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Trip Date: 2022

Year three of a different world; there is nowhere safer than escaping to the outdoors.

Inyo East (Dec 2022)

Preserved as a 205,000-acre wilderness adjacent to Death Valley National Park, the Inyo Mountains rank among the most formidable and majestic mountains in the California desert. Forming the western backdrop of Saline Valley, they rise in just a few miles from an elevation of a little over 1,000 feet at the valley floor to above 11,000 feet. Very few places in the desert are this steep over such distances. From Saline Valley, this abrupt wall appears to be impassable - and it is nearly that. The few roads that make ingress into this sheer wilderness of stone are short but…

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Panamint City via Surprise Canyon (Nov 2022)

Let me share something that may not be obvious given my love for hiking: I, personally, hate hiking with a pack on my shoulders. It's uncomfortable - both while hiking and after - and so rarely do I embark on any journey carrying more than a day pack that rests on my hips. For more than a year I've been trying to get to Panamint City. Despite requiring a 7.2-mile (one way) hike with more than 5,000 feet of elevation gain, trekking to-and-from this ghost town high on the western slopes of the Panamint Mountains isn't the issue. Rather, the…

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Highway Hikes [on CA-190] (Nov 2022)

Generally, when I visit Death Valley, my goal is to explore the more remote regions of the park. Long lost dirt roads, canyons that entail as much climbing as hiking, and days without seeing another soul (with the exception of @mrs.turbodb) - these are the places we spend our time. As such, exploration of Death Valley proper - largely along CA-190 - has been light. Sure, most of the major tourist attractions have been seen, but surely in a place this inhospitable, even CA-190 holds special places that are only infrequently visited. Remote despite their proximity to pavement. With a…

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Hart Homesteads (Nov 2022)

Ever since our first visit to the Owyhee, the high desert of southeast Oregon has delivered trip after trip full of wonderful discoveries and surprises. Still - all these years later and having visited nearly a dozen times - I'm sure we've only scratched the surface. In fact, while we did once find a dirt route between Fields Station and the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, we've rarely explored west of Steens Mountain at the edge of the Alvord Desert. And so, finally, it's time. Having uncovered a few interesting destinations near Hart Mountain over the last couple of years -…

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Lake Hopping the Eastern Sierra (Oct 2022)

The Eastern Sierra. I don't know if they are less well known, harder to get to, or I was just oblivious, but while I've driven past the majestic peaks numerous times - on my way to and from Death Valley - I've never really taken the time to explore the mountain range that boasts the tallest peak (Mt. Whitney, at 14,505 feet) in the contiguous United States. But, over the last few years - as I've ventured into the Volcanic Tablelands, and here and there within the Owens Valley - I've reveled in the rocky faces and snowy peaks. Now,…

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Olympic Peninsula Passages (Sep 2022)

In all of our exploration, we've done relatively little in our home state of Washington. Partly, this is because the weather window here is relatively short each year; partly, it's due to our desire to explore lands further afield; and partly it's due to the landscape. Western Washington is so wet that finding a route that is more than simply a tunnel through trees can be challenging. Roads are quickly overrun with brush, structures rot away in the blink of an eye, and with much of the land owned or leased by logging companies - the roads gated and locked,…

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Me and Mike Climb into the Kootenays (Aug 2022)

Ever since my very first trip - The De-Tour - with the guys from TacomaWorld, we've tried to get together every year for a week or two in order to explore some amazing place and enjoy time around the campfire together. I was lucky back then that Monte @Blackdawg organized the trip in a public thread, and invited anyone who could, to join. This year, after privately planning trips for five years, we tried it again - organizing a trip to the Kootenays in southeast British Columbia, Canada - with the hopes that we could meet some cool new folks…

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Lassen National Forest Discovery Trail (Jul 2022)

Growing up in Northern California, I always thought of "the mountains" as The Sierra. I had no idea at the time that there was another range - one that I'd become familiar with in Washington - The Cascades. Always looking for new places to explore, Northern California has been a challenge. Certainly, there are places, but - at least for me - finding them has been difficult. Stumbling across the Lassen National Forest Backcountry Discovery Trail, I knew it wouldn't be a treasure trove of the absolute best the area had to offer, but it would most definitely scratch the…

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Plumas National Forest Discovery Trail (Jul 2022)

For much of my childhood, summers were spent in the Plumas National Forest. I have such fond memories of waking up in our favorite campground, earning Junior Ranger patches, and fishing in creeks recently stocked with so many fish that the stream bed was obscured by wriggling tails. And yet, when out exploring as an adult, I've spent almost no time in the Sierra, much less the Plumas National Forest. So, it was with great anticipation that we set out to wind our way through on the Plumas National Forest Backcountry Discovery Trail. Like a BDR, we figured this would…

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Wyoming Backcountry Discovery Route (Jul 2022)

July 4, 2022. Just five months ago - almost to the day we set out - the Wyoming Backcountry Discovery Route (WYBDR) was released by the BDR organization. Totaling 967 miles and blocked by snow until summer, it winds through one of the last frontiers in America - some 48% of the state being public land - perhaps the most remote adventure of all the BDR’s created to date. As always, we wanted to run a BDR this summer, and I'd had my eye on Colorado or Utah as both are always beautiful states through which to travel. But the…

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Slowing Down in the Sierra (Jun 2022)

More than 30 years ago, my dad found what is now his only camp spot. For the last five of those, I've been lucky enough to join him at least once over the course of the summer for a few days of relaxation and soaking in of the sights, fresh air, and some staying-in-one-place rather than the usual travels of my adventures. This year - like last - was up in the air for a while. Much of the Sierra National Forest is still recovering from the Creek Fire of 2020, and there are quite a few places that are…

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A Tour of Cabins atop Steens Mountain (May 2022)

I don't know why exactly, but the Alvord Playa holds a special place in our hearts. Perhaps it's because it was the first big playa that we ever drove out onto and camped on. Maybe it's due in part to the history around the women's world speed record and our search for the final tracks left by Jessi Combs after her death there several years ago. At least partially, it's due to the surrounding landscape - full of hot springs, old mines, vast ranches, and of course, the ever-present Steens Mountain. We've ventured onto Steens Mountain before, trying to make…

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Owyhee Out-and-Backs (May 2022)

I always look forward to the changes of spring. Warmer weather pushing north means that the snow melts, opening up more places for exploration. For a short time, everything seems so green and colorful. Flora showing off their brightest colors to the world - perhaps with the exception of fall aspen - celebrating the longer days with enthusiasm. Usually - no matter where I'm headed - I look for routes that are through - or at least loop - routes, giving me as much new terrain as possible over my limited time in the outdoors. That - naturally - leaves…

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Rock Art Overload - Nine Mile Canyon (Apr 2022)

I didn't discover Nine Mile Canyon in my own research. Rather, after posting a story of one of my trips to some fantastic place in the western United States, a reader - Tim - reached out to me to suggest a few places he'd discovered over his years of exploration. At the top of his list was Nine Mile Canyon, and a photo he shared with me was enough to make me add it to my list without any further information. Under a blazing blue sky, a panel of petroglyphs overlooked a green valley surrounded by the patinaed red rock;…

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Oh, So, (San Rafael) Swell (Apr 2022)

I can't really believe that I've been exploring the western United States for nearly five years now and have yet to spend any time in the San Rafael Swell. That's not entirely true - technically. I did camp one night on - what I now know to be - the extreme eastern edge of the Swell, just before a trip into The Maze with Ben @m3bassman and Zane @Speedytech7, but since then, I've never even driven through this amazing place on the highway! This week would change all that. With eyeballs as big as saucers, I set about planning what I…

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250 Miles of Washboard - Bradshaw Trail (Mar 2022)

For a couple of years now - ever since I read a trip report from Mike @mk5 - I've wanted to drive the Bradshaw Trail. Located in the southern California region of the Sonoran Desert, it traverses some 85 miles of desert - from the Salton Sea to the Colorado River and the La Paz region of Arizona. The Bradshaw Trail itself though, isn't the highlight of and adventure like this. In fact, the original route that those seeking gold in La Paz travelled is - today - a wide gravel road. Sometimes* well graded, it purposefully picks follows the…

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Almost Stranded (Mar 2022)

For the last four months, my sole destination has been Death Valley. This would be my sixth trip to the National Park, and with temperatures warming up elsewhere, likely the last visit of the season. I couldn't wait. Ever since December, when I'd ventured up Pleasant Canyon and South Park on the Back for More trip with my buddies Mike @Digiratus, Zane @Speedytech7, and Monte @Blackdawg, I'd been trying to get back. I'd planned an entire trip around that loop in early January, but snow levels turned out to be low at the time, and we were forced to change…

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Hiking Saline Valley (Jan 2022)

More and more I've found that I enjoy hiking more than driving in Death Valley. Getting out into a canyon, walking across the desert, hiking up a sand dune - these are the times when I really find joy in the beauty of this grand place. And so, for the fifth time in two months, I'm headed back. The plan this time is to hike for three days, to three very special places - places that not many people visit, and that I'll do my best to keep a little more obscured than normal. if you find them, I encourage…

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Lipstick on the Pig (Jan 2022)

Exploring Death Valley during the winter months is usually a good choice. Given the wintery-cold temps and snow elsewhere, the relatively cooler - but still pleasantly warm at 60-75°F - days in the desert a welcome break from the dreary days in the Pacific Northwest. It was with this in mind that I decided to plan a trip to the southwestern Panamint Mountains to explore the area I'd discovered along the Pleasant Canyon-to-Lower Park loop on my previous trip just a month before. We'd rushed that section a bit - completing it in about four hours, and I hoped that…

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