Hiking the Trans-Catalina Trail

Travis on the TCT

Happy to have succeeded I rewarded myself with a giant cookie from the Airport Cafe. It’s a little mental motivation I gave myself to finish the Trans-Catalina Trail. Another great adventure complete!

The trail was 38 miles long but I hiked over 45 to make it happen. From the top of Catalina at Starlight Beach to the bottom at Pebbly Beach I hiked and hiked and hiked. Logistics were a bit of a challenge. Weather interrupted my progress for a day. However today I completed my goal: I hiked the TCT!

So how did this compare with other hikes? I was surprised by how difficult the trails were and it took me a while to figure our why. I’ve hiked many steep mountains but they rarely have felt this challenging. Then it struck me. Those who designed the TCT very rarely used switchbacks to make climbing easier. Instead they simply took you straight up a mountainside which, of course, is shorter but takes much more effort. But for the 35 pound pack on my back I wouldn’t have minded.

I’m not going take you on a blow-by-blow of my days of adventure. It was in many ways a walk across a desert island with sea and sky almost always in view and more often than not the coastline too. There were animals I did not recognize, bison often too close for comfort and beautiful landscapes. 

I leave you with my favorite impressions: harbors, beaches and coves. Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Camping with Pirates at Two Harbors

Pirate Pier

I did not expect to find hundreds of pirates when I arrived in Two Harbors. Sure, it was the end of Buccaneer Days but I had no idea the zeal to which people got into costume. There was “Argh” aplenty!

Camp sites had been unavailable prior to my arrival. This harbors town in the north of Catalina Island was flooded with 3,000 visitors from the mainland. With no more than a hand full of hotel rooms in the area, everyone had to camp. Not till they left could I reserve a space. Today I caught the exodus.

Flirtatious Pirate

Two Harbors was my base of operations at the start of my hike along the length of Catalina Island on a trail called the Trans-Catalina Trail (or TCT). I started my day in Palm Springs, drove to Long Beach for to the ferry to Avalon where I left my festival clothing, and then boarded a bus for the ride north to my campground. The air was thick with tired reverie, hoarse voices and residual inebriation. Buccaneers had come to have a good time with apparent success. I’d come for an entirely different type of good time and hoped to have similar success. The first stop: set up camp.

While dry and dusty, this desert campground was a stone’s throw from the harbor. What a joy to be in such a beautiful setting. As I assembled my tent I could hear sails luffing, metal clanging against masts, and happy boaters winding down their visit. The place would be quiet by night as everyone went back home and I would have the place to myself.  Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Training on Iron Mountain Loop

Iron Mountain Loop

Another segment of the Appalachian Trail was part of the Iron Mountain Loop trail. We’ve hiked many stretches but we’ve only made a small dent in the 2,100 mile long granddaddy of hikes.

Kelsey returned from Alaska a seasoned backpacker. Woven into the National Outdoors Leadership School programs are outdoor education, survival training, and leadership development. The program was conducted over the course of a month-long hike with heavy backpacks that were carried over 100 miles. It’s trial by fire and she learned a lot. This outing was about knowledge transfer: Kelsey to me.

Coming up soon I have several hikes planned. One is a four-day hike along the length of an island just off the coast of Los Angeles on a trail called the Trans-Catalina Trail. It’s relatively new and is 38 miles long though it’s a logistics challenge because it’s remote and support resources are few. Consequently, if I want to hike the trail I’m going to have to backpack and Kelsey was going to train me.  Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Test Flights from the Nest

Kelsey Old Rag

Lots of firsts in the lives of our young ladies. Kelsey climbed to the first plateau of Old Rag with Beth and then continued on her own to the peak. Their flights from the nest are more frequent, more daring and for longer periods

Summers used to be a time when our local swimming pools came into focus and where the girls would play, socialize and work. Now they’re where I go do laps while they galavant around the country. How things have changed!

Courtney spent the summer in Los Angeles working for Southern California Edison in their real estate department. Among other things, her group contracted for land rights to bring energy from remote renewable energy generation plants to the populations of SoCal. This meant learning about how wind, solar, and geothermal energy makes its way to the homes and businesses that consume it. Her experience was right in line with her interests and her degrees in Environmental Science and Economics. After living on the campuses of USC and UCLA she returned in August for her final semester before graduating.

Kelsey didn’t go work in a major city with warm days and sunny beaches. Quite to the contrary she went to the middle of nowhere into the cold mountains of Alaska for a month-long backpacking trip. Along with 14 other 16 and 17 year olds she arrived in Anchorage then disappeared into the wilderness with three NOLS instructors and with supplies on their backs. A month later they emerged with great stories to tell, new skills and maturity, and some deep-quality friendships. Now apparently she’s an “outdoor girl” as she enters her Senior year of high school and starts applying to colleges.

What do I think of all this? Well, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that it causes me angst to see them flirting with leaving the nest. Courtney by most measures is gone already and Kelsey is champing at the bit to do the same. Not that they don’t love us; it’s natural to want to sample the world. They’re both adventurous girls who we’re immensely proud of but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy watching them go.

We will survive and there are always grandkids to look forward to. 🙂

linkedinmailby feather

Mount Rainier NP

Saluting Mt Rainier

Before and after Rainier I visited with family. The Pacific Northwest is where my heart calls home and I have more relatives in the area than you can shake a stick at. I’ve tried!

Great Hike: Sourdough Ridge

I had only finished my second hike and I knew that it was “The One”. At a starting point of 6,400 feet, twice the height of my favorite hike in Shenandoah, my hike took me upwards. Easy destinations can take you to 7,000 or 7,200 feet. Me? I climbed to 6,800 feet and ambled along a path called Sourdough Ridge. The word “ridge” in this case is key because at these altitudes you can see forever in many directions. I could look south to Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Hood or north to snowcapped mountains in Canada. On a day such as today, what I could see was astounding. No doubt, my One Great Hike for Rainier is this hike in the Sunrise Area of the park.

Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Camping in the Shenandoah

Shenandoah Camping

Camping is simple, fun and cheap so when weather permits, I like to work it in to my travel plans. One night in the Shenandoah worked out just great!

Courtney needed a ride back to UVA so I was volunteered. Actually, when I learned that I was drafted I was happy since I’d get to spend some time with her. Little did I know that I’d have so much fun!

Not only did I take Courtney but I took her friend Peter as well. We had lots to talk about: Apple announcements, Facebook, digital photography, the iPhone and its poor substitute,the LG Instinct, the SlingMedia box, Netflix, Roku, yadda yadda. Before we knew it we had arrived. Easy drive. Pleasant.

My next stop was Big Meadows Camp Site along Skyline Drive. My goal was to make camp before sun down. I failed but that’s fine since I’m now an old hand at setting up my site with only the aid of a flashlight. Too often I’ve camped in the winter when evening comes early and long before I’m ready to stop driving. Yes, practice in this case makes perfect.

The night was beautiful with cool crisp air and a full moon. After an OK night’s sleep (who really sleeps “well” on the dirt ground?) I packed and continued driving down Skyline Drive. My goals were to find food, get a little time on the Internet, and arrive at Luray by late morning to see the caves. This too went well and by 10:00 I was buying my entrance ticket.

linkedinmailby feather