Blind Bully

Blind Bully

Adventures and Gear
  • Work In Progress: Ten Days on the John Muir Trail

    ten-days-on-the-john-muir-trail-by-Blind-Bully-1

    The John Muir Trail’s 220 miles are the cream of the Sierra Nevada. There isn’t a wasted moment from when the trail rises above the calamity of Yosemite Valley till you top out on Mt. Whitney and descend down the 99 switchbacks to Whitney Portal. The all-star roster includes: Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, Devils Postpile National Monument, John Muir Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon Wilderness. Sightings included: White-tailed Jackrabbit, American Pika, Mule Deer, Yellow-bellied Marmot, a few grouse, and plenty of birds and trout.

    Trip Logistics, Gear, Food, and Training »

    Siuslaw National Forest | Sweet Creek Falls Trail

    Sweet-Creek-Falls-Trail-Siuslaw-National-Forest-by-Blind-Bully 1

    Last week my friend moved to Portland, OR and asked if I’d join him on the drive north. Having never been outside of Portland, while in Oregon, it didn’t take much arm twisting. We set off after the Bay Area rush hour had subsided and aimed towards Eugene, OR (originally the target was crater lake, but snow was forecast which, given our mode of transit, was a deal breaker). The sun had set by the time we reached Eugene, so we made a quick stop for dinner, grabbing massive plates from Tasty Thai Campus and I hopped on my phone to search for a day hike for the following morning before we lost cell service. We were looking for a short hike that would give us a feel for the Siuslaw Forest without being too much of a detour on our journey. Unfortunately the Siuslaw National Forest’s website doesn’t facilitate hike discovery as the hikes are presented as a long list of arbirary organization, rather than a map or popular hikes. Thankfully we soon came across the Statesman Journal that had something a bit more useful: Top 5 Hikes in Oregon’s Central Coast Range.
    After a dry and restful sleep beneath the pitter patter of rain falling on the Budget Truck’s sheet metal roof we set off down the Sweet Creek Falls Trail. The Siuslaw is a lush, beautiful forest thick with ferns, western hemlocks, Douglas firs, and aspens. The lichen is also incredible, draped and dripping over skeletons of trees both dead and alive, creating a haunted aura. And of course the Sweet Creek Falls Trail has a multitude of beautiful waterfalls ranging from full-width, straight-edge, slab drop offs, to tall 40+ foot chutes to smaller rambling rapids.
    Learn more about Siuslaw National Forest at fs.usda.gov where there are downloadable maps and a long list of hikes.

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    Sequoia National Park | Pear Lake & The Watchtower

    Sequoia National Park Pear Lake by Blind Bully 1

    Sequoia National Park is the perfect halfway point between LA and SF for those looking to rendezvous in the Sierras. There are numerous excellent hiking trails and on this trip we chose to day hike to Pear Lake along the Lakes Trail, backtracking along the same trail, with the incorporation of the the Watchtower Trail as an alternate midsection.
    The weather was cold and rainy at camp, but turned into our first snow of the season at higher elevations. The clouds provided a low ceiling and moved rapidly up the valleys, dramatically revealing the beautiful landscape through soft windows.
    We rested for lunch at Pear Lake, the midpoint in our hike, where the stillness of

    the surface created a serene, almost magical atmosphere. Not surprisingly we weren’t the only ones with this plan and towards the end of lunch we exchanged cameras with another friendly party comprised of SF & LA folks for group portraits.
    On our return along the Watchtower Trail our jaws dropped as we came around the bend and saw the thousand foot cliff stretching down to the valley floor. With no reason to resist we took a detour and clambered along the ridge to the point of The Watchtower, only to find ourselves in a relentless cloud—thankfully we’d already seen the cliff as it had been clear when we arrived.
    Learn more about Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP at nps.gov/seki

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    Pinnacles National Park | High Peaks Trail

    High Peaks Trail in Pinnacles National Park

    Rising out of the miles of artichoke and strawberry fields tiling California’s Central Valley, Pinnacles National Park is an escape to golden grasses, live oaks, rolling hills, and beautiful rock formations. The west entrance is only open during daylight hours and doesn’t allow camping, which might not be good for the park’s attendance, but those who take the time are well rewarded with tranquil trails and expansive vistas.
    This trip coincided with the Supermoon, an event in which the moon is full while at the closest point to earth in its elliptical orbit. NASA notes that “nearby perigee moons are about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the Moon’s orbit.” This makes for amazing moon-lit night hiking on trails exposed to the sky. It feels more like hiking beneath a weak

    desaturated sun casting a silver light with incredibly deep shadows than a moon. So much so that there is the unconscious avoidance of looking directly into the glowing disk to protect one’s eyes, although unlike looking at the sun, it is possible to adjust to the intensity of the light and view the moon’s beautiful surface texture of craters and contours. Hiking the bare ridge lines of Pinnacles National Park on the High Peaks Trail is the perfect way to observe a Supermoon’s brilliance during a cool summers night.
    The peaks are home to a variety of birds, including many turkey vultures near the peaks and a few cliff swallows whose nests attach to imperfections in the rock face.
    More information can be found at nps.gov.

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    Yosemite National Park | Clouds Rest & Tuolumne Meadows

    View from Clouds Rest Peak, Yosemite National Park

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    Grand Canyon National Park

    Sunset in Grand Canyon National Park

    The Grand Canyon is aptly named, but beyond the depth and breadth of the span, there is a stillness and quiet found on the trails that can’t be captured in photos. Edward Abbey introduced me to the notion in Desert Solitaire in which he reflects on a summer in Arches National Park. Southwest heat brings time to a crawl. When the sun is high the critters sleep with no movement save for the occasional crow or vulture half dozing on rising thermals. The feeling is exacerbated when stumbling across a rusty steel wheelbarrow brought to the canyon for copper mining in 1893, but long since abandoned to the dust. Such a reticent world is so foreign and rare it feels almost uncanny, and thus such a respite to level the keel is all the more welcome.

    And for photographers there is a depth like no where else. As the sun begins to set the harsh light transitions into a warm glow revealing a gradient of discrete, jagged layers of earth created by the repeating buttes and mesas formed by the wandering Colorado. The palette stretches from depths already black in shadow, swatch by swatch, to the raw intensity of the sun before repeating, softly mirrored in the clouds.

    Photos were taken from the Desert View Outlook, Grandview Trail, and Page Spring Spur off Redwall Trail. It’s recommended to begin at first light to avoid the worst of the midday heat. Learn more at nps.gov

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    Mapped: Hike Breakneck Ridge Trail + Visit Dia:Beacon

    Breakneck Ridge Hudson Highlands New York

    Breakneck Ridge to Dia:Beacon route on Google Maps.

    In the penultimate train car, at 10am on a Saturday, I rose to my feet eager for the next stop. As we approached it became clear that I was not the only New Yorker trading the city for the woods on this weekend in September. The leaves had yet to begin to turn, but the sweet smell of fall was already lingering on the

    morning’s perfect, cool, crisp air. As the train slowed to a stop, a queue of roughly 75 hikers formed between the last two train cars. Two by two we hopped down onto the wooden Breakneck Ridge platform and reflexively took a deep breath while looking up from forest to partly cloudy sky.

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