We attempted to book campsite at Toulmne Meadows months before without any luck. So we decided to wing it. We left at 4:30 in the morning to arrive around 8:30. As soon as we get to the Camp Office everything booked. No open sites and a long waiting list. We were I think number twenty something. The staff suggested to drive past the park there were so many camp sites with walk ups. So we took our chance again. After the third campground we got lucky. So we ended up at Ellery Campround. Just our luck a couple was using the parking spot for their camper but not the actual site. So he offered it to us. The host was amazing to let setup camp. The only con was the elevation of 9500. I had such bad headaches from the altitude.
This was next to our Camp site. Nice walk up the rocky terrain.
During the weekend we drove to Mammoth area and did a short Hike near Twin Falls Lake. It was .2 miles all going up. Spectacular views from the top totally worth the hike up.
Exactly 6 years ago I did my first big hike which was Half Dome in Yosemite NP. The hike is just about 16 miles round-trip. We prepared for this hike almost every weekend by going on smaller hikes. Started the hike off strong and had to make frequent stops along the way. Had so much water and snacks to really weight you down as you hike. Popping Advil like candy at the time as well. During the time I had severe fear of heights. Could not get close to any edges while hiking without getting quizy in my tummy! But finally reached Sub Dome the part before the infamous cables to get to Half Dome as it’s known. And I could freaked and could not even get close to the cables to hike up! My DH at the time spent several minutes trying to convince me that it’s fine I will catch you. Nope could not do it. To this day he says I was a chicken-shit for not doing it.
Six years later it still haunts me that I didn’t do it!. So finally all the starts were lining up for another opportunity to hike the up the Cables of Half Dome. One of my friends happen to get a camp sight in Upper Pines Campground for Friday and Saturday night. All I needed was the permit to hike the cables. Which 4 of our friends who were interested applied for. Jackpot one of us got it for all of us. Now I was secretly hoping that it would not happen but it did..we won the Half Dome lottery. A place to stay and the permit to hike. So without thinking too much about it packed up on Thursday night with only a tent, sleeping bag, and clothes. My son being 14 years old was also interested in hiking up to Half Dome. So we reached the campsite around 10 or so and set up tent. We awoke at 3:30 am and headed to Half Dome at 4:18 am. This time around though it seemed very different. We did not have to make as many stops and also not popping any pills. I had no fear of heights or quiziness. We reached the Sub Dome around 9:45. Hiked without any hesitation or fear. Actually stopped just to enjoy the gorgeous views around me. Not a cloud in the sky…perfect temp at average 75. Reached the infamous cables and ready to do this!! I had a chat with my 14-year old that he better be mentally ready because there is no turning back once you start climbing. He was ready he said.
Climbed to half way up and turned around and enjoyed the beauty all around me. It was truly in ahaaa moment. It was a spectacular 360 view of the the beautiful Yosemite mountains all around. The cables were not easy it does take a lot of arm strength. But we did it…slowly but surely. Spent over an hour on top and then headed back down. So on the way back down the cables we see a little boy around 8-9 years old coming up with his parents in front and back of him. Then we we see a little girl around the same age with her dad. Both had harnesses. Wow!!! How brave were those kids. The amazing part was I was able to come down facing the view and not the rock and again no freaking out. I highly recommend doing this hike. It took 6 years and many hikes later to be able to get over my fear.
Starting on John Muir
start of Subdome
Looking up at Subdome
Looking down from Diving Board
Look what i found
Walking around top
My Brave Son!
View from the Cables
View from the Cables
down from Subdome
Down from Subdome
Love the Signs
Wanted to share some amazing pictures of my hike through the Inca Trail. Without walking the trail you would not be able to view these magnificent ruins. Cannot describe the feeling of the beautiful nature that is all around you.
We had chosen to arrive a day early to acclimatize in Cusco, So the first day we had chosen to do the Sacred Valley Tour. The bus picked us up from our Hotel for the 19 miles and about 2 hour drive to the city of Pisac which is the entrance into the Sacred Valley area. The town sits at about 9,700 ft elevation. Cusco is at 11,500 elevation. We were planning on visiting Urubamba valley, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero. Ollantaytambo is the oldest continuously occupied town on the American continent. The narrow streets of Ollantaytambo, along with their canals, have not Changed much from the time of the Inca Empire.
On the way we stopped at the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary is a privately-owned, family-run organization in the Sacred Valley that rescues exotic animals that have been injured or have been used for cruel entertainment purposes. They had Andes Condors, Llmas, Rabbits, Cats, and some Birds. They took us into the homes of the condors and even had one fly from one side to the other side. These Condors are becoming extinct due to the hunt for their feathers. They actually found a bird that was not a local. But they rescued and nused it back to health. It almost looks like a Flamingo.
Finally on our way to Ollantaytambo. It is one of the empire’s main points for the extraction of natural wealth. The early Incas may have come from Wimpillay, as their mummies had been discovered there. The Sacred Valley served as a buffer zone, protecting Cusco from incursions of the Antis, the fierce jungle tribes who from time to time raided the highlands. Today the Sacred Valley remains a lush agricultural region supplying the city of Cusco with much of its produce such as maize, fruit and vegetables. The drive was so scenic through the mountains with views of far valleys and rivers. In Pisac you do have to buy the tickets for the Sacred Valley which was about $25 dollars. At the end of the tour we visited Chincero Market where the local ladies showed us how they die the fabric using different flowers and plants.
Spice to color fabric
What do most people want and desire on their 40th Birthday. I wold guess a big hoopla party, a big diamond to celebrate half of your life passed by, or even a girls trip to an island somewhere. None of these choice options for my dear GF. She wanted to trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Being in love with anything outdoors and hiking related I was 100% in. The planning process began months ago. But the day finally arrived on Tuesday November 7th our flight to Cusco, Peru. Here are the beginnings of an epic adventure with some great company. We picked a local trekking company from Peru named Valencia Travels. It was very easy to connect with them via email regarding any questions or concerns. They were easy to work with and all the guides were so friendly and helpful. The guides are with you from the time you land to the time you leave Cusco. We booked a 4 day 3 night trek with them. Which was the perfect amount of time to see everything at a good pace. They also suggest to arrive a day early in Cusco to acclimatize before the trek.
The city of Cusco is historic capital of the Inca Empire lies at merely 11,152 ft elevation. It’s so beautiful and very colonial looking. The main square is filled with beautiful historic churches. Don’t be fooled by the local people who dress in their traditional attire, one picture and you will have to tip them. The guides recommended for us to start drinking the coco leaves tea or chew them like gum but not swallow. Unfortunately for me it made me sick to my stomach. But my friends were fine with the leaves. It’s meant to help with the altitude sickness. I really enjoyed the city and the food of the locals. Quinoa was the main staple along with beans, meat and rice as the local dishes. The local drivers have the right of way and not the public. So you have to very careful when crossing any road the cars will not stop to let you pass.
Cusco from above
Church in Cusco
Main Square of Cusco
Main Square of Cusco
Church in Cusco
Have you thought about your bucket list lately. Well I have and came across some amazing pictures of Mt Everest. And it makes me want to wake up my adventurous side. It look very intimidating and yet achievable. A GF of mine last year went on this amazing journey with her DH. She still cannot stop talking about the feeling of being there in person. I envy her but am jealous that I could not share in the adventure with her. She loved the experience so much that she decided to tell others about it.
So check it out!!
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Extollo Adventures Philosophy:
We realize that adventure travel is not for everyone. If you want to stay in big European hotels with room service . . . or take your yearly Mediterranean cruise . . . we hope you have a wonderful. vacation. But if you’re looking for something else . . . if you’re bored with all the usual places . . . if you’re looking for something different, something that will provide experiences you’ll remember all your life, then talk to us. push the boundaries of what you thought travel was all about. Extollo will take you to places on the planet that, so far, you’ve only dreamed of.
This weekend was beautiful in the Bay Area. So I decided to take the boys hiking. We drove to Sunol Regional Park and hiked Flag Hill. It was cloudy when we started out but then when the clouds cleared it was green for miles. The loop is about 2.5 miles. It’s a moderately strenuous hike. Good for all ages. Here are some great pics from the gorgeous hike.
Two weeks ago I got to mark off #2 item on my Bucket List. Zion Narrows Hike in Zion NP, Utah. About three years ago in June 2010 my BFF and I had everything booked and ready to hike this amazing place called Zion Narrows. But Mother Nature was not on our side. Even though all the bookings of hotel and permits were ready the Narrows were closed due to the water level of the Virgin River being too high and unsafe to walk through. Our only option was to explore the other hikes that Zion NP had to offer:
- Angels Landing (2.6 Miles-The top 3 most dangerous hike in the US in the rain)
- Observation Point (8.1 Miles-A hike to the highest point in Zion National Park via Weeping Rock Trail)
- Emerald Pool Trail (3 Miles roundtrip-from Lower to Upper Pools)
This time around our sole focus was The Zion Narrows “Top-Down”. The route is a 18-20 mile backpacking adventure. Starting from Chamberlain’s Ranch outside the northeastern corner of Zion National Park. We had to rent a shuttle from Zion Adventure Company to drive us to the Trail head. The drive itself to is 1.5 hour rough ride to the top of the canyons. There is no other options but to use a shuttle service since there is no parking lot up there as well as retrieving your vehicle after the hike because you end up at the West end of the park. This is the longer and less popular way to hike the Zion Narrows but it is quite a rewarding experience to see the beauty of the upper North Fork as it slowly transforms into the majestic and deep slot canyon that opens into the main canyon in Zion. Elevation is 1500-ft gradual descent down the river to the Temple of Sinawava Trail head.
The first thing you need is a permit to camp overnight. It is a lottery system that has to be applied 3-month in advance before your hike date. They have 12 campsites that can accommodate from 2-12 people. We were all glued to our monitors on the day of the lottery and between us we were lucky enough to get the campsite we requested. Since there were 10 of us we needed to get campsite is #12. This is the last campsite on the route so we needed to hike about 11 miles on the first day. Then second day there will be fewer miles to cover but more strenuous with deeper water. Which would slow down our pace. We were lucky because the water level never went above my waist (5’3). The views of the canyon got even more colorful with oranges, red, and dark red.
To do this hike with my amazing friends was priceless. If you guys ever get the opportunity check this park out don’t miss it. You can always go into the Narrows about 4-5 miles in from the Temple of Sinawava and get spectacular slot canyon views as well.
Pinnacles National Park is a U.S. National Park protecting a mountainous area located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California, about 5 miles east of Soledad and 80 miles southeast of San Jose. Wikipedia
It was created from the former Pinnacles National Monument by legislation passed by Congress in late 2012 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 10, 2013.
We wanted to take the boys to see the caves and massive boulders. We visited the Bear Gulch Cave with the Ranger Program. You need a flashlight to visit the caves. Some areas of the caves are so narrow you have to be on your knees. The boys loved the adventure of crawling through the caves. After the Bear Gulch Cave tour we did a small hike. The hike was not strenuous but it was in full sun so it made it very tiring for the boys . Let’s just say it was very tiring for all of us due to the hot sun. All hikes in the park are usually in full sun. So you need to carry plenty of water. Which that day we did not have enough water. So we decided to pick the shortest one. This Condor Gulch Trail trail offers spectacular views of the High Peaks.
Condor Gulch Trail
1.7 miles one way, 1 to 1-1/2 hours
Elevation: 1,100 feet
check out the webiste for more details.
Here are pictures from our visit.
So this past Saturday we went to Muirwoods National Monument located in Mill Valley, CA. We reached around 9:30 ish and it was so fogged in. We were thinking we might have picked the wrong day to go hiking. The day turned out to be beautiful after the fog lifted and it warmed up around 10. There are numerous hikes to pick from in the park. We did the Bootjack Trail which was around 2 miles round-trip. Hiking next to the creek and lush green trees and plants all around. Since we had kids with us we were hiking a bit slower than usual. They also have huge hollowed out trees that you can stand inside of. There is an entrance fee to visit the park. If you are ever visiting San Francisco this is a must see. I have a few pictures from our hike. Check out the little heart shaped leaves. Isn’t it cute!