LA Hiking


Someone got a new backpack this weekend.


Though you can’t tell from the picture, she’s a huge fan.

To test it out, we headed out to Griffith Park Sunday morning.

Last week I was listening to an interview with Josh Spector who came in 18th at Badwater this year.  He lives in north Hollywood and was talking about all of the great hill/trail running in LA.  Now I see what he’s talking about.  Miles and miles of trails and roads with only foot traffic.


It is gorgeous.  Crowded on a beautiful Sunday morning, but gorgeous.  And once you get off the main trail onto one of the many smaller trails it’s a lot less crowded.  When (if) I ever train for a marathon again, that is where I am heading (though with a partner…just saw this…)

Time to get exploring.

Kentucky Hike #3: Natural Bridge

You can barely see it, peaking out of the woods.

Location: Powell County (about 50 miles east of Lexington)

Distance: Choose your own adventure (our choice was ~5.5 miles round trip)

Entry Fee: $0

Last Sunday Paul got really amped to go for a hike.  So we got up nice and early, dropped Spike off at daycare (Marsha), and headed east into Powell County.  Which is dry.  So no post-hike beer.

You may remember our last real hike in Kentucky, which pretty much turned me off to hiking here forever.  I am a fan of hiking (see: origin of this blog), but round here it takes some serious convincing that we are going to a heavily populated area with absolutely no hunting within a 100 mile radius for me to go.  Turns out Natural Bridge is like the HOTTEST tourist attraction in Kentucky outside of Derby, which was enough to convince me we wouldn’t be confused for deer.

After a post-drive bathroom break and some superior mullet spotting at the Hemlock Lodge, we headed out on the Original trailhead, then veered off onto the Hoods Branch Trail (the trip from the lodge up to the bridge ranges anywhere from .75 miles-4 miles.)   Our mishmash route was about 3 miles to the top.

This site is adjacent to the Red River Gorge, so the rocks started getting pretty cool pretty quick.

I can’t really speak to this personally, but apparently rocks like this are a rock climber’s dream.

…so of course Paul started up with this.

the whole. hike. up.

We eventually “climbed” our way up to the bridge…

…where the final stretch to get up to the bridge must prevent about 85% of the state’s population from actually experiencing the view from the top.

It is a seriously tight squeeze, I felt a little claustrophobic going through.  I am genuinely curious if anyone’s ever gotten stuck before.

We got to the top and it was…

…completely void of any barriers to keep people from falling off.

This made me nervous.

After that it was back on the trail…

…with a quick stop at the chair lift station to buy some more water from the two teenage kids in their John Deer hats sitting there drinking Ale 8 and listening to country music.

Best job ever.

Then it was down, down, down.

The “stairs” really were that steep.

And…back to the car!  Then, of course, a stop by Miguel’s, the climber hangout, for full pizza with potatoes, mushrooms, and kielbasa.

Holy crap, delicious.

Fun, short hike, nice views, worth the trip to see one of the Seven Wonders of the Commonwealth.

Streak Report–Part II

sausage race finish line…picture via

And now, for the second and final installment of the streak report.  Not a lot of running and minimal biking (because I was in California and did not have a bike with me.)  At least I got to do a lot of this in the sun.

Continued from Part I

Day 13: 1hr 15 min of TRX with sprints in between each circuit

Day 14: 5.3 mile run alone with my music, shins and knee reeeeally got to me

Day 15: 26 mile bike ride (1 hr 30 min).  Also the day I decided to take the next week+ off until my leg stopped hurting.

Day 16 : First day in CA.  3200 swim OUTSIIIIDE!

Day 17 (Christmas): everything was closed.  Did a 5ish mile walk with Paul and Dad in the hot hot sun (I broke a sweat, counting it).

Day 18: 4.something mile hike in the mountains of SB with some old friends (we walked uphill, also counting it)

Day 19: 4000 swim (1hr 15 min, main set: broken mile)

Day 20: 3500 swim (1hr 15 min, long course masters practice in SB)

Day 21: 2500 swim (1 hr, long and easy, hypoxic pull)

Day 22: 3000 swim (1hr 15 min, threw some fast 100s in there)

Day 23: Nothing.  Spent the day recovering from a migraine on the flight home.  Then baked bread.

Day 24 (but actually day 25 bc I started on day 0): (NEW YEARS DAY!) 1hr 30 min ride on the trainer.  Felt like death.

The end.  How anticlimactic.  It wasn’t a complete fail, I only did nothing on 2 of the 25 days, but also not a complete success.  I’m still not running, going to try to start again this weekend.  Fingers crossed….


…is where I was for the past week and a half.  I sat down at a computer exactly once and it was for 5 minutes.  And it was glorious.

The past week, in a nutshell:

xmas in santa barbara (and an xmas dinner in seal beach)

hiking in the mountains

old friends

at old hangouts

a little swimming in the sun

in totally amazing weather

then i headed thata way

to sf

where i spent a lot of time walking

over hills, through familiar neighborhoods

avoiding death monsters

hanging out with super awesome peeps, making great food

and eating (and drinking) it

enjoyed some local music

and local art

culminating in a bridal shower for alix

where my more artistic counterparts took over the job of making the rehearsal bouquet (because I was ruining it) while i went and drank champagne and ate about 30 shrimp before hopping on a red-eye back to kentucky

so long, california. until next time.

happy 2012

Apartment Hike #2 (Part B)

…continued from Part A.

Before we continue, did you know that September 17 is Constitution Day?

Chrissy did.  And did you know that Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution?  Now you do.

From the Inner Sunset we headed into Cole Valley for some uphill. Way, way uphill. Running sounded like a good idea, so that’s what we did.

It was easy.  And by easy I mean painful.  Ferg also figured out that skipping uphill is basically impossible.  From here, it was time for steps…which we also ran up.

These took us to…

Stop #5: Michelle and Dave’s, Mount Sutro.

Dave and Michelle (and Cooper, their dog) had an amazing view and a RIDICULOUS amount of delicious food at their house.  It was fantastic. We arrived sweaty and out of breath, and ended up hanging out there longer than the allotted 30 minutes due to some coordination problems with two other hikers who wanted to meet up (after about an hour we realized that they were waiting for us at Michelle and Dave’s old house across town.  Whoops.)  We decided to meet up with them at the next stop.

Fully fueled on pulled pork, mac and cheese, and brownies, we finally hit the road again.  This next stretch would be one of the longer ones of the day.  Road sodas in hand, we left Mount Sutro and headed down into…a forest.

Yes, really.  This little jungle is nestled right behind Michelle and Dave’s, and is home to the only mountain biking trail inside the city (we actually had to let a few bikers pass by.)  We emerged from the forest for yet another hill…

…and a few more stairs…

…to the top of Tank Hill, for a pretty fantastic cityscape.

(Note: Tank Hill was actually a hill for a water tank, not an army tank.)

At this point we were pretty far behind schedule, so we had to get our move on.  After a handstand attempt at the spot where the water tank used to be…

…we headed downhill (finally) toward Upper Market and passed a minibus that, like Chrissy, understood the importance of Constitution Day.

We successfully completed our first crossing of Market (the main drag you can see in the picture above from the top of Tank Hill)…

…and managed to find a ledge to set the camera on autoshoot and posed for a full group shot.  From here, it was down through Noe Valley to…

Stop #6: Summer and Ryan’s, The Mission

This stop resulted in 2 more hikers, 2 dogs, and a Katy Perry dance party.  But 30 minutes later we were on our way again, through the Mission to…

W-K MARKET!  The same stop we made last year.

Cutty bang time.  This year tasted a lot better, for some reason.*  We continued through the Mission without encountering A SINGLE bacon wrapped hot dog cart (a miracle)…

…successfully completed our first freeway crossing…

…and hiked up to the top of Potrero Hill to…

Stop #7: Ferg’s, Potrero Hill

Quick stop, we met up with 3 new hikers (and acquired another dog) and headed downhill (thank God)…

…to freeway crossing #2.  Completed our second freeway crossing successfully, with some people showcasing their parkour skills down into SOMA.  Counting strollers was long gone, but a few hikers were so happy to be on flat ground again that they just kept on skipping.

As dusk fell, we headed into downtown, crossed Market Street for a second time, passed City Hall…

…and marched straight into the Tenderloin to our old favorite hang out, Harrington’s Pub: where people smoke inside and dogs are welcome (which worked out great for us).  We asked a lady in the bar to take a group shot.

Apparently she’d been hanging out at the bar for a while.  But to be honest, it was probably better than any of us could do at that point.  We finished up our drinks and hit the road again, where we saw…another double decker red bus.  Why these things run through the Tenderloin I will never understand.  This meant only one thing:

Time for The Outsider, another Tenderloin gem.  From here we put on our blinders and made our way up the final hill to our FINAL STOP!

Stop #8: Sherwin & Peterson’s, the Tendernob

Victory.  Pizza and football for everyone.

Finishing time: 8:30pm

Lessons Learned: Carl is the fastest skipper in the group; they won’t let you in to a marijuana store “just to go pee”

Flora and Fauna:  Max, Lani, Cooper, and Huey.

*UPDATE: The Cutty Bang was on ice this year.  General consensus is that’s why it was so much better.

Apartment Hike #2: Skip the City (Part A)

Like, literally.

Some fortunate people with calves like this had an advantage:

Most of us did not.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Location: San Francisco

Distance: 14.04 m

Entry Fee: A good attitude, willingness to walk up hills

Apartment Hike #2 was a massive success…no thanks to me.  A huge HUGE thank you goes out to Molly, Peterson, and Ferg for making this happen.  And, of course, all of the hosts.  Without you, there would be no Urban Apartment Hiking.



  • 30 minutes at each house
  • Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog Carts–duh
  • Red Double Decker Tour Buses = chug a beer at the nearest bar.  5 minutes max.
  • Bay Quackers Duck Bus = shot of the warmest garbage tequila on the dusty bottom shelf from the nearest bar
  • Every time you see a stroller, you get to tell someone to skip.  That person has to skip until the next stroller is spotted, and the skipping gets passed along to someone else.


Stop #1: T. Dude and Eden’s, The Richmond.  Newly engaged.  Champagne for everyone.

Eden couldn’t join, but was gracious enough to host.  Their new apartment is awesome.  We left the first stop with almost 20 people in tow…21 if you count the one in utero (Summer is a TROOPER).

Pat and Foster skipped through the park…

…and right into our first Red Double Decker bus.

Which landed us in Yancy’s at 10:45am.  Sherwin (attempted to) skip through the door.

On our way to stop #2, we saw Red Double Decker Bus #2…but decided to hold off on our second bar stop until after we had hit all the stops on our Inner Sunset lineup.

Stops #2 (Telleen, where we were provided with delicious fresh fruit), #3 (Molly, who made some fantastic cookies), and #4 (the Hesslers, who provided a wide range of delicacies) were all within 4 blocks of each other in the Inner Sunset.  And that’s exactly how it went: boom boom boom.

Telleen's backyard
Happy Hikers, The Hesslers backyard

Then we hit the road again…

…and walked the 3 blocks down to the Blackthorn Tavern for the second bus stop.  Lara skipped.

(Gold star to anyone who can identify the origin of the yellow sunglasses.)

At this point we were halfway through our stops but had only been hiking for about 2 hours.  And it had all been flat. We were fully fueled and ready to attack the upcoming hills. Things were about to get a lot gnarlier…especially for skipping.

To be continued…

Day 5: Into the Cloud Forest and the Mini-Bus Ride of Terror

After a relaxing day and a night of great food and dancing, it was up and at ’em bright and early the next morning to head out of the mountains.

A portion of the trail we were supposed to take had gotten washed out, so instead of trying to hike over a rockslide we opted for an alternative route.  Because of this, the first part of the hike was some serious up and downhill along cliffs with narrow, partially washed-out trails.

After the initial up and down the road flattened out, and the next few miles were on a wide dirt road running along a ravine, at bottom of which a (pretty raging) river ran.

pit stop

Eventually we reached our destination in the middle of the mountains, the end of this part of our trek.  From here we were going to catch a ride to our next trail head.

So we bought a few refreshments from the tenants…

…said goodbye to our mules…

note: the guy in this pic is apparently over 100 years old

…and to the team that had helped us get there.

And then, we all hopped onto the mini-bus of terror for a death ride.

For the next 45 minutes we wound our way along a narrow dirt road packed in a top-heavy mini-bus, wedged between a rocky mountain face and a sheer cliff that dropped, oh, about a thousand feet down to the river.  I was, of course, in the seat by the window on the cliff side. It was not one of my finer moments.

A few heart palpitations later, we made it down to the river, where the bus dropped us off and I dropped to my knees and kissed the ground.  We followed the trail through a bunch of plantain trees and coffee plants…

coffee plant

…into the cloud forest to the 4th lodge.

Which was, of course, ridiculously awesome.

Plus everyone was feeling great because we were no longer at altitude.

That evening we took a little walk down the trail into the jungle to visit the house of a couple who grows coffee…

…where we learned how the beans are roasted and ground and, with a little help, made our own little pot of fresh ground coffee and got to taste it straight off the stove.  It was AMAZING.

And yes, of course there were guinea pigs running around the house.

Waiting for dinner to start that night we played some local (?) games that Leo suggested.  Unfortunately (or fortunately for some people) it doesn’t look like I have copies of any of those pictures.

It also happened to be the 50th birthday of one of our hiking mates.  The staff baked a beautiful cake and we celebrated with a lot of Peruvian wine.  It was a great night with great people, we went to bed happy and ready for our final day of hiking along the trail.

Next up: The First Sighting

Day 4: The Downhill Begins

We woke up the next morning to another absolutely beautiful day.  Salkantay, which had been shrouded in clouds the evening before, was visible through the window of our room and was completely spectacular.

We got to sleep in a little bit (till 6:30), and after a good breakfast and saying goodbye to the staff, we headed out into this.


As we dropped further and further the vegetation became more lush, and eventually we started seeing small villages and huts along the way.  About 2 hours in we took a break in front of a home on the path…

…where this couple lived.

We (meaning the guides) talked to them for a while while the group regrouped. They asked how to say a few things in English (we practiced “have a nice day”), then we were on our way again, across a few waterfalls…

…and out of the altitude.  Everyone (literally) breathed a big sigh of relief.  Eventually we made our way down to the river running through the valley…

…went over the saggy bridge and up the hill to Lodge #3.

We arrived to a whole meal of guinea pig and other local cuisine.  After a delicious lunch of local produce and guinea pig (yes, I ate some…Susie refused), we had some time to hang out.  Some people sat in the chairs in front of the lodge…

…overlooking the valley.

A few people played volleyball with the staff…

…and a few others went down to the river we had crossed to do some fishing…

…with a piece of string.

Directly across the valley from our lodge was a pretty significant landslide, and we spent the better part of the evening watching two cows slowly slide down the side of the mountain.

(Apparently landslides weren’t uncommon in the area, in the opposite valley across from the lodge was a town whose name literally translated to “Big Scary Landslide.”)

That evening, after a delicious dinner (and a few drinks), some of the staff performed a traditional dance for us involving a creepy mask and a whip.

Masks are everywhere in this region of Peru, there are festivals in a number of towns that involve dancing for days wearing masks.   There is even a town named “Black Underwear” because of one of these festivals held there and all the women wear masks and short skirts and do this dance where they flash their underwear, which is black (obviously).

So, naturally, there were masks lining the wall of the lodge.  A guy in our group named Bob really liked one of them.

Next up: Day 5–Into the Cloud Forest and the Mini-Bus Ride of Terror

Day 3: Over The Pass

The group met in the lobby pretty early on Day 3 for a little extra instruction on our climb to the top of the Salkantay Pass.

Before we start, a little bit about the Salkantay trail.  Salkantay (meaning “Savage Mountain” in Quechua) is the highest peak of the Cordillera Vilcabamba part of the Peruvian Andes.  It lies directly to the South of Machu Picchu and is one of three main trails that lead from Cuzco to Machu Picchu.  The Salkantay trail is less traveled than the Inca trail and, with higher passes, is known for being a more challenging route.

Salkantay and Humantay (the glacier responsible for the glacial lake the day before) lie next to each other, and the Rio Blanco valley (through which we were about to hike on Day 3) wraps around Humantay Peak and along the West side of Salkantay, through the pass.

So everyone was a little nervous, we’d be hiking about 2,600 feet in the first 2 or 3 miles to the pass it up over 15,000 feet in altitude (the highest I’ve ever been).  After that, we’d be heading back down hill towards lodge #2, which was at approximately the same altitude as the first lodge.

So we set out…

…into the mountains.

As mentioned above, we started our hike up through the Rio Blanco valley.  The first hour or so was similar to the previous day, gradual uphill on some grassy slopes.  We passed a few signs letting us know that we were headed the right direction.

About an hour and a half into the hike we hit the Seven Snakes, a particularly grueling set of switchbacks up the side of the mountain.

It was no joke.  The group took a break about halfway up.

Upon arriving at the top of the Seven Snakes we found ourselves in a really cool open, grassy plateau with a small, green, glacial lake.

It was here that Leo (our leader) told us the hardest part was coming up, that from here on out it was probably a good idea to shut up and save your breath for breathing (not that anyone needed that reminder) and just focus on getting up to the top.


So as we climbed into increasingly rocky terrain, that’s exactly what we did.

And before we knew it, we were there.

We celebrated…

Gimp Arm

…and took it all in.

We actually didn’t get to hang out at the top for too long, the leaders wanted to make sure no one stayed at that altitude for more than about 20-30 minutes.  So we snapped a group shot…

AT THE TOP! it was pretty chilly

…and began our descent…

…down into the Scottish Highlands.

OK no not really, but that’s what it looked like.  Complete with the stone walls and fog.

After another 30 minutes or so heading downhill, we arrived at a yellow tent set up in the middle of nowhere.


Yes, seriously.

We were served an amazing meal of pasta, hot tea, and a horror story from Leo about a woman on one of his trips who suffered severe altitude sickness at the second lodge…where we were heading…and how he and a few staff from the lodge had had to literally run her down the mountain on a stretcher, in the rain, in the dark, with an oxygen tank, giving her shots of epinephrine so that she didn’t go into cardiac arrest.  It was horrifying and did a wonderful job of freaking everybody out.

Stuffed and hyper-sensitive to any sort of headache we might feel coming on, we continued heading downhill into a wide, flat, green valley.

After crossing a few rivers…

…we arrived at the lodge.

Wayraqmachay.  Gate of the Wind.

The lodge sat on a ravine…

…through which a river ran…

…and over which Salkantay loomed.

Next up: Day 4–The Downhill Begins