Monthly Archives: December 2012

Bienvienido a Peru!

Okay, so I’m lagging a bit on the travel blog. And it’s gonna lag some more because I’m about to embark on a 4-day backpacking excursion up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu for New Years Eve!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWW SHIIIEEEEEETTTT!!

Until then, here’s a few snapshots of my stay in Cusco so far:

market

 

The market by my hostel, Net B&B House on la Calle Union. Check out the guy selling beef ribs out of the back of his mini-van on the right!

Ok, the internet here is too slow. Here’s one more at Ollantaytambo. AMAZING.

Ollantaytambo me

My 8 years of Spanish has gone to waste. I can understand, but I sound like a 4 year old when I talk.

Cheers to all my fam and friends in the states!

 

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Backpacking Diaries: DESOLATION WILDERNESS Part I!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Lake Aloha and the Crystal Range

Lake Aloha and the Crystal Range

DESOLATION WILDERNESS IS MY FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH!

Desolation Valley

Desolation Valley

I came here on my first backpacking trip ever. As they say, you never forget your first love.

2012 was the year of a lot of firsts for me. I started organizing and leading my own backpacking trips (I never trusted myself to do that before) – did my first 5 night backpacking trip and organized 5 trips in one summer. Despite the headaches of organizing trip logistics, it was actually pretty damn fun. This trip that I led to Deso involved five friends with varying degrees of backpacking experience – including Rob, who did his first trip with us!

DAY 1: The Hike In

At 5 pm, Darrel and I met up at the Glen Alpine trailhead and went over our gear together. It was a bit much. He brought his scale and we weighed our packs. My pack: 32 lbs. His pack: 43 lbs. He’s not exactly a light backpacker.

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Pre-hike sparring

We started hiking in around 7 pm and made it to Susie Lake by a little after 9 pm – it’s about a 4 mile hike there. While it was pretty dark after 8:30, the wilderness and lake was gorgeous at night! We set up camp and I took a photo of Susie lake with the stars reflecting in the lake below…

1 stars sm

Stars in the sky – and reflected in Susie Lake

DAY 2: Susie and Heather Lakes

We decided to take it easy the next day since Darrel did the 4+ hour drive to Tahoe right after working a 10 hour day. So we blew up our floaties, filled up our dry-sacks with our leisure gear, and floated/hauled ass over to one of Susie Lake’s many islands, where we pretty much slept and ate and swam all day. He even had the solar panel charger for the ipod dock. There’s just nothing more refreshing than laying on a granite rock in the sun, listening to the wind, in one of the most beautiful places on earth! At least, in California 🙂

Susie Lake, glistening in the morning

Susie Lake, glistening in the morning

Heavely

Heavenly

Despite enjoying the serenity of the lake, I still like to be active each day and hella wanted to go hiking. So we make a VERY short trip (less than a mile one way) over to nearby Heather Lake. I got on my floatie and paddled over to a few of Heather Lake’s islands. One has a pretty tall, almost mini-mountain on it. I climbed up and started yelling to Darrel to get his attention.

Where's the pool

Where’s the pool

Then the most amazing thing happened to me..

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Backpacking Diaries: Sykes Hot Springs, Big Sur

When a friend of mine suggested that we do our first backpacking trip of 2012 to Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur’s Ventana Wilderness, I said:

“HELL. yeah.”

Into the Ventana Wilderness

Into the Ventana Wilderness

Hiking and camping in Big Sur is always one of those must do’s for any native Californian.

The trip didn’t start off very well, unfortunately. Since we settled on going Sykes just a month before the trip, finding a vacant base-camp campsite up and down Highway 1 was pretty much impossible. EVERYTHING was booked up (we also went the weekend before the 4th of July, BIG MISTAKE). However, since I had just gone camping in Big Sur in 2010, I remembered a very small and far away campground called Botcher’s Gap –I was pretty sure it would have vacancies – it’s mostly a camp for backpackers.

After the long and winding drive up and down the mountain to Botchers Gap camp (whenever I go there, I always think that I’m getting lost! Just turn off of Hwy 1 onto Palos Colorados Rd. and you’ll be fine) we finally found ourselves a base camp – albeit a far away and uneven one.

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We BBQ’ed our veggies, ate our tamales, enjoyed our fire, and went straight to bed.

Pluses of Botchers Gap: cheap, guaranteed vacancies, beautiful views if you’re lucky to get one of the 3 spots on the edge of the valley, easy access to one section of the Ventana Wilderness (not near Sykes though). Downsides: uneven ground, sites close together with no privacy, STANK-ass pit toilets, all sites are rimmed with poison oak. Don’t roll off your site!

In the morning, we woke and made the drive down the mountain to the Sykes hot springs trailhead at the Big Sur Forest Service Station. To get to Sykes Hot Springs via the Pine Ridge Trail, it’s about a 10 mile hike.

Notes about the hike:

Despite the fact that the initial part of the trail that ascends through a lush green forest, the first 3 miles of the hike kinda suck. It’s almost all uphill, most of it is very exposed to the sun, it’s narrow, there’s lots of poison oak, and the trail is deteriorating at times. Do it in the early morning before it gets really hot and dry on that dusty trail. Luckily, after the first 3 miles, it becomes much more enjoyable.

A typical view on the Pine Ridge Trail

A typical view on the Pine Ridge Trail

There’s a few good camps to stop off at, so if you get tired, arrange to make your pit stops there!

Filtering water at Terrace camp, five miles in.

Filtering water at Terrace camp, five miles in.

Halfway through the day, our group decided to go to a camp at the 8 mile mark and save Sykes for the next day, because we didn’t think we would want to do 10 miles straight in one day (our group was a mix of 1st time backpackers and people who haven’t backpacked in years). But we missed the turn off for the earlier camps and went straight to Sykes. It turned out to be the best decision.

The campgrounds at Sykes are numerous – besides the first ones you see on the right when you go do down to the river, there’s tons as you follow the river to your left. As we ventured on and on to find a site, a bunch of naked circus hippies wearing tu-tu’s and hula hoops approached us…

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