Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ring out the OLD!

I'm beat.  I had a crazy day at work and was very busy for about four straight hours.  So while most people are going to wait til midnight to ring in the New Year, I celebrated with our friends in New York and am calling it a night.

I wanted to give my feet a good soak but decided that tomorrow after my first hike of the year would be a better time.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and Good Night!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Counting Down

I've had a few people ask me why I haven't been hiking lately.  I'm resting up.  I figure if I am going to be hiking every single day for an entire year then I can take a week off.

The kids have been out of school so I took a week off work.  I painted the house and have played a lot of football.  My shoulder is sore; being QB all the time is rough on a guy.  It hasn't been much of a vacation for me but I've been preparing my mind.  

Woody Allen said that eighty percent of success is just showing up but in this case it's 100 percent.  If I miss a day, the challenge is over.   It's stressing me out.  

I'm going to have to plan my vacations and weekends around this endeavor.  I'm going to have to excuse myself from family gatherings, I'm going to have to take time out after work, or before.  I'm going to have to figure out where to hike every day so I don't get bored.

If you have a favorite hike in the Southern California area, send me a email.  I'm sure I'll be looking for new places.  

There have been a lot of people who, I'm sure, have hiked every day for a year.  However, most of them are either retired, outdoor professionals or hobos.  Being none of those I'm not sure if I can do it but it'll be fun to try.  

I've got one non-hiking day left to go and then the fun begins!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Little Hike Near Home

Took some of the boys on a little adventure near home on Saturday.  We walked from the house and found a few little trails that led us to a golf course.  The boys had a great time picking up golf balls that strayed up into the hills.  I picked up about three dozen myself.  That should be just enough for my next round.  

Here are some pictures:

   Standing atop a little hill overlooking the La Quinta Cove.

   Hiking down a trail toward discovery
   Hey, who put this here?  Don't they know this is on a 
   Cahuilla Indian Trail and village site?
   Whoa!  Somebody hit a golf ball up here.  Somebody who
   obviously needs another lesson.

Friday, December 19, 2008

THIS feels like Christmas to me.

Someone out there has a voodoo doll with my name on it.  There is no other way to explain the excruciating pain I have been experiencing since I woke up this morning.  My whole neck feels like someone is squeezing it in a vise and jamming a knitting needle into it.  What a way to start a vacation.

This cannot happen; I have plans.  A huge storm hammered Southern California this week and dropped tons of snow throughout the mountains.  Like all native Southern Californians, I love snow.  I just don't want to live in it.  Snow, to us, means recreation.  We love skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowmen, snowball fights and then going home, where it's warm.

With over three feet of new snow in the local mountains, I seriously considered going to Big Bear for some skiing.  One thing got in my way: kids.  I have to drop off kids at school by 9 and pick them up by 3.  So, by the time I drove to Big Bear, strapped on some boards and hit the slopes, I'd have time for one or two runs and then have to come back.  Oh well.

Plan two is snowshoeing at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  The Tram is great because you can get up to 8500 feet in about ten minutes.  What a great thing to have in one's own backyard. You can go to the snow but not drive in the snow.

My pain in the neck is not going to keep me home so after I drop off the kids I head over to Starbucks for a triple latte and some Vicodin.  No, that's not a new drink there.  I brought the Vicodin.

I get to the Tram about ten minutes before the first car leaves and the mountains look incredible.  There is snow all around the parking lot and it's cold.  I hop on the first Tram and head up.

  The mountains are plastered with fresh snow.  My friends
  from the Midwest say it doesn't really feel like Christmas
  in Southern California.  This sure feels like Christmas to me.

   It is not really that cold up here.  The sun is shining and 
   it is hovering around freezing.  Perfect!
I put on my snowshoes and hit the trail.  OK, there is no trail so I make one.  The snow is deep and soft and with each step I sink in about 12-18 inches.  It is very slow going.  It's not that I'm overweight and out of shape but the conditions that are keeping me from moving at a faster clip, I tell myself.  Unfortunately, while the Vicodin has lessened the pain in my neck, it has not robbed me of any logical thought so I know better.  I'm fat, old and slow but who cares?  It's beautiful up here and I have a couple of hours before I have to pick up the kids.

  Here's the track I left behind as I make my way up the "trail".
  Hmmm.  Which trail to take here?
  The path has gotten a bit deeper since I left.

Since I've got to pick up kids, I have a very strict turn around time and so don't get to cover much ground.  But the ground I do cover is beautiful and I appreciate the beauty and peace of just a couple of hours walking in the wilderness.  And my neck doesn't hurt a bit.

I am not really much of a photographer but I have posted some   More pictures here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Counting Down......

I've got about two weeks before I begin my quest to hike every day for a year.  I'm quite excited but also apprehensive.  Failure is not really a concern; what I will consider a success is what bothers me.  Merely hiking every day is not enough.  A challenge is what I'm looking for, something beyond just going through the motions.  With that in mind, I have decided to set up some ground rules.

1. All hikes must be on unpaved ground.  No hiking around Disneyland or the San Diego Zoo or New York City.  Dirt, sand, gravel or rock only.  OK, snow and ice count because sometimes the ground is covered but no pavement.  Hiking on pavement is not acceptable.

2. All hikes must be 1/2 an hour or more.  Now, I know a measly half an hour doesn't sound like much to many seasoned hikers but let's be real here.  I'm not retired.  I have kids who need attention and a taxi service.  Were I to become a hiking hobo, my wife would probably divorce me and since she's put up with me for this long I don't want to take that chance.  Besides, you can see some really wonderful things on even a short hike.  At least that's what I'm hoping.

3. All hikes only count for the calendar day on which they start.  Say I do a moonlight hike.  It starts at 10:30p.m. and finishes at 12:30 a.m.  That's ONE hike for one day.  It doesn't count as two.  Now, if I start another hike at 12:35, I'll count that but it has to last at least a half an hour. But that brings my next rule.

4. The same hike cannot be taken on consecutive days.  There are some people who do the same hike on the same trail, every day, at the same time, with the same people.  And while I admire their commitment and consistency, that won't do for me.  I want variety and adventure.  I want to explore new areas and expand my experiences.  Doing the same thing over and over again is tedious and mind numbing.  And what I said about admiring people who do the same hikes all the time. That was a total lie.  Those people are totally boring and I won't be hiking with them. EVER.

I'm sure I'll think of other "rules" before my little experiment begins on January 1, 2009 but four rules are more than I have ever followed up to this point in my life, so if I am able to keep just those, I will consider this endeavor a great success.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Taking the troops on a march

Took my son, Nikolas, and five of the neighbor kids on a little hike today.  A little hike for me, that is.  For the kids it was like the Bataan Death March over the landscape of the moon.

We went to the 1000 Palm Oasis and hiked to the McCallum Grove.  It's like a mile.  Of course, when you're five years old one mile seems like fifty.  At the McCallum Grove there is a little pond (or a big giant lake to the kids)  which is home to the Desert Pupfish and some crayfish that someone threw in there.  The boys were very excited to see a "crab" and I'm sure their parents will be wonder where on earth I took them when they hear about it.

I have to learn to take more pictures because when I hike I never take enough. I'm too busy enjoying the experience and the surroundings and the company.  I'll try to get better.

Here are a few of the pictures I did take:

I didn't get any pictures of the Grove itself or of the "lake" or of the "crab".  Sorry.  But here we are climbing a hill after leaving the grove.  Johnnie, age 5, was already starting to drag a bit and so Mark gave him a lift.  I was enlisted into that service later.

Here the boys have made it to the top of the hill overlooking the McCallum Grove (on the left).  

Hey!  What's this pile of rocks doing here?


Inside the Palm Tree cabin in the Wilhelm Grove, all decorated for Christmas (can you guess which kid is mine?).  This is a fascinating place and I would recommend it to everyone.  There are some really fun hikes to take and it has a very interesting history.  On my next trip, I promise to take more pictures of the landscape, the trees and the pond.

The kids had fun, didn't grumble too much and I'm sure their parents will be grateful when they want to go to bed at about 8 o'clock tonight.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No Where To Go But Up

Took a nice little hike in Palm Springs today.  I was looking to see if I could find a somewhat easy access point to get on an old trail called the Gordon Trail.  No luck. 

I did hike up a very nice canyon that ends at a waterfall which had just a trickle of water coming down it.  Although the canyon does not have a name on any map, I have been told it is called Os Wit Canyon.  This is supposed to be an Indian name meaning wild cat or bobcat.  Although I did not see any wildcats, I did come across three guys hiking with dogs.   Other than that I had the canyon all to myself.

I took a few pictures.

Maybe this sign was part of the reason I didn't see a lot of hikers in the area.  I guess it could be translated: "Little used trail".

Oddly enough, just about a 1/2 mile up from the previous sign I came upon this sign.  Now why would any one put a No Trespassing sign just down from a well used trailhead?  Liability, perhaps?  Maybe the Flood Control District wants plausible deniability if someone gets hurt hiking on their land.  They could just say, "We are not responsible for anything that happens to trespassers".
A view up the canyon.  The Gordon Trail is somewhere to the left of the big white rock outcropping.

This is the view from deep in the canyon looking up at the North Face of the rock (called Eagle's Rest).  You can't really get there from where I am.  It is probably about 1500 feet higher than I am at this point.

This is the waterfall.  There was just the slightest trickle of water and a lot of algae growing on the rocks.  I bet it's pretty in the spring but I was quite happy I brought plenty of water with me and did not need to avail myself to what I am sure was some very tasty spring water.

I didn't find a path to get to the Gordon Trail today but it was a great little hike that I hope to repeat after some winter rains.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A day with the boys!

Took my sons and four of their buddies for a little hike in the Mecca Hills yesterday.  The weather couldn't have been better and a great time was had by all.  

My kids were a little apprehensive before going on this hike. The last time we went there, the sun went down when we were half way done and we had to hike two miles and climb down a couple of ladders with one small flashlight and the light of a cellphone.  And it's DARK in those canyons.  We made it back to the Jeep just as our batteries were going dead.

The best part of the trip was sneaking up behind four of the boys and scaring them with a mountain lion growl.  I hadn't seen any of those kids move so fast the whole day.  Here are a few pictures:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Hike A Day For A Year

With the New Year quickly coming upon us I started to think about what I might want to improve about myself.  Like everyone, there's a list of items that could use some work.  

I could be more organized, nicer and funnier.  I'd like to be a bit taller but I'm thirty years past puberty so I doubt I'll be getting any more growth spurts.

Eating healthier would be up there but Betty Ford doesn't have a program for Häagen-Daz addiction.  Swearing off fast food would last until I drove past an In-n-Out Burger.

Since I don't really smoke or drink other than the occasional cigar or sip of Scotch that's not something that needs to be tackled.  

Then it came to me: HIKING.  I love hiking.  Ten years of my life were spent tending a hiking shop and talking to people about hiking while doing far too little of it myself.  In the intervening ten plus years I have done much more hiking than I did as a shopkeeper but not nearly enough.  My ever expanding gut testifies to that.

So in 2009 I resolve to hike more.  Much more.  

My resolution is to hike EVERY DAY during 2009.  

Now these hikes are not going to all be long, challenging adventures although some will be. Some may be very short. Many will be boring and in the desert close to my house.  There will probably be a few walks on the beach included but I will strive to take at least one hike every day.  And I will write about them, every one.  Plus, I'll post pictures of some of the more interesting outings.

I hope you'll come along sometime and if you have any hiking suggestions, please send me an email.  If I'm going on a trip somewhere, I'll announce it in advance so if any of you have been there you can send me your favorite hike.

What have I got to lose except about 40 pounds?