Month: August 2014

Stanislaus National Forest: Rainbow Pools

Stanislaus National Forest: Rainbow Pools Stanislaus National Forest: Rainbow Pools

If you’re on your way in or out of Yosemite, take a break and cool off at Rainbow Pools off Highway 120 in Stanislaus National Forest. This is a little oasis with a picturesque waterfall, an inviting rock, and refreshingly cool water. The water level was a tad lower than the last time I was there, but still swimmable and jumpable. I thought it would have been engulfed in flames from last year’s Rim Fire, but things are still lush and green!

During hot summer and fall days, it gets pretty packed with people swimming and jumping off the rocks. At night it’s a little more quiet, save for the sound of bats swooping around above the water.

This is a destination you can’t miss if you’re in the area, even if you’re only stopping for a little while.

Yosemite National Park: Clouds Rest

Hike: Clouds Rest
Where: Yosemite National Park
Trailhead: Tenaya Lake/Sunrise
Level: Moderate
Duration: 5 hours
Length: 14.5 miles out and back
Gear: Arc’teryx Motus Long Sleeve, Outdoor Research Turbine Shorts, Boreas Topaz 25, Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie, Salewa Alp Trainer Mid GTX, and Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles
Cost of Parking: Free

A friend invited me along on a birthday camping trip this past weekend. The itinerary? Lots of relaxation and Clouds Rest! Clouds Rest is one of those trails that’s been on my lists forever, but I’ve somehow managed to spend very little time in Yosemite the past few years aside from two Half Dome trips.

If you’ve done Half Dome before, Clouds Rest will be a piece of cake. The trail is primarily flat with two sections of real elevation gain: switchbacks a mile and a half in and on the last 1.8 miles of the trail to the summit. The scariest part of the trail involves crossing a three foot wide narrow ridge to get 360 views of Yosemite National Park.

Some say this view beats that of Half Dome, I say it’s just a different, and less dangerous, perspective. Either way though, it’s a trail with a view that can’t be missed. Hikes during the day will be super crowded. Next time, I’ll be catching the sunrise from the top.

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Narrative Clip

Have you ever wanted to be able to passively capture all the memories in your life without the bulk and distraction of a camera?

The Narrative Clip is a tiny, 5 megapixel camera you clip to somewhere on your body. It captures a photo every 30 seconds, or when you double tap the clip. It goes to sleep face down on a table or in a dark pocket and wakes up when you shake it or expose it to light.

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You upload photos by plugging it into your computer via USB and can save it to the cloud and/or desktop. By downloading the app on your phone, you can also have access to your photos in the cloud on the go, and you can share via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email.

Though the idea is super neat, the Narrative Clip, app and software definitely have room for improvement.

I discovered that the Clip requires some forceful tapping to take the photo. Tapping as if you were on your smartphone will not register, leading me to think that the camera was defective for a good few hours. I think that an on/off button would be pretty useful since I couldn’t actually tell when the Clip was off. I had some photos of my pack pockets when I checked. I found that the battery lights on the side of the camera weren’t indicative of actual battery life. At the end of my trip, I had one light blinking at me, but plugging the Clip into my computer said I was still at 67%. Using the Clip also requires a test run before you actually begin capturing. I thought the spot that I had clipped the camera to would suffice, but I captured a lot of footage of my hand and trekking pole.

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The Narrative app is not very user friendly. With any camera constantly taking photos, you will have more garbage shots than non-garbage photos. There’s currently not a way to batch select photos you’d like to delete; instead, you have to sift through each one by one. The app itself is pretty buggy. Photos aren’t actually deleted; it crashes while deleting photos; stock, placeholder photos are displayed; “moments” appear to be duplicated. Sharing to Instagram doesn’t allow you to position the photo. I’m annoyed that there isn’t a way to share images via text message, as that’s the most common way to share individual photos privately. It all makes for a very frustrating user experience.

In short, the idea of the Narrative Clip is pretty cool, but delivery fell a little short. I may consider purchasing future iterations once features are more robust, but right now, I’d say it’s a pass.

Buy the Narrative Clip with a 3 month subscription ($229) or 12 month subscription ($279) to the Narrative cloud.

The Narrative Clip was sent to me for three days as a part of the #outdoorsio experience challenge. From here, it is heading off to The Weekend Warrior who I challenge to reach a climbing/hiking high point. Sign up to be a part of the adventure here.

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Straw Propeller Gourmet Foods Cherry & Chia

Straw Propeller Cherry & Chia Review

Straw Propeller takes that age-old instant oatmeal and adds their own gourmet twist to make this breakfast staple more enjoyable and fun. My first try with the company was with the Apple Crisp, and boy, was that tasty.

The Cherry & Chia wasn’t quite what I was expecting from the company. Apple Crisp was incredibly sweet and dessert-like, and that was what I was hoping for. The Cherry & Chia was a lot more tart without the extra sweet overload. The chia seeds were a nice touch; I’m a huge fan of getting my fair share of omega-3 fatty acids. However, coming off of the sweet, sweet, gooey, white chocolate-y goodness that was the Apple Crisp, I was a little let down. So, if you’re not a fan of getting a sugar rush during breakfast, this is definitely for you!

Each serving comes in a little cardboard container convenient to make and mess-free. Just add water, wait, eat and throw away. If you’re looking to save space while backpacking, the containers aren’t for you, but they’re great for car camping. I might even stock my pantry with these for a fast and easy breakfast.

Buy through Straw Propeller for $39 for a pack of 12. You can buy a one flavor pack of 12 or mix and match.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Trip Recap

Lassen Volcanic National Park Trip Recap

This past summer was the first time I’ve ever been to Mt. Lassen. Here’s a quick recap and photo dump of everything I tried to jam pack into four days, plus an extra short trip.

Day One: We drove up from the Bay Area. A few forgotten items gave us a later start than we had anticipated, so we tackled Bumpass Hell that afternoon after getting into camp.

Lassen Volcanic NP: Bumpass Hell

Day Two: We took off to tackle the Clusters Lake loop and the Cinder Cone, but fell a little short. We still ended clocking about 17 miles though. We also had tacos for dinner that night and it was delicious.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Clusters Lake Loop Cinder Cone Lassen Volcanic National Park Clusters Lake Loop Cinder ConeLassen Volcanic National Park Trip Recap

Day Three: On the third day, we opted for a more mellow hike from the Kings Creek Falls trailhead to Kings Creek Falls and looping around to Bench Lake and Sifford Lake.

Lassen Volcanic NP: Kings Creek Falls, Bench Lake & Sifford Lake

I also ended up tackling Cold Boiling Lake from the Kings Creek Picnic Area, which ended up being underwhelming and slightly disappointing.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Cold Boiling LakeLassen Volcanic National Park Trip Recap

For dinner, we made pizza on little round sandwich bread things in foil packets tossed on the fire to get all hot and melty. It was also delicious.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Trip Recap

Day Four: This was our last day. It also happened to be July 4th. We woke up at the buttcrack of dawn to hit the Mt. Lassen trail by 5am. We caught the sunrise on the way up and froze at the top. It was beautiful. I also ate a lot of oatmeal for breakfast.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Trip RecapLassen Volcanic National Park Mt. Lassen

On our way out, I decided I wanted to squeeze in one last thing: Mill Creek Falls.

Lassen Volcanic National Park: Mill Creek Falls Hike Review

One Month Later: We decided to come back to tackle the Cinder Cone for reals and check that off our list.

Lassen Volcanic NP: Cinder Cone

Lassen Volcanic National Park Trip Recap