July 19, 2014

Mount Diablo

Mount Diablo

Rising a decidedly non-devilish 3,849 feet above sea level, Mount Diablo is not quite the highest summit in the Bay Area, but it is Contra Costa County’s highpoint, and, thanks to its remarkable prominence, Diablo offers not just fine views from San Francisco to the Sierra, but in fact one of the largest viewsheds in the western United States (more…)

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July 11, 2014

Where’s Your Sierra?

Where's Your Sierra?

I have a distinct mental image of “The Sierra”—and this isn’t it. My Sierra is heavy on Owens Valley and fourteeners, with lots of dry, dusty, austere granite brooding high above sun-baked desert. I’m generally aware of other, wetter parts, such as Yosemite, but like the beach some two miles from my house I tend to forget it exists unless it’s right in front of me (more…)

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August 16, 2013

House of Pain

House of Pain

Olancha Peak has long commanded my attention. First of the Southern Sierra’s big mountains, Olancha can be thought of as the range’s regional ambassador. Drive Highway 395 north just past Little Lake, and there it is: a looming outline that fills the horizon. Scrappy high desert ranges are instantly forgotten in that first glance; here it seems as if the whole of the Sierra has suddenly sprung into view (more…)

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June 26, 2013

The South Fork Loop

The South Fork Loop

“Don’t tell me how far it is,” I say. I don’t want to know. We’re at the Mill Creek Ranger Station, waiting for it to open so we can get hiking permits. You need permits to enter the San Gorgonio Wilderness, even for day hikes, and in Summer there’s a trail quota to deal with as well. Our planned destination today is the summit of San Gorgonio Mountain, officially 11,499′, unofficially a few feet higher (more…)

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June 12, 2013

Mount Hollywood

Mount Hollywood

Rising only 1625 feet above sea level, Mount Hollywood may sound lowly. But it is surely one of the must-do summits in Southern California. You won’t need much more than a pair of sneakers and a water bottle to make it to the top, and from there, you’ll be rewarded with incomparable views of Griffith Park, Los Angeles, and the surrounding L.A. Basin (more…)

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November 7, 2012

Rim to Rim: I Think You Can Do It

Rim to Rim: I Think You Can Do It

The call comes at 3:30 a.m. In record-setting fashion, my brother has pushed this decision to literally the last minute possible. If he says go, we’ll hop in the car and drive to Grand Canyon Village, for a grueling but no doubt extraordinary day hike across the Grand Canyon, south rim to north. On the other hand, if his cold has flared up, or he otherwise just isn’t feeling it, I’ll get back into my bed and that will be that (more…)

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September 30, 2011

White Mountain

White Mountain

White Mountain, California — It would be a mistake to call White Mountain an easy fourteener (is there such a thing?). But it’s not unreasonable to call White Mountain California’s easiest fourteener. Which is kind of funny, because from three directions—north, east, and west—White and its 10K gains offer just about as grueling a climb as can be had in North America. Thankfully there is also the south approach (more…)

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August 25, 2011

Telescope Peak Trail

Telescope Peak Trail

Telescope Peak, California — monsoon moisture pops thunderheads to the south, while drier air pushes down from the north. Forecast: indeterminate. It’s seven miles from the trailhead at Mahogany Flat to Telescope Peak’s summit, and the majority traverse a broad, airy ridge offering not a hint of storm protection (more…)

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September 4, 2010

Half Dome via the Cables

Half Dome via the Cables

It is perhaps the most famous hike in the United States. Every Summer, thousands attempt the 16 mile round trip from Yosemite Valley’s floor to Half Dome’s 8836-foot summit. Along they way they will travel through some of Yosemite’s most inspiring terrain, passing not one but two major waterfalls and countless jaw-dropping vistas. But the route’s main attraction is its finale (more…)

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August 27, 2010

“You are not an Emergency”

“Howdy neighbor,” were the first words he said to me. I’ll call him Mr. M, and he and his young son were staying in the Curry Village tent cabin next to mine. Mr. M had a wry, slightly ironic Old World demeanor—maybe Slavic, maybe Baltic. Good neighbor material, I thought. And as a fellow father, I admired him for spending time enjoying the splendors of the Yosemite Valley with his boy (more…)

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