Jul 242014

Looking north along the Lost Coast

Hikers on the Loast Coast Trail

Sandy dunes

Anna walking through wildflowers

Punta Gorda Lighthouse

Giant redwood

We have driven through Northern California on road trips before, but have never made the trek to what is known as the Lost Coast. The Lost Coast is a remote area of Northern California which has stayed very remote and undeveloped due to the considerable expense to bring infrastructure into the area as well as the low population (and depopulation during the 30’s, see wikipedia for more). We had the opportunity to spend a few days in the Petrolia area due to the invitation by a friend to stay at their familly cabin.

I can understand why there is a certain romance about the Lost Coast – it is gorgeous, and a glimpse into the past of what California was like many years ago. It attracts a certain type of person to live there year round, and is one of the few places in California where you will find a lot of road signs which have been used as target practice or the smell of skunky weed gardens wafting over high fences.

We hiked the beach route to the remote (and long since decommissioned) Punta Gorda Lighthouse. We had gorgeous weather and enjoyed some beautiful scenery on our hike, which was one of the more picturesque hikes I’ve ever done. A word of warning, however, the distance listed for the hike is deceiving. This is because a good portion of the hike takes place on sandy ground or dunes, which takes a significant amount of energy to walk on compared to a regular path. Rest assured, the effort is worth it.

Photos from The Lost Coast, Humboldt, California Gallery link
Photos from The Lost Coast, Humboldt, California Flickr link

Oct 022010

Photos of hiking Sturtevant falls, Angeles National Forest

A month back we did a new (to us) hike to Sturtevant falls in Angeles National Forest. The trail head is at Chantry Flat, off Santa Anita Avenue in Arcadia. From there it drops down into the darkest and most lush SoCal valley I’ve been to. Black oaks tower overhead as you walk past tens of cabins along the dammed creek. The falls were nice, even at their dry point during the year. I can imagine that the upper pools would be quite large in the spring. We did the total hike in about an hour and a half, the only crappy part is the climb back up to Chantry Flat. Well worth the time if you are in the area.

More information: Dan’s Hiking Pages

Jun 082009

Seoul, Korea Seoul, Korea Seoul, Korea
Photos of Seoul, Korea

2009.05.01-10 Seoul, Korea – Kerey and friends hosted us in Seoul for a bit over a week. I really enjoyed the city. In many ways it reminded me of the rest of Asia – white block apartment buildings, street markets, temples, and a rush to all things modern or western. In other ways, Korea stands very much apart from the the other parts of Asia I’ve visited – their alphabet, language, food, and culture are all very different. Seoul was very easy to travel in, thanks to the great transit system and a lot of English signs (though we did start to pick up some of the Hangul later). The people were all quite friendly, and as is usually the case in other countries, strangers loved the chance to try out their English words.

I’ll definitely miss the food. It was always easy to get something very fresh, healthy, and tasty. The other thing I enjoyed was an abundance of hikes. While I’m spoiled for easy access to the outdoors in San Diego, Seoul is no slouch. There is great mountain hiking just an hour away by bus from the center of the city. The parks, temples, and palaces within the city offer great walks and are free or cost next to nothing.  If you get a chance to go, I highly recommend visiting Korea. I found it to be a nice mix of easy travel, great food, and interesting people and sights.

May 172009

busan and gimhae busan and gimhae busan and gimhae
Photos of Busan and Gimhae, Korea

Colan and I rode the high speed KTX down to Busan to visit Mike in Gimhae and explore Busan. Much of the country seems to look the same due to identical apartment buildings, but the the smaller cities definitely had a different feel than Seoul. I can see the appeal. More trees, wider streets, and a bit less westernized. Highlights – Climbing Imhosan, crazy monks wanting photos at Heungbuam temple, hiking in Geumjeongsan, and sampling stews with Mike.

Nov 092007

Two harbors bison on catalina Two Harbors, Catalina
Photos of Two Harbors, Santa Catalina Island, California

Anna and I took a three day weekend to head out to Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island. I have been meaning to get out there for a long time, but when a cheap trip came up by way of a local dive group, it was too good to pass up. I’m glad we went, it was well worth it.

Two Harbors is a quiet place, at least this time of year. The village is really just a collection of houses, a camp ground, a historic hotel, general store, bar, and a dive shop. We stayed in cabins that are used for staff housing in the summer, so I’d guess it can be packed in peak season. For a fall weekend, it seemed like the perfect size and temperament for us.

We had a great time kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, and (just me) diving (more on snorkeling & diving in a future post). One of Anna’s goals was to see a buffalo, sorry, bison on the island. Leftovers from a movie in the 20’s the herd is now over 200 strong, and a major tourist draw. They are also a burden on the slow growing native grasses and shrubs of the island, and the subject of a lot of controversy.

We assumed we would need to do some serious hiking to find the bison herd in the hills. However, after kayaking we wandered into the center of town to see a bison standing on one of the only patches of grass, in center of town. He was munching on lush green grass, and getting hosed off by the sprinklers. The lakes are dry, and the herd has been having a tough time finding water. So when someone left the gate open, this guy decided to visit town.

A few people were standing too close to him, and the bison was staring them down. One of the dive shop workers told them about a guy that got too close to a herd the day before, and now has a new hole in his ass. They backed up, and the bison went back to munching.

He was there for a good half hour, we came back to town just as he was stepping off the grass patch, and making his way through town to the road. Stray cats and people slunk back into the nearest doorway as he slowly walked between the palm trees across the sand without incident.

More to come on scuba & snorkeling in a future post. Update, post is here: Diving and snorkeling near Two Harbors, Catalina Island

Feb 022007

Anna and I met some of her college friends in Yosemite for a long weekend over MLK day. We traveled through the valley in the dark and arrived Friday night. Not having seen the valley on the way in made it all the more impressive to wake up to. We stayed at the Yosemite Lodge, the spectacular granite wall almost overwhelms the huge windows. I walked around the in the snow and shot some photos to the sounds of thunder – the ice that formed overnight on the falls was warming and crashing off the rock face.

After a hike to the Yosemite Falls we got acquainted with the excellent (and free) valley shuttle service and took off to the trail head for Mirror Lake. We did the long loop, but never found the other end of the loop. The trail was a nice mix of environments and offered a very different look at the valley. Mirror Lake is smaller than it once was, and at its smallest in the winter, so we didn’t get the iconic mirror view. There were enough still bodies of unfrozen water to give us a glimpse of what it would have been in its peak.

That night I wore skates with a toe pick for the first time. I definitely hadn’t skated in a long time, but the differences between a hockey skate and a figure skate (hockey skates have a shorter blade, rockered edge, no toe pick, and a different boot) sure didn’t help. I still managed to fool a few people into believing I knew what I was doing. The rink wasn’t anything special, but skating under the stars and the incense-cedars is worth the cost of entry.

The next morning we took it easy. We soaked up the morning sun from the giant windows like lizards on a rock while finishing off some reading. The fully relaxed state helped for our hike on the Upper Yosemite Fall trail. We didn’t have enough time or motivation to get to the very top of the valley, but we made it about half a mile past Columbia Rock to the view the top of the falls. The view of the valley from Columbia Rock was pretty amazing, and well worth the mile of switchbacks up. We watched the last fingers of sunlight disappear from the valley floor, then headed down. That night we had pizza at Curry Village and visited with the other groups.

Monday we enjoyed a fancy-pants breakfast at explored a bit more of the valley on our way out. First up was Bridal Falls. Because the falls are in the shade almost all of the day, they have a lot more ice than the Yosemite falls. The view was great, but the ice mist made the trail a bit treacherous. On our way out we came across a man flat on his back and just coming to after a fall. Good thing we had a physical therapist with us. After making sure nothing was broken or otherwise damaged, we helped him off the ice and down the trail to the waiting EMTs. Excitement over, we headed up to the Wawona Tunnel overlook. The view was spectacular, but our time was up, we had to head back to San Jose to fly out. Our trip to the valley was short, but definitely enjoyable.

Sep 162005

(All photos for this entry are posted here)

Sept 5, 2005 – From Reno we hit Sacramento, then Anna and I booked it down the 99 to get to Kings Highway and Sequoia National Park. We stopped along the way in Stockton for some caffeine and popped into Fresno to check out the underground gardens, but they weren’t open. Growth in both cities has been huge. It seems like they are really trying to get the downtown going in Stockton with some new development along the river. Stockton is a relatively old city in California time scale as it was an excellent shipping port on the delta, and supported the gold rush. This age means that it has some great old buildings downtown. I hope they can manage to keep them as they grow.

Fueled up, we managed to hit the Kings Highway in the early afternoon. We took the General’s Highway (198) and looped through the parks. It was a bit sad that we didn’t have the time to get out and do a bunch of hiking, but the drive was amazing. Windows down, the car was filled with redwood & pine and the dry scent of fall. Even when you ignored the giants, the granite rocks strewn through the trees made for a dramatic scene.

We did the typical tourist things – drove through the tunnel log, climbed Moro Rock (fantastic trail and view), and checked out the biggest of them all, General Sherman. We also managed to get a little bit off the beaten path and explore a small river along the road. It was fairly low, but the water had smoothed the rock faces along the bank and carved some great little pools.

I really enjoyed the parks. They have a distinctly nostalgic, golden-age feel about them. They offer unprecedented road access to an amazing landscape, and cement trails with handrails up to amazing viewpoints. These things would never be done in this day and age, as damage to nature would be the primary concern. In fact, they are ripping out much of the old parking lots and roads that are too close to the giants. It is a common conflict for parks these days, balancing access with preservation. For the sequoias, they seem to be on their way to getting the best of both worlds.