2018 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

Another year and The LovedOne is still not keen on having her picture taken. She has countered by hiking ahead of me (and faster) so as to stay out of camera range. Fortunately, subterfuge and deception allow me to get close enough, from time to time, for a photo.

JANUARY: We stayed around Southern Oregon, expecting to do some snowshoeing. But, despite purchasing a Sno-Park permit, there was no snow. So we contented ourselves with some low-altitude dirt hikes.

Hobart Bluff, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
On a snowless Hobart Bluff, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

FEBRUARY: Years ago, I worked unaccompanied at NAS Key West. The LovedOne always wanted to see Key West too. I wanted to visit Dry Tortugas National Park. So we spent a week in Florida visiting parks and wandering around in sandals. We got back just in time to enjoy the one big snow storm we got this year.

Dry Tortugas National Park
Around the moat at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park
Everglades National Park
Hiking in the upland forest at Everglades National Park
Snowshoeing on Mount Ashland
Our only snowshoe of the year – on Mount Ashland

MARCH: We flew south to Arizona for some sunny desert hiking. We also paid a visit to our long-time friends Heidi and Bob, now retired south of Tucson.

Spur Cross Ranch, Arizona
Hiking around Elephant Head at Spur Cross Ranch north of Phoenix
Mount Lemmon, Arizona
Hiking through aspens on Mount Lemmon above Tucson

APRIL: We did a roadtrip to California to stay in the iconic Majestic Yosemite (formerly The Ahwahnee) Hotel (one night was all our budget could handle), revisit some national parks, and do a little desert hiking.

Yosemite National Park
A late Spring snow storm kept the usual crowds away
Joshua Tree National Park
Summit of Warren Peak, Joshua Tree National Park
World Famous Crochet Museum
Fiber is never far from our thoughts (Joshua Tree, CA)

MAY: We stayed in Southern Oregon, catching up on some of the shorter, but interesting, local hikes we hadn’t done yet.

The Big Nasty, Lava Beds National Monument
Actually, it was a pretty nice trail in Lava Beds National Monument
London Peak, Wolf Creek, Oregon
Wolf Creek Valley from London Peak
Geocaching near Vulture Rock, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
Geocaching near Vulture Rock, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

JUNE: Once again, we got almost the whole family together for a week, this time in Taos, New Mexico. Lounging, sightseeing, art appreciation, and some hiking happened.

Taos, New Mexico
John Dunn Bridge over the Rio Grande del Norte near Taos
Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico
Hiking in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

JULY: Our plan to enjoy some local hiking was, for the second year in a row, derailed by choking clouds of smoke from huge wildfires nearby and in Northern California. 😥 We cashed in some hotel coupons to spend a few days hiking in clean air on the Oregon Coast.

Siskiyou Peak, Oregon
Mount Shasta from the summit of Siskiyou Peak (before the smoke struck)
Oregon Coast
On the Beach

AUGUST: This month saw our big trip of the year – rafting the Tahshenshini and Alsek Rivers in the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alaska. This trip graced us with sunshine, heat, fog, glacial chill, rain, wind, and icebergs! We had great guides and a very congenial group of fellow rafters, which made this a wonderful and unforgettable experience! 😀

Rafting the Tahshenshini and Alsek Rivers in the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alaska
Why we raft
Rafting the Tahshenshini and Alsek Rivers in the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alaska
Hiking in view of the Noisy Range, Melt Creek, British Columbia
Rafting the Tahshenshini and Alsek Rivers in the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alaska
Crossing Alsek Lake among the icebergs

SEPTEMBER: We came home from the river only to find wildfires still pouring smoke into the Rogue Valley. We gasped our way through some local hikes and then headed south for hikes in Death Valley and among the Fall color in the Eastern Sierra.

Trinity Alps Wilderness, California
Above Telephone Lake, Trinity Alps Wilderness, California
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley from the Keane Wonder Mine
Mobious Arch, Lone Pine, California
Mount Whitney viewed through the Mobius Arch
John Muir Wilderness
On our way to the Marie Louise Lakes
Lundy Canyon, Hoover Wilderness
Appreciating a giant aspen in Lundy Canyon, Hoover Wilderness

OCTOBER: A little wet weather (too little – we’re still in a drought) rolled through, just enough to cut the smoke from most of the remaining wildfires. So we did a bunch of local hikes that had been preempted by thick smoke during the summer.

Porcupine Mountain, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
Mount McLoughlin from the summit of Porcupine Mountain, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

NOVEMBER: This is usually a time of transitioning weather and quite a bit of rain (and some snow) arrived near the end of the month. But there wasn’t enough snow yet for snowshoeing, so we carried on with more local dirt hikes.

Union Creek, Oregon
Hugging giant old-growth along Union Creek near Crater Lake National Park
Roxy Ann Peak, Medford, Oregon
Medford and the Bear Creek Valley from the summit of Roxy Ann Peak

DECEMBER: A big storm finally arrived, bringing with it enough snow to allow Mount Ashland (our local ski area) to open but not enough for unrestricted snowshoeing. We got in one walk on the snow and some more dirt hikes before 2018 was ushered out by another round of storms.

Mount Isabelle, Oregon
Considering our options near Mount Isabelle, Ruch, Oregon
A walk in the snow near Mount Ashland

Hiking-wise, 2018 saw us doing 115 unique hikes, with 802 trail miles and 156,900 feet of elevation gain. Sounds exhausting! But we’ve already got stuff planned for 2019…

The LovedOne and Mount Shasta
Expect increased vulcanic activity in 2019! ❤ ❤ ❤

Desolation Canyon (Death Valley NP) 26-Sep-2018

Desolation Canyon Death Valley National Park California

After yesterday’s adventure on Mount Perry, we decided that a fun, but shorter, hike was called for. The less than four mile round-trip hike up Desolation Canyon, whose trailhead is just four miles from Furnace Creek, seemed ideal (and it was). This hike reaches into the Black Mountains and features a few narrow sections (but not true “slot” canyon narrow), a touch of scrambling, some colorful rock formations, and ends with a nice view out over Death Valley. We were able to complete it before the air temperature got much above 85º F (29º C) – it would eventually top out at 110º F (43º C). When the weather is cooler, you’re advised to do this hike in the afternoon, when the sun highlights the colorful rock formations. That would have been nice but we were happy to be in the shade for most of the hike.   Continue reading “Desolation Canyon (Death Valley NP) 26-Sep-2018”

Mount Perry (Death Valley NP) 25-Sep-2018

Dantes View Mount Perry Death Valley National Park California

One way to (somewhat) beat the heat during the hot months (April – October) in Death Valley is to go up to one of the higher hikes, like Telescope Peak or Wildrose Peak. Having already hiked those, we cast around for another higher altitude option and came upon Mount Perry (5,716 feet). The well-defined 4.3 mile use trail (it’s actually as good as some built trails) from road’s end at Dantes View to Perry runs down and up and down and up along the crest of the Black Mountains at around 5,000 feet. The first half-mile to Dantes View Peak (5,704 feet) is a popular short hike (seemingly called the Dantes Ridge hike) for those wanting yet more of a view that they get from the observation platform at road’s end. There are spectacular views east and west from all along the trail, and to the north from Perry’s summit. Continue reading “Mount Perry (Death Valley NP) 25-Sep-2018”

Keane Wonder Mine (Death Valley NP) 24-Sep-2018

Keane Wonder Mine Death Valley National Park California

One winter long, long ago, and unbeknownst to either of us, The LovedOne and I camped at Furnace Creek in Death Valley – she with her family, me with a friend. We didn’t discover this coincidence (or was it fate?) until our marriage 20 years later. I wrapped myself – in my cheap, inadequate sleeping bag – around a creosote bush for warmth while she huddled with other family members (and warm dog) in their uninsulated and unheated pop-up camper. So what we remember most about about our separate desert camping experiences was how terrifically COLD it was at night! The next day, my friend and I explored the historic Keane Wonder Mine, one of the very few successful mines in the Valley. I always wanted to take The LovedOne to see it but it had been closed for restoration since 2008. It finally re-opened in late 2017, so we added a few days in Death Valley to our hiking excursion to see Fall colors in the Eastern Sierra. This time around we weren’t plagued by cold – daytime highs were in the triple digits [average temperature was 108º F (42º C)] and it didn’t fall below 70º F (21º C) at night. So we hiked early and sought A/C for the rest of the day.

Continue reading “Keane Wonder Mine (Death Valley NP) 24-Sep-2018”

2017 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

2017 Year in Review
The LovedOne is not keen on having her picture taken. I love taking her picture (and her too). This can create a bit of artistic tension when we’re out adventuring. But I have the camera and I’ve learned how to silence its shutter…

Continue reading “2017 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne”

Lower Monarch Canyon (Death Valley NP) 15-Feb-2017

Death Valley National Park California

Unlike our first three hikes, all of which are located in the Black Mountains south of Furnace Creek, Monarch Canyon is in the Funeral Mountains to the north.  The principal attractions of a hike into its lower canyon is its relative remoteness and the journey it offers through tortured meta-sedimentary rocks and polished mosaics, capped off by small pools at the base of a 110-foot perennial waterfall. These features drew us to lower Monarch as our fourth (and last) hike during our 2017 visit to Death Valley National Park.

There’s no trailhead or trail for this hike; parking for it is simply on the side of the Daylight Pass Road about 0.7 miles south of Hell’s Gate at the 2,000 foot contour. This spot gave us a great view of Corkscrew Peak to the north.

Continue reading “Lower Monarch Canyon (Death Valley NP) 15-Feb-2017”

Golden Canyon (Death Valley NP) 14-Feb-2017

Death Valley National Park California

Per Digonnet’s hiking guide, Golden Canyon is “…one of the most easily accessed and busiest hiking destinations in the park…” (which may explain why it’s never been high on our list of hikes).  But having vowed to hike where we have not hiked before,  we selected the Golden Canyon~Gower Gulch Loop – including tourist-rich Zabriskie Point – as the third hike for our 2017 visit to Death Valley National Park.  Having noticed on our way back from Willow Canyon that the Golden Canyon trailhead parking was overflowing by early afternoon, we resolved to get an early start for this loop.

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Ashford Canyon (Death Valley NP) 13-Feb-2017

Death Valley National Park California

We selected Ashford Canyon as our second hike during our 2017 visit to Death Valley National Park. We were attracted to its offerings of a narrows, climbable falls, extensive beds of polished conglomerate, Archaen metamosphic basement rocks (the oldest rocks in Death Valley), and a well-preserved mining camp high in the more open upper canyon. The dirt access road is a little bumpy and it’s not a real easy hike from the parking area, which may explain why the old mine camp buildings are in as good a shape as they are. Although we were here ahead of the Spring wildflower season (which could be great again this year), we did find an early blooming wildflower high in the canyon!

Continue reading “Ashford Canyon (Death Valley NP) 13-Feb-2017”

Willow Canyon (Death Valley NP) 12-Feb-2017

Death Valley National Park California

As wave after wave of wet storms swept across Southern Oregon, we began to yearn for sunnier climes. Eventually it occurred to us that we hadn’t been back to Death Valley National Park since 2013. As few places say “sunnier” than Death Valley, we made some arrangements, and were soon heading south. As luck would have it, our five days in the Park coincided with a spell of utterly clear, cool, dry weather wedged in between storms (to even out this good karma, we got to drive home in one of the worst rainstorms to hit California in a decade). For this visit, we decided to do hikes we hadn’t done before, rather than reprise old favorites like Darwin Falls.  After pouring through Michel Digonnet’s excellent guide (Hiking Death Valley, Second Edition, 2016), we settled on four hikes, the first of which was to the seasonal waterfall in Willow Canyon.

After a drive down under cloudy skies, we awoke to a day that was – except for some dust kicked-up by strong winds – totally clear. The parking for the Willow and Sidewinder Canyon trailheads is in an old gravel pit just off the paved road 14.6 miles south of Badwater – there’s no sign but the short dirt road to the pit isn’t hard to find. Ours was the only car there when we arrived at 0830, so we decided to hike Willow Canyon first and maybe Sidewinder Canyon after that.  The unsigned use trail to Willow heads northeast out of the pit and swings around a low ridge into the outwash gulch of Willow Creek.

Continue reading “Willow Canyon (Death Valley NP) 12-Feb-2017”

Death Valley Remembered (February 2017)

“…the first impression remains a just one. Despite variety, most of the surface of Death Valley is dead … a land of jagged salt pillars, crackling and tortured crusts of mud, sunburnt gravel bars the color of rust, rocks and boulders of metallic blue naked even of lichen.” ~ Edward Abbey
“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.” ~ Chuck Thompson

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Death Valley Days 11/15-Mar-2013

Death Valley National Park California

Last week was our (almost) annual pilgrimage to Death Valley National Park in California in search of heat and dryness. March in the Valley can be fickle – cold and rainy has happened in past years – but this year didn’t disappoint. Amongst the usual tourist activities (a tour of Scotty’s Castle, a drive through Titus Canyon, and a long, bone jarring drive to the Racetrack), we got in some actual hiking. All of these hikes are at or above 3,000 feet so temperatures ranged comfortably between 50º and 75º F, usually with a mild wind. But full sun and very low humidity (8%) called for lots of sunscreen and water.

Continue reading “Death Valley Days 11/15-Mar-2013”