Category: Car camping

Trip planning for 2015

A week backpacking the Ruby (Nevada) and Sawtooth (Idaho) Mountains

Dani and I took an eight day trip. It was pretty darn perfect.

Lunch in the Rubies. Lake two of four.

Lunch in the Rubies. Lake two of four.

We’d been planning a cross-country trip around the Sierra’s Blackcap Basin. It was snow free and I’d always wanted to go. A day before our trip, we shifted gears and decided to head east to new mountain ranges.

Tea time. Dani playing with his new camera.

Tea time. Dani playing with his new camera.

The Ruby Mountains of Nevada met my excited expectations. We walked through big peaks and past many lakes. We car camped and backcountry camped. We visited the crest and saw the desert on both sides of the range. We crossed a snowy pass and left the day hikers behind. It was casual, relaxing, and beautiful. I scored a 15 mile downhill through the beautiful Lamoille Canyon on my new road bike. We drove the “backside” of the range. We’ll go back for the rest of the crest trail.

Early season trips often mean wet shoes.

Early season trips often mean wet shoes.

The second leg of the drive brought us in to Idaho. We landed in a friend of a friend’s backyard in Ketchum. BBQ, bluegrass band practice, welcoming locals, a campfire, a shower and a bed – it was an excellent stop between trips and drives.

With our new beta, we backpacked two nights past Alice, Toxaway, Imogene and Hell Roaring Lakes. We crossed three snowy passes. We had absolutely stellar campsites. On our first backpack in the area, we did Sawtooth Wilderness right. Snow travel makes for wonderful solitude.

On the summit of Sand Mountain, looking out towards where we came from. Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho.

On the summit of Sand Mountain, looking out towards where we came from. Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho.

The area is crowded with hot springs. After tacos at Redfish Lake, we found a soak on the Salmon River before a night around a fire at our next trailhead. The region is absolutely decimated by beetle kill. There was plenty of wood.

On the 4th of July we had three things on our agenda: hike ~10 miles to Sawtooth Lake, soak in a secret off-trail hot spring, and drive 10 hours to Lake Tahoe. Dani set a runner’s walking pace to the alpine zone. The lake was frozen and beautiful. The spring, apparently the best around, was a quick stop before hitting the road.

Sawtooth Lake. Five miles up in an hour and a half. We were there when the backpackers we just starting their days.

Sawtooth Lake. Five miles up in an hour and a half. We were there when the backpackers we just starting their days.

Highway 95 across Oregon between Boise and Winnemucca was one of the straightest that I can remember. It felt like we’d go 20 miles between turns. Driving, I was reminded of these places to visit: the Jarbidge, Toiyabe and Santa Rosa mountains and the Owyhee River canyon.

Sometimes road trips and backpacking trips can be tiring. Re-entering California with a stop at Dani’s home on Lake Tahoe, filled with family, friends and food helped make the week a true vacation. We SUPed, swam, played bocce, and took the boat out. Capped it off with a nice dinner out with just us “kids”.

Dani, dude. It was a fantastic trip. Looking forward to doing it again soon.

Lava Beds National Monument, Tule Lake, Glass and Medicine Lake Mtns.

For Memorial Day we played north of Mt. Shasta. It was really nice to car camp and dive into the region. The trip was skewed towards visiting lots of locations as opposed to breaking a sweat. Especially for me, as I sprained my ankle on Sunday in a cave. I’m nicely bruised and will limp for the next few weeks.

We: looked for shooting stars, ate well, went in caves, walked the battlefield of the Modoc War, sat at a fire lookout, hiked to a butte and lava field, drank, saw petroglyphs and the pacific flyway, napped in hammocks, visited small towns and drove the back roads onto a shield volcano to walk a pumice and obsidian flow and sit at a lake.

Tips: bring armor for the caves (pads, durable clothes, helmets); there is a seasonal canoe trail on Tule Lake; LBNM’s ~35 campsites didn’t fill on the busiest weekend of the year (and there are plenty of great dispersed camping outside the park); it’s hard to find out information about ~680 of the park’s 700 caves.

Climbing Whitney Butte to look at the lava flow, Mt. Shasta and much of the park.

Climbing Whitney Butte to look at the lava flow, Mt. Shasta and much of the park. This was my second trip to Lava Beds.

ADZPCTKO 2014

I had the opportunity to fly down to Kick Off this year and I took advantage of it. It freed me up to spend the night at Scout and Frodo’s, day-hike the southern 20 miles of the PCT and add on Sunday night in the campground after the event.

Of course, it was a wonderful time.

Briefly:
– My favorite thing about KO is the opportunity for us play community. I really like getting to chat the regulars year after year. Meeting the new hikers, if only briefly, is nice too. I met a whole lot of great people.

– I was witness of a helicopter doing a body recovery 😦

– KO is always really hectic and busy for me. This year was a little less so because the weather was bad, and I’d made a concerted effort to downsize the expectations on my time at the event.

The crowd of fun hikers that the San Diego network hosted just before KO.

The crowd of fun hikers that the San Diego network hosted just before KO.

Beaches, redwoods and quiet backroads

Wild harvested uni.

Wild harvested uni.

Post Christmas I tied my board on top and headed north. Charlie and I rendezvoused at Big River. It was rough. We turned south again and put in at Albion.

It was my first try at NorCal condition freediving. I only puked a little bit. I wasn’t hunting, but Charlie confirmed that the visibility was mediocre and the fish were hard to find. He still speared five. I really only hit bottom a few times but it sure was neat for the few seconds I was down there. I loved it and will go again.

Camp at McKerricher was infused with beer and grilled fish. CA State Parks are expensive. $43 for the night.

After a walk to the beach, breakfast in Fort Bragg and a stop at the dive shop, Charlie headed home. I went north.

The running tally of the places I went after:

  • stopped at McKerricher and another beach farther north. The fog bank rolling in was beautiful.
  • camped and jogged at Westport-Union up on the bluffs. What a stellar place to camp.
  • lunched under the redwoods at Richardson Grove.
  • stopped at Benbow but there wasn’t enough water to paddle.
  • intentionally drove the very long way to the Mattole via Ettersburg. It’s a curvy and rural few hours on a mostly single lane road. I was surprised by the number of people that live so far off the grid. It’s definitely a center of the west’s back to the lander movement. I’m sure most of them have moved from vegetables to pot.
  • camped two nights at the Mattole estuary. Sat on the beach, walked south beyond Punta Gorda.
  • stopped in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
Just what the doctor ordered: a few days on the beach.

Just what the doctor ordered: a few days on the beach.

Things of note:

I love solos. Read a book, two New Yorkers and two High Country News’. I was asleep around 9pm and would wake up and read for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. I slept in my car each night.

I saw at least twelve whales one afternoon. I didn’t see anyone else whale watching.

It was around the king tide and the lows were extreme. The tidepools extended up and down the coast. I found a lot of cool things, including a fish head that was about 20 inches wide. The sea lions at Punta Gorda were making farting noises with their mouths.