The tallest peak in Yosemite National Park is Mount Lyell at 13,120 feet. Coming in a close second, is Mount Dana at 13,061 feet. Like Mount Hoffmann in the geographic center of the park, there is no “trail” to the summit of Mount Dana that is maintained by the National Park Service. Having said that, for those that are willing to route find, brave substantial elevation gain, and risk venturing off the three mile one way distance in minor ways, the payoff is a summit with great three hundred and sixty degree views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the high country of Yosemite, and Mono Lake to the east.
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.
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.
One of the great things about California is that the state has an enormous amount of “wild” space. Some of these spaces are State Parks; some are National Parks; and some are open spaces that are run by other governmental organizations and non-profit foundations. The variety present in this system of wilderness protection and preservation means that there’s always something new to explore; and there’s always hidden gems to be found. Take for example the Moro Rock Trail (yes, that’s right: Moro Rock, not Morro Rock). This trail is one of my “secret” favorite summertime trails in the Southern Sierra, and one that is fairly accessible. Why is it one of my summertime favorites? For starters, you get to climb Moro Rock (Elevation 6,275), and you get to hike amongst giant sequoias. You also get some spectacular views of the Southern Sierra mountain range. And, if you’re particularly lucky, you might even get to see some black bears. Interested? Read on!
like to tell stories. Sometimes, I even like to write stories about things that I've seen, done and experienced. This one's a long one, so don't complain about "TL; DR" to me - you've been warned, but it is one of my favorites. I'm also happy to say that in my opinion, the story is made at least ten times better by the great photos that Calipidder lent me to accompany the piece, so go check out her site as well for more great trail reports and photos! So, without further ado, here's the story about how I avoided death-by-mountain-lion!