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