Tag Archives: hike

Utah Travel Diaries: Rocks and More Rocks at Capitol Reef National Park

The next morning we decided to do a few short hikes around Capitol Reef. Joy’s foot blisters still hadn’t healed, and we remained a bit drained from our hike through Escalante’s slot canyons just the day before. I wanted to check out the park’s famous Waterpocket Fold (it looks bananas from the brochure!) but I think that you can only access it by backpacking – or using a heavy-duty 4WD vehicle. We kept shouting excitedly as we drove around the park in the Highlander:

WATERPOCKET FOLD!!!

WATERFOLD POCKET!!!

WATERSHIP DOWN FOLD!!

FOLD THE WATER POCKET!!

POCKET WATERFOLD!!!!

From: http://jakeklim.blogspot.com/2010/06/under-suns-anvil.html

Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold. From: http://jakeklim.blogspot.com/2010/06/under-suns-anvil.html

One of the main short hikes that many visitors tend to love is the hike through the “Grand Wash” – just be careful of flash floods. They say that you should always check the weather reports the day before to see if there are any storms on the horizon. Even an inch of rain a mile away can turn into a devastating flood through a narrow canyon.

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Torotoro National Park, Part II: From Cave Paintings to Cave Hiking

Our second day at Torotoro National Park started off with a beautiful ride up the mountains. It’s amazing how much altitude changes everything. As we began to ascend, the weather quickly turned from warm and sunny to cold and rainy. At one point we had to get out of the jeep so that Alex could attempt to drive through the incredibly muddy roads at the top of the mountain! A bit dangerous, but it worked out fine.

Passing by a herd of sheep on the way up

Passing by a herd of sheep on the way up

The cavernas part of Torotoro National Park was only discovered about seven years ago. Beautiful landscapes, tall arching caves, and the discovery of ancient cave paintings now draw tourists to the area.

My camera can't do this landscape justice: it was way more gorgeous than this!

My camera can’t do this landscape justice: it was way more gorgeous than this!

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Cave drawings

Cave drawings

As we came upon a set of cavernas, our guide explained that once upon a time, cattle robbers brought their stolen herds to these caves and held them in this area for some time. When some of the villagers finally discovered where their stolen cattle were being held, the robbers quickly let them out of the caves and ran away with them down the mountain. They were never recovered. 

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Cochabamba Part II: Dinosaur Tracks and Bat Guano at Torotoro National Park

Besides visiting the gigantic Jesus Cristo statue towering above the city, one of the main reasons people visit Cochabamba is to get access to Bolivia’s fantastic Torotoro National Park (I’m a HUGE National Parks fan – visit as many as possible wherever you go!).

I wasn’t planning on going originally – I still had many pages to go on my Spanish-to-English grant translation project, and I didn’t even know how to get there. Luckily, my Cabana Las Lilas hostel owner Alex was willing to take tourists on trips the park and was down to coordinate all the logistics. With another couple from Denmark and another traveler from Germany interested in going, I stayed up all night doing as much as I could to finish my translation project before packing my bags to head out to the park famously known for dinosaur tracks, cave exploring, and beautiful canyons.

It was pretty awesome – everything and nothing that I expected. The drive there was pretty nice too:

On the way to Torotoro

Wizzing by cacti, mountains and farms on the way

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Climbing up the swtichback roads on the way to Torotoro

Climbing up the swtichback roads on the way to Torotoro

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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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