Backpacking Yosemite: Mist Trail, Yosemite Valley, and Clouds Rest

December 27, 2016 Featured, Personal, Travels Comments (0) 303

I realize now that I never posted about my Yosemite trip. Hopefully late is better than never. This was one of the great experiences of my adult life, one good thing in 2016, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone.

2016 didn’t start out great for me. In early spring, I decided I needed a good hiking vacation to clear my head and recenter. After reviewing several options, I chose Yosemite National Park, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. I booked my flight to Oakland and a rental car, figuring I’d throw my backpack in and drive four hours straight into the mountains.

A view down the Mist Trail from atop Vernal Fall. Look close and you can see the hikers in their rain slickers making their way up the trail.

Of note, you can’t really just up and travel to Yosemite, especially if you want to backpack overnight. The Park Service has instituted a permit requirement that requires advance reservations. This protects the environment, as well as a sense of wilderness in what might otherwise feel like a shopping mall. I first applied to begin at trailheads along Tioga Road, not realizing Tioga Road in late May was still buried in snow and closed. I was lucky, though; there was one spot still left at Happy Isles, the park’s most in-demand trailhead. I plotted a course, a 30-mile circuit that would take me over or past some of the park’s most famous landmarks. I also bought my first bear canister. Continue Reading

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Yosemite Bound

May 11, 2016 Personal, Travels Comments (0) 373

YosemitePlanI have been away for quite a while. Sorry about that! Life has kept my attention pretty well occupied so far in 2016. The good news is I’ve rediscovered my interest in fitness (and in not permanently affixing my backside to the sofa) and shaken off about 40 pounds since the new year–nearly all of the unwelcome weight I put on in the three years preceding.

I’m back to running on a regular basis, and got my speed to the point where I’ve set a few personal records recently: A new 10K PR in Central Park (which is no small feat considering the hilly terrain) and a PR of nearly three minutes at the Broad Street Run earlier this month, which I’m especially proud of. I have other running-related announcements too, but I’m holding those for a day or two–unless you follow me on Instagram, in which case you already know.

More immediately, in one week I am loading a backpack and flying to Yosemite National Park, where I will spend three days and three nights on a solo hike through the backcountry, sleeping in a tent, bathing in ice-cold streams of fresh meltwater, and eating my food cold out of a bear canister.

More precisely, I am flying to Oakland, renting an SUV, and driving to Yosemite Valley, then hiking into the backcountry. I have planned out an ambitious route that will carry me over 30 miles in 3 days, taking me over or past the park’s most famous landmarks. I don’t plan to summit Half Dome–the cables will be down, and while I know some overachievers have made that climb, I’m a fan of being alive with bones intact–but I will pass over Clouds Rest, visit North Dome and Tenaya Lake, and (if all goes as planned) conclude my trip by descending Yosemite Falls. Continue Reading

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Adventuring off the Strip (Vegas Week)

August 31, 2011 Travels Comments (0) 162

Las Vegas is so well known for the Vegas Strip (which isn’t even technically in Las Vegas, but that’s a subject for another post) that many tourists miss out on the totally different adventures to be had within a short drive. Many know about the Hoover Dam, the project that gave birth to Sin City (as a sort of pleasure dome for the many dam workers who’d been taken away from their wives and families and sent to the middle of the desert), but few take the time to appreciate the wild areas that are only a short drive from the Strip.

An hour to the northeast, at the top of Lake Mead, is the Valley of Fire, a beautiful desert you’ve seen in plenty of movies, where tourists can observe petroglyphs left by indigenous people three thousand years ago. In the summer, though, when the Valley of Fire demonstrates its name, you may be more interested in escaping the heat. An hour northwest of Las Vegas is the Spring Mountains, better known for their highest peak and its namesake city, Mount Charleston. These mountains feature over 50 miles of recreational trails–some gradual enough for a beginning in tennis shoes, others suited more for advanced hikers–and because the base of most of these trails is 5,000 feet higher in elevation than Las Vegas, temperatures are generally about 20 degrees cooler than on the Strip.

Getting to the Spring Mountains is easy, and parking is plentiful. To find a trail suited for you, I recommend the comprehensive guide at BirdAndHike.com – but be warned, cell phone reception is very spotty in the mountains, so it’s wise to plan ahead and print out all the directions you’ll need before you go. Continue Reading

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Rejection Letters / Backpacking the Catskills

September 23, 2009 Personal, Travels Comments (6) 787

Chuck at the Guide to Literary Agents blog reposted an article from author Debra Darvick (phew, that’s a lot of attribution), Ten Hidden Gifts of Rejection Letters.  Not a bit too soon.  For the past week or so rejection letters are all the mail I seem to receive.  No worries though.  I figure rejection happens quickly, but an offer will take a while.

Marshmallows

Thought I’d share a story and a few photos from my Labor Day weekend backpacking trip to the Catskill Mountains.  My friend Liz and I hauled our asses over the Burroughs Range Trail (AKA the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide or WCS Trail) on Saturday, camped below the summit of Terrace Mountain, and returned on the Phoenicia-East Branch Trail on Sunday.

First things first.  The folks at the NY/NJ Trail Conference who authored our guide maps have a talent for understatement.  For those of you who may also be using these maps, be advised that “steep” in many cases means “near vertical,” and “challenging” means “soul crushing.”

That is not a rock wall behind her.  That is in fact the trail.

That is not a rock wall behind her. That is in fact the trail.

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