Monday, April 25, 2011

Mt. Jenkins Hike

This past weekend I hiked Mt. Jenkins with Luke. It was a nice hike. Even though it's not too hard, I was very sore for the next few days. Must be getting old.

Mt. Jenkins is a 7921 foot peak in the southern Sierra mountains roughly west of Inyokern, CA. We started from the 4wd road trail head in Indian Wells Canyon. Here's a map centered on the parking area. This map is centered on the peak. The weather started off overcast and windy. I wore plenty of layers and needed them at the beginning. Here's my obligatory rover shot, lookup up toward the peak.

By the time we reached the summit, the sun was out. On the way down, we passed several PCT hikers that were bagging the peak. The PCT goes around the mountain about half way up. We also saw several people performing trail maintenance on the PCT there.

The lower half of the mountain had been burned in a recent wildfire. The lack of vegetation left the ground loose and made for slow hiking.

Here are a few more shots from the summit.

This rabbit froze as we approached on our descent.

There were plenty of wild flowers in bloom on the bottom of the hill.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another Post-Recession Book

I've been reading a few books aimed at steering people out of the recession toward a profitable future. Here's the first one I finished. "The Ultimate Money Guide for Bubbles, Busts, Recession, and Depression," by Martin Weiss. It's fairly interesting, athough it is heavy on personal stories about his father's experience during and after the great depression. Also, the book is almost a running advertisement for Weiss' companies ( That's annoying, and leaves me wondering about possible bias in the book's content.

I did find a few useful bits of information in there. Unfortunately, they were so few that I could have simply read them while visiting Borders bookstore (aka, the library) and saved the cost of the book. He has a nice explanation of how to use leveraged inverse ETFs to hedge against your long positions. There's also plenty of advice for buyers of dividend stocks, bonds, life insurance, annuities, and more.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cave Mountain Routes

For grins, I drew the various routes I've hiked on Cave Mountain over the years. Many hikes ended in painful leg or foot cramps. It was my nemesis hill until I finally reached the summit back in December 2008.

Here is my favorite photo I've taken from the summit. It looks down on the traffic on I-15. I wonder if any of the people in those cars ever see the hikers on the mountain.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Hiking Cave Mountain

Once again, I hiked Cave Mountain. This pyramid-shaped peak sits beside I-15 about 20 miles south of Baker, CA and is seen by anyone driving between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The image below is from wikipedia and shows the peak from I-15 as you drive south from Baker.

Here's a topo map with my route shown in green. A few years ago I hiked the blue route with Luke. The green route is MUCH easier. Some day I'll post a map showing all the different routes I've hiked. Many years ago, I hiked the upper section of the green route in 105F heat and turned back before reaching the summit when I ran out of water.

The 4wd trail is in great condition. In all the years I've been hiking around there, that trail has always been filled with deep sand - too deep for me. The wet winter weather must have helped compact it some (I'm guessing here). The weather was nice, with warm temps (80-80F) and calm winds at the bottom, and about 75F with mild winds on the summit. Wildlife viewing was limited to horned lizards and a pair of turkey vultures.

The photo above is taken from where I parked. You can actually see the edge of the flat summit from there. It took me 1 hour 40 minutes to reach the summit and 1 hour 10 min to descend. The photo below is taken from the 4WD trail beyond where it's safe to turn around (without risking rolling the truck due to the soft sand and the incline there). This is looking back down hill toward where I started.

The next shot is also taken looking down hill, but after leaving the 4WD trail and across the open sand. There's constant risk of each step dropping 1 to 8 inches into the sand because the desert animals make burrows in the soft sand and it gives way under your weight. If you're not careful, you can twist an ankle and ruin your day.

The next shot looks uphill after I reached the ridge line.

Here's looking down hill from about half way up the ridge line.

At the top of the ridge line there's a somewhat flat section. Here's the view looking down hill, then looking up hill.

I marked my route in the photo above. The goal is simply to traverse and reach the distant ridge that heads to the summit. Once I got to that ridge, I could look over and see I-15. Those two big cube shaped boulders are enormous. They're about 20 feet on a side.

And here's a shot looking back along the traverse I just made.

Looking southwest, the next shot shows the ridge line that I've hiked several times. It's the blue route in the topo map above.

Now comes the fun part. The pile of boulders below the summit looks daunting from far away, but when you get there, it's easy to see many staircase-like routes up.

Here are a couple shots from the summit.

In that first shot, sections of the desert floor are yellow from the flowers. I stopped to take a photo of them on my drive out.

I enjoyed this hike. It was a good day: not too long, not too hard, not too painful, no cramps, and no rattlesnakes.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Kayland Zephyr Hiking Boots

I finally got around to trying my new hiking boots. I bought the Kayland Zephyr boots several months ago because of their great rating by Backpacker magazine in 2009. I would be more hesitant if I were shopping today, as I've come across several reviews and posts by people who've experienced sole delamination with them. I hope mine can avoid that because they worked well for me.

I hiked Cave Mountain with them. That's a rugged off-trail hike in the Mojave desert on a peak covered in lava-like boulders. You can see the photos in my upcoming post about that hike. When I hike there with trail shoes and light boots, the soles always flex over the boulders and I end up with a cramp in the arch of my foot. Very painful. The Kayland's soles are much stiffer, and I had no cramps.

They did feel a bit tight around the ankle, but I am attributing that to their newness (ok, I didn't really break them in). My foot and ankles showed no signs of excess rubbing or anything else. I suppose the fit will improve with more use.