Saturday, April 1, 2023

Tis the Season

November 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Travel

I will shortly be mailing out my yearly holiday letter with suggestions on gifts you can give to people you love who love the outdoors.  I hope you enjoy it.

Click on any photo to enjoy and click the back button to return to this post.  Above is Bryce, cryptobiotic crust (the desert floor) and some Utah rock.    This year’s journey to Utah State Parks was so timely and perfect that I’m opening our next journey up to AdventureBuddies (the meet up).

Above is Canyonlands:  Needles and Island in the Sky and Bryce.

The other bit of news is that I’ve joined the UC Botanic Garden and will be listing a gentle walk for the Pole Walking Meetup.  I was able to see the Maladora in bloom this year – enjoy!

PLEASE remember to shop REI, Amazon or Sierra Trading Post from the links on the Right Hand Side of this blog.  We get a very small commission and it costs you nothing.

Happy Holidays 2016

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Travel

Greetings AdventureBuddies, Friends & Family!

We wish you a healthy, happy holiday.

utah-2016-canyonlands utah-2016-bryce

We had many wonderful hikes this year, most of them local (see the flowers a few posts down on this blog), including our “annual” hiking journey to Utah National Parks.  Just 1/4 to 1/2 mile from any trail-head, we have parks practically to ourselves.   I go thru at least 2 pair of hiking shoes a year.  This year I’m taping to manage plantar fasciitis.  Bob has a knee and we’re waiting to hear what’s up with that.  Please do let us know about your year and enjoy the blog!


Glacier National Park Hiking Adventure 1 of 3

August 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Nature, Travel

An intrepid and lively group of hikers met up at Glacier National Park.  This journey, led by a remarkable hiker (and all-around lovely human bean) named Katy, comes from all over and hits the trails.  Katy coordinates hikes every day and this year she had to re-coordinate many of the hikes due to the fires in Montana.

I love to hike, but work gets in the way of my conditioning- BIG TIME.   It was HOT – in the 90’s at times and we were at elevation.  I’m such a flatlander –  we had arrived a day early so we could do a gentle acclimation hike.   This really brought home to me how sport-specific training is essential for activities.  I was wiped out after 3 days of 12+ miles. Fortunately,  I had brought plenty of cheese to have with my whines 🙂

I’ve separated photos into Animal, Vegetable & Mineral.  This is the Mineral (scenery) post.  Click on any photo to enlarge, click back button to return to post.

ice in lake fireweed scene  sunset
 cracker lake lunch spot  Glacial waterfall  drying lake early cracker

The plan was to hike a few days and take a rest day.  Our rest day became our longer journey back.   We took 2 days to blast to Glacier and 4 days to return at a more leisurely, explorative pace. This was our first road-trip in my “new” car (Camry Hybrid).  Bob is a good and steady driver – Yeah Bob!  Along the way there and back, we saw many wonderful sights as well as some fires.  Smoke in Montana, Oregon and California was uncomfortable (especially for my eyes).

Above are some Glacier scenes.  Below are Glacier (Bob and me), fires across the way from Crater Lake in Oregon, Glacier rock color, a cairn (if you’re a fan of this blog, you know how much I LOVE cairns).   Following those are a dam (or darn if you don’t like profanity) scene, a wonderful windmill garden in Electric City (enlarge this one for sure) and a description of Newberry Volcanic National Monument (if you’re interested – enlarge and read).  Last photo is Crater Lake panoramic.

bob on wah back cracker jayah fires from crater lake
rock color cairn

rocks in crack

Rocks in a crack

grand coulee windmill garden  Newberry Volcano sign
crater lake pano

On the way back from Montana, we went to the Grand Coulee Dam and the Chief Joseph Dam.  The tour at the Chief Joseph Dam was very interesting.  We went there because Bob read that it was a way better tour than the Grand Coulee.  We joined in with a group of 30 from a tribal youth camp.  One young camper –  in flip flop sway too big for his feet – lost a shoe in the one tiny place in the whole entire dam that could cause a major problem or shut down.  Disaster was narrowly averted and a dam executive finally retrieved the silly shoe.

A sponteneous stop – at Newberry Volcanic National Monument – We walked in a mile long, enormous cave (enlarge and read the sign).  We also walked along the shore of Crater Lake (above).

When building the Grand Coulee, it was political thinking at the time that this area of the country (the Northwest) would NEVER need that amount of power.  (Reminded me of the patent office commissioner in 1899 saying that everything that can be invented has been invented.)   Quite the enormous undertaking to tame the mighty Columbia –  the Grand Coulee now being one of 14 dams on that river.

Poor Salmon!  They’ve still not solved that issue.

Glacier National Park – 2 of 3

August 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Nature, Travel

Part 2 of 3 – Vegetable-ish (flowers, etc.)  It’s impossible (for me) to capture the abundance of hillsides full of color, but here are some close ups 🙂  Remember to click on any photo to enlarge and click the back button to return to the post.

penstemmon monkey in lava snowberries

Above are purple penstemon (the photo I worked hardest to take, laying on my tummy on the rocks), pink monkey flowers (in lava rock – technically not Glacier, but Newberry Volanic National Monument in Oregon) but we saw LOTS of monkey flowers at Glacier.  I really like how the pink contrasts against the black lava rock.  Last photo above of snow berries.  Below are are a rare white flower (our leader knew the name, but I forgot), fireweed, painbrush, columbine (my favorite flower photo), buckwheat and cascading corn flowers.

rare white flower fireweed paintbrush
columbine buckwheat cornflower

Here are some non-flowers, hence the term vegetable 🙂  lichen on cliff wall and 2 kinds of red berries.  If you’re going to enlarge just one or 2 photos, make sure you click on the lichen to see the colors of the rock and the detail.

lichen on argolyte red berries solomon berries

Thanks to my friend Alison for helping me select a new camera for this journey.  I think the close ups are reasonable and you’ll see in the animals post why I wanted the ZOOM.

Utah Adventure 2014

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Nature, Travel

Utah was COLD this journey.   We arrived just in time for the Polar Vortex.  18 degrees at night, hiking during the day between 30 and 40.   BRRR and Bundled Up!  Below photos show what happens when you’re in the right place at the right timeBe sure to click on the 2nd (upside down split) for a close up – she’s magical and on SOLID rock.  Use back button to return to post.

Right Place, Right Time

Right Place, Right Time!

Upside down split at Delicate Arch

Upside down split at Delicate Arch

Even the bunnies and jack rabbits were not moving.


Chilled-out bunny rabbit

Cold Jack rabbit

Chilled-out jack rabbit

We went from Bryce to Moab and back to Bryce.  We escaped Bryce as the snow and sleet arrived.   Weather manages hiking journeys!


Bryce Hoodoos

Fiery Furnace

Fiery Furnace Arches National Park

It’s like visiting another planet.  Stunning scenery, great hiking, colors, layers…a grand adventure!  The drive from Moab thru Capitol Reef to Bryce, thru Zion and back to the freeway is the most spectacular drive imaginable.  But we had to watch for deer leaping into the road at sunset.  Bob is a great driver!

Bryce Windows

Bryce Windows

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

My favorite hike on the planet is a “little” 3 mile loop in Bryce called Peekaboo.  You’re IN the hoodoos.  Bryce windows photos was taken on this hike.  Click on any photo to enlarge; click back button to return to post.

Bob and Cairn

Bob and Cairn

Bryce Sky

Bryce Sky

Cairns are our friends.  You can search cairn and see lots of other great cairn photos on this blog.

Using POLES on downhill

Using POLES on downhill

Binocular Biomechanics

Binocular Biomechanics, Dead Horse State Park

Rubber tips grip the rocks.  We ALWAYS carry our rubber tips with us.  Wide leg stance saves the back and stabilizes for looking at views.

Besides bunnies, we saw a golden eagle on land, a golden eagle flying, magpies and buffalo!  One morning I got up early to try to photograph the sunrise at Bryce.  Clearly I need to take Cousin Howard’s course on sunrise photography!

Bryce Sunrise

Bryce Sunrise

Last Journey with more snow, Peekaboo

Last Journey with more snow, Peekaboo

Happy Holidays!  Safe Journeys!


Thanksgiving Hiking Pole Adventure in Utah

December 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Gallery, Gear, Travel

We arrived to RAIN in Las Vegas and snow on the roads to Moab.   Even over a foot of snow and cold mornings did not stop us from enjoying the magic of the Utah National Parks.  Our first day included 2 short hikes in Arches  (Park Avenue & Delicate Arch), then we went to Canyonlands Island in the Sky.  We arrived to find NO ONE in the gray and snow-covered parking lot.  No one had hiked the Neck Springs trail * since it had snowed.  We had to find our way by locating what we thought were cairns – little snow pyramids.  We were the footprints, so the next hikers had a clue where to go 🙂

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird

Snow-covered Cairn

Snow-covered Cairn

Natural Lichen Smiley-Face

Natural Lichen Smiley-Face

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Oak Leaves

Oak Leaves

We explored some new trails in Arches & Canyonlands as well as visited some old favorites.  Weather has always managed our Thanksgiving journey to Utah.  We had great gear and felt well-prepared as we headed out on cold mornings.  Yaktrax are like tire chains for your feet – they kept us  from slipping and sliding on icy trails.   Here’s a link to the ones we like:  Yaktrax Pro  Get one size larger than you think you’ll need.  We think the sizing is a bit off.

Yes, that is Bob walking down away from Delicate Arch.

Where's the trail?

Where’s the trail?

Made it to the top!

Made it to the top!



Bob learned rock climbing as a youth.  He talked, encouraged, even bullied me thru some of the most difficult terrain I’d ever been on.  Because of the wet conditions, the rocks were not as grippy.  I made it, but only with the help of my hiking buddy.  Putting poles “away” on packs:  You need a pack that can accommodate this.  Grips down, tips up.  Rubber tips affixed for safety.  We affix the poles by looping  a strap from the pack thru the pole straps and snugging them up towards the pack.  Regarding our packs – I often snug up a seminar participant’s pack.  It helps the pack be more a part of you and less floppy (which can send you off balance.)  It always feels better 🙂

A real trail in Needles District

A real trail in Needles District

Bob crab-walking down steep rock in Arches

Bob crab-walking down steep rock in Arches

Time to put away camera & poles so we can climb

Time to put away camera & poles so we can climb

That's an Ice Pond!

That’s an Ice Pond!

Water everywhere!  Park Avenue, Arches

Water everywhere! Park Avenue, Arches

Yes, it's a road

Yes, it’s a road

The day we wanted to go to Bryce it was 1 degree.  We managed a short loop on our last day and it was warmer and magical!  You can see (bottom middle below) the trail condition – very narrow – making pole use difficult.  We did not have our snow baskets with us 🙁

The Peek-a-boo loop is one of my favorites.  It’s short, but you’re in the Hoodoos.  To get to it and back, it’s about 3 miles – so a total of about 6 miles.  In these conditions, it took us 2 hours to do the 3 mile loop.  That’s SLOW!  You can see that it was starting to cloud up towards the end of our hike.  Nice way to end a week of hiking in Utah!  When we have more time for a longer loop, we like the Fairyland Trail.

Bryce Canyon (Large) 3 kings (Large) ice cream tops (Large)
Peekaboo sign and clouds (Large) Bryce Snow Trail (Large) Bryce Gear (Large)

and finally – with my obsession with trekking poles and cairns 🙂   I love to do a little Cairn-Topping as I hike.  Because of the storm that came thru a few days before we arrived, many of the cairns were in need of a little maintenance 🙂

Cairn and Poles (Large)

* Neck Springs Trail – the longest 5.8 mile hike I’ve ever done.  This glorious trail heads down into a canyon and then back up onto the mesa.  It’s one of my favorite hikes on the planet and suitable for moderate level hikers.  If you head to Moab, put it on your list.  Our favorite place to stay in Moab?  Aarchway Inn – tell Pam I sent you 🙂

Desert Hiking & Desert Horse-back Riding

March 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature, Travel

Anza Borrego Desert State Park:   This very accessible desert is full of wonderful places to explore – canyons, caves, mesas, nature trails and more.  Borrego Springs is the main town and has lots of great accommodations – below you can see the main street was decked out for President’s Day.

Desert Light (Large) Borrego Springs Presidents Day (Large)
Wind Caves (Large) Sleepy Bighorn (Large)

A quick flight to San Diego and a short drive over the mountain and we’re there.  At the top of the mountain, we stop in the lovely town of Julian and pick up some goodies from my favorite shop – the Julian Tea Company – and  pies from the Julian Pie Company.

We hiked thru the wind caves, enjoyed the desert terrain (carefully) and rode thru an Ocotillo Forest.  We saw bighorn sheep in Palm Canyon.  Look for the people stopped and staring and you’ll see sheep.

Bob Stuck (Large) Cholla (Large)
Comet (Large) Canter (Large)

Hiking thru big rocks can be tricky – ha ha, Bob got stuck.Sandra and  Spats (Large)

Watch out for “jumping” cholla!  They pop out as you walk or ride by.  We had to be hyper-aware and get off our horses periodically to check their legs as we rode thru the many desert trails.  The stream crossings were fun.  My horse (Comet – above) shook violently all over after every crossing.  The first time was quite a surprise  🙂

We recommend a walk around the lovely Nature Center to become familiar with the plants before you head out hiking.  It’s nice to know what you’re seeing and what to watch out for.

If you like to ride – check out SmokeTree Arabian Ranch.  Dr. Sandra has quite a variety of lovely equine experiences – the horses are sublime and the scenery is stunning 🙂

As always, click on any photo to enlarge and click the back button to return to post.  We recommend the first photo in this post.  The afternoon light on the cactus was shimmering.

 Bob and Jayah Riding (Large)








Desert Hiking – Tucson in January

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Gallery, Nature, Pole Tips, Poles for Hiking, Travel

Tucson in January.  Below is a desert pony.  This saguaro skeleton really was like a prancing pony.  To the right is a healthy young saguaro in front of a Palo Verde (AZ state tree and very green 🙂

Suguaro Pony Green of Suguaro and Palo Verde (Medium)

Saguaros  can grow to 60” tall (although the tallest we saw was probably 20′ and, according to the Sabino guide, the largest was 75′, they can go 3 years without water, they don’t flower until 35 years of age and it takes 75 years for the first arm to grow so they get to be very old.

Rain in the desert is magical and it poured while I was there.   Below:   The tannins from oaks on Mt. Lemmon cause the water in Sabino canyon to be brown.   Next to the water are saguaro reflections in a small lake.  Click on any photo (especially the reflections one below and the pony above) to enlarge and click the back button to return to post.

Color of Water vertical2 (Medium) Reflections

After a hard early-morning hike, I relaxed on a tram ride up Sabino Canyon:  canyon waterfall (note the brown water and striated rocks), a VERY little cactus – see the pole tip to the L of it and how the spines look like little fishhooks?   I was enchanted by the color of the rocks very near the waterfall.

Waterfall (Large) Small Cactus (Large) Color of rock (Large)

At the Desert Museum, we were honored to see my cousin’s photographic exhibit.  After enjoying Howard’s amazing photographs of Arizona nature, I explored the museum and saw some wonderful creatures including Bighorn sheep, Grosbeak, walking like a duck and a female cardinal.

Bighorns (Medium) Spotted Towhee (Medium)
Walk like a duck (Medium) Female Caridnal 2 (Medium)

When hiking in the desert, the locals go early.  The morning we blasted up Blackett’s ridge, we hit the trail promptly at 7 a.m.   In the summer they start at 5 or 5:30 to beat the heat.  The terrain is rocky and steep.  I use my poles in the desert and love the long foam grips for when I’m on frequently changing and rocky terrain.

Early Morning (Large) HHP_69Reunion_DSC_1625

Above is my on-the-go morning shot and a picture Cousin Howard took of me.  Morteros – grinding holes – are part of ancient cultures’ kitchens.  Finding one in the desert (usually near a stream) is special!

Trekking Poles expand your Hiking Horizons, Utah Part 3

Bob is 65.   He works hard so ends up being a weekend warrior which puts him at increased risk for injury. On our Thanksgiving trip to Utah, we hiked 6 days in a row.   We would not have even considered doing this without our poles.

People are always asking – POLES? Why????  They seem surprised when we answer – Poles feel good – it’s great whole body exercise.  They get us places we want to go,  for instance,  Part 3 of our journey:

I remember the lady in sandals who had driven to the top of Mt. Tam’s East Peak asking me, as I had just climbed to the top of the mountain,  if my poles were canes.  Can you imagine?

Let’s talk about improving power on the up hill.   Hauling yourself up with small muscles in your shoulders is not only inefficient, it’s also potentially harmful to your shoulder joint.  Why NOT use big muscles in your back – the ones that support and elongate your spine?  (uh, the ones that keep you tall and reverse the aging process).

Notice the angle of the poles.  Click on any picture to enlarge and click back button to return to post.   Notice how Bob’s arms are relatively straight.  The latissimus dorsi muscles are attached to the humerus.  Elbow pumping does not engage the lats only the whole arm movement does.  This also engages your obliques.  Imagine someone walking behind you squirting WD-40 into your spine as you walk.  That’s what optimal technique feels like 🙂

What about down?  Do you have knees?  Photo #1 above – Remember, if you flick the poles out in front of you on the down, they’ll support your lower body joints and engage rectus abdominus, pecs and biceps.   The steeper the hill, the smaller the steps.   Photo # 3 above – If I had $300 to casually spend, this vase would be in my new living room.  We found it at the visitor center of Grand Staircase Escalante.

Photo #1 above, Bob using plant push technique – power at 8,000′ on the 6th day of hiking…thank you VERY much  🙂

Photo #2 above is me in front of Calf Creek Falls – a lovely and easy 6 mile hike (in and out) at Grand Staircase Escalante on the way to Bryce.  Driving from Moab to Bryce is one of the most stunning road trips if you go via Torrey.   Make sure to stop in at the Red Desert Candy Company in Torrey and get some of their Red Desert Jellies and Truffles as well as a cup of chai or a latte for the road.  You’re hiking – what better time to splurge?

Photo #3 is a really great example of the swing assist for making time on downhill.  Join us on a practice hike to learn/practice this wonderful technique.

Photo #4 is from the Nature Center at Zion.  We took the scenic route back towards Vegas from Bryce through Zion – another amazing road experience.

So, will learning optimal use of poles really make a difference? YES!

Enjoy the outdoors, enjoy your poles 🙂

Trail Art – Cairns are Hikers’ Friends

November 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel

We are huge fans of cairns.  They show hikers the way.  They come in all shapes and sizes and designs.  They’re trail ART!  Below are some of my favorites – be sure to click on #4 – it’s a whole Cairn City in Bryce.

Not a cairn, but during our Canyonlands hikes,we saw Juniper Berries covering the ground like a blue carpet.  It was amazing!When hiking, look for cairns to find your way.  Don’t step over branches in the trail as these may be markers to keep you on the trail.  It’s easy to go off trail in these environs, so look for cairns – they’re your friends.  Feel free to repair or even top cairns!  Cairn topping is a great hobby!

Cairn Photos:

  • Cairn on a rock ledge – Arches National Park
  • Cairn showing the way up the trail – Canyonlands – Needles District
  • Cairn pyramid – Canyonlands Island in the Sky
  • Cairn City – Bryce
  • Juniper Berries – Canyonlands

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