Overview: John Muir Trail – Devils Post Pile to Yosemite Valley

After last years fires in the Sierras smoked us out of our John Muir Trail section hike, we got permits to attempt to do it again this year.  Unfortunately, S could not make it this time and instead a few of my friends (A and E) joined me on the trip.

The schedule was fairly aggressive and it really pushed the hiking team.  While S and I both comfortably hike 15-20 mile days, the other two have never done more than nine miles a day.  We followed as closely to our original itinerary as possible, but having been issued walk-in permits for Half Dome, we accelerated our schedule to meet our permit date.  The number of people on the trail during this time of the year also made it very difficult to find suitable camp sites.

A few quick notes: Yosemite recently changed nearly all of the names throughout the valley, I used an old map and it made it difficult to locate where I was going.

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The Quick and Dirty:
Location: 
John Muir Trail (JMT), between Devils Post Pile to Yosemite National Park
Distance: Approximately 50 miles (+/- a few for Tuolomne Meadows)
Best Time: JMT suggested times (typically August through September)
Duration: Four days (+)
Permits and Restrictions: Permits can be obtained through www.recreation.gov.  Make sure to obtain a fire permit online or at the ranger’s office if you plan on using a stove for cooking. A bear canister is also required for this trail and available for rental at the local ranger station.  Permit pick up at Mammoth Welcome Center (night box options OK).

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Overview of the North Ozette Coast, Washington

IMG_20160513_195436.jpgA couple weeks ago, Louis and I both had a last minute 4-day weekend and decided we would use it to backpack the North Ozette Coast located within the Olympic Wilderness and National Park area. Similar to the Lost Coast write up, we will break up this trip into several different posts including daily trail reports and tide reports.

Olympic Wilderness Coast is located 4.5 hours west of Seattle. The upper most portion of the coast (Shi Shi Beach) is a part Olympic National Park, while the reminder of the norther coast is a part of Olympic Wilderness area. Our choice of transportation for this trip is taking a flight from LAX to Seattle and renting a car to drive to the coast.  Continue reading

Redwood State Park- Klamath and Miner’s Ridge Trail

The Quick and Dirty:
Location: Klamath River and Miner’s Ridge Trail near Elk Prairie Campground.
Distance: 2 miles of walking around Klamath River and 8 miles round trip to Miner’s Ridge Trail
Terrain Type: Coastal, partial shade and good coverage on Miner’s Ridge Trail
Good to Know: Spend some time walking around the beach at the mouth of the Klamath river. It’s a good spot to watch for marine wildlife.P1080903.JPG Continue reading

Redwood State and National Park

The drive from Medocino to Redwood State and National Park was about 3.5 hours. We checked out from Glendeven Inn at 11AM and arrived at Kuchel visitor’s center at 3pm. The park ranger gave us some car camping choices and we decided to camp at Elk Prairie campground for the next two nights.  Campsites at the park before Memorial Day weekend can be reserved at a first come first serve basis. Elk Prairie is located within the Redwood State park boundary. Much of the campsites are located underneath old growth redwood trees, camping underneath these old growth trees definitely gave a mystic feel the whole experience. Continue reading

Sea Kayaking with Santa Barbara Adventure Company

On our last day at Santa Cruz island we booked a sea kayaking tour with Santa Barbara Adventure Company. While we’ve done our share of flat water kayaking, this would be our first time kayaking out at sea.

Cost
The normal cost of this tour without the ferry or camping fees is $125 during the time of booking. One useful tip for finding additional discounts is to sign up for the company’s newsletters as they generally have promotional deals. We ended up applying 2 promotional deals on our reservation, one for advanced reservation discount and the other for group discount. The final cost for the tour was about $110 per person after taxes.

Kayaking
We met our tour guides at the harbor Sunday morning at 10:30AM. About half of the people on the tour came to the island just for the day for kayaking and the other half camped overnight. Water shoes, wet suits and rain jacket were all provided by the company. After a quick safety lesson with the whole group, we broke off in a small group of 8 with our guide Janelle and began the tour.

I imagine each sea kayaking experience can vary widely depending on the weather, condition of the sea/tides and how adventurous the group is. The waves were a little choppy around the caves when we were out at sea, Janelle left it to us to decide if we wanted to maneuver through them. Since I was sharing a kayak with Louis, we were pretty comfortable maneuvering through the caves. Although there were some close calls (see video below), we never capsized our kayak!

Overall, the tour took about 3 hours to complete. If you are not sure you can handle the entire 3 hours of kayaking at sea, there is an option half through the tour to be dropped at the beach if you’ve had enough of the choppy conditions.

Good to Know
Overall we enjoyed the tour immensely and would encourage all to try it out if you ever visit the Santa Cruz island. Below are a couple of things that are good to know to prepare for the tour:

  1. Bring your own water shoes if you already have them at home. Although the company provides water shoes, given the primitive condition on the island, it’s nearly impossible for the company to keep them as clean as I would like.
  2. Mount a GoPro or something similar to your helmet if you want to take any videos or photos. The conditions out at sea are pretty choppy and you will not want to risk taking your camera out in the midst of paddling.
  3. Make sure to eat something before you start the tour. The tour is about 3 hours from 10:30-12:30 and all the paddling will leave you hungry if you had an early breakfast. This will also help alleviate potential sea sickness.
  4. If you are renting a double kayak, make sure you and your partner coordinate each other’s moves. This makes maneuvering through narrow sea caves and choppy water so much easier!

See below for some of the sea cave videos Louis captured on his camera.