Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Tag

Hiking To Ouzel Lake: Rocky Mountain National Park   7 comments

Wish you had time for one more hike this summer? That’s how I was feeling … but Jason Hussong wrote about his hike, and it’s pretty spectacular. I enjoyed tagging along through his words and pictures, posted on Jason’s Travels. Hope you will, as well!

Go to his blog post, here.

Ouzel Falls, in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Jason Hussong.




Dead Giant Loop   4 comments

Here’s one of the easier hikes in the Sequoia National Park. Go past the Grant tree parking lot and take the Sunset Trail to the sign for this easy loop hike.

Posted July 28, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Sunset Trail   4 comments

Go to the end of the parking lot for the Grant tree … and you’re on the Sunset Trail. It’s an easy downhill hike … and an easy return uphill!

Posted July 27, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Panoramic Point   4 comments

Panoramic Point overlooks Hume Lake in the Sequoia National Park.

Continue past Grant’s Grove, and then turn right towards the Crystal Springs campsite. Don’t turn into the campsite, just continue on the road up the mountain. Park at the small parking lot at the top of the mountain, and then you have a 350′ paved trail (which was being upgraded to an all access trail while I was there) to get to Panoramic Point.

Wish the day was not so hazy!


Posted July 22, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Lookout Trail   6 comments

In the Kings Canyon National Park, above the Crystal Springs campsite, you’ll find Panoramic Point … drive there. Then, there’s a 3 mile out-and-back trail to a Ranger lookout tower which is a lovely hike. Do the whole trail … or hike until you’ve had your fill, and then return.

I did this hike on day 1 of my campout, and did not see a single soul on the trail.


Ten Essentials   1 comment

Here we are on a day hike at Yosemite in 2007. Yes, we carry the Ten Essentials!

Here we are on a day hike at Yosemite in 2007. Yes, we carry the Ten Essentials!

Spring is upon us … and it’s time to go tromping into the back country.

I’ll never forget the time a group of boys & Dads from our church decided to do the Half Dome trek in Yosemite National Park as a day hike. (note to self: don’t do THAT again). It’s a 20+ mile hike, and the technical term for this hike is that it’s a butt kicker. Many, many people do this hike in season; it’s one of those “gotta do it” hikes in California.

While on the trail, our group caught up to a young boy, about 13 years old … and his parents had sent him alone on this trail with a bottle of water and a peanut butter sandwich. I often think about that young man. I don’t know how close he got to Half Dome, but I know his parents failed in their responsibility that day.

Hiking is something that the Boy Scouts do very well, and so it’s timely to consider the Ten Essentials that Boy Scouts take on every hike. You should do the same thing … they just might save your life.

  1. A Pocket Knife: You don’t need a weapon, but a small folding knife can help you do many things … including opening that tough bag of beef jerky you will want to bring. I prefer a Swiss army knife. Some like lock blades or multi-tools. Your mileage may vary.
  2. A First Aid Kit: You just don’t know when you’ll need this. Moleskin is great for ill-fitting hiking boots that rub you the wrong way … duct tape can do in a pinch as well.
  3. Extra Clothing: It’s a pain, I know, but you need to layer up. It gets cold at altitude, even in the summer.
  4. Rain Gear: You need a poncho. You need a poncho. You need a poncho. See # 3.  A sudden cloud burst, you’re cold and wet and you will not be having fun – especially if you have whining kids that you haven’t done a good job preparing for the trail.
  5. A Flashlight: I used to swear by Mini Maglights, but now I prefer LED headlamps. And yes, take extra batteries.
  6. Food: Nothing tastes better than a good meal in the back country. And if you burn enough calories, you can eat trail mix without gaining weight (something you can NEVER do sitting on the couch).
  7. Water: Some like Nalgene bottles, others prefer Camelbacks … which can provide the little backpack you need to carry everything. If you’re out for any length of time, you need 2 quarts of water. If it’s hot, plan appropriately.
  8. Matches: Don’t start a fire unless you have a permit.
  9. Sun Protection: The sun is fierce if you’re hiking at altitude.
  10. Map & Compass: You need to know where you are and how to get to where you’re going. A GPS is great, of course, as long as you know how to use it, and have extra batteries. And it doesn’t fall in a creek.
Half Dome is one of the most beautiful sites in California.

Half Dome is one of the most beautiful sites in California.

You may also want to carry

  • Insect repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • A camera & lenses, up to the amount of weight you want to carry!
  • Water purification system – you need to stay hydrated, and if you’re not carrying enough water to drink until your safe return, then you’re in trouble without pure water
  • A walking stick or trekking poles (which can double as a monopod for the camera) – which will ease the pressure on your knees. But please, please, do not use unprotected metal tips on rocky trails, as they will mark the rocks
  • Nylon cord (great for rigging a shade structure with your poncho)
  • A watch
  • Any medications you are to take, if they’re not in your first aid kit
  • Extra socks – if you are blister prone, it’s wise to be careful
  • Swimsuit – If you like to swim in the wilderness, you need to wear a swimsuit
  • TP & a trowel
  • A whistle

Everyone should carry their own gear! Adults, you do not carry the gear for the kids. They get to be responsible for their gear – it saves you the weight, and teaches them something about hiking.

Remember … take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints!Yosemite creek

Ultimate Family Event   2 comments

When you set a goal, it should be challenging.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  If the goal is easily, quickly obtained, then it’s not a good goal.  Don’t waste your time “working” to meet a goal that you can do with your eyes closed.  When you’re going to go to all of the trouble of saying you have a goal, working towards it … make sure that it’s worth the effort so that when you get there, it’s going to be worth the effort to celebrate!

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

In business, it has been called a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  If you can get every member of your organization to buy in to a seemingly impossible goal … then you can achieve amazing things.

Setting big goals isn’t a new idea, of course.  It’s a pop culture phenomenon, too: got NASA to help him premiere his new song, “Reach for the Stars,” which became the first song broadcast from another planet when it was beamed back from Mars this year.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Why they say the sky is the limit

When I’ve seen the footprints on the moon

And I know the sky might be high

But baby it ain’t really that high

And I know that mars might be far

But baby it ain’t really that far

Let’s reach for the stars

What’s this got to do with the Ultimate Family Event, you ask?  EVERYTHING!

Our family tradition was to go camping every Memorial Day in the sequoias.  There’s a pair of adjacent National Parks, the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, that are about 5 hours north of Los Angeles.  Our family built big memories there.  When we went camping one year, we had to set Lauren’s playpen up in a snowdrift (it is not warm in May at 7,000 feet!).  Another year, the kids got their first (unsuccessful) fishing experience.  We explored caves.  We saw really, really big trees.  Every year we did it, and every year it was great.

The Mowry family, ready to GO! Kings Canyon National Park, 1995.

In 1995, I wanted the family to go hiking.  By this time, Christopher was well into Boy Scouts, Michael was a Bear in Cub Scouts … and our Cub Scout Pack regularly went hiking locally.  But it was our big annual vacation in the Sequoias, and I wanted to push the envelope.

Two things happened during this vacation that became legendary in the family.  The first was Velda’s immortal announcement during our first dinner, “Look at that big dog!”  The “dog,” of course, was not a “dog,” it was a “deer.”  And so began Velda’s reputation for, uh, having trouble identifying wildlife.

The important thing that happened, though, was that we had a wonderful hiking experience.

It was in Kings Canyon National Park, and it started, appropriately enough, at “Road’s End.”  From there, we did a 9 mile loop hike to Mist Falls, which is the entrance to Paradise Valley.  Sounds gorgeous, right?  Yup.

John Muir is famous for his love of and passion for the California wilderness. His packing advice couldn’t have been simpler: “Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” I don’t think he was traveling with a 5 year old, however.

Here’s the hitch:  Lauren was 5 years old.

5 years old.  9 mile hike.  At altitude.  Really?  Yup.  Let’s reach for the stars.

That was our family’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  We began talking about this hike weeks in advance.  The kids were always excited to go to the Sequoias, and were absolutely excited about the big hike we had planned.  They wanted to go.  They wanted to see Mist Falls.  We were going to conquer a 9 mile hike, and we were going to do it together with a kindergartner.

The morning went great.  The forest was lovely, the trail very well maintained, the King’s River was splashing merrily along with snow melt.  It was really a gorgeous hike.  We had lunch on the granite rocks overlooking Mist Falls.

And then it began to rain.   We were about 4 miles from the car.  This was a great mountain rain, with a quick temperature drop of 30* and grand claps of thunder in the thin mountain air that sounded like the world was ending.  There were guys on the trail in shorts & a t-shirt that were fighting hypothermia as they ran for their cars … which were 4 miles away.  “Road’s End,” remember?

The Scouting motto was and is key to our preparation for family outings.  Be prepared, indeed.  We had layers of warm clothing, and we had ponchos for everyone.  The temperature was not an issue, and the rain was not an issue.

Except for our kindergartner.  The poncho was actually too long for her short legs.  She had to be very careful; it was often a trip hazard when walking uphill.  She had to hold the poncho up, or it would drag on the ground.  No problem.  She looked like a yellow ghost as she chewed up miles of trail in the rain.

Did she hike 9 miles — 4 in the rain?  Absolutely.  There was never really a question in anyone’s mind, and the family achieved that big, impossible goal.

With poncho held high, the Mist Falls trek proved to be one of the best parts of this great family vacation in Kings Canyon National Park.