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Filtering by Category: Hike

Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming – Part 2

Hannah Fleming

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For the second year in a row, Labor Day Weekend was spent in Grand Teton National Park. This year, with a different crew! You can check out the details from Labor Day 2017 here.

Quick background, stolen from last year’s post:

Grand Teton National Park stretches 310,000 acres across the Northwest Corner of Wyoming. The Park is located 10 minutes South of Yellowstone National Park and just North of the popular outdoor town destination of Jackson Hole.

Grand Teton National Park is known for the unique formations of the Teton Range. Home to nine 12,000 ft. peaks, 11 glaciers and sprinkled with alpine lakes. The jagged peaks of the Range are a popular destination for skiers, climbers, mountaineers, and hikers.

Getting there: From SLC it is an easy 4.5 hour drive North to the Southern Park entrance. If you’re staying in the Northern part of the park, that will add another hour.

Where to stay:

  • Camp sitesThere are six large campgrounds in the Park, as well as backcountry permits available. We grabbed a spot at the same place as last year, Colter Bay. Colter Bay is in the northern part of the park, right on Jackson Lake. Camping was $30 / night, but well worth it for facilities, bear box, convenience store, marina to rent Kayaks/Canoes, and being RIGHT on Jackson Lake. We were hoping to stay at Jenny Lake, but realized we would need to be in line waiting by 6AM. Leaving from SLC, this would mean a bit too early of a wakeup call.

  • BLM Land: If you don’t mind driving into the park every day, there is plenty of surrounding BLM land to camp

What to do:

·       No matter what type of outdoor rec you’re interested in, you can find it at Grand Teton National Park or somewhere in the surrounding area! There’s access to everything from hiking, trial running, road running, cycling, mountain biking, climbing, skiing, swimming and paddling. Make sure to stop into the Visitors Center, pick up a few maps, and talk to a Ranger for recommendations.

Day 1:

Arriving just around lunch-time at Colter Bay, we set up camp, and with bear spray in hand, went out for a quick run to stretch the legs. Colter Bay is a great location, with easy access to a trail running along Jackson Lake (run GPS here). While waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive, we relaxed along the Lake until a delicious camp dinner of Jackfruit Tacos.

Relaxing at the beach

Relaxing at the beach

Jackfruit tacos: Use pre-packed Tex-Mex Jackfruit mix, and ready to go rice/quinoa mix. Easy tacts topped with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and pico de gallo!

Jackfruit tacos: Use pre-packed Tex-Mex Jackfruit mix, and ready to go rice/quinoa mix. Easy tacts topped with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and pico de gallo!

Sunset at the lake

Sunset at the lake

Day 2: (Big Hike Day)

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Looking for a full-day hike, we chose Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude. You can opt to take the ferry across Jenny Lake to cut out 4 miles, and 1500 extra feet of vert, we chose this option. Arriving to the East Boat Dock around 9 AM, we just barely beat the rush. A round trip ticket is $15, and reservations are not necessary (all the details here at Jenny Lake Boating).

Don’t be discouraged, this hike starts off steep for the first few miles, then becomes gradual. I’d recommend trekking poles if you have any knee issues, as they will be helpful on the way down!

Cascade Canyon Trail follows a rushing river deep into the Tetons. Along this trail you’ll be surrounded by the towering Teton peaks, see wildflowers, cross a few wooden bridges, and spot multiple waterfalls in Cascade Canyon. Just pass Cascade Canyon, the trail will take you Lake Solitude. This alpine is lake is the perfect lunch spot, but be prepared with an extra layer as it gets a bit windy!

After returning to camp for a quick pasta dinner, we loaded up into the car, and drove around the park at dusk in hopes of seeing some wild life!

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PC: @benjamintfleming

PC: @benjamintfleming

Day 3: (Unexpected Big Hike Day)

After a long hike the day before, we were looking for a shorter, incredibly scenic hike, with enough time to head into Jackson for dinner. We chose the 8.5 mile hike (you can see our route here) around Jenny Lake, with a little over 1,100 feet of elevation gain. While it was a bit more strenuous than we were expecting, we saw a Moose, almost saw a bear, and enjoyed a view of the lake the entire time!

For dinner we headed into Jackson to Snake River Brewing and dessert at Häagen-Dazs® Ice Cream Shop (they have #plantbased flavors!)

                            

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

PC: @benjamintfleming

PC: @benjamintfleming

 Have you been to Grand Teton National Park? Let me know if you have any suggestions of things to do next Labor Day!

Stanley, Idaho - Sawtooth National Forest

Hannah Fleming

Growing up in the midwest I had a very distorted, romanticized view of the West. I thought all of the skiing was in Colorado and Utah, and the rest was just farmland or vast nothingness. I was definitely wrong.

Once I moved to Utah, Idaho quickly moved onto my radar and to the top of the list of places to go for winter and summer mountain adventures.

With the 4th of July Holiday falling on Wednesday this year, I took the opportunity to take the rest of the week off and head up to Sawtooth National Forest!

Camping

By the time we decided to go, all sites in the region were booked up. I spent a few hours finding first-come first-serve sites in the Stanley / Galena region, made a list, and hoped we’d get lucky! I used recreation.gov and freecampsites.net. 

We left Ogden by 7 AM on Thursday, and headed straight for the first site on my list – Sunny Gulch. Located North of Galena, and just south of Stanley, we would have access to hiking, biking, lakes and rivers.

Rolling into the campground around 1 PM, we had plenty of sites to choose from. We discovered this is the perfect time to look for a site, as the campers from the previous night were heading home, and lots of people wouldn’t arrive until closer to dinner. We chose a shady spot, complete with a nice fire ring, picnic and prep table. The campground runs along the Salmon River, providing a perfect natural ice bath for sore feet after a long day of hiking.

Next time I camp in the region, I’ll try and book a bit sooner and get a spot on the West side of State Road 654B with a better view of the mountain range. But for last minute, this Sunny Gulch was perfect.

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Salmon River


Salmon River

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After setting up camp, we made our way to Redfish Lake to go for a hike. Without planning a specific hike (something I don’t normally do), we found the trailhead, packed two water bottles, and started up the trail towards Marshall Lake. The hike would be roughly 10 miles round trip, with over 2200 ft. of elevation gain. Winding away from Redfish Lake, and deeper into the Sawtooths, the trail was beautiful. About one mile out from the Lake, there was a fork in the trail, without any signs pointing to which trail would take us to Marshall Lake (you can see photos of this. This is the first time I can remember hiking without a map, and our we quickly learned our lesson.

We chose the fork to the left – 1. It looked like a more scenic route and 2. It looked steeper, so we were thinking it would be a shortcut. ¾ of a mile later, the trail ended in a valley between two mountains, with Marshal Lake just on the other side of the ridge. We chose to scramble up boulders ½ mile up the ridgeline, hoping we could just scramble down the other side, ending up at the lake. We made it to the top, peered over the other side, saw beautiful Lake Marshall…and knew we would have to return the way we came. It was nearly 90 degrees, both of us were out of water, and all I wanted to do was get back to the trailhead.

Using the breadcrumb feature on our Suunto GPS watches (Suunto 9), we made our way back to the trail, and returned safely to the trailhead.

This was a beautiful hike, but left me with a humbling reminder to respect nature, and to always be prepared. Just like I learned in Girl Scouts :)

The end of the trail, beginning of scrambling

The end of the trail, beginning of scrambling

Scrambling

Scrambling

Scrambling

Scrambling

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(Ride & SUP) Day 2: Lake Stanley

 Determined to make up for yesterday’s mishap, we were determined to go for a great ride, and be fully prepared.

Ride – Stanley Lake to Overlook Point

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Starting at the Stanley Lake trailhead, the smooth dirt trail takes you through beautiful fields as it makes it’s way into the woods. The “moderate” trail could be classified as “easy” until you reach the first river crossing. Advanced riders can pedal across, I had a good foot-numbing wade across. From here the trail gets a bit more technical, with lots of down trees from recent flooding. A few sections of trail was washed out completely. Despite our best efforts, there was one last river crossing that I was not game for before reaching the top, and for the second day in a row, we did not make it to the destination.

However, with 1500 feet of climbing up, we knew we were in for a fun downhill (outside of a few sections where I had to pick up my bike over trees every 50 feet)!

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SUP- Stanley Lake

We ended the day with an awesome paddle board session / took time to rinse off the dirt from the past two days. NOTE: to paddle board in Idaho, you need to pick up an Idaho Invasive Species sticker. You can pick these up at the super market in town. The sheriff in town told us these will soon be available at more of the boating/fishing stores as well.

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Cleaning up in the lake using bio-degradable soap

Cleaning up in the lake using bio-degradable soap

(Ride) Day 3: Galena Lodge

After two peaceful nights of camping, we packed up our things and headed back south towards Utah, stopping along the way at Galena Lodge.

Ride – Galena Lodge

After driving along State HWY 75 in what seems like the middle of nowhere, you turn a corner, and run into Galena Lodge. The Lodge offers great, healthy food options, along with maintaining 40+ miles of awesome trails. 

We chose to connect Psycho Ride -> Outhouse Loop -> Gladiator -> RIp & Tear for a 6.5 mile fun loop, complete with lots of climbing, and my first time riding what felt like a roller-coaster of bermy-downhills.

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Takeaways for next time:

  • Plan a campsite earlier
  • Do more research on hikes and rides
  • Stay longer! 

 

 

Mt. Ogden - Snowbasin Resort - Huntsville, UT

Hannah Fleming

Looking down at Pineview Reservoir

Looking down at Pineview Reservoir

If Snowbasin is your local ski resort, or you’re an Ogden resident, chances are you can point out Mt. Ogden by the tall satellite towers atop the 9,572 ft. peak. As one of the tallest peaks in the Northern Wasatch, Mt. Ogden is a great day hike, providing beautiful views (when you’re not socked in with clouds), and a good amount of elevation gain!

**I hiked this in September after our first snowfall of the year. Typically it is clear and beautiful, and not covered in snow in September!**

Getting There

Mt. Ogden can be reached via trails from Ogden , or via Snowbasin. From Snowbasin you have two options:

  1. Hike up to the service road until you reach the trailhead 
  2. Bypass the service road hike and take Needles Gondola to the top. The Gondola is free for season pass holders or $14 for a day pass.

The Trail

(Hike up) At the top of Needles Gondola, make a left and start down the road in front of the Needles Lodge. Jump on the first trail you come across on the right. Follow the trail until you reach Needles Circque Trail to the Ridge. The trail quickly steepens at this point as you make your way back and forth up a series of switchbacks. You’ll drop down on the backside of the mountain, giving you views of Ogden and the Great Salt Lake. At this point you’ll also start to see trails coming up from Beus, Taylor, and Waterfall Canyons.

Halfway up the steep service road, make a right onto the trail

Halfway up the steep service road, make a right onto the trail

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Follow the trail for another ¾ mile until you reach the steep service road. Head up the service road until you reach a small trail sign. Make a right, and hike the final portion of the trail to the helicopter landing pad at the top of Mt. Ogden!

(Hike Down) Instead of following the same trail down, we made a left onto the well defined service road, and dropped down in front of Becker Lift.This brought us across the front of the mountain, with beautiful views of the valley. After descending 1,000 from the summit of Mt. Ogden, you'll make your way under Needles Lodge, and head back up the mountain, ending the hike with a 500 ft climb back up to the lodge. Make sure to reward yourself with some hot tea and french fries inside the lodge before taking the Gondola (or hiking) back down!

Total Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,275 Ft.
Hike Time: 1:40 minutes

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Takeaways

  • Go back on a clear and sunny day
  • Lots of layers - it's windy and cold along the ridge
  • Poles are not necessary, but helpful on the switchbacks
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Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming

Hannah Fleming

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Grand Teton National Park stretches 310,000 acres across the Northwest Corner of Wyoming. The Park is located 10 minutes South of Yellowstone National Park and just North of the popular outdoor town destination of Jackson Hole.

Grand Teton National Park is known for the unique formations of the Teton Range. Home to nine 12,000 ft. peaks, 11 glaciers and sprinkled with alpine lakes. The jagged peaks of the Range are a popular destination for skiers, climbers, mountaineers, and hikers.

Getting there: From SLC it is an easy 4.5 hour drive North to the Southern Park entrance. If you’re staying in the Northern part of the park, that will add another hour.

Where to stay:

  • Camp sitesThere are six large campgrounds in the Park, as well as backcountry permits available. We went on a holiday weekend, and were able to still get a spot at Colter Bay in the northern part of the park, right on Jackson Lake. Camping was $30 / night, but well worth it for facilities, bear box, convenience store, marina to rent Kayaks/Canoes, and being RIGHT on Jackson Lake.
  • BLM Land: If you don’t mind driving into the park every day, there is plenty of surrounding BLM land to camp

What to do:

Grand Teton National Park is an outdoors person dream backyard. There’s plenty to do from hiking, cycling, mountain biking, climbing, skiing, swimming and paddling. Make sure to stop into the Visitors Center, pick up a few maps, and talk to a Ranger for recommendations.

Day 1:  

(Bike) Starting at Willow Bay Junction, we rode a 32 mile loop down to Jenny Lake Visitor Center and back. This was a beautiful ride along the Park road; winding in an out of trees, through fields (unfortunately, no wildlife spottings), and passing Jackson Lake, Leigh Lake, and Jenny Lake.

We made it back to camp in time for dinner and to catch the sunset along the rocky Jackson Lake shore.

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Day 2:

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(Swim) Wetsuits in hand, we made our way to Jackson Lake for a quick training swimming in the crystal-clear waters. This was my favorite training swim of the season, with the sun rising over the trees just as we were halfway to our destination - a small island in the middle of the lake.

(Hike) We took our time warming up and eating breakfast before packing up and heading to Taggart Lake Trailhead, for a long hike up to Taggart, Amphitheater, and Surprise Lakes. We chose this hike based off a recommendation from a Ranger for a “longer, challenging hike”, it was just that.

I quickly regretted forgetting my trekking poles while gaining 3,400 ft. in a little over 7 miles. However, the view at the top was well worth the burning calfs. Nestled in the heart of the Teton Range, Amphitheater Lake has 360 views of the jagged peaks, with The Grand Teton towering overhead.

Power-hiking our way down the 7 miles to the car (nearly 3 miles of switchbacks), we quickly changed, and headed to Jackson for dinner. Jackson is a picture-perfect mountain town. Good restaurants, cute shops, lots of flannel, pro athletes wandering the streets, and awesome views.

(Eat) We ended up at Snake River Brewing, where they had plenty of plant based options.

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Day 3:

(Run) On our last day we stopped at String Lake for a quick trail run on our way out of the Park. With bear spray in hand, we made our way around the 3.5 mile loop. This was a beautiful run, and would make for a great hike, or place to pack a picnic and hang out on one of the numerous beaches around the lake.

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Lewis Peak - The Wasatch - Eden, Utah

Hannah Fleming

Lewis Peak sits along the Wasatch Mountain Range between Mt. Ogden and the more iconic, Ben Lomond Peak. With a 10.4 mile out and back trail, Lewis Peak is the perfect hike/run combination of elevation gain and distance.

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Getting There

The trail starts at the North Ogden Trailhead, the same trailhead as Ben Lomond, located along the North Ogden Divide (E 3100 N).The trailhead has ample parking and facilities.

The Trail

No time for a warm up on this trail. The trail kicks into high gear out of the gate with steep switchbacks, climbing 1500 ft. in the first two miles. The majority of this part of the trail is covered in trees, so make sure to bring a headlamp and a light layer if you’re hiking. The trail quickly opens up to beautiful views of Ben Lomond, Eden and Pineview Reservoir.

The fun really starts once you make it to the first sign, telling you 2.5 miles to the summit! The trail changes from steep, rocky, uphill, to smooth, golden, rolling hills. As you make your way to the peak, you have the option of climbing each hill and getting in more vert, or continue along the lower trail. These options make Lewis Peak one of my favorite trails I’ve discovered so far in the Wasatch.

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Made using Suunto Movescount

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Distance: 10.4 miles
Elevation gain: 2687 Ft.

 

 

 

Gear

Shoes: Salomon Sense Ride - Before working for Salomon, I trail ran in my road shoes. Now, I trail run in best in class trail shoes, and the difference is significant. I love the quick lace technology, so I can keep my focus on not tripping over rocks, instead of my laces. The Sense Ride's have Vibe technology throughout the entire sole of the shoe, providing extra shock absorption, and extra cushioning. Out of the box I ran 13 miles in these shoes. No pain. If you're looking for your first pair of trail runners, or for an upgrade, consider Salomon. 

Pack: Salomon S/LAB Sense Ultra 5 - This pack holds two 16 oz. flasks in the front pockets, leaving amble room for snacks, gels, phones, cameras, keys, headlamps, etc. You want the fit to be snug. I'm 5' 2'', and wear an XS.
 

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Photo shows how you can take the high vs. low trails for different vert. 

Photo shows how you can take the high vs. low trails for different vert. 

Watch: Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR - This is my go-to every day / every workout watch. With built in wrist HR, I know when I need to pick up the pace, and when I need to dial it back I bit. More importantly, with the incredible GPS I feel safe when running alone, and know I can find my way back if I get lost (which happened for the first time this weekend, thank you bread crumbs!) 

Water: 2 - 8 oz. flasks and 1 - 6 oz. flask

Nutrition: Dates and a waffle (Organic ones are dairy free / egg free, but made with honey. NOT vegan)

Have a favorite run in the Wasatch? Comment below!

Amethyst Lake, Unita National Forest, Utah

Hannah Fleming


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The only thing more rewarding than hiking to the summit of a mountain, is hiking to an alpine lake. Lucky for me, there’s plenty of options close by!

Once the snow finally began to melt, it was time to venture East into the Uintas National Forest. Amethyst Lake  is located on the Western Side of the Uintas National Forest, on the back side of Ostler peak.

Hiking in early spring, the trails are muddy from snow melt. Snow covered half the trail, forcing us to turn around 3 miles in.

Hiking in early spring, the trails are muddy from snow melt. Snow covered half the trail, forcing us to turn around 3 miles in.

Getting There:
Depending on where you’re coming from in the greater SLC area, you will come South down the Mirror Lake Highway (150) from Evanston Wyoming, or North from Kamas to the Christmas Meadows Campground. There will be a turn off with a sign directing you to "Christmas Meadows Campground". Make sure to stop and pick up a hiking permit at the ranger station, follow the sign to the self-serve permit station ($5 - cash only), or display your National Parks Pass if you have one (this is accepted in lieu of a permit).

Once you arrive at Christmas Meadows Campground, follow the road past the campgrounds, all the way to the end until you reach a parking lot.

 

 

The Trail

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The trail is gradual for the first 3 miles as you wander along the Stillwater Fork and riverside meadows. Keep your eyes out, you may see wildlife through here. You’ll make a left at a fork with a clearly labeled wooden sign for Amethyst Lake. This is where the trail kicks up, and quickly start to gain elevation.

The remainder of the trail is moderate-strenuous with elevation gain, and more technical terrain. The trail wanders over streams, alongside Waterfalls, and through beautiful meadows.

Before reaching the final destination of Amethyst Lake, you will reach Ostler Lake (Around 6.5 miles in). Ostler Lake is clear, beautiful, and serves as a great place to set up camp.

Ostler Lake

Ostler Lake

If you’re looking to venture past Ostler and make it to Amethyst, cross the river before you make it to Ostler Lake, and head up the trail along the left side of the Lake for another 1.1 miles.

Amethyst Lake

Amethyst Lake

Ice cold summit 'croix.

Ice cold summit 'croix.

Day Trip v. Backpacking Overnight?

Buffs = mosquito protection

Buffs = mosquito protection

After doing this trail on two different day trips (intending for one to actually be an overnight trip*), I would still recommend just making a day trip of this hike.

*After hauling all of our camp gear up the trail, enjoying some time at the Lake, and setting up camp, we realized how awful the mosquitos are. I’m talking hundreds of mosquitos swarming you, forcing you to stay in your tent because bug spray without deet does not work, can’t enjoy yourself, AWFUL. We made the game time decision to pack our stuff up, head back down, and drove back to Ogden.

Next Time?

  • Bring Deet

  • Set up camp at Christmas Meadows Campground

  • Day hike up to the Lake

  • Bring a hammock and book to set up by the Lake

Hike overview:

  • Difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous

  • Distance: ~13 miles

  • Elevation gain: 2,050 ft.

  • Time: 6 hours (with 55L overnight packs carrying camping gear)
     

Additional Resources


Comment below with any hike suggestions for the greater SLC area!

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Yosemite National Park, California – Spring 2017

Hannah Fleming

The first time I went to Yosemite it was 1999, and I was 6.

I remember the tall trees, the shuttles bussing us around the park, being scared of bears breaking into the car, drinking out of the soda springs at Tuolomne meadow, and… the waterfalls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's amazing looking through these photos, pulled from my Mom's scrapbook, all taken before digital cameras.

Fast forward 17 years to September 2016. Ben, my Mom and I were back in Curry Village celebrating Ben's birthday.

We had a great time hiking and enjoying the beautiful landscape, but, something was missing. Dark black lines ran down the granite walls where the waterfalls I so vividly remembered flow in the Spring and Summer. Almost as soon as we got back from that trip, we began planning our next trip.

I. Getting There
With friends coming in from out of state, logistics were important. Because Ben lives in Orange County, we chose the OC as our meeting point. We flew into various airports in the area, piled all of our gear into the rented minivan, and drove up to Yosemite. (If you can, flying into San Francisco is a better/closer option.) We also had a google document tracking everyone’s flights, expenses, packing lists, etc.

II. The Campsite
If you’re interested in reserving a spot, it’s crucial to plan ahead. Campground reservations open five months in advance, and fill up fast! It’s like trying to get tickets to your favorite band the minute tickets are released!

Our group stayed at the Upper Pines Campground. There were multiple bathrooms, sinks for foods waste, and water fountains. This location worked well as we were close to Curry Village (unfortunately renamed Half Dome Village in 2016), and a few of the trailheads.

If all sites are filled, another great option are the canvas tents we stayed at on our last trip.  

III. Itinerary
We’ve found that the best way to make the most of any trip, is to plan out the big hikes we’re doing every day, and have a few options for the evening.  We could not have planned them better. Doing the hikes in this order worked out perfectly! It's also important to do you some research and plan ahead according to the time of year you're visiting. HWY 120 into the park closes during the Winter, and was still closed when we were there in March. Check all of the conditions here

Fun fact: I used to hate crossing streams on the trails. Now, I love it!

Fun fact: I used to hate crossing streams on the trails. Now, I love it!

Day 1 (half day)

After stopping at Tunnel View and Bridalveil Falls* on our way into the park, we set up camp and set off for Four Mile Trail. When the full trail is open, this hike takes you from the Valley Floor to Glacier Point. After 2.5 miles, the clouds began to shift, a storm rolled in, and it began to snow. As we made it back to trailhead, the clouds rolled out of the valley, and we were left with a gorgeous evening. From the Four Mile Trail trailhead, we headed across the meadows to Yosemite Falls, and wandered around the Valley Floor Loop for a bit before heading back to camp.

Total Mileage: ~ 6
Total Time: ~2 hours

 

View from 4 Mile Trail

View from 4 Mile Trail

Wandering along the Valley Floor

Wandering along the Valley Floor

Day 2: Yosemite Falls 

We woke to the sound of the gushing waterfalls, cooked up our go-to breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, piled into our minivan, and made our way to the Yosemite Falls trailhead by 9. The hike is strenuous, so plan on spending the majority of the day on the trail.

Total Mileage: ~ 8
Total Time: ~6 hours

Before a Golden Hour hike at Mirror Lake we made a quick stop at the campsite for fuel (aka more Clif Bars, trail mix, dried fruit, and Chex Mix), before making our way to Mirror Lake for Golden Hour.

Hannah 1 , Hannah 2 (me), and Alex at the top of Upper Yosemite Falls

Hannah 1, Hannah 2 (me), and Alex at the top of Upper Yosemite Falls

View from Mirror Lake

View from Mirror Lake

Day 3: Vernal and Nevada Falls

On our last full day at the park, we chose another longer, strenuous hike to the top of Nevada Falls. Along the way, the trail passes the Vernal Fall Footbridge, up to to the top of  Vernal Falls.

There are a few different trail options to go all the way to the top of Nevada Falls*:

  • Mist Trail to Vernal Falls then continuing on to the top of Nevada Falls
  • John Muir trail down the Clarke Point Cut Off to the top of Vernal falls then continuing on the Mist Trail
  • John Muir Trail all the way to the top of Nevada Falls

We opted to take the JMT to the point at which it was closed - Clark Point. We then cut down to the Mist Trail, up to the top of Nevada Falls, and back all the way down the Mist Trail. This route was less busy/dryer on the way up. https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

*Depending on what time of year you go, part of the trail(s) are closed. Make sure to check in before your trip with the Park Rangers, or online! 

Total Miles: ~8

Total Time: ~6 hours

We ended the day with a hot shower, and pizza from Curry Village. For those plant powered folks, they will make you an awesome dairy-free, veggie pizza!

Day 4: Sunrise at Tunnel View

05:00 AM- We woke to the sound of our iPhone alarms telling us it was time to get up, pack up the our two tents, and make our way to the park exit. There was just one more stop on our itinerary – Tunnel View.
 

In front of Lower Yosemite Falls. Photo:  B. Fleming

In front of Lower Yosemite Falls. Photo: B. Fleming

IV. Gear

In addition to what is listed over on my my new gear page, other important items we brought were:

  • 6 person tent rented from REI
  • 2 Pocket Rockets
  • Rain Gear
  • Warm Gear

V. Meals

Breakfast/lunch/snacks: pretty standard for camping - lots of oatmeal, PB&J, fruit, trail mix, tortillas, Clif Bars and more PB. (I think I FINALLY over-did it on the Clif Bars. I'm back to homemade bars now!)
Dinner #1 - Hannah made an awesome Vegan curry!
Dinner #2 - Curry sweet potatoes (cut up sweet potatoes + curry powder + heat) and tons of warmed up canned veggies. This was our first time using canned veggies, and it worked great!
Dinner #3 - Ate out at Curry Village. There are ton's of choices. I went for a salad, and vegan pizza!

Hanging out in El Cap meadows

Hanging out in El Cap meadows

Waterfall Canyon Trail | Ogden, Utah

Hannah Fleming

I’ve officially moved from LA to Ogden!

In the three short weeks I’ve been in Ogden, we’ve gotten 6+ feet of snow, i’ve skied seven times (mostly in knee deep powder!) After endless storms, I woke up to a beautiful bluebird day, perfect for hiking! In late Fall, when the last of the autumn colors were just fading, I did this hike to find the Waterfall was dried up. Because of this, I knew I wanted to hike it again in the Winter when the falls would be frozen and beautiful!

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail that runs along the base of Mount Ogden is scenic, leads to beautiful destinations, and is easy to access.

 

The best part of hiking in Ogden is how easily accessible the trails are. There are main trailheads at the end of every street spanning from 22nd street to 29th street at the base of Mount Ogden.

 

IMG_5483.JPG

 

 

Distance: ~3 miles round-trip
Starting Point: 29th Street Trailhead
Difficulty: Strenuous
Winter Weather Conditions: expect snow/ice covered trails
Gear: micro-spikes (if you have them!), trekking poles, leggings, base layer, hooded fleece, down vest, light gloves, hat, extra shell in my pack

 

 

 

P.S. Before I had the chance to post this, my Mom visited, and we hiked it again!
There was even more fresh pow!

Death Valley National Park, California

Hannah Fleming

Stopped to enjoy the smooth pavement along US-190.

Stopped to enjoy the smooth pavement along US-190.

PC:  B.Fleming

Death Valley National Park

After recent trips to Joshua Tree and Yosemite, it was time to make it to another California National Park – Death Valley.  With my adventure buddy and close friend Hannah in town for a few days, it was the perfect opportunity to make the trip!

Located 4.5 hours Northeast of LA, a weekend trip to Death Valley is easily achievable with an early start.  Leaving LA Saturday morning at 5:00 AM we avoided traffic and made great timing, pulling into the ranger station at Stovepipe Wells by 9:30. Given we were only staying one night, we asked the ranger for recommendations, and made our plan for the next 24 hours.

 Morning Exploring

Badwater Basin –  At 282 ft. below sea level, Badwater Basin is the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere. When looking across the 200 Square Miles of Salt Flats, the basin looks as though it is covered in a light dusting of fresh snow, instead of dried up sea water! 

Artist's DriveA 9 mile scenic drive loop, exposing beautiful different types of rocks and rock formations.

Golden Canyon TrailThere are a range of great hiking trails along the Golden Canyon Trial. We opted for the 2.5 mile loop to Red Cathedral. There are plenty of secondary trails along the way where you can explore deeper into the canyon.

 

Sunset Spot

Mesquite Flat Dunes We made our way out onto the dunes an hour or so before sunset, and experienced a truly magical golden hour. The particles of sands were glistening, the mountains surrounding the valley were glowing, and the sky was painted shades of pink and purple. 

Sunrise Spot

Zabriskie Point  If you make it to Zabriskie Point for sunrise, you’ll likely run into dozens of photographers, for a good reason. This is the perfect spot to watch the mountains change color as the sun rises, and fills the valley floor with light! There is also a large parking lot, with facilities, and a paved path up to the point.

PC:  B.Fleming

Camping & Supplies

Furnace CreekFurnace creek campground is a 30-minute drive past Stovepipe Wells. In the village of Furnace Creek you will find all of your essentials, so don’t worry if you forget tin foil or want to go to a café for dinner.

There was also plenty of water and gas throughout the National Park. We filled up our bottles at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and Stovepipe Wells.

Yosemite National Park, California

Hannah Fleming

 

After a busy summer of hiking, traveling, weddings, and long days at the beach, it’s officially camping season in Southern California, and there’s no better way to kick of camping season than a trip to Yosemite National Park!

 

 

15 years after my first trip to Yosemite, I was ecstatic when my mom flew out to make a quick three day weekend trip with my brother and I. We loaded all of our gear up, and made the 5 hour drive from LA to Yosemite. 

Accommodations: We glamped. Due to the last minute planning, and to ensure we had a spot, we booked a two bed canvas tent cabin (we comfortably slept 3!) in Curry Village (re-named Half Dome Village).  This was a great choice. We didn’t have to worry about spending time setting up and tearing down camp, and were able to get in as much hiking as we could. 

 

 

 

 

Day 1

The drive in to the valley is pretty spectacular. After winding through the forest on Route 41, you shoot out of the Wawona Tunnel to the famous Tunnel View. After a necessary photo shoot, we continued to Curry Village to check in to our tent.

Afternoon Hike - Valley Floor Loop
This loop is great because you can easily make it as long or as short as you want. We began at  Lower Yosemite Falls, hiked for 6 miles, and caught a shuttle back to our car. We chose to do this hike the first afternoon/evening so we could 1. see a lot of the valley floor and 2. not wear ourselves out too much before a tough hike the following morning.

Notable stops along the way included Camp 4, El Capitan, El Capitan Meadow, and crossing the Merced River.

Evening Hike - Taft Point
A quick 1.1 mile hike out to Taft Point promises one of the best sunset views in the park. Make sure to bring layers, and a headlamp for the way back.

El Capitan Meadows

El Capitan Meadows

View at Taft Point

View at Taft Point

Taking in the sunset

Taking in the sunset

Day 2

Day Hike - Four Mile Trail 
Starting at Four Mile Trailhead, this is a beautiful, strenuous 4.8 mile hike from the valley floor up to Glacier Point. Be prepared for this hike with trekking poles, water, and some snacks. The hike up features amazing views of the Valley floor, El Cap, the Three Brothers, Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, and Half Dome the majority of the hike. After a hard hike, you’re treated to a well-earned view at Glacier Point. There is also a cafe, gift shop, restrooms, and lots of tourists waiting for you at the top, just remember you earned the view! :)

Hikers can either hike back down (which is what we did!), or drive down if you dropped off a car at the top. Another option is to pay $20 for the shuttle bus at the top. 

Evening Activities

Ahwahnee Lodge (Majestic Yosemite Hotel): To celebrate my brother’s birthday, we enhanced our glamping experience with a fancy dinner at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. I had delicious minestrone and a huge garden salad. 

Day 3

Sunrise - Glacier Point 
It doesn’t take too long browsing the internet to discover one of the most epic sunrise location in Yosemite - Glacier Point. We left our tent at 5, packed up our gear, and made our way up to Glacier Point. Bundled in my down jacket and wrapped in a sleeping bag, I had plenty of time to have my coffee brewed and in-hand, oatmeal cooked, and camera’s ready, all by the time the sun began to rise. 

 

 

 

Morning Hike - Sentinel Dome  
A great stop on the way back down to the valley is Sentinel Dome. This 2.2 mile loop shares a trailhead with the Taft Point trail. This trail is a little tougher, with a steeper climb up to the summit. However, you’re rewarded with an amazing 360 view. 


 

In my opinion, Yosemite is an amazing place that everyone needs to experience. You're reminded how absolutely beautiful our world is. So, get out there and celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks!

Parker Mesa Overlook - Santa Monica Mountains

Hannah Fleming

Beautiful view looking back towards Santa Monica

Beautiful view looking back towards Santa Monica

This is the perfect quick hike to get your heart rate up, without having to drive too far out of the city. With it's easy access off of the PCH, you get a beautiful drive and a great hike!  

A little back story: I first did this hike in January 2015 while visiting my brother over winter break. I remember feeling totally out of shape compared to him and his roomate, and I hated it. I returned home, ran my first half marathon, moved to LA, started hiking, and a year and a half later hiked this trail with speed. 

 

The trail leading off from the fire road, out towards Parker Mesa

The trail leading off from the fire road, out towards Parker Mesa

Trail Access:
The overlook can be reached by multiple trails: Los Liones Trail, Trippet Ranch and East Topanga Fireroad.  I chose the 5.7 mile route, starting at the top of a windy residential street, Paseo Miramar I didn't have trouble parking either time, as many hikers are locals who can walk or ride their bikes in.

Distance: 5.7 Miles

Time: 1.5 - 2 hours depending on pace

Trail Condition:
With a 900 foot elevation gain, you are hiking at a steady incline the 2.8 miles to the top, and will be sure to work up a sweat. The majority of the hike you're on a well maintained fire road, and can easily choose to run or bike. 

What to pack:
I brought my go-to day pack, GoPro, Water, Sunscreen and a Clif Bar. I may have been overpacked, but when it's 80 degrees at 8:00AM it's always good to bring some water and fuel just in case. 

Next time i'm going to leave the pack, and try a quick trail run instead!

The first time Ben, Hannah and I hiked this trail in January 2015.

The first time Ben, Hannah and I hiked this trail in January 2015.

The Whitney Trail

Hannah Fleming

There are some things that have always been on my bucket list: traveling to Europe, making it to each of the 50 states, sky-diving, and swimming with dolphins.  And then there are the things that are added to the bucket list as SOON as you hear about them, Mt. Whitney is one of those. 

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the continental U.S. It's highest peak reaches 14,505 feet above sea level.

Preparation

Permit- A permit is required to hike in the Mt. Whitney Zone in the John Muir Wilderness. Details regarding how to obtain a permit can be found here.

Health - When hiking in high altitude, with huge elevation gains, physical fitness is important. We train by running 2-3 miles, 5-6 times a week, lifting weights a few times a week, and doing training hikes in as high of altitude as we can. Checkout my hiking page for details on those hikes! In addition to being in good physical condition, we fuel our bodies with healthy food, and make sure to take plenty of rest days! We also decided to take medicine to help us adjust with the altitude. This is a doctor prescribed medication.

Gear
    Bag - 65L Osprey Aura
    Tent-  Marmot 3 Person
    Sleeping Bag- Marmot Trestles 15 Sleeping Bag
    Sleeping Pad- REI Camp Bed 2.5
    Fire- MSR PocetRocket
    Water Purifier- SteriPen
    Bear Canister - Rented from REI
    Clothes- spandex shorts, leggings, hiking pants, long sleeve, short sleeve, tank top, down jacket, hat, gloves, mittens, and an extra pair of socks
    Food- bagels, Clif bars, peanut butter, pre-packaged camp food, dried fruit, trail mix.

A great resource we referenced was the Whitney Trial Conditions thread. It gave us some great insight into what the trail conditions were actually going to be like, especially since there was more snow coverage this year than normal!

 Day 1: Sleeping at 4,000

    To ensure our bodies had plenty of time to adjust, we spent Thursday night Lone Pine. We got a great night’s rest before two nights of camping.

Day 2: Sleeping at 8,000

    Friday morning we picked up our permit, took our last showers for 48 hours, and headed up Whitney Portal Road. We spent the afternoon lounging by the river and re-packing our bags while our bodies adjusted to the altitude. Whitney Portal Campground has restrooms, a store (with a restaurant!), and most importantly - is located at the head of the The Whitney Trail.  

Day 3: Making it to Trail Camp

Saturday morning we packed up our tent, sleeping pads and packs, made oatmeal, and hit the trail at 6:30 AM. We weighed our bags at the weigh station at the head of the trail, and were surprised that they weighed between 35-40 pounds. This is when I decided I need to invest in lightweight backcountry equipment. Nevertheless, we began our slow and steady journey to trail camp. We made sure to take frequent rests for water, and a 5-10 minute break every hour to grab some fuel (Clif bar chews, part of a granola bar, or some dried fruit). Time was in our favor, and we had all day to make it the 6 miles to trail camp.

I knew within the first mile as our boots were off and we were crossing Lone Pine Stream, this would be one of my favorite trails. It is full of river crossings, lakes, waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, and even a meadow with wildflowers. A hike is always better with beautiful wildflowers.

We arrived by 2:30PM at trail camp and immediately ate another snack (so much food!) After setting up camp, resting, and cooking dinner, we prepped our gear for the early morning summit. This was when we thought we would need to prepare tons of water for the next day, but were happy to discover the even more clean water!! We tested the water multiple times with my SteriPen, and were excited as the light flashed green within seconds of dipping it into the water. (Note that along the trail there is plenty of fresh water to fill your bottles, and you don't need to pack as much :) ) We filled our CamelBak's and water bottles with the snowmelt streams flowing into the lake. We brought smaller day packs, and would leave the rest of our gear at Trail Camp. 

Day 4: Summit to Sea Level

Sunday morning was go-time. The alarm on my watch went off at 3:15, giving us 45 minutes to grab some food, wake up a bit, and hit the trail. After moving around a bit and trying to eat some breakfast, Hannah started feeling a bit off. But, determined to Summit, we geared up, strapped on our headlamps, and started hiking. About 50 feet down the trail the early signs of Altitude Sickness really began to hit her. We returned to our tent, rested for another hour, drank some electrolyte infused water, and hoped her body just needed a little more time and some daylight to adjust. And we were right!

About a 1/2 mile up the trail from Trail Camp is when you begin the dreaded 99 switchbacks. We approached these the same way we had the rest of the trail, slow and steady, with lots of breaks. The switchbacks make up about half of the remaining 4 miles from Trail Camp to the Summit. The switchbacks are known for being dangerous when there is still snow/ice, so hikers must use the “chute” route up the mountain. However, by the time we were hiked in mid-June the switchbacks were safe and (mostly) clear of snow and ice.

After 2 miles of switchbacks, you’ll reach Trail Crest. This is the point where the trail crosses into Sequoia National Forest, and you’ll meet up with the end of the John Muir Trail coming up the back side of the range. This was one of my favorite parts of the hike. Hearing stories from hikers who had been gone for two weeks is all the motivation you need to hike the remaining miles to the summit!

The final push to the summit was no more challenging than the rest of the trail, besides some careful footing for a 100 yard stretch of snow-covered trail.

After reaching the summit, taking pictures, and calling our families (there is LTE up there!!!), we began the return journey. We picked up our pace a bit on the way back down, and made it back to our cars by 6PM. 

Final Thoughts

This was one of the most mentally and physically challenging experiences of my life, and thus, the most rewarding. I truly encourage everyone to go experience how beautiful our world is!

For a different perspective, and even more details on our hike, head over to hannah's blog!

Saddleback Mountain

Hannah Fleming

 

PC: B.Fleming (btfleming.com)

PC: B.Fleming (btfleming.com)

After a few months without a long hike, it was finally time to break in my new hiking boots! We spent a Saturday, following a quick stop at the REI garage sale, hiking up Saddleback Mountain.

With the California Winter days behind us, and not yet into warm Summer days, the weather is perfect for long hikes. The trail at Saddleback Mountain up to Santiago Peak has a 6,000 foot elevation gain and is roughly 16 miles round trip, making this my longest hike yet!

The trail is estimated by most to take 8-9 hours, so we made sure to bring plenty of water and food.  I had my 3L CamelBak reservoir filled, two granola bars, a few bananas and a PB&J. I also packed an extra long sleeve and a t-shirt just in case.

PC: H. Labadie (hannahlabadie.com)

PC: H. Labadie (hannahlabadie.com)

     We parked the car and hit the trail by 9:30. The first four miles the temperature was very comfortable, and the views were beautiful. However, once the clouds began to roll in the temperature quickly dropped, and I’m glad I had a few extra layers packed away!

We reached the summit at 12:30 and enjoyed the rest of our lunches. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day, and the view was not nearly as good as it could've been. Also, because Saddleback is topped with satellite towers and a utility building, it feels like you're not too far out in nature.  By 12:45 we began the 8 mile trek back to the car, and ended up making it down the mountain a little after 3:30, totaling around 6.5 hours for the whole hike!

If you want to get out into nature for a day, without TOO challenging of a hike, I definitely recommend Saddleback Mountain!

Mt. Baldy Sunrise Hike

Hannah Fleming

We all have those moments in life when we are 100% content with what we are doing. Your mind isn’t wandering, wishing you were somewhere else, or doing something different with different people.  These are the moments we have to stop and pay attention to. 

At some point along the 4,000 ft. hike up to the summit of Mt. Baldy, with only the moon and our headlamps lighting the way, I had one of these moments. 

Dressed in running tights, base layers, an awesome Patagonia Nano-Puff, my Michigan State winter hat (still celebrating the B1G Championship Game win from the night before), and a head lamp to top it all off, we started our hike around 3:00 AM.  Stowed in our packs we had cameras (mine being a Cannon Rebel SL1) thicker gloves for the top, snacks (Clif Bars and dried fruit), and of course water (we each fill our CamelBak’s and carry another 1L water bottle). This hike is strenuous, and the path can get a little unclear at times, but I felt safe. I had done the hike twice before, and was with more experienced hikers.

Honestly, when I’m doing a hike for the first time all I can think about is getting to the top. I’m working on this. Yes, I wanted to make it to the top, I wanted to be able to relax and take in this AMAZING sunrise. But I wasn’t as anxious as usual to get there. This is important. During this hike I was genuinely enjoying the challenge, which made me realize how important being outside is to me.

PC: BF

PC: BF

The takeaway is simple: 

make time for whatever it is that you enjoy doing, challenges you, and helps you gain perspective AND GET OUTSIDE!

Paddles and Poles: Newport and Mt. Baldy

Hannah Fleming

Paddles and Poles.  Boards and Boots.  Ocean and Mountains.
 

SUPing in Newport.

SUPing in Newport.

California is a unique place to live, since I now live here! You can be in a completely different environment by driving an hour in any direction. This weekend we got the best of both worlds, a day spent at the ocean and a day spent hiking in the mountains. 

We kicked off the weekend with breakfast at Stuft Surfer in Newport, followed by renting Stand Up Paddleboards and playing in the waves for few hours. Not a bad Saturday.

Sunday we headed North to Mt. Baldy. The hike starts around 6,000 ft., increasing to 10,064 ft. over the course of 3.8 miles. This hike was not only my longest hike, reaching the highest elevation, but definitely the hardest. I'd like to say it was because Friday was leg day, but I know that would be a lie. Investing in a pair of trekking poles was a great decision.

Part of the hike up to the top of Mt. Baldy.

The descent across Devil's Backbone.

Typically the descent is six miles, the last three of which along a fire road. We chose to ride the ski lift down, cutting off around three miles. 

Potato Chip Rock

Hannah Fleming

My initial sun-burn is finally starting to turn to tan as I've been in California for a little over a week!

Weekend #1 in California was spent soaking up the sun on a 8-mile, slightly harder than we were expecting, hike up to Potato Chip Rock. The trail winds along Lake Poway, leading to the top of Mount Woodson where Potato Chip Rock is perched. We left around 10 AM, so it was hot, and we probably had to wait a bit longer to take our memorable picture (personally I think this is a missed marketing opportunity for Pringles).
Regardless, the hike was great, and I can't wait to check out more of the San Diego area!

MI-->CA in 4 Days

Hannah Fleming

Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake

Two Fridays ago (this post is a little late) my mom and I left Kalamazoo to drive across the country so I can give my job search a real shot in the LA area. 

With my car busting at the seams (because i'm optimistic!) we drove to Indianapolis to see One Direction perform at Lucas Oil Stadium!

From there we hit the road and drove a few hours to get a head start on our biggest leg of the trip, Indy to Denver. After a long day of driving on Saturday we ended up not being able to find a hotel in Denver, and opted to save money and slept in our car a little west of Denver. This actually worked out perfectly. We were able to get up early to make our way to our first stop of the trip: Hanging Lake. The hike up was pretty strenuous, but definitely worth it! It's a little over a mile each way, and takes a few hours. This was a great way to stretch our legs!

Next stop: Zion. From Hanging Lake we got right back on I-70 and headed West towards Zion. We stayed at a rustic B&B 15 minutes away from the East entrance, allowing us to quickly get up and get to the park. Due to time restraints we had to chose one hike, Angels Landing. This hike is definitely challenging, including 21 switch backs, and my first experience using chains! 

After Zion we headed to Las Vegas, where my mom would catch the red-eye home. 

This 4 day adventure covered 2,412 miles in 38.33 hours (according to my mom's calculations.) Now, to find a job so I can keep doing these amazing adventures!

Top of Angels Landing

Top of Angels Landing