Cuba Highlights

Here is a long-overdue short video from our travels through Cuba in January 2017. Cuba was one of the countries most devastated by recent hurricanes. They have been largely skipped in the international aid effort and the United States makes it nearly impossible to help them in any way. We are researching ways to help and will report back if we find something legitimate. Please comment if you have any ideas!!!

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Crater Lake National Park – Clean, Clear, Deep, and Blue.

 

Entering Oregon was something we were super excited for.  Carrie hadn’t been there yet, so it was her 44th state.  Headed towards Crater Lake National Park, we found a free campsite in a quiet spot on the shores of Klamath Lake and set about relaxing for the afternoon.  We had been using a site called FreeCampsites.net which was hit or miss.  Make sure to read the reviews and find recent ones.  The sky was again smoky from distant forest fires which created a cool haze.  After dark we had to escape into our tent because the mosquitoes were intense.

the way to crater lakeIt the morning we got an early start and made our way north, passing through beautiful empty spaces.  Getting close to Crater Lake National Park we passed many cyclists racing up to the lake.  It looked like a fun ride, but grueling.   Our first view of the lake was very impressive.  I had been here before as a child and enjoyed it then just as much.  My family tells me stories of how I talked about it for weeks.

crater lake wizard lsland
Crater Lake with Wizard Island in the middle

crater lakeCrater Lake was created almost 8,000 years ago by the collapsing of a volcano.  It is the deepest lake in the United States, at 1,949 feet deep.  There are a couple of beautiful islands, Wizard Island being the most prominent.  We drove around to the north side, which took a lot longer than expected but was a stunningly beautiful drive.

Crater Lake
Carrie at Crater Lack National Park, Oregon

We parked at the top of the Cleetwood Trail, the easiest way to the bottom.  I had also heard from my father many times about how he had to carry my brother and I back up this trail after the whole family went to the base.  It was much easier now with full-sized legs.  There trail was just over a mile one way and we were quickly at the bottom.  The water was icy cold still even though it was August, but Carrie just had to get in so she cliff jumped off an awesome rock.  You’ll see it in the awesome trip highlights video we are making!  You can never complain about blue blue water and rocks, no matter how cold.

On the way out we joined the traffic headed north for the big event.  It was eclipsing time and we were pumped.  Stay tuned for stories from Solar Town

 

 

Lassen Volcanic – A National Park Forgotten

After fighting traffic jams of rented RVs in Yosemite, we were ready to get away from the crowds.  DO NOT GO TO YOSEMITE IN AUGUST!!!  We had learned a valuable lesson and the smoke was choking us out anyhow.  Leaving a few days early, we headed northward and decided to use our extra few days to check out the lesser-visited Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California.  The drive in was through beautiful forest and we were so happy to just not be in a cloud of smoke anymore.  This was a terrible year for wildfires and it had affected our trip greatly.  We found an awesome campground just outside the park and set up for a relaxing afternoon.  Our Prius (Rock Crawler) was packed full of fun toys to keep us entertained while camping, from slack lines to hammocks we were well stocked with fun.

Dirtbag life-98.jpg

In the morning we drove into Lassen Volcanic National Park.  There were very few people, but a few of the major attractions were closed because of the amount of snow still covering the paths.  We saw a random geyser on the way in and could smell sulfur in the air.  The views were insane and we were relieved to see that the hike up Lassen Volcano was open despite there being snow taller than me around the parking lot.  The hike was steep and relatively empty when we started.

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcano
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
The top of Lassen Volcano

At the top there was still tons and tons of snow.  We looked into the crater and saw some adventurous snowboarding ladies whom were about to ride all the way down Lassen Volcano after hiking to the top.

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Zach looking EPIC!
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Still snow after summer!

Seriously, don’t come here.  Lassen Volcanic National Park is terrible and there are bears that eat Europeans and have learned how to open RV doors.

Mt. Shasta and NorCal Hippies

After climbing around Bishop, we made our way through to Yosemite National Park which we were super excited about.  However, once in the park we realized that all our plans had to be thrown out the window because the Yosemite Valley was full of smoke from nearby forest fires.

Smoky views on day 2

We spent two nights camping and doing what we could (not much so we caught up on some work) but then decided to cut our loses and head for northern California where hopefully the air would be cleaner.  The drive was beautiful and we covered some new territory that we had been looking forward to for a long time.  In the shadows of Mount Shasta we drove around looking for free camping.  We were hoping to find a spot at the free campground near Crystal Lake but they were all full.  Finding space would become a battle for the next few days with everyone on the west coast traveling through on their eclipse-bound road trips.  We were doing the same so couldn’t be too mad, so we jumped in the amazing lake and felt instantly better.

Refreshed, we drove a few miles away into the forest where there was lots of free dispersed camping.  We found a nice spot near a river with lots of grimy hippy kids.  These were like the people we are used to seeing sleeping on the beach in Ocean Beach, San Diego, so we weren’t too bothered by them.  After being there only a few minutes a Forest Service ranger pulled into the area and about 10 of the hippie bums casually walked off into the woods, warning us as they went that the cops were here.  Eventually the ranger came and walked through our camp, telling us to we might want to camp elsewhere.  We didn’t find anyone threatening and kept to ourselves as did they.  Our only complaint was that their drum circle that lasted til 2am.  They were actually really good musicians, we just weren’t into it at the time.

Our free spot

The next day we payed for a campground with showers and laundry and enjoyed Lake Siskiyou by renting a stand-up paddleboard for the first time ever.  Shasta was beautiful in the background and we hoped to come back later to hike the mountain.

Lake Siskiyou
Zach is waaaaay out there SUPing!
SUP selfie!

On our last day in the area we hiked the McCloud River Trail, an easy, scenic hike which takes you by three different waterfalls, each with its own swimming hole and cliff jumps.  We didn’t end up getting in because the cold mountain water was just too frigid!  We couldn’t do it.  It was great just to stick our feet in and admire the powerful waterfalls.

Upper Falls
Middle Falls
Lower Falls

Bishop Bouldering and L.A.’s Reservoir

The eastern Sierras offer an abundance of outdoor activities and climbing was our main goal for this leg of the trip. Bishop bouldering and climbing is some of the best in the world, and the town was a great home base for exploring the area.  We Couchsurfed with a very nice guy named Doug who showed us around town then left for work for four days.  It was very generous of him to let us take over his house for that time.  Gotta love Couchsurfing!  Having just climbed Mt. Whitney, Doug’s house was a perfect place for us to rest our tired bones.  I set up my solar panel out back and we made nice meals.  Life was grand.

Before leaving on his work adventure hauling oil from the Nevada desert to Long Beach in southern California, Doug drove us around the small town telling us interesting facts.  He told us about the Lone Pine earthquake around the turn of the 19th century that left the whole valley to the south 30 feet lower.  He also told us about how Bishop could never expand because of the fact that all the land around the town is owned by Los Angeles County.  Great amounts of water flow in from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the spring and summer, accumulating in the lakes and rivers around Bishop.  This water is collected and diverted into aqueducts that carry it more than 250 miles to the dry metropolis of L.A.  It seemed wrong to us, but what do we know.

After Doug left for work we drove north towards Mammoth and checked out a few hot springs near the Mammoth Airport.  First we found Wild Willy’s, which was awesome at first but then a van full of adolescent French kids interrupted our scenic soak.  But there were more springs down the road and we found a cool group of people at Hilltop Hotsprings, a small pool with an amazing view.  Everyone soon left except a guy who owned a ski shop in Mammoth Lakes.  We talked about forest fires, as one had ignited nearby.  He explained his idea to drop giant fireproof tarps over the fires to extinguish them.  Sure, dude.

Wild Willy's Hot Spring mammoth lakes
Wild Willy’s Hot Spring near Mammoth Lakes, California

Wild Willy's Hot Spring mammoth lakesWild Willy's Hot Spring mammoth lakes

Wild Willy's Hot Spring mammoth lakes
Gorgeous, gorgeous eastern Sierras!

Wild Willy's Hot Spring mammoth lakes

On our second day in Bishop we headed back towards the north looking for a recommended climbing crag called Clark Canyon.  We got off road for a long time then realized we went the wrong way in.  Around the other side of the hills the road got bad and we took our rock-crawling Prius to its offroading limits.  The area was remote and probably a lot prettier before recent wildfires had blackened most of the trees.  Just when I though we could go no further, about six miles and an hour through dirt, we came to the parking spot and geared up.  The rock was fun volcanic tuff and we climbed a few routes.  Several ways up I found some sketchy bolts and had to downclimb, but in general the area was great and we soon found ourselves worn out and headed home.

For our third day we headed to the famous Happy Boulders near Bishop.  Bishop bouldering is extremely hot in the summer, so we got out there around 8 to avoid the heat and quickly found lots of fun rocks.  There were hundreds, if not thousands of problems and we hung out for a few hours sending a few popular routes such as Heavenly Path, a great rock with a scary 20+ foot top out.   We wore ourselves out early again and relaxed through the hot afternoon, making dinner and catching up on some TV shows.  It sure was great having our own house.

Bouldering Bishop Heavenly Path
Yay Happy Boulders! The is Heavenly Path Boulder
Heavenly Path Boulder
On Top of Heavenly Path Boulder, Happy Boulders, Bishop, California

Our last day in town we wanted to do some more climbing but all the spots around Bishop had some kind of issues, so we got up in the dark and drove south to try to tackle more routes in the Alabama Hills area near Lone Pine.  We wanted to send the Shark Fin rock around sunrise to capture the classic picture of the climb with Mt. Whitney in the background.  It was a fun climb and we got the perfect shot.  Afterwards we went to the Tall Wall near the Meat Loaf Campsite.  This was my first 100+ foot lead climb– super nerve racking but the adrenaline was well worth it.  We climbed a little more nearby then went and found a fun chimney but it was nearing 100 degrees and we were tired so we hit up the Pizza Factory lunch buffet in Lone Pine and drove home to nap.  We were finally feeling safer climbing and it was great.  If only we had a few more months to bum around the States we might actually be good!  But this would not be the trip that we became climbing pros, Alex Honnold your title is safe for now.

Climbing Shark Fin Rock in Lone Pine, Californai
Carrie on the Shark Fin, Mt. Whitney in the distance!
Climbing Shark Fin Rock in Alabama Hills, California
Zach up on the edge of Shark Fin Rock
Dirtbag life-19
We love rocks!

Enjoy reading about bouldering Bishop? Stay tuned for tales of our adventures in Yosemite, Northern California, Oregon for the eclipse, and back to Black Rock City for the infamous Burning Man!