Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mountain-biking Skyline Trail, Big Bear, CA

During my week of camping at Big Bear, I was able to take advantage of the new Skyline Trail. This trail is amazing. The trail crew did a great job, the whole trail has great flow. Most of the trail is along the ridge with great views of the Santa Anna River Valley.
One of the best parts the trail is the variety of terrain. On one end you are climbing through pine forest, then riding the ridge, before dipping into a bowl of berms, and where I turned around the trail was high desert scrub and weaved through large boulders.

I encountered as many animals as people. At one part I was chasing a group of deer down the trail. The few people I did see, mostly hikers, near the view points were all very friendly.


Summer Bike at Snow Summit, Big Bear, CA

My summer trip to Big Bear wouldn't be complete without hitting the Snow Summit Mountain Bike park.

I started the day riding alone and just getting a feel for the trails. I was still riding my XC bike and did not have much desire to hit the jumps or push the limits of my abilities. "Going Green", the easy trail was not open, so I headed to Westridge and rode most of the branches of that trail. Most of the obstacles had bypasses so the jumps could be skipped.
My bike seemed to handle these trails well. After Lunch, I joined up with two other bikers who had spent the summer up at Big Bear. Because now we had a group, we were able to get the below follow video.

My confidence began to exceed my abilities and I ended up "supermanning" over one of the larger table tops, landing right on my chest mounted GoPro.

Overall, It was a great day of biking. Next time I hit a mountain bike park, I will take a downhill bike and wear my armor. My XC bike did ok on the trails but it does not have the same performance that more suspension would offer.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Burundi's German Cliffs

One of Burundi's limited Tourism attractions are the German Cliffs or Failles Des Allemands. These cliffs are formed by a riff valley that cuts south through the plateau towards Tanzania. What is most impressive about the cliffs are how shear vertical side, resulting in a beautiful near vertical waterfall, reminiscent of Yosemite.

Beautiful waterfall, around 300 feet tall.

Panoramic view of the valley
The Park Ranger leads you through three viewpoints along the West edge of the rift valley. The first one with has the waterfall is the most spectacular, with its waterfall and view all the way down the valley. The middle view point is also good because it lets you see the spur that you see from the first view point.

Unfortunately because of the distance from Bujumbura, and because we were only doing a day trip, there was not a lot of opportunity to explore. I would have liked to wander around more, beyond the three view points that our guide took us through.

Burundi's Chutes de la Karera

One of Burundi's few tourism locations are the Chutes de la Karera or Karera Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the same part of Burundi as the German Cliffs, this park is under better control.

A tourism fee of aprox $12 was collected at the gate before we could drive to the parking area. From the parking lot you get an immediate view of the largest (widest) of the collection of waterfalls in the area. On the guided tour we started by hiking a trial that takes you down stream to the lower falls. If you cross the the base of the falls you get to feel the wind caused by the falling water and spray.

From there we were guided back along the trail up to the top of this lower falls. This provides one of the best views of the trip.

View of the Main falls, nearest the parking lot

After a quick stop back at the parking lot, then we moved up stream along the creek to a smallest falls. It seemed like the low slope of slick rock might make a good natural waterslide with higher water levels, as long as you could stop prior to the falls.
View of back up the stairs from the lower falls
The view approaching the lower falls.

From there you travel north along the rim of the falls to another falls on a different stream.

As a late bonus we spotted a few wild monkeys crossing the road as we drove out.

View of the two upper falls among the trees from the upper plateu

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hiking PCT past Eagle Rock

Kayaking Big Bear Lake

I have been to Big Bear a handful of times now, but this is first time I have every spent any time on the lake itself. This was also a good chance to see just how low the lakes water level was.

I got on the lake in town and decided to head east over to the dam. The wind was in my face so I hugged the shoreline and checked out a few of the harbors along the way. I was curious to see the effects of the low water on Big Bear Lake Cable Wake Park, because every time I go to Big Bear this is one of the things I want to do that never seems to work out.

The next place I went to was China Islands, where I did some cliff jumping last summer. I debated jumping again but decided against it, based on the lower water levels and because there was nobody else there. At China Islands I was pretty much at the dam, so I went the rest of the way. From the dam I headed back through the straitest route, strait through the middle of the lake. This was pretty easy with the wind at my back.


Hiking Bear Canyon "7 falls" near Tuson, AZ

This was my second visit to Sabino Canyon. My first visit was during the summer and the heat limited me to short hikes. This second trip in January offered much better weather to hike in. It was also an exceptionally wet and snowy January so the water was really flowing.
We hike just over 9 miles out to the Falls and back, requiring us to cross the very cold stream 14 times.
Visitor Center at the parks entrance
From the parks entrance you hike (or take the tram) east through a large field of Saguaro Cactus and other high desert plants. 

The Saguaros cactus fields on the way to the trail
As you approach the edge of the field, you cross a bridge that takes you over the stream from Sabino canyon. The rain and snow that Tuscon had been receiving meant that the bridge was flooded, just high enough that it couldn't be crossed without getting wet. We removed our shoes and socks and made our way across.

High water was this bridge just before the start of Bear Canyon Trail
Once off the road and onto Bear Canyon trail, the stream crossings did not stop. The high water levels made it so there was no way to cross without getting wet, and so it was once again time to take off the shoes and socks and wade across the cold knee deep water. The bottom of the stream was mostly sand and small rocks which were painful to walk across with your feet so cold. On the way back we decided that taking the shoes off each time wasn't worth it and just hiked barefoot. I wish I had brought my Tevas on this trip.

Just one of the knee deep water crossing of the near freezing water (14 total)

The falls proved to be beautiful and worth the 4.5 mile hike it took to reach them. The combination of cold water and slick rocks meant that I didn't play on the falls as much as I do at other falls (no lele kawa).
The Seven falls at the end of the hike.