Archive for the 'Hiking' Category

Jun 15 2009

Zion and Bryce Canyon Weekend

Published by under General,Hiking

I had this trip in mind for a long time now and it was finally time to execute it. I tried to find as many people who would be interested in this 3 day road trip, camping fun but finally Bhanik, Shraddha and Nishant agreed to join me.


The plan was to drive to Las Vegas on Thursday, 4th June evening, spend the night in vegas and then head out to zion early Friday morning so that we could spend two days there and then head out to Bryce or do whatever on Sunday.



I got stuck at work and so did Bhanik. Myself, Shraddha and Nishant left from my place at about 7.30 or so and met up Bhanik at park and ride in Hesperia around 10ish and by the time we got to Vegas it was almost 1am. Ofcourse you don’t sleep that early in vegas :), me and bhanik gambled little bit and then after losing few bucks we both retired to the room at 2.30.


We wanted to leave as early as we could so but then by the time we woke up and got ready to leave it was around 8.30 and we reached the beautiful canyon of Zion around 11 and by the time we got settled in it was noon. I had booked Watchman campground for two nights but since i was late in doing so we didn’t get the same campsite for both nights. First was a RV site and the second one was a tent only site.


First View of Zion


The weather was pleasant, it was overcast and just perfect for hiking. We pitched our tents in the wind and then after having lunch decided to do the Narrows Hike. We weren’t planning to hike the entire way, just go into the narrows as far as we could till 4 pm and then head back.


I really like the policy of not allowing any private vehicles along the scenic highway in Zion, you have to take the park shuttles and they run every 6-8 mins. It is a very convenient and environment friendly way of going around in the park. We were going to get down at the last stop of Temple of Sinawava, do the riverside walk hike which leads to the narrows.


Our plan wasn’t to head into the narrows all the way, we had a time restriction in place and were going to adhere to that but things turned out to be different. We started hiking the riverside walk and it was nice walking along the properly maintained trail, the canyon was really beautiful too.


Riverside Walk Views


The water in virgin river was cold, not as quite as the waters in am used to diving in but still it wasn’t exactly tropical. There were lot of folks who were returning almost completely drenched and i did not want to be one of them.


Walking in the Virgin River, Narrows Hike


We walked along the narrows for about half an hr or so and the views were nice but nothing too breathtaking that i expected. At the point where the river was waist deep we decided to head back, I already knew that narrows would require a special trip to zion and i want to do it as a backpacking trip to enjoy its beauty so i wasn’t keen at getting wet at all. Shraddha and Nishant also didn’t want to get that wet, Bhanik wanted to continue but then he decided not to. So we turned back at this point.


We were back at the Temple of Sinawava at about 3 – 3.30 and we had plenty of time on our hands so we decided to get down on every stop on the way back and enjoy zion, take pics and stuff.


The Weeping Rock:

This is a short hike with little steepness and gives you nice views of the canyon. Weeping rock gets its name from the water which continuously flows, its not a waterfall just a small continuous droplets. Also this has hanging gardens, because of the continuous water flow and moisture trapped in the rock, it provides a perfect environment for the plants to grow. Its pretty cool.


Weeping Rock


At this point the weather was improving and the sun was coming out too. It got really nice, our next stop was the trailhead to the emerald pool hikes.


Emerald Pool Loop :


This is again a well maintained trail and some people just head out to the lower emerald pool and turn but we decided to do the entire loop and see the middle and upper pools as well.


The trail to lower emerald pool is a slow gradual ascent along a very well maintained path and we didn’t have any problems whatsoever. This pool was little disappointing because there wasn’t much water in there and it gets its name from the color of water which we didn’t get to see.


Lower Emerald Pool.


We decided to continue further to the middle and upper pools and along the path we were warned about a snake. I was excited when i got a look at it, I thought it was a rattle snake and was a baby probably few months old. It was just chilling out there and wasn’t on the trail so it was nice.


I took some pics of it and left it alone, i was excited that it could have been my first rattlesnake sighting but then at the same time its tail was hidden and there wasn’t any rattle visible which was little disappointing.




We reached the middle pool and there was barely any water left in there and so we continued onto the upper pool, this was the first time we weren’t walking on a cemented trail and it felt like we were doing some real hiking :). It was little exhausting to get to the upper pool but it was totally worth it.


The upper pool was by far the best of three and i would definitely recommend doing it. The views from the pool were really nice and the high walls of the canyon so intimidating, yet very inviting for rock climbing :). We spent about 15 mins at the pool and then headed back.


Nice Clear Sky on way back.


The sky had cleared up at this point and it was nice and sunny providing us with some really good views of the canyon. We then took the shuttle and got down at the Court of Patriarchs to take pictures of the three peaks, i forgot the names. But the sun was also up out there and blinded by the sun we could hardly see them. Waiting for the sun to go down would mean spending more than half hour at the view point and we were not in a mood to do that.


That was our last stop in the canyon and we wanted to get back to our campsite and start drinking 😀  but before that we had to get booze first which was an adventure in itself. We stopped at the visitor information center to see what else we could do and find out more about our plan to head out to Vermillion Cliffs.


It wasn’t a good idea for us to spend Sunday driving around and trying to cover as much as we could but so we decided to take it easy and visit few places at our mellow pace and not try to rush into things. So we dropped the vermillion cliffs idea and we were going to do angels landing hike first thing in the morning and then depending on the time left we would go to the tunnel and then probably visit the Pink Corral Sand Dunes park.


We headed out to town to find booze and firewood for the night. Firewood was easy to get but the store only had beer and no hard liquor. We asked around and then someone mentioned that Utah was a dry state and only few shops sold hard liquor. Panic button was pressed and we started searching frantically on iPhone n stuff to find info. We were told to try our luck at the other store and as we got there lady luck smiled. It was a gold mine and it took us good 10 mins to decide what to buy.


So with a bottle of Orange Rum, Coke and Firewood finally it was time to head back to the campsite, make dinner, light fire and drink some booze :). I had bought the dinner entree from REI and we were going to make Lasagna for dinner. It said for 4 but then it didn’t seem enough for all of us but then we complimented it with muffins.


We got the fire going, somewhat and then spend the rest of night drinking. It wasn’t a night of partying just couple of drinks since we had decided to wake up early in the morning for the hike. We called it a night at around 10.30 or so, moon had risen by this time and since it was full moon the entire canyon was lit up by it.


I wanted to go for a night hike but i wasn’t sure if it was allowed, so i just went for a small stroll around the campground and enjoyed the moonlight. It was really awesome, too bad i was alone for that stroll 😉


Day 2 Angels Landing:

This is a must do hike if you are visiting Zion and it doesn’t disappoint. It comes with a thrill of going along a ridge with few hundred feet drop offs on either side and where a lot of people hang onto the chains for their dear life.


We woke up at 7 am and our plan was to get on the trail by 9 atleast so that we can finish the hike in decent amount of time and have time to do other stuff as well. Had our breakfast and then we were at the trail by 9.30ish which was an acceptable time as per the schedule we had set ourselves. We also had to move the campsite, I checked with the ranger and the campsite that we were going to move to was vacated so we decided to check in and move before we headed over for the hike. We carried over our tents to the new site since it wasn’t that far at all, it was easy to do so without packing them up.


It is a 5 mile round trip with 1488′ of elevation gain so its a steep one but it happens in stages so its not that bad at all. The first part of hike is a gradual climb and then a series of switchbacks takes you into the canyon where the trail is flat for a section. Then again you gain a lot of elevation till you hit the saddle where the best part of hike begins. You have to walk the last half mile along this narrow ridge where they have placed steel chains.


This is where we were headed.


Slowly but surely we made up good ground and we got to the saddle within an hour or so, we took breaks along the way, taking pictures and all the good stuff. The sun was out, it was nice and warm and the views started to get better. The best part of this trail so far was the series of switchbacks you had to take to get to the saddle.


The Switchbacks during the hike.


Now it was time to do the last 0.5 miles along the ridge. We had to wait for people to descent and so it was slow going. Not to mention we had to be careful not to slip and fall into the valley on either side. At some places the trail was only few feet wide but it was on stable rock and there wasn’t any danger of slipping as such. The steel chains definitely helped. It wasn’t as bad as walking on a rope but it wasn’t exactly highway either, we had to be careful of every step and take it slow and easy.


The trail along the ridge.


We reached the top after almost an hour since we left the saddle and the views were totally worth the effort. Had some sandwiches at the top and we started descending after half an hour. Chipmunks at the top were all over the place and very courageous, i am sure they would eat out of your hand but then its not advisable to do so and i wouldn’t try it for sure.


Views from top.


On our way down the wind was picking up and the sun was starting to disappear behind the clouds as well. We didn’t take too many breaks on the way down, it was downhill anyway for the most part. We completed the hike in about 5 hours including all the breaks we took. It gave us time to drive to the tunnel and east side entrance of the park and then to the Pink Corral sand dunes park.



We got back to the visitor center and asked about the chances of rain since it seemed that it could rain anytime. I was told that the chance was 20% so i wasn’t sure if i should put on the rainfly on or not. I decided to be better safe than sorry so i put on the rainfly and as soon as we finished lunch, it started raining.


It seemed like a passing shower but i was glad that i put the rainfly on, we also took stuff out of Shradhha and Nishant’s tent because it didn’t seem that it would be able to keep the water out. We started driving towards the famous Zion tunnel and stopped on the way to take some pics.


We were going to the Pink corral sand dunes park and decided to take the scenic route to get there. Its a very nice drive and the weather was awesome too. It was overcast with slight drizzle, the wind made it colder but the scenes were really beautiful.


Pink Corral Sand Dunes park as the name suggests is a park of sand dunes but the color of the sand was more orangish to me. It was a nice change in the scenery and to see sand dunes in middle of no where was something unique. We played around for sometime in the sand and thought about riding ATV’s out there but then it was overcast and drizzling so none of us were in a mood to do so.


Pink Dunes.


We headed back to the campsite and stopped along the scenic points. This time around dinner was early since we had to pack up and leave for Bryce as early as we could. The rice pilaf was yummy and so was the cheesecake. I didn’t listen to bhanik about the quantity of water to be added to the blueberry sauce and messed it up but it was all good.


We made sure that the bottle of rum was finished, properly recycled too, and so was coke, it was kept cool thanks to the neighboring camper whose cooler we used. It was time to call it a night and when i went to the restrooms, caught sight of deer in the campground which was surprising. No midnight strolls for me tonite, no i wasn’t feeling lonely ;), but had to wake up at 6 to pack up the campsite and then drive out to Bryce Canyon.


It rained intermittently at night but it wasn’t that bad just a few showers. I was glad because if water got into the tents then it wouldn’t be fun at all.


Bryce Canyon:

We woke up at 6 and after having breakfast were ready to head out to Bryce by 8.30ish, It was going to be about 2 hrs of drive to there and it turned out to be a beautiful one too.


We passed through the Red Canyon Park and while getting more information at the visitor center it was clear that this whole area demands a minimum of week long road trip. Sometime in future i had to be back on this beautiful road for sure.

Red Canyon 


Bryce Canyon has shuttles but its not as extensive as Zion and you can drive into the park to see all the viewing points. We decided to go to the farthest one and then stop on our way back at every point. Got little annoyed by the slow car in front of us but we made it fine.


Rainbow Point, Natural Bridge and all those view points gave us a glimpse of the beautiful Bryce Canyon but it wasn’t until we visited the Inspiration point we saw where the true beauty of Bryce lies. The formation of the rocks and colors is simply awesome, words cannot describe it you have to see it for yourself.

One of the lookout points.


Bryce Canyon, its awesome.


I wanted to do some hiking here as well and see those amazing formations close up but we didn’t have too much time on our hands. I could see trails all over but most of them were long ones so it would require another visit to do some hiking in Bryce.


Amazing formations.


We then headed off to the final viewing point on our list and i wanted to just descend on the trail for a few mins so that i could see the rock formations at eye level but then this Navajo Loop was only 1.2 miles so i convinced the gang to do the entire hike. It was weird because it was a impromptu hike we didn’t have water or anything on us, just cameras and we set of.


Hiking into Canyon.

Towering Cliffs.


It was really awesome to do that hike and it gave us really nice views of the canyon from below as well as at the eye level. Our appetite was going to be increased by the hike for sure, we completed the hike in about 45 mins or so, it was little steep on the way out because we descended into the canyon so had to ascend as well :).


For Lunch pizza at one of the local places, Ruby’s Inn was good. It was interesting to see the signs written in one oriental language and two european languages at this restaurant. Finally at around 2 it was time to make the long drive back to LA from what had been an awesome trip.


We drove through the beautiful Dixie National Forest which meets the 15 and it was lovely. Navajo Lake had this natural bridge across it which looked only few feet under water and it seemed as if you could walk across it. We also stopped to see the logs being carried by helicopter from one location to another and then at the Zion lookout point where we bid one last adieu to Zion for the time being.


Navajo Lake


Nice views all along.


Final View of Zion.


The drive back to LA wasn’t boring as i was trying to have fun with other drivers, didn’t let one good looking chick pass me and then there was this couple making out in the car behind us. The gal was constantly hugging the guy and i brought this to everyone’s attention. I think they saw us looking at them and then they started making out on purpose, it was weird.


Reached LA at about 10ish finally, 1200 miles on the road was a very fun experience complete with some of the best scenic views you would come across.



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May 04 2009

Hiking Mt Baldy

Published by under Hiking

After a gap of about a month without skiing, hiking or diving i decided it was time to get active again. This weekend i planned out to be really crazy, my goal was to be 100 ft below and 10,000 ft above the sea level.


I got on Great Escape friday night hoping that Saturday would be a nice day out to Catalina and will be able to get 4 dives in at Farnsworth Bank. Unfortunately the weather gods were not in a good mood and the boat didn’t go out to Catalina. It happened to be a good thing for me otherwise this blog could have been about  a rescue on Mt Baldy trail ;).


The trail we were going to take is one of the toughest hikes in San Gabriels, its 12.8 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 5804 feet. It comes out to be a small matter of 907ft/mile :). A good description of the trail can be found here.



Saturday night i went to Circus,a club on Santa Monica Blvd, attending a meetup event with LA Trance group, I have been wanting to hang out with them for a while but never got chance to do so. I really liked the venue and it was fun. I just had one drink before walking back home around 2ish. Would have loved to stay longer but couldn’t afford to do so with the big hike coming up.


I woke up at about 6.45 am and then drove to Craig’s place where we would be meeting with Paul and carpool together to get to the trail head. We all met up and started driving at about 7.50 or so, the drive was going to be less than an hour and the there wasn’t any traffic on the way.


We were getting little concerned seeing the mountains covered in clouds, it could have been very well possible that it was snowing on baldy, i wasn’t too pleased by that idea. The thought of going home and sleeping till 5 in evening was appealing too but it was something i had done on saturday, didn’t want another planned thing to go kaput. Luckily as we started driving towards Mt Baldy village we were getting above the clouds and the sun was also out so the trek was definitely on :)


We met up with the rest of the group and there were 15 of us. After trying to figure out where everyone would park and stuff, we started the hike at about 9.45 or so. I wanted to record the entire hike using the Motion X gps app for the iPhone so i waited to set it in action and from that point onwards i lagged the group.


As soon as the hike started i knew it wasn’t going to be easy for me and 15 mins into the hike i realized that wearing my hiking shoes instead of usual sandals was not a good idea at all. I walked slowly at my own pace behind the group, Stein our leader  caught up with me , he wanted to make sure that i was doing ok. I assured him that i would be fine at my steady slow pace and after a while i caught up with others at the bear flats area. I checked my iPhone to make sure the app was recording data but it was also sucking up the battery and i figured it wasn’t going to last the entire duration of the hike. Next time i am going to put the phone in airplane mode and then see how this app performs. Hiking fast would also be a good idea but lets not go there yet ;).


Beautiful View of Canyon.


The most difficult section of the hike started at this point and so did the blisters on back of my leg. The good thing was that they weren’t too bad so i could continue at my own pace and not come to a crawl. It was a very slow ascent, i was also stopping to take pictures once in a while. This section was a gradual climb along the hill and after that we started ascending along the ridge line. Stein was helping people who were having some difficulty and he caught up with me after a while.


Along the ridge section i asked him how much time more and he said it would be couple of hours more for sure. It was a constant struggle within myself to make me continue. I must have thought of turning back atleast dozen times and had to push myself every time. I knew i just had to keep on going and it would be fine. I made it to the top of the ridge but it didn’t end there and we had to continue further along another connecting ridge.


Nope that is not the Summit.


I could see a peak in distance and i asked one returning hiker if that was it and he said that Mt Baldy wasn’t even visible from where i was. Sigh, i just kept on going and caught up with a few people and at this point we had to traverse through some snow fields. I was lil excited by that idea, it justified my decision of hiking in boots and not sandals. This was probably the only section of the hike where there wasn’t any elevation gain, it lasted for about 15 mins or so unfortunately. But for some reason i was really rejuvenated at this point and picked up little pace.


Yay Snow.


We could see another peak in the distance but again as earlier this wasn’t the one and we had to traverse along this peak to get to Mt Baldy. I just chugged along at this point, knowing that it was going to be another half  hr max to get to the summit.



Finally after around 5 and half hrs of grueling hike, I made it to the summit at about 2.45. We waited for everyone to arrive at the summit and Stein surprised us with a watermelon. It was a treat to eat that water melon, after such a tiring hike. It tasted soooooo good :). Thanks a ton, you rock.


Refreshed and re-hydrated we started to descent at 3.45. Craig, Paul were going to go fast and so was I. Its hard for me to prevent myself from running while going downhill, I have to run it out or atleast go at a faster pace. It was an ideal thing since we had carpooled together we could get down fast and take off.


We were going at a really good pace and covered almost half the distance in an hour. At this point again i was disappointed that i didn’t hike in my sandals, i started getting blisters on my feet and had to really slow down. 


I couldn’t help it, i was just going down slowly at my own speed again. It was a slow painful descent and being tired as well i wasn’t putting all my effort into it and i slipped couple of times. It wasn’t anything major or bad but i had to be careful. Finally after what must have been an awfully slow hour i reached the bear flats area and was thinking that it was going to be another 15 mins to get to the parking lot.


I was so wrong about that, i started descending and then as i looked into the canyon i saw the houses way down and was thinking holy s$%^ i have to hike all the way down there. Slowly but surely i made it down and every step i took in those last 10 mins of walking on that tar road was agonizing. Finally at about 6.15 or so i caught up Craig, Paul and others enjoying beer and food in the nearby restaurant. After half hour of chit chatting, we finally left for LA. I reached my place around 8.30 and soaked into the hot tub as soon as i could. Boy it felt good or what.


After reading this post, i.e. if you weren’t bored and made it all the way to here, you must be asking why the hell i did this hike? Why should/did i put myself is misery and pain? fair enough, I ask myself same question all the time ;).


If you care enough to know the answer i am sure you would know how to contact me :) or simply put its the same reason people run marathons, participate in iron man triathlons, climb everest all that good stuff.


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Oct 06 2008

Hiking Runyon Canyon

Published by under Hiking

After night of drinking on Friday, I woke up late on sat and i headed out for groceries. The weather was simply amazing, overcast skies, cool breeze with no rain. After the hot week that we had it was really nice to have this sort of change in weather and i felt like going for a hike.


It was about 1.30 pm by the time i decided that i should take advantage of this weather and go out for a hike. I needed to find a hike which was short and also close by. It had to be either Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park but since i didn’t want to drive i decided on the former. 


There is only one hike out there i believe and its a loop which runs across the park. So at about 2.45 pm i got out of my apt and started walking towards the park. I also took my new olympus 1030SW to take some pictures. It felt nice to just walk in this cool weather, after 15 mins or so cutting across the hoard of tourists on hollywood blvd i reached the park entrance. 


Its a really easy hike and there is a nice paved road going all the way up, there was another steep trail which went on the ridge in opposite direction but i decided not to venture on that route since it was my first time. So i just continued on this gradual uphill slope, initially the weather was changing there was no breeze and the sun was started to come out but as i was reaching the top it was coming back. 


I hiked at a fairly brisk pace and took some pictures as well in the meantime. I reached that bench on the top at about 3.45 or so and it felt really nice to see beautiful views, i could see all the way to santa monica, west wood to my left and the griffith park, hollywood sign to my far right. It was really beautiful and just standing there feeling the breeze with my eyes closed, i felt calm and relaxed. 


I decided to take an offbeat path to come down and it didn’t take me that long to reach the park entrance. On my way back i decided to skip the crazy walk past the tourist crowds on Hollywood Blvd and finally i reached my place at around 5ish. It was my first hike (certainly not the last) in Runyon Canyon and i look forward to more hikes in that place.

The Views of the City


The Hollywood Sign


The Panorama Shot. Click Image for bigger pic


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Jul 09 2008

Catalina Long Weekend Trip

Published by under Diving,General,Hiking

I was kinda desperate to get out of the city for 4th of july long weekend and was trying different options but nothing worked. Finally due to last minute cancellations a campground at Catalina was available so i booked it. Bhanik, Amrish and Rajesh (henceforth referred to as BAR :) ) decided to join me on this trip. They were made aware that there was a hike of 12 miles involved on the final day. Here is how the trip went by. 

Pre-Trip Preparations. 

I went to REI to pick up some cookware since i didn’t have any for backpacking. I found something useful Kitchen Cupboard (which i didn’t take completely) and Cooking system (which was very useful). I also picked up some food items and desert for our dinner. 

Headed off to USC to Amrish’s place to pick everyone and after making sure they packed properly we went to Paru’s for dinner. Dinner at Paru’s was awesome as usual and then came back to my place after stopping at Ralphs and finally after packing my stuff i dozed off at about 12.30.


4th July

We had to take 7 am Catalina Express from San Pedro so had to wake up at 4.30 am to get everyone ready and then drive to the terminal. We made it to the terminal at about 6.45, just in time, we reached Avalon at about 8.15 and immediately stored most of the stuff in locker just outside the dock. We decided to take the shuttle bus to BlackJack campground since BAR wanted to take Introduction to Scuba and i was planning to dive along with them. So we got our campsite details, booked the 4 pm bus to Blackjack junction and since the Scuba was going to be at noon we had some time to kill before that. 

Golf Cart to the rescue, We rented a golf cart to go around Avalon and since i was the only person above 25 i was the lone driver. Amrish and Rajesh wanted to drive it but it was supposed to be $850 ticket and I didn’t want to take that chance. We took the scenic route on the island and stopped for sometime in between to take pictures and stuff, an hour well spent. Since it was almost time for BAR scuba lessons we headed off there and I also decided to rent BCD, Regulator etc so that i could also dive. Yes, I would be diving Solo. I have got my certification at Casino point and also have dove there before so I was completely comfortable diving on my own.

View of Avalon from the cart

View of Avalon from top.

Since i wasn’t sure if i could equalize my Ears, I decided to head out and see what happens. The water wasn’t as cold as i am used to, it was about 64F on the surface. I descended down the buoy and wasn’t sure in what direction i was gonna go but i found myself at the Plague. I was surprised at the marine life, It was different than i have seen here before. Plenty of different fishes and I also saw a Bat Ray zoom by. The Kelp Bass were huge, they seemed to have grown in few months. I ended the dive after consuming 1000 psi of air and didn’t go more then 40 feet deep.

Once comfortable with the fact that i could equalize my ears, I got more confident. This time Bhanik and Amrish got ready to go in the water and I followed them 10 mins after they got in. Bhanik had a leak in his tank and Amrish without the hood was having hard time getting comfortable in water. The instructor had to get him out since he wasn’t completely comfortable. Bhanik did a dive to about 12 ft, I followed him for a while and then decided to head off on my own. My camera stopped working too and that was sad since i saw a lot of critters. I didn’t wander too far from the buoy and just decided to explore the reefs and the kelp. As mentioned earlier the Kelp bass were huge and there was a big lobster hiding in the reef. I was down to 600 psi and i decided to end my dive. Amrish, this time with a hood and Rajesh were getting ready to dive, I thought with little air left i could take a look at them but I had too much water in my BCD and hence i decided to call it a day. Amrish and Rajesh stayed in for a long time and i was getting little worried but it seems they dove to about 30 ft. It was already 2.45 pm by the time the dives ended and we had to take the 4 pm bus so we had to hurry up.

Amrish and Myself decided to go and pick up the stuff from the lockers while Bhanik and Rajesh went to get firewood etc. Initially we planned to have dinner directly but then after the dive everyone was hungry so we decided to get something on the go. I finished my burger in less than 2 mins, was i hungry or what. We had two firewood bundles and it was a 1.5 mile hike from the junction to the campground, it would be suicide carrying them so we decided to return one of them. So at Blackjack junction, I decided to carry that firewood bundle and the 1.5 mile hike to campground was gentle uphill climb. It was a killer, specially after all the diving we did. Bhanik decided to carry the firewood after a while and finally we made it to the campground at about 6pm. The sun was brutal all along the way and i got some burns on my hands. Returning that one bundle of firewood and that burger were the smartest decisions of the day.

View from Blackjack Campground Junction

View from Blackjack Campground Junction

We found out site fairly easily and there was already a tent erect out there, I thought it was the one we had rented. I immediately crashed and took a brief nap for more than an hour and was woken by the chatter of ranger. 



Gilligan, the ranger. He was cool and very helpful. He gave us the tent and also propane since we had rented a stove but he didn’t have it on him. He left and we started pitching the tent only to discover that it had one of the poles missing and hence we called the ranger. He was back very soon and handed us another tent, apologizing and stuff. The other tent he gave us, its poles were also messed up but then we managed to combine poles from two tents and have a tent pitched up. The ranger was about to leave and while backing up he slammed into the trash can and made a mess of it. He seemed to be amused by it and he had an extra trash can which he kept there.

It was about time to make dinner and get a fire going. We had chana masala for dinner and cheesecake for dessert. It was good even though i messed up making of the cake. It was a long day with two more long ones ahead and we all slept well.


5th July: Hike to Little Harbor


We had already planned to do 7 mile hike to Little Harbor. I decided to take it easy and not wake up early for the hike. So we all got up at like 9.30, had our breakfast which was coffee and bagel. We started the hike at about 10.30 and it was downhill for the first 3.2 miles till we reached the ranch. The cotton wood trail we took was going to take us all the way to the wrong beach but fortunately for us we met couple of people on the way who told us that we missed the diversion to the ranch. So after correcting ourselves and getting on the right path again we reached beautiful little harbor campground at about 2 pm. Since we didn’t book snorkel rentals in advance, there was nothing to do. No one was interested in Kayaking out there. 

First View of Little Harbor

First View of Little Harbor

Since the hike on the way back was going to be continuos uphill, we decided to take the bus back to Blackjack junction and do the 1.5 mile hike to campground. It was 4 pm bus so we just relaxed at the beach, played some cards and just walked around. We took the 4 pm bus and the hike to Blackjack was lot easier than the previous evening. All of us took showers that evening and it was indeed refreshing. 

Dinner was beans and rice though the pack had some fancy name for it and the dessert was strawberry crumble. I preferred the previous night’s dinner and dessert as well. Since we were planning to get up at 4 am  and leave as early as we could, everyone went to bed early.


6th July: The long hike to Two Harbors


It is 11.8 miles hike from Blackjack campground to Two harbors and we woke up early at 4.30 am to pack everything and leave as early as we could. Breakfast was again coffee along with Bagels and by the time we left the campsite it was 6 am. We had to pack up the tents and clean up everything so it took us a lot of time. The climate was amazing by the time we got at the Blackjack junction it was foggy and the visibility on the road was about 30 feet. It was really a pleasant walk despite the fact that i had about 25-30 pounds on my back, its not that much but still. As we got closer to the airport, yes there is airport on top of catalina island, we saw a heard of wild buffalos which seemed ready to attack us if we got any closer to their young. 

Heard of Wild Buffalo

Herd of Wild Buffalo

Dew Flower

Advantage of Hiking Early.

We took the airport trail loop, there is a sign which says private road no admittance but the trail goes on that road itself. On this trail there was a split which i was tempted to take but we were supposed be on this trail for 1.6 miles and it didn’t seem that we walked for that long. So we continued on this airport loop trail and met someone on the way who confirmed that we were on the right path. We hit another junction, where one of the signs said cross catalina trail and other was small one with EL 1.5 miles. Emerald Landing (EL) trail was the correct one to take and it would be another 1.5 miles before we hit next junction but how wrong we were….

After walking for about half hour we hit another junction and it was very tempting to take that supposedly short cut trail to the left, we met one more person who told us we would be fine on the left but he didn’t seem that sure. The right path would slowly but surely take us on the right path, how ironic :) but we decided to continue on the left steep trail. We continued on it for another half hour or so and hit a dead end. I could see a trail continuing in my head and went on, others weren’t so sure and they were correct, something which i realized after another half hour. Traversing this sloped hill, we hit a ridge line, i kept on going along that ridge with others complaining to me behind and being afraid that we won’t be able to turn back etc.

My sense of adventure/willingness to experiment/over confidence whatever you want to call it got better of me at that time and i kept on going until we saw ocean and guess what it wasn’t two harbors but it was little harbor. how fascinating, jaana tha japan pahuch gaye chin (wanted to go to japan but reached china), its an old hindi song. 

Steep Hill

It all went wrong at this point. Yes I had carried my Fins and Snorkel gear :)

It wasn’t a pleasant feeling at all and with almost an hour lost turning back didn’t seem an option. We contemplated going to little harbor and then taking shuttle to two harbors but we couldn’t speak to a representative and get confirmed tickets on the bus. Also it seemed that we were about 4-5 miles away from two harbors anyway, our boat left at 2.45 pm and it was about 9 – 9.30 so we had plenty of time as well. We decided to get off this hill and on the road which was visible to us at the bottom and take it from there. With no visible trail to get off this mountain i just took the route which was less steep and seemed easier until we reached a small trail. Even though this wasn’t going to take us exactly where we planned on going it would still lead us to the dirt road connecting little harbor and two harbor. 

Once at the bottom of this hill, we had to cross a muddy marshland where we had to trample some of the plants to avoid getting into the mud. Bhanik managed to get one of his feet into the mud and it was messy. He decided to ditch his socks (no we didn’t throw them there, they were dumped in LA) and wear a plastic bag instead of the sock. Once on the dirt road, I wanted to maintain my rhythm and didn’t take a break along with BAR. I told them to hitch a ride in the first vehicle they could find and make it to two harbors, it was going to be a 4 mile hike in the sun on this dirt road. I kept on going at my pace which wasn’t that much at all, about half an hour into this walk i saw Bhanik get a ride and he stopped to get my backpack. I decided not to hand my pack since i would need water etc on the way but got rid of my tent, event though it didn’t seem that much of difference to me i am sure it helped a lot. Rajesh and Amrish also caught up with me by that time but they again decided to take a break after sometime and i kept on going. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant walk in the park but the ocean views all along the final few miles made it worthwhile. I met up with Bhanik at Two harbors at about 12.15 pm, the ranger had refused to give ride to Amrish or Rajesh but they got ride from USC Wrigley dudes and we all were in Two Harbors by 12.30 pm.

Bhanik wanted to snorkel from the start itself and after the hike, Amrish and Rajesh didn’t want to. I rented a wet suit (i was carrying my fins, mask etc) and Bhanik complete snorkeling gear  and we jumped into the water to snorkel for about an hour. There wasn’t much to see on the beach but then when we went to one side which had some kelp, we saw garibaldis, few more fishes. Also spotted a tiny Spanish Shawl (nudibranch) and a sea slug. It was surprising that i managed to free dive with a 3 mm wet suit and no weights. 

The 2.15 pm boat took a long while to unload and departed late and hence our boat also got delayed. We reached San Pedro and after a short drive, we reached Amrish’s place at about 5.15 pm. That was it, our really long long weekend had ended. It was a very nice one too. 


More Pictures

Bhaniks’s Album

Rajesh’s Album

Rest haven’t uploaded their pics, My camera was in water proof case but it stopped working. For all information regarding Catalina, ofcourse you can always contact me as well.

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Jun 17 2008

Hike to Mt Islip

Published by under Hiking

I decided to join Travis and James for a hike to Mt Islip and it was a very pleasant hike, here is my trip report.

Woke up at about 4.30 am, it didn’t bother me that previous night i had went to bed at like 2 am. Got ready, had breakfast and then headed out to Travis’s place. On my way i had to get some trail mix and was there at about 5.50. We immediately headed out in James’s car and reached the trailhead at about 6.50 am. It was an ideal time to start the hike.

We started at about 7 and i really found going tough. My legs weren’t ready at all after not hiking for about 6 months or so but i managed to hang in there and we walked at a steady pace with Travis leading the pack. He was way ahead of myself and James.

We took a short break near Little Jimmy campground at about 8.15 or so and then continued our hike to the summit. The day was clear and we had good views of the area. As the hike went on, I was starting to feel lot better and going on at a decent pace. We reached the summit at about 8.45 am and it was beautiful day. The sky was clear and the views were excellent.

Travis decided to make tea on summit and since we had plenty of time we really took it easy. He really enjoyed chivda, James liked it too. So after chilling on the summit for almost an hour we started heading out. We reached the trailhead in an hour or so and were back at Travis’s place at noon. It was a pleasant hike and we were all glad that we finished it before the heat kicked in.

Below are some of the pictures from the hike, coming soon……

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