Mount Baldy

Manker Flats trailhead loop to Baldy Summit then Devil’s Backbone (12 miles, +4,000/-4,000 feet). Time for another hike! I was supposed to go back to the Sierra today but I have been fighting a minor cold and my buddy MixMaster has been having some minor knee issues. We have another trip to the Sierra coming…

Cuyamaca Peak

Paso Picacho to Cuyamaca Peak via Lookout Fire Road and Azalea Glen Trail (8 miles, +1,700/-1,700 feet). Sometimes we make big plans.  And then life happens. Mixmaster and I originally planned to go check out the record snowfall in the Sierras with a trip to Olancha Peak, but work obligations, birthdays, and even ER visits chipped…

Day 3: The Surprisingly Beautiful Lower Paria

Bush Head Canyon to Lee’s Ferry (12 miles, +0/-400 feet). I was not looking forward to today.  I imagined that the lower Paria would be a very wide canyon with monotonous red walls far away on either side and ranch land in the middle.  I also thought we would continue to have lots of route…

Day 2: I Just Met a Gorge Named Paria

Paria Mile 10 Spring to Bush Head Canyon (16.5 miles, +0/-600 feet). In case you are wondering about the title of this blog entry, remember that “Paria” rhymes with “Maria” and think: West Side Story.  🙂 I slept SOOOO well last night.  It was about 20 degrees warmer than the night before and there was no…

Day 1: Buckskin Gulch

Wire Pass Trailhead to Paria Mile 10 Spring (18 miles, +0/-800 feet). Today was a truly extraordinary day.  Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the world and the deepest in the US, and I suspect it also may be the most beautiful. The hike through Buckskin was surprisingly challenging.  There is no significant…

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,…

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…

Postholing in San Diego?

Penny Pines Trailhead to PCT to Big Laguna Trail loop (11 miles, +1,200/-1,200 feet). My buddy MixMaster and I were going to do an overnight backpack but life intervened, and in retrospect I am really glad it did.  We decided instead to head up to Mount Laguna where back-to-back winter storms dumped over a foot…

Montañon Ridge

Del Norte Campground to Scorpion Ranch via Chinese Harbor (16 miles, +3,000/-3,700 feet). After 13 hours on our backs (winter nights are long!) we were very ready to get started with our hike across the island.  Since it was only 11 miles total and we had the whole day, we decided to add a 4…

And Now For Something Completely Different

Prisoner’s Harbor Pier to Del Norte Campground plus Navy Road loop (10 miles, +2,700/-2,000 feet). MixMaster, BarnFinder, and I have had some tough luck getting a trip together lately.  Trips on the John Muir Trail and PCT were both cancelled due to at least two of us being injured or sick!  So this time we…