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” Already- although she was standing right there- she began to miss this place, she knew she would miss it for the rest of her days ”
– Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of all things 

The full moon broke through just in time. Its light pierced through the seemingly impenetrable ceiling of darkness, like a beacon on a lighthouse.  When descending in the dark during a storm, speed is of the utmost importance. Still, I couldn’t help but pause and admire its courage as it shone through the clouds and suddenly illuminated the still waters of a distant lake. A symbol of serenity in an otherwise chaotic situation, my nerves eased.  Hours later, after a demanding, thrilling and downright frightening day on Merriam peak, my partner and I collapsed into our sleeping bags, legs sore but minds content.

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People often talk about the work-life balance, but in my life I don’t know which one is work, and which one is living, confused about where I truly belong; I feel alive when I’m in the mountains, yet I never stay.  Back home in the city recharges my soul, yet I inevitably grow restless and leave again to find fulfillment in the mountains.  Continuously I cross the threshold between these two worlds – worlds in symbiosis, incessantly turning over.  Both are part of my identity, yet I can’t exist in one forever, not without the other.  Like the sand that falls through the narrow waist of an hourglass, I am constantly pulled from one realm to the other.  This is my life in perpetual motion, a delicate dance balancing pleasure and pain, serenity and insanity. 

by Niki Yoblanski in her piece “the hourglass”

http://themilestickaway.squarespace.com

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Photo by Julie Vargo

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

The work-life balance has been a difficult thing to strike lately. Like the author so poignantly describes in that quote from her larger piece “The Hourglass” , I am constantly struggling to create an equilibrium between my career goals that I am pursuing here in San Francisco and my personal passion to play in the mountains. One unfortunate consequence of this tricky task is that I have completely neglected this blog. This, in turn, will benefit you, my few readers, because this will be light on text and heavy on imagery!

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I have spoken of the rich years when the rainfall was plentiful. But there were dry years too, and they put a terror on the valley. … The land cracked and the springs dried up and the cattle listlessly nibbled dry twigs. … People would have to haul water in barrels to their farms just for drinking. Some families would sell out for nearly nothing and move away. And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.- John Steinbeck, East of Eden

One of my new "offices" at the Presidio Bluffs

One of my new “offices” at the Presidio Bluffs

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

I read that often quoted passage from John Steinbeck in a KQED article (KQED is the Bay Area’s public radio station) describing what is now being coined as “Marin storm”- yet another atmospheric river similar to that we experienced in late December. Now, however, I’m in the middle of the action- the North Bay- and not watching the youtube videos of San Franciscans falling in giant puddles on their bikes from the parched desert of Bishop. I had a great deal of fun today battling the winds while cursing myself for deciding that biking down the steep hills of the city during a storm was a good idea (now that I’m all cozy and safe, I realize it was a most excellent idea- so much fun) and getting totally lost while accommodating to my new neighborhood (a trip to Trader Joe’s became a prolonged epic adventure). We are getting plentiful amounts of rainfall   , but man oh man it is definitely warm! This can be good, as warm air tends to bring more moisture, but in terms of our dismal snowpack this is bad business- snow will likely only fall at above 8000 feet, not really helping our terribly low snowpack numbers. Snowpack is our lifeline during the summer; as we deplete the reservoirs, the slowly melting snow is supposed to recharge them. During a good year, this works. However, the typical climate of California isn’t at all stable and often has cycles of prolonged drought- most of the state is a desert, after all, a fact many forget as irrigation has turned the arid land green. Climate change is expected to make the temperatures warmer and intensify droughts. Rain, when it does fall, will fall more like in the events we are currently experiencing- all at once in a matter of days, followed by long periods of dry, hot weather. I fear that many Californians will use this storm as evidence that we are emerging from a drought when really we are only sinking deeper into its hold- I fear that Steinbeck is probably right.
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Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

Accidents in the mountains are less common than in the lowlands, and these mountain mansions are decent, delightful, even divine, places to die in, compared with the doleful chambers of civilization. Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain-passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. – John Muir

In Tuolumne Meadows, there are no shortage of routes available to the motivated climber. Three of these routes make up what is known as the “Triple Crown”- Tenaya Peak, Cathedral Peak, and Matthes Crest. All three routes get you above 10,000 ft. for a moderate grade, and all are unique in their own way. The strongest and quickest climbers try to link them up in a day, which is an ambitious task. Emmanuel and I wanted to climb all of them, but honestly thought we would have to pick one or two of them. Well, turns out we didn’t.

Our plan was to head into Tuolumne from Lone Pine, sleep outside of the park and then climb Tenaya on Thursday morning. After Tenaya we planned to try to get a permit to backpack into Echo Lakes on Friday. As Cathedral Peak and Matthes Crest are about 2 miles from another (and both close to Echo Lake), many link the two routes in two days by backpacking to Echo Peaks. This lets you avoid having to hike back and forth and also to sneak in some backpacking in the middle of climbing two classics.

So, in three days we climbed the three most prolific “easy” routes in Tuolume meadows, Here, then, is what happened along the way…

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Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

While we had a blast ticking off lots of 3-4 pitch moderates at Lover’s Leap, what Emmanuel and I were really psyched on was going to do long, easy , committing routes that summited substantially tall peaks. Emmanuel already had a bit of experience doing this, but the most intense thing I’d ever done in that category was Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne the prior summer… and I followed the entire thing. So, I had only one way to go- up! (pun intended)

We made a list of routes we thought we might like to try with the help of Peter Croft’s “The Good, the Great and the Awesome” and Supertopo’s second edition of the High Sierra Climbing guidebook.

One of the most classic and easiest routes in the High Sierra is Crystal Crag. Crystal Crag is situated right above the Mammoth Lakes Basin and gets you above 10,000 ft but with very minimal commitment. The approach is way shorter than most in the guidebook (45 min) and there are only three pitches. It can easily be done in half a day. For someone totally new to the whole mountaineering realm, it seemed like a great way for me to get my feet wet.

View of the Mammoth Lakes Basin from the North Summit of Crystal Crag- check out the white  chunk of crystal rock!

View of the Mammoth Lakes Basin from the North Summit of Crystal Crag- check out the white chunk of crystal rock!

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Why do I always think I’m training when I run? That’s not it at all. I’m simply easing into my natural state. – Steph Davis

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

As I laced up my running shoes that Wednesday morning, I reflected that, after today’s classes, I would have only three more weeks left of my undergraduate career. I glanced at my watch – 6:30 AM – and checked the weather. It was already above 60 degrees and the forecast high was well into the upper 90s. Still,  I often managed to drag myself out of bed early to run while the air was still crisp and the sun was not yet too powerful.

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Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

Balmy summer temperatures and breaks from school brought me back to the Six Rivers National Forest for some climbing at the Trinity Aretes. I had only been to the Aretes once, about a year ago (see the blog post from that trip)  Since then I’ve wanted to go back to try some of the harder routes which I had eyed on my first trip. Luckily, my friend Gabriel was as excited about the trip as I was and was willing to ditch work for a 5 day long climbing trip in one of the most beautiful and simultaneously isolated and accessible sport climbing crags I have ever been to in California.

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Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

With spring came great Yosemite Valley climbing weather, but also my last (and most difficult) quarter at UC Davis. Somehow, I managed to pull off going to the Sierra Nevada four times to do some trad climbing, but with my 21 unit load I never found the time to actually do all of the blogging I wanted to about these trips. With so much time past since these trips, I have decided to make this a “photo blog”, which I figure will be appreciated by my number one blog reader- my mom.  Here then, are the adventures…

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Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

Last week sucked. I had a lot of tests to study for, essays to turn in, a training schedule to try to stick to, field trips to attend and bureaucratic paperwork to slog through. I was overwhelmed and when Friday finally came I had one of my longest days yet; I was up at 6:30 AM and didn’t come home until nearly 12 hours later at 6 PM. Strangely, despite my exhaustion I did not sleep well that night. I spent half the night tossing and turning, half of me debating going through with the plans I had made to go to Tahoe the next day to try Penguin Lust (5.12c, 7b+) again. It was supposed to be cold and windy and I was not looking forward to making the drive up there. But, winter was approaching and soon we would set our clocks back an hour and the sun would set at a horrific 5 PM; “this weekend may be my last chance to go to Tahoe before spring”, I thought.  I began to visualize the moves of Penguin Lust in my head and pretty soon my psyche was quickly restored and with a thermos filled with coffee I again was on the road to Donner.

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Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

IT IS FALL!!! Finally, the best season of the year has arrived! You know what that means, right? It means biking to campus with the goal of riding over as many leaves as I can, blissfully hearing the “crunch” each one makes and mentally tacking it as a personal  victory for the day. It means escaping schoolwork to go to the arboretum or the greenbelt and basking in the perfect light that emerges at just around 6. It means layering in warm clothing  and finally being able to bust out my beanies ( I love beanies.) It means crisp mornings and perfect days.. really it just means a lot of good things, to put it simply. It also means ROCK CLIMBING A MUERTE! !!! Fall is the BEST season to climb and honestly the best conditions  are just ahead of us.

Road cut crag in Donner Summit.

Road cut crag in Donner Summit.

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