To the bottom of the great Grand Canyon — South Kaibab and Bright Angels trails

Awesome! is only a word and no camera, no photo, no blog nor any article can ever justify the true beauty of this geological marvel that is actually visible from space. You should see it with your own eyes..um if only you love rocks ;):P  Yet another bucket-list item coupled with months of preparation, a solid plan, plenty of water, salts n food in your backpack, a very steep trail that takes you all the way down to the greenish white waters of the Colorado and then another UNENDING trail that winds all the way up again to the edge of the rim.. all these make another dream coming true for me.

DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AS A DAY HIKE or you must be very well prepared with thorough training, proper exposure to altitude changes, clear understanding of the odds and a super strong will to push yourself to the limits without risking your own safety.  Do your research before you take your first step.  YOU are WARNED.

Every year, scores of unprepared hikers, lured by initially easy downhill hiking, experience severe illness, injury, or death from hiking in the canyon.

We took the South Kaibab Trail  (SK) which almost ‘slides’ you into the colorful canyon with its red white yellow brown black crimson walls of sliced rock but trust me, not a piece of shade from the scorching sun right from the morning. And there is NO WATER available anywhere on the SK.  Reaching the ‘Black Bridge’ is exhilerating for sure with the all the stunning views you have already captured.  Feel the the cool and flowing Colorado waters and brave your heart for the actual journey you need to take back up.  Don’t forget to gift yourself a quick nap, it would give you good mileage when you are coming up.

The Bright Angels Trail (BA) is probably the most under-estimated trail in all of the discussions I read so far. Don’t get fooled to read that its not as steep as SK. Thats a language trap. BA is easy most of its stretch and there is lots of shade but when its tough, its really tough. It has two sections that are EXTREMELY difficult for a novice hiker that can stun/surprise even experienced folks. Reaching the Indian Campground would take all your juices away… And then starts your actual tussle with the Canyon. After hiking almost 14+ miles , you will stand before the last piece that challenges you and breaks you down properly.  I bet you will forever remember the last 2-3 miles as one of the valuable stretches of walking you have ever done on the Earth.. seriously.

I did it all so you can too. But don’t kill yourself. please.  
Route 66 — Are you too obsessed with the road numbers?
Route 66 -- Are you too obsessed with the road numbers?

Switchbacks — is probably the sweetest word in Dictionary😉
Switchbacks -- is probably the sweetest word in Dictionary ;)

It takes to understand why the Grand Canyon is Grand.
It takes to understand why the Grand Canyon is Grand.

i love ridges with slopes on both sides..
i love ridges with slopes on both sides..

Finally! The Black Bridge… yey!
Finally! The Black Bridge.. yey!

I did it.
I did it.

Thats the cute little bridge you will remember forever.
Thats the cute little bridge you will remember forever.

Plan your timing to avoid mid day heat.
Plan your times to avoid mid day heat.

the suspension bridge with the black bridge in the background
the suspension bridge

Indian campground
Indian Campground

I couldn’t take any pictures beyond this point. I waited like hell to reach this place and then the actual hell broke loose and then the darkness of the night surrounded and then the temperatures started dropping (like from 93F mid afternoon to 38F midnight)..

We took 5 hours to go down with many breaks and photoshoots.. and then another 10+ hours to come back up. Please note there is water available at Indian Campground and one emergency resthouse at 3 miles from the BA trailhead and another one at 1.5 miles from the same trailhead. You will thank NPS for keeping a 911 landline there just in case you bump into any emergency when you are about to finish a hike of your life time.

Lemme conclude: Be careful and be prepared for the last 4 of the 17 miles.

Thanks for reading and happy hiking. Go figure out why the Grand Canyon is Grand.
-balu

Categories: 2016, friends, hike, my, national parks, outdoors, sun, trails challenge, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

bring China home

with crispy noodle minestrone soup, veg spring rolls and spicy hot wheat-chowmein fried with garlic, onion greens n mushrooms and all served with fresh carrot cuts🙂

Bring China home

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hiking Rose Peak in Sunol Wilderness (only for advanced hikers)

This marks my personal best record of 19 miles, 4k elevation in 10.5 hours.. yey!

And this just happens to be the tallest publicly accessible peak in the Alamada County. Hiking it is very strenuous, the heat just kills, any amount of water is not sufficient (drinkable water is only at the visitor center, for emergencies there is untreated water at Hawk’s Nest) and the long distance would seem to be never ending. Trails are well marked but you better carry your own gpx as you can get lost at few places, but overall we enjoyed hiking this. Never try this alone. We hardly saw any people there and its not worth risking your own self in the vast wilderness. This is meant to be for advanced hikers, but of course I did.😉

Golden Valleys (with fire hazard warning ‘EXTREME’ of course)
golden valleys

Touch the clouds
touch the clouds

Hawk’s Nest campground
Hawk's Nest campground

You should hike 11 miles to get to this humble flagpost.. aah
you should hike 11 miles to get to this humble flagpost.. aah

thanks for reading. Don’t try this alone or without proper planning.

B

Categories: 2016, california, hike, my, outdoors, state parks, trails challenge | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Half-moon bay beach camping on a full moon day

My kids were camping for the first time and I wanted them to start big🙂 so whats better than a beach front on the night of a full moon?  Book your campsite on the Half-moon bay, arrange for lots of food n drinks, carry a ton of firewood, plan your barbeque ahead, pitch your tent,  exhaust them on the sand, split the woods, fire the pit, show them how to manage fire, make a few smoking corn and let them avoid burning their lips, lights on, open the sleeping bags, teach them how to go to bed comfortably… All this when the waves of the great Pacific ocean are splashing heavily just a 100 yards away, with a chilling breeze making your fire most valuable..🙂

Enjoy the life with most basic amenities and appreciate the value

The cozy small place to stay for the night:
our tent a 100 yards away from the Pacific waves

Thats all you have:
car camping

smoking corn for the evening:
smoking corm for the evening

good night with no electricity:
good night

Thanks for reading, hope this inspires you to go out into the nature.

B

Categories: california, family, kids, life, moon, my, outdoors, roadtrips, state parks, summer | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

hiking the half-dome cables in yosemite

Put a hard deadline by which you should summit and if you don’t reach by that time, turn back.

This is the top rule when you are hiking particularly when the routes/summits are strenuous, dangerous, long and lonely.  And thats one rule that prevented me to turn back from the foot of the cables😦 I was very sad and missed the peak only by a mere 400 meters but I now have a better understanding of this ruthless trail, of the lacunae in my planning and my very own limitations. Of course, I will work on these points and surely go again. I will carry more than 4L of water, no extra wait, will eat more and try to avoid muscle cramps, next time.

Cables on Half-dome is no doubt one of the best and strenuous hikes I did in the last many years. Its a hiker’s paradise with stunning views, steep granite and a thorough mental challenge.  A grueling 16 mile hike with limited access to water, the staircase with huge steps along side the Nevada and Vernal Falls, the never ending John Muir trail, the risky slopes on the sub-dome all would only make it more beautiful if you ask me🙂

Parking Tip:

Trailhead parking is usually sufficient for day/night hikers but there are few slots at the Happy Isle too (closed when we were there). And if these two are overflowing, then the nearby Curry Village parking (now Halfdome village) is huge enough for a thousand cars.
 
Cables on half-dome:
cables on half-dome

Trail Map:

View from the sub-dome:
view from the sub-dome

Nevada and Vernal Falls:
nevada fallsvernal falls

A granite bargain:
a granite bargain

 

John Muir trail:
John Muir Trail to halfdome

Try this all out. You would love it.

Thanks for reading.
B

Categories: 2016, california, hike, my, national parks, national parks, outdoors, sun, trails challenge | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

why men love their cars than women?

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Ahem! … I finally figured out why Men like their cars more than Women..

  • Because a car carefully ‘listens’ to the driver, simply follow his command actions without a hesitation;
  • Tries to comfort him all the time with only the “possible/available” resources;
  • He can lower the windows anytime for fresh air to stroke his hair affectionately and solace him “silently”;
  • He can click a button any time to know where his car is;
  • He can drink a beer while still sitting inside the car;
  • … and many more.. Please add if you have any points.

WARNING: The above logic doesn’t apply to your ladylove. In fact, Love is always beyond logic, mortals!

Thanks for reading.

B

Categories: car, cars, life, philosophy, secret, suggestions, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Trails Challenge souvenir

Yey! Thats like hiking 52+ miles in different state parks mostly in East Bay though🙂 … so far.

2016 Trails Challenge

Categories: 2016, california, health, hike, my, national parks, outdoors, state parks, trails challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

thatched hut on a calm sea shore

thatched hut on a calm sea shore

 

On a piece of trash with a broken pencil, from the heart of a painter for the sake of a fossil. #smudge #practice #drawing remembering the soul of an old life.

Categories: drawing, life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Log: 1400 miles of our Alaskan roadtrip is just thrilling

Alaska is no doubt one of the most beautiful places on the Earth. The stunning Glaciers, large lakes, enormous mountain ranges, diverse wildlife and museums with rare collections etc certainly make it one of the bucket list items for any traveler. We did a week long circular road trip of ~1400 miles from Anchorage ->Denali ->Fairbanks ->Delta Jn ->Paxson lake -> Matanuska -> Seward -> Anchorage and thoroughly enjoyed it that we want to go back again🙂

Day-1 started with a quick hike to the Thunderbird Falls:
thunderbird falls hike

Glacier Ruth — you will surely feel like dancing when you land on it:
dancing on glacier Ruth

Horns Everywhere:
horns everywhere

That was the first time we saw a ‘moose’:
moose

10pm sunlight and the sunset still an hour or so away:
10pm sunlight

Hatchers Pass:
Hatcher's pass

End of the Alaskan Highway mile 1422 at Delta Junction:
End of the Alaskan Highway mile 1422 at Delta Junction

Denali National Park and Preserve:
Denali national park and preserve

Every moose belongs to the Earth🙂
Every moose belongs to the Earth :)

That was a ‘wild’ bear with two cubs, came so very close🙂
That was a 'wild' bear with two cubs, came so very close :)

flightseeing was super fun:
flightseeing was super fun

Mount Denali from a flightseeing air taxi:
Mount Denali

wild and bald eagle🙂
wild and bald eagle :)

look into his eyes, he can read a scribble pad from across a football field🙂
look into his eyes, he can read a scribble pad from across a football field :)

holgate glacier (that is a flowing ice river, if you don’t mind):
holgate glacier

one house that I always wanted:
one house that i always wanted

designer musk ox (he was just shredding):
designer musk ox

never saw a bear claw that close:
never saw a bear claw that close

wood bison:
wood bison

woolly mammoth skeleton is so huge and the video that shows how painful it is for them to excavate the fossils is just mind blowing:
woolly mammoth is so huge

post card sceneries:
post card scenaries

Road Road Road:
road road road

road road road

road road road

road road road

Doll’s porpoise playing with the tourists on board the Glacier Express:

orca group Ak-6 on the Seward shores:

And the last but not least, a humpback breaching the water surface. You should see it with your naked eye and understand how exhilarating it is to watch the world’s biggest mammal known doing that flip on open ocean:

Thats all for now. Thanks for reading.
Balu

Categories: car, family, fun, hike, my, national parks, outdoors, roadtrips, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

mistakes made me

mistakes made me wise :)

Categories: analysis, california, life, me, philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mussel Rock, McCluers Beach and the San Andreas fault in between

Not many would be interested to go to an Earthquake fault on a weekend road trip but what if you add a beautiful beach to it, and a stunning rock floor all filled with mussels, and a big tunnel in the rock with the high waves crashing and trying to close both sides of it? That would be one awesome day, trust me!

As for the record, Mussel Rock is the place where the San Andreas fault re-enters the land mass. The “Pacific Plate” and the “North American Plate” just rubbed against each other and made an 800 mile long fault that looks like a scar on the Earth’s cheek.. Isn’t it creepy?

And touching the edge of such a ” tectonic plate” with your human hands is like a crazy dream.

And then, all the rocks on the shore are filled with tiny black mussels, wow, why? Don’t miss the “hole in the rock” which is just one wonderful experience to sit in the tunnel and hear the crashing waves at both sides.  And another point close to the fault but far away from here is the McCluers Beach. We will do Fort Ross some other day, but this beach is hidden from the public view by few hillocks and the hike down took just 0.5 miles and you enter a private beach thats all your own🙂

hole in the rock

mussels on the rocks

ever ever sand

ever ever sand

Thanks for reading. You have nice time too.

Categories: california, family, fun, hike, kids, my, outdoors, roadtrips | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel log: Journey to the HOTTEST place ever recorded on the Earth

The HOTTEST place ever recorded on the Earth;
The LOWEST elevation below sea level in the entire Western Hemisphere;
The DRIEST place in the Western Hemisphere;
The TALLEST place in all of the lower US states;
The LARGEST National Park in the USA;

It may sound like crazy that I wanted to visit these places but the privilege of a Californian is to be able to cover them all in a day or two, so why not on a long weekend? 🙂 Yes, I am talking about the famous “Death Valley National Park” which is the largest (in fact larger than Yellowstone, yes, yes).  I never thought it would be so beautiful even though exhausting and dehydrating. We drove through the heart of the valley, its all a dry and barren land with extreme temperature and aridity but God made it “hellafa” beauty, I vouch.

  • Furnace Creek and Stovepipe are aptly named🙂
  • Badwater Basin is a bold beauty and drains all the water out of you. It was 109°F (43ºC) when we were there
  • Natural Bridge intrigues you sure
  • Mesquite Dunes mesmerizes you
  • the “Death Valley Scenic Highway” is certainly scenic with multiple stops for water and pictures🙂
  • Mount Whitney stands tall and makes all this rain shadow region what it is
  • Family trek to the Lone Pine Lake at 10k

And we didn’t actually get time to visit many other places like Zebriskie point, Devil’s cornfield, Ubehebe crater and Eurake Dunes etc.. Next time🙂

Trip tips:   Carry lots and lots of water with you, sun screen, cooling glasses, hat, umbrella and whatever else that can protect you from the scorching sun and dehydration.

My Kids tried to breach the 10k elevation mark but had to turn back at 9153 due to bad weather. It still was a 4 mile hike on the slopes of Mount Whitney. We got two new friends and the 3 year old “Ashrita” was the most energetic:
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Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level
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Bumblebee’s “Off road” to the “Natural Bridge”:
"off road" to the "Natural Bridge"

“Salt Carpet” at the Badwater Basin
"Salt Carpet" welcomes you

“Natural Bridge” — It was cut thru by flowing water, once upon a time🙂
Natural Bridge, Death Valley National Park

“Mesquite Dunes” — a desert in the heart of “redwood” state
Untitled

Another 1200 miles in the log.. um..and special thanks to Manoj and Punnami for accompanying us.

thanks for reading.

Categories: 2016, california, car, family, hike, kids, my, national parks, national parks, outdoors, roadtrips, summer, sun, trails challenge, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

hiking Mount Baldy

I took the Ski-hut-trail to the peak and then the Devil’s backbone to come down. It may look like a normal hike of 10-11 miles but the ascent is an unpaved steep trail filled with boulders and occassional shade. And its the descent I found very dangerous as the Devil’s backbone is nothing but a sharp ridge with deep valleys on both sides. Add some bad weather and poor visibility, it can easily become treacherous as it happened to a lonely me. Don’t go alone onto this ridge, particularly if its bad weather.

10k peak, 11 miles, 12 hours... not bad

10k peak, 11 miles, 12 hours… not bad

mount baldy

it was not easy for sure

devil's backbone

Devil’s backbone looks so normal from the top, but once you enter that area covered by clouds, its nothing but a steep ridge with deep valleys both sides. Don’t go alone.

one in a billion rainbow

Watch carefully! Its a one-in-a-billion circular rainbow which flashed for a few moments with a passing wet cloud and a rare chance, it appeared like an aura around my head in the shadow

 

Categories: 2016, california, hike, my, outdoors, roadtrips, state parks, trails challenge | 1 Comment

3 weeks of happiness

spoonful to plateful

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kids’ saplings

Its important they plant seeds and then grow their understanding of nature along with the sprouts and saplings🙂

kids' sapplings

Categories: family, fathering, fun, gardening, kids, my, outdoors | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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