Tag Archives: backpacking

Road Trip Diaries: The Trek to Mt. Sneffels

A few months before our month-long road trip, Joy and I did some research to create a list of places to hike, camp and backpack. Seeing all the National Parks around the Pacific northwest and southwest were give-ins. However, after years of reading a lot of Backpacker Magazine, I was fairly determined to see stunning turquoise lakes of Mount Sneffels, a “fourteener” located in the southwest corner of Colorado.

So after our visit to Mesa Verde National Park, we made our way along some stormy mountain roads towards the City of Ouray.

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On our way to Ouray. This photo can’t do justice to the views.

We arrived in town around 10 pm. Since everything was closed, we crashed a local campground to rest up and prep for our trip the next day. All I remember was that our “campsite” was a small, rectangular plot — similar to a large parking spot — that was covered in rocks and gravel and had a picnic table and a grill. I made a beef and bell pepper stir fry (my typical quick dinner for this trip) before we went to sleep in our tents. We were out by 6 am the next morning.

Joy is much more adventurous than me, so she was immediately down to backpack Mount Sneffles. I’m a much more cautious backpacker (AKA: scared shitless), so I made sure to visit the ranger station and get a map of the area before venturing out into a wilderness that I had absolutely no knowledge of.

SIDE NOTE: As a California native, I never even knew that storms and monsoons could happen in the middle of the U.S. during the summer. Backpacking the Blue Lakes of Mount Sneffels was our first introduction to this regional seasonal phenomenon. While we weren’t doing an “alpine start” (we didn’t plan on hiking the entire Fourteener) we knew that we needed to end our hike before 12pm in order to avoid Colorado’s summer lightening storms.

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The 2014 Bucket List

I just HAD to interrupt the continuing story of my 2013 National Parks Road Trip for this —

Check out: Buzzfeed’s Astounding Backpacking Trips All Over The World

Torres Del Paine perfection

Torres Del Paine perfection

GAWDAYM. I really, really wish I wasn’t in school sometimes. And…I wish I was married to some rich guy who also likes to travel. RICH MEN, COME TO ME.

So as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been debating all the things I want to do now while I’m free as a bird (albeit in debt) and single (and childless – which may be forever, or not…)

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Utah Road Trip Diaries: Camping, Kayaking, and A Lot of Great Stuff in Moab

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After leaving Capitol Reef National Park, we stopped by a local restaurant at the intersection of two main highways that claimed to have some of the “best food” around. It was aiite (I guess their great personalities and effort make up for it). Outside on the patio, we ate our sandwiches and talked to two guys that were on a similar national parks road trip for the past few months. We were incredibly envious. They made it to the Grand Canyon too (my dad kept texting me fire updates and weather reports about Arizona, saying it was like 124 and 126 degrees out there, so we avoided that whole state in general). AND they actually saw bighorn sheep! One of the guys was like, “Yeah, he was a daddy sheep, looking at us all mean-like because he had a baby sheep behind him”. Sounded more like a protective bighorn mama sheep.

As we drove on we continued to see more signs saying “America’s Scenic Highways”. And goddamn, it was truethe land looked fucking AMAZING. Tall, brick-red and dark-colored rock formations surrounded the land around the road. It was almost unreal.

IMG_1581-155The only problem was that we had been going in the wrong direction for quite some time now (and we were almost out of gas, with no stations around for miles). We actually drove to the border of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (also near Natural Bridges) instead of going north towards Moab. We were so SAD to have to turn around (I’ve seen tons of photos of Glen Canyon in Backpacker magazine, and I have to say that it’s definitely a top priority on my next road trip. It looks stunning out there!)

It was so pretty, however, that we just had to get out of the car and take a shitload of photos…

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Road Trip Diaries: From Escalante National Monument to Capitol Reef National Park: AKA, The Day We Met The Thirsty Spirit (Part II)

(Continued from my previous post about our trip through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument)

After our fairly “exciting” adventures in the slot canyons, we said goodbye to Escalante and headed out on Highway 12 toward our next destination – Capitol Reef National Park. However, I had heard that the BLM campground at Calf Creek was pretty nice (it also contains the trailhead for the gorgeous-looking “Calf Creek Falls hike“), so we did a short pit stop to check it out.

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A site at Calf Creek campground

Oh man. It was pretty dope. The campground was small and so scenic. Almost every site was secluded and surrounded by trees and tall carved rocks. If you’re able to secure a spot (the campground seems to be pretty popular), that seems to be one of the best campsites to stay at in the Escalante area.

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Highway 12 to Capitol Reef

The sky darkened overhead as we tried to race toward our next destination before nightfall. As a light rain pelted our windshield, we watched as our surrounding scenery progressively changed around us. Instead of bare dry rock for as far as the eye could see, we were now surrounded by a mixture of tall dark pine and glowing white aspen trees along the highway. It was refreshing.

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As we began to approach the park, we could see tall, brightly colored rock formations rise up around us like sculpted rainbow mountains. I haven’t heard much about Capitol Reef, but it looks like a photographer’s playground…

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Realization: I should have said “F*CK a school loan” and became a travel photographer for a magazine instead

Sometime back in June,  Backpacker Magazine emailed me and asked me if they could use one of my photos from our Sykes Hot Springs backpacking trip (2012) for an article that they wrote about hiking to the springs. I was elated. This is my dream come true!!! I LOVE that magazine (during our summer of 2013 National Parks road trip, Joy and I kept a huge stack of Backpacker magazines in the side door of our car and consulted them every time we hit up a new park or wilderness area).

Then I realized: why the hell did I go back to school. I should have tried to get gigs doing camping and travel photography for magazines instead.

Joy's ass is famous

Joy’s ass is officially famous. It’s worth its weight in gold. Or maybe tin.

The grass is always greener however. Maybe I’ll save that career for another lifetime! Or maybe in another 5 years, we shall see…

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35’s the New 21: Joy and Tiff’s Left Coast Road Trip 2013!

Gawwwdamn. It’s been a busy year! Returned from my two month trip to Peru and Bolivia in the end of February. Applied and got into grad school for the 2013-2014 school year. Just finished up my last day of my job (of the past nine years!) yesterday. I came up with this idea last year, but I never had a chance to execute it.

Joy and I are about to embark on a mini-bucket list dream of mine to hit up as many National Parks as we can from Cali to Arizona, up to Utah, Colorado and Wyoming…to our MAIN goal of reaching Glacier National Park in Montana, back down through Washington, Oregon, and back to the Bay Area. I guess it’s not so much of a “cross country trip” as it is just a “road trip loop” of the north and southwest United States. Except for Nevada. Ain’t nobody got time for Nevada!

Follow along with our adventures HERE!

CALIFORNIA

  • Blue Lakes Campground, El Dorado National Forest

ARIZONA

  • Grand Canyon (the cooler side)

UTAH

  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Arches National Park

COLORADO

  • Mesa Verde
  • Mt. Sneffles
  • Denver
  • Rocky Mountain National Park

WYOMING

  • Grand Tetons
  • Yellowstone National Park

MONTANA

  • Glacier National Park

IDAHO

  • Coeur D’Alene

WASHINGTON

  • North Cascades
  • Goat Lake
  • Olympic National Park

OREGON

  • Portland
  • Crater Lake

CALIFORNIA

  • Lassen National Park (?)
  • BACK TO THE BAY AREA!

Any recommendations on hikes to do, places to go, other parks to see? I know this is a bit of an ambitious list for a month, but we’ll see how it all goes!

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Three Hot Days in Nazca

After a day and a half in Lima, I was pretty much over it. Since I didn’t have anyone else to hang out with for the rest of my days there, I decided on a whim to make a short trip to Nazca to see the infamous Nazca lines. If I had time, I also wanted to hit up Ica/Huacachina to go sandboarding, but I wasn’t going to push it. Didn’t want to miss my expensive flight back to San Francisco in four days!

On the way to Nazca

No Man’s Land: On the way to Nazca

I took a Cruz del Sur bus (the most reliable bus in Peru, so I’ve heard) past a few tourist cities (like Ica) and finally ended up in Nazca at about 9 pm at night. The trip down there however was kinda nuts. It looked like Mad Max land out there! Nothing but desert and brush with some homes (and sometimes in villages) out on the plain by themselves. Very end-of-the-world-ish-looking.

When I got in, the Nazca Inn hotel owner was waiting near the bus station to bring guests to his hostel. He was really welcoming and friendly – a local Nazcan who went to school in England for a little bit to learn business, who then returned to his hometown to run his family’s hostel. We spoke back and forth in Spanish and English, which made communication easy and fun. He took me on a short tour around the main strip and dropped me off at the hostel. Which, by the way, is AWESOME!

Hallway at the Nazca Inn

Hallway at the Nazca Inn

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Later that night me and the hostel owner got drinks on the main drag…however, after getting completely drunk after one drink, I had to go out to get a burger so that I wouldn’t be completely embarrassing. I ate in his car while we drove around town and met his friends…

Yeah, I can be a bit of a sloppy drunk. So sue me.

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What’s Good In Lima?

I asked my cyber Facebook friends about what I should do in Lima. The responses:

“Not much”

“Manorca Beach in the north!”

“Hang out in the Barranco District at night”

“Museo Larco!”

I have to say that my first impression of Lima was not the most positive – only because perhaps I expected Lima to look more like the rest of Peru and less like Los Angeles (I have very mixed feelings about the city of LA). But with 8 million people, what can one expect. At least the weather was sunny and humid – I missed that feeling! Beats being around cold rainy mountains with low levels of oxygen.

Kennedy Park in Miraflores

Kennedy Park in Miraflores

Despite many technical difficulties (including not knowing how to make international calls from my Peruvian cell phone), I finally met up with Angela and one of her travel crew friends, Mel. I couldn’t believe we finally connected (first through this blog, and later in person)! Despite the fact that the restaurant that we were going to eat at was closed (Punto Azul is supposed to have EXCELLENT ceviche, but doesn’t open on Mondays), we quickly found a bus and made our way back to central Miraflores to find a place to have lunch. It was pretty hard. It’s hella touristy out here. There aren’t many good food options – and they’re all kinda expensive.

After making a huge circle around town, we finally settled on a chain restaurant called Rustica near my hostel. It was pretty good…

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Mel, Angela and me

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From Bolivia to Peru: The Journey Back to Lima

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve cyber-met a handful of other travelers (through conversations on this blog!) who have also been planning their trip to South America and wanted some travel advice. One such traveler mentioned that she would be in Lima on the 17th of February, so I said that I’d try and see if we could meet up on that day.

Best hot dog ever (with mashed potatoes) at my stopover in Cochabamba

Best hot dog ever (with mashed potatoes) at my stopover in Cochabamba

Since the buses out have been such a crap shoot, I was pretty tired of attempting to take the long (and dangerous) overnight buses. Barely missing a deadly bus accident by a day on my way to Tupiza was enough for me. I took a TAM flight from Sucre to La Paz and spent the day trying to recover from a really bad flu or cold – or whatever. It was so bad that my coughs were non-stop and guttural, as if my body was trying to turn my lungs inside-out each time I coughed. I almost lost my voice completely. While I had high hopes of doing the “World’s Most Dangerous Road” trip through the gorgeous Yungas, I knew that I had to take care of my health if I wanted to enjoy the rest of my trip in South America.

Shopping all day in Las Brujas, La Paz

Shopping all day in Las Brujas, La Paz

I spent most of my day in La Paz buying gorgeous scarves, hats, jewelry, and other Bolivian goods for all my friends back at home. At night I attempted yet again to try the Asian food out here and settled on a sushi joint on Sagarnaga St. (it was “Valentines Day”, why not?) It was HORRIBLE.

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