Category Archives: Outdoors

Giant sequoias’ namesake park deserves a visit

Grand as they are, it’s easy to overlook giant sequoias, even for those who visit the Sierra Nevada range often. Tahoe skiers and Yosemite climbers don’t even pass close to…

Kilimanjaro: “Cool as a banana in the fridge”

Summit day started with a 1 a.m. wakeup call, a quick bite and final equipment check before setting out into a dark and freezing night. A line of climbers’ headlamps…

Like father, like sons on Dad’s High Sierra Hike

For a middling fisherman like me, a nibble in a backcountry lake is a big deal, especially the first one after eight days on the trail. I eagerly reeled in…

Roust the rebels from our mountains

“May God have mercy on Bobby Lee, for I will have none,” decreed Union General Joe Hooker during the Civil War. His druthers are my druthers. Confederates have invaded the…

Angels assist the weary on Pacific Crest Trail

Though hundreds of hikers per year attempt the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail, my cousin Zach Padlo and I hit the wall around mile 26. We weren’t rookies but the first…

Moab: more climbing, more hiking, more fun

Those who climb the Kor-Ingalls Route of Castleton Tower, a classic adventure on a coveted desert tower, face a choice on the third pitch. There are two ways to scale…

Journey through time on forgotten Yosemite road

Dawn arrived on a clear and chilly day, revealing a gentle stream, wooded hills and a dirt road that extends beyond the horizon. From this spot beside Bower Cave in…

Yosemite’s “Little Big Wall”

My turn to lead on Yosemite’s Washington Column arrived about halfway up the 1,100 foot rock face. The climb’s sixth pitch was a suitable choice because it’s the easiest segment…

Rafting the Tuolumne: “Each visit changes your life forever”

As we headed towards a raging Clavey Falls, I took a deep breath and gripped my paddle with white knuckles. During the biggest runoff in a decade on the Tuolumne,…

Peak bagging, paragliding highlight Bavarian trek

Though we’ve climbed our share of mountains, we’d never ascended one like this. Instead of trudging uphill for days in boots and backpacks, my brother Dan and I didn’t even…

Walk back in time among ancient pines

A great attraction of touring the mountains is their sense of timeless beauty, offering visitors a window into the land’s distant past. California’s peaks and valleys have changed little since…

Utah: Desert, sandstone, canyoneering and polygamy (sort of)

Zion National Park boasts awesome scenery, like Yosemite Valley painted cherry red. But for climbers, sandstone doesn’t compare to Sierra Nevada granite, and the desert sun burns hot enough to…

Cycling through snow in a Yosemite spring

Exploring Yosemite’s snowbound high country, quiet and deserted, richly rewards hardy trekkers who labor to reach it in winter. Though there’s also much to like about the easy access mountain…

Bachar lived with risks shared by many

Ascending a sea of knobs on the steep west face of Yosemite’s Fairview Dome, John Bachar was enjoying a fine autumn day, cool and quiet without another climber in sight….

Imperiled rock climb offers lessons for state crisis

Near the top of Mt. Diablo stands a challenging rock climb called Amazing Face. Climbers who wish to scale it had better go soon, as the state may close the…

German mountains, culture reward visitors to Berchtesgaden

Even before the party started, our Bavarian trek was proving worthwhile. Few mountain ascents feature hot sausages and cold beer in a comfortable cabin, but my brother and I ordered…

Actor’s shows bring Muir to life

John Muir never wanted for words when it came to protecting the wilderness, especially his beloved Sierra Nevada mountains. But what would the father of American environmentalism say if he were alive today?

“I’m back, and I’m really ticked off!” Muir might roar. “I’m back to track down Lord Man, to make him a better beast, because California, the home that I love, is on the brink of being lost.”

End the tyranny of hiking fees

An awesome view of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range rewards visitors to the summit of Mt. Whitney in Sequoia National Park. Each time I visit this treasure, it rewards and…

Sea life attracts divers to Great Barrier Reef

Two gray reef sharks glided effortlessly across our path, their razor-sharp teeth gleaming in the beams of our flashlights. In that moment, nothing else was visible in our pitch-black underwater…