Mount Lewis via Bloody Canyon WTC Experience Trip

August 17th & 18th, 2019
Mount Lewis (12,320')
Day 1: 3.5 miles, 2,200'
Day 2: 11.1 miles, 3,200'
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

These days I struggle a bit to come up with peak based trips to lead for the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course that are accessible but that I haven't done before. In 2017 I'd lead a climb of the SPS peaks Koip and Kuna from this trailhead and found it to be a nice trip but a bit on the long side for a mixed group. So I'd decided why not revisit the area and climb one of the multiple peaks around Mono Pass.

And so this two day climb of Mount Lewis was born. The peak itself is on the Vagmarken Sierra Crest List if you're into that sort of thing or if you are not peak motivated then it's a relatively lightly used trail that takes you past waterfalls, gives you multiples lakes to pick between for camping, and lets you visit a historic mining site before presenting you with an epic view of June Lakes.

My 100th Dive (aka Naked Dive) At Shaw's Cove

July 30th, 2019

After putting it off for years I completed my scuba open water certification in December of 2018 and have spent the intervening months joyously diving pretty much every chance I get. I hit 25 dives in January, 50 in April, 75 in June, and after the recent Indonesia diving trip I was sitting at 95. Which after the big summer multi-sport road trip became 98. Then it was only logical to do a shore dive the morning I came back into town leaving me at the ever important 100th dive milestone.

In addition to being a nice satisfying number some people will tell you that the 100th dive is supposed to be done naked to celebrate the milestone. This seems to mostly be done in tropical areas and if Instagram is to be believed there seems to be a bit more female divers than males taking part (though that could possibly be due to the fact cold water is a bit more friendly to the female physique vs say your average pudgy white male.)

Several friends who have been diving for years hadn't heard of the whole 100th dive = naked dive thing but there's plenty of validation on the internet and I'm not one to buck a tradition. That is as long as I find it amusing.

And since I wasn't about to stop diving for any length of time until I could make it someplace tropical that left a southern California shore dive. So on a Tuesday morning Jen Blackie and myself headed out to my favorite local spot Shaw's Cove to get things done.

Warm Water Scuba Diving At Homestead Crater Utah

July 10th, 2019
Homestead Crater, Utah

I am fortunate to live in Southern California where I have multiple accessible diving options even if the water can be a bit on the chilly side. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to check out the diving options whenever I'm traveling.

It has been surprising how many different places you can find out and about that offer diving. Lakes, quarries, rivers, aquariums, and every now and then something a bit more unique like Homestead Crater.

Homestead Crater's claim to fame is that it is the only warm water diving destination in the continental US.  It's located near Midway Utah and is found inside a large mineral dome which has a hole up top allowing sunlight to stream down into a 65 ft deep fresh water column. And it's hot, really bloody hot!

Fifth Water Hot Spring Utah

July 10th, 2019
4.5 miles, 1,400'
[Pics] [Caltopo] [Map]

Fifth Water Hot Spring is about 650 miles from home for me but happened to be located reasonably close to our planned route to Yellowstone and near the Homestead Crater dive site we wanted offering the perfect opportunity to check it out.

It's one of those photogenic sites you see online whenever you look up hot springs and it's located close to Provo and is a short enough hike that it's known to be quite popular pretty much all seasons and days of the week.

Playing Tourist On Mount Batur Bali Indonesia

June 29th, 2019
Mount Batur (5,633')
6.2 miles, 2,200'
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

This hike was done during our 11 day dive-centric vacation to Indonesia. While most of the trip was spent on a liveaboard diving our butts off but we did have a day or two on either side to play tourist and since I've done very little international traveling I was eager to get a peak.

Normally I would go for the country or island high point but in Bali that would be Mount Agung which was off limits due to the minor issue that it's been actively erupting since 2017. So we ended up settling for Batur.

This is also one of those areas like Kilimanjaro where you're basically required to have a guide despite the basic nature of the hike. (Read here what someone went through trying to do it solo and you can read reviews on TripAdvisor of people claiming to have been assaulted.)

We didn't care enough to mess with any of that and found a guide outfit that would pick us up at 2 am, get us up the peak, and promised to return us to Denpasar early enough to pick up our dive luggage and catch our boat which was leaving around 1 pm. And they threw in a trip to a local coffee plantation.

And the price for all of this? $55 a person for a total of 1.5 million Rupiah via Bali Trekking Tour. Ouch.

Diving Eureka & Ellen Oil Rigs With The Asante Dive Boat

June 9th, 2019
[Matt's Scuba Map]

I'm now around 16 days into my Summer Hiatus 2019 and so far it's been filled with Sierra trips with occasional excursions back into town for diving related activities like this.

I first heard about the oil rig dives during my initial open water scuba certification. At the time the instructors talked about how amazing the dives were while cautioning how they required a more advanced skillset.  The fact they sat in deep open ocean meant you don't have an achievable bottom to bounce off of if you're struggling with your buoyancy and you have to watch that currents don't blow you off the rig.

Now some 6 months, a few more classes, and 70 -ish dives later we'd finally booked a trip out to see them ourselves!

Diving Anacapa With The Raptor Dive Boat

June 8th, 2019
[Matt's Scuba Map]

As of Friday Jen was officially done with school and joining me full time (-ish) on the Summer Hiatus 2019 adventure.

Originally the Jerky Meadows trip was supposed to last until Saturday at which point I was returning to OC for the highly anticipated oil rig dive with the Asante dive boat on Sunday.  Conditions and circumstances on the Jerky Meadows area trip caused me to come out early leaving me a few days at home to recovery and catch up on a few things I've been neglecting.

That of course didn't last long and Saturday found Jen and I waking up at 3:30 am and making a pre dawn two hour drive out to Ventura while Jen lamented how I didn't know how to relax.

(For the record I'd like to state I know *how* to relax, I'm just slightly allergic to it)

Seven Days In The Southern Sierra Out Of Kennedy Meadows

May 25th to 31st, 2019
Saddlehorn Peak (7,408')
Finger Rock (Attempt) (9,220')
Peak 9156 (9,156')
Day 1: 10 miles, 3,000'
Day 2: 10.7 miles, 2,700'
Day 3: 12.5 miles, 1,200'
Day 4: 6 miles, 750'
Day 5: 11.5 miles, 2,000'
Day 6: 18 miles, 3,000'
Day 7: 8.7 miles, 450'
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map] 

Each year I take advantage of the long holiday weekend around Memorial Day to get out and do an early season backpack with the goal of getting back in "backpacking shape" for the summer trip season.

In the past these trips were 4 or 5 day buttkickers (for write ups on many of these trips you can browse the tag Memorial Day Massacre) but the last few years I've had to hold them to 3 days thanks to Jen's sadly draconian teacher employment contract which doesn't allow for floating vacation days.

This year thanks to the whole quitting my job and adventuring for the summer situation (more on that here) I wasn't about to limit myself to just three days so I decided I'd just stay out after Jen had to return to gainful employment making for a nice long seven days total with the plan of revisiting some seldom visited terrain in the Southern Sierra. And because it's still early in the season in what's been an interesting year so far I hit everything from sun to wind to rain to hail to full on snow.

Site Update & Matt's Slightly Early Midlife Crisis 2019 Edition

You might have noticed a slight lag in site updates lately.  This happens periodically as I get busy but this time there is something bigger going on.

The last year+ has been a real struggle.  Between a long term relationship ending, multiple acquaintances passing away unexpectedly, seemingly countless friends going through major upheavals, and to cap it all off at work (yes I do work) the previous owners of the company I've been at for the last 5 ish years committed major fraud and stole several years worth of payroll taxes (among other things) and seriously imperilled the stability of my position moving forward.

As a result I've been fighting all around burnout for some time.  Shorter breaks haven't helped and it's been getting to the point where it has started to affect my ability to get joy even out of my volunteer outdoor activities which have been my major passion for the last decade.

So with Jen's unwavering encouragement I decided it was time for something drastic.

The Last Pre-Summer Adventure After Work Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle

May 23rd, 2019
[Pics] [Map]

Once a month -ish a group of us get together and paddle around Newport Harbor after work. We launch from the public beach next to the Newport Aquatic Center in a combination of kayaks and SUPs and paddle out into the main harbor where we find a restaurant that either has its own dock or is near a public one.  Others will meet us there and we enjoy food, beer, and socializing before paddling back to the cars in the dark. We've been doing this for years all times of the year and in pretty much any conditions. Light, dark, rain, and the dead of SoCal winter where you're tempted to put a sweater on with your flip flops.

You can find writeups of other paddles here.

This particular paddle was a big one since we had a new restaurant to try.  And Jack Kieffer was going to be away for the next 2.5 months traveling across the country.  And on my end there was the minor detail that the next day was my last day at work for at least the next 4 -ish months meaning the paddles were likely going to be a bit irregular for a while.  And we had another person dunk into the water.  Eventful!