Month: July 2014

Lassen Volcanic NP: Clusters Lake Loop & Cinder Cone

Hike: Clusters Lake Loop & Cinder Cone
Where: Lassen Volcanic National Park
Trailhead: Summit Lake
Level: Moderate
Duration: 8 hours
Length: 17 miles out and back
Gear: Icebreaker Tech T Lite shirt, Outdoor Research Turbine Shorts, Boreas Topaz 25, Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles, and Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Boot
Cost of Parking: Free

Really long days like this happen when I try to jam pack a lot of things into a short amount of time. I started at the Summit Lake trailhead where our campsite was. My intention was to go all the way out to the Cinder Cone (which I will be tackling this weekend), back and down around the whole Clusters Lake loop. It didn’t happen. It ended up being an out and back past Echo Lake, two unnamed lakes, Upper & Lower Twin Lakes, and Rainbow Lake to just a mile short of the Cinder Cone near the Fantastic Lava Beds and Painted Sand Dunes. This trail loops around Lower Twin lake and connects with the Pacific Crest Trail so you can opt to take that for a bit of a change of pace on your way back.

The trail up to Rainbow Lake is absolutely beautiful, but heading past that to the Cinder Cone is very hot, dry and barren. I highly suggest doing the full lake loop separately from the Cinder Cone for a more enjoyable and scenic experience. I also highly recommend hopping into one of the Twin Lakes, or maybe even Echo Lake and shouting really loud. They don’t call it Echo Lake for nothin’. The water is cool, crisp and so ridiculously clear! If you’d like to torture yourself, I would recommend this exact hike.

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Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park: Big Sur River Gorge

Hike: Big Sur River Gorge
Where: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Trailhead: Big Sur River Gorge/Mt. Manuel next to Parking Lot 3
Level: Moderate
Length: 1.2 miles out and back
Gear: Icebreaker Aero Tank, Outdoor Research Turbine Shorts, Boreas Topaz 25, Outdoor Research Echo Ubertube, Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sack 2.5L, and Ahnu Tilden Sandal
Cost of Parking: $10 inside the park

I had accidentally stopped by Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and headed up the Big Sur River Gorge last summer when we stopped too early in an attempt to do the Tanbark Trail & Tin House loop at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. I mean, the names are confusing. Really.

The last time I was here, we made it up the river to the swimming hole, but opted to come back at a later time to jump in. I was determined to check this place off my bucket list! And this weekend, I did. Headed down to the park on a hot Sunday morning with some friends. We were afraid it would be foggy and cool, but the fog quickly burned off to reveal blue, blue skies for a marvelous trek up the river.

We parked at Parking Lot #3 and made our way up a paved road to the river where we began to walk up. Even with the drought, there was still a solid amount of water in the river. I found myself up to my waist during certain portions. I highly recommend bringing watershoes to hike in the river. It makes it 10x easier than trying to scramble and boulder hop on slippery wet rocks or avoiding getting your feet wet. I was able to just hike up in the river for a good portion of the hike which made it quite enjoyable. The water temperature was cool, not too cool, and refreshing.

At the end of the trek, you reach the largest swimming hole, nestled by towering granite walls. Even with this year’s drought, water levels are still high enough for swimming and jumping off rocks. This spot is very popular in the summer on a warm day so don’t expect much privacy. There are swimming spots along the way up if you prefer less of a crowd.

Remember to pay careful attention to your surroundings. The rocks are slippery and loose and mossy, and sometimes water may be deeper than it seems. Your safety is your responsibility.

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Icebreaker Aero Tank

Icebreaker Aero Tank Icebreaker Aero Tank Icebreaker Aero Tank

The Icebreaker Aero Tank makes me want to shave my armpits. Wait, what? Let me back it up a bit. I’m a fan of keeping things simple, fast, and easy. I’m not a fan of shaving my pits; it’s just so much more time consuming in the shower! But this tank makes me want to, so I’m not terrifying you with underarm bush while we’re on the trail.

I stumbled across this gem while browsing at the Icebreaker store and it had to come home with me. It’s just so lightweight, breezy and comfortable! Oh, and the color is great.

The 120 Featherweight merino wool is designed to be your best friend during hot summer months. It wicks away sweat and moisture and keeps you cool and comfortable. It is so incredibly lightweight that I usually stow it in my pack for those days where I need to shed some extra cloth.

The fit is standard and fairly relaxed. I like my shirts on the looser side, and I’m really good at accidentally throwing shirts in the dryer. An XS fit me fairly snugly, while the S provided a little more breathing room.

The Icebreaker tank is easily one of my go-to tops on hot, summer days and an impulse purchase I don’t regret. Buy through Icebreaker for $49.99.

If you really, really, really hate shaving your pits, Icebreaker also makes an Aero Short-Sleeve Crew for $59.99.

PS – don’t forget to wear lots of sunblock.

Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell

Hike: Bumpass Hell
Where: Lassen Volcanic National Park
Trailhead: Bumpass Hell
Level: Easy
Duration: 2 hours
Length: 3 miles out and back
Gear: Icebreaker Tech T Lite, Outdoor Research Echo Ubertube, Outdoor Research Turbine Shorts, Boreas Topaz 25 and Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Boot
Cost of Parking: Free

Bumpass Hell in Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of those features that you must see. It’s just so cool! And so stinky. This nicely paved trail leads to the ┬álargest hydrothermal area in the park. The trail, though short, begins at an elevation of 8000′, making it a little tough if you’re not used to the altitude. The family-friendly trail is relatively flat until you drop about a hundred feet down into the steaming basin. A wooden boardwalk allows hikers safe passage across and around the bubbling, boiling hot areas.

Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell

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Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid JacketOutdoor Research Helium Hybrid JacketOutdoor Research Helium Hybrid JacketOutdoor Research Helium Hybrid JacketOutdoor Research Helium Hybrid JacketOutdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket

I love the Outdoor Research Helium line. Ever since I saw the Helium II in their retail store last summer, I fell in love, oohing, ahhing and fondling the material, marveling at how light it was…

When the Helium Hybrid arrived in my #ORInsightLab package, I shouted with tons of glee, probably almost setting off car alarms around my neighborhood. I was trying to justify not purchasing another jacket since I bought my Arc’teryx Alpha SL Hybrid, and this one was finally mine.

Where do I even begin? The Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid is light as a feather and packs down super small! At 5.1 oz, you have to be careful it doesn’t blow away when you’re trying to put it on. (True story, this happened to me.) It’s great for throwing in your pack and forgetting about it until you really need it. What more could you ask for?

The Helium Hybrid protects against wind and wet. I tossed this on over my Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie on Lassen to keep from freezing to death. The shell kept me nice and dry while rolling around in wet, melty snow on Pyramid Peak. The hood has a cinch in the back and on both sides of your head for a secure fit. A small left-chest zipper pocket allows you to keep small knickknacks close by.

The Helium Hybrid has a trim fit. If you’re a fan of something a little looser and don’t want to size up, consider going for the Helium HD or the Helium II. Please keep in mind that the length of this jacket is also fairly short. The jacket had a tendency of riding up when layered over a midlayer; I had to keep tugging it down, especially while wearing a pack.

Despite all my love for this lightweight jacket, the lack of hand pockets is a huge deal breaker if I had to purchase this jacket, and I would rather opt for something slightly heavier with places to stow my phalanges, phone and other larger goods. I’m just so used to shoving my hands in my pockets and walking everywhere I go, it’s tough to not do that. If hand pockets are more your fancy, I highly suggest going for the Helium HD jacket. It’s only 3 oz heavier and also comes with pit zips.

If you want something ultra lightweight and extremely basic, the Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid is a necessary addition for your pack.

Buy the Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid for $125.

This was sent to me for review. This post contains affiliate links.