• Tag Archives hiking
  • Whitewater Preserve, Whitewater, CA

    Palm Desert, CA

    Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the USA, is traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season, where there are many big sales. It’s so named because it’s the day that retail operators start to turn a profit for the year.

    My cousins and I, instead of shopping went for a hike to Whitewater Preserve, about a 30-40 minute drive from Palm Desert. It was a chilly morning in the Desert, but in the 50s, so I wore shorts and a down jacket. I didn’t realize that Whitewater was at elevation. It was 42 degrees (about 4 degrees Celsius) when we exited the car…and starting to rain. My rain jacket was in my car…40 minutes away. Three of the group turned back to go hiking instead in Palm Springs. I didn’t which was both good and bad.

    The first hint of weather trouble was actually on the way out when we saw a big rainbow over the windmills. Rainbows always mean there’s rain somewhere.

    The good was that the Whitewater Preserve is beautiful, with streams abounding, snow covered mountains in the distance (after the Thanksgiving Day rain, which turned to snow in the mountains). Once we got going it wasn’t too bad, especially when the rain stopped and the sun came out. However, on the way back it began to hail! There weren’t too many people around though by the time we returned it was much busier.

    There was one stream that was a little trickier than others to cross…my cousin was trying to help with a piece of wood but then I spied a better area to cross (but it was a good thing I had waterproof shoes on.

    In the afternoon my dad and I considered hitting tennis balls, but you can see it was pretty wet…but the snow capped mountains were a beautiful silver lining.

    This is probably the last long blog for a bit.

    Happy holidays everyone!


  • Hiking to the Mirador of the Base of the Torres del Paine

    Santiago Airport, Chile

    Today and tomorrow will be marathon travel days: two different 2+hour drives to get to the airport in Punta Arenas, a two hour wait for a three hour flight, followed by five hours in Santiago (and I can’t check my bags till 3 hours before the flight…😡…then three flights home followed by a three hour drive to visit my parents for Thanksgiving! However, the trip was worth it.

    Yesterday we did the hike to the base of the Torres del Paine, about a 16 mile hike (I had over 40,000 steps by day’s end). We gained about 4000 feet overall in elevation even though our peak was around 700-800 meters…we did a lot of up and down.

    Yesterday was the first day we had rain in Torres del Paine, which is amazing but unfortunate, as the view at the top, instead of the towers was of…clouds, though we could see the unnamed lagoon at the top.

    We started early, 7:30am. I wore rain pants over shorts and a rain jacket (over a t-shirt and long sleeved shirt). It wasn’t freezing, but wasn’t warm either. Our fearless leader Claudio wore shorts, no rain pants and a rain jacket…he’s a native Patagonian and used to the weather.

    The walk up, though lacking clear views, had its beauty. We walked through a beautiful forest for quite a while, across too many small streams to count, over several small wooden bridges, some with rails…some without. The moss covered tree trunks were so beautiful. After exiting the forest we walked down windy point, which luckily for us wasn’t really windy. Then the last 8/10 of a mile was rock climbing basically…..not the kind where you need handholds, more like doing step ups of various heights and stability. I didn’t mind the ascent. At the top we added a layer or two of clothing and had lunch by the aqua colored lagoon. The towers were covered with clouds but the weather kept a lot of people away and it was still beautiful. It was snowing very lightly at the top…brrr!

    It was amazing how many people we encountered hiking in jeans, hiking in sneakers, hiking without any rain protection…(that was not us). I can’t imagine they’d woke up today feeling very good and their jeans and sneakers were pretty much trashed, mud covered up to the knees, and feet soaked and dirty.

    So…after the ascent there was the descent…through that rock forest. I was pretty slow at that part of the walk. We all got down and then it was up and down again. We stopped halfway down at a refugio, a hostel with flush toilets. :-).

    The rain had pretty much stopped by then and the views opened up some, though at that point the towers weren’t visible. We made it down around 5:30 pm, tired but happy to have survived and seen another beautiful area.

    Of course, by the time we were down the towers were somewhat visible again and this morning it was sunny again (but really cold).

    Things I learned:

    1: Claudio Silva is a superb guide for anything Patagonia. Energetic, speaks English and Spanish well, patient, extremely knowledgeable and always upbeat. Loves what he does and loves where he lives.

    2: You can go to Patagonia and just stay at a hotel and walk up to the base of the Torres del Paine, and take the boat ride to Grey lake to see the glaciers, but you won’t learn as much as if you use an experienced guide and you won’t see the less populated areas we saw

    3: The standard domes at Ecocamp…great beds, but it’s really cold in the mornings! Really good dinners too.

    4: This was an REI Adventure trip. It was a good experience, my first but Claudio made it wonderful.

    5: Don’t wait to do this, you can take buses around the park and see beautiful places, but the hike to the base of the Torres is not super easy. And it’s 16 miles…

    6: Patagonia is more beautiful than I expected.

    7: I am not a bird person.


  • Patagonia Hike Day 4: 360 Degree View

    Patagonia, Chile

    This morning we had a drive with stops for photos and at a lovely waterfall, before a hike up above condors’ nests. There we had a 360 degree view of Lake Sarmiento and another lake and beautiful mountains of Torres sel Paine.

    Last night I took a walk towards the start of the clime to the towers of the park, over a stream and through the campgrounds, & past a nice hotel. I saw gauchos returning for the night leading their horses.

    Next we are trying kayaking, if not too windy, then tomorrow there’s a 14-16 mile trek to the towers.


  • Mountain Biking..or Not & Lamb Barbecue

    Patagonia, Chile

    Today, Saturday was the mountain biking day, which I did try, but flunked. So I walked the same route, which was lovely. We went through moss covered forests, past cattle and horses, and saw beautiful vistas. I waded through streams, my shoes and socks are soaked and muddy.

    We had a lamb barbecue on a working ranch, with sopadillas, and salsa for lunch. The lamb was barbecued over an open fire.

    More hiking tomorrow and kayaking. 😳🤔


  • Hiking in the Andes

    Santiago, Chile

    Today I went hiking in Cajon del Maipo in Chile. Cajon means canyon. There are a lot of hikes in the area. I went on a small group tour…there were 8 of us and 2 guides for part of the tour; then 2 people split off with a guide to go to hot springs and the rest of us continued the hike.

    The area we were in was about 2500 meters above sea level; around 8000 feet. It was pretty cold and windy up that high. The area is rocky and pretty dry…this part of Chile has a Mediterranean climate, so not much rain in late spring to mid-fall. We could see the snow on the glaciers. We walked up first to a small stream for lunch (basic sandwiches) and then split off and went towards a big meadow. We saw horses and their foals, and lots of mountains.

    At one point I stopped to take photos for a moment and when I looked up I couldn’t see anyone…they had turned to the left and out of sight. I didn’t know if they’d gone down towards the river or to the left…the “trail” wasn’t much of one. I eventually saw them and caught up but it was a bit eerie being out there all alone.

    The main industries of Chile are mining and agriculture. The red in the mountains is iron, the white is gypsum and there is also copper mining. There was silver mining but a large earthquake in the 1950s pretty much destroyed the industry.

    The trip took all day, from a 7am pickup to a 7pm drop off. It wasn’t all hiking; we stopped for breakfast and at the end again for a snack and the drive each was was a couple of hours.

    It was really nice to get out of Santiago and see some of the countryside. There are lots of other hikes to do and I’d recommend going to this area if you are in Santiago.

    Tomorrow…off to Punta Arenas on the Straight of Magellan!


  • Tennis & Hiking, Fornalutx & Biniaraix, Mallorca

    Mallorca, Spain, July 29, 2019

    This post was lost in the Ethernet the last month.

    My last day in Mallorca was a busy one! I hit tennis balls or 90 minutes, all was good, so I decided to visit Fornalutx, another mountain village near Soller.

    I did some research and read that the hike to Fornalutx was a pretty easy one, about 45 minutes. I parked about 15 minutes outside of downtown, adding to the walk, but it was an easy place to park and not a bad walk into town.

    I apparently missed the route that wasn’t on the main road. The walk, though pretty, wasn’t particularly relaxing because the roads are so narrow, there’s no shoulder at all and no sidewalks. So I stayed quite alert and avoided being hit by a car or more likely, by a motorcyclist, they ride fast and loudly here.

    The scenery was pretty, orchards, almonds, olives, lemons, oranges, and even a few pomegranate trees were nestled up against the dramatic mountain background.

    When I got to Fornalutx (it was well over and hour, since I stopped and took photos and was meandering), I found the main plaza, got some water, and found the route for the next part of the walk. It was an uphill route for a long ways, up uneven and rough stone steps. But the views were beautiful. At the top I was on a main road for a short while, then found the path down, which wound through olive orchards mostly, and was quiet and free of cars.

    On the way back, I detoured through the tiny village of Biniaraix, which still hard a small plaza by the church. There weren’t many cars on that detour either, and once I was past Biniaraix, I was only 20 minutes from Soller.

    Soller was really hopping at 8pm, the plaza was packed with people having drinks (a bit early yet for food, though some were eating). I walked through the main shopping street and back to my car.

    I leave Mallorca tomorrow for Lisbon. It’s been nice getting to know a different part of this diverse island.


  • Switzerland is Beautiful

    Today started with an early hit with Nora Blom and then another 20 minutes with Haim Ohn who plays in the men’s 60s. Both are lefties. After hitting, icing and breakfast I took the tram up the mountain…two actually Gotschnagrat at 2285 meters where it was 11 degrees Celsius or about 60 degrees. The sun was in and out and the air was refreshing up there.

    I wasn’t going on a long hike, but did want to walk towards the Parsennmuette, which would give me some nice views…well fantastic views.

    As soon as I exited the tram building I could heard the cow bells. There were small herds of cattle near the Gotschnagrat and by the Parsennmuette and a few along the way. This animal got stuck on the trail by one of the wires put up to the keep the cattle from wandering and it was upset and bawling.

    There were hikers and some mountain bikers on the trails. Most people give the common Swiss German greeting of “Grüezi” (sounds like Gritzy to me) as they pass.

    It was just beautiful up there, and though the trams up were full, it is a huge area and didn’t feel crowded. I stayed up there for a couple of hours, and took the tram back down when I heard thunder rumbling.

    I went back to the club to watch my potential opponents, Annelies Simons and Swiss Barbara Von Oppersdorff. Annelies was down 52 when I came up but won the set 76. I left then, and later saw Annelies retired up 76 26 54. So I play Von Oppersdorff who is tall with a big serve.

    I went back to the hotel until the TD called me at 5:50 to let me know that doubles (the draw closed at 2pm) was starting not before 6…really around 7pm! That was a surprise since there were no doubles draws up when I left and it was after 2pm. So I got ready to play and as I walked back to the club it was sprinkling and I heard thunder. In the end play was rained out for the day. I play singles tomorrow not before 2pm (5th match with a 9am start) and doubles not before 6pm.

    The hotel WiFi is slow so I walked away while the photos were loading…and just walked back now.

    Draws are here.

    Photos are here.


  • San Diego Hiking

    The National Hard Courts ended for most Saturday, so Jenny Rens Keller and her family (Adam, Ryan, Garrett), Anna & Alan Zimmermann, Deb Higa and I went hiking in Torrey Pines Reserve Saturday, then Alan, Anna and I went to Cowles Mountain and Pt. Loma Sunday. It was a great reminder of how beautiful this area is, and the weather for hiking was great.

    The books “Afoot and Afield” and also the short hike version of “Afoot & Afield” are great resources for hiking in San Diego.

    Here are a few photos from the hikes.


  • Lion’s Head: Rocky Road

    Today, Tuesday, was my last morning in Cape Town. Jenny Cerff and I met up about 6:15 am to do the hike up Lion’s Head. It is a steep mountain and rocky, but the views are magnificent…maybe not quite what they might be from Table Mountain (which again had it’s “tablecloth” of fog over it), but still really nice, especially on the Atlantic side. There were lots of other people hiking too.

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    The road up was rocky, then quite steep…it included climbing a ladder and then a climbing wall (I climbed one but not the second one…we detoured to the recommended route around the mountain). There were quite a few dogs, which, though they had even shorter legs than I do, had “four-wheel drive” keeping them balanced on the uneven terrain. It was a great thing to do early in the morning but I’d recommend trail shoes as the terrain is really uneven. We unfortunately ran out of time to do the last bit, but it was a great walk and visit.

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    The recommended route wound around the mountain…the other route went up this climbing wall…I made it up the first, shown below,  but the second, well let’s say we wound round the mountain!

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    And that’s a wrap on Cape Town travel.