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!

Gear Review: Surface Go Tablet/Laptop Hybrid Solution For Travel Blogging

If you follow my site regularly you've no doubt noticed that I often go for weeks at a time with no updates only to release a flood of new posts at seemingly random intervals.  That's mostly because I spend most weekends running around outdoors and often the weeks in between see me doing everything but sitting down in front of my desktop to write.

This site is just a hobby but it does bring me a lot of enjoyment and I've always has this ideal in my head of being able to do the actual write-ups while I'm still out in the field.  This has led me to purchase a series of keyboards and accessories for my iPhone, iPad, and a few sub $100 tablets in the hopes of finding something that was functional while not costing so much that I'd be afraid to take it out.

Up until this point each of the solutions failed to meet my needs in one or more major ways and I've been stuck just making notes to myself in my iPhone and fleshing out the articles when I'm back home.  And then I came across the Microsoft Surface Go.

USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber Day 2019 + Bottom Scratcher Boat Dives

May 1st, 2019
USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber
Bottom Scratcher Dive Boat
[Matt's Scuba Map]

Each year the USC Hyperbaric Chamber on Catalina holds a fundraiser day that involves tours of the facility and an opportunity to get a few dives in. It happens to be on a Wednesday when theoretically us gainfully employed types should be working but that's why vacation days were invented.

At least for those of us who aren't schoolteachers.  Jen was unable to get away from school and in the end it ended up being just Jack Kieffer and I driving out to San Pedro before dawn.

The hyperbaric chamber is used for treatment of decompression illness (aka the bends) which are a risk involved in diving due to the amount of nitrogen which is dissolved in your blood while breathing compressed air at depth. So this is both a great way to get to see the chamber without a potentially serious medical complication and also serves as a fundraiser which helps keep the place operational.