Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lele Kawa at Squaw Lake, CA

I was surprised to learn form some guys at work that there was some cliff jumping near Yuma. Could this be real? An opportunity to do some lele kawa here in the desert.

It turned out to be true, and the cliffs are no joke. They loom about 35 feet over Senator wash. The only catch was unless you have a boat, you need to hike about a mile to get there. Now a mile doesn't sound that far but remember in the desert summer when the water is warm enough that you want to jump the air temp is often over 110. The mile there isn't too bad, its the mile back that is killer.

 Center of the photo has a 30 foot cliff
This photo lacks scale, but that point on the right is about 40 feet

The trailer for "Lele Kawa's literally living the dream" shows some clips from our time at the cliffs, and the full movie should contain even more.


Early season snowboarding at Big Bear, CA

The worst part about early season snow is only two runs being open and lift lines. The best part is all the snow bunnies in tank tops as the day heated up.

It had been a while since I spent any time on a snowboard, so I was happy to get up to Big Bear, CA for the long weekend. Plenty of fake snow on the two open slopes, one beginner and one intermediate. The good thing was the intermediate trail had a bunch of man made terrain scattered all over it.

Normally I shy away from terrain parks in favor of glades or side country, but for early season you have to take what you can get. They had a good variety, which was nice. They had rails, boxes, small table tops, larger kickers, and some large pipes.


San Bernardino camping

After I split from my friends in Joshua Tree, I headed to Big Bear Lake, CA for some snowboarding. I didn't really have any plan for this part of the weekend. Before I hit the road from J Tree I went online to see what camping and lodging options I had.

I found out about Yellow Post camp sites, from my google search. The main permit needed was the Adventure Pass, that I have had and barely used for about a year now. A further search gave me the map below, which showed me the locations of all of the sites.

View Yellow Post Campsites (partial) in a larger map

I decided to try for Yellow Post 26, because it was the closest to the lake and the ski resorts. I was amazed to find that the site was empty, since it was less then a mile off the paved road and 3 days into a 4 day weekend.

Once I arrived I was disappointed I didn't have my mountain bike. There was a constant stream of bikes headed up and down "Plantation Trail", which is mapped below. The weather was perfect for some biking. The ground was a little crunchy from the cold rather than wet with snow in spots but the air was a comfortable 60 or so in the early evening.


Up to "Shit" creek with a Paddle board

I finally did it. I paddled a SUP board from Gateway Park in Yuma, up river to the confluence of the Colorado and Gila rivers, here often referred to as shit creek.
Board in front of the Ocean to Ocean bridge

It happened to be a little cooler this time, but I still set out around 1:30 in the afternoon sun. The cool weather must have scared away most of the floaters, because there were only 3 groups that I saw.

Going upstream was burning my arms out. It started to seem like I would never make it. There were a few times I though about turning back to attempt another day, but I pressed on. Eventually I made it to "shit creek". It wasn't very crowded, just a few people camping out and some trucks tooling around.

I decided to head up the Gila for a just a little bit. It proved to be too shallow after not very long, so I turned around and went up the Colorado for a little distance. Once I found a little beach to myself, I stopped for my break.

View during my break

After my break was the easy part, downstream. I kept a pretty good pace on the downstream, paddling the whole way rather than just floating. The worst part was the sun had gotten low and was in my eyes the whole way. I arrived back at Gateway Park just as the sun was setting.


Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival

This year Yuma hosted the 22nd annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival. I took it as an opportunity to break out the camera and take some pictures.

It didn't hurt that they were pouring beer and serving barbecue. For $15 they had tethered balloon rides, to a high of 75 feet. It sounded better than it looked, so I didn't partake.

After my food and drink, I picked my seat in the stadiums bleachers. My seat seemed to provide a pretty good angle for seeing the balloons for the glow.

Watching the balloons inflate with the sky still bright was underwhelming. As the sky got darker the balloons started looking better.

After it wasn't getting any darker, I decided to wander around the grounds. It was kinda cool feeling the heat from the burners in all directions.

As I was leaving, I turned to see the balloons from the parking lot. I think this gave one of the best view. Being farther away evened everything out a little better.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saving lives

It's a sad fact that when you are doing "crazy" things, from time to time people get hurt.  I feel fortunate that nobody from our crew has suffered more than some cuts and scrapes on any of our adventures. However sometimes you see people from other crews do not follow the same precautions that we to the mitigate the chance for injury.

That being said, the Lele Kawa crew was at Sunset cliffs when a man jumped and suffered a head injury. We were among the crowd of bystanders that came to the mans aid, before he was life flighted out. So far we have been unable to locate any follow up information on the man.

Be careful out there. You can be stupid and you can be crazy, but try very hard not to do both at the same time. If you are getting stupid don't do things that are crazy or reckless. If you are doing things that are crazy be as smart about them as you can be.


Lele Kawa the movie

The Lele Kawa crew has been working on a feature length movie that documents some of our adventures in an artistic fashion. The plan is to finish the movie before the end of the year and then to sell it, with any profits it generates going to "Path International" a nonprofit that helps rehabilitate veterans through therapeutic horseback riding.

So far we have this trailer put together. I will add an update when we get our kickstarter up and running.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Three Sisters Falls, San Diego, CA

Finally took advantage of my adventure pass and did some hiking in the Cleveland National Forest.

Reading about this hike most people rate it 8 to 9 out of 10 on the scale of difficulty. I think this rating was undeserved. I would only put it at about a 6. With good shoes and taking your time on the steep area of loose sands, there is almost no risk.

For what turned out to be for no good reason we carried a surf board and a body board the whole way. The only thing they proved useful for was a prop in the photo below, with the three sisters in the background. This picture was taken on the way down just before the steep and loose part of the hike.

Once we got to the falls it was time to play around. The hike up to the top of the third sister was a little sketchy, it was a slab scramble. If you lost your grip you would tumble down the rocks and over the water falls. The water at the bottom of the falls was only about knee to waist deep.

The shallowness of the water didn't prevent me and Jeff from jumping. There was a sandy bottom under the shallow water, so it was soft when you hit bottom.

Above the third sister there was this queens bath in a crack between the rocks that created an infinity pool. I slipped my way down into the pool and relaxed for a minute. Getting out of the pool turned out to be a little hard. The rock gets really slick when your wet.

A little way from the parking area on the way back we crossed paths with a Rattle Snake. This was only my second encounter with a rattler in the wild.

Even got to take a little Poison Oak home with me all over my right arm. I might have been able to avoid leaving home with it if I had read the directions better. At the bottom of the hill when you reach the creek you need to rock hop or hike along the left side of the creek. The trail seemed to cross the creek so I did some bush whacking on the right side of the creek.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Paintball Slaughter House Imperial, CA

The guys of Yuma Vindictas and I headed west to Imperial, CA to take on Nemesis Paintball in their slaughter house paintball field. There was a clash of styles. Nemesis is a traditional scenario type team, and their field lent itself to their style of play. Yuma Vindictas play a speedball tournament style.

The field was two main rooms with two rows of pillars in each room. Separating the main two rooms was a small connecting room with large doorways to one wall. Most of the action took place in the doorways of the connecting room.

Vindictas's superior firepower overwhelmed the tactics and home field advantage of Nemesis. Four of the Five games played Vindictas was able to take the win.

Sketch I made


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stand Up Paddle boarding the Colorado River.

I finally got around to stand up paddle boarding on the Colorado River. In my typical fashion I went in the hottest part of the day starting around 1:30. I took off from West Wetland Park and headed up stream. I didn't have any plan on how far I would go, but I knew I wanted to go at least as far as Gateway Park, about one mile up stream.

There was no shortage of people doing float downs on the river. Almost every one of them asked me what I was doing and told me that I was going in the wrong direction.

The river in the area I paddled varies from about 1 foot to 5 feet in depth with a bottom of sand and the occasional beer can from lost form one of the many people floating down. The river really is the only oasis here in the desert of Yuma.

The first mile was peaceful, I only encountered one family flowing down. I let them try my board for a little while.

At Gateway Park the river was full of people and I threaded my way through. I continued to get a lot of attention as I paddled by. Upstream of Gateway Park was when I started passing the giant flotillas of rubber rafts and some jet skis. I also passed by the sherif in their air boat, that you could hear long before you saw, as its made its way down stream.

I am happy with this trip as a whole. The only bad part was the heat. Next time I will start earlier in the morning and try to make it all the way to "Shit Creek" as the convergence of the Colorado and Gila rivers is known. I will also try to get video of next time. I thought I had things set up this time but when I got home my camera hadn't recorded anything.

If you zoom in, you can see on the map below the upstream route wasn't nearly as strait as the down stream.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Morning Mountain Biking at Sugarloaf, Yuma, AZ

I took a pre work ride with one of the guys I work with. This was my first time going out that early, and also my first time going out riding with somebody else.

The guy I went with rides about 20 miles a day, but is not used to single track riding. I blew him away on the trail. I had to stop and wait for him every time the trail split. I was hoping I could get him in some good follow or lead shots with my helmet cam, but he couldn't keep up.


Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona

Lonely planet list Bear Canyon in the Sabino Canyon park as one of the best hikes in Arizona. Unfortunately I was there the wrong time of year and there was no water and so no seven falls.

I wasn't about the let the lack of water or triple digit temperatures stop me from getting in some hiking. I decided to just wander around and see if Sabino Lake had any water, it did not. I made my way along the trails and then down the creek bed to Sabino Dam.

I liked how this area of the desert has so much more life than here around Yuma. So many more cacti and bushes.

When I arrived at the dam, there was no water behind it, but there were some small pools of stagnant water below it. Despite their small size the pools had minnows swimming around in them. I found it kinda funny that there was water below the dam but not behind it, seems to kinda defeat the purpose of a dam, Near the damn there was also a shady little picnic area that I took refuge in from the sun for a while as I decided if I should hike any farther.

 View of the Dam from the trail
 The Dam
 Survey Marker on the Dam
 Pools below the dam
Dam from below

I will need to head back during the late summer monsoons or in the late spring to do the seven falls hike and enjoy the pools.


Piestewa Peak, Phoenix, AZ

What better to do for Memorial Day weekend than hike a peak renamed in memory of Army Spc. Lori Ann Piestewa. It is one of the two peaks in the middle of Phoenix. I was surprised by the crowds, there was a steady stream of people heading up and down. The path was partially reinforced, but clearly needs more work, because in its current state it only seems to make the walk more difficult. There are a lot of awkward steps and stone cemented into place edge up.

Over all it was a pretty good hike. A short climb to the top of a mountain with views of downtown and the areas surrounding Phoenix. A good bit of cardio to start the day.
 Looking up to the top

 The trail
 The peak
 Survey marker at the peak
Looking down at the trail from the peak.


Taliesin West, Scottsdale, AZ

One of my main draws to Phoenix was Taliesin West. A Frank Lloyd Wright home and school in Scottsdale, celebrating 75 years.

I first became interested in Wright in high school. While studying architecture in I took trips to the houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright and saw some movies about him. I also had a friend, who's father was an architect and his style imitated Wright.

One of the first sights on the tour was some petroglyphs. This one at the entrance includes the squared spiral that Wright came to use as a symbol of Taliesin West.

Each area of the house had these Chinese theater scenes in the spaces that divided them. The story goes that Wright bought them in pieces and his students erected them.

The front fountain and front yard also acted as a fire break. It also offered a little green separating the house from the surrounding desert.

The campus Bell Tower over the kitchen, that acted as the dinner bell.

Fire breathing dragon, that was originally a gift to be part of the fountain. Mrs. Wright did not think any self respecting dragon should spit water so she had it connected to propane.

One of my favorite little things about the house was the use of irregular pentagon doors. Only Wright would be so bold as to think that he could improve upon doors.

I am disappoint that I did not get any pictures of the three theaters on the property. My favorite being the cabaret theater. A well designed cave to be used as a dinner theater. The acoustics were the best part. The lack of right angles and the sounding board under the stage made it so any whisper from the stage could be heard everywhere in the theater.