Hiking “The Wave”

When I returned to work and my boss asked me how the hike was, the first word out of my mouth was “extraordinary.” He was like, “Wow, extraordinary!?” That is the best way that I could sum up this experience with one word. It was the most amazing trip of my life because I had never seen such a terrain that was so historical and unique in every way. It was like stepping into a different age.

Heading toward the entrance to The Wave.
It had rained a couple days before, so there was quite a bit of standing water like this little pond.

I do admit that I was a little worried about doing this hike in the middle of August, but thankfully we were blessed with great temperatures. It only got up to about 91°, which is much cooler than it was when I went to Zion in June. When we started out at about 6 AM, the temperature was in the 50s. When we made it to the Wave there was a nice, cool breeze blowing and it wasn’t very hot.

Walking into The Wave.
This pond of water at the Wave’s entrance made for a cool reflection shot.
This feature had some amazing textures.
The Wave.

Beyond the wave, we explored Second Wave and the Boneyard, rounding out the loop with the dinosaur tracks, which were really cool and made me feel like I had gone back into the Jurassic Age. I opted not to go up to Top Rock, which I really wanted to see, but I decided that I just wasn’t up to that type of climbing and didn’t want to tire myself out. I just wanted to experience that beautiful place, live in the moment and enjoy just being there. I was in a constant state of awe the whole time.

Strange looking rocks in the “Boneyard.”
A #4-shaped rock in the Boneyard.

I had the pleasure of hiking with a professional photographer, Amy, from Action Photo Tours, who was very experienced with the terrain and knew all of the other sites outside of the Wave that I wanted to see. I also was able to learn photography skills and how to use the more advanced settings on my camera. Before this trip, I had purchased a new ultra wide zoom lens just for the landscape aspect of the trip and I was so excited to use it. I’m very pleased with the photos that I took.

Dinosaur tracks.
More dinosaur tracks.

Walking in the Wave itself was quite a trippy experience. It’s hard to describe the feeling that I had while being inside the Wave. It looks one way in the pictures and you think that the pictures online are all extraordinary, but there is nothing like actually being there and seeing it up close and in person.

A towering spire.
The features of The Wave may look soft and delicate, but they are actually quite sturdy and rugged.

I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude with each moment that passed and I just wanted to hold onto it and never let it go. I couldn’t help but remember what was going on in my life a year ago when I had my back issues and then the surgery and I just couldn’t stop giving thanks for the experience and for being able to walk this path and have this be a part of my life‘s journey. I’m just so grateful. I hope you enjoy these pictures and I also hope that you also get a chance to experience this wonderful place for yourself. It’s not easy to get a permit, but it is so worth the process.

Walking inside The Wave.
Photo by Amy O., Action Photo Tours.


Taylor Creek and Kolob Canyons

After finishing up our Kanarra Creek hike, we headed over to Kolob Canyons to do a second hike. It was fairly short at a mere five miles round trip, but it felt so much longer due to the heat. It was a little cooler up there but the temps were probably still in the 90’s. There was a creek, but it had very little water and it was nothing to take a dip in and cool off.

Wood log steps at the beginning of the hike.
A trickle of water in the creek.

I told my friends Neenah and Jodi to go ahead because I didn’t know if I wanted to go all the way. I didn’t research this hike much as it was one of Jodi’s suggestions, so I wasn’t sure if the Double Arches were a worthy payoff at the end. I trekked on figuring I’d just turn around when I met up with the ladies heading back from the arches.

Entering the Zion Wilderness, although not part of Zion National Park.
Neenah walking ahead.

The hike didn’t get that interesting for me until I arrived at the first cabin. I actually would have missed it had I not seen a guy coming from that direction as the cabin is situated slightly off-trail right at a turn. Had the guy not been there I would have just been focused on the trail sign that indicated turning right to follow the path.

Larson Cabin.

There was another cabin a little further up the trail. Both were cool to see and pretty interesting due to their construction and the fact that they were just out there in the middle of this canyon with nothing else around.

The further into the canyon we ventured, the more water we observed in the creek.
The Arch.

I eventually made it to the arches where I met back up with Jodi and Neenah. It was absolutely worth it to keep going because the Double Arches were pretty spectacular. I’d love to go back and do this hike at a cooler time or when there is lots of water flowing in the creek. We crossed the creek at least 20 times during the hike, so with flowing water it would have been a lot of fun.

Women's pants banners for Fall 2022

Visiting a California Ghost Town

Before summer’s end, I finally got to visit the Bodie ghost town, known officially as Bodie State Historic Park. Today, only about 5% of the buildings remain from the town’s 1877-1881 heyday, most having fallen victim to time, fire, and the elements. Designated a California state park in 1962, it is now preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” This means that buildings’ roofs, windows and foundations are repaired and stabilized, not restored.

It was smooth sailing on pavement most of the way there, but the last several miles or so were on dirt.

Following the 1849 Gold Rush, mining declined along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Prospectors, ever hungry for the next big strike, crossed the Sierra Nevada to prospect the eastern slopes.

Methodist Church. This church, built in 1882, is Bodie’s only church still standing. A Catholic church, also built in 1882, burned in 1928. E.J. Clinton, head of a mining company at Bodie in the late 1920’s, restored the church with his own funds and often preached sermons. An oilcloth with the Ten Commandments, which once hung behind the pulpit, was stolen (Thou Shalt Not Steal”).

W.S. Bodey, from Poughkeepsie, New York, discovered gold here in 1859. He died months later in a blizzard, never seeing the town that honors him. Bodey’s bones were re-discovered in 1879 and then “misplaced” after burial. His final resting place is now thought to be somewhere on the hill above the cemetery, which I skipped, but could see from the dirt road leading to the parking lot. The town‘s name came to be spelled “Bodie.”

D.V. Cain House. Built in 1873, this was home to David Victor Cain, son of James S. Cain. The Cains sold Bodie to California State Parks in 1962. In 1904, D.V. Cain married Ella M. Cody, a Bodie schoolteacher who later founded the Bodie Museum.

Mining in the district progressed at a slow pace until 1875, when a mine collapse revealed a rich body of gold ore. Word spread fast, and Bodie’s boomtown days began. While period accounts estimated Bodie’s population as high as 8,000 and later writers claimed 10,000, census records do not reflect these high numbers. Bodie’s peak population probably ranged from 7,000 to 8,000.

Inside the morgue.

During 1877 – 1881, Bodie’s mining district included 30 different mines and nine stamp mills. Along with miners and merchants, Bodie attracted a rougher element, who gave the town a reputation for bad men and wild times. There were more than 60 saloons, many near Bonanza Street prostitutes’ “cribs” and opium dens in Chinatown. The boom years were over quickly as unsuccessful mines began closing. The population dropped quickly and continued to dwindle into the 1900s. Mining continued until 1942.

Remnants of a home.
View from the hill at the end of Green Street.
The Standard Mill.

The family of Bodie’s last major landowner, James S. Cain, hired caretakers to watch over the town and protect it from looters and vandals. In 1962, California State Parks purchased the town to preserve the historic buildings and artifacts.

Looking across town.

I enjoyed my visit to Bodie.

Women's pants banners for Fall 2022

Titus Canyon Adventure

This is the longest video that I’ve ever uploaded to YouTube. The reason I uploaded this full version of the drive is because I know that there are some people out there who were like me initially, researching this drive to see what it’s really like before planning a trip.

I want to provide a very real time view of everything to expect on this drive. I want people to be prepared and know what they’re getting into. I also want to share the fun with those who may choose not to go and see this beautiful place, but would like to watch it from the comfort of their own home.

This road is 26 miles and it is a one-way drive. The road is very narrow and there are steep drop offs. One thing you can be certain of is that you will be awed and captivated by all of the scenery and the beauty in this place. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful canyons that I have ever visited. I love how the terrain changed throughout the drive and I was never bored with any of the features.

My friends and I stopped along the way to take pictures and explore some of the sites like the old mining town of Leadfield. We also saw some petroglyphs which I did not include in this video. It was just an amazing place all around and I would totally do it again. Thankfully, I did not have to drive this time. My car probably wouldn’t have made it on this road.

We had a caravan of three cars including a RAV4, a Subaru Crosstrek, and a Subaru Outback. All cars made it through with no issues and we had a fun time. I hope you enjoy this wonderful adventure.

Titus Canyon Adventure – Full Version

Chutes and Ladders

This video is about the Ladder Canyon hike that I did with friends. Located near Mecca, CA, about 2-1/2 hours east of Los Angeles. This stunning desert hike features slot canyons, ropes, chutes and ladders and tops out at a ridge that provides 360-degree views of the desert, including Joshua Tree and the Salton Sea.

This adventure is definitely not for the faint of heart as we often found ourselves maneuvering through lots of tight squeezes, rock scrambling up steep slopes and challenging our fear of heights on mysteriously placed ladders. This experience fostered a great spirit of camaraderie with friends and was definitely one for the books.

On the Road with Desert Dog

On Thanksgiving weekend, my boyfriend Bill and I took Cody on his first ever camping trip. From the moment we started packing up the car the night before, Cody was filled to the brim with excitement over what his new adventure had in store. He had no idea where we were going, but he knew we were going somewhere, and that was all it took. The next day, we were off to Death Valley for a weekend of camping and hiking with friends. Although this wasn’t my first visit to Death Valley, each experience is unique and special, and I was happy to share this one with Bill and Cody.

We weren’t sure how Cody was going to do on his first road trip, so Bill covered up the two large ice chests on the back seat with a comfy towel so he could relax and still be able to see the open road in front of us. First, he wanted to sit on my lap, but Bill nudged him to the back seat and he laid down on his towel. He looked so cute on his makeshift bed.

Death Valley is quite a drive from Long Beach. We decided to take the scenic route and drove in via the 190 from Olancha in the Eastern Sierra. It was a bit of a longer way in for us, but being that it was the more scenic route, we didn’t mind the extra time on the road. Plus, we got to see some of our beloved Eastern Sierra.

Upon our entrance into Death Valley, we stopped at our first vista point, Father Crowley Overlook. Bill, Cody and I got out to take a look and were instantly captivated by the majestic sight before us. I thought it looked like a mini grand canyon. Little did I know, we would see other places in Death Valley that were even more similar to the Grand Canyon. Cody was just as excited as Bill and I were.

Death Valley is on record as the hottest, driest and lowest place on Earth. The hottest rating doesn’t apply in November, though. However, the climate is so arid that it’s very important to stay hydrated, even if the cooler temperatures don’t make you “feel” thirsty. Bill and I made sure to bring plenty of water for ourselves and for little Cody.

I had been using this new Bubi Bottle and Bowl on some of my walks around town with Cody and was anxious to use them at Death Valley. Made from BPA Free Silicone, the Bubi bottle is ideal for kids, pets, work, travel, sports and adventures of all sorts. It was the perfect gear combo for our trip to Death Valley.

I’m so used to carrying plastic bottles of water on my adventures and they get to be pretty cumbersome after a while. When I’m out on the hiking trails, especially when doing long distance hikes, I drink a lot of water, and water sources along the trail are not always available. Carrying back empty bottles are quite a pain. Hydration bladders are more convenient, but they are hard to clean, as are the plastic 1-liter bottles. The Bubi Bottle is so soft and flexible that it can be cleaned inside-out.

When Cody and I took a break, I pulled out the Bubi Bottle and had a drink for myself, then attached his bowl to the top, unscrewed it and poured him some water. He gladly drank it as he was super thirsty from being exposed to such a dry climate. He loves his bowl so much. It wasn’t super warm or cold during the day, so we were fine drinking the water at air temperature. Since it cooled down overnight, the water had enough of a chill to keep us refreshed.

After we downed all the water, I scrunched the Bubi Bottle down, collapsed Cody’s cute little matching bowl and stuffed them into Bill’s pack. Even when the bottle was completely full, nothing spilled or leaked into the pack. The Bubi Bottle’s puncture-resistance withstood the beating that we gave it. I’m looking forward to using this bottle and bowl on future adventures. It’s so lightweight and portable that sometimes I forget I’m carrying it…until it’s time for a drink of water.

Cody enjoyed his first road trip/camping trip. There were so many sights and smells that he loved to explore and we had fun watching him. The smiles on his face were priceless. Cody did have a little scare the last night of our camping trip. He was sitting with Bill on a picnic bench near the campfire and a coyote approached. Neither of us saw it, but Cody did, and he freaked out and tried to go after it. Cody is a little dog, but very strong. It took Bill quite a bit of effort to restrain him. Thankfully, the coyote ran off into the night and we were all able to breathe a sigh of relief, but we remained on alert the rest of our time there.

On the drive home, we took a different route than the way we came in and stopped at the Trona Pinnacles, an area that sparked my curiosity a few years ago when passing through on the way to Death Valley. The Trona Pinnacles consist of an area of tufa formations, similar to those at Mono Lake near Mammoth Lakes, CA.

You have to drive five miles on a fairly well-graded dirt road to get to the Pinnacles. Then you arrive at the official entrance. Beyond that, you can drive in a loop around the Pinnacles or take the hiking trail and walk among them. There is a map posted at the entrance so you can easily familiarize yourself with the layout.

Bill drove us around, then we stopped for a break and had lunch. After walking around the Pinnacles and doing a bit of rock climbing, Bill, Cody and I headed home. What a fun weekend.

OptOutside Hike: Skeleton Canyon

The day after Thanksgiving, my friends and I drove out to Mecca Hills, CA to participate in REI’s OptOutside campaign. Since it was such a far drive, we decided to make a weekend out of it. Our first hike of the weekend was suggested by my dear friend Ava and took us through the narrow walls of Skeleton Canyon. We didn’t find any skeletons out there, but had a spook of a time!

Hiking the Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge

The Goat Canyon Trestle bridge, located in Carrizo Gorge near Jacumba, CA is the largest curved wooden trestle bridge in the world. We started our hike at the trailhead off the dirt road next to the De Anza Springs (clothing optional) resort. The hike was on a relatively flat trail that followed a railroad track all the way to the bridge. A few people in our group rode their bikes while the rest of us hiked. This was a 16-mile out and back trail in a remote location and it is not recommended to hike or bike alone. Round up a few friends, go out there and have a fabulous time on this epic adventure!

In the Midst of the Storm

About to board the tram for Mountain Station

About to board the tram for Mountain Station

It’s the holiday season and work has slowed down for many of us, so what is the best thing for outdoorsy people to do? Go out and take a hike, of course! Rain or shine! It just happened to be stormy Tuesday morning, so my friend Kim and I headed to Palm Springs for a scenic ride up the Aerial Tram and a short 1 1/2-mile hike on the Desert View Trail. I had always been curious about that trail, but never had time to do it since each time I’d been up there was to hike to San Jacinto Peak. We didn’t even consider aiming for the peak in the storm, but felt it was pretty safe to hike around Mountain Station at 8,516ft.

View from the tram

View from the tram

The ride from Valley Station up to Mountain Station wasn’t very scenic as visibility was limited due to the weather. When we arrived at the top, we took a few moments to get our bearings. I had never been to the tramway during the Christmas season, so it was really neat to see all the decorations.

Christmas decorations at Mountain Station

Christmas decorations at Mountain Station

After we had seen everything, we looked outside and contemplated when to go out. We didn’t ponder IF we should go out; we already knew what we were getting ourselves into and were prepared. We wanted to see snow and possibly experience getting snowed on. It was cold, rainy and windy outside. The very sign on the door warning that the door had been secured due to high winds caused us to shudder. We bundled up and braved the elements, along with several familes with small children.

Wind advisory

Wind advisory

I knew this would be a great opportunity to test out my new Ossipee Women’s Midweight Crew base layer from Minus 33, which I wore underneath my synthetic down jacket. The merino wool base layer did well on a previous hike a few weeks ago, but I started to get a little toasty with warmer temperatures. This time, it was cold, rainy and windy, so the base layer was perfect for the conditions. I stayed warm and dry, despite the blustery weather.

Once we entered the Desert View Trail and hiked away from Mountain Station, we had the trail to ourselves. There wasn’t a soul around. The trail makes a short loop with five notches that allows for incredible views of the Coachella Valley below. However, we had no visibility because we were socked in by the clouds. Still, it was pretty rewarding to hike up to each individual notch.

Beginning of the Desert View Trail

Beginning of the Desert View Trail

At Notch 1

At Notch 1

We definitely saw snow on the ground as we had hoped, but it wasn’t the type of snow we expected or wanted to see. This snow was hard, packed and slippery in spots, so we had to be very careful. Kim put on her microspikes, but even though I brought mine, I didn’t use them. My backpacking boots have pretty good traction, even in icy conditions, but I still had to be careful.

My legs usually don’t freeze, but I’m sure they would have had I not worn a pair of midweight bottoms under my thin hiking pants. The Franconia Women’s Midweight Bottoms kept my legs nice and toasty, even with the high winds and chill factor. The fabric was very comfortable and the fit non-restrictive. Most of the time, I forgot I was wearing the bottoms under my pants.

The view from Notch 5

The view from Notch 5

After visiting Notch 5, we continued on the loop and crossed the wooden bridge that took us to the Discovery Trail, a short 3/4-mile loop that passes the Adventure Center, which was closed at the time. I love bridges, so crossing it brought out the kid in me. We saw a snowman on the way back and I noticed that Frosty was missing an arm, so I performed a brief surgery and replaced his limb with a nearby stick. He was all better after that.

"Frosty" before his limb replacement

“Frosty” before his limb replacement

I took a few more pictures and then we made our way up the long, winding paved path back to Mountain Station where I warmed up with a rather spicy cup of chili. It was much more crowded than before and we almost couldn’t find a place to sit. We lucked out and secured a spot near the entrance.

Mountain Station Chilli

Mountain Station Chili

Overall, we were very happy that we went on the journey into the storm. I couldn’t help but wonder why we did it. Why did we leave the safe, cozy comfort of our homes to deliberately go out into the elements where there was potential danger and unpleasant conditions? Why do we adventurers do what we do?

Those are questions I can’t answer right now. But my tales are still being written. I suppose someday it will come to me on one of my treks in those conditions. For now, I’m happy with not knowing.

At V.W. Grubb's Viewpoint