Zabriskie Point: Death Valley’s Most Beautiful Trail

This is the starting point of a network of trails that link Zabriskie Point, Manly Beacon, Red Cathedral, and Golden Canyon. There are a lot of choices. The 6-mile out-and-back trail we picked takes about 3 hours at a slow pace – winding through some of the most interesting terrain Death Valley has to offer.

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Rambling and Scrambling on Pahrump Point

The summit ridge is the highlight of the route. Once we acquired the ridge, we had a god’s eye view of the entire valley with sharp drop-offs on each side. Walking along this “sidewalk in the sky” was pure euphoria. Words, pictures, and videos can’t describe it. You have to be there.

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Pucker Your Butt Cheeks on Dragon Peak!

By way of confession, I’d like to say that Wes and I “slayed the Dragon” of Dragon Peak. That would be the macho mountaineering thing to say, but that’s not exactly what happened. We did get to the summit. And we did return. But “slayed” would be a little misleading. One could argue that the Dragon simply wanted to be a good sport, so she played dead and let us walk away.

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106 Degrees on Iron Mountain

This is more of a confession than a trip report. When we finally got off trail, Manny mentioned that the last time he peed, he thought about whether or not he should pee into his water bottle, just in case he needed to reuse it. Yes, that’s how bad it got today…

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Independence Peak is the Perfect Intro to Sierra Scrambling

I’ve always been a little afraid of Kearsarge Peak because it looked almost unclimbable with its steep, loose scree-laden slopes. Not because of technical challenges but because it simply looked miserable. I had envisioned slogging up a sand slope where every two steps forward came with a step backward in deep sand and scree. Fortunately, this was not the case

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Slow Patient Endurance on Cardinal Mountain

Cardinal Mountain seemed like a good choice for a couple of reasons. I could do the hike in a day if I started early. The route is 20 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation gain, which was close to the limit of what I thought I was ready to do in a day. Completing this hike would help me build the kind of Zone 2 aerobic endurance that would enable more aggressive adventures this season.

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I’m Back on Kearsarge Peak, Like I Never Missed a Beat

Kearsarge Peak wasn’t the most exciting summit, but being here was like coming home after spending a year abroad. Three weeks ago, I was flat on my back, thinking I had injured my back permanently. Now I’m here and hiking up steep elevations with ease. It felt like a miracle. I asked a lot of people to pray for me, so I’m pretty sure it was.

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Mount Carillon Stands in the Company of Giants

When I scrambled onto the plateau, Whitney and Russell came into view. Wow! The euphoria of this incredible sight swept over me. Photos simply don’t show the scale of how big and terrifying these mountains are up close. I dropped my pack to eat some gels and have some hot tea. I just sat and stared at this amazing spectacle for 15 minutes.

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Five Guys on Middle Palisade

We made our way above the glacier and saw the beginning of the Red Rocks Shoot. This was our route to the summit. A couple of climbers went ahead of us up the shoot. We gave them a 15-minute head start so we would not be in the firing line of rockfall. I overheard one of them say to his partner, “That looks scary as hell!” The other climber nodded with a concerned look on his face. The same thought crossed my mind, but I decided not to overthink it.

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Following Water for 60 Miles on the North Lake to South Lake Trail

Every summer, I do a backcountry Sierra trip that’s at least 60 or 100 miles. Last year I did a loop in Mineral King. Most of the time I go solo, but this year I talked my friend Manny into coming along. We decided on the North Lake to South Lake Loop, a trail that begins at a small lake just above Lake Sabrina, links up with the John Muir Trail, and ends at the Bishop Pass Trailhead.

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