There hasn’t been a big storm in the Sierras and it’s mid-December. This is not good news for California, since we depend on snowmelt for the state’s water supply. But it’s good news for me! Governor Newsome just issued another complete lockdown of everything because
We reached the summit by 1:30 pm, a much longer trip than Wes or I had planned on. But we made it! The views along the ridge, and especially at the summit of Boundary Peak were incredible. This was the clearest day I had seen all year. We could see for over a hundred miles across Nevada and I would even make out the distinct shape of Mount Humphreys along the Sierra Crest to the West.
What’s the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today? Exercise! says neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki. Get inspired to go to the gym as Suzuki discusses the science of how working out boosts your mood and memory — and protects your brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
I convinced Manny to come along with me to Coyote Gulch. And with a little bit of planning, we decided to leave on a Friday morning and drive all day. With the time change, it took us a full 12 hours to get past Bryce Canyon and to the end of the dirt road that lasted an hour and a half.
I have been doing CrossFit for three years now, and I thought it would be a good time for another recap. Without a doubt, the thing that went well this year in CrossFit was my lifting. I made pretty solid gains in most of my lifts as you can see in the chart below. I’m not too proud of my gains in the strict press, but I am still working hard at it. I am learning that shoulder strength really takes time.
I heard there was a Slot Canyon in Southern California, so I did some investigating. To my surprise, I found one on Alltrails.com. It’s called “The Slot” and it’s in Anza Borrego State Park. Bec and I had a free Saturday for a small adventure, so we headed out to the desert.
I reached Baxter Pass by 1pm. It was like being on the surface of Mars, with its vast, desolate red landscape. It was quite beautiful. The vastness of it all gave me that strangely comforting feeling of being insignificant. I lingered at the summit a little longer than I typically do, just to take in the stark beauty before heading down toward Baxter Lake.
My colleague Lance Wood, and his daughter Anna, recently completed a hike on the John Muir Trail. Two hundred and ten miles in 28 days! Many people, including myself, tend to train hard for something this ambitious, but Lance and Anna set out on this great adventure together with almost no preparation.
By 11:40am the sky had turned dark and I felt the first drop of rain on my head. Contrary to the weather report, my instincts told me to turn around and get lower, so I headed back to the lake where I thought I’d wait it out for a while. When the first thunder came, it was close and powerful, followed by more of the same. Now my instincts told me to run, so I did. As I did, nickel-size hail rained down in almost biblical fashion.
We started out at midnight just to make sure we had enough time since I had not hiked with most of the folks on our team. In hindsight, I’m really glad I did. We ended up needing the extra time. More on that later. On the day of the hike, I drove up in the late afternoon and slept in the back of my Subaru Outback until 11:30pm. After breakfast and coffee, I met the rest of the guys at the trailhead.
I started CrossFit about three years ago and I set up this gym in a spare bedroom we have because I always seemed to miss a CrossFit session. I wanted to be able to do at least 95% of what I did at the gym at home. Six months into this, it’s proven to be a great setup, and I think it would really benefit anyone who is just trying to stay fit at home. I attend Centric Athletics, and at the moment, because of the Coronavirus, we are closed. Like all of us, I needed a solid way of staying fit at home right now.
…soon the class 2 ridge turned to class 3/4 so we roped up alpine style and continued walking. There were a few sections of the ridge Neil climbed ahead and gave us a hip belay, but we never needed to set up any belay anchors along the ridge. This place was so beautiful it was hard to take it all in. And I got to do this with my son – who gets to do that?
A few years ago, we took the Grand Circle road trip, hitting all of the big national parks in Utah, plus a few more. This year, we decided to take another road trip that would take us north, all the way to Glacier National Park, hitting the Tetons and Yellowstone on the way up, and Sawtooth National Forest on the return. Little did we know that, given the COVID pandemic, about a million other people had the same idea.
The trail eventually disappeared into a large slope of talus on the flanks of Mount Gayley. Fortunately, there were a lot of cairns along the way so it was pretty hard to lose the route. The route turned into bigger and bigger talus until it finally ended on a ridge that overlooked the Palisade Glacier. And as I expected, it was truly awe-inspiring and huge. A ridgeline of 14ers – Mount Sill, Polemonium Peak, North Palisade, Starlight Peak, and Thunderbolt Peak – towers over the glacier bowl. It is hard to put into words how beautiful this place is.
…The trail headed up switchbacks that gained about 2,000 feet of elevation over a few miles. I passed a large mining operation, then a spectacular waterfall that rumbled so powerfully I could feel it in my chest. Stunning. As the sun came up, it caught the large granite peak next to me with a bright orange alpine glow. The Lord knows how much I love to see a good alpine glow. I felt myself waking up and coming alive. I felt a surge of new energy to push to the summit of Mount Julius Caesar.
I had been to Buckskin Gulch 10 days before with my friend Manny and hurt my back a few miles from the trailhead. I saw just enough of this amazing slot canyon to know I HAD to come back and see all 23 miles of it. When I showed my family some of the pictures, they all signed up and we planned a trip for the following week. Cold, muddy, waist high pools of water made it tougher than most of us had planned on, but no one was disappointed.
There was a study done on men in Ireland over a span of 20 years, involving 3,400 men. The study had two significant findings. First, the men who were active in middle age were three times more likely to be active in their senior years. Second, men who had played a sport for 25 years+ were five times more likely to be active in their senior years than their counterparts who didn’t play a sport.
We were in a slot canyon in a remote area of Death Valley. I heard Manny say something, but I couldn’t make out his words. I got that sinking feeling in my gut. We were in a tight slot canyon and he was 20 steps ahead of me – just around the corner. I rounded the corner and walked up to a huge boulder wedged between the walls of the canyon that extended a hundred feet above us on each side. That nagging fear I had all day was now fully realized. I was in disbelief. I stared down at a perfectly polished 30-foot waterfall. It was completely impassable…
I had been wanting to do Cloudripper (13,525′) for a while, so last year I took the family to make an attempt on the summit. My son Wes and I made it to what I thought was the summit of Cloudripper, only to discover from our GPS tracks that we had summitted the wrong mountain! We summited Vagabond Peak, not realizing that we came about 1000 yards short of Cloudripper. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to do it again.
Fred Murphy, 81, is not your average grandpa. He has served more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and holds an 8th-degree grandmaster rank in Taekwondo. After 7 surgeries in one year, and being forced out of the gym for 52 days…Fred is back in the gym, breaking a sweat and inspiring others nearly half his age.
I went from deadlifting 205 to deadlifting 255. Given my back injury, this is quite amazing. (I had a back injury when I was 16 that has been with me since then.) Bending over and lifting heavy weight like this is always a little terrifying for me. That said, I am hoping that with consistent training, I hope to break 300lbs on my deadlift this year.
Mount Bago is not the tallest mountain in the area, but it is in the middle of four passes and two major drainages, including Bubbs Creek where it empties into Kings River. Looking toward Kings Canyon, Charlotte Dome, a 1500-foot granite monolith, is clearly visible.
Ever since hiking the John Muir Trail last year, I’d been thinking about getting back out there. But I didn’t want to just do the John Muir Trail again. Then I ran across something called the Big Sequoia-Kings Canyon Loop. There are a number of versions of this loop, the longest one being about 150 miles. I decided on the 85-mile version. I did this one solo and I had a blast.
I put in about 12 miles the first day, but it was hot, and the entire 12 miles was decimated by fire. It was a little bit disappointing. I finally got to my camp in the late afternoon, and just as I put my tent up, it started hailing. I couldn’t see the lightning strikes, but the thunder was impressive. Fortunately, it passed in about 90 minutes. Had a good dinner and slept well, despite the worries that a dead tree might fall and kill me in the middle of the night…
Jon Sutherland started his running streak on May 26, 1969. Five decades later, the 68-year-old is still going, logging nearly 200,000 lifetime miles.
Every year I try to take an adventure that gets me outside of my comfort zone. It has to challenge me to push my physical limits and force me to face things that make me afraid. This ritual has been key to my personal growth and it pushes me to train in ways that I would otherwise not have the discipline to train. This year, mountaineering in Ecuador was that trip and Cotopaxi was the prize.
We got up at 3:30am the next morning to catch the 4am shuttle to the trailhead. We started our descent with headlamps. It was a cool 40 degrees and the hiking was easy. First light came at 4:30am and by 5:30am we turned our headlamps off and were enjoying the amazing views of the canyon below.
I remember checking out of my hotel room and just spontaneously leaving a $200 tip for the maid. I had never done that before. I had experienced some kind of transcendence that I could not describe and I couldn’t help but overflow in generosity – to a person I had not even met.
When he was 37, Mackert says he started gaining weight and not feeling good. So, he decided to start running, and when he heard about the Cleveland Marathon, he signed up. He ran that first marathon non-stop, wearing a turtleneck shirt, and not drinking any water! He quickly learned what a mistake that was. But he has since learned many lessons about running and now says he wakes up every morning ready to hit the pavement to train.
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.”
Meiler was involved in sports throughout her growing up years. She played basketball and took dance lessons. After meeting her husband, the two competed in water skiing events together. Though always active, Meiler did not discover her love of pole-vaulting until she was in her mid-60s and a tennis friend encouraged her to try it. Four years ago, at the age of 80, she set a record when she successfully completed a six-foot pole-vault at a national championship in New York.
Gallant-Charette has only been a serious competitive swimmer for the past 10 years. But her swims now include the English Channel, Loch Ness, and the Strait of Gibraltar. She is participating in the “Oceans Seven” challenge, which takes swimmers to seven of the world’s most difficult swims. A native of Maine, Gallant-Charette’s first swim was the Peaks to Portland challenge, which her brother Robby had participated in and won twice.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
In a monumental study of over 122,000 patients, the results showed that a lack of cardiovascular fitness was a key predictor of early death. The study found that the most sedentary were 500 times more likely to die early than the fittest in the study…
Betty Jean McHugh is 90 and she continues to break long-distance running records around the world. She owns several 10-kilometer, half-marathon, and marathon records for seniors, including her latest: the fastest marathon time by a runner over 90. McHugh crushed the record by two hours at the Honolulu Marathon in December, with a time of 6:47:31.
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.
This great-grandma from Baton Rouge, LA, whose favorite place is her garden, has many passions in life. And for 102-year-old Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, running is right up there with trees, flowers, and birds.
What would you do if someone told you to give up on an activity because you would never be able to do anything with it? When Robert Marchand was told by his cycling coach to give up cycling because “he would never achieve anything on a bike,” he ignored the advice and continued to ride.