Mountain Loop Highway: Deer Creek & Big Four Picnic Area

Hike: Deer Creek Road & Big Four Picnic Area
Where: Mountain Loop Highway
Trailhead: Winter Gate before the Big Four Picnic Area
Level: Moderate
Duration: 6 hours
Length: 6 miles out and back on Deer Creek, and 4 miles out and back to the Big Four Picnic Area
Fitbit Steps: Approximately 30,000
Gear: MSR Women’s Lightning Ascent Snowshoes, Icebreaker Kid’s Compass Legging, Outdoor Research Valhalla pants, Sierra Designs Tov jacket, Triple Aught Design Artemis hoodie, Icebreaker Women’s Everyday LS Crewe, Arcteryx Women’s Alpha SL Hybrid Jacket, Arcteryx Kea 45 Backpack, Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves, Black Diamond First Strike Junior Trekking Poles
Cost of Parking: Free

The boyfriend and I made our way up to Seattle this past weekend to celebrate my big 2-4 birthday! Officially in my mid-twenties, wahoo! We met up with some #hikerchat friends, Lee, Jessica, Josh, Beau and Mike,  and took a jaunt to the Mountain Loop Highway area.

First, we headed up Deer Creek Road in search of a clearing that provided spectacular views of the mountains. We broke trail in two feet of powder. To anyone who went up there this weekend, you are welcome. ;)

Mountain Loop Highway: Deer Creek & Big Four Picnic AreaMountain Loop Highway: Deer Creek & Big Four Picnic AreaMountain Loop Highway: Deer Creek & Big Four Picnic AreaMountain Loop Highway: Deer Creek & Big Four Picnic AreaMountain Loop Highway: Deer Creek & Big Four Picnic AreaMountain Loop Highway: Deer Creek & Big Four Picnic Area

After about three miles of exhausting work, we decided to turn around and head down the road to the Big Four Picnic Area.

Mountain Loop Highway: Deer Creek & Big Four Picnic AreaMountain Loop Highway: Deer Creek & Big Four Picnic Area

The road was fairly well-trodden and flat, but snowshoes (or skis!) make it easier to manage. The road takes you along the river with unobstructed views of the surrounding peaks, and the Big Four Picnic Area is a prime avalanche watching area. Unfortunately, we got there a little late and just missed an avalanche coming down Big Four Mountain.

It was exhilarating finally getting some real winter in! The Mountain Loop area was absolutely beautiful, and I can’t wait to come back. Many, many thanks to LeeJessicaJoshBeau and Mike, for hanging out!

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.

A Quick Look: Boreas Gear & Alite Designs HQ

A Quick Look: Boreas Gear & Alite Designs HQ

I’ve been hearing quite the ruckus on the internet about Boreas Gear, and was quite thrilled to hear that they (along with sister company, Alite Designs) are located in the Bay Area.

If you’ve never heard of these brands, you’ve been missing out. Alite was created for the urban adventurer: functional, aesthetically pleasing, and inspiring for budding outdoor enthusiasts. Boreas, on the other hand, was created for the more extreme outdoor enthusiast: packs with thoughtful details, lightweight construction, designed for adventure.

Their sweet digs are located in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, just a stone’s throw away from my Bay Area favorite, Triple Aught Design, in the Dogpatch. I met with Kenzie and Luke who graciously showed me around their warehouse.

A Quick Look: Boreas Gear & Alite Designs HQ A Quick Look: Boreas Gear & Alite Designs HQ A Quick Look: Boreas Gear & Alite Designs HQ

The front of the warehouse is a retail space showcasing all the Alite products with a section for the Boreas packs. The remainder of the space is split in two levels, showroom & prototypes and actual office space.

A Quick Look: Boreas Gear & Alite Designs HQ A Quick Look: Boreas Gear & Alite Designs HQ

Production of prototypes and samples all happen in house in the back room. Below is a little sneak peek of what’s to come for Spring 2015!

A Quick Look: Boreas Gear & Alite Designs HQ A Quick Look: Boreas Gear & Alite Designs HQ

The upstairs is office space where all work gets done, beer gets drank, and ideas are created.

If you’re in San Francisco, stop by the Alite Outpost in Potrero Hill at 2505 Mariposa St and say hello!

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!