Friday, January 29, 2010

The Adventure Begins!

...and I'm off! Report on Monday.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ready to Roll

I still have two days before my island expedition, but I'm packed and ready to go! Here's the pre-departure gear shot:

My pack is weighing in around 40 lb, with an additional 5-6 lb carried on person (e.g. clothes). It will be interesting to see how the 5-stage public transit adventure goes enroute. It includes:

1) Bus to downtown LA
2) Train to Long Beach
3) Bus to port
4) Boat to island
5) Bus to campsite

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baggin' Weight

What's cookin' in the kitchen?

If you didn't know me, and happened to walk up in my kitchen tonight, this might look bad. Very bad.

In fact this is part of the preparations for my camping trip this weekend. In each bag is a two serving mix of nonfat dry milk and whey protein powder:

Mixed with water and added to a cereal containing grape nuts, granola, raisins, and almonds, this forms a 1400kcal meal that's part of a comprehensive menu to achieve balanced nutrition and culinary variety at minimal weight and non-perishability. The complete, 4 day menu is pictured below.

4-day menu contains 15,000kcal with a 51%/24%/25% carbohydrate/protein/fat macronutrient balance, and weighs in just under 9lb.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Waterfall + Rainbow = Sweet!

With all the rain in the past week, I figured it'd be pretty fun to go look at waterfalls. J-J-J-Jay Unit was down, so we rolled out PCH to what turns out is a relatively popular waterfall spot in Malibu, Escondido Falls.

It's a pretty, straightforward hike (maybe a couple miles, minor elevation) along a combination of road and a well-traveled trail up Escondido Canyon, with numerous (easy) stream crossings. Here's a bird's-eye view of the canyon, courtesy of Google Earth.

Escondido Canyon bird's-eye

We arrived at the lower falls along with a handful of other visitors in short order, and found plenty of water running, along with a mysterious, sulfury stink.

Escondido lower falls

Jay and Shawn at the lower falls

We then traversed a significantly steeper, muddier path upstream to the upper falls. This required some rock scrambling, but the journey was well-rewarded. The upper falls tumble over numerous mossy aprons into a good-sized (but not deep) pool from which rainbows (and presumably also invisible leprechauns and pots of gold) emerge.

Escondido upper falls

My only issue with this place is that it's obviously well-known, easily accessible, and thus prone to overcrowding - they should rename it Evidente (Obvious) versus Escondido (Hidden) Falls. Enroute back down the trail we saw a couple dozen visitors - too many for the narrow trail, and my solitary taste. If I went again, it would be very early in the morning to avoid this issue.

We considered hitting another waterfall (Sycamore Canyon in Pt. Mugu State Park), but given the time (now midday) and anticipated crowds, we elected instead to get some lunch and head to my favorite, secret Santa Monica Mountains overlook. After a short (<1 mi, 20min) hike, we were treated to some great views...

Ladyface Mountain, scene of my two-weeks ago hike

Snow-covered Topatopa mountains, to the north

Interestingly, in only a day's time, a heavy layer of smog had already settled into the LA basin...

Looking down toward Los Angeles, under a thick layer of smog

Another successful adventure, and now, time for another week at school. But next weekend, camping beckons!

Google Earth view of the route to my "secret" overlook

Saturday, January 23, 2010

View Chasing

Los Angeles Downtown from Kenneth Hahn Park

Los Angeles is surrounded by picturesque, scenic mountains, including the San Gabriels to the north, San Bernardinos to the east, and Santa Monicas to the west. The only problem is that 95% of the time, you can't see them with the city enveloped in a smoggy haze.

A few times a year, however, after a good rain storm, the mountains come into view, and it's a glorious sight to behold. After the past week's series of storms, today was such a day. Though quite a bit of water vapor and a light haze hung in the air, this morning the San Bernardinos were clearly visible (and gloriously snow-covered) towering over downtown from Kenneth Hahn State Park. The "hike" was a quick, 10min scamper up a muddy trail, with a rewarding view.

Later in the day, I decided to explore available views from a couple other spots. First, I went to the USC campus and got on top of the highest building I could. Unfortunately, this was only a 7-story parking garage, but it was still ok...

Downtown L.A. from USC

Hollywood hills and Griffith Observatory

Miracle Mile

Finally, I went to Pasadena, and managed to snag some decent shots of the snow-sprinkled San Gabriels from a Metro station along the 210 freeway...all in all not a bad day!

Snow on the San Gabriel mountains

Snow sprinkled San Gabriels - looking toward Mt. Wilson

Monday, January 18, 2010

Paseo Miramar Deluge

A magically green, rainy scene

Paseo Miramar is one of the most popular trails in Los Angeles, famous for its spectacular views of the ocean (ergo mira...mar). It's so popular that the LA Times named it one of Southern California's "10 Essential Hikes," sporting the "Top Ocean Vista." Cool, but with such notoriety usually come droves, and I'm not down with droves.

Solution: Go on a Monday morning amidst one of the heaviest rainstorms of the last 5 years. That oughta thin the herd. Being from the great Pacific Northwest I like hiking in the rain, plus I was looking for an excuse to test out some new rain gear I just picked up (it passed, props to the folks at Patagonia).

5 miles round trip, moderate elevation gain, comfortable 1hr up, 45min return. It was pouring, with a brisk wind to boot. Numerous sections of the trail were flooded and streams were forming. Navigating a muddy trail was the biggest challenge. There was no view to be had, but the joy of hiking through the clouds surrounded by green was reward enough. One other hiker seen enroute along the trail. Probably best revisited immediately after a storm breaks when the view opens up.

Google Earth view of the hike - map here

End of the trail at Parker Mesa Overlook - not much of a view today!

Staying dry amidst the rainclouds

Wind had knocked down some trees along the way

Dry and cozy back at the trailhead

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Temescal Canyon Crowd Surf

Looking east over Wilshire and downtown LA from high above in Temescal Canyon

Visited Temescal Canyon Gateway Park this afternoon with SCCC OG J-J-J-Jay-Unit! Cruised around on various trails for a few hours and saw some nice ocean views, etc. This is a nice park with a wide range of trails. The only problem is its popularity with LA outdoor hacks, and according crowds. Nonetheless, it was quite pleasant on this day, good for a chat, and easy access when one doesn't have time/motivation to get further out of bounds.

Ladyface Mountain

Ladyface Mountain gear layout

Pre-dawn hike this morning up Ladyface Mountain in Agoura Hills. Short and steep 1 mile, 1000' ascent that started under stars and a crescent moon and finished in twilight at a flagged (psuedo?)-summit. Heard many coyotes and saw a graceful, swooping owl enroute. Steep and loose in sections with several short near-vertical rock scrambles.

The east-west ridge of Ladyface Mountain

Watched sunrise from the flagged peak, recorded visit in logbook. There is a peak a short, easy walk to the west which appears to be higher elevation (true summit?). Visited there as well. Hoping for company - never showed.

Predawn at the Ladyface summit

Lonely Sunrise atop Ladyface

Ladyface Mountain trail map