Bryce Canyon National Park is an amazing spot, first and foremost for the geologic features that are present there, hoodoos. These ancient rocks are the main attraction of the park, and there are many viewpoints that overlook these rocks, and there are many excellent trails that wind in between the hoodoos.Read More
San Diego has it all – beach hikes, desert hikes, mountain hikes, even hikes in the foothills. With all of the hiking present in the county, sometimes it’s hard to decide both where in the county one will go; and when to visit. One place that's striking year-round is a place that's a "newer" trail network - Hollenbeck Canyon.Read More
Disclaimer: as part of my co-hosting duties on In Ice Axe We Trust, I was provided a free Comfortlite Pillow from TETON Sports. On the recent IIAWT expedition to Death Valley, I tried it out. I liked it so much, I decided to write up this promotional bit that you’ll find below. If it doesn’t convince you to get one, I don’t know what will.Read More
Irrespective of whether you’re a native Californian whose recently become interested in the outdoors, or a recent transplant that’s been hiking for years, you’ll find that San Diego has a number of fantastic trails and hiking opportunities.Read More
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: my favorite thing to do in Las Vegas isn’t found on the strip; or anywhere in the city proper. My favorite thing about Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Or, as everyone calls it “Red Rock”. This is an area with tons of hiking trails, biking, climbing, geology, and archeological history that can keep just about anyone busy. As a matter of fact the only bad thing I can say about Red Rock Canyon is that unlike twenty years ago, everyone knows where it is, and how to get to it. The increased visitor use isn’t all bad – the BLM has outfitted Red Rock with a snazzy interpretive visitor center; and has done a better job at protecting the features present in the park. Each time I go to Red Rock Canyon, I try and branch out to new areas of the park, because even though there are more people present in the park, there’s still plenty of solitude to be found.
This last January when I had to be in Las Vegas, I decided to stop by Red Rock Canyon for a little hike. Even though I had received some great suggestions from TimMiner and Julia+Southwest on Twitter for some new adventures, I ended up having some unexpected time constraints. I was left to find a short hike in the park that I hadn’t already done – which turned out to be more challenging than the hike itself. On a whim, I decided to check out the Calico Tanks hike, and as always, I was blown away by the adventure that I found in a short distance.
Directions/Fees: Red Rock Canyon NCA is located directly off of Highway 159, and is approximately a half hour drive to the North from downtown Las Vegas. In 2014, the BLM charges all passenger vehicles a $7.00 entrance fee; which is good for one day or use. From the park entrance, you will want to follow the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive to the Sandstone Quarry parking area/trailheads; this area is located 3.4 miles from the entrance station, and is well-signed. Do note that on weekends, the parking area at this and other areas in the Calico Tanks region are quite popular, and may be full.
From the parking area, the trailhead is readily apparent, and the trail to the Calico Tanks is a relatively simple out-and-back route. From the parking lot, the trail heads across the desert, and across a wash, where it forks toward Turtleback Peak, and also toward the “tanks” themselves. From this point, the trail winds through the wash and into a canyon. At the start of the canyon, the trail is quite wide, and provides great views of the Calico Hills to the South, and the Turtleback Peak region to the North. However, as you head up the trail, the canyon narrows, and eventually begins to ascend a series of steps cut into the slickrock.
While there are many great opportunities to explore the formations along the route, this area has many spots to explore that possess fantastic views with only a little bit of scrambling. After one ascends the “steps”, the trail levels out, and eventually descends into a depression. This is where the “tanks” – large slickrock areas are. During wet years, the “tanks” hold water for desert wildlife. Unfortunately, when I visited in 2014, there was only a small amount of water present. (For pictures of what the area looks like with water, check here). Even if the tanks do not have water, this is a great short hike that allows visitors to explore and get close to the amazing geology present in the park. Distance wise, the hike is 1.2 miles one way; or 2.4 miles roundtrip. In terms of difficulty, I would rate this as an easy hike, however, it is worth noting that the steps do gain a fair amount of elevation in a short distance.
Tips: As always when hiking in the desert, bring plenty of water, even during the winter.
Yesterday was a sad day for fans of folk art, as Leonard Knight passed away at the age of 82. Chances are that you don't know who Leonard Knight is, as his name was not a household name. But, chances also are that you know his work, which is one of the largest free-standing folk art projects in the United States and perhaps, the world - Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is many things to many people - but what it is and what is was is art. And as art, it was Leonard's life's work, and his way of spreading his message - "God is Love". While Salvation Mountain was Leonard's life's work, the truth of the matter is that for the last two years, the mountain was out of his care, as he had been placed in a convalescent home.
While friends of the mountain have stepped up to continue Leonard's work - and his dream, the desert is an inhospitable place, and I for one, wonder, how much longer the mountain will last, especially now that Leonard is gone. I for one, would highly recommend that any of my readers interested in Salvation Mountain plan a trip sooner rather than later, in order that they may see the mountain as it was, and as Leonard intended it to be. I'll always remember meeting Leonard for the last time in 2010, when above all else, I was impressed by his humble demeanor and love for all. Even though it was late in the day, and he was covered with the blood of Salvation Mountain - paint and plaster, he took the time to greet all of us, discuss life, his work, the desert, and his faith without reservation. To me, you could ask no more of any artist than an honest discussion of their work, which he provided not just to me; but to all on a daily basis with much love, and clearly, the desert around Niland will not be the same without him.
Directions: If you're headed out to Salvation Mountain, navigate yourself to Niland, California, and head East. The Mountain is located a short distance from the town, and is on the outskirts of Slab City. Also, if you are are headed out to Niland, be sure you visit the water towers above Salvation Mountain, as they feature some interesting art as well.
As part and parcel of the #ORInsightLab, I've been testing the gear they provided me. While the Men's Valhalla Jacket was an excellent lightweight shell, the favorite piece of gear I've tested from Outdoor Research has been the Men's Lodestar Jacket. It's been my favorite piece of gear to test for one simple reason: it's kept me warm. In fact, not only has it kept me warm, it's kept me scorching-sun toasty warm. As a mountaineer, staying warm is serious business - in fact, on many occasions, staying warm can be the difference between life and death.
And, as a mountaineer, staying warm is not always easy, as high altitude, wind, rain, snow, sleet, and pretty much every other element conspire to steal your body heat. But, with the Lodestar Jacket, staying warm is easy - almost too easy. I took the Lodestar out on a variety of trips, and on each occasion, it excelled. When I was in the Meysan Lakes Basin in November of 2013 at 9,000 feet, the jacket kept me warm under bluebird skies and slightly breezy conditions. In the Panamint Range of Death Valley, the jacket kept me warm through rain, sleet, and snow, and was a great early morning layer when the temperatures were below 20 degrees. I also logged a number of hours with the jacket in a variety of elevations on a couple of other occasions, and it performed well then as well. As a matter of fact, I can't think of one criticism I have of the jacket - which is high praise from me, as I put my gear through the wringer. Lightweight, warm, and with a good fit - what's not to like. Outdoor Research, I have to hand it to you - this jacket is a must-have for mountaineering.