Tag Archives: adventures

A Very Glacial Presidents Day

This past weekend I embarked on an outdoor adventure with my friend Nicolas, 7 other guys and 1 (token) gal. We cross country skied 11 miles from Badger Pass to Glacier Point in beautiful Yosemite National Park.

The adventurous crew outside the Glacier Point Ski Hut

Glacier Point is usually a chaotic tourist destination during the summer, with buses dropping off dozens of tourists and an endless stream of cars coming in and out, so visitors can take in one of the most stunning views of Yosemite Valley and the Sierra.

Me, standing very precariously on one of the ledges at Glacier Point (which you can not get to during the busy summer months), high above Yosemite Valley with both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls in the distance

From Glacier Point you get a bird’s eye view of the entire Yosemite Valley. From El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and Half Dome and the great peaks of Mt. Hoffman, Clouds Rest and Mt. Starr King (or Mt. Starr Jones as I like to call it), all the way down to the tiny cars and people that look like ants, scurrying around the valley floor. It was so quiet you could hear the falling water from both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls.

Sitting in front of a sight that never gets old, mighty Half Dome

a beautiful sunrise over the Sierra

After our 11 mile workout skiing to the hut, we essentially had this well earned view to ourselves. We stayed overnight at the Glacier Point Ski Hut (also known as the Glacier Point gift and snack shop in the summer) on Saturday and Sunday nights, and enjoyed a 4 mile snow shoe trek up to Sentinel Dome for a 360 degree view of Yosemite on Sunday afternoon. Sitting about 1,000 feet higher than Glacier Point, the sights from Sentinel Dome extend far into the Sierra, with impressive peak views including Cathedral and Tenaya Peaks, Mt. Conness and Mt. Lyell.

Atop Sentinel Dome with views of the Sierra extending for miles

On Monday morning we skied the 11 miles back out to Badger Pass and concluded our quiet and relaxing but active and laugh-filled weekend.

Compared to a lot of folks, I’ve seen a lot of Yosemite. But this weekend I got to see one of my favorite places in a new way and through a new experience, accompanied by good company and a good workout.

Oh, and let’s get one thing straight. Just because you’ve got significant experience with downhill skiing (and consider yourself quite good) and have even done a little bit of cross country skate skiing, it doesn’t mean you’re prepared to cross country ski (classic style) 22 miles in the mountains. Luckily, I’m a quick learner and can laugh off falls and tumbles pretty easily. :)

All photos credited to the always awesome, Nicolas Smith. All of his photos from the trip can be viewed here.

The garden isle

When my friend Lukasz asked me before Thanksgiving if I was interested in a long weekend adventure on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, it barely took any consideration before saying yes.  As a result of his frequent traveling he had several complimentary nights to stay at the St. Regis in Princeville and as a result of my frequent traveling, I had a plethora of frequent flier miles that I’ve been wanting to use for exploration. It was a no-brainer.

I’d been to Maui and loved it, and have always wanted to go to Kaua’i, which I always heard was considered more remote and suited perfectly for outdoors lovers.

So, with very little planning we booked the trip and this weekend we jetted off to the Garden Isle for a Polynesian adventure filled with hiking, eating, and relaxing.

We ate ahi poke and kalua pork, visited a local farmers market, hiked through some amazing scenery including the amazing Nā Pali Coast (which I’ve been fascinated with since it was featured as the backdrop for Jurassic Park) , soaked in world-class hospitality at the St. Regis, drank lots of Kona coffee, and saw a handful of rainbow-stamped sights including the über impressive Hanakapi’ai Falls and Waimea Canyon.

one of the biggest spiders I've ever seen

hiking on the Kulua trail on the Nā Pali coast

star fruit from the farmers market in Hanalei

hardly able to contain my excitement at Waimea Canyon

Lukasz at Hanakapi'ai Falls, on an 8 mile hike on the Kulua trail

on the Okolehao Trail, overlooking Hanalei Bay

All my photos can be found on Flickr

With awesome trips to Kaua’i and Maui under my belt, my appetite for Hawaiian adventure has been whetted. It’s an easy direct flight from San Francisco, the weather is beautiful, the scenery is lush, the outdoor adventures are plentiful, the food is delish, and the language is English! Derek and Hawaii go together like chips and dip.

So not long after returning home, I started plotting a return trip to the awesome archipelago… next stop? The Big Island! I want to see me some volcanoes.


California adventures

I made the proud realization this weekend that in the six years I’ve lived in California, I’ve done a lot of exploring. I used to have a giant Yosemite trail map with all the trails I’ve been on highlighted. It gave a great visualization for how much of the park I’d seen. I thought it would be cool to map out where all in California I’ve been in a similar way.

I’ve traversed quite a bit of the state and have seen a lot of great California sites. Some of my top highlights include:

  • Redwood National Park
  • Mendocino
  • Trinity Alps
  • Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park (including summit)
  • Yosemite (Half Dome, Cloud’s Rest, Buena Vista Loop)
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Napa and Sonoma
  • Farallon Islands
  • SF to LA on bike
  • Mono Lake, Bodie and the Eastern Sierra
  • Mt. Whitney (summit)
  • Joshua Tree

With that being said, there is still a lot of California I still want to explore, including:

  • Mt. Shasta (summit)
  • Pinacles
  • Devils Postpile
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
  • Death Valley
  • Channel Islands
  • Salton Sea
  • Palm Springs
  • San Diego and the OC

Are you satisfied with how much of your own state you’ve explored?