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Trip State: California

Death Valley, Sierra's, Anza Borrego, Mojave Desert, ...

Inyo West (May 2024)

I've done a lot of exploring in and around Death Valley National Park, and have spent many a morning watching the sun illuminate the Inyo Mountains from the east. But, I've spent almost no time exploring the Inyo Mountains from the west - Owen's Valley - side. I'm not sure exactly why this has been the case - there's a ton to experience - but I suppose it's due to the fact that it's nestled between the dramatic Sierra Nevada and my favorite National Park. Regardless, I've wanted to drive the Swansea to Cerro Gordo Road - up past the…

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Before and After (Apr 2024)

Making our way back-and-forth from Las Vegas to the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (AZBDR) was a whole lot better than a round-trip from Washington. Still, we had a 10-hour drive to the Mexico border before starting the BDR, and a full day between when we crossed the Arizona-Utah border and our return flight home, so we made the most of it by checking out a few places with some of the most unusual rock art - of one type or another - we've encountered!  

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I've Missed Death Valley (Mar 2024)

It's been more than a year since I last visited Death Valley. Hit hard by Hurricane Hillary, nearly the entire road system of the Park was closed, and it's taken a long time for it to re-open. In fact, even today, many of my favorite trails - the ones that shuttle intrepid explorers to the far reaches of remote valleys - are still closed. I've tried to satisfy my desert appetite with places a little further south in the Mojave, and even the lower lying Colorado deserts, but there's something special about Death Valley for me. I can't take it any…

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Does it Always Snow in Joshua Tree? (Feb 2024)

With the Pacific Northwest winter in full swing, both @mrs.turbodb and I were itching for warmer temperatures and a bit of sun as we planned our trip to the far southern reaches of California and Joshua Tree National Park. I'd visited for my first time almost exactly a year earlier, and this would be an introductory visit for my companion, one I hoped she'd enjoy given the heavy emphasis on hiking - and the nearly-complete-lack-of-driving - that I had planned. Plus, with surroundings composed of rock wonderlands and sunny skies, I Was reasonably confident that we'd be pleasantly entertained. As…

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Wrapping up the EMHT (Jan 2024)

After running the first two segments of the East Mojave Heritage Trail (EMHT) with Mike and Zane last month, and then returning for the third segment with @mrs.turbodb only a week later, it was less of a question of "where" and more a question of "when" my first trip of 2024 would take place. The "where" - of course - would be the final, fourth segment of the 770-mile long route, winding my way through the Mojave Trails National Monument and the Turtle Mountain Wilderness. Segment 1: Needles to Ivanpah - 173 miles Segment 2: Ivanpah to Rocky Ridge -199…

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A Bit More EMHT (Dec 2023)

There was no way we were going to run the entirety of the East Mojave Heritage Trail when we set out to do it at the end of November. At something more than 700 miles long - even without the nearby side-adventures that I added for our enjoyment - it might seem like a Backcountry Discovery Route, but the roads are significantly slower and more technical, and the percentage of on-dirt miles is significantly larger. Frankly, these two things make it easily twice the length of a BDR, not to mention the fact that we were trying to do it at…

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East Mojave Heritage Trail (Nov 2023)

For the first time in five years, the "annual" TacomaWorld trip has morphed into two trips. I suppose, technically, I should call it a trip-and-a-half, given the debacle that became Half a Trip in Montana, but I prefer to see the glass always full (there's always something in there) so we're just going to call it two. The timing of the second trip - in December - clearly ruled out anything up north, so returning to Montana for redemption would just have to wait until next year. Plus, given the unexpectedly good time that we had in Death Valley a…

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Soaring Over the Sierra (Sep  2023)

Green river. Crystal clear. For the sixth time in as many years, I'm headed to a special spot in the Sierra of eastern California to enjoy a few days of wandering, chatting, and relaxation with my Dad. Having found this place more than 30 years ago, it's now the only place he camps anymore. This year - like all the others - would be wonderful even if all we did was hang around camp and enjoy the world around us. In fact, for the last five years, that's been exactly what Pops has done, a hip hindering his ability to cover…

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Siskiyou Crest Adventure Trail (Aug 2023)

With much of our summer taken up with a kitchen remodel - perhaps a non-adventure story that I'll share some details of once we've completed it - and the Tacoma in Washington after we abandoned our non-refundable plane tickets after running the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route (UTBDR) in July, we were looking for somewhere a little closer to home as we started feel the antsy urge to escape to the outdoors. Not having had the time to plan a route - a process I enjoy, but that can consume nearly as much time as a trip itself - it dawned…

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Rock Art Three Ways (Mar 2023)

We didn't plan to go to the Mojave. In fact, I've felt as though - over the last year - I've spent too much time in California, and I've had an urge to find myself back in places like Utah and Colorado. Alas, with a fantastic trip planned to hike the canyons of the Grand Gulch and Cedar Mesa, the weather did not cooperate. Snow - and lots of it - blanketed southeast Utah, rain spread across much of the lowland south. And so, at the last minute, I whipped up an itinerary to the only place I could find…

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My First Time in Joshua Tree (Feb 2023)

In all the years I've been exploring the deserts of southern California, I've never made it to Joshua Tree National Park. The reason - if a little lame - is also simple: it's just too far away. Now, I know what you're thinking - they drive 20+ hours from Washington to Death Valley on a regular basis - and Joshua Tree is too far? Yes. It's a few more hours, and even I have my limits for what are usually 5-day trips where we leave at 8:00am and need to get at least a few hours of sleep before starting the…

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Mine Mania - The Dale Mining District (Feb 2023)

So. Many. Mines. I must admit to not really understanding what I was getting myself into when I started looking into a trip to the Virginia Dale-Pinto Basin Mining District, just east of Joshua Tree National Park. I mean sure, I knew there were a handful - or two - or maybe three - of mines, but nothing really prepared me for the sheer number of sites until we were driving around on the roads. Hundreds - perhaps even thousands - of tailings piles dotted the landscape. In three days, joined (or was it led?) by Mike @mk5, we'd hop…

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Left Behind, Again (Feb 2023)

Almost exactly a month ago, we headed south to Death Valley. Our goal - to explore a handful of places we've left behind over our years of exploration: There are several places that I've wanted to check out in Death Valley for quite some time, but that haven't fit into the route or schedule for previous trips. Hoping to knock off a bunch of those places that I've "left behind," I set about planning a route that would take us along West Side Road and the eastern escarpment of the Panamint Mountains. From there, we'd repeatedly climb into the canyons,…

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Left Behind (Jan 2023)

There are several places that I've wanted to check out in Death Valley for quite some time, but that haven't fit into the route or schedule for previous trips. Hoping to knock off a bunch of those places that I've "left behind," I set about planning a route that would take us along West Side Road and the eastern escarpment of the Panamint Mountains. From there, we'd repeatedly climb into the canyons, exploring the mines, narrow passages, and vistas that each had to share. It would - I thought - be a lot like our trip along the Nadeau Trail,…

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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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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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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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