Adventure in Yosemite: 20 Mile El Capitan Hiking Loop via the abandoned Old Big Oak Road

October 16, 2019 - I put together a 20 mile loop that ascends the Yosemite Falls trail, then continues up to the summit of El Capitan.  From there the trail continues West and joins the Old Big Oak Road, long ago decommissioned.

The Old Big Oak Road is a fun adventure to descend.  It has a fair amount of dead-fall trees, washed out sections, and sections overgrown with bramble and trees.  The "road" disappears entirely into a massive landslide region of boulders.

This is a great hike for those wanting to have a solitude experience.  I only encountered three people.   All three showed up at the summit after I arrived, but I had the summit to myself for about 20 minutes. Once I started to descend from the El Cap summit I did not encounter anybody.  And since I hit the valley after dusk, I also did not see anybody on the trails in the valley.

This was a 20 mile hike with over 5200 feet of elevation gain.  I started at about 6:30 in the morning, arrived at the summit at 11:30am.…

Pyramid Peak - Desolation Wilderness - Lake Tahoe - Fun 3rd Class Scramble and Steep Hike

September 24, 2019 - On the second day of my Tahoe trip I did Pyramid Peak.  This peak is pretty impressive at just under 10,000 feet.  It is named, obviously, because it looks like a pyramid and is a major and unmistakable landmark in the Tahoe area.

There isn't much of a trailhead.  Once you park there, which does not resemble a trailhead, but simply shoulder parking, you have to cross the highway and walk about 150 feet to the trail.  You have to pay attention because the trail is barely noticeable and no sign marks the location.

The hike is about 6.25 miles round-trip with a gross elevation gain of almost 4100 feet.

I climbed to the summit in just under three hours, and descended in two and a quarter.   My total round-trip time was about six hours with a 45 minute enjoyment of the summit. 

I also scoped out the route along the ridge heading north to Mt. Agassiz and Mount Price.  I have this fantasy of hiking from Pyramid all the way along the ridge to Tells Peak.

Tahoe's Rubicon Peak: Stunning Views and a Fun, Short, and Easy Class-3 Scramble

I recently drove down to the Lake Tahoe area to do some fun scrambles.  On September 23, 2019 I started this effort with Tahoe's Rubicon Peak.  The peak is 9183 feet high and the views from the summit are stunning. With the immense Lake Tahoe on one side of the ridge and the beauty of the Desolation Wilderness on the other side.

The climb up is only 1.75 miles and about 2300 feet of gain.  The route to the summit is a super simple 3rd class scramble.  Once on the top there is a somewhat exposed ridge to cross, but it is wide enough to provide an easy 100 foot stroll to the actual summit.

When I lived in Seattle I really appreciated having my "outdoor gym" nearby with a lot of great close  "I-90" hikes.  Getting to the summit of Rubicon Peak took about the same physical effort as Tiger Mountain's Nook Trail.  The two exceptions are: 1) the views from Rubicon are a bit more "awesome", and 2) a fun and super-easy 3rd class scramble on the su…

Free Solo Mt. Thielsen

August  30, 2019 - There have been a lot of climbing movies in the past few years: "Free Solo", "The Dawn Wall", "Meru", etc.   

I climbed Mt. Thielsen yesterday, and it was the least difficult scramble I've done recently; although, it looks more difficult than it actually is.  
Since my video clips I made had little drama, I decided to make a climbing movie-trailer parody to make this video more interesting.
Thielsen was fun even though it wasn't very difficult.  It was a beautiful day and being on the top of Mt. Thielson was a good way to spend the day.
I have the utmost respect for Kevin Jorgeson, Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, Stephen Colbert, and the filmmakers.  I enjoy watching climbing films and I want a lot more to be made! 
If you haven't yet seen "The Dawn Wall", "Free Solo", or "Meru", do yourself a favor and watch them.  Incredible films and amazing stories.
Mt. Thielsen:  9184 feet high 9 miles round…

Circumnavigate South Sister - August 23, 2019

So, not only do I climb mountains I also like going around them. I've circumnavigated Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and now South Sister. I have a few more on the list too.

In my effort to go around South Sister, I left the Devil's Lake trailhead at 7:10 in the morning. When I reached the Moraine Lake trail, I turned left to do my circumnavigation clockwise.

I choose the clockwise direction because of no particular reason. I returned to my truck at 7:15 pm. There are established trails around three quarters of the mountain, but on the Northeast side there are no trails.

I like being in the wild, and this section is the real Three Sisters Wilderness. I didn't run into a single person out there. This is a great hike. I did it as a day-hike in about 12 hours as kind of a reconnaissance for a backpacking trip with my wife. We will return again as an backpacking three day hike.

On my return I can summit Middle Sister and I really want to do Th…

Strawberry Mountain

I climbed Strawberry Mountain in the Strawberry Wilderness in Oregon on August 19, 2019.
Strawberry Mountain is 9042 feet high and is 12.6 miles round-trip with a total elevation gain of about 3900 feet.

This is a beautiful hike and scramble climb that takes you past the popular Strawberry Lake. Once you pass the lake the trail gets far fewer hikers. After the lake you will pass Strawberry Falls and the scenery continues to impress.
Eventually you will get to the Strawberry Mountain sign near the summit which will direct you to the right. However, you can just continues straight up the trail and scramble to the top. The scramble route yielded a much more interesting terrain and, in my case, a close encounter with a family a mountain goats.
Once at the top, just descend the "standard" trail down. My time to the summit was almost exactly three hours. I trail ran down most of the trail, and returned to the trail-head in just under two hours.

Borah Peak

On July 30, 2019 I climbed to the top of Borah Peak, or as the locals call it Mt. Borah. Either way, it is a fun 3rd class scramble to the summit of Idaho's tallest Peak. 

After switch-backing my way up a steep climb for about a couple of hours I finally got to "Chicken Out Ridge". This is where the fun starts. There are a lot of 3rd class rock scramble moves to make. Many with some sphincter clenching exposure. 
After getting passed Chicken Out Ridge you cross what is called the snow-bridge. This is a sliver of snow (at this time of year) to cross and it represented the only snow I stepped on for this climb. Once beyond the snow-bridge there is no spooky moves needed to get to the summit of Mt. Borah. 
Mt. Borah Peak: 12,662 feet high 8 miles round-trip 5667 feet of total elevation gain.
I left the trailhead at about 6:00am and was on the summit at 10:45am. I returned to the trailhead at 2:40pm. My total round-trip moving time was almost exactly 8 hours.

North Twin Sister

July 23, 2019 - I have been wanting to do this scramble for a long time. North Twin is a big day with a total of 15 miles and 5500 feet of elevation gain. This is a 3rd/4th class scramble that delivers a lot of climbing fun. 

The approach is a boring logging road and makes up well more than half of the total mileage. I took my mountain bike and rode it/pushed it up to about 1/2 mile short of the West-ridge scramble.
The weather was the big concern for the day. No threat of rain, but I like my summits to have views. Unfortunately today, by the time I got to the summit shortly after Noon, it was completely covered with thick fog. And the fog moved in and covered much of my descent off the ridge to just below the false summit.
Fog notwithstanding it was a fun scramble climb and I highly recommend it, and it delivers hours of 3rd and 4th class moves up and, of course, down.