2015 Newport Harbor Christmas Light Parade Slightly Soggy Edition

Each year Newport throws a Christmas Light Boat Parade for a few nights around the holidays.  Boats get decked out with lights and decorations and cruise around the harbor while the unwashed and slightly tipsy holiday masses watch from the shore.

I'd seen before but the crowds and general pain getting in and out of the area meant I usually either went towards the end or would do something different like the year I joined a bicycle tour of the parade.  Then last year we'd been paddling out in the harbor after work and I had the brilliant idea of going out to see the parade from our kayaks.  

We all had a blast and found it far less terrifying than we'd imagined to paddle along with the parade so we promptly made plans to do it again this year.

This year we tried to make it so even more people could come switching it to a Saturday and advertising it far in advance.  But after my knee surgery put my own attendance in jeopardy and a storm came in we ended up with 5 hearty souls unloading boats after dark in the rain...

Knee Surgery 2015: Post Op Weeks 5 & 6

This is part of a series of entries covering my fall back in 2011, surgery in 2015, and my recovery immediately afterwards. If you came here directly the rest of the entries can be found here.

The 6 week post op visit was another milestone with the doctor clearing me to finally start bending past 90 degrees (which is a bigger deal than you'd think if you haven't had this sort of surgery...)

El Dorado Hot Springs Sunset Pool In Tonopah Arizona

I've been going slightly stir crazy after my recent knee surgery and the fact I can't hike or do any other sort of outdoor activity has greatly altered how I spend the average weekend.

Hot springs I can still do and we know a few that offer overnight accommodations.  El Dorado is one of our favorite though it's a big of a drive being located in Tonopah Az.

This time we reserved the Sunset Pool since we've only ever stayed at the Desert View Pool.

Knee Surgery 2015: Surgery And The First Five Days

This is part of a series of entries covering my fall back in 2011, surgery in 2015, and my recovery immediately afterwards.  If you came here directly the rest of the entries can be found here.

Below covers the day of the surgery and the first five days of recovery.

Benton Hot Springs - Halloween Weekend In Conway House

This was a part of Matt's Right Kneecap Farewell Tour in the weekends leading up to Knee Surgery 2015.  I was going to be laid up for months so I was desperate to get out even if the swelling meant I couldn't hike.

Benton Hot Springs is located near the Eastern Sierra and offers overnight camping spots.  They also offer cabins but we'd reserved pool #5 since it was advertised as private and only #5.

Due to a mix up on their end we ended up getting the much nicer Conway House for the same price.

Knee Surgery 2015: Injury, Pre-Surgery Decisions, Prep

This is the first in a series of entries I'm planning to write about my experience (hopefully) recovering from a knee injury I sustained back in 2011.  Since I'm going to be recovering from surgery any new trip reports will just be from the backlog I haven't had time to finish (of which there are unfortunately a large number)

Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - October 2015 Pre-Surgery Paddle

October 28th, 2015
[Pics] [Map]

About once a month a group of us get together and paddle Newport Harbor after work.  We launch from the beach at the Newport Aquatic Center and paddle over to Pizza Nova in the main harbor where we dock our boats, partake in pizza and beer, and then paddling back to the cars.  We do this all year round and in pretty much all conditions.  You can find writeups of other pizza paddles here.

This was to be the last pizza paddle for the immediate future due to an impending knee surgery.  I was a fun one though with several friends joining us for the first time.

Advanced Mountaineering Program (AMP12) - Fall 2015

The Sierra Club Advanced Mountaineering Program or AMP was started in 2009 by Dan Richter and Pat McKusky to teach basic and advanced mountaineering skills with the goal of promoting safe climbing and train a new generation of club leadership.  While it's primarily targeted to WTC graduates and Sierra Club leaders anyone is welcome.  It's run twice a year in the spring and fall and staffed by an array of hard working volunteers.

This post covers the Fall 2015 AMP class.  More posts about AMP can be found here.  More information on AMP and instructions on how to sign up can be found here.

Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course (WTC) 2015 - Kaweah Group In Orange County

Past the break is a very long quasi chronological sequence of photos following the 2015 Wilderness Travel Course in Orange County with most being specific to Kaweah Group led by myself and Paul Warren along with a staff of extremely hard working volunteers.

For more information on what WTC is and how to take the course see the official site here.  More posts by me can be found here.

This was the 4th year since we split off from the Modjeska Group and formed Kaweah.  This also had the distinction of being the worst year for snow at snow camp since I took the course back in 2008.  This year for the first time most people were camped on dirt instead of snow.  Despite this we managed a good snowshoe race, took advantage of the easy travel to back a mini peak on the second day, and all around had a lot of fun with a lot of great people.

This was also the second and final year we would hold Orange County at the Santiago Canyon College before moving to the Murray Center in 2016.

Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - September 2015

September 23rd, 2015
[Pics] [Map]

About once a month a group of us get together and paddle Newport Harbor after work. We launch from the beach at the Newport Aquatic Center and paddle over to Pizza Nova in the main harbor where we dock our boats, partake in pizza and beer, and then paddling back to the cars. We do this all year round and in pretty much all conditions. You can find writeups of other pizza paddles here.

This was the first time our friend Jia-Meng was able to join us from all the way up in LA.

August Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle

August 27th, 2015
[Pics] [Map]

Our monthly after work pizza and beer paddle in Newport Harbor.  Which this month just so happened to fall on an unusually strong tide.  Oops...

Circuitousness On Cirque Peak WTC Experience Trip

August 15th & 16th, 2015
Cirque Peak (12,900')

This trip was primarily aimed at WTC students who need two trips to complete all the requirements of the course and be eligible for graduation in October.  I usually do a few more of these but it's been a rough summer climbing schedule wise between unsettled weather in late Spring and knee issues towards the end of the summer.

As a result this ended up being the last Sierra Trip of the summer for me after having to cancel Star King, Florence N, and a long haul desert trip over Labor Day.

For this trip Kristen and I picked Cirque because the drive to Horseshoe Meadow is on the short side (it's 25 miles above Lone Pine) and the stats are pretty reasonable letting us plan for a large 15 person group.

As the weekend approached the bigger concern became smoke from the still burning Rough Fire.  After we'd seen it on the Harrington trip it had continued to grow and depending on the day was making the east side extremely unpleasant.  For the moment the worst of it seemed to be to the north so off we went...

Mount Harrington via Lewis Creek & Deer Cove

August 7th to 9th, 2014
Mount Harrington (11,009')
[Pics] [Map]

This was originally going to be Jen Blackie's Sierra Club M-Rock Provisional but a bureaucratic hiccup didn't get resolved in time and so we ended up just doing it privately at the last minute.

We planned for three days since there's a fair amount of gain and the area was reportedly very pretty.  Day 1 we'd hike in and camp at Frypan, day 2 do Harrington, and then day 3 do Kennedy and hike out.

Even with the smoke and other minor issues this was one of the most memorable trips of the summer due to a spectacular camp, distinctive peak, and a great post trip river bath.

Tower Peak, Ehrnbeck Peak, & Hawksbeak Peak Via Buckeye Canyon to Rainbow Canyon

July 24th to 26th, 2015
Tower Peak (11,755')
Hawksbeak Peak (11,134')
Ehrnbeck Peak (11,240')
[Pics] [Map]

This was an official trip led through Sierra Club by Neal Robbins and myself.

The general idea was to look for an interesting 3rd class peak and to do it in as interesting a way as we could manage.  We decided on Tower Peak, notable for being remote and seldom climbed, then Neal came up with a plan that involved coming in via Buckeye Canyon and grabbing two bonus peaks from the Vagmarken Sierra Crest List.  Additionally the second day we'd attempt to get both Tower and Ehrnbeck by traversing the ridge between them.

University Peak Up North Face and Down Kearsarge Lakes

July 11th & 12th, 2015
University Peak (13,589')
[Pics] [Map]

This was Jeff's Atijera's 3rd attempt at an M-Rock provisional after the first two (Senger & Hooper and Dragon, Kearsarge, & Gould) had both failed to gain the required Sierra Club approvals and ended up happening as very successful private trips.

This time the plan was to do University Peak out of Onion Valley backpacking in to Matlock Lake and then climbing University from Bench Lake / north face route.

Stats were on the very low end and the weather was forecast as 70 degrees and sunny.  All expecting a nice relaxing afternoon swimming and playing Cards Against Humanity.  The second day we'd start early, get back to camp at a reasonable time, and be out to the cars hours before sunset.

That was the plan anyway...

Mount Ruskin via the East Ridge and Pulmonary Edema Round Two

July 2nd to 6th 4th, 2015
Mount Ruskin (12,920')
[Pics] [Map]

The 4th of July is one of those work holidays perfectly positioned during Sierra climbing season.  I always try to take a few extra days off and go run amok in the high country somewhere and this year was no exception.

This time the trip was over Taboos Pass which is an eastern Sierra trailhead that's somewhat notorious due to the fact you climb about 6000 ft in roughly 5 miles.  Efficient!  But once you make it up that it's a spectacular area and there's a number of really awesome peaks.  This time we were aiming for Ruskin and Arrow along with whatever else we could manage.

But before you think it all sounds too idyllic I should say this was the second trip this year planned as a 5 day where things happened and we had to come out early.  And this time the cause was a second round of high altitude pulmonary edema aka HAPE.

Twin Peaks & Virginia Peak via Green Creek

June 19th to 21st, 2015
Twin Peaks (12,323')
Virginia Peak (12,001')
[Pics] [Map]

Twin and Virginia are two peaks accessible from the eastern side of the Sierra near Bridgeport

The planned outing to Tehepite and Spanish two weeks before had been canceled (again) due to weather and I was itching to get back up to altitude.

This had originally started as an official Sierra Club I rated trip Jen and I were planning to lead before we realized that keeping it 2nd class meant we had to drop down 1500 ft from one peak and them climb back up the other.  Then it morphed into a Sierra Club M trip led by Laurent and I which could do the 3rd class ridge traverse only to have that fall through.  And I just wanted to bloody get out and climb so the three of us decided to do it privately.

And at long last it looked like the weather was going to cooperate. So far this spring it seemed like storms kept hitting every weekend but this time beyond a little wind it was supposed to be clear and relatively warm!

Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - June 2015

June 10, 2015
[Pics] [Map]

About once a month a group of us get together and paddle Newport Harbor after work. We launch from the beach at the Newport Aquatic Center and paddle over to Pizza Nova in the main harbor where we dock our boats, partake in pizza and beer, and then paddling back to the cars. We do this all year round and in pretty much all conditions. You can find writeups of other pizza paddles here.

2015 Memorial Day Massacre: Kibbie Ridge Granite Waterslide Edition

May 21st to 25th 23rd, 2015
Kibbie Ridge
[Pics] [Map]

Memorial Day has become a tradition for me ever since a trip gone slightly wrong back in 2010.  It's a long weekend which happens at an annoying time of year where you can get into the Sierra but there's a good chance you'll face weather and less than ideal conditions.

Back in 2010 I planned a trip to Walker Pass to clean out a bunch of SPS/HPS peaks along the PCT.  What was intended to be a fairly approachable trip ended up being a bit harder due to heat, route finding on the infamous Spanish Needle, and a dried up water source.  Some extra miles and one dry camp later only Jen and I did the last few peaks while the rest of the group headed straight for the cars.  It was retroactively branded the Memorial Day Massacre.

When the following year came around we decided to do another butt kicker cleanout and despite some memorable weather events it's stuck around.

A brief summary of the Massacres so far
2010 Walker Pass - The trip that inspired the name.  Went at Chimney Creek to get a number of peaks and hike south to Walker Pass.  Only Jen and I completed all the peaks.
2011 Williamson Cleanout - Well, planned to be a Williamson are cleanout.  Went in on a bad forecast which proceeded to get worse.  Retreated from Shepherd Pass due to 100 mph winds to set up near Anvil only to have our tent ripped open by gusts.  Spent the night in a bush getting snowed on.  No peaks.
2012 Golden Trout - Some weather but highly successful.  Lots of miles & peaks.  Started with 3 and ended with 2.
2013 Courtright - Spectacular weather, lots of peaks, lots of miles.  And a kilt!
2014 Skip Year - Didn't happen due to the job switch and Boise move

Which brings us to 2015. Work has settled down and I was itching to get back into the Sierra after a fun desert trip season. After looking into a number options we settled on a loop out Cherry Lake on the west side just south of Sonora Pass. None of us had been in this particular area so we were all looking forward to seeing some new trails.

Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - May Bonus Edition With Added Rain

This is another of the semi monthly weeknight Newport Harbor Pizza Paddles.

As the day approached the weather looked...interesting.  We'd had a few sprinkles while out on the harbor before but here it was looking like sustained rain and wind.  Fun!

Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - April 2015

April 30, 2015
[Pics] [Map]

About once a month a group of us get together and paddle Newport Harbor after work. We launch from the beach at the Newport Aquatic Center and paddle over to Pizza Nova in the main harbor where we dock our boats, partake in pizza and beer, and then paddling back to the cars. We do this all year round and in pretty much all conditions. You can find writeups of other pizza paddles here.

Advanced Mountaineering Program (AMP11) - Class 2 Belay Skills

April 25th, 2015

After the last few weekends in the Sierra and desert I'll now be local for a few weeks helping out with the Spring Sierra Club Advanced Mountaineering Program.

For more about what AMP is see here.

This is the second of four classes and the first one held outdoors.  Topics included belaying, basic climbing skills and signals, hip belays, anchored munter belays and munter mule tieoffs, fixed lines, and telepherique.

Advanced Mountaineering Program (AMP11) - Class 1 Basic Safety Systems

April 22nd, 2015

The first class is held indoors Wednesday night after work.  Unfortunately for those of us down in Orange County it's a bit of a drive but it only happens twice a year.

For more about what AMP is see here.

Mammoth Area Hot Springs - Crab Cooker (Is Too Damn Hot)

April 12th, 2015

This was a quick stop at the tail end of a weekend spent climbing DPS peaks Dubois and Glass Mountain.  We'd really been looking forward to a hot soak after a long chilly weekend.

We stopped at Benton Hot Spring only to be told they were full up and that they were so busy that hourly soaks were hardly ever done.  We had a positive enough impression of the place we'll probably come back some other time with a reservation and stay the night.

The idea of a hot soak was appealing enough we went out the long way to visit the mammoth area hot springs near the 395.

Mount Glass DPS From The East

April 12th, 2015
[Pics] [Map]

Saturdays climb of Mount Dubois had been a little rough.

We'd planned to climb O'Harrel Canyon on a friends recommendation but instead settled for the DPS route which promised to be a bit shorter and put us in a position to possibly hit one of the hot springs in the are once we were done.

Unfortunately we picked the side of the mountain with an obnoxious amount of snow.

Mount Dubois DPS From The East

April 18th, 2015
[Pics] [Map]

This was our second time trying this peak.

We originally tried this plan a few weeks before only to have the whole weekend go slightly askew.  The Hot Well where we bivy'd was heavily occupied and disappointing, we had issues finding the right road into Dubois (hint, if there's a house/shack that appears to be reinforced with hay bales that's both not the right way to go and the shirtless tattoo'd owner really doesn't appreciate you being back there), and then we slashed a tire so bad we ended up stuck two miles below the actual trailhead.  We went for it anyway despite being slightly less than confident we could make it back to the pavement without popping another admittedly bald looking tire.  And then when we'd reached 10k we realized between the three of us we'd managed not to bring near enough food for the hike ahead.


South Fork (of the Kaweah River) Trail, Garfield Sequoia Grove, and A Snowy Camp

April 11th & 12th, 2015
[Pics] [GPS]

This was another precious open weekend between the end of WTC and the start of the Spring AMP course and I was itching to get out to the Sierra.  (Also the 2015 Memorial Day Massacre is coming quickly!)

Last weekends 3 day trip to Domelands had been fun but it's a fairly arid area particularly this year.  So this weekend we looked at the westside.

The nominal goal of this weekend was to grab Quinn Mountain from the South Fork of the Kaweah River trailhead.

Early Season Windswept Domelands Trek

April 4th & 5th, 2015
[Pics] [GPS]

We have a grand plan in the works for this years Memorial Day Massacre and so that calls for some warm-up trips.

Normally I'd be hoping for some snow climbs this time of year but the record breaking sad state of the snow pack and reports of people bailing off rotten snow higher up made me look further south.  Unfortunately the lack of open roads leading to the trailheads this time of year means you have to get a bit creative (or head over Olancha / Haiwee Pass yet again)

We originally eyed doing a trek through Golden Trout heading up the Kern river covering the area between Junction Meadow and Hockett but we couldn't make the mileage work for the three days we had available.

Instead we looked a bit further south to Domelands.  There are 3 SPS peaks down there all of which I've done before but it's a neat under appreciated area if slightly hard to access early season due to Cherry Hill Road not being cleared.  You can access it from the north via Kennedy Meadows or the east from the Chimney Creek Road area but the later requires crossing the Kern.  When I did that a few years back to get Rockhouse it made for quite the adventurous swim.

This time we came in from Kennedy Meadows on the Mahogany Creek Trail planning to do a big loop. So we were going to do some decent mileage getting into the meadows but on the plus side we weren't going to have to deal with the crowds of hunters that had made the trip to get Taylor & Siretta somewhat nerve-wracking.

After Work Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle

[Pictures] [Map]

Last year Kristen and I bought an inflatable tandem kayak and started paddling around Newport Harbor some evenings after work.  We found it's ideal since the water is usually smooth, boat traffic is limited, and there's plenty of light from the shore to be able to see.  Soon we were going enough that we upgraded to sea kayaks along with Jen.

We'd been going semi regularly until WTC hit in January and things got busy.  With class ending last week we've all been excited to get back on the water.

We kept the inflatables as loaner boats and after sending out invites and this time we ended up with 14 people in for a Pizza Paddle.

Fish Lake Valley Hot Well

[Pictures] [Map]

Updated:  We went back a second time when retrying Dubois and I've since updated this

Fish Lake Valley Hot Well is a easily accessible hot spring located near the eastern trailhead for the DPS Peak Mount Dubois.

McCoy Mountain (4th Annual Mustache Mosey Day 2)

April 18th, 2015
McCoy Mountain (2,828')
[Pics] [GPS]

Yesterday's climb of Big Maria HP and the subsequent festivities had left us possibly a bit hung over and certainly low on sleep.  Still, we had a plan and another peak in our sights so with the exception of a few friends with other plans most of us saddled up and headed west along the 10.

I picked McCoy Mountain pretty much at random looking at interesting ranges in the area that I haven't been up yet.

I couldn't find any beta on routes so I picked a few likely looking routes and figured we'd play it by ear.

4th Annual Mustache Mosey - Big Maria DPS

April 17th, 2015
Big Maria Mountains High Point (3,381')
[Pics] [GPS]

The Mustache Mosey (aka The Premier Upper Lip Hair Based Desert Social Event Of The Season) has now become an annual tradition.  Two days, two peaks, one big party, and the most ridiculous fake mustaches that can be managed.

The first took place in Death Valley climbing Manley and Needle and is still legendary for the number of popped tires.

The second went a bit smoother and we climbed Spirit & McCullough with a huge group.

The third year we did Vigin our near Mesquite in Nevada and attempted Bangs only to pop two tires on one of the vehicles on approach requiring a run into town before we could limp out.

 For the fourth we wanted something within a 4 or 5 hour drive that preferably wouldn't cause too much tire damage.  After much research Jack and I settled on Big Maria Mountains High Point and McCoy Mountain.  The former is a Desert Peaks Section list part of the dwindling number I haven't done yet while the second was an unknown that just looked interesting.

El Dorado Hot Springs In Tonopah Arizona - Desert View Pool

El Dorado Hot Springs is an extremely laid back private hot spring located a short distance outside of Phoenix.

It a bit of a haul from Orange County but makes for a convenient stop for any trip out past Phoenix.  It's located in Tonopah AZ (not to be confused with Tonopah NV with the awesome clown motel.)

I've been here a few times first visiting for a quick hour long soak on the way back from the New Years 2015 trip and later coming back for an overnight stay in October of 2015 right before I had knee surgery.

I've also stayed overnight at the Sunset Pool but for my money it's hard to beat Desert View.

Cave of The Bells: The Trip When No One Was Bitten By A Skunk

January 2nd & 3rd, 2015
Cave of the Bells
[Pics] [Map]

This was part of the annual New Years trip for 2015.  This year it was a long haul out to Tucson with the main goal of finally getting to explore Cave of the Bells after missing out the previous year.

New Years 2015
Jen and I had tried to do this cave before.  Back in December of 2013 Cave of the Bells was planned as our last activity of a multi-cave multi-peak extravaganza.  We jumped through all the hoops, had our permit and the gate key, and spent the night camped out front only to have a freak occurrence hit when Jeff was bitten in the face by a skunk while sleeping out on the ground.

Muggins Peak Near Yuma Arizona

January 1st, 2015
Muggins Peak (1,424')
[Pics] [Map]

This was part of the annual New Years trip for 2015. This year it was a long haul out to Tucson with the main goal of finally getting to explore Cave of the Bells after missing out the previous year.

New Years 2015
Muggins isn't on any list I'm aware of it just popped out to us when we were looking for something to climb in the area.  The DPS peak Little Picacho is in this area and I've always liked the rock.

Muggins, in addition to just looking cool, promised some 3rd class rock and wasn't incredibly long which was a plus since we'd be driving to Tucson (-ish) afterwards.