‘Sweet’ adventures in Kings Canyon

 

“I want to go on an adventure!” Nacho Bear thought to himself when he woke up last Sunday morning.

He called his friends Moby Bear and Zooey Bear and they agreed to join him on the adventure. Moby Bear packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salami, cheese, and Sour Patch Kids into a backpack, and the trio set off for Kings Canyon National Park, where they intended to hike the popular Mist Falls Trail.

“On second thought, Bears, let’s make this a multi-sport adventure,” Nacho Bear said, as he drove from Fresno to the park, bobbing his head to the new Grizzly Bear album that streamed through the stereo. His paws began to sweat with excitement as he drove past the park’s tall trees, gushing rivers, and granite slabs, and imagined all the fun they would have that day.

They hit the trail, and began the 8.4-mile hike with enthusiasm and energy, powered by the sticky Sour Patch Kids in their pockets. But then Nacho Bear careened to a halt: He had found the perfect rock to climb.

“Bears, will you spot me? I’m just going to boulder this rock,” he said. “Sweet!” said Zooey Bear.

Once Nacho Bear flashed the route, they continued along their hike. Until, that is, Zooey Bear spotted the perfect place to wade into the river. It was secluded enough that the Bears could peel off their sweaty hiking clothes and jump – naked – into the cold water.

“The cold water feels so refreshing on my fur!” Zooey Bear exclaimed, as she begged Moby Bear to join them.

Finally, Nacho Bear, Zooey Bear and Moby Bear made it to the top of Mist Falls. From their vantage point, they could see the cascading water falls, leafy trees, and many mountains beyond.

“I could be eaten now, and I would be happy,” said Moby Bear, as he sighed, took Zooey Bear’s hand, and gazed out to the horizon.

The Bears agreed to pose with Daniel at “the end of their adventure”… or, before he ate them.

 

4 reporters, 2 lawyers, a scientist and an engineer walk into a campsite…

What happens when four journalists, two lawyers, a scientist and an engineer spend a weekend camping at Edison Lake?

They begin their days with coffee and the best hotcakes.

They hike to the Devil’s Bathtub, in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, and to Corbett Lake, in the John Muir Wilderness.

They swim in water so cold, and so life-affirming, that they have to sunbathe, lizard-like, to warm up again.

They debate the merits of the First Generation and Second Generation homemade granola bars.

They act goofy.

They feast on post-hike pie and beer. Then they feast on wine and charcuterie, and then couscous and roasted vegetables.

 

They pass around flasks and bottles of bourbon by the campfire, and express their gratitude for old friends and new ones.

They pack up the cars, and head over the Kaiser Pass, happy, sun-burned, and bug-bitten.

4 reasons to attend a Girls on Granite weekend in Yosemite

 

This past weekend, four of us gals joined the Girls on Granite women’s rock climbing workshop in Yosemite. Here are four reasons you should consider signing up for this workshop.

 

1. Learn the outdoor climbing skills you’ve wanted to acquire.

During the two-day workshop, our awesome Yosemite Mountaineering School guides Hope and Lyra helped us gain the important outdoor climbing skills that we could never master in the gym. They taught us the essentials of climbing on granite and in cracks, and offered awesome tips on foot position, hand jams, and body weight shifts. They also did a great job of teaching us the specific skills we wanted to learn – which, for us, meant building anchors and placing gear for trad climbing.

 

2. Gain a sense of place

Rock climbing is a relatively young sport, and a significant portion of its history is based in Yosemite. The guides passed on the stories behind the names of areas in the park – Manure Pile Buttress, for example, was once a very descriptive term for the crag just east of El Capitan – and shared tales about climbers coming together to preserve Camp 4, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its role in the development of the sport. (For more on the history of climbing in Yosemite, Hope recommended ‘Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber.’)

3. Have a pre-climbing soy latte and a post-climbing shower

The Girls on Granite package includes a two-night stay in Curry Village. Once we got over any illusions of a rustic weekend, we were happy to indulge in Curry Village’s amenities. We discovered that the Curry Village Coffee Corner brewed the best soy lattes, ever. And after a day of climbing, Curry Village’s bathhouse, complete with hot showers and towel service, were the perfect antidote for our sunscreen-sprayed, DEET-smeared bodies.

 

4. Girl time!

The only thing that could rival Sister Adventures are adventures with a sister, our friends, and new friends, all of whom are as passionate about climbing as we are.

The joys of biking to work

And sometimes you realize you have gone months without a good adventure.

There had been too many weekends in front of a computer, and too few weekends among the rocks and trees. There had been too much time logged at the steering wheel, and not enough time with an adventure pack on your back. There had been a lot of good food, but not enough peanut butter and banana sandwiches eaten in the sun.

A few weeks ago, I reached this realization.

I had driven 220 miles roundtrip to cover an event – on a Sunday – and couldn’t bear the thought of getting back in my car the next morning to drive to work. So that Monday, I hopped on my black-with-pink-letters used bike, and rode to work. I was at my desk by 7:30 a.m., and started writing on deadline, my heart still pumping vigorously from the ride.

That morning, I tweeted:

The joys of biking to work: Brainstorming stories to be written by 11 a.m. deadline. Waving to @KurtisInValley. Feeling ALIVE.#ibikefresno

Since that morning, I’ve biked to work maybe four more times. When the road was beginning to feel a little worn, my daily biking adventures have added a new spark to my step (or pedal?)

Do you bike to work? If so, do you shower at work – or just embrace the alive-smell? If you haven’t tried biking to work, what’s stopping you?

*Thanks to Jefferson for suggesting this blog post, and for reminding me that, “adventures can be in your own backyard.”

Life in full bloom

This weekend, I had planned to blog about our Epic Sister Adventure in Joshua Tree National Park.

But then spring came early in the San Joaquín Valley. The temperatures reached the 70s, just as the beautiful pink blossoms were appearing on the region’s fruit and nut trees.

So instead of investing time in this blog, we hit the Fresno County Blossom Trail.

We drove toward Sanger on Highway 180 East, which is lined with patches of brilliant yellow daisies and orange poppies. The pink blossoms on the trees and the grapevines contrasted magnificently with the snow-capped Sierras, which we could actually see.

We had lunch at the new School House Restaurant & Tavern, which features pretty good food and great ambience. Then we continued just a minute down the road to Cedar View Winery, where we picked up our next shipment of wine.

And sipped Zinfandel, while taking in the beauty of the day, the landscape, love, and life.

 

‘Be in Love. Eat Soup.’

“Soup is the food that can get us cooking again, easily, happily. Anyone can make a good soup, and therefore a home-cooked meal, and therefore a better day” – Anna Thomas

Yesterday, in recognition of National Soup Swap Day, I got together with two girlfriends to make – yup – soup.

It was not a traditional soup swap. We didn’t each bring six quarts of soup to exchange, as the Soup Swap guidelines stipulate. But we did each bring ingredients – and our culinary specialities – to Gosia’s cozy Tower District kitchen.

First, we opened the wine, and had bite-sized very veggie frittatas.

Then, we made a black bean and kabocha squash soup from one of my favorite cookbooks, ‘Love Soup,’ by Anna Thomas. It seemed fitting to choose a vegetarian soup from this book, since its mission is to bring people together to share soup.

“It seems to me that soup is the last best hope for home cooking,” Thomas writes in the book’s introduction.

While the soup was cooking, we made homemade corn tortillas.

While that was cooking, we made an apple crisp, which we devoured with spicy ginger ice cream.

 “There is an old Spanish saying, much repeated, ‘Of love and soup, the second is better,” Thomas writes. “But I say, why choose? Be in love. Eat Soup. Love soup!”

Bouldering: A treasure hunt

You know what I love about bouldering? Once you start looking at rocks as large toys, the forest becomes your playground.

And when you are walking through a forest, looking for rocks to climb, a hike becomes a treasure hunt.

That was the case this Sunday, as Sora, Jeff and I arrived at the Lewis Creek Trail, located less than an hour from Fresno, between Oakhurst and the gates of Yosemite National Park.

Steps from the parking lot, we reached a fork and had to make a decision: Would we find our treasure – boulders to climb – by continuing straight, or turning right?

We turned right, and began scoping out places to climb.

Could we climb this? No, but that’s some interesting hieroglyphics.

Could we climb this? No, but it was worth a shot.

The great thing about this treasure hunt is we found things we weren’t even looking for.

Like the surprisingly stunning Corlieu Falls.

Or a pony named On the Rocks Three Shots of Dazzle.

We eventually turned around, returned to the fork, and this time continued straight on the path.

We crossed a quaint bridge (that I couldn’t resist performing yoga tricks upon) and then another small bridge.

Finally, we found our treasure: A cluster of climb-able boulders, spotted with climber chalk, nestled along a stream.

We climbed.

We relaxed.

We appreciated life. #Lovelife

Thanks, Sora, for a few of these photos!