Photos from some of our hikes in 2018.  The Blog posts are just below the photos.

(Until July of 2016, if you clicked on the photos, they will take you to our trip photo logs on Picasa.  But then Google decided to make that impossible, even though they had provided us with both the website software and the compatible Picasa software so that we COULD do that.  Now the photos are on Google Photos, where we cannot make albums visible to the public.  We HATE Google photos.)

             Closer to home: Sonora in the fall                                  Twenty Lakes Basin at dusk

South lake in a gale                                                           Daniel and friends in Yosemite


                    Arches National Park                                                 Zion National Park

Beware of Through-hikers!

posted Nov 30, 2019, 5:40 PM by Paul Wagner

We've been pretty impressed with the numbers of through-hikers who have posted their blogs and shared their experiences on various backpacking message boards and forums.  Perhaps it's all because of Cheryl Strayed, but there are a lot of people hiking major trails these days.

That's good.  We're all in favor of anything that gets people out into the mountains and encourages them to protect our wilderness areas.

But as we read their stories, it becomes quite clear that most of those through-hikers have a very different goal than we do when we go backpacking.  And that affects just about every kind of advice they give.  We think their advice is great--for people who want to hike 20+ miles a day for weeks at a time.  In that case, we fully understand why you would want to pack as little as possible, make do with minimal gear, and even go without cooking food to save the weight of your stove and gas.

We simply hike with different goals in mind, and our gear shows it.  iI fact, we take more gear on a single overnight trip than we might take for a week long trip.  Because we can.  Because for a single overnight, weight isn't a concern, and maybe a bottle of wine is worth carrying its weight.  Or on a base camp trip, where we hike for one day, then spend a few days exploring that area, then hiking back out again, we'll take a book or two to read.  Why not?  We only have to carry it for two of the days we're backpacking. 

We do like reading the trail logs of through-hikers.  But when it comes to packing our gear, we also make our own decisions.  We'll never hike 2500 miles in a summer, 250 miles is closer to wha
t we do, and so we tend to pack just a bit more for comfort, and less for speed. 

A Visitor to our Home

posted Nov 29, 2019, 8:56 AM by Paul Wagner

This morning we were having breakfast when M noticed something odd in our fishpond--a great disturbance.  Water was splashing everywhere.  When we went out to investigate we found a river otter was dining on our goldfish sushi....

We chased him away...and he was back in five minutes.  Apparently the sushi was delicious.  Then we chased him away with more determination, and we think he headed back to the creek behind our house.  He'll probably return for thirds at some point...sigh.

Thank You

posted Nov 27, 2019, 4:41 PM by Paul Wagner

Yep--it's the time of year when we all give thanks.  And we've got a short list of those to whom we are particularly grateful:

To the hardworking rangers of our national forests and national parks, who struggle on despite miserable budgets and a clear lack of support from our government in DC.  Without you, we would be so much poorer in so many ways.  And this includes the other staff at our national parks, and our state parks, too!

To our forefathers who had the vision to try to protect those magical places around our country.  We need to do more--we need more places protected--but let's not forget the people who had the idea in the beginning, and made it a reality.

To the many people we've met out on the trail, enjoying the wilderness and sharing their appreciation with their friends and family.  Please keep hiking, camping and getting out in the woods.  In is the single best way we can demonstrate how important our parks are. 

And finally, to those who read this blog and send us notes, comments, and suggestions.  We read them all, and deeply appreciate your feedback and input. 

And here's hoping that all of the above can continue for many years into the future.   Well, except that part about the miserable budgets,  That, we need to fix!

Winter Prep

posted Nov 26, 2019, 8:12 AM by Paul Wagner

With Yosemite National Park announcing that the Glacier Point Road is now closed due a winter storm...and unlikely to open again until spring...

This is a great time to go through all of your equipment and make sure it's ready for your adventures next spring and summer.  And it's a good idea to do this now, while some of the issues are still top of mind.  You know--that little tear in the bug netting of your tent that you've been meaning to stitch up.  If you leave it until spring, you will probably forget, and remember just when those mosquitoes start creeping through the hole on your first trip next year....

So here's what we'll do in the next couple of weeks:
>  Give our tent a nice rub down with a damp cloth, inside and out.  And when it is nicely dry, we'll pack it up carefully in its stowage bag.
>  Replace the batteries in our headlamps.  These wear down over the season, and we found ourselves squinting a bit...fresh batteries!
>  Sew on the missing button on my favorite hiking shirt...and give all of our clothes a quick inspection for loose stitching etc.
>  Wash our puffy down jackets, that now smell a lot like hikers.  And maybe the sleeping bags, too.
>  Take an inventory of our stove gas cannisters and figure out which ones are full, which ones are only good for short trips.
>  Give the water filter one more clean and rinse.  And do the same with our water bottles.
>  We like to give our hiking clothes a shot of permethrin...but that only lasts 42 days or so.  So we'll collect all those clothes in one place, ready for the spring shower of bug repellent. 
>  And speaking of bug repellent, make sure we have enough--and sunscreen too--to get started in the spring.
>  Make an inventory of our hiking food.  Maybe it's time to work through some of those old ramen packages!
>  think about the trips we're planning for next year.  Do we need maps or guide books for any of those?

Hmmm...that's a good idea for a holiday gift wish list...

Another Storm on the Way

posted Nov 24, 2019, 7:03 AM by Paul Wagner

It looks like winter is finally here.  And another to follow a few days later

National Weather Service Hanford CA
910 AM PST Sat Nov 23 2019

Central Sierra-North Kings River-Sequoia Kings-Lake Isabella-
Tehachapi Area-Fort Tejon-
Including the cities of Devils Postpile, Florence Lake,
Lake Thomas Edison, Tuolumne Meadows, Bass Lake, Fish Camp,
Wawona, Shaver Lake, Camp Nelson, Giant Forest, Lodgepole,
Grant Grove, Johnsondale, and Tehachapi
910 AM PST Sat Nov 23 2019


* WHAT...Heavy snow possible. Several feet of snow in the Sierra
Nevada will be possible above 4,000 feet and the Kern County
Mountains above 6,000 feet. Accumulating snow possible down as
low as 3,000 feet.

* WHERE...Sierra Nevada and Kern County Mountains.

* WHEN...From midday Tuesday through late Thursday night.

* IMPACTS...Travel will likely be very difficult. The hazardous
conditions could impact holiday travels as well as commutes.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Significant reductions in visibilities are
possible. Downed trees and power outages possible.


Monitor the latest forecasts for updates on this situation.

What Wine Should you Choose?

posted Nov 22, 2019, 9:40 AM by Paul Wagner

The one you like the best! 

OK.  This is blatant.  P's Great Courses lectures on wine have been released just in time for the holidays. Drink up! '


The Instant Sommelier: Choosing Your Best Wine - Audiobook by Paul Wagner;The Great Courses

Passes closed

posted Nov 22, 2019, 7:49 AM by Paul Wagner

It's getting to be that time of year.

When we drove up to our cabin on Wednesday, both Tioga and Sonora Passes were closed because of snow.  Tioga Road was closed at Crane Flat, and Sonora Pass was closed at Kennedy Meadows.   That still leaves some trails and roads to enjoy, but winter is definitely on its way. 

And storms are projected for next week.  Which is a good thing.  We REALLY need some rain and snow right now.

Going to Chile

posted Nov 19, 2019, 9:29 AM by Paul Wagner

P is invited to speak at the World Wine Tourism Conference in Colchagua, Chile next month.  It should be quite an amazing event...and Chile is always interesting!

 @UNWTO #UNWTO @subturismo @sernatur @Sernatur_VI @IntendenciaLBO @CORE_OHiggins @ChileEnoturismo @vinascolchagua

Winter is Approaching!

posted Nov 19, 2019, 8:03 AM by Paul Wagner

this from the National Weather Service;

National Weather Service RENO NV
118 PM PST Sun Nov 17 2019

Greater Lake Tahoe Area-Mono County-
Mineral and Southern Lyon Counties-
Including the cities of South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, Truckee,
Markleeville, Bridgeport, Coleville, Lee Vining, Mammoth Lakes,
Hawthorne, Yerington, Smith Valley, Mina, Schurz, Stateline,
Glenbrook, and Incline Village
118 PM PST Sun Nov 17 2019


A low pressure system is likely to bring a light snowfall to the
Sierra as well as far southern Lyon and far western Mineral counties,
mainly above 6500 to 7000 feet, Tuesday night through Wednesday

The current snowfall predictions are: up to an inch for Mount Rose
and Spooner Summits and Carson Pass, 2 to 4 inches for Ebbetts,
Sonora, and Tioga passes as well as for passes along Highway 395.
Even though accumulations will be light, hazardous driving conditions
on these roads are likely Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Precipitation is forecast to diminish by Wednesday evening but
temperatures will be cold enough to refreeze any melting that takes
place during the day.

Ensure your vehicles are prepped for winter conditions and be sure
to allow extra time to reach your destination. Also, leave extra
space between vehicles since it takes longer to stop on slick

A Lovely Day for Hike

posted Nov 18, 2019, 2:56 PM by Paul Wagner

As we enjoyed the glorious fall weather this past weekend, we decided to head for the hills and take a hike.  This time, our plan was to leave the giant metropolis of Strawberry (near Pinecrest Lake) on Highway 108 and follow a trail up to Catfish Lake.

You know that with a name like Catfish Lake, this isn't going to be a deep blue jewel filled with rainbows, don't you?

But the trail was a delight.  We crossed Herring Creek, choosing to use a few large boulders in the creek rather than the more elaborate fallen tree with rope handrail that someone had created.  And from there, we hiked up the hill, past massive granite boulders, to reach the lake in less than an hour.  It was lovely.  And we were pleased to find an Oomacha, a Native American structure, by a nearby pond.  Sadly, someone had left some canned food there, making a bit of a mess inside. 

But still, it gave us a nice sense of having reached the destination.  And the return trip followed a loop back to the shores of Pinecrest Lake, where we met scores of hikers.  On the trail from Strawberry we hadn't seen a soul.  And we didn't meet anyone on the last leg, back along the Stanislaus River to Strawberry.

Lovely day, lovely hike, and a great way to welcome fall weather to the Sierra.  The rest of the photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/GRZCX36CTW5KyXS17

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