I am no slouch. I hike, run, bike, kayak, ski, and when I am idle, mentally pace about thinking about what I am going to do next. I say this because, despite all of my activities, backpacking the Na Pali Coast was a significant challenge of which I will not repeat.
Kauai is the northern most developed island in the Hawaiian chain. It is mountainous and beautiful and famous for its rugged landscape.
Hanalei and Haena are the two primary towns on the north side, and they are close to the trailhead for the Na Pali Coast. While they are my recommended places to stay, keep in mind that it does rain here more often. If you are the type that prefers golf, resorts, and sun bathing you might like the south side more.
For the trip, I was joined by my wife, Julia, my stepbrother, Winslow and his wife, Katharine. We were all in shape and confident that we could tackle the 11 mile hike, which would lead us to the desired campsite situated at the base of fluted cliffs, ribbons of waterfalls, and the type of tropical scenery that one dreams about.
For many people the Yucatan represents Cancun, the Mayan Riviera, and Chichen-Itza. While each of these locations posses many positive attributes for the wayfarer, there are many other reasons to travel to the Yucatan. Most flights do culminate at Cancun, but there are also air services to Merida and Campeche on the Gulf side of the Peninsula if you prefer to start there.
As you approach the Cancun airport, the first striking characteristic is the relative flatness of the terrain. Thick vegetation commands the landscape in an even blanket that stretches in all directions. The only thing breaking the even green is a lonesome road or a foreboding electric tower appearing larger than it should be considering the surroundings.
The reason the Peninsula is so flat is because it is entirely composed of a limestone shelf jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The layers of limestone are composed of the life and death of compacted ancient coral reefs and sand, which serve as a metaphor for the multi-layered human history that chiseled its own existence into the surface of this even terrain starting more than 12,000 years ago.
Built on time, stone, and water, human habitation of the Yucatan has always relied on the geologic composition. At first glance, one would surmise that there is no fresh water available in this flat landscape. Surface lakes and rivers are practically nonexistent, for they lay predominately underground. The spongy limestone has been carved from underneath by the slow erosive properties of water and time, and it has created a vast network of cenotes (wells) and connecting rivers fed by rain and springs, which bring life. A trip to the Yucatan would not be complete without a visit to one of the countless cenotes that pock the landscape.
Marlette Lake is situated above the East Shore of Lake Tahoe between Spooner Summit and Sand Harbor.
What is most notable about Marlette is the fact that it has been a source for trout fishing since 1887 when it was first stocked with Cutthroat Trout.
Today, it is still used as a source for Rainbow Trout eggs, which are gathered during spawning season in tiered gates that run into the south end of the Lake. They are then transplanted in both Lake Tahoe and Walker Lake.
Fishing is allowed on the Marlette Lake, but you must use barbless hooks. If you get lucky, it is catch and release.
Marlette is also a popular area for mountain biking and hiking, and you will often see people circling the Lake to access the Flume or Rim Trail. Keep in mind that biking is only allowed on even days, so if you are planning a hike you might want to do it on an odd day.
Regardless, it is beautiful, especially in the fall when the aspen leaves turn a vibrant gold and yellow.
Any avid whitewater enthusiast can appreciate the commitment it takes to pack up the car and drive the many miles required to get to your favorite river. Generally, you also have to run shuttle, and then there is the long drive back home. You stare at the road through cracked capillaries produced by countless holes and the sun’s glare with a tired smile generated by the many miles of majestic scenery and quality whitewater. It is all very worth it, but if often comes at the expense of extensive wear and tear on the driver, his or her car, as well as a hefty gas bill at the end.
Hailing from the Southeast, driving to my favorite rivers was long, but not a journey of epic proportions. It was usually a couple of hours to the Green, Overflow, or Chattooga, and I never felt put out by it. When I moved to California 7 years ago, driving to the put-in took on a whole new meaning. Not only was the cost per gallon significantly larger, but also the distances were exponentially greater.
Megee Creek is a beautiful high Sierra hike located 10 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, CA.
My wife and I chose this particular hike for our Labor Day Weekend retreat because of our previous year visit. We had been very impressed by the diverse geology, incredible profusion of wildflowers, and impressive high alpine views. However, we only made it 3 miles in before we had to turnaround.
This year we had 3 days, backpacks, and no one else to dissuade us from making it all the way to Big Megee Lake, which is situated at 10,500 feet, and 7 miles up a fairly grueling climb.
We followed the twists and turns of Megee Creek up and up, and it was not long before we became oblivious to the heavy loads we carried on our backs because of the beautful views. We eventually made it to Big Megee Lake and setup camp alongside its shores.
The next day we slept in, waiting for some high Sierra howling winds to subside, and eventually got out of the tent, fixed breakfast, and prepared for a day hike over Megee Pass.
Last weekend turned out to be one of the most phenomenal weekends of the year at Mt Rose Ski Resort. Lake Tahoe performed a bit of magic and created a lake effect storm that deposited 10-12 inches of the lightest powder that I have skied in a loooooooooong time. Interestingly enough, places like Alpine and Squaw received only minimal amounts. The picture is taken from the East Bowl lift.
When you find a big mountain chain in close proximity to the largest ocean on the planet, it is inevitable that you will experience variable conditions. What amazes me is how often the Lake Tahoe area produces fantastic conditions despite its physical location.
Saturday started off windy and overcast in Tahoe, so I elected to spend the day in Reno dealing with all of things that have built up over the weeks of skiing. One of the things I love about Reno is that the sun can be shining in the valley while it is absolutely nuking up in Tahoe. Finished my chores, went for a mountain bike ride, and then headed up to the Crystal Bay Club to catch some free bluegrass. Crashed at my buddies place in Kings Beach and awoke bright and early Sunday morning with 7-10 inches of fresh on the mountain.
My friend and I b-lined it to Alpine Meadows, put our boots on in the parking lot to the sound of many bombs being detonated by ski patrol, scored first chair at Scotts, and barely stopped to rest the entire day. The wind loaded much of the snow in various gullies and trees, so it just took just a little bit of poking around to find some really good places. One of the things I really like about Alpine is that if you have the motivation to do some traversing and hiking you are bound to score fresh turns throughout the day.
The light was a bit flat with the sun coming in and out from behind the clouds, so it made it a little difficult to catch good pics. Nonetheless, I came out with a couple of good ones. Hope you enjoy.
While I enjoy the convenience and comfort of a high-speed ski lift just as much as the next skier, there is something unique and special about scoring fresh turns under the power of my own devices. Backcountry skiing, or snowboarding, leads those adventurous enough to pursue it off of the beaten path to areas less skied by. The Lake Tahoe region possesses countless miles of exceptional terrain with breathtaking views only further enhanced with the back drop of that big, blue, beautiful lake that so many people travel whole continents to see.
The past couple of weeks have delivered stellar conditions with light fluffy powder falling upon the Sierras foot by fantastic foot. The resorts have been excellent and the backcountry exceptional. I still marvel at the ease at which I can wake up at my house in Reno and so quickly am in the midst of such awe-inspiring mountains filled with so many options; and deep turns.
This past weekend I chose to spend one day on the West Shore hiking Mount Tallac, and the next day hiking and skiing in the area adjacent to the Mount Rose Ski Resort. Both days were phenomenal. The climb up Tallac took approximately three hours, but it was definitely worth it. The views into Desolation Wilderness and out across Lake Tahoe would have been rewarding enough for the effort it took, but then the big payoff came when I actually got to ski the roughly 3,000 ft of vertical back down to the car.
Despite being quite exhausted from the day before, the next day proved to be equally impressive. The area around Mt Rose is filled with varying lines that offer many different levels of pitch and position. My friends and I skied a few different lines, and each run brought giant grins to our faces. What is especially cool about this area are the mixed views that you see. On one side you can look out over Reno, Washoe Valley, and beyond, and on the other you can see Lake Tahoe and the Sierra chain as it stretches south towards Yosemite.
If you choose to venture out into the backcountry, please remember to carry the essentials: water, extra clothing, a beacon, probe and shovel. While backcountry conditions in Lake Tahoe are generally safer than places such as Colorado and Utah, avalanche dangers are always still a factor. Be prepared! All of these items are available from such stores as Reno Mountain Sports and The Backcountry up in Lake Tahoe. Avalanche classes are often conducted at REI, Patagonia, Squaw Valley and Kirkwood. Additionally, places such as The Backcountry even offer guided tours.
Until the next hike, I am eagerly keeping an eye on the weather – looks like more snow is on the way!