Tag Archives: sunset

McWay Waterfall Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

IMG_8973Katie and I were hiking on our camping trip in Big Sur. We had just finished exploring all that the Ewoldsen Trail had to offer and had made it back to the parking lot with a few minutes left until sunset. I really wanted to show Katie the McWay Waterfall so we headed towards the ocean.

We easily found the beginning of the McWay Waterfall Trail just past the ranger’s station at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We walked down the short trail dirt path and through the tunnel that goes under route 1 stopping at a T right before a cliff. We turned right and started up toward the overlook.

As soon as we could see the waterfall we stopped. We never made it to the end of the trail as the sun had begun to set and there was a crowd of people standing at the overlook. We took in the sunset, the small cove, and the 80 ft waterfall that fell onto the sandy beach below from where we stood. It was a gorgeous site to see. Possibly one of the best sunsets ever as the sun streaked stunning pinks, oranges and reds across the sky.

The McWay Waterfall Trail is a short .5 mile trek. The trail is great for all ages and every ability level. With a small incline, the cool ocean breeze keeps the walk comfortable even on hot days and there’s a bench at the end if you need a rest before you make your short walk back to the car. Parking is free if you can find a spot on route 1, otherwise park in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for $10.  The waterfall itself is one of the most popular images people see when they think of Big Sur. Almost everyone that has travelled up route 1 has stopped to see it as it’s a must visit place if you are ever in Big Sur. It’s right up there with the Bixby Creek Bridge.

Stellar Jays, Bats, Sunsets, & a Rustic Ski Lodge at Mt. Pinos

IMG_8973My friend Katie and I headed up to the cabin in Mt. Pinos for the weekend and what an experience it was. Mt. Pinos is about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, in the Los Padres National Forest. It is off Route 5 past Pyramid Lake. In the summer it the average temperatures are in the 70’s and 80’s while in the winter it gets a lot of snow. Luckily, we were there in the spring, but it was still very hot.

We left late on a Saturday evening, stopping for a pizza as we got close. As the sunset and the last of the light left the sky the bats came out. It was my first experience seeing so many of them feed I was extremely excited. Walking up and into the pizza shop I kept spinning around trying to see them all and hoping I wouldn’t miss any. The following night I was in for a surprise and was able to watch them for at least half an hour as they had their lavish dinner. They flew sporadically through the sky zipping back and forth and up and down. It was so interesting to watch, I sat there completely captivated by their every move. As each one disappeared I found myself yearning for another to come swooshing past until the last of the light was gone and their feast was complete.

We got our pizza and some beer and finished our drive to the cabin. We arrived very late and struggled to find our way bringing in our stuff in the dark. We settled in and called it a night soon after, making sure to be well rested for our next morning.

We awoke the next morning and it was quite chilly. We headed upstairs, started a fire and put seeds in the bird feeder on the balcony. Soon there were so many Stellar Jays that it was hard to count them. They were gorgeous with their blue and black feathers and their pointy heads. I asked Katie if she ever let them feed from her hand and she said that she hadn’t, but her friend had. I decided to give it a try. I was so nervous the bird might miss and get my finger so I held real still with a peanut in the palm of my hand completely flat. I tried to watch out of the corner of my eye as the bird sized me up to see if I was a threat or going to trap it. It slowly got closer, keeping an eye on me and eventually decided to trust me enough to snatch the peanut. It was so quick I almost missed it as it swooped in and barely even touched me. I can’t tell if it was his wing or the air that I felt on my finger tips it was so fast. The next day I tried again and this time the bird was much slower and one of his friends also took one from my hand too. I can only imagine that if I could do this for a few months straight I could have that bird sitting calmly on my finger tips.

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We made french toast with cinnamon raisin bread that was delicious and topped it with blueberries. The following day we smashed bananas into the egg mix and covered the bread which made the french toast even better. I thought it was so delicious that when I got home I recommended all my friends try it sometime. So next time your home has eggs, milk, cinnamon raisin bread, and bananas in it make some.

We decided to go out for a drive so I could see the area. We checked out the country club and then drove over to Mt. Able where there’s an old ski lodge at a campground. The ski lodge is no longer open. It is all locked up and closed down, but it was interesting to explore the area a bit. With what looks like an old fire pit where people used to stand to get warm, the big lodge, a smaller building which might have been where they rented equipment and another smaller building where people might have changed there was a lot to explore. Oh, and the pine cones were huge! Like the size of my entire hand, all over the ground everywhere. While I was there I couldn’t help wonder what happened and why the ski lodge closed down. I tried to google it when I got home, but I couldn’t find anything about it on any relevant websites.

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We headed back to the cabin and stopped for a moment to take some pictures of one of the strangest things I’ve seen. The trees on the side of the road were standing with half of their root exposed due to the erosion of the dirt from underneath them and down the side of the mountain. Since we were stopped anyway we  hung around to watch the sunset as well. It was stunning as you can see in the pictures below. So beautiful full of yellows, oranges, reds, and purples. We headed to get something to eat but everything was closed so we went back to the cabin, came up with leftovers and then called it a night.

The following day we decided to go on a short hike on a trail not too far down the road from the cabin. We walked to the end of the road and reached the trailhead. The trail was a narrow dirt path with rocks lining the edges making it very distinguishable between the rest of the woods. The trail was surrounded with plant life which also helped and right along a creek. The water was moving extremely slow in the creek which is a great breeding ground for bugs but meant that if we stopped even for a few seconds they were all over us trying to get a taste. We quickly followed the creek until we came to a huge tree laying on it’s side. It looked like someone had been in the area and chopped a bunch of them down and just left them to rot. On our way back I found a huge walking stick with these really cool bug made grooves in it. My plan was to cut it down, remove the extra wood sticking out at the branch sites and paint it with something to make it even smoother. I carried the stick all the way back to the cabin and we tied it into the back of Katie’s truck. It was so big it stuck out the back. I can’t wait to see what the finished project is gonna look like.

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We got back to the cabin, cleaned up the place and then headed home. What a great weekend it was. So many new things to see and try. Who would have thought going to the cabin at Mt. Pinos would allow you to feed Stellar Jays, see bats feed in the night sky, explore an old ski lodge and hiking trail, have amazing french toast and see one of the most beautiful sunsets ever.

A Pizzeria with Class

photo-1414490929659-9a12b7e31907As the sunset and the moon rose over Catalina Island our day came closer and closer to an end. We decided we should eat something to tide us over on our ferry ride home. We searched for something small since neither of us were super hunger and came upon a little pizza shop, Original Antonio’s Pizzeria.

IMG_8968The place was actually really neat inside. It had pictures of all different old celebrities on the walls with their autographs and a huge bison head near the front entrance. I would have liked to sit inside and eat, maybe play a few songs on their table top jukeboxes, but my friend wanted some fresh air. We each got a slice of pizza for a little over $3, there were only two options cheese or pepperoni, and while it wasn’t the best pizza, I’ve had worse.

After we ate we headed over to our ferry. It was dark by the time we left and as we pulled away from the dock a pastor came and sat next to us. We spent half the trip having an inspiring talk with him and he just couldn’t be happier with his life. He’s one of those people that always sees the bright side of every situation and trusts that everything will work out just as it is supposed to when it is supposed to. His relationship with “God,” as he puts it, was just astonishing. He asks, he receives and he is extremely grateful for everything he has. It was a great way to end our trip, truly mind-opening.

An Oasis in Borrego Palm Canyon

IMG_8707I swung by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Foundation Store and Visitor’s Center in Borrego Springs and asked about another hike that my little Honda Fit would be able to drive me to. I was told to check out Hellhole Canyon or Borrego Palm Canyon. Since I was by myself I chose the one with more foot traffic just to be on the safe side. I headed over to Borrego Palm Canyon Campground and drove towards the back where the trailhead is. It was around 3:30pm, so I had about 2 hours before dark to make the 3 miles.

I grabbed a pamphlet at the trailhead which marks different plants, rocks, animals, and waters throughout the trek and started my hike following the clearly marked trail. I took note of two signs posted about bob cats and rattle snakes to my left and quickly made my way to the first point. I stopped to read my pamphlet about the cacti at this location, thinking to make sure I stayed clear of any cacti. I don’t need to be pricked by anything along my journey.

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I continued to point 2, 3, 4, and 5 quickly and thought to myself how this hike was going to be very fast if I kept coming upon the points at this rate. I got a false sense of distance and time spent on the trail as the map I had looked at made them all look  relatively similar in distance from each other.

The sun dropped below the mountain tops around me and after point 5, the points seemed to get farther and farther apart from each other. I was a little nervous I would not make it to the oasis in time to make it back before the sunset, but I continued on. I kept a careful eye out knowing that the cooler temperature might bring out snakes.  Little creatures, like lizards had started to scatter across the path in my way. The last thing I wanted was to come across a rattle snake.

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I picked up my pace a bit and continued to the next points. 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Bees buzzed pasted my head, and more little creatures scattered across my path. My intuition had been right, I came around a bend in the trail and there was a snake. I froze, not sure what to do. I can only imagine that it was as fearful of me as I was of it. It was a dark grey color with a long nose. I didn’t believe it was poisonous, but I had no way to move it off the path. I tossed a stick at it, hoping it would cause it to clear the pathway, but it just stayed where it was. I slowly walked around the backside of it, keeping my distance and made it past without incident. Thinking back to it now, I should have stopped to take a photo of it, but that was the last thing on my mind.

I continued onto point 11. Right before I reached it I could hear the first signs of the oasis being near, running water. I came to where the stream dies out and to my right I could see it, far off in the distance, about a 1/2 mile away, the oasis. A small patch of palm trees peaking over the rocks in the valley of the mountains on each side of me. The excitement ran through my body and I hurried on my journey.

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I came across two elderly couples as I climbed up and down rocks, moving closer and farther from the stream. They said they were the last people that had been up that way, but that they didn’t reach the oasis. I feared there was no one behind me, so I picked up the pace even more, closing the gap between me and the small paradise in the desert. Every bend watching the palm trees grow bigger and bigger.

When I finally reached the paradise there was a small family there getting ready to head back. I observed the small waterfall, palm trees, and beautiful stream. The green lush plants and cool shade made it all worth it. I could have continued another mile or so to a bigger waterfall, but I didn’t have the time. I decided to turn back, quickly catching up to the family that had departed about 5-10 minutes before me.

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On the way back to the trailhead I scanned the mountains for the ever popular and desert animal, bighorn sheep. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park gets its name from 18th-century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word for bighorn sheep. I thought it would be an amazing and nice ending to my trip if I was able to spot one. Unfortunately none were around that day so instead I settled for some beautiful tiny flowers once the trailhead was back in my sights.

I made it back to the trailhead before the sunset, got in my car and headed back to LA. As I drove up over the mountain I watched the sun’s rays stretch across the desert in an amazing board of breath-taking colors. As the last light of the sun left the sky, the stars started to scatter across the sky. I can’t wait to go back and explore more. Maybe spend a night camping under the stars there too.

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Hiking at Iron Mountain

IMG_8050Iron Mountain is a hiking trail in Poway, CA. It is one of the peaks on a small mountain ridge that separates Poway from Ramona. It is a ranked as a moderately difficult 5.2 mile trail which I thought it was relatively easy. There is a parking lot nearby which makes it very easy to access and while I have heard it can become quite crowded it was not during my trip. Also, while dogs are allowed it is not overrun with them which was really nice.

IMG_8059You start out walking under the Iron Mountain sign that clearly labels the trail and down a dirt path which guides you to a beautiful canopy tunnel of trees. Follow these trees and continue out the backside of them to come to the trailhead. From there you hike your first mile and a half over rocks and boulders around to the back of the mountain and to the start of Iron Mountain Peak.

IMG_8060Here you can chose between a shorter less traveled hike or the longer trail leading to the main peak. I chose the harder trail of the two up to the peak. Another mile or so through gently sloping switchbacks bring you to the top where can see the most captivating views ever. You can see everything including valleys, other mountain peaks, more boulders, green bushes, and on a clear day even the city of San Diego. Unfortunately, by the time I made it to the top on the day of my journey the haze had engulfed the peak and it was hard to see thru to the beautiful sites promised.

I trekked down the mountain and on the way back I got to see one of the most stunning sunsets ever. The reds, oranges, yellows, blues and purples were washed together in the most mesmerizing sight I could have ever imagined. It made it all worth-while.

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