2/2018: Coastal California, Death Valley, Moab


Went mountain biking in the afternoon on the trails above UCSC. Lots of fun, we stayed in the upper parts and did some loops and exploration of the area.


Went surfing in the morning at Waddell Creek. Swell was low and the surfing here was great. A few peaks off the beach were gathering surfers, and it was easy to get out to them and get rides on chest to head high waves. Tons of fun, left me feeling great the rest of the day as we drove up to Pacifica and then back to Gazos Creek to camp.


Spent most of the day hiking together with Paul, going up to the Big Basin headquarters and doing a loop via the Mt McAbee overlook, Berry Creek falls and the sunset trail. Nice views, good to be back at the park again. Dinner with Paul and Robin afterwards.


In the morning we were rousted from the spot we were camping at by a park ranger, despite the lack of signs and frequent use by hikers and bikers the guy said that no parking was allowed at that spot. Another checkmark in the ‘negative interactions with police’ column. We worked and drove around and had a nice lunch at a dim sum place in San Mateo before going to a hotel near SFO in the evening.


In the morning Lisa flew down to Mexico to see friends, while I returned to the coast. I went surfing at Waddell Creek, more surf than the last time I was here but I still got a fair number of good rides and had a great time. Worked in the afternoon along the coast from a viewpoint at a high bluff, saw some whales transiting the area.


Went surfing in the morning at Scott Creek. The surf was still up, got some good rides but it was a little bigger than I wanted for practicing. I didn’t stay out long, and afterwards drove into Santa Cruz and surfed at Cowell’s some more. I got there after low tide and there were a lot of surfers and not a lot of waves at the main lineup there, didn’t stay long or get any rides there but went into the beach in front of the Dream Inn where I got a lot of small rides and some good practice with the popup. Afterwards I drove up highway 9 towards Felton and went mountain biking in the area between there and Empire Grade (the same area as the upper UCSC trails). I did a couple laps up to the top and and down, found a nice route to ride up that is almost all singletrack and some fun but very technical descents down.


Went surfing in the morning at Waddell Creek, staying out nearly three hours. The surf had come down from the last couple days but there were still some good sized waves. I stayed inshore and surfed whitewater and smaller waves that made it through to a shelf in waist deep water, continuing to practice popups. This went very well, had about a 75% success rate with 30 successful popups and only a few times I went to a knee instead of doing the proper movement. Afterwards I went mountain biking at UCSC again, doing one lap from the top down to highway 9 and trying another steep technical downhill (looking for something a little more mellow to do with Lisa).


Went surfing again at Waddell Creek, again staying out a while. The surf had come down even more and was able to surf small waist-high waves and continue practicing the popup. I started to practice getting up earlier, as soon as I was on the wave instead of seconds later, with some success. This felt great, I still have a long way to go but am making progress. Worked the rest of the day.


Went surfing yet again at Waddell Creek, staying out a while yet again. I continued to focus on practicing popups on smaller waves, having good success at getting up quickly, having fun and feeling great.


Conditions were blown out in the morning and I went for a short mountain bike ride around UCSC. It was a weekend and trails were very crowded and I was tired so didn’t stay out long. In the afternoon I visited Sean for a few hours, then picked Lisa at the airport and we went to our camp along the coast.


After working in the morning we toured the UCSC Arboretum for a couple hours, went to Henry Cowell to do the redwood grove hike there and check out this neat tree you can crawl inside, then headed to Monterey to camp.


After working in the morning we drove south and went for hikes at the twin coves spot near Monastery and Soberanes Point, checking out some of my old haunts, then headed to Pfeiffer Big Sur SP to camp.


Around noon we went hiking up the trail to Mt Manuel, one of the few trails back into the mountains around here that is actually open. This was a nice hike, with lots of wildflowers and some good (not great) views. Eventually the trail got overgrown and I headed to a viewpoint at 3000′ to see the coast while Lisa stayed a few hundred feet lower, then we returned to the trailhead together.


We went on an emotional rollercoaster for Valentines day. I’d picked some wildflowers on the hike yesterday and made a half-assed attempt at a card, which was very upsetting to Lisa: we had an agreement that I would buy gifts for Lisa on this and other important holidays. We fought, and I froze up, unable to do much for most of the morning. Eventually Lisa tried to start the van to move it somewhere else, but no power was getting to the console and the battery seemed dead. I started the van off the auxiliary battery, but didn’t have a multimeter (old one crapped out a few weeks ago and I threw it away) so we headed up to Monterey to look into things. The battery seemed fine (I think a loose connection somewhere) and to apologize and try to salvage the day we went out for a nice lunch, then to a jewelry store downtown where I bought Lisa a beautiful shark pendant and chain. Things felt really good after this; we drove back to our camp in Big Sur and had a relaxing afternoon and evening. This was a good lesson not just about the importance of this holiday but also that we don’t have to stay mad at each other and can fix things.


We drove south along the highway, seeing McWay falls and some whales out at sea. We turned inland on the Nacimiento-Ferguson road (highway 1 was closed a little further south) and drove inland to Bakersfield to stay at a hotel for the night.


After relaxing at the hotel we drove to Death Valley, camping at one of the Furnace Creek NPS campgrounds.


We got up early to enjoy the morning light, checking out some viewpoints near Furnace Creek and then heading to the Artist’s Drive. We did a couple shortish off trail hikes in this area, and stayed for a while at various spots, working and enjoying the scenery. In the afternoon we hiked part of the Desolation Canyon route, then camped at Slabby Acres. Several friends were here for a canyoneering fest but had a long day and did not get into camp until a couple hours after dark; I said hi but largely rested in the van while Lisa sat around the campfire with them.


We left with our friends in the morning for a fun day doing Coffin canyon. Nice steep but easy to follow approach with some beautiful views, then a largely mellow canyon with some cool views, lots of small lizards, nice rappels including a cool 200′ one. Great evening relaxing with everyone in the van and Everett’s trailer afterwards.


After some more time with friends in the morning, drove to Tecopa where we checked out a couple hot springs on public land and soaked in one of them. Very relaxing, great water, great views, some other friendly folks there. Afterwards we drove to Saint George and camped nearby.


Worked in the morning and drove to Moab in the afternoon.


After working in the morning we went biking at Klondike Bluffs, doing a loop via the Jurassic, Jasper, and Dino Flow trails. Lots of fun, though a little cold.


After working in the morning I went biking by myself on the Slickrock trail, doing the whole lariat loop. Took about two hours with little hiking, lots of fun. Afterwards I went hiking with Lisa along the practice loop there, enjoying the scenery and talking about how to ride it on bikes.


Kind of gross weather much of the day with a snow flurry and cloudy conditions. After working in the morning things cleared up a bit and we went biking together in the Klonzo trail system, doing a 5 mile or so loop along some nice dirt and slickrock trails.


Nice and sunny, after working we did a really nice loop via the Bull Run and Getaway trails, nearly 14 miles, great scenery, definitely a workout.


Lisa wanted a rest day so after working in the morning I went and biked a loop on the Hymasa and Captain Ahab trails south of Moab. These were great trails; Ahab in particular has lots of steep technical drops that are almost all rideable and lots of fun. The ride was pretty severely marred by bike problems. Early on in the ride the freehub started sticking — whenever I tried to coast the cassette would still turn and the chain would get thrown around, onto a different gear or off the cassette entirely. This was really annoying but I eventually was able to make it work and climbed up to the top of the trail ok. I was still coasting the downhills and the sticking was apparently rapidly damaging the internals of the freehub, and around the top of the trail the hub stopped engaging entirely — pedaling would not make the bike go forward. I coasted down the rest of the trail ok, going over the handlebars once (first time in a long while), got back to the road and found myself needing to deal with a few miles of relatively flat road before I could get back to where Lisa was parked (didn’t know exactly where, as we didn’t set a specific place to meet along the road). Rather than walk or push my foot off the road to make progress I tried tying the cassette and wheel together, finding a workable solution on the third try (using some 1/2″ flat webbing I cut off my backpack’s shoulder strap). This worked pretty well and I biked back to Lisa, then we went into town to get supplies to repair the pack and have a shop check out the bike (for which parts wouldn’t be available for another couple days, and since we’re going to leave soon I decided to just keep riding it as a fixie).

Early on in the ride I debated turning around, but am glad I kept going. This ride was more of a learning experience and character building exercise than a great time out, but it’s good to be able to practice riding broken bikes and to internalize the importance of a good repair kit.


After working in the morning we tried to go biking out of north Klondike Bluffs, but I got tired of dealing with my broken bike pretty quickly and went back to the car. I put the bike away, then Lisa continued biking while I ran along with her. Since the trails here are technically tricky I was able to keep up with her pretty easily, and we had a fun time doing a ~6 mile loop on the Dino-Flow, Mega Steps, and Alaska trails. We’ve ridden here a few times in the past and it was good to be back, really nice time with trails at a good level for the two of us and nice views.


In the afternoon we went biking along the Klondike Bluffs road. Since this road is not as technical as the trails yesterday and I was feeling sore I tried using my bike, but a couple miles in the bits of webbing broke and I pushed the bike uphill the rest of the way. Not slowing us down too much, we went to the viewpoint on the Baby Steps loop and then returned. I was able to coast back most of the way. Fun time, some really nice slickrock sections on this road.


Drove to Salt Lake in the morning, then worked etc.

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