Unbeknownst to most people, California was the place where glaciers were “discovered” in the United States, atop Mount Shasta. And while the words “California” and “glacier” will never be synonymous, the state still has twenty glaciers (seven located on Mount Shasta, and thirteen are located in the Sierra Nevada). While each of California’s remaining glaciers offer their own individual logistical challenges, the Palisade Glacier is one of the easiest to visit from May to mid-October. In this case, easy is a relative term, as visitors to the Palisade Glacier will have to traverse ten miles of trail to the end of the glacier, and gain 4,000 feet of elevation, before returning back to the trailhead. From mid-October through May, the ascent to the Palisade Glacier becomes substantially more difficult, as it is over snow and ice, and requires proper preparation and navigation. However, for those willing to make the trek, the Palisade Glacier is a spectacular sight to behold; and is a relic from a long lost past that is disappearing in the modern age.
For most people, the trouble about ghosts, spirts, and everything surrounding the paranormal is the lack of hard, verifiable evidence. Along these lines, many “paranormal” locations have a variety of conflicting stories that have no basis in fact or history and are easily debunked. With this as a baseline, the Whaley House stands out as a location that possibly provides solid evidence of paranormal activity, and has a primary goal of preserving San Diego’s history. Recently, I had an opportunity to tour the Whaley House with Jokie Tolentino, the Director of Museum Services for the Save our Heritage Organization (“SOHO”), the organization that manages and mantains the location. While I did not experience anything paranormal (that I noticed during) our walk, talk, and tour, I did leave the Whaley House with a greater appreciation for the location.
Chances are, if you have any sort of social media presence, you’ve seen with increasing frequency some sort of picture of people, tents, or both laid out artfully in front of tall mountains and crystal blue lakes. And, if you’ve seen these photos and there wasn’t a caption, you probably wondered where these lakes were, and if the photos were photoshopped. These lakes are the glacial lakes of the Big Pine basin, specifically located off the North Fork of Big Pine Creek; and for the most part, there is no photoshopping of the photos of these lakes – they actually do look like that way in real like, with brilliant shades of cerulean blue. The lakes popularity, however, precedes social media, as the trail up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek has long been one of the most popular destinations in the Inyo National Forest. As a matter of fact, the only thing unknown – and unspectacular about these lakes is their names. For unknown reasons, the lakes – and the waterfalls along this trail were given generic names – “First Waterfall”; “First Lake”; “Second Lake” through “Seventh Lake”. My personal suggestion for hikers or backpackers visiting the area – call them whatever you want, because they are amazing.
San Diego is best known for being “America’s Finest City”, but like most locations, it also has a stranger, darker side, built on speculation, myths, rumors, and legends. With Halloween just around the corner, along with the shorter days and cooler nights of fall, now is a great time to explore these thirteen locations to search for monsters, ghosts, aliens, and whatever else may be out there. I’ve compiled this list from my experience and from what “evidence” is present in the public domain about these spots. I’ve subjectively ranked the spots from “most active” to “least active”, or for the skeptical readers out there, from “most credible” to “least credible”. Irrespective of how you feel about the supernatural, this is a great list of San Diego locations that add historic flavor to a fine city that are worth a visit.
Olympic National Park is one of the National Park system’s crown jewels, and to many people, may be the brightest jewel in the crown. Because of its beauty, in the last ten to fifteen years, the park has seen increased traffic and visitation in many areas. Even though Olympic has gradually become more popular, like the National Park system as a whole, it still has large areas of wilderness in which adventurous travelers can experience silence and solitude. One of these areas is the Staircase region of the park, which is located in the southeast corner of Olympic National Park. The Staircase region was named by Lt. Joseph P. O’Neil during his 1890 expedition to explore the southern Olympic Mountains because of the enormous cedar staircase that he and his men constructed up and over a rock bluff, which was ultimately known as the “Devil’s Staircase”. While the enormous cedar staircase is now gone, what remains is the serene silence of old growth Douglas fir forests. One of the best and most accessible ways to experience the Staircase region is along the Shady Lane trail.
On the Eastern border of California, and near the Western border of Nevada, is an area that is full of mystery, wilderness, and desert solitude. This area is Death Valley National Park. The name alone “Death Valley” transcends time and space, and for hundreds of years has been a beacon to prospectors, explorers, adventurers, and today, casual visitors. While Death Valley is, as its name suggests – a fundamentally hostile environment, with temperatures regularly soaring over 100 degrees from April through October, it is more than a flat wasteland. In reality, Death Valley is one of the most geologically diverse environments on the planet, where the remains of glacial Lake Manly are laid bare, and the effects of active volcanism and erosion are easily visible. Within the confines of Death Valley, one can find tall, uplifted mountains, year-round waterfalls, volcanic craters, sand dunes, eroded canyons, and the lowest spot in North America.
Backpacking! Unlike hiking, or trail running, backpacking is something that carries a bit of mystique - and a bit of fear for the casual adventurer. While there are many reasons for those - and other feelings, the main reason is that until one learns what to bring - and not to bring, the sport can seem a little daunting. In my opinion, backpacking is a great way to experience all of the unique spots around the world. I also think that, generally, once one gets a little experience in the sport it gets progressively easier and progressively more enjoyable. In this video I cover what gear I carried for a basic two-day trip up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek in the Eastern Sierra. While the gear in the video is somewhat specifically tailored for the trip, it would also be great example for other two day trips, like the one I discussed a few years ago to May Lake. Got any suggestions or comments about what you like or dislike about backpacking? Let me know in the comments below!