Peak Bagging: Mount Diablo in Mount Diablo State Park, California


Peak Bagging: Mount Diablo in Mount Diablo State Park, California

  • Location: Mount Diablo State Park, California
  • Distance: ~15 miles (loop)
  • Ascent:  1,578 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Route: Mitchell Canyon ($6 parking fee) -> Mitchell Rock Tr -> Eagle Peak Tr -> Bald Ridge Tr -> North Peak Tr -> Summit -> Juniper Tr -> Deer Flat Rd -> Mitchell Canyon Rd.

After climbing Coyote Peak and being surrounded by such lovely wildflowers, I realized that I had a very short period of time to enjoy that on one of the Bay Area’s largest mountains, Diablo Peak in the East Bay. On a whim one morning, I left home at 6am to climb Diablo while it was still green. And green it was.

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Peak Bagging: Coyote Peak in Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, CA

Miner's LettucePeak Bagging: Coyote Peak in Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, CA

  • Location: Coyote Peak, Santa Teresa County Park, California
  • Distance: 3.5 miles (loop)
  • Ascent: 600 feet
  • Difficulty: Medium

I’ve started thinking about climbing Mt. Shasta again, and with that in mind, decided to climb every peak (and “peak” as some are piddly) in the Bay Area as training. There are a lot of amazing climbs to be had here (Mt. Tam! Mt. Diablo!) but I decided to start small with Coyote Peak, located close to my home in Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, California.

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Hiking the John Muir Trail: Gear List


One of the most important things you can do when planning a long distance backpacking trip is ensure that you’re hiking with as little weight as possible. It’s hard to leave creature comforts at home (“but mom, I neeeeed that fancy cookset”), but every step that you take is going to be significantly more painful with every extra pound you take along.

I’ve forced myself to go ultra-lightweight when I scored this lovely backpack at a REI garage sale the other day:


The REI Flash 52. Which is apparently not a backpack you want to bring more than 30 lbs with, but is a great, lightweight pack for anything less. So the challenge is on!

Here’s my list so far:

Gear Name Weight in lbs Weight in oz
Backpack REI Flash 52 2 lbs. 15 oz. 57
Pad Big Agnes Insulated Q Core 1 lb 16
Sleeping bag Mountain Hardware Ultralamina 32 1 lb 15oz 31
Headlamp Black Diamond? 3.9 oz 3.9
Nalgene Nalgene 3.5 oz 3.5
Water bladder Camelbak 100 oz 6.5 oz 6.5
Mug Summit to Sea X Mug 2.4 oz 2.4
Spoon Light My Fire Spork 0.2 oz 0.2
First Aid Kit Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight / Watertight .7 First-Aid Kit 8 oz 8
Camera iPhone 5s + case 3.95 oz + 1.05 oz 5
Hiking poles ? 1 lb 4 oz 20
Towel REI MultiTowel Lite Small Towel 0.75 oz 0.75
Sunscreen Neutrogena Sport 4 oz 4
Pee funnel Sani-Fem Freshette Feminine Urinary Director 1 oz 1
Hand sanitizer Purell 0.40 oz 0.4
Bug spray Jungle Juice 0.40 oz 0.4
Bear canister lil sami 1 lb 5 oz 21
Kettle GSI Outdoors Hae Tea Kettle 5.8 oz 5.8
Tent Big Agnes Flycreek UL2 2 lbs. 5 oz. 37
Camp shoes Hacked sleeping pad 1.1 oz 1.1
Pillow Exped Air Pillow UL 1.6 oz 1.6
Maps John Muir Trail Map-Pack: Shaded Relief Topo Maps 3 oz 1
Knife ? (perhaps get multitool?) 3 oz 3
Soap Sea to Summit Citronella Wilderness Wash Soap 1.3 oz 1.3
Toilet paper
Emergency matches
Duct Tape (on poles)
Spot or PLB
Chapstick with SPF


The above is coming in at ~15 lbs.

Then, there are a couple choices I need to make:

Water filter Platypus Gravity Works Bottle Kit 9.5 oz 9.5
Sawyer Squeeze 3
New stove? 3.9 oz 3.9
Stove fuel ? 3.5 oz 3.5
Super cat stove 0.75 oz 0.75
Denatured alcohol 8-16oz 8


I already own the Gravity Works, but could save 6.5 oz if I get a Sawyer Squeeze. But I really, really love my Gravity Works. Not sure yet if I want to buy even more gear.

I also need to get a new stove, so I’m considering this highly rated stove on Amazon. But I’m only bringing a kettle since I’ll just be heating water for my meals, which works really well with a kitty food can stove. But the denatured alcohol looks to be heavy, canceling the savings? That said, not even sure I have the stove fuel weight right in the above table either.

I’m also considering bringing a SPOT or a Personal Locator Beacon for emergencies, but that adds to the weight as well.

The unfortunate thing is that my gear list so far, including anticipated food and full 3L of water is coming in at 32 lbs. Right on the edge of being too heavy for the Flash 52.

Any thoughts on these decisions, or on any other gear I’m planning on bringing?

Oh, and a bit of an update: like a dork, I wasn’t able to get a pre-season Wilderness permit for the John Muir Trail (because I totally didn’t realize that I needed to be ready in early February to score a permit for early August — d’oh!) I’m resolved now to get a permit the day-of or day-before my planned date as recommended by Reddit, meaning I’ll have to wait in line from 5am until 11am, but if that’s what I need to do, then so be it. Don’t be like me and miss the permit deadline!

photo credit: SteveD. via photopin cc

I Climbed Half Dome in the Dark — Photos, How-to and Tips

I Climbed Half Dome in the Dark — Photos, How-to and Tips (5)

  • Location: Half Dome, Yosemite, California
  • Distance: 15.7 miles (out and back)
  • Ascent: 4,800 feet
  • Difficulty: Extremely strenuous

A few years ago, I had the magical experience of climbing Half Dome — but not just any ol’ Half Dome hike; we started at 3am in order to catch the sunrise at the top. There are a ton of great reasons why you should do this: cooler temperatures, sunrise views, and almost most important of all, less crowds.

Here’s some of the photos from this awesome hike, and at the end, I’ll relay some of my tips and recommendations if you want to do the same trip.

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Hiking Herring Creek Road, Stanislaus National Forest

Hiking Herring Creek Road, Stanislaus National Forest (1)

  • Location: Herring Creek Road, Stanislaus National Forest, Strawberry, California
  • Distance: 3.3 miles (out and back)
  • Ascent: 521 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

The last of our big hikes from my New Years trip to my cabin in the mountains (see hike #1 and hike #2 respectively), this started out a bit eventfully — we initially drove up the mountain to see where the road closed (which turned out to be kind of lame and boring, thought there would be more to see), we then drove down to where we initially wanted to hike, and turns out the entire area was taken over by a sledding hill with no real way of getting to the hiking trail (not to mention we were wearing hiking clothes, not snow boots.)

It was getting late and I was worried about getting home before dark, and turns out I shouldn’t have worried at all — we found another hike (really, a fire road where people go four-wheeling, but I’ll take it), and it turned out to be super lovely, especially with the sunset.

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Hiking Sugar Pine Railway, Stanislaus National Forest, Strawberry, California

Hiking Sugar Pine Railway, Stanislaus National Forest, Strawberry, California (3)

  • Location: Sugar Pine Railway, Stanislaus National Forest, Strawberry, California
  • Distance: 4.6 miles (out and back)
  • Ascent: 1079 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

It’s funny how you can visit an area for years knowing about a trail right around the corner. I’ve been heading up to Strawberry to my family’s cabin for five years now, and it wasn’t until this last trip at New Years that we finally expanded our hiking area (maybe it was the lack of snow!) In my defense, I’ve always gravitated towards the nearby Pinecrest Lake trail, and when sticking close to home, we tended to walk the backroads and search for mushrooms.

Right before this trip, we were walking one of the roads when I saw a sign saying, “Do not enter, trail 300 feet ahead.” What? A trail? And lo and behold, 300 feet ahead, there were indeed trail markers and a well-defined (and well-used — am I really the last to know about this?) trail heading down the hill.

A couple weeks later, friends and I finally explored this new trail, which turned out to be the Sugar Pine Railway trail, where a railroad used to be and taken down in the ’70s.

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Hiking Strawberry Peak, Stanislaus National Forest

Hiking Strawberry Peak, Stanislaus National Forest

  • Location: Strawberry Peak, Stanislaus National Forest, California
  • Distance: 4.1 miles
  • Ascent: 767 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Alas, didn’t take many photos of this hike near my cabin in Strawberry, California. I’ve heard about Strawberry Peak from family who had climbed it before (and “climb” is kind of a poor term, since it’s really just walking up a hill.)

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Happy New Year! 2014 Plans & Resolutions


All in all, 2013 was a rather sucky year for outdoorsy stuff — I was so overwhelmed with things at my startup, WeddingLovely, that I pretty much stayed home and worked all year long (though, it was a great year for traveling, I can’t forget my three month trip through Europe.)

I started this blog in order to encourage me to go outside a bit more, and 2014 will hopefully be a big year for new outside adventures.


  • Repeating myself: spend more time outdoors! Hiking, biking, climbing, etc.
  • Lose weight and get in shape (of course, right?) While I’m able to do most things I want to do, I’m still ridiculously out of shape. I can hold a plank for maybe 45 seconds. My shoulders and upper back are weak enough that I can’t hold a full plank (arms extended) for a minute. I have enough endurance to climb mountains, but not continuous enough that I don’t need to take breaks all the time.
  • Learn new skills — surfing, snorkling (though these two I might want to wait until I’m in an area with warmer waters, thanks Pacific), or something else.


  • Climb Shasta and actually summit. 
  • Take a week long rafting guide course. I love rafting and almost quit everything to become a rafting guide a few years ago. While I don’t want to quit everything this time around, I do want to spend a week just rafting and learning how to guide — just in case.
  • Do the entire John Muir Trail. 2-4 weeks of continuous hiking. Something I’ve wanted to do for years too.
  • Climb Half Dome again, either with the JMT trip or on its own.
  • Maybe, maybe do a road trip this year to visit family in Ohio, as well as seeing Zion National Park, Arches National Park, and Boulder, CO on the way (and maybe Banff on the way back.)

I’m hoping that 2014 will be a huge outdoorsy year for me! What are your plans? Anything fun scheduled for 2014?

Hiking Quicksilver County Park: McAfee Entrance

Hiking Quicksilver County Park: McAfee Entrance (22)

  • Location: Quicksilver County Park, San Jose, California
  • Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate (due to hills)

One of my favorite places for a good hike and workout is Quicksilver County Park, literally a hop-skip-jump from my house. This was my first real hike after getting back to the Bay Area from my Europe trip (and first hike since the glorious Black Forest hike.)

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Climbing Mt. Shasta: Review of my 2009 Attempt

Climbing Mt. Shasta: Review of my 2009 Attempt (41)

In 2009, I attempted a summit of Mt. Shasta. While it’s one of the easier mountaineering experiences with minimal technical parts, we didn’t top out. I’m planning on attempting the climb again this Spring, and thought it would be great to publish my experiences and photos from the last attempt as a review!

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