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Saturday, September 7, 2019

September 7, 2019

To start off our California trip, Aprille & I decided to check out some of California's waterfalls.  Feather Falls and Burney Falls were both on our list, but since Burney was such a far drive, we chose the closer one: Feather Falls.

We left our AirB&B at 6:30 to make the 30 min drive to Feather Falls.  The drive was pretty uneventful, but the further in we got, the more remote it got.  We arrived at the parking area around 7 am.  We geared up, making sure we coated ourselves with bug repellent (the area is known to be infested with ticks), and began our trek about 7:30.

Every blog/YouTube video recommended taking the upper loop to the falls, so that's what we did. The trail was very wide and easy to follow.  About 10 minutes in, we reached the junction between the upper and lower loops.

The trail meandered in and out of the valley, mostly downhill.  All along the way, though, we were pestered by millions of gnats buzzing around our faces.  About an hour in, we arrived at Frey Creek where we were greeted with a quaint, but beautiful waterfall.

An hour and a half into the hike, we reached a sign pointing out a rock formation known as "Bald Rock Dome".  Bald Rock Dome is a batholith, whose make up is similar to that of Half Dome in Yosemite.

Right around the 2 hour mark, we reached a junction where the lower loop meets up upper loop.  Instead of taking the lower loop, we turned right, to head to the waterfall. The trail finally began going uphill.  In a couple minutes, we reached a bench and another sign, overlooking the Sacramento Valley.

The stream below is fed by the Feather River, so I assumed we were close the falls.  As large as this waterfall is supposed to be, I was worried that I couldn't hear it at this point.  It concerned me that maybe it wasn't flowing well.  I continued on along the trail with a metal railing and as soon as I turned a corner, I could hear the roar of the falls.  I followed the trail to a beautiful wooden platform on a spur ridge jutting out into the valley.  Upon arriving at the platform, I was stunned by both the view into the valley and the featured aspect of the hike: Feather Falls.

We enjoyed the falls for almost an hour before making our way out.  On our way out, we met a few other hikers who said they came in on the lower loop.  Although the sign said it was closed, they all said it was wide open.  So, we decided to take that route out since it was supposed to be shorter.   We also hoped there'd be less gnats.  No luck.  The hike out was a lot more exhausting since it was almost all uphill.

About 30 minute from the end, the hike got real exciting!  I saw some movement in the brush to my left and got excited as I wanted to see some wildlife.  I crept closer, looking for what I thought was a squirrel or chipmunk (we don't have those in Hawaii, lol).  To my surprise, I was greeted with this . . .

Needless to say, I got spooked!  I took a bunch of steps backward before pulling out my SLR and my zoom lens to photograph this thing!  It was my first encounter with a rattlesnake.  You could say my adrenaline was pumping through my chest!!  I waited for Aprille to catch up and cautiously got us past the snake.  We booked it out, tired of the gnats and getting a little tired.  We got back to the car around 12:30 pm.   We changed clothes, checked each other for ticks, then headed out for some grub.

Since we were in Cali, we stopped at a Boudin restaurant for a grilled sandwich and some chowder in a sourdough bread bowl!!  Yum!!!

Check out Aprille's video here:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday June 30, 2019

First of all, I'd like to apologize for falling behind on this hiking blog.  Sometimes life gets a little hectic and things get put on the back burner.  However, we're back with more of our adventures!

This weekend, explorer extraordinaire, Baron, invited some of us on another of his "projects", where we planned on clearing a trail from the summit down to a junction near the top of a waterfall.  However, upon reaching the trailhead, constant rain forced us to our "Plan B": visit a remote waterfall, then explore downstream, and look for an unknown ridge to return to the trailhead.

Upon reaching the valley floor, the volume of water in the stream forecasted an excellent flow in the waterfall we'd be visiting.

We spiked up and began our trek upstream.  After about 30 minutes of rock-hopping, we arrived at the first deep pool we'd have to wade through.

Right around the corner of this deep pool was a quaint, but beautiful waterfall pouring into a nice swimming hole.

We dropped our packs and gathered just a few necessities in our dry-bags and made our way up the waterfall.

Just beyond the first waterfall, the canyon narrowed considerably, making this a bad place to be caught in a flash flood.  However, with the rains being light, we decided to push on.  The narrow canyon created an eerie atmosphere as we sloshed through the mountain stream.

Along the way, we encountered several small cascades that presented many cool photo ops!

Just about an hour upstream, we arrived at our featured landmark: a gorgeous 40-50 foot waterfall!!

We spent a half hour or so frolicking in our beautiful surroundings.  Since the rain had returned and we had a LOOOONG way to go, we decided to begin our trek out.  Approximately an hour into our return, we reached the junction where we descended into the stream.  Our journey downstream from here would be new territory for all of us.  Although we began growing weary from rock-hopping, the constant rain created several run-off waterfalls for us to enjoy.

After over 4 hours of rock-hopping downstream, fatigue began to set in.  Also, we noticed the stream level had risen considerably and the color of the water was a mud brown.

Since we were close to where the trailhead was, we crossed the stream and began our search for the ridge we needed to ascend to return to our cars.  Unsure of where the trail was, we found a gully heading in the correct direction and made our way up the side of the ridge.  After some easy going, the trail became dense and some serious bushwhacking commenced.

After 2-2.5 hours of bushwhacking, we finally made it to the trailhead where we changed and made our way out.  Needless to say, we were famished.  We bade farewell to some of the crew that had to leave, while the rest of us made our way to Chili's for some much needed grub!

10 hours, 8+ miles, almost a dozen waterfalls, a great crew = total epicness!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

June 2, 2019

A few days ago, my aunt asked if I could take some of her "friends", who were visiting from Arizona, on a hike.  Of course I said yes.  What I didn't know was that these "friends" were people she met on the flight back to Hawaii a few days ago.  lol.  Anyway, I got the contact info and confirmed this hike with them.  Joining me on the hike was Aprille, my coworker, Rose, and our new friends Jennifer & Danny. 

We started out at 8:30 am and headed into the valley.  About 10 min in, we began our ascent up a spur ridge to gain the ridge crest of Kulepeamoa.  We gained over 700 feet in elevation in a couple hundred yards. 

Needless to say, I took a TON of breaks!!  However, once we reached the ridge crest, the hike in was fairly mild for a while.  We stopped frequently to take in the views that had opened up all around us.

As we neared the back portion of the ridge, the ascent became a lot steeper and relentless.

We were also blessed to see some rare native plants beginning to blossom.

About 3/4 ways up the ridge, we reached a rocky dike section that presented some awesome photo ops!!

The higher we climbed, the more majestic the views were.

Almost to the top, we reached perhaps the intimidating section of the hike.  The rope climb up a narrow section of ridge. 

Once past this obstacle, we had a few false peaks to traverse before reaching the summit.

Upon arrival at the summit, we were greeted with a huge white curtain.  Seems to be a trend lately :|
However, while we relaxed with some snacks and stories, the veil of clouds began to lift.

We took the opportunity for some pics then began to make our way across the summit to Hawaii Loa Ridge. 

When we reached the summit of Hawaii Loa Ridge, the clouds had lifted enough for us to enjoy a magnificent view of Waimanalo.

A few hundred pix later, we decided to make the long trek out.  At least Hawaii Loa is a state trail and very well maintained.  The views were also gorgeous!

At a key junction, we steeply made our way back into the valley. 

After what felt like forever, we finally reached the bottom of the valley and hurriedly made our way out.   A little over 7 hours later, we made our exit and took our new friends to Rainbow drive in for some local food and more great conversation!! 


Saturday, May 11, 2019

May 11, 2019

Today, Aprille wanted a hike where she could fly her drone and suggested Laie Ridge.  Joining us today would be Daniel, Darren, and Bernice.  A total OAG hike!!  We began our trek at 8:30 am and the humidity hit us immediately.  We tried to gain as much elevation as we could before the sun could beat down on us. 

At one of our rest spots, Darren tries to tackle Bernice, but Bernice deftly thwarts his attempt. 

About 90 minutes in, we finally reached the Sugi Pines.  Not even halfway in and the humidity was taking its toll.  This landmark usually takes only an hour to reach.

The air was so thick, we stopped frequently to rest.  I was even having a hard time breathing. 

A little past the 2 hour mark, we finally reached the waterfall junction.

At another of our many rest stops, we sat down to enjoy the view and rest our sweat soaked bodies.

Out of nowhere, we were greeted by the facemous "ninja-hiker"! 

Around 12 pm, we finally reached the "turnover" where the contour trail switches from the left side of the ridge to the right.  From this point, the trail winds, seemingly endlessly, towards the summit.

Around each corner, we gaze toward the summit line, hoping to see the end. 

Unfortunately, this outrageously humid day toiled on and on as we struggle to reach the summit.

Finally, after a billion or so turns, we rounded a corner and, with great relief, saw Aprille, Bernice, & Darren standing at the summit!

It took us 4.5 hours to reach the summit.  The last time we did this, Troy, Aprille, and I made it up in a little over 3 hrs with 40 lb packs!!  Today's conditions were seriously brutal!!  The saving grace to it all was the summit was crystal clear and the views were spectacular!

We took some time at the summit to refuel, snap some photos, and even catch a cat nap.

Before heading back down, we took our customary group photo and . . .

. . . raced out to our favorite PHM location!!!

No north shore hike is complete without a stop at Papa Ole's for some seriously awesome food!!!

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