Saturday, November 30, 2019

Favorite San Diego Hikes

I have been hiking in San Diego county since we moved here in 2001.  Although there are still some large areas I haven't explored yet (mainly south of interstate 8), I have put together my current list of the top hikes.
  • Mt. Gower – tough up and down hike with some really steep sections but the views are worth it.
  • Wilson Peak – some of the best views of Anza-Borrego.  You can start up at the bottom for a long or shorten it by driving up the ridge.
  • Manchester Preserve – my backyard hike is great short track.
  • Bernardo Mountain – can be crowded but great views from the peak.
  • Piedras Pintadas – do the entire hike out to the interpretive loop.
  • Eagle Rock – I prefer the southern approach out-and-back hike.
  • Blue Angel Peak – lots of rocks on this remote desert hike.  Be sure to find Smuggler's Cave.
  • Bayside Trail – Cabrillo National Monument gets thousands of visitors a year but few of them do this trail with awesome bay views.
  • Oakzanita Peak/Stonewall Peak – two great peaks with Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.  Oakzanita is harder but has better views to the west.  Stonewall is easier but is well worth it.
  • Viejas Mountain - tough uphill but the 360 degree views are spectacular.

Friday, November 22, 2019


Time Team and Modern Monetary Theory

Lately I have been binge watching Time Team.  The show is a British archaeology "reality" show where a team conducts a three day dig at some site in the UK.  When digging Roman sites, they invariably find coins from the Roman occupation (roughly 60 – 400 CE).  One a recent episode that was taking place in Greenwich, they found coins from almost the entire four century period.  They matter-of-factly discussed the monetary policy of the emperors and how they devalued the currency.  The early coins were nearly pure silver but later ones where either smaller or mixed with other metals.  They commented on how this disrupted the economy as it was something everyone should know.  So even British archeologists know the basics of sound money.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Fiesta Island

Our annual Fiesta Island outing in pictures...



My tent


Sunday, November 03, 2019

Couples Backpack

Jyoti has finally recovered enough from our Thomas Mountain expedition to try another backpack.  So I picked an easy, predictable trip out to Eagle Rock near Warner Springs.  We drove out around noon and stopped at Ramona Natural Foods for sandwiches.  We got to the PCT trailhead at Barrel Springs and there were lots of cars including a couple that was hiking the nearly the same itinerary we were.  After a quick check of the spring and finding it swarming with bees we headed out on the hike. The weather was great but the sun could be intense at times as we hiked along rolling hills.  We quickly got to our camp at San Ysidro Creek.  Unfortunately the creek was bone dry and there were a bunch of flies and gnats.  Since we made good time, we headed out to Eagle Rock before sundown.  The night was chilly and got down to the 40. We woke up early and hiked out before it got too hot.  Jyoti had a good time.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Granite Springs Backpack

The October troop outing was a backpack out to Granite Springs.  The well was flowing nicely after a few dry years.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

40 Miles of Hikes

Over the last couple weekends, I got in a couple of 20 mile hikes.
The first was San Gorgonio summit via the South Fork Trail.  The north side of the wilderness has been closed for a while due to fire damage so I jumped at the chance to hike it with Mark's hiking group.  We got to the trailhead and started hiking at 8am.  The first few miles were through recovering burn areas and the trail threaded through think lilac and acacia.  The terrain turned to mostly pines when it joined with the south fork river.  It was smooth going to Dollar Lake saddle.  Another hiker and I then went ahead for the summit.  Once there, it was great weather, not windy but perfectly nice.  After hanging around for a bit, we hurried down to the saddle and caught up with the rest of the group right before the trailhead.  Overall this is a great trail and much better than Vivian Creek for a day hike.

Burn area

Dollar Lake saddle

View from the trail

San Gorgonio Summit Selfie

The second hike was Noble Canyon.  I had never done this and the weather looked to be not to hot to try it.  Arriving at the parking lot, the car thermometer read 33!  I put on my rain jacket and hurried up the trail.  It only took a mile or so to warm up as the sun came over the ridges. The trail started along oak and chapparal terrain and then along riparian when along the streams.  There was lots of flies and poison oak.  Along the way, there were runners participating in the Noble Canyon 50K.  After a short break at Penny Pines, I headed back down the trail.  Overall, this is a great San Diego hike.

View from the trail
Old mine

Monday, August 26, 2019

Prescott Visit

With Bengt starting his second year at Embry-Riddle, we had a nice weekend dropping him off.
  • Downtown Prescott art walk and music on the square
  • Good Thai food at Tara Thai
  • Awesome cocktails at Thumb Butte Distillery
  • Morning hikes at Watson Lake
  • Great dinner at Saint Micheal Cafe
Crowded downtown Prescott

Petroglyphs in friends neighborhood

Sophomore dorm

Sunday, August 04, 2019

2019 Sierra Solo Trek

Day 0 - After work I drove up to Lone Pine and spent the night at Tuttle Creek Campground.  The creek was running nicely and provided a great background noise to all the stars on the moonless night.

Day 1 -  Woke up early and headed into town for coffee before picking up my permit at the ranger station. Then headed up to the Horseshoe Meadows trailhead.  I quickly got my stuff ready and headed out on the trail to Cottonwood Pass.  It was pretty quick getting up to the top where I took a break to eat and get checked out by a load marmot on top of a boulder..  The view down into Big Whitney Meadows was quite nice.  I started down into the meadow and stopped for lunch with great views of the meadow and the nearby mountains.  From the meadow, I headed south along Golden Trout Creek to Tunnel Station.  After getting water there, I headed back up the trail a bit to a flat spot without as many skeeters.  I sacked out early.

The Marmot King

Big Whitney Meadow

More Meadow

Tunnel Station

Day 2 - The night and morning where colder than expected.  But after packing and started hiking back up the creek, I warmed up fast.  On the way to Siberian Pass, I wanted to take a side trail towards Rock Basin.  I had trouble finding the junction to the east.  I think the Tom Harrison map had it a bit farther south that it really is.  I eventually found it but quickly lost the poorly-maintained track.  I did some cross country scrambling and eventually met up with the trail as it followed Berigan Stringer.  After a few more miles I was back at Big Whitney Meadow.  After a lunch break, I headed up towards Siberian Pass. The trail was surprisingly sparse.  It was essentially a pack trail and mule droppings where the main markers.  Crossing over the pass led to stunning views to the north.  The trail headed across a meadows and crossed the PCT as I headed towards Soldier Lake.  At the lake, the bugs were awful so I headed back up trail to a place farther from water.  It was another early bedtime as I read my Kindle and counted the mosquitos on my tent.

Camp near Tunnel Station

Pines and Mountains

Siberian Pass

Camp near Soldier Lake
Day 3 - The night was much warmer than the first and it was easy to get up and going in the morning.  I headed up towards New Army Pass.  I met some hikers coming down from the pass and they said it still had a big cornice but was passable.  I got to the pass fairly quickly.  I stashed my bear can and tent and then headed towards Mt. Langely.  The summit trail starts on a gradual incline but then turns straight up.  It is about a steep as you can go without using climbing equipment; 2000' feat of gain in about a mile.  I also started getting the first symptoms of AMS.  2 1/2 hours after leaving New Army Pass, I reached the summit.  Awesome views in every directions.  To the north was Mt. Whitney, just a few hundred feet higher (but with many more people).  To the east was the Miter Basin and the western Sierra.  To the east was the Owens Valley and the White Mountains.  To the south was Cirque Peak. Heading down, my altitude sickness got worse with bad naseua.  At least it was downhill; but slippery.  Back at New Army Pass, I took a break to try to get better.  After a bit, I decided to get lower quickly.  Due to the snow still on the pass, there was a cairned path around the cornice that was a bit hairy, but short.  It was quick going on true path.  It still didn't feel better as I passed the wonderful Cottonwood Lakes.  Since it was still early, I decided to hike all the way to the car and head back down.  I finally got to car and drove back home.  Since AMS goes away immedietely after getting to lower elevations, I was feeling much better.  A pit stop at Subway cured by hunger and dehydration.

New Army Pass

USGS Marker on Mt. Langely

View to the east from the summit

Summit Selfie

Mt. Langely from Cottonwood Lakes

Overall it was a great, but short trip.  I hiked about 45 miles.  However, there are some things I need to work on future hikes:
  • Food and drink - get better about having foods I want to eat.  Probably need to consider no-cook since dehydrated options aren't appetizing most of the time.  Also need some flavored drink powders since plain water is not appealing especially when AMS sets in
  • Altitude sickness - might be time to checkout some OTC or prescription options
  • Aerobic fitness - for last several years, my training has been concentrated on sprints and other anaerobic activities.  I think by doing some boring old cardio at targeted heart rates, I can increase my ease of movement, especially at altitude
  • Backpack - for loads over 25 lbs and with a bear can, my trusty old G4 is not comfortable anymore.  Having all the weight on the shoulders got annoying.  I will start looking at packs that are more conformable at the higher weights.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Alaska Cruise 2019

For their 50th anniversary, my parents took us on an awesome Alaska cruise and land adventure.  Here are the highlights.
Vancouver - spent 2 days in this very nice city; took a bicycle tour of Stanley Park; took water taxi to Granville Island; explored Elizabeth Park; does not have rideshare for some reason; Hotel Blu is highly recommended
Ketchikan - first port of call; took a short nature hike to learn about the southeast Alaskan ecosystem; saw a black bear mom and her two cubs and lots of bald eagles; Bengt licked a banana slug and got a numb tongue
Juneau - rode the tram to Mt. Roberts and hiked to Brown's cross for great views; took a long hike near Mendenhall Glacier and saw a porcupine climbing a tree
Skagway - visited the NP museum; took a cool train ride up to White Pass
Glacier Bay NP - saw whales but not too closely
College Bay - saw orcas and otters; in many ways this bay is better than Glacier Bay
Whittier - docked and boarded the Alaska Railroad for the trip to Talkeetna
Talkeetna - didn't have much time here so just ate and got on the bus to Denali State Park
McKinley Princess Lodge - our first land day; did a hike up a ridge to great views; were able to see Denali from the lodge which is pretty rare especially given the smoke from the many wildfires; be sure to get the chili fries at the Base Camp restaurant
Denali Princess Lodge - took a bus to DPL; arrived in time to get to the NP visitor center; hiked to a beaver pond in light rain and saw the beaver swimming around inspecting his work; next day took an all-day bus tundra tour; saw lots of caribou, a fox and his family, a large brown bear in the distance, ptarmigan; golden eagles, Dall sheep, artic ground squirrels, and a moose right along the road; only large mammal we didn't see was a wolf but the guide said it is very rare to see them on the tour
Anchorage - took yet another bus to Anchorage and stayed at the very nice Hotel Captain Cook; the Crow's Nest restaurant is highly recommended