Monday, December 22, 2014

Weekend Hike

The family went on a nice Sunday hike at Hellhole Canyon County Preserve east of Valley Center.  The weather was perfect.  I can see how this hike would be miserable in the heat since there is very little cover.  We did one of the lower loops but I want to come back and do the high loop.
On the trail.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Big Waves and Double Rainbows

A glorious post-rainstorm weekend.  Bengt also had another robotics day.

Encinitas double rainbow
Double rainbow in Encinitas

Big waves at Swamis
Waves at Swamis

Monday, November 24, 2014

Robot Weekend

  • Bengt went to FFL scrimmage at Rock Academy to meet up with his team to start on their robot prototype.  We walked around Liberty Station while the kids did their work and visited the NTC Commander's museum.
  • Family hike at Pipe (haven't been there in a long time)
  • Checked out the Swami's tidepools (haven't been there in a long time as well)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

T774 Colorado River Trek - Hoover Dam to Willow Beach

Two years after our last river trip, the troop headed out to the desert for another trip down the Colorado.  This time, the plan was to put in at Hoover Dam and float to Willow Beach camping at Arizona Hot Springs.  The total float miles was only 12 so a bit shorter than last time.  However, there is lots more to do along the river this time.
We drove up Saturday to Willow Springs to rendezvous and camp for the night.  The campground was very nice with good sites, showers and all the amenities.  The scouts immediately headed to the hills to run around after the long 6 hour drive.
We woke up at 5a in order to meet Jerkwater near the dam at 7a.  Everyone ate quickly, packed up and we all drove to the parking lot at the Hacienda hotel along the 93.  We needed to be there on time since the dam launches are very restricted for security reasons.  The launch site was right below the dam, just down river from some of the output tunnels.  Due to the low water of the river, the launch was very rocky and it was hard to get the canoes and gear all positioned.  But we all got on the water without any issues!  We started paddling and quickly came to the first stop, Sauna Cave.  The "cave" was a small grotto that had some heated spring water coming out of it and it made some steam to look like a sauna.  I wasn't aware of the geothermal activity in the area but we would see more of it as we traveled.  The next big stop was Boy Scout Canyon.  It had a nice sandbar to land at and we explored the heated stream that formed the canyon.  Someone had placed sandbags to form pools that were pretty neat.  We also saw the first of the amoeba warning signs!  We got to our campsite at Arizona Hot Springs pretty easily since it was only 4 miles from the dam.  We pulled up our canoes onto the beach and setup camp.  There was another troop already there but we found plenty of space.  Later in the day, an outdoor group from UCSB came upstream and setup camp as well.  We did some more exploring up the canyon and found a ladder to help us up to one set of pools.  The water got hotter the higher up the canyon you went.  The last pool was so hot I had to run through it!  Everyone ate dinner and hit the sack.
I woke up at dawn after one of my best nights sleeping ever!  I think it was the sandy ground.  As we packed our tents, one of the adults found a scorpion underneath theirs!  We got on the water around 9:30a and started for our 8 mile day.  Paddling started out fine but the wind picked up pretty quick and we made slow time for a few miles.  We stopped for lunch at a big sandbar and wondered if we would make it to the takeout point in time for our 2p deadline.  Bengt switched with another younger scout you was having some difficulty.  Thankfully, the wind died down and we made good time past the gauging station, Emerald cave and the old fish hatchery.  We got to Willow Beach right at two to clean and load the canoes on the trailers.  It was a pretty quick ride back to the hotel parking lot.  From there, we quickly gathering our gear and everyone scattered for the long drive home.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Monday, November 03, 2014

Sierra Club ABDSP Backpack

After trying to get a PCT hike together, I ended up on a Sierra Club overnight to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  This event was in the far eastern part of the park that I have been to, Fish Creek.
I woke up early on Saturday and headed out to Ramona for the first checkpoint.  We then headed along 78 past Julian, down the Banner Grade, past Scissors Crossing to Ocotillo Wells where we gathered again.  We then head down Split Mt. Road to the Fish Creek wash turnoff.  After a very short drive into the wash, we parked off the road.  There was a quick briefing while we got our stuff together.  The camp was only about a mile from the cars.  We got to camp and setup.  We then headed on a dayhike around the ridge that we were camped up against.
We headed around the hill and at the north end, we headed up to the peak.  There was a benchmark named "Cerro" at the top.  We then headed along the ridge to the old strontium mine at the southern end.  On the way back to camp, we stopped by the cars to pick up some cleaning supplies.  We then proceeded to dismantle and clean up several fire rings.  We packed out a lot of cans, bottles, charcoal and other trash.  We later found out that particular piece of land isn't owned by the park yet!  Hopefully they will obtain it soon. After the hike, there was a great gathering for dinner and a "campfire" using a homemade candle.  The night was very nice, not too hot or cold nor too breezy.
We woke up, broke camp and made coffee.  The plan was to do another dayhike, but I had to head back home.  When we got to the cars, we ran into a bighorn sheep study.  They were catching the ewes using a helicopter, then bringing them down for tests.  It is not everyday you see a bighorn sheep hanging beneath a helicopter!
The ride back was wonderful.  There was little traffic and the weather was cool until I got past Ramona.

Cerro benchmark.

Cowboy camping next to a sheltering bush.

It is hard to see the sheep handing under the chopper.

Sheep inspection station.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Books and More

Early Birthday Weekend

  • On Saturday, my parents came down with some early birthday pie!  We played Fluxx, then went to a family photo shoot at Terramar Beach.  I can't wait to see the results. Then we had lunch at Pizza Port Carlsbad.  It was a very fun day.
  • On Sunday Jyoti and I went to Balboa Park.  It was very crowded due to a Halloween event but we parked on the west side and had a nice walk over Cabrillo Bridge.  There was a UCLA alumni event where we met great people.  We also visited the Timkin Museum.  I loved the 60's vintage architecture along with the art.  I wanted to go to the San Diego History Center for the Pacific Powerhouse exhibit.  It was pretty interesting but had some odd errors in some of the photos and captions.  Lastly, we went to the Museum of Art's Gauguin to Warhol exhibit which was fantastic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Family Weekend

  • Biking in Mission Bay - Bengt ran over some thorns and got several leaks in each tire
  • Long walk on beach
  • Two St. A's dinner parties

Monday, October 13, 2014

T774 Burnt Rancheria

The first overnight event of the season for Troop 774 was up in the Lagunas. We headed up to Burnt Rancheria campground on Friday night. As we drove higher, the temperature got lower. The patrols scattered to their individual campsites and everyone setup camp. The night ended up being pretty cold as it got into the 40's. I brought Sophie and I think she was a bit cold.
The next day was filled with some skills work. We taught fire starting, wood tools and cooking. I led a hike along the nearby PCT to a overlook with great views of the desert to the east. One of the troop stoves wouldn't work, so we used a propane burner that I brought. Unfortunately we ran out of gas and I had to head to Laguna Mt. Sports and Supply to get more. That is a great little stored, jam-packed with gear. I also got a coffee at the nearby Pine House Cafe. After dinner, there was a great campfire and an early night for me
Sunday morning we broke camp and headed back into town.

Sophie loves camping and being in the tent.

Sophie covered her food with grass and dirt for some reason.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Great Waves Weekend

  • Awesome sunset dinner at Ki's
  • Good bodysurfing at Moonlight Beach
  • Sophie was very nervous at St. A's crazy Blessing of the Animals


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Very Long List

FAS has a posted a list of all the U.S.'s overseas military deployments since inception.  It is a very long list and doesn't even include domestic operations like the Civil War and the wars against the Indians.  Maybe we should take a break for a while.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Troop Weekend

Weekend Activities
  • T774 Salty Mouse canoe day at Fiesta Island
  • T774 booth at Cabrillo Festival

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sophie Turns 10

Sophie had her 10th birthday this week!  She got some meaty ribs and ice cream to eat. She is still very young at heart and most people think she is a puppy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

San Jacinto Backpack

We had our second family backpack up at San Jacinto.  I sent in for a permit, but failed to notice that the tram was scheduled to be down for maintenance up to the day we were going to be up there!  I checked the morning of our departure and found it was open.  So we made the long drive up to the tram station outside of Palm Springs.  We got on the next tram and up we went.  The ride is nearly 6000 feet nearly straight up.  Jaya was a bit nervous as the cabin rotated to give us all a good view.  At the mountain station, we walked around a bit to see the stuffed animals.  Someone told us that the spring at Round Valley was dry.  I decided to carry 5 extra liters based on that and we headed out.  After a quick stop at the ranger station to check in, we headed on the trail to our camp at Round Valley.  The trail was steeper in places than I remembered it but everyone did great.  We stopped for a bit to allow Bengt to scramble up the rocks to the top of a hill.  Getting to Round Valley, the spring was indeed dry.  There was a bucket to catch whatever dripped out and it had about a liter.  The surrounding terrain was dry sand, not the marshy spring like it was two years ago.  It took a while to find a good spot since they are so spread out but we finally camped at Upper Mistletoe.  Someone had built a kind of shelter from logs.  Although not very LNT, we pitched our shelters there since the ground was nice and flat.  Jaya had a touch of altitude sickness so she laid down in her tent while we made tea and some beans for dinner.  We then had a good talk for a while and Jaya joined us until it got very dark and a bit cold.  Bengt and I shared his GoLite Shangri-La 2 tarp which is very roomy.  The night was chilly but thankfully not windy.
I woke first the next morning, walked around a bit, made coffee and read my Kindle.  When everyone got up, we broke camp and started hiking out.  We passed the spring and noticed the bucket had filled up during the night.  The spigot was not dripping however.  Our original plan was to hike the peak in the morning but we had decided against it due to lack of water.  Even with the now-full bucket, we decided to head out.  We took the other part of the Round Valley Loop trail.  This section was much more scenic as it follows the upper slope rather than down a canyon.  We made it to the mountain station but were disappointed to find out they don't serve breakfast.  On the tram down, we found Rick's on Yelp which was close by and served breakfast.  Rick's turned out to be a great choice and we all enjoyed it.  After eating, we heading home.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekend Activities

  • Harvest day at the Morilak's
  • Celebration of New Ministry to welcome our new rector
  • Sierra Club hike in Tecolote Canyon - hot but good walking

Monday, September 08, 2014

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Summer Books

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

  • Lunch with parent at Cheesecake Factory (I haven't been there in a long time)
  • Reunion with some of the Kenya trip folks
  • Lunch with the Golds
  • Great waves at Moonlight on Sunday evening
  • New hikes in the Bonsall/Fallbrook area at Hellers Bend and Los Jilgueros Preserves
  • Built Jaya's new IKEA bed - went surprising well for an IKEA projects

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Weekend Activities

This was my first "normal" weekend in a long time.  By normal, I mean with the entire family in town.
  • We visited San Diego Air and Space Museum and the Hall of Champions - I really like the sailing exhibit at the HoC.
  • Some dog walks
  • Beach time (St. A's had a their annual beach service)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sierra Trek

Troop 774 headed up to the Sierras for a great backpacking trek.  The plan was to base camp in the Devil's Postpile are and do a pair of out-and-backs to some alpine lakes.
Day 1 started by driving up to Mammoth Lakes and checking into the Pine Glen group camp.  Tents were set up in a slight bit of rain, but the forecast was for clear weather.  Some of use went to Giovanni's for pizza.
Day 2 began by heading over to the nearby visitor center to pick up our permits.  Since we needed 2 more spots, we got a number (#1 - first in line) and waited until 11a and then go the next day permits.  We then drove down to our base camp at Pumice Flats group camp.  The camp and the host were very nice.  We ate lunch at the Mule House Cafe (best shakes ever) and then day-hiked Rainbow Falls and Devil's Postpile.  By the time we got back, everyone had arrived in camp.
We started the trek on day 3.  After breakfast and packing, we took the bus to the Agnew Meadows trailhead.  We walked the short distance to the parking lot and trailhead stopping along the way for some stretching.  The map showed a "shortcut" from the wind-damaged Agnew Meadows campground to our desired route, the River Trail.  After wandering around for over an hour, we figured that the shortcut was no longer maintained so we headed back to the parking lot.  There we saw the real entrance to the River Trail.  The trail headed down into the canyon and at the bottom, it was a slow and steady uphill hike.  The San Juaquin River was not visible for most of the trail despite its name.  We stopped for lunch at the junction with the Shadow Creek Trail.  The trail got a bit steeper but more scenic.  We hit a short steep section getting up to the outlet from 1000 Thousand Island Lake.  Everyone was very eager to find a spot and get camp setup.  There were quite a few groups there and it too us a while to find a great spot about halfway along the north edge of the lake.  After pitching tents we started on dinner.  Almost as soon as dinner was finished, the skies opened up and we got a short violent rain and hail thunderstorm.  Everyone put on their rain gear very quickly.  The rain lessened but kept up for some time during the night.  Thanks to the training we have done, everyone did great and there were no issues with things getting wet.
Day 4 was zero-day.  We explored the lake and hiked to the western end.  There was a meadow that backed up to imposing Banner Peak with its glaciers.  Roy gave a tutorial on fly fishing.  We didn't get any more rain but it was quite windy and cloud cover came and went so layering was mandatory.
We got up early on day 5, broke camp and hiked out along the same River trail back to base camp.  The hike was easier going since it was mainly downhill and we didn't waste time being lost.  We setup base camp and planned the rest of the trek.  The plan was to have another zero day at our next destination, Ediza Lake.  But we decided to drop the day completely.  Night at Pumice Flats was the coldest of the trip for some reason.
On day 6, we did not take the buses to Agnew Meadows but did a car juggle and left one car at the trailhead.  We started up the River trail but after a couple miles hit the junction to the Shadow Creek trail.  Some of the group was nervous about heading up the cliff (which had a great waterfall running down it).  But it turned out to be quick and easier than everyone expected.  We did have a significant injury.  One scout hurt his foot going up the trail.  After resting a bit, he and his family decided not to risk and headed back to base camp.  At the top of the cliff, the trail opened up to the picturesque Shadow Lake.  The group was waiting for those of us that were with the injured scout.  We ate lunch there and then headed up to the Ediza Lake.  The trail from the lake was a steady uphill but followed close to the creek which made for great hiking.  The hiking was well worth it once we saw Ediza Lake.  We walked over the western side to the legal camps and found a great space on a meadow with great views of the lake, the mountains and easy access to the streams for fishing.  Everyone loved Ediza Lake and we could have easily spent a zero day exploring the area and other lakes, such as Iceberg Lake.
On day 7, we got real early start and hiked the ~8 miles in less than 3 hours.  Since we got in so early, the drivers decided to head home.
We ended up doing over 32 miles, camped 6 nights including the acclimation days.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Family Hawaii Trip

2014 Family Hawaii Trip
  • Kids got their own room
  • Kalalau Trail
  • Plenty of Lappert's
  • Plenty of Mai Tai's and wine (love Koloa Rum)
  • Guided eco-snorkeling trip
  • Kayaking Hanalei Bay
  • Hilarious sessions of "Cards Against Humanity"
  • Bike rides along the bike path to Lydgate and back
  • Small Japanese boat washed ashore
  • Luau at the plantation

Friday, August 08, 2014

Kalalau Trail

On our recent family trip to Kauai, my brother and I decided to do the Kalalau Trail.  On previous trips, we always did the first 2 miles to Hanakapi'ai Beach.  Now we wanted to go all the way to the legendary Kalalau Beach. I got a permit for one night at the beach.  The plan was to go very light.  I would have my regular pack but with sparse gear.  I bought a new REI Quarter Dome 2 tent due to the high probability of bugs and rain.  I took just the clothes for the trail, my ditty bag of stuff (FAK, headlamp, etc.) but no sleeping gear except for my pillow.  Kevin took a towel that he used like blanket but I had nothing!  For food, we took just some bars, jerky and nuts.
We got started around noon on departure day.  We went very fast to start and had to dodge the traffic to Hanakapi'ai.  We continued fast as the trail go into a pattern of climbing a ridge and then descending into a valley for the next 6 miles.  We then got to the section called "Climber's Ledge."  This section is carved out of a sheer cliff hundreds of feet above the waves crashing on the rocks below.  Good thing it is short.  Hiking in the afternoon was very hot and humid and made the constant up and downs very tedious.  We stopped for water at the halfway camp and two other spots to keep hydrated.
After 11 miles we got to the beach!  We walked all the way to waterfall at the end just to walk the entire trail.  Our camp was about a mile from the end and half mile from the Kalalau River.  Part of the allure of this trail is the scene at the beach.  We got a taste of that when we passed a completely nude hiker on the way in.  There were further nudists on the beach itself.  There were a few families as well; very odd group of people.  We swam, ate our meager rations, then tried to sleep in the stiffling heat.  In the middle of the night we heard some rustling in the leaves around our tent. I figured it was a bird but it kept up for a long time.  At one point it got very close to the tent.  I jumped outside with the headlamp and discovered a bullfrog.  It must jump around all night looking for food.
We got up pretty early, broke camp and headed out.  In the morning coolness and shade, we made good time to Hanakpai'ai.  There, we waited for my dad and the boys to meet up with us.  They showed up about 20 minutes after us and the kids played around on the beach.  We all then headed out to the car and a well-deserved Lappert's.

Monday, July 14, 2014

San Gorgonio Wilderness Backpack

With the family gone, I decided to make up for some canceled trips and head up to San Gorgonio.  I decided on a one-nighter along the Vivian Creek trail and was able to secure a permit for Friday night camping at High Creek.  I got to the trailhead around 2:00p and was hiking at 2:30p.  After a bit of a crummy road walk and crossing Mill Creek, I hit one of the steepest trails I have ever hiked.  The next mile was tough going up to Vivian Creek camp.  After that, the trail leveled out somewhat for a 4 mile steady climb past Halfway Camp to High Trail Camp which I made in 2.5 hours.  At High Creek, I stopped for a snack and chatted with volunteer Ranger Dan who was very helpful.  Since I was ahead of schedule, I decided to head up to the summit to camp for the night.  About halfway up the hike to the ridge crest, I started getting nauseous.  I know I suffer from altitude sickness but hoped this would just be a mild case and hiked on.  After making the ridge and seeing the Choachella Valley below, I knew I couldn't continue; the nausea, headache and fatigue were too much.  After a short break, I headed back down to High Creek.  I wanted to tell Ranger Dan my change of plans since he signed off on my permit change.  I quickly set up camp, washed up and lied down to recover.  The night was restless and had a few sprinkles to make me get a bit nervous about cowboy camping.  In the morning, I decided not to tempt fate again and quickly descended down the mountain.  I got the trailhead in 1.5 hours, put on some fresh clothes and headed home with a quick stop at the Elkhorn General Store for a much needed cup of coffee.  Overall, the hike was great, weather was great, altitude sickness not so much.  I intend to go again but will not try to go above 10,000 feet on the first day.