I've lived in California for 10 years and I have to say that of all the amazing destinations California has, Mammoth Lakes is one of my absolute favorite places to visit. The eastern sierra mountains off of Highway 395 is something I had never seen before and it takes my breath away every single time. The sierras seem to bolt out of the ground up thousands of feet, their jagged peaks pointing into the bright blue sky that Mammoth sees almost year round. I absolutely love it there and as John Muir said, for me, "Going to the mountains is going home."
It had been 15 years since I was last in the UK as a young 20 year old with bright eyes and plenty of naivety. This time I came to this majestic land with a bit of a shield up, expecting pick-pocketers, annoyance for travelers, and a preparedness for a place to not necessarily be very welcoming to strangers. I soon learned that I was wasting my time with all of those feelings because nothing could have been further from the truth.
I find that when I come back from time up in the mountains in the eastern sierras I am completely at peace and full of zen. Sitting in traffic for the first few days back after a trip commuting to and from work usually doesn't even bother me - I'm still on my high from alpine air and pine trees. This past weekend was a planned backpacking trip in Mammoth Lakes, but as Robbie Burns writes "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
Backpacking season has begun! Read about our first trip backpacking last summer in the Granite Chief Wilderness!
Tom and I have talked about doing a backpacking trip for years and we FINALLY did it! We had already planned a trip backpacking in Mammoth Lakes for the weekend of the 4th of July, but decided on a last minute trial run the weekend before in Lake Tahoe in the Granite Chief Wilderness.
It can be a bit overwhelming stocking up on gear for camping or a backpacking trip. Tom and I have been slowly gathering our gear over the past seven years and I think we've finally nailed down the right amount for us. Some things, like my hiking boots, I've had for over six years, and some things, like our sleeping pads and backpacks, are brand new. Our tent and sleeping bags are also about six years old, and the bear vault was first purchased for our National Park Road Trip four years ago, but Tom's had his camp stove for over 10 years. We plan on continuing our camping and backpacking adventures for a long time and plan on having this gear for at least another 10 years. We've realized that sometimes spending a little bit more and getting a higher quality product means we'll have it for the long haul and for many more trips in our future.
Las Vegas is a strange town. Its rich, its poor, its clean, its disgusting, but its never boring. Marci and I realized recently that we hadn't seen each other in over six months and before marathon training got too intense we decided to get away for a girl's weekend to Las Vegas! And here's how we spent that 40 hours on a budget.
Alooooooooha! As you can probably see from my Instagram feed, Tom and I have been away visiting the beautiful island of Kaua'i. We flew to Lihue on Sunday, August 31 and stayed in the northern area of Princeville / Hanalei for five days, then we drove down to the southern part of the island and stayed in Po'ipu for three days before flying to Maui for our last two days. This was our second trip to Kaua'i and this trip was definitely one of my favorite Hawaii trips that we've taken. Maybe we both were in a place that were desperate for vacation, or maybe we're at a different place in our lives when we're realizing what truly is important to us, or maybe we've gone in with a new perspective of visiting the islands, but this visit captured everything that means Living With Aloha to us.
Fear not to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. - John Muir
I went into the mountains over the 4th of July weekend and came out a different person. Tom, Bailey, and I set out on an epic three day backpacking trip that I would have loved to have turned into a summer long event. I saw some of the most beautiful mountains and lakes I have ever seen and was humbled by their sheer enormity. Here's the story of our amazing weekend.
I love traveling abroad to see the grand cathedrals and castles of Europe still standing after thousands of years, majestic places full of history. But then I have to remember what's in my own backyard - our grand cathedrals and castles, still standing after hundreds and thousands of years. The giant trees in Redwood National Park, 700 years old, the smooth granite in Yosemite created by glaciers over a million of years ago, a 2148 foot deep lake formed by a volcano exploding 7700 years ago.
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.
- John Muir, The Yosemite
Inspired by Ken Burns's documentary, The National Parks, Tom, Bailey, and I went on a 12 day Western National Park road trip in October of 2011.