My 85-Mile Sequoia-Kings Canyon Loop Solo

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.

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Humbled on the Summit of Cotopaxi

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.

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Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim!

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.

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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 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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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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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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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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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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6 Days and 80 miles on the High Sierra Trail

For many, the 220-mile long John Muir Trail, which runs north to south across the Sierra Nevada, represents the quintessential backcountry hike. While this trail was on our radar, we thought the High Sierra Trail would be a good way to ease into the behemoth JMT. The shorter, 72-mile High Sierra Trail runs west to east across the Sierras and can be done in six to ten days.

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