to Highest Route

Badwater to Whitney Lowest to Highest Route – Click to view larger

The path to our destination is not always a straight one, Ed. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.
–Leonard to Ed, NORTHERN EXPOSURE

Dehydrator humming.
UPS truck stops regularly.
Food packages cover kitchen table.
Maps in various corners.
Random small gear piles.
Up Tehachapi Mountain with a loaded pack once again.
All signs a big trip is close on the horizon.

During spring break Dan and I will be hiking about 135 miles from Badwater in Death Valley National Park (279 feet below sea level) and ending at the top of Mount Whitney (elevation 14, 495). The route, part cross-country, jeep roads, and trail was created by Brett Tucker.

Long distance hiker Swami introduced us to L2H last year after completing the route with Malto, Dirtmonger, and Bobcat. Along with the inspiration to do this route Swami also gave us tips and detailed planning information. The week-long trip passes through desert, mountain, and alpine terrain with about 33,021 elevation gain and 20,780 elevation loss. It crosses through Death Valley, up the Panamint Mountains, down to Panamint Valley, up the Inyo Mountains, down through Owens River Valley, then up, up into the Sierra Nevadas. The hike is recommended for seasoned hikers that like a challenge.

My hope is to blog daily along the route, but posts will be delayed because the area does not have regular cell service. Also, I am hoping to feature some guest posts sprinkled in from a certain man.

Planning:

Our first day hiking will be this Saturday, March 28th. It will be a cooker with temps forecasted to be nearing 100. Dan’s parents are kind enough to shuttle us to the trailhead.

Resupply: Panamint Springs and Lone Pine

Water Cache: The longest waterless stretch will be 43 miles from Hwy 90 to Owenyo Lone Pine Road hiking through the Inyo Mountains. We are planning on stashing three caches: Minietta Road, Hwy. 90, and one right as we get out of the Inyos stashed by our hiker friends Love Note and Burly. :)

Links:

  • Brett Tucker the creator of the route at simBLISSity.net  – This is the go to site for maps, water information, and details of the route!

A Couple’s Gear List:

Planning gear for this route was a bit different from a regular thru-hike or backpack, because of the extremes of temperatures (low and high), elevations (very low and very high), waterless miles, snow, desert, and cross-country travel. We focused on safety and carrying a lighter pack load. This trip is a great opportunity to test some new gear choices and test some new recipes.

Something EXCITING!!! 

I have had so many requests over the years to post more about guy’s gear. After all, I have outfitted my husband, Dan and my son, Grant for years.

But I thought why not only list what Dan is packing, but also how as a couple we divide our gear up. It is much different than hiking with a buddy that you might part ways during the day while on trail. The idea is to stay together, so there really is no need to double up on a few large and small items. We try to have about equal weight, but always Dan will have a slightly heavier pack.

This was a great exercise to weigh everything again and question every piece of gear and its function.

Route: