Down to the Superbloom

Villager Peak to S-22 Trailhead (7 miles, +0/-5,000 feet). After a tough climbing day you might think it would be nice for it to be all downhill from here.  But down can sometimes be even harder, especially for someone like me who occasionally experiences knee problems.  The key is to take it slow, especially the…

A Rascally Rabbit

S-22 Trailhead to Villager Peak to Rabbit Peak to Villager Peak (14 miles, +8,300/-3,300 feet). Modern Hiker calls this one of the most challenging hikes in Southern California — maybe even more so than Cactus to Clouds.  At 14 miles it’s not that long, but 8,300 feet of elevation gain in one day is a lot,…

Pretty Little Desert Flower

Bow Willow and Rockhouse Canyon Loop (8 miles, +1,000/-1,000 feet). On Friday morning I heard a story on KPBS that this year is supposed to be the best wildflower season in Anza-Borrego since the late 1990s.  So that sealed the deal — Barnfinder and Rockit Man and I would head to the desert. We arrived at…

A Deep Creek

Holcomb Crossing Trail Camp (PCT mile 294.1) to Hwy 173 (mile 314.3) (20 miles, +2,700/-4,800 feet). Last night was COLD!  The thermometer said 18 degrees.  My toes said numb!  I need to remember my extra sleeping bag on these winter expeditions…. At daybreak we packed up quickly and headed into the morning light. There were…

An Icy Traverse

Cougar Crest Trailhead to Holcomb Crossing Trail Camp (PCT mile 294.1) (19 miles, +1,700/-3,000 feet). So here’s the thing. My pal Barnfinder loves the PCT so much that he has a personal goal not just to section hike it, but to travel each section both northbound and southbound.  Meanwhile, I have been trying to thru-hike as…

A Marble-ous Canyon

Marble Canyon to Cottonwood Canyon Road (5 miles, +0/-1,600 feet). The wind last night was eerie.  We could hear it roaring as it snaked its way through the narrow channels up canyon. But as it approached us where the canyon widened, the sound lessened.  By the time the gust hit our tents it was hardly a…

The Death Bow

Cottonwood Canyon Road to Marble Canyon (13 miles, +2,200/-2,200 feet). Winter nights in the tent are long!  It was windy last night but not too cold.  By the time the stars began to disappear, we were both ready to get out of our tents and hit the trail. It was great being on trail this…

Water in the Desert

Cottonwood Canyon Road (8.5 miles, +1,600/-0 feet). I was supposed to be in Big Bend National Park this weekend to hike the Outer Mountain Loop with my buddies Cole and Quercus, but Southwest Airlines cancelled our flight to Austin. We are still working on a reschedule, but in the meantime Quercus and I scrambled for…

Ice of the Woods

Sunset Trail to Big Laguna Trail (4 miles, +500/-500 feet). It’s been a very wet winter in SoCal, and recently very cold too.  The last set of storms took the snow level all the way down to 3,000 feet, so we couldn’t wait to get up to Mount Laguna to hike around in it. There…

We’re Boulderin’

Juniper Flats to Boyscout Trailhead via Johnnie Lang Canyon (8 miles, +500/-1,500 feet). Winter backpacking is always tough more for the dark than the cold.  We did everything we could last night to stay up until the stars came out, but even so it’s 12 hours of full darkness in the tent before light breaks….

Don’t Go Climbing Waterfalls

Boy Scout Trailhead to Juniper Flats via Smith Water Canyon (16 miles, +2,000/-1,000 feet). Once more, into the breach!  After a crazy cold trip to Joshua Tree last week I agreed to do it again with MixMaster and Sobo Baggins.  This was Sobo’s first overnight trip, so I thought I would pick an easy route….  But…

Surviving the Night

Juniper Flats Trail (2 miles, +300/-300 feet). It was cold yesterday, and then last night around 9pm the wind picked up and blew away all the clouds.  The one time I got out to pee the stars were absolutely spectacular, but it was FREEZING! Back in my tent I had every item of clothing on…