All posts filed under: Hiking

Hike to Panamint City

Location: Surprise Canyon in Panamint Valley Length: Roughly 10 miles out-and-back; factor in another 2-4 if exploring the town Duration: 7-12 hours depending on pace and how long you wish to explore the town Intensity: Strenuous with 4,000 feet of elevation gain and loss Death Valley is an inhospitable place, and its neighboring valley, Panamint, is no more appealing. With temperatures that can hover upwards of 100° F from May to October and a dry wind that can parch your skin into something reptilian, images of Panamint Valley don’t typically conjure lush oases. And, for the most part, they’re not. Surprise Canyon, sitting below the 9,600 foot Sentinel Peak in the Panamint Range, is, however. There’s water and, beyond that, there’s life–hermit thrush flit from branch to branch, Pacific tree frogs cling to moss, and thick, black carpenter bees whizz through the sky–all of which comes as a surprise. Hence, the name Surprise Canyon. Follow the trail to the end of the canyon and you’ll find the remains of a once-thriving silver mining town, replete with 2,000 …

Top 10 Things to Do: Big Island, Hawaii

What area of the world contains 10 of the 15 climatic zones of the world? Better yet, what island has both tropical and temperate rain forests, hot, arid landscapes and even periglacial climates? Hawaii. But not Hawaii the state–Hawaii the island, more commonly referred to as the Big Island. Earlier this month, Nick and I spent 8 days traversing the Big Island by foot and by Jeep Wrangler. It’s difficult to pick a favorite activity, let alone a favorite place, as the island is so big that all of the other Hawaiian islands (Maui, Moloka’i, O’ahu, Lana’i, Kaua’i, Kaho’olawe, Ni’hau and yes, I’m including the yet-to-surface young Lo’ihi) still don’t fit within the expanse of the Big Island. That said, I narrowed down ten of my favorite things to do if you visit (and you really should). 1. Captain Cook Hike & Snorkel If you’re on a budget or simply more interested in warming up before jumping in the cool waters of the Pacific, hike to the Captain Cook Monument on the northern edge of Kealakekua Bay. Many companies offer boat and catamaran tours …

The West Coast Trail: Day Four

Day Four: 17.5km-0 (Tscowis to finish at Pachena Bay) “I can’t believe they’re right there! Have you seen them before?” Nick and I stood on the torn shoreline of the West Coast Trail, roughly 15 kilometers from Bamfield, the closest town to the start (or in our case, the end) of the West Coast Trail. The morning had been cool and cloudy, but we felt relaxed, especially because we knew that in just a few short hours, we would likely be eating pancakes in some small town on the way home. “I have, but never this close and never eating algae like that!” I replied. The subjects we were discussing were orcas, with said subjects directly off shore. We watched as their arrowhead fins, pitch black like basalt, sunk in and out of the water, their tails flipping upwards as they dove for the food they were scouring from the reefs below. To see so many animals so close was amazing, and while I wish we would have glimpsed a bear or cougar or wolf, …

The West Coast Trail: Day Three

Day Three: 42km-17.5 (Cribs Creek to Tsocowis) It was bound to happen. We just didn’t expect it to be this petty. “I thought we decided we were going to mix it up,” I said as I traipsed down the umpteenth ladder of the WCT, literally balancing the two poles and the cumbersome weight on my pack with my desire to finish this portion of the hike. “You said you didn’t care,” Nick said, exasperated at trying to understand why I was upset. “And the beach has interesting things to see.” “But we talked about it this morning!” For all of the time that we spend together (largely in periods of 2-3 weeks, 24/7), our arguments aren’t so bad. But they are dumb. With the previous days’ sand-lugging (definition: the act of trying to drag the weight of oneself and one’s heavy backpack through thick, sinking sand) fresh in my mind, I wanted as little to do with the beach as possible. And, since we had the option of going inland or on the beach for …

The West Coast Trail: Day Two

Day Two: 62-42km (Camper Cove to Cribs Creek) By morning the sky had cleared and rain was no longer a concern. Still, our tent was damp from the night as we folded away the various parts into the tent’s pack. Nick boiled water for oatmeal and yerba mate as I changed into warm gear, thinking that the temperatures would remain cool since the first half of today’s hike would be inland. As soon as we started hiking, however, I needed to peel off rain jacket and rain pants, donning just a shirt and shorts. While I’d like to say that we were whine-free on this trip, it just wasn’t true. The backpacks felt heavier than the day before and while Nick complained of sore shoulders, I whined that my hips were bruised from the pack’s waist strap. After a few kilometers of continually stopping to figure out how to fix the issues (hint: wear a shirt around your waist for extra padding!), we settled into the meditation of the hike. After 10 kilometers of ladders, suspension bridges and …

Hiking the West Coast Trail: Day One

I don’t know when I first heard about the West Coast Trail, the 75km trail that winds its way along the southwestern stretch of Vancouver Island. Having grown up in Crescent Beach, B.C. roughly one hour outside of Vancouver City proper and twenty minutes to the Tsawassen ferry terminal that leads to Vancouver Island, it was something I figured I would one day do. I didn’t personally know anyone who had backpacked the trail, but if there was one person that would be up to accompanying me, it’d be Nick. At 75km, the West Coast Trail (WCT) is intended to be completed in a 5-7 day period. Most people choose to camp at one of the dozen campgrounds situated along the trail, choosing to hike at their leisure and enjoy the trail. By no means is the trail ‘easy’: with hundreds of ladders, bridge crossings, 6 cable cars, miles of mud and roots to clamber over and around, and the possibility of rain (and lots of it), it’s not, quite literally, a walk in the …