Monday, November 17, 2014

Point Reyes Day Hike

Normally I wouldn't write about a day hike, but this one was pretty exciting.  We originally planned on taking a certain loop, but we parked at the wrong starting point.  We ended up just picking a loop on the map that looked fun.  So we really didn't know exactly how long it was going to take or what the elevation gain/loss was going to be like.

I forgot to start Strava until about 30 minutes into the hike.  It was a loop, which ended up being ~8 miles total.

Stopped here for a view of the ocean and to snack on some stinky cheese and crackers
Eileen and I were walking down the trail, and lying right in the middle of the path is a bloody deer leg.  What the hell.  No sign of the rest of the deer.  To me it looked REALLY fresh.  It was blood red where it was torn off, and there weren't even any flies or bugs on it yet.  I have never come across something like this in the woods.  We were kinda freaked out, and we ended up leaving the scene without spending much time to investigate.

"Bad news: There is a mountain lion nearby.  Good news: He isn't hungry."

So we continue on for a few miles in order to finish the hike.  At this point it's getting dark earlier than expected, because of the recent daylight savings time change.  So we are out in the woods, it's getting really dark, we have no headlamps, and there is a mountain lion on the prowl.  But to our relief we turned a bend, and the car came back into sight.  Woohoo!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Annadel - Ledson Marsh Loop

I drove up to Sonoma today to ride Annadel again.  It was super fun.  The first part of the ride is mostly firetrail, and it isn't really that interesting.  But when it hits Marsh Trail it becomes some pretty fun single track.  I really enjoyed Marsh Trail, Ridge Trail,  and North/South Burma Trail.

Total distance: 18.9 miles

Throughout the ride, I kept my phone in the elastic side pocket of my camelback.  Near the end of the ride, I touched the pocket, and it was empty!  Shit.  It must have fallen out sometime during the ride, but I hadn't used it in a couple miles.  So I turned around, and started up the hill that I had just come down.  Suddenly a random group of three bikers appeared from the way I just came.  As a shot in the dark, I asked if any of them had spotted a cell phone in the trail.  The guy in front replies "Yeah, I have it in my pack.  It's the blue motorola one, right?"  Hell Yes!  After a high five, and thanking them profusely, I was on my way again.  Plus I only ended up backtracking about 30 yards.
The intended figure 8 loop
The actual loop.
Some people claim that we don't have a proper Fall in California.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Castle Rock

I went climbing at Castle Rock yesterday.  This was my first time climbing outside in a long time.  We went to the underworld section of Castle Rock.  I think we did ~8 routes.  I lead belayed for the first time, which was pretty interesting.

Climbing outside is so different than climbing in a gym.  None of the holds are as straightforward or as clean.

Anyway this is a pretty cool zone with a lot of different areas.  I'm looking forward to go back for more.

View from top of California Ridge

Monday, September 22, 2014

Camp Tamarancho and SF Midnight Mystery Ride

On Saturday, I rode the main mountain biking loop at Camp Tamarancho.  It's also known as "Boy Scout Camp", because the land is owned and maintained by the local Boy Scout Council.  Let me just say that, those Boy Scouts aren't playing around.  That was a serious trail with a lot of varied terrain.  I think it may have been a 9 mile loop, but it could have been a bit longer due to parking far from the start.  Afterwards we ate had some beer and brats in lovely Fairfax.

Back in SF, I somehow managed to stay awake until midnight and rode the SF Midnight Mystery Ride for the first time.  It would have been wise to use an app to plot both of these rides, but I forgot.  The mystery ride started at 10th and Folsom, and wound through the city for about 1.5 hours.  Eventually it ended at the Bernal Heights Mini-Park Slides, which is a place that I've read about but never visited.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

China Camp Loop

I did the loop today at China Camp on my mountain bike.  What a rush!  I think I've been taking the wrong trail when I've been there before.  At the beginning there is a fork where you can climb up using either a firetrail or by using a single track trail.   I've always done the climb on the firetrail, and it gets pretty steep and rocky.  I end up pushing my bike, which is kinda lame.  The single track trail has a lot more switchbacks, which made the climb a lot more fun.

I have been out of action for the past 5 weeks due to travels and injury.  A few weeks ago, I injured a tendon in my inner elbow during a friendly arm wrestling competition.  Afterwards it hurt to do anything that required grip strength for a long time.  I did a little research on my injury, and it is obvious now that arm wrestling is really dangerous.

Anyway I ended up resting and taking a long break from a lot of my normal activities.  The good news is that everything feels fine now.  I'm back!

Update 9/14:
I went back to China Camp again this morning, and I did two laps of the loop.  I saw a couple deer on the trail.  One of them didn't even spook as I rode up to her and had a one sided chat.  I assume people have been feeding her.

I tracked this ride on Strava.  Some cool stats and graphs are here.

Blue Streak

Josh invited me on an overnight camping trip to the famed Blue Streak.  I wasn't able to make it to his previous trips, and I wasn't going to miss the last one of the Summer.  In the past, Josh had told me some stories about camping and cliff jumping here.

We left SF at 8am on a Saturday, drove to the Stanislaus National Forest, and started hiking.  It's only maybe a 2-3 miles hike down into the canyon.  We camped out right by the river, jumped off the cliffs, and swam the rest of the day.  The water was still surprisingly brisk.

The next day we went looking for another spot that we had heard about called Candy Rock.  We found a spot, but from what I can find on the internet, that spot wasn't actually Candy Rock.  Anyway we had a blast at the unnamed spot.

When we got back to camp, it was getting near time to leave.  As a group we had brought a large quantity of water, but we drink almost all of it on Saturday.  Note to self, next time bring iodine tablets from apartment.  I think we probably had about 2 liters of water between 8 people for all of Sunday.  We all ended up fairly dehydrated after the hike out.  When we got back to the cars, we took off for the first place that had any kind of hydration.  The first thing we found was an Apple Cider stand, which turned out to be amazing!

Enjoy the video!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Burning Man 2014

Holy fucking shit.  This was my first burn.  I did my research beforehand, so I thought I knew what to expect, but I was blown away.  The reality is that there is no medium that can fully capture the experience of burning man.

I have decided to not write an in-depth post on the experience.  I just wouldn't be able to capture all the emotions that I felt about it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sequoia National Park

This post is a little longer than normal, so I broke the trip up into a few days.


Adi and Chris recently bought a used RV.  This trip had a few goals (in order of importance).
  1. Adi’s birthday.  Every year we take some kind of a trip on his birthday, and it is always a crazy fun time.
  2. Dry run of the RV for burning man.  Over the course of this trip we put 600+ miles on the RV.  It did overheat and breakdown once.  But now we know more about the RV.
  3. Work out a plan for Burning man logistics

Day 0 - Thursday

I went to work, and caught the Giants vs A’s baseball game with my teammates.  After "work",  I flew from SF to SNA, and I ran into Drew going through security.  Adi picked us up from the airport, and we crashed at his place.  Always good to reconnect with old friends.

Hard at work.

Day 1 - Friday

So we were supposed to drive away from Huntington Beach at 6am to beat traffic, but everyone overslept.  I think we left around 10am.  The drive to the park was mostly uneventful.  

Riding in the RV
After entering the park, there was a section of road that gains a lot of elevation(4000+ ft) very quickly.  The RV couldn't handle it, and it broke down beside Round Meadow.  A random dude stopped, and asked us if we needed help.  The guy turned out to be a mechanic.  What luck!  We were at least 1.5 hours from the nearest auto shop, and a stranger offered his services for free.  The car had overheated from the long drive and vertical climb, and just needed some time to cool off.  While it cooled we hiked the Big Trees Trail at Round Meadow.  I learned that Sequoias are awesome.

Once the RV cooled down we headed up to the Dorst Creek Campground.
The RV at our campsite.
After the drive we setup camp, we introduced some new members to the game of Challenge(we are always looking for new recruits).  And we drank a lot of beer.

Day 2 - Saturday

I am not a good enough writer to express how amazing this day was.  We went on a day hike to Muir Grove.  We figured it would be somewhat crowded, because it was a short hike and relatively close to a busy campground.  We were almost perfectly secluded the entire time we were at Muir Grove, which was probably about 3-4 hours.

The hike started off pretty standard, and then after a couple miles...BAM!  An absolutely monstrous tree.  Then a whole bunch more.  Near the entrance of the grove, there is a circle of Seqouias.  I named it the Circle of Elders, and the name caught on with the rest of the group.  We stayed in the grove for a few hours just mediating and watching these trees.

The circle of elders.
Many of these trees had openings large enough to climb in or even through.
Straight up.
Eventually we decided it was time to explore some more, and see where the rest of the trail led.  We ended up scrambling around on a bunch of rocks.
Climbing on the rocks past the grove.

Day 3 - Sunday

So the group split two ways.  Adi and both Ryans went to watch the World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina.  Drew and I went on a super long day hike.  As a group we had been talking about hitting up an Alpine lake to go swimming.  Drew found a suitable pair on the map called “Twin Lakes”.  From our map, Drew estimated it was ~5 miles out and back.  So a 10 mile day hike, thats not bad.  When we got to the trailhead, it turned out to be 7.5 miles out and back.  And then 1.5 miles past the lakes, there is a vista on Silliman pass, which gives a great view of the Sierras.  So our 10 mile hike grew into an 18 mile hike.
Map at the trailhead.
Cahoon Meadow
About to take a dip in the Twin Lakes.
This lake is close to 10k ft elevation.  We thought it would be cold, because of the altitude and being made of snow melt.  But due to our severe drought, there wasn't any snow up there.  The water was perfect.  We took a nice swim, and caught some sun out on the rocks in the middle of the lake.

After the swim, we hiked up to the top of the pass to get a good view of the surroundings.

Views from top of the Silliman Pass
The view of the lakes from above.
Silliman Peak
On the way down, we spotted Cahoon Meadow below us.  While we stopped to look at it, Adi called us on the walkie talkie.  At that point, we were about 5 miles away, so I think it was blind luck that we got any signal.  Just as he tried to call us, we were at just the right spot to receive the signal.
View of Cahoon Meadow from above.
After we got in touch with Adi, we continued to make our descent back to the trailhead.  It started to get pretty dark, but we both packed headlamps so we weren't that worried.  As it got darker and darker, more and more animals started coming out.

We ended up getting back to the trailhead at 9pm.  8.5 hours after we started.  The RV picked us up, and we drank some ice cold Budweisers.  Later we had some of the best barbecued chicken that I've ever had.

Day 4 - Monday

The return to civilization.  On the way out of the park, we stopped at the General Sherman tree.  This is the world's largest tree.  While it is cool, it is a touristy area and not too exciting.  While we were leaving the site, Adi talked his way out of a parking ticket.  Sweet!

Group picture in front of the world's largest tree.
Drew and I didn't anticipate that the drive from Sequoia National Park to John Wayne airport would take a terribly long time so we booked a flight out around 7pm.  Well we ended up getting back to the edge of LA at 5pm on a Monday.  Rush hour.  So pretty much the worst possible time and place for traffic.  Adi had absolutely no faith that he could get us across LA in time.  On the way, I received a notification that the plane had been delayed by 25 minutes.  But even with that delay, we still barely made it to the flight.
Some critics argue that this movie is actually a metaphor for LA traffic.


Tremendous success.  The RV is super fun.  It can be a little more work than I expected.
Note to self: "Bring a real camera, and stop using a camera phone."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Arroyo Seco

This was a fun trip.

Josh and I were drinking on a rooftop near Coit Tower at a 4th of July party.  Josh asked me if I wanted to go camping the next day.  He sold me on the fact that there is a good cliff jumping spot.  I agreed without hearing the rest of the details.

I assumed we were going to be car camping.  So I bought beer, donuts, and some random supplies.  Well when we got to the trailhead, it came up that we were backpacking.  It's a good thing I packed light, because I had to farmers carry my 12 pack of beer and sleeping bag for ~2-3 miles.

It was a pretty short and moderate hike along a fireroad, but it was super hot.  The trail runs parallel to a small river in a really deep gorge.  Eventually we came to a place to scramble down the gorge into a swimming hole.

The gorge was beautiful, and the water was so refreshing.  We spent the rest of the day swimming, napping, cliff jumping, and climbing.  Just a fun and lazy day.

There is a camping spot right at the swimming hole, but there was another group already there.  There was room for us as well, but Brandon and I went to explore to see if there was anything more private.  We scrambled along rocks downriver for about 10 minutes without finding anything.  I assumed that we were out of luck, but we then found the perfect spot.  Everywhere else on the sides of the river was filled with sharp rocks, but the spot we found had a nice sandy bottom surrounded by a ring of rocks.

Our perfect camping spot.
This new spot also had some really fun climbing a little further down river.  So we pitched camp there, made some dinner, and slept out under the stars.  The next morning I woke up before everyone else, and went for a climb down river.  The rock in the gorge was super cool.  The sides of the gorge were layered in bands of different kinds of rock.  It made the climb really interesting.  All kinds of holds.  Pinches, crimps, side pulls, friction, etc..  I went for a morning swim, and then I heard everyone else waking up.  Sound travels in a gorge.

Josh doing some climbing before dinner.
When I heard everyone else waking up, I made my way back to camp.  We chilled for a bit, ate a little breakfast, packed up camp, and went back to the swimming hole.  Then we just repeated the activities of the previous day.  Cliff jumping, swimming, and just relaxing.

Eventually we had our fill, and decided it was time to return to civilization (and BBQ).  On the walk back, a stranger told us that it was 106° F.  I realized that none of us had even thought about the weather, since we all assumed California was just going to be nice and sunny.

Group picture of the crew.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Annadel: Lake Ilsanjo Loop

I drove up to Santa Rosa, and went mountain biking in Annadel State Park.  The loop was 10 miles long, but I got a little turned around and probably did about 12.  It's a lot harder to navigate while mountain biking instead of hiking.

This was a fun ride.  A couple of the ascents were too rocky for me to ride, and a few of the descents as well.

I always take a picture of the trail map, so that I don't have to carry along a guidebook.

Lake Ilsanjo.  I jumped in for a quick swim after a long climb.
I saw a few deer on the ride.
California is awesome.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mountain Biking

I've been wanting to buy a mountain bike for the past several months, but things kept getting in the way.  I finally pulled the trigger on one today at my local bike shop.  My new bike is sweet.  It's a Giant Trance with dual suspension and 27.5" wheels.

Mt. Sutro trail map.
I took it over to Mount Sutro today, and broke it in with some nice single track.  I parked near Stanyan and 17th.  I did get a little lost on the ride.  There are actually a lot of trails over there, and I wasn't really paying attention to where I was going.  I ended up making it to the summit.  It was a fun ride, and I'll be back for sure.

Tomorrow I'm headed up to China Camp State Park.

I think my Epic Pass at Vail resorts might entitle me to some mountain bike park privileges.  I'm going to have to check on that to be sure.

Mt. Sutro Map

Update 6/15/2018:
I did the China Camp Loop Today.  A solid 9 miles.  Almost all of the uphill was in the first section, and then a lot of downhill.  Some solid rock gardens.  California is beautiful.

China Camp Loop

Pure fun.
Then I ate a delicious Puerto Rican meal at Sol Food

Stoke levels are high.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

SF Critical Mass - May

Critical Mass is a group of cyclists who meet the last Friday of every month for a ride around the city.  There is no official leader, and there is no official route.  Someone ends up in the front for a while, and people tend to follow.  Originally it started as a protest for cyclists' rights.  At the moment, there isn't a universal objective.  Different people ride for different reasons.  Some maintain the original spirit is still there, some are in it for the traveling party, and others are just tourists.

Cruising down the Embarcadero.  Check out the guy with the green backpack on the unicycle.

I think that all bikes are awesome, and to me critical mass is a celebration of bikes and biking.  There will be mountain bikes, road bikes, tandem bikes, unicycles, fixies, low riders, recumbants, bmx bikes, beach cruisers, etc..

Cool stuff:
  • Rode the Broadway tunnel in both directions
  • Rode the curvy section of Lombard (see video below)
  • Probably clocked in about 14 miles total
  • Saw a guy on a unicycle ride the whole thing.

Friday, May 23, 2014

1 year at Google

When I was an undergrad, I remember reading about the initial release of Google App Engine.  It was on some tech news site probably Slashdot, but it might have been HN.  My reaction to the article was "Holy shit, that's awesome!"  As a broke college student, the idea of executing my code on Google's scalable platform using the free tier sounded incredible.  Even back then Google had super secret server farms.

Fast forward several years.

A few days ago, I celebrated my one year anniversary at Google.  One of my coworkers asked me to deploy a new version of the App Engine Administration Console to production.  My response: "no problem."  Just another day at the chocolate factory.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


I was bouldering at Planet Granite last night, and I climbed my first V3.

A few minutes earlier I was talking with my buddy, and he was asking me if I had done anything past a V2 yet.  I said that V3s were still outside the limit of my abilities.  I took a look a part of the wall that was recently re-mapped, and this route just jumped out at me.

Stoke levels are high.

Update 6/1/2014:  I've climbed a few more V3s since this post.  I'm progressing!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

2013-2014 Ski Season Recap

So the season is over.  That's not cool.  But let's review the season for posterity.

This was the first season that I did a ski lease in Tahoe.  We had a nice enough house in South Lake.  Bonus points for the hot tub.  The lease was setup so that we each had our own beds.  Super convenient to never have to deal with bed laundry or worry if all the beds are taken.

Snow conditions.  Not good.  Around mid-season, it was said that this was the worst season in 50 years.  It picked up somewhat after that, but not too much.  Kirkwood doesn't have much snow making, so we did a lot of days in the early season at Heavenly.  I've had enough of Dipper and Comet to last a lifetime.

This was my first season in the backcountry.  I took a Level 1 AIARE course at Kirkwood in February, and over the course of the season did about 5 days of backcountry skiing.  Tahoe backcountry got a really late start this year, because the base never really built up that big.  The base needs to build up to bury those pesky rocks and logs.

My favorite day of the year started off at Kirkwood.  It was a powder day, and the place was super crowded, because everyone was jonesing for some of the fluffy stuff and it had been a dry season so far.  Kirkwood was tracked out by 2pm, and honestly I had an ok day there.  So I left and met up with my buddy Aaron at Powderhouse Peak.  I skinned up, and met him mid-mountain.  Then we made our way to the summit together.  We skied all the way to the base.  18" of untouched fresh through some beautiful wide open glades.  After the first run, I turned to Aaron and said "That was the best run of my life", he replied "Me too."  Aaron and I did a few more laps, and made it back to the car around 8pm.

Powderhouse Peak
I made some tentative plans to go to Utah and possibly Jackson Hole, but those never came to fruition.  I didn't make it out of Lake Tahoe this season.  I skied 26 days this season, which beats my old record of 18.  Not bad for a working stiff in San Francisco.

So it wasn't a good season snow wise.  But I still had a freaking blast.  The stoke level is high for next year.

While the season is over, there is still the possibility for more skiing.  Either hiking up to some persistent snow fields(likely) or traveling to the Southern hemisphere(unlikely).  I'm always looking to get in some more turns.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Grad School

When I finished my undergrad at Georgia Tech, I took a job that wanted me to start working on a Masters degree.  My first job was with GE Energy in the Edison Engineering Development Program.  Part of the program was to take a few graduate courses.  It's kind of brutal to work 40+ hours a week, and then spend most of your free time on grad school.

After two years of that, I told my boss that I wanted to take a leave of absence and finish my degree as a full-time student.  He and HR managed to talk me out of it.

Then a year later, I received an insane job offer at another company.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I took it.  I kept working on my degree in my own time, because I was close to the end.

I took my last final yesterday.

A few days ago, someone asked me what I was going to do now that I finished my degree.  I didn't have an answer at the time.  But I should have said, "I am going to keep living the dream."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sonoma Party Weekend

A friend is moving from SF to Houston, and so he threw a blowout bash up in wine country.  We stayed in a sick mansion in Sonoma.  This place had every amenity you could ask for.  Hot tub, swimming pool with diving board, private ski lake, bouldering wall.

View from the back of the house

On Saturday, we all piled into a party bus and went touring to some vineyards.  I've been wine tasting before, but I don't recall any whiskey shots and bumping house music last time.  It was fun.  One of the guys was a member at Sunce winery, so we chilled there for a long time.  Very cool place.

View from Sunce winery

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My first ski edit - The Wall at Kirkwood

This is my first ski edit.  I think it's fun.  I went the entire ski season without filming anything, and decided to throw something together on my last day at Kirkwood.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pi Mile in Golden Gate Park

A Pi Mile is basically just a 5k.  This blog is about badass things, and a 5k isn't badass.

I was out of shape the entire time I was an undergrad.  After I graduated, I started working out and I decided to run the Pi Mile race on campus as an alumni.  I worked my way up to running a Pi Mile in about 30 minutes.  Some other event conflicted with the race, so I missed my shot.  Afterwards I moved out of Atlanta.  For about a year my workout consisted of running a Pi mile followed by some lifting.

Anyway I started CrossFit, and ended up running less and less.  Now I don't really run unless it's part of the WOD.  One of the things I like about CrossFit is that it specializes in not specializing.  The idea
is that if you are in good shape, you should be able to approach any physical challenge and kick it's ass.

Today as a non-runner, I ran the Pi Mile in 27 minutes.  Not only did I smash my old record, but I came in 3rd out of a total of 18 people.  I think thats badass.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jumping into the Pacific

Today I went to a team building exercise in the South Bay.  We did a high ropes course out in the woods.  It was fun.

On the way back to SF, I was driving up Highway 1 by myself.  I spotted this beautiful secluded beach from the highway.  It was cliffed out on both sides, so the only access is down a runoff trail.

Thursday around 3pm and 70 degrees.  The beach was deserted.  I had to scramble down the "trail" on the cliff face.  It was somewhere in-between hiking and climbing, this beach must not see many people.

Since I had the whole beach to myself, I stripped off all my clothes, ran into the ocean, and howled out loud.  It was cold, but refreshing.  After a short swim, I climbed back up the way I came, and waved to a group of tourists taking pictures from their car.

Monday, April 7, 2014

4/6 - Kirkwood Sidecountry

Before we ventured out into the backcountry, we warmed up with a few laps in-bounds.  My friend showed me some new chutes.  One off of chair 10 called The Fingers, and another off of chair 6 called The Nostril.  Then we skied Vista, because we assumed it would have a similar aspect as The Cali Chutes.  The snow in Vista was super tracked out and sun baked, so we decided to not hike to the chutes and instead go over to another zone.

Those lines that end up being framed by the trees were ours.  Nice and steep.

After our second run, a random lone snowboarder appeared on the other side of the valley.  He yelled to us "HOW DO I GET OUT OF HERE?"  We skinned over to him, and talked to him.  Apparently he ignored the ski boundary, and followed the path of another group.  No partner, no avy gear, no water.  We pointed him back in the direction of the resort on a skin track.

We did two laps on this slope.  Pretty mellow with soft snow.  You can see our skin track on the right side.

After we did another lap, we decided to follow the snowboarder's boot pack up the hill.  We were finished anyway, and we wanted to make sure he got back safely.  We didn't end up catching up with him, but his tracks led back down to the Palisades Bowl into Kirkwood.

My ski partner took some really cool GoPro footage.  I keep forgetting mine at home.

About this blog

When I moved out to California, my good friend Adi gave me this advice: "Every weekend in Cali is a vacation."  In my experience, this is true.

This blog is about documenting some of those experiences.