Tag Archives: wilderness

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.


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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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 Valley

Desolation Valley

I came here on my first backpacking trip ever. They say that 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 five-night backpacking trip, and organized five camping trips in one summer. Despite the occasional headaches from organizing trip logistics, it was pretty damn fun. This Deso trip included five friends that had 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 to review our gear and weigh our packs. My pack: 32 lbs. His pack: 43 lbs. He’s not exactly a light backpacker.

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Pre-hike sparring

At 7 PM, we began hiking and made it to Susie Lake by a little after 9 PM (about 4 miles). While it was pretty dark after 8:30 PM, the wilderness and lake was absolutely gorgeous at night. We set up camp and I took a photo of Susie lake with the stars reflecting in the lake below:

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Stars in the sky, as 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, loaded our dry-sacks with 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



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…

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Backpacking (and Day Hiking) Diaries: Henry Coe State Park

Oh Henry Coe State Park. Very few people know about you, yet you are one of the biggest wilderness areas near the Bay Area.

On the way in: Evening hike on the Spring trail towards Manzanita Camp.

Henry Coe is a really…really huge park.  Apparently it takes about a few days get out to the actual “wilderness” area – called the Orestimba Wilderness, to be precise – from the start of the trailheads near the ranger station/parking lot. If you do choose to venture that far out, they say you should be prepared for a lot of bush-wacking because very few people actually make it all the way out there, and the trails are not maintained (especially these days with budget cuts threatening our ability to still have state parks in California). Definitely bring a map and a compass.

On the way out: Hiking towards the Poverty Flat Rd. / Manzanita Point Rd. junction.

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