Category Archives: National Parks

Avenue of the Giants

If it takes 50 cents for a 2 minute shower, + 25 cents = 3 minute shower and 4 quarters = 4 minute shower but it probably takes 20 seconds for the shower to warm up, how many quarters would you use? Also, if time runs out after 50 cents you must begin again, rather than adding 25 cents. The maximum limit is 3.00 minutes/$12.00.

I haven’t had to think about conservation of water in this way in some time but this Memorial Day weekend I am camping among the Redwoods. They are my favorite trees and I wanted to see them before I leave California.

We drove north of San Francisco, about 200+ miles along the Avenue of the Giants/Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world. Most of these coastal redwoods have not been ruined by logging.  It has been the only park I have visited where hammocks are prohibited.
Saturday, we visited Founders Grove, where lies the third largest tree in the park. The Dyerville Giant (375 ft. Fallen tree height, 52 ft. wide).

Sunday, we walked among the Rockefellar Loop (old growth) and Drury-Chaney trail (lots of ferns). Then drove north another 3+ hours continuing on 101 to the Redwood National and State Parks. “Redwood National and State Parks are designated as a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve, is home of the world’s tallest trees. Redwood trees can exceed heights of 370 feet tall, standing taller than the Statue of Liberty.”
At this park we visited Lady Bird Johnson grove (which was filled with fog this afternoon, dedicated in 1968), we drove Newton B. Drury scenic parkway (10 miles), stopped at Klamath River overlook and camped at Mill Creek. Mill Creek isn’t my first choice campground as it was far but Elk Prarie Creek campground is on Gold Bluffs Beach without any cover and exposed.

Monday, we drove to Fern Canyon which required going down a dirt road for 8 miles, then driving over rocks and crossing what I called, “a big little river”. We hiked Fern Canyon to Friendship Ridge Trail (north) to West Ridge trail (northwest) to Coastal Trail (south) back to the parking lot. It was a 7 mile hike but felt more like 9 miles because it involved at least 12 stream crossings with logs or rocks, jumping over and crawling under 10+ downed trees, hiking through thick mud (the kind where your feet sink in), battling mosquitoes and general all around fun. It was like an amazing obstacle course that took 6ish hours with snacks and lunch stop. My friend Cheryl would just look at me when I would say things like, jump over the log, and put your feet here and don’t fall in.
We saw open prairie meadows, two waterfalls and seven different kinds of fern resembling a hanging garden, and redwoods. After our hike we ran our feet in the sand and dipped our feet in the cold Pacific Ocean at the Gold Bluffs beach picnic area. To top off the day we saw elk on the drive out at Elk Meadow. Now I am listening to the sound of rain hitting our tent, waiting for the morning to drive home. It’s been a good weekend, I will miss the fog, the Pacific Ocean and my favorite redwood trees.

My friend, Don R.

I received an email from my friend, Don, (who said it was ok to share).  He is fighting a battle against cancer.  Don and I know each other from my former life in publishing, but we started to communicate more frequently when I began my life after publishing.  Don is one of my biggest supporters, always cheering me on from a far.

Don, I know you read my blog, so I want you to know, I am cheering for you, sending you strength and love to both you and June.  I am sending something in the mail soon, be on the look out in the upcoming weeks.

Below is a photo of us (Don, on the far right).  When I biked across the U.S. the first time, he drove 2+ hours from Cincinnati, Ohio, (also picking up another publishing friend, Carl L. along the way), to visit me as we biked through Kentucky.  Kentucky was the closest point to Ohio on our route.  Lisa B. (another publishing friend) was kind of enough to host us for dinner, shelter my team, and open her home to the team the next year. I vaguely remember she kicked out her kids for the night (they slept over at friends’ homes) so a few teammates and I could have a warm home and beds for the night.  I also remember Lisa, helped me with some mail (receiving and shipping) on my behalf.

In the photo, I am wearing a t-shirt from WCU (West Chester University) given to me from the bookstore manager from one of the schools I covered as a sales rep to remember them by, before I left for my bike trip.  This photo was a lovely summer night and it reminds me of the gratitude I have for everyone who has supported me and continues to support me through all my adventures.  Don, I hope you know how grateful I am for your support and friendship.  Your most recent Christmas card sat on my desk for these many months, until just recently when I sold the desk to prepare for my move to North Carolina.

The other photo is of Lisa B. who woke up early the next morning and cheered us on as we biked by her on route to our next destination.


Winter camping

I think winter might be my favorite season, especially when you can visit it. Photos from this weekend, last guided snowshoe trip of the season.  

My home for the night. I dug a trench around it because it’s nice when putting on snow boots to have your legs dangle over the side.  

Neighbors campsite: snowman as big as me. Another looked like they were making a igloo, but probably got tired and just made a fort.  

View: El Captain, Half Dome, Yosemite valley.

Clients around the kitchen and table we dug out.  

Leave no trace

Me jumping at Dewey Point, Yosemite National Park and the lemmings I guided there.

I taught people how to snowshoe for the first time and poop in the backcountry.

Backcountry bathroom basics: leave no trace.  Pack out what you pack in, including your waste.  You want to leave everything cleaner than you found it and lower your impact on the land.  You poop in a WAG bags, which contains something like cat litter, then you fold it up and put it in a zip lock bag.  You pack out toilet paper too.  Peeing you walk 100 steps from a trail or water source and cover up with pine needles or snow.


To Denver

It is 4:30 am and I am at my gate and they are already boarding Group 3. I was at the airport last Monday but picking up my rental car to spend the week camping with friends in the desert. This morning, I am headed to Denver to spend the week with my college roommate. At the car rental return, our total mileage was 1702, not too bad for a week’s worth of fun.
Photos of the group on the top of Ryan’s peak, the last day in front of Artist’s Drive, and our car rental – a Dodge Journey.

Mosaic Canyon

Camp hosts are required to have their own RV. Their term of duty is from Jan-April and are reimbursed for propane. They work 4 days on, 3 days off. Also an annual all national parks pass is $80. I don’t know why I never looked into buying one before, for some reason I thought they were expensive.
We booked two more nights at the Furnace Creek campground, because the other campgrounds around the park are very far. When we told the camp ranger we were looking to stay 2 nights, she said, at this exact moment, someone vacated site 122, they were paid up through 1/2 but left earlier. I wondered if maybe they were a couple and got into a fight and had to leave their campsite early. There loss is our gain. But it made me wonder what could cause a change in plans and make someone leave early.
After camp was all settled we drove to Mosaic Canyon which was a narrow canyon, some scrambling with beautifully polished marble walls. The map reads: “approximately 1.3 mi (2km) into the canyon, a seemingly impassable boulder jam marks the end of the hike for many visitors. Adventurous hikers may choose to crawl between the boulders on the left (east) side of the jam in order to gain access to the hidden bypass route and the second set of uniquely carved narrows.” I happen to love adventure.
After the canyon, we visited the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, where I wished for a sled. I would have loved to slide down the sand dunes. The interpretive guide said that every grain of sand holds tightly the moisture for any rainfall, allowing bugs and plants to live beneath the sand.
Onward to the Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation in North America, 282 ft below sea level. I loved that as we walked out into the basin, the salt flats looked like dirty NYC snow, you know the brown grainy type. Then as we continued to walk another mile out, the snow transformed into beautiful white hexagons.