Adventure Log - 38 Trip Reports and Counting

Dry Tortugas Trip Report
Round Top & The Sisters

Trip Report - Carson Pass & Round Top (September 2007)

Five Words: Three Summits in One Weekend

From almost any run at Kirkwood, the mountains of Carson Pass spill out in layers of dark volcanic rock and white snow. For us, this little alpine dreamscape holds memories from so many trips past: snow camping in January, spring skiing in March, backpacking in August, photographing the fall color in October. No matter the season, we find ourselves returning to this slice of the Sierra over and over again.

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Bristlecone Pine

Trip Report - Great Basin National Park (September 2007)

Five Words: Caves, Bristlecone Pine, Wheeler, Empty

Wheeler Peak was kicking my ass. It wasn’t even a good fight. I was on the ropes taking body blows, with three rounds left in the match. I had to stop every few minutes to suck wind and keep my heart from exploding. At least I knew what I was up against. The trail leading to the summit was clear; a long jagged scar climbing up the shoulder of this giant. I was learning in no uncertain terms that the last place you want to fight a chest cold is in the same ring with a 13,000 foot mountain.

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Trip Report - Yosemite Day Hikes (Summer 2007)

Five Words: Two of Four Ain't Bad

With as much traveling as we do, I think we still take for granted what a remarkable place we live. With the Pacific Coast in our front yard and the great Sierra Nevada out back, our local choices are almost embarrassing in their breadth and beauty. But like everyone else, the demands of work and life relegate most of our travels to weekend warrior status. We’ve developed keen systems for packing our gear, schlepping it to the car, and escaping from the city without hitting traffic. Not to brag, but we can pull together a Yosemite camping trip in under an hour. Our highly tuned sense of “Let’s get the fuck outta here” has led us down some interesting roads and trails.

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Trip Report - Humboldt Redwoods State Park (May 2007)

Five Words: Secluded, Windy, Tough, Wrong Turn

Selecting a secluded backpacking destination for a popular 3-day weekend can be a challenge. Sometimes you discover the rare gem, and other times, you uncover why no one has ever heard of the place.

Memorial Day weekends are especially challenging for the Bay Area hiker. It’s too early for the high country and too hot for the low lands. The Redwoods are like Goldilocks’ perfect bowl of porridge: shady and cool, just right. Humboldt Redwoods State Park in particular looked to be one of our least crowded options.

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Trip Report - Point Reyes (April 2007)

Five Words: Chrysalis, Nap, Bushwhack, Blue Skies

Point Reyes is one of our favorite places to escape our work schedules and enjoy some time together. The days leading into this weekend away were especially hectic for both of us, and we took advantage of the time to relax and check out from our wired worlds.

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Trip Report - Dry Tortugas National Park (March 2007)

Five Words: Chugs, Bricks, Yoga, Catamaran, Island

Even the famed roosters of Key West sounded hung over that Sunday morning. It had only been a few hours since the last of the Spring Breakers had passed out, and we were waiting dockside to board a catamaran by the name of “Fastcat” with our camping gear in tow. I was feeling anything but fast myself and the busted-down rooster cries were an aching reminder of the previous night’s sunset booze cruise.

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Trip Report - Wild Women Workshop, Yosemite (December 2006)

Five Words: Yoga, Frozen, Granite, Vision, Content

Most of our trip reports are written weeks, even (gulp) months after the fact. Not this one. I’m sitting in Yosemite’s Camp Curry dining room on December 29th, 2006 having just finished a medium sized Hawaiian pizza all by myself. Hush, if you slept outside in the low 20’s, attended a private yoga class, and burned straight uphill in today’s off-trail “adventure” hike, you’d want your own too.

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Trip Report - Carson Pass (October 2006)

Five Words: Aspens, Technicolor, Photo, Deserted, Crowded

Of the eleven holidays my office grants each year, Columbus Day is likely the most random and welcome of them all. Matt was not so fortunate. He took a precious vacation day, and we enjoyed a three day weekend during the Sierra fall color show featuring some of nature’s most colorful actors – Aspens.

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Trip Report - Mount Langley (September 2006)

Five Words: Schmorgan, Cold, Slog, Marmots, Vino

Eric is a reluctant mountaineer.

His childhood in Oregon's Willamette Valley offered ample opportunity for time outside: picking blackberries, fishing for trout, chucking dirt clods and the like. His family took regular trips to Tokatee Lake, and Cousin Jeff was a willing partner for adventures of every kind. The latter days of his adolescence found him applying his natural gifts as an athlete—blazing nine-patterns down the gridiron and tossing up three-pointers for the South Albany Rebels.

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Trip Report - Mono Basin (September 2006)

Five Words: Aspens, Sunrise, Burgers, Clover Ditch

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Jody is a damn good sport. How many wives would wake up at 5:30 AM to pose for photographs in the early-morning cold, wearing next to nothing, all while being eaten alive by a thousand hungry mosquitoes? I offer, very few. Great artists make sacrifices for their work. Lesser artists marry great models who are willing to make those sacrifices on their behalf.

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Trip Report - Mount Dana (August 2006)

Five Words: Steep, Vista, Scramble, Yosemite High

Standing sentinel over the Tioga Pass area, Mount Dana casts an impressive profile for all who pass through the eastern reaches of Yosemite National Park. The route to her lofty summit is a no-bullshit affair; the trail climbs well over three-thousand vertical feet in just four miles. It is a must-do for any Yosemite regular, offering unrivaled views and a good physical challenge.

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Trip Report - Feather Falls (June 2006)

Five Words: Short, Poaching Camp, Restful, Waterfall

Selecting a weekend backpacking destination in Northern California in mid-June is a tricky task. Elevation too high? Snow. Elevation too low? Scorching. At the beginning of the year we penciled in a “Northern Sierra” outing for this particular weekend and I wasn’t quite ready to give up on our goal despite the lingering snow at approximately 5,000 ft. After a bit of research and some phone calls we found a location that was just right: Feather Falls.

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Trip Report - Italy (May 2006)

Five Words: Vino, Gelato, Como, Formaggio, Bellisimo

When our friends Eric and Jen announced their destination wedding in Tuscany, we grabbed my college art history books, a fresh stack of Post-its, and went to work on our Italy trip itinerary. We were thrilled to be included in their special day. So were twenty of our closest friends, and we spent the first week all together in a seventeenth century villa. The following week was spent seeking out the art and architecture we had only been able to appreciate from the stacks of books in our living room.

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Trip Report - Point Reyes (April 2006)

Five Words: navigation help from a monk

Living in the Bay Area has some serious perks and driving less than an hour to backpack at Point Reyes National Seashore is just one of many. We go so often, it’s almost like camping in our backyard. At least I imagine camping in a backyard would feel that comfortable; since living in San Francisco usually means squeezing into a one-bedroom with no balcony, let alone a yard. Okay, the perks still leave room for improvement. But, it’s this familiarity with our location that prompted a weekend trot in the woods with loads of brand spankin’ (read: untested) new gear.

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Trip Report - Death Valley (December 2005)

Five Words: Washboard, Racetrack, Happy New Year

A cold wind passes through us as the volcanic gravel underfoot crunches with every step. We are the only people for miles. Standing at the edge of an ancient crater on a moonless night, we can feel the void below us. Beneath a blanket of stars, we pour the champagne and wish the world and each other a Happy New Year.

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Trip Report - Utah Road Trip (September 2005)

Five Words: Red Rock, Mandatory Swim, Hot

I received some sideways glances after telling my city coworkers we planned to spend our hard earned vacation days road tripping to Utah. "Really?” “Really.” Exploring the dry playas of Death Valley, navigating the rushing waters of the Zion Virgin River Narrows, and hiking under the towering spires of Bryce Canyon make affairs of the cube seem downright comical.

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Trip Report - Rae Lakes Loop (August 2005)

Five Words: Solo, Deep, Sierra, Bridge, Smoke

I'm actually surprised that it took me as long as it did to realize that I was going to have quite a bit of free time on my hands. It wasn't long before I decided to spend a few days by myself outside. When I first started backpacking in college, I didn't know anyone else that was interested - so all my trips were solo affairs. I now refer to these as the pre-Benson years. It had been probably eight years and 20+ trips since I hit the trail by myself. And while I knew I would miss Jody (the greatest wife, trail partner, and bed warmer on God's green earth), I was actually looking forward to going it alone this time.

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Trip Report - Wyoming Road Trip (June 2005)

Five Words: Grand, Moose, Lazy, Green, Lightning

When in the course of the daily grind, it becomes necessary for one Person to dissolve the Occupational bands which have connected them with a soulless corporation, and to assume among the powers of At-Will-Employment, the separate and equal Station to which the laws of Self-Preservation and of Mental Health entitle them, a decent Professional Courtesy requires that they should offer a minimum of two weeks notice and steadfast work ethic to the end. But not first, without taking a nine day vacation to the mountains of Wyoming.

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Trip Report - Lost Coast (April 2005)

Five Words: Tidal, Poppies, Sand, Isolated, Gorgeous

Our return to the Lost Coast was four years in the making. Ever since our inaugural trip to the area in July of 2001, we've been trying to find the time to make our way back. We held onto great memories of empty beaches, curious wildlife, and breathtaking sunsets. During the first trip, we only explored a short section of the trail, opting for a low-key weekend at the beach. This time around, we aimed to see what other treasures this remote section of coastline held, as we hiked the 25-mile northern section of the Lost Coast Trail.

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Trip Report - Henry Coe State Park (April 2005)

Five Words: Wildflowers, Poison Oak, Celebrity Sighting

Springtime in the young Pritchard family is becoming the season for a solid butt kicking at Henry Coe State Park. Preparing for a year of backpacking just isn't complete anymore without a visit to this local slice of rugged backcountry early in the calendar. This year's trip was our third time at Coe and we came prepared for the challenge...well, mostly.

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Kirkwood & The Range of Light (Winter 2005)

Five Words: Eight Hundred Inches of Snow

Winter arrived with a bang this year, hitting the Sierra with mid-October snowstorms and the earliest opening day on record. Storm after storm pounded the range of light and offered up more deep powder days than either of us can remember. Early January snowstorms dumped 20+ feet of snow in less than two weeks. Speaking to a co-worker in Chicago, she remarked that she heard about our snowstorms in California and was surprised to hear about the "20 inches" of snow we had received. 20 inches? Silly mid-Westerner, inches are for chumps.

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Trip Report - Mount Langley (October 2004)

Five Words: Awesome Power of Mother Nature

Twenty percent chance of precipitation. That was the prediction from the NOAA website before we departed for one of our more memorable trips to the High Sierra. It was late October and our plan was to squeeze in one last dry land trip before the snow started to fall and our focus shifted to snow sports. Little did we know that two weeks later we would be pointing our tips downhill at Kirkwood to kick off our earliest ski season on record.

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Trip Report - Mount Lassen (September 2004)

Five Words: Smelly, Devastated, Summit, No Crowds

The weekend was born out of necessity. We were jonesing for some time outside and it needed to happen soon. The autumn is good for this kind of trip. The mercury is falling, kids are back in school, and areas that host hordes in the summer are thinning out before winter. You can pretty much pick a spot on the map and plan a trip in little to no time. We zeroed in on Mt Lassen without much thought. It's been on our list for the past few years, it easy to get to, and neither of us had been to the area since we were knee-high to a grasshopper.

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Trip Report - Round Lake (August 2004)

Five Words: Mellow, Aspens, Cross Country Hike

It seems a bit mischievous - driving past your office on a weekday morning with a car full of backpacking gear and no intention of slowing down. That's how I felt as we sped across the Bay Bridge in full view of my building in downtown Oakland, knowing that my co-workers would be showing up soon to put in a full 8 hours on this beautiful summertime Friday. Jody and I were bound for the Sierra - in search of some much needed R+R.

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Trip Report - Mount Shasta (July 2004)

Five Words: Kick Me In the Back

The third time is the charm, right? That's how the saying goes. As if, by fate's design, we are all destined to taste bitter failure twice before we can truly appreciate success the next time 'round. Maybe the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter was aligned with Mars and all of the cosmic forces of the universe willed us to succeed. Or perhaps Mt. Shasta needed us to prove our worth and determination on those previous attempts before it would acquiese and grant us safe passage to her craggy summit. Or maybe that is all a load of crap. Maybe this time we were just a bit stronger and bit smarter than we had been in the past.

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Trip Report - Prarie Creek Redwoods (May 2004)

Five Words: Prehistoric, Lush, Restful, Perspective, Humble

This year's Memorial Day Weekend adventure wasn't quite as monumental as last year's engagement story, but having said our I do's, and enjoyed a week's worth of beach bliss in Belize, Matt and I were ready to tackle our first backpacking trip as "The Pritchards".

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Trip Report - Patagonia (December 2003)

Five Words: The End of the Earth

After a year of planning, our trip to Patagonia has finally come and gone. It was one of the most memorable trips of our lives. As promised, we have brought back plenty of stories and photos to share. We whittled it down to 8,000 words and 138 photos - and that barely scratches the surface. In addition to our regular Adventure Log entry, we have put together a guide for people planning a trip similar to ours, packed with helpful information. If you like what you see, please let us know.

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Trip Report - White Mountain (October 2003)

Five Words: Success, Slog, Lunar, Thin Air

It was a long weekend. Tough, awesome, and long. I was determined to get one of the mountains on my California 14er challenge out of the way this year. Other trips and conflicting schedules pushed our window of opportunity out to mid-October. By any measure, White Mountain is the easiest 14,000' mountain in the state to climb. Using the word climb is a misnomer. Gaining the summit of White Mountain requires no more technical skills than one would need during a day hike at the local state park. In its defense, it is 14 miles round trip and tops out well above 14,000'. So it may be a day hike, but it is certainly not your average day hike.

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Ride Report - Tahoe Sierra Century (September 2003)

Five Words: Shannon, Donner, Steep, Beautiful, Proud

To be honest, the ride intimidated us a little bit. After putting in 1,300 training miles over the summer, the distance wasn't really the problem. It was the amount of climbing that had both Shannon and I worried. 5,500 feet of climbing was spread out over 4 major climbs. And the entire route was above 6,000 feet. We both tried to include as much climbing as possible into our training regimen, which helped enormously.

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Trip Report - Trinity Alps, Caribou Lakes (August 2003)

Five Words: Relaxing, New, Hot, Flat Tire

Labor Day weekend. The symbolic end of summer. The last three day weekend to get outside and enjoy the summertime sun. For us, it was an opportunity to explore new terrain and tune up in preparation for our Patagonia trip. The Trinity Alps was our destination and we were excited to see something new. Located in between Interstate 5 and Highway 101, northwest of Redding, the Trinity Alps Wilderness is a rugged, beautiful, and less crowded alternative to the Sierra. Our plan was a 3 day, 2 night romp through the Caribou Basin area.

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Trip Report - Sabrina Basin (July 2003)

Five Words: Mosquitos, Thin Air, Chilly Swim

I love DEET. It took a weekend trip to the Sabrina Basin for me to realize this point. After receiving an undisputed ass whoopin' at the hand of 5 billion hungry mosquitoes, I began to embrace the miracle that is N,N-diethyl-m toluamide, in all of its stinky, nasty, plastic-melting, carcinogenic splendor and glory. During our trip over the July 4th weekend, we also learned a critical lesson in the use of DEET-based insect repellants. For the repellent to work effectively, you must bring enough to last the entire weekend. It is a simple, but important bit o' wisdom that eluded us during our preparation for the trip. Half of a bottle seemed like it would be fine. We were wrong. A point made abundantly clear to us by the swarms that awaited our arrival.

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Trip Report - Kennedy Lake (June 2003)

Five Words: Gorgeous, Memories, Friends, Mud, Lightweight

Nestled just below Sonora Pass on hwy 108, Kennedy Meadows pack station is the gateway to the Emigrant Wilderness, and for the adventurous, it also can serve as a launch point for Yosemite and other areas in the Sierra. As someone who grew up in a home with two paintings of Kennedy Meadows Lodge and family pictures taken around the stables, lake, and river tacked to a bulletin board, I welcomed the opportunity to go back to the place that meant "summer" for me.

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Trip Report - Channel Islands (May 2003)

Five Words: Will You Marry Me? Yes!

This is it. This is the one you've all heard about. This is the engagement story. To make things interesting, we each wrote our own version of the weekend's events. Enjoy.

Click here to read Matt's version.

Click here to read Jody's version.

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Trip Report - Snow Mountain Wilderness (April 2003)

Five Words: Snowy, Remote, Lush, In Rehab

It was a sunny spring day as we headed up I-5 north towards Williams. The fields were green, the sky was blue, and we had the windows down. Only a small section on the 360-degree horizon looked like a dark grey shadow Dr. Evil might call home - and that's where we were looking to spend our weekend backpacking.

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Trip Report - Henry Coe State Park (March 2003)

Five Words: Rugged, Alive, Wildflowers, Quintessential California

As I wiped the tears of pain from under my sunglasses with a dusty and now muddy hand, I tried to retain some thread of the 'tough mountain chick' status Matt had jokingly given to me earlier. Too late. Sobs started to bubble from within and I was just too exhausted to care. No trail had ever brought me to tears before and my thoughts turned to the park ranger's comment, "People don't train in Coe Park for the Sierras, they train in the Sierras for Coe Park." At that moment the High Sierra seemed a cakewalk compared to Coe.

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Trip Report - Snow Camping (Winter 2003)

Five Words: Cold, New, Full Moon, Velveeta

The winter of 2003 will go down in our history as the season of chilly nights. With season passes to Kirkwood and an itch to spend some nights outside, we convinced ourselves that snow camping near Carson Pass was the perfect way to get plenty of time at the 'Wood and still get some backcountry nights under our belts early in the year. While Matt had some experience with snow camping, having spent 3 or 4 nights in snow caves on Mt. Hood, this was an entirely new experience for Jody.

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Trip Report - Lost Coast Backpacking (July 2001)

Five Words: Isolated, Stunning, Pinnepeds, Mystical, Lazy

Waaaay back in July of 2001, we decided to take a long weekend up to the Lost Coast. It sounds like some place out of a Hemingway novel, doesn't it. It was our third backpacking trip together and we were getting incrementally bolder with our choices of venue each time. The Lost Coast is one of the most remote pieces of coastline in the US, certainly in California. I first heard of the Lost Coast from an article in the first issue of NG Adventure. Extensive information on the area and quality maps are difficult to come by. I suppose the lack of information fits quite well with the moniker. Despite the mysterious name and elusive details, we were pleased to find out that the area is relatively tame.

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Trip Report - Point Reyes Backpacking (April 2001)

Five Words: The Beginning of Something Big

This is where it all began. Up until April 2001, Matt and I spent our first four months of dating, sharing stories, and professing our love of the outdoors and spending time outside. Yet we had not actually gone anywhere together in a place requiring hiking boots. Our first adventure led us on a 3-day weekend excursion to Marin County's Point Reyes. Only 45 minutes from San Francisco, this National Park gem is right in our own backyard. We made reservations two months in advance (this is a very popular local site on the Northern California Coast) and began the process of planning our first trip together.

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Questions or comments about these trips? Let us know.