Somewhere around ten years ago David and I spent a day at Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park. This is a small and quiet park that is only accessible via boat since other than its lakeshore, the park is surrounded entirely by private lands. Ten years ago we rented a canoe and paddled about a mile to the first trailhead, then did a six mile hike through lava flows and by lava tubes. After the hike we paddled back across the lake. We didn’t see another person and the wildlife was incredible. For years we’ve been saying we need to go back and take advantage of the campsites lining the shore, and we finally got around to it last weekend.
About twenty miles east of Lee Vining and Yosemite National Park there is a small high desert mountain range known as the Granite Mountain Wilderness. There are hundreds – thousands – of these small desert ranges across the western states, and frequently they are driven by at highways speeds, from a distance appearing brown and grey and desolate and boring. But during my years of exploring the backcountry of California I’ve learned that these ranges are full of life, history, and exciting adventures.
Last weekend I backpacked in to Rancheria Falls in the Hetch Hetchy region of Yosemite National Park. Is Yosemite ever anything other than incredible?
Wapama Falls crossing:
Rancheria Falls cascade:
One of the most important doctrines of ultralight backpacking is the principle of multi-use. If an item can be used for more than one purpose, it means carrying less single-use gear. Simple.
I want to talk about an item that I think best exemplifies this principle, the Hoo-Rag. Hoo-Rag sent me one of these to try out and it’s been a lot of fun finding unique and undocumented ways of using this simple yet versatile item.
The Hoo-Rag is a lightweight, seamless tube-style soft bandana. It comes in tons of different patterns and there are more ways to wear it than I can count. Hoo-Rag shows off their product primarily as wearable (and hop on over to their site to see the numerous ways you can wear it), but I want to focus on how this has become the ultimate multi-use item in my backpacking kit.
April is a somewhat unpredictable time of year in terms of weather in Yosemite, so when I made campground reservations a few months ago I had no idea if I’d be snowshoeing or hiking. April is about the latest I’ll go to the Valley since I prefer to avoid it during the busy summer season, and this year it ended up being perfect timing. It has turned out to be a dry winter and with clear skies and forecasted highs around 70, I planned a couple of great Yosemite Valley hikes that would get us to some classic sights as well as away from the crowds. On Saturday we hiked the northeast gully of Liberty Cap to the summit, and on Sunday we hiked the Rockslides, the Old Big Oak Flat road that used to be the only road into the Valley.
We usually spend Easter weekend in one of two places: Carrizo Plain (in good wildflower years) or Lava Beds National Monument. This year we decided that a visit to the Eastern Sierra was in order instead. Five months without a Bishop fix was long enough and despite the passes still being closed, driving the long way around for a three day weekend was worth it.
On Thursday night we headed out from San Jose for Truckee where we had (gasp!) booked a hotel room for the night. That hotel was conveniently next door to one of our favorite breweries, FiftyFifty. Several delicious beers were enjoyed with dinner, and we retired early to get up the next day for some outdoor adventures.
A recent comment on an old post about a desert cabin, the terrible crime at the Fish Slough Petroglyphs, and other posts in the outdoor blogging world have got me thinking about something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while. What is our responsibility as bloggers when it comes to sharing special and perhaps secret locations?
One of the goals of Calipidder.com is to share the passion and love I feel when I am out there hiking, climbing a peak, and sleeping under the stars. I strongly feel that we can only keep these special places protected if there are enough people to care about them. I love how some outdoor bloggers, like UpaDowna, have been able to transform into organizations that execute on this mission in inspriring ways.