Adventure

Hardship & Glory on Cactus to Clouds

With an elevation gain of 10,300′, the Cactus to Clouds Trail has one of the greatest elevation increases among day-hike routes in the United States. It is 16 miles from the trailhead to the summit (+5.5 more miles back to the tram station), making it one of the steeper trails of its length in the world. For local hikers, Cactus to Clouds (C2C for short) is not just a trail, it is a hiking rite of passage. For those who have done it, it never gets any easier when you do it again. It is the definition of a “sufferfest.”

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The 7,300′ Climb to the Summit of Iron Mountain

While Iron Mountain, also known as Big Iron, is far lower in elevation than other Southern California summits, it is the most difficult mountain to climb in the entire region. The trail follows a series of high mountain ridges to the summit, gaining 7,300′ of elevation – 3.500′ in the last two miles alone. 

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San Bernardino Peak in the Snow

San Bernardino Peak is one of my favorite local hikes. It’s never crowded like many of the other trails, and the scenery is beautiful. Today, there was four to five feet of snow on the upper elevations, with snow starting a mile into the trail. Being on the summit, in the snow, in perfect weather, was pretty magical.

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Canyoneering the Swaney Loop in Death Valley

One of the hidden gems of Death Valley, the Swaney Loop is a route I did with some friends from the San Jacinto Hiking Club. The route starts just outside Stove Pipe Wells and follows a network of slot canyons for about 3,000 feet of elevation gain before looping back down some off-trail slopes to the trailhead.

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The Mount Baldy Bowl in the Snow

On Saturday, Wes, Liz, and I did the Mount Baldy Bowl in the snow. It was the first time I’d done it, and it was an absolute blast. A lot of the snow had melted from last week’s storm, but there was still enough to play in the bowl. I had hopes of climbing something a little more aggressive – a feature on the left side of the bowl affectionately called the “Death Shoot.”

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The Little San Gorgonio to Galena Peak Traverse

The Yucaipa Ridge is clearly visible from the 10 freeway as you pass Redlands east bound. The ridge of four small peaks is dwarfed by San Gorgonio Mountain behind it – so much so that you never give it a second look. Yet behind these little mountains lies one of the best hikes in Southern California.

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Mount Dana: The Easiest 13er in the Sierras

The hike itself is actually quite boring. It took me a little less than two hours to reach the summit. It’s not the most beautiful mountain; it’s more like a big pile of scree that tops out at over 13,000 feet. It is definitely the easiest 13er in the Sierras. When I reached the summit, I realized the whole valley was starting to fill with a brown haze. Another fire. I found out later this was from the tragic Paradise Fire where so many lost their lives.

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San Gorgonio Madness: 6 Peaks-22 miles-12 hours

Well, it was another Saturday when I knew Bec was going to be doing homework, so I decided I would go out and hike a peak. I found that the San Jacinto Hiking Club was doing a six-peak, 22-mile hike in the San Gorgonio area. When I saw that, I thought, “Okay, this will be my speed; I’ll get out there and push it up.”

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Scrambling & Sliding on Lone Pine Peak

The summit was one of the most beautiful summits I have ever seen. On one side, Mount Whitney was across the valley, along with Irvine, Mallory, Russell, and a host of other high granite peaks. On the other side was the Owens Valley, and in the distance, Death Valley and Telescope Peak. We were standing between the highest and lowest points in the lower 48.

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Vagabond Peak vs. Team Feller

…Wes and I left Rudy to rest while we made the summit. I figured it would take an hour to get to the summit and back from where we were. We managed to push from the saddle to the peak without taking a break. The last 300 feet to the peak was a class 3 scramble and a lot of fun. 30mph wind gusts greeted us when we got to the peak, but the views were amazing.

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At 50, Hiking the John Muir trail Was my Midlife Marker

When I got back from my trip, someone asked me if the trip was life-changing or not. Without hesitation, I replied, “Absolutely. It was totally life-changing.” At 47, I had just started getting in shape. I was hiking a lot in the local Southern California mountains and pushing outside of my comfort zone as much as possible. As I looked forward to turning 50, I felt like doing a solo on the iconic 220-mile long John Muir Trail would be a perfect adventure. It was. And this is the story of my adventure.

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Going Solo on University Peak

I have had University Peak on my list for a while and I decided to hike it as part of a fitness hike leading up to my John Muir Trail trip at the end of August. A couple of weeks ago, my son Wes and I were on Gould Peak and I got a good look at the mountain. It looked pretty ominous and difficult, and so, in the days leading up to the hike, I had a pit in my stomach about this one.

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The Tiny Summit of Mount Gould

The coolest part of Mount Gould is that the summit block is a tiny, two by three-foot pedestal that takes some climbing to get up to it. On one side, there’s a vertical drop of about 400 feet. On the other side is a 200 foot drop. When you stand on it, there’s a bit of pucker factor.

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Suffering and Euphoria on Mount Agassiz

Mount Agassiz has been on my to-do list for a few years. Last month, I finally talked my son Wes into going with me on this one. We drove up on a Friday and met at Lone Pine where we grabbed a burger before heading to the trailhead. After a sleepless night at altitude, we dragged ourselves to the summit. And it was worth all of the suffering!

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Day Hike to Cirque Peak

I had an extra free day, so instead of doing a local trail like Mount Baldy again, I thought I’d just drive up to Cottonwood Lakes and summit Cirque Peak – and come back the same day. I was up at 4:00 am and in 3-1/2 hours I was at the Cottonwood Pass Trailhead. The weather was perfect.

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Alta Peak: A Grueling Drive and a Beautiful Hike

The last two miles to the summit were pretty tough. It was steep and really hot, not to mention the altitude. That said, the views were beautiful. The skies were so deep blue they looked photoshoped. Across the valley, the jagged granite peaks of the Sierra crest dominated the horizon.

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You MUST DO the Grand Circle Adventure!

We were familiar with Zion and Bryce National Parks, but Becky and I had always wanted to see more of Utah. Bec especially wanted to see the Grand Canyon. We had heard about The Grand Circle of National Parks, and after getting a book and a map from Amazon, decided to do this trip for our vacation this year.

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The Pine Mountain Traverse

As I made my way past the first few miles, I saw great views of Iron Mountain and the San Antonio Ridge, one of the most difficult routes in Southern California to hike. There’s not much of a trailhead, just a tiny sign indicating you have entered Sheep Mountain Wilderness. This is where is gets hard.

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Ontario Peak via Falling Rock Canyon

I managed to talk Manny Castaneda into another hike – which would prove to be more “epic rough” than the last one. After a half mile, the route cuts across the creek then follows a steep avalanche chute to Sugarloaf Peak, then…

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How NOT to Summit Condor Peak

Final Score: Condor Peak-1, Manny Castaneda and Bryan Feller-0. Our goal was to summit Condor Peak near Tujunga, but the peak had other plans. The hike started out following a picturesque canyon gorge with a creek flowing through it. We had shade from the early

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