2016 Newport Harbor Christmas Light Parade Paddle

December 18th, 2016

The Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade is a Newport Beach tradition that runs for 5 days every December.  Boats decked out in lights and cruise the harbor while people watch from the shore or other boats.

I used to watch from the shore which has the advantage of letting you roam around and see all the houses many of which are decorated to excessive amounts as part of neighborhood competitions.  Then a few years ago we start paddling in Newport Harbor after work.  This became the monthly Pizza Paddle and when December rolled around we decided why not paddle out and watch the parade from the water.

The first year we tried to go Wednesday (the first night) and ended up delaying it until Thursday due to rain.  We had fun and didn't get run over by yachts.

Last year we planned Saturday (giving friends from others areas the chance to join us)  Rain was forecast and we went anyway.  Despite a rough launch and getting out there a bit too early we had fun.

This year we decided to try Sunday the final night of the parade.  And for once there was no rain forecast!

Palo Verde Peak In Palo Verde Mountains Wilderness

December 12, 2016
Palo Verde Peak (1,375')
[Pics] [Map]

We already hit our main objective for the area yesterday when we did Thumb Peak and Paint Mountain / Wiley BM.  Looking around for other interesting peaks in the area Palo Verde Peak stood out as being more prominent than most of the bumps out there.  And as it turned out it's a pretty interesting peak.

Paint Mountain BM, Wiley BM, and Thumb Peak In Palo Verde Mountains Wilderness

December 10th, 2016
Paint Mountain Benchmark (1,328')
Thumb Peak (1,375')
[PicsPaint] [MapPaint] 
[PicsThumb] [MapThumb]

The original plan for this weekend was to lead a trip to climb Little Picacho with a group of AMP staff and students.  A rash of work and illness related cancellations caused me to reschedule that trip and Kristen and I ended up doing some peaks south of Blythe.

That meant the drive was downright reasonable and we were laid out along the side of Wiley's Well Road a bit after midnight.

Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - December 2016

December 6th, 2016
[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 dark after work now and december is always hectic for everyone even without the rash of illnesses that seem to be going around so it wasn't a huge shock when we ended up with a small group meeting for the last Pizza Paddle of 2016.

Glow In The Dark Desert Peak Section List Finish #1 On Nelson Range HP (Try #2)

December 3rd, 2016
Nelson Range High Point (7,696')
[Pics] [MapwDrive] [MapCloseup]

This was the final peak I needed of the 99 that make up the Sierra Club Desert Peak Section List.  (Actually there's 96 now since 3 have been delisted since I started)

I hiked my first DPS peak in 2010 and as I got near the end everything I had left was either far away or trivial.  I settled on Nelson Range HP which is an easy peak near Saline Valley which is relatively close as desert peaks go.  And since *one or two* of my adventures have been known to involve headlamps what better way to make it interesting but to do it in the dark!  And why limit it to headlamps?  And thus was born Nelson Range HP (7,696') In The Dark / Matthew Hengst Glow In The Dark DPS List Finish #1 of 2015.  People signed up and it looked to be a huge gathering of friends and a fun weekend.

Which I promptly had to cancel on account of my unanticipated knee surgery.  One year of slow recovery later and it was *finally* time for the Nelson Range HP (7,696') In The Dark / Matthew Hengst Glow In The Dark DPS List Finish #1 (Try #2).