Category: Adventures

Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park: Cave Rock

Cave Rock State ParkCave Rock State Park

Even with our climbing plans foiled by a sniffly cold, the boyfriend and I couldn’t pass up on the perfect weather up at Tahoe this past weekend. We took a drive around the lake and stopped at a few of the scenic points along the way.

First up? Cave Rock! Cave Rock, located near Zephyr Cove, is a 75 foot tall rock formation from an extinct volcano. A once popular place for sport climbing, the rock no longer sees any action due to its sacred nature to the Washoe tribe. Bolts have since been removed, but a hiking trail runs around the top, allowing access to the top of the rock.

This day-use area is designed for boating, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and beach access.

A day-use fee of $7 per car is charged. If you’re stopping for photos, it’s $2 per car.

Pinnacles National Park: Balconies Cave and High Peaks

Hike: Balconies Cave and High Peaks Loop
Where: Pinnacles National Park
Trailhead: Old Pinnacles Trailhead
Level: Moderate
Duration: 5 hours
Length: 10.5 mile loop
Fitbit Steps: Approximately 33,000
Gear: CamelBak Aventura pack, Outdoor Research Contour Shorts, NW Alpine Black Spider Hoodie,
Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot
, Icebreaker Women’s Tech T Lite
Cost of Parking: $5 with admission to park for 7 consecutive days after

Pinnacles National Park: Balconies Cave and High Peaks Review Pinnacles National Park: Balconies Cave and High Peaks Review Pinnacles National Park: Balconies Cave and High Peaks Review Pinnacles National Park: Balconies Cave and High Peaks Review Pinnacles National Park: Balconies Cave and High Peaks Review Pinnacles National Park: Balconies Cave and High Peaks ReviewPinnacles National Park: Balconies Cave and High Peaks Review

Notorious for crazy volcanic rock formations jutting hundreds of feet in the air, Pinnacles National Park is a destination for hikers and climbers. This past weekend was my first jaunt to the breathtakingly gorgeous national park. I cannot believe I have never been, both as a hiker and a climber.

The “pinnacles” that you see at the park are eroded formations from a long extinct volcano. These formations are home to the endangered California condors that can often be seen soaring high above. Rocky talus also forms caves in the park that house at least thirteen species of bats.

Weather was in the high 70s with wisps of clouds from previous storms in the air. Streams were flowing with water from the last two weeks of rain. The trails were dry, but not unbearably so. Balconies Cave was also open for passing.

We attempted to follow this hike via EveryTrail, but went in through the wrong entrance, and chose to approach from a separate trailhead on the east side of the park. From there, we made our way up to the Balconies trail, decided that we wanted to go through the cave, went through the cave, and then back up the Balconies trail again, effectively adding some extra mileage. The Balconies trail does go up in elevation so if you are looking for something a little more mellow, head through the cave. Depending on the time of year, the bottom of the cave may be wet. This past weekend was not too bad with small trickles and wet rocks. Went from Balconies to the Chaparral area, and then up to High Peaks through the tunnel, and back down around to the trailhead.

I expected the park to be more crowded with all the forever summer weather that California has been receiving, but it was fairly empty on the loop I was on.

If you’re looking to visit this park, spring and fall are the best time to avoid sweltering heat and melt-your-face temperatures. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend. The pinnacles alone are Instagram-worthy. So gorgeous!

Intro to Snowcamping with the Sierra Club

The San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club holds an introductory snowcamping course every year. Members and non-members go out in the backcountry to get some hands-on experience with seasoned snowcamping veterans.

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The course was… an interesting experience. I’m not sure if I would do it again. It’s definitely a great learning experience if you’re looking to transition from three-season backpacking to backpacking and camping year-round. However, the course could be infinitely more organized.

The course is taught in groups of thirty people, with about a 50:50 ratio of instructors or assistant leaders to students. Students spend one day in the classroom and two trips in the backcountry. The classroom day is meant to give you a brief overview on what to expect, how to prepare, and what you need. Then you go out on two trips to practice your skills: map and compass, snow shelters, digging, etc.

The Sierra Club Snowcamping version of backpacking is incredibly different from what I’m used to. I’m all about traveling long distances, eating fast dinners, crawling into my bag when darkness falls, and sleeping until the sun rises. I consider backpacking a nice “reset button” when everything gets thrown out of whack and I need to slow down on life. Not on this trip. The group had a five course (yes, five) meal that began around 5pm that was supposed to last well into the night.

Though everyone was great, friendly, nice and knowledgeable, the amount of anecdotal information everyone had to share was overwhelming and time-consuming. All the assistant leaders had something to say about everything; everyone had an opinion on what was right and what wasn’t. Oftentimes, the more seasoned folks repeated stories over and over again. It lead to a lot of sitting around and listening.

All in all, the instruction and knowledge were great. I got a good refresher in map and compass and route-finding. And I built an igloo-snowcave hybrid with a gear closet. I’d say the latter alone was worth it all.

If you’re interested in taking this course, please visit the Sierra Snowcamping website here. The 2014 season is almost over, but you can start prepping for 2015!

REI Intro to Mountaineering Course

Mountaineering is one of those things that I’ve been trying to get into for a while now. I mean, who can resist gr1m, frostbitten, kvlt ice and spikey things and tall peaks?

For the boyfriend’s Christmas present, I got him an intro to mountaineering class for the two of us through REI’s Outdoor School.

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We woke up well before the sun was up and drove to the REI in Roseville. The other option was to meet at the Donner Pass Sno Park next to Boreal. We arrived at the trailhead at around 10AM due to a freak bus fire accident on the side of 80.

Our instructors, Dakota and Ryan, handed out ice axes, crampons, helmets and gaiters. Students were free to bring their own gear if they had it. Then, we set off across the road towards Castle Peak. It had snowed a bunch the week before, and without snowshoes, we were mostly postholing in the snow.

Did a lot of practice of walking in balance up and down hills. Spent some time practicing kick stepping and the French technique. We spent an absurd amount of time practicing self-arresting in various ways. Did some self belaying up and down the side of a powdery hill. Practiced some “real” mixed climbing up a rock formation.

And then glissaded all the way back down (mostly) to the trailhead, which was awesome. I want to glissade my life away.

If you’re looking for a glimpse into mountaineering, I highly recommend this class, though your mileage may vary. Dakota and Ryan were super, nice, friendly, patient and informative. I feel like I have a decent grasp of basic mountaineering techniques that I can practice on small, less technical peaks.

See ya this summer, Rainier!

This class is available through REI’s Outdoor School website. The cost is $125 for members and $145 for non-members.

Have you taken a class through REI before? What did you think?

Pictured above are the Outdoor Research Women’s Valhalla Pants, Outdoor Research Women’s Riot Gloves, The North Face Women’s Kira Triclimate Jacket, Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet, Icebreaker BodyFit 260 Compass Leggings – Girls’, Icebreaker BodyFit Oasis Crew Long Sleeve, Black Diamond FrontPoint Gaiters, Camelbak Aventura pack, and Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie.