Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - May 2017

May 18th, 2017
[Pics] [Map]

Once a month a group of us get together and paddle Newport Harbor after work. We launch from the beach next to the Newport Aquatic Center and paddle over to Pizza Nova in the main harbor in a combination of kayaks and SUPs. There we dock our boats, partake in feast of pizza and beer, and then paddling back to the cars. We do this all year round and in pretty much all 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 pizza paddles here. For notifications on when we're doing the next one see our facebook group Pizza Paddle Associates. (Send me a message so I know you're not a spam bot!)

It's prime time for after work paddling right now since we get to launch in the light and it's warm enough even Kristen isn't wearing a jacket. And aside from a malfunctioning kayak everything went great!  

Crag Peaks (SPS & USGS) From Kennedy Meadows Campground PCT

May 13th & 14th, 2017
Crag Peak (9,480')
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

It's May and thanks to the record snow in the Sierra I'm currently stuck with conditions where it's too hot to do much in the desert but the amount of snow in the Sierra makes backpacks a challenge.  So that leaves snow climbs (which are a ton of fun but a different tempo) or heading to the lower elevation areas like Golden Trout.  And with the latter you're still looking at high stream crossings and trailheads which haven't opened yet.

There is a trailhead at Kennedy Meadows I've been wanting to try for a while.  It's where the PCT heads north from from the Kennedy Meadows Campground which is accessible year round.  (The campground itself was shut down a few years ago but reopened by the General Store in Kennedy Meadows and just asks for donations.)  Even more importantly for this time of year the trail has a footbridge to get you across the South Fork of the Kern so you're not limited to one side or the other.

The goal of the weekend was to do a quick two day to go climb Crag peak and possibly look at some other nearby bumps.  Crag is one of those funny peaks where the Crag marked on the USGS map isn't the one that the Sierra Club Sierra Peaks Section has on their list and for good reason.  The northern bump is only a slight bit lower but significantly more interesting than it's governmentally recognized neighbor.

Hiking Cameras: Olympus TG4 vs Sony TX30 Hiking Camera vs Apple iPhone 7+


I'm outdoors a fair amount and I really like to take pictures.  More for the joy of taking them and to help me remember better over time what I've done but nonetheless I like them to look halfway decent even when I take them in slightly challenging conditions.

Scodie Mountain Loop From Walker Pass Campground

April 30th, 2017
Scodie Mountain (7,294')
9.8 miles, 2900' gain
[Pics] [Map]

This was another Sierra Club I provisional for an Orange County Wilderness Travel Course staffer and this time it was Dennis Loya aka Bear from Modjeska Group.  Since it was just a day hike this one didn't count for students needing an experience trip but it was a good chance to get out and hike a pretty area that's only a few hours from LA.  Plus they got to hang out with us!

Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - April 2017

April 27th, 2017
[Pics] [Map]

Once a month a group of us get together and paddle Newport Harbor after work. We launch from the beach next to the Newport Aquatic Center and paddle over to Pizza Nova in the main harbor in a combination of kayaks and SUPs. There we dock our boats, partake in feast of pizza and beer, and then paddling back to the cars. We do this all year round and in pretty much all 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 pizza paddles here. For notifications on when we're doing the next one see our facebook group Pizza Paddle Associates. (Send me a message so I know you're not a spam bot!)

We're back to launching in the daylight which is always nice especially when the occasional man down happens along the way...

Panamint City & Sentinel Peak via Surprise Canyon

April 14th &  15th, 2017
Sentinel Peak (9,634')
[Pics] [Map] [CalTopo]

Panamint City is an old mining ghost town on the western edge of Death Valley accessible only by a fairly rough 7.5 mile hike and fairly well preserved as these things go.  In addition to several mines to explore there are a number of cabins that are maintained by visitors and year round water sources make it an attractive location for a backpack.

It's also possible to do two Desert Peak Section peaks from there which is why I'd come back in 2012 for a three day.  After making the long uninteresting slog down the ridge and back to Porter I always said I wanted to come back but that I'd only do Sentinel.

And as it happened fellow WTC staffer Gracia Plascencia was leading it this year as a combination Sierra Club I provisional and WTC Experience trip over Easter weekend.

Sespe & Willett Hot Springs

April 8th & 9th, 2017
Sespe Hot Springs
16.4 miles, 2000' in
18.2 miles, 2600' out (with a side trip to Willett Hot Springs)
[Pics] [Map] [CalTopo]

After last weekend's snow climb of Mount Silliman I was tempted to head back to the Sierra again and maybe do Alta or something similar.  However a big storm was predicted to hit (unusually big for April) and Jen and I ended up looking local.

Sespe Hot Springs is located in Los Padres and only a few hours from OC.  Just drive up to Ojai and then drive a bit further along the 33.  Of the three trailheads listed by the forest service Piedra Blanca was was 16 miles each direction and followed the Sespe River which sounded like a nice way to spend 2 days.

Mount Silliman In The Snow

April 1st to 3rd, 2017
Mount Silliman (11,188')
[Pics] [Map]

Mount Silliman is one of those peaks that gets done quite a lot by WTC staff.  I did it in 2011 as a two day and again in 2016 as a very nice and relaxed three day but I'd never been out that way in the winter.

It has the advantage of a reasonable approach (we did about 6 miles and 2k gain to camp the first day) and spectacular views from the top.  This trip came about after I happened to see a picture of the area on Facebook right before an open weekend.

Cottonwood Marble Canyon Loop Backpack In Death Valley

March 24th to 26th, 2017
Canyon Point (5,890')
[Pics] [Map] [CalTopo]

Finally it was time for the first WTC Experience Trip of the 2017 season!  The Orange County section of WTC had just finished snow camp two weeks before which meant two of the other areas weren't even done but I was ready to get out of town.

This counted both as one of the two experience trips students need to complete in order to graduate and an provisional trip for Dave Jahng's Sierra Club I rating.  And even better it was something I hadn't done before!

It's also happen to qualify for the 2017 #HikeDeathValley program giving all the points needed for a super swanky free sticker in one trip.  So extra bonus!

And it was a blast!  Three days! 9-13 miles a day!  Water at both the camps!  1 DPS peak!  Rainbows!  Wild horses  Rain!  Hail!  Oh my!

Mount Wilson Loop From Chantry Flats LB WTC Conditioning Hike

February 4th, 2017
Mount Wilson (5,713')
[Pics] [Map]

This was a free weekend for me WTC-wise falling between the conditioning hike and Joshua Tree for Orange County.  Normally I'd run out to the desert and climb something however those plans were killed at the last minute due to the need to stay local and reserve WTC campsites for next year.

Jack Kieffer was nice enough to invite me along to do the conditioning hike with his group so I decided to take the opportunity to see a new trail.