Hawaii Volcanoes National Park & Big Island (January 2017) - Kilauea Volcano, Chain of Craters Road, Thurston Lava Tube, Kilauea Iki Crater, Holei Sea Arch, Mauna Kea, Akaka Falls State Park, Laupahoehoe Beach Park, Waipi'o Valley, Hapuna Beach, Kohala Mtn Road, Lapakahi State Historical Park, Kona, Hilo
With an afternoon to burn following my climbing and splitboarding adventures on Mount Shasta, Lassen Peak and Mount McLoughlin, I decided to check out Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Being that I was passing through the area after visiting Crater Lake and with plans for a climb and ski descent of the South Sister the next day, exploring yet another volcanic remnant in a state so totally dominated by volcanism seemed like the logical thing to do.
The road leading up to Paulina Peak wasn't plowed yet so there'd be no gazing down onto the crater from above on this visit. However, exploring the Big Obsidian Flow was an unexpected treat and is probably the highlight of the National Monument. If you happen to be in the area, a side trip to visit this relatively unknown National Monument is well worth your time.
Craters of the Moon, to me at least, seems to be a relatively unknown and underappreciated National Monument tucked away in south-central Idaho. I happened upon the monument only after my folks visited there earlier in the spring and suggested that I go have a look for myself. Being that I was en route from Jackson Wyoming, following a climb of Grand Teton to climb Mount Borah (the tallest peak in ID), I naturally found myself driving Idaho's scenic State Route 20 (aka Goodale's Cutoff) towards the town of Arco. For those of you unaware, Arco holds the proud distinction of being the first town in the US to be totally electrified by nuclear power. In fact numerous atomic research facilities dot the desert landscape east of town, all of which bear some resemblance to the much-maligned Hanford site near Washington's Tri-Cities.
A short distance southwest of Arco lies the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Where better to burn an afternoon sightseeing, resting-up and camping the night prior to a Mt. Borah climb? Craters itself is unique in that it reminded me very much of the moonscape-like lava fields on Hawaii's Big Island. Honestly, where else on the mainland do you see such things? From caving in frigid lava tubes, hiking the rim of a long extinct cinder cone, to wandering across a vast and ancient lava flow, it is safe to say that I was pleasantly surprised by what Craters has to offer. Oh, and best of all the monument is not overrun by tourists like the uber-popular National Park a few hours to the northeast!
Agata and I fled the onset of the autumnal Seattle rains for the greener pastures, or more appropriately, meadows of Northern California. We flew in to San Francisco and spent the rest of the day and part of the following day visiting various local tourist attractions before embarking on the 4 - 5 hour drive east to Yosemite. Continuing with the tourist theme the next morning, we gawked at the usual suspects in Yosemite Valley and lunched at Glacier Point before making our way over to Tuolumne Meadows later that afternoon. We spent the rest of the week, despite reservations, sleeping on dirt, climbing, scrambling and generally soaking in the unusual and sublime beauty this land of granitic domes has to offer. By the time Agata's mattress popped (we fixed it), we finally became acclimated to living at or above 8500 feet and waking-up to 25-degree mornings. With the sheer number of quality climbs, reliable autumn weather and relatively inexpensive SEA-SFO flights however, a return visit or two is definitely warranted!
What follows is a collection of photos from various stages of our California trip - from SF, to Yos and back to Seattle.
Redwood National & State Parks (August 2016) - Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP, Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Humboldt Redwoods SP, Avenue of the Giants, Founders Grove, Women's Federation Grove, Rockefeller Grove
Kings Canyon National Park (August 2016) - North Grove, General Grant Tree, Mist Falls
Sequoia National Park (August 2016) - Giant Forest Sequoia Grove, General Sherman Tree, Moro Rock
Coachella Valley (August 2016) - Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Mount San Jacinto State Park
Arches National Park (September 2016) - Park Avenue, Courthouse Towers, Petrified Dunes, Balanced Rock, North/South Window, Turret Arch, Double Arch, Delicate Arch, Salt Valley, Landscape Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch
Canyonlands National Park (September 2016) - Island in the Sky, Shafer Canyon, Holeman Spring Canyon, Green River, Candlestick Tower, Buck Canyon, Orange Cliffs & Grand View Point Overlooks, Whale Rock, Upheaval Dome
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (September 2016) - Gunnison Point, Pulpit Rock, Cross Fissures View, Point Rock, Devils Lookout, Chasm View, Painted Wall View, Cedar Point, Dragon Point, High Point, Warner Point, East Portal
U.S. Route 50 to San Luis Valley (September 2016) - Curecanti National Recreation Area, Gunnision, Monarch Pass, Poncha Pass, San Luis Valley, Spanish Peaks
I made a loop through Yellowstone National Park the day following my Grand Teton climb. A lazy mid-morning start, congestion, bison-crossing backups and afternoon thundershowers all conspired to make this a day where the modus operandi was to hurry through as many attractions as possible before it got dark. I'm not sure what the big rush was to be honest, my spouse notwithstanding, it's not like I had a boss waiting for me back in Seattle. But anyway...
This is my second visit to the park, now as an adult rather than the prepubescent teen standing next to me. Was he just a reflection of my earlier self, hoping like everyone else to start capturing Old Faithful on video moments before its orgasmic climax? In any case, there's certainly a lot to see and learn here in this grandiose and volatile land, but the volume of human traffic circulating through the park is almost too much for me to bear. Below are a few snaps of Yellowstone's popular attractions taken during my rushed one-day loop through the park.
Pacific Rim National Park - Tofino, Long Beach, Cox Bay, August 2000
A combination of photos from a 1999 and 2000 trip to Tofino, BC. The 1999 trip was my second time on Vancouver Island (my first being a weekend with Agata staying at Qualicum Beach, near Nanaimo), and marked my first return to activity after a long and boring rehabilitation following ankle surgery. I remember those first waves I caught at Long Beach as if it were yesterday!
We were accompanied by Karen and Wayne on our 2000 trip to Tofino, and endured some less than perfect weather while there. This time, Agata and I explored the surf north of Long Beach - from Cox Bay to Chesterman Beach. If only the drive wasn't so long, otherwise we'd be back a lot more often. Tofino rocks, eh!
Sraight of Juan de Fuca - Souke to Sombrio Point, September 2001
Agata and I received an all-inclusive stay at a bed-and-breakfast in Souk as a wedding gift, and waited nearly ten months to finally cash it in. On a weekend when I was initially jealous of friends Chris and Dave climbing Mount Shuksan, Agata and I instead went the opposite direction - towards Victoria, BC and the Vancouver Island side of the Straight of Georgia. And while the mountain was still there for me to climb the following Summer, this trip to Souk and up and down Vancouver Island's Juan de Fuca coastline was a most memorable experience and we're looking forward to our next Vancouver Island getaway!