Silvretta-Stausee to Wiesbadenerhutte – Austria

An Austrian Alps Snowshoe Adventure

Location: Silvretta Alps, Austria
Elevation Gain: 2,250 feet
Mileage: 17.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
Type: Snowshoe


Berggasthof Hotel Piz Buin and Wiesbadenerhutte are high alpine mountain huts. Mountain huts are generally in the mountains and are only accessible by foot. The huts are a building built for mountaineers, climbers, hikers, snowshoers, skiiers even mountain bikers. Huts are available all over the world and provide different types of services. Some are full-service where food and drinks are served and some are self-service. Mountains huts date back all the way to the 1863.

The first mountain hut in the United States was built in 1889 in New Hampshire. In the Western United State you will not find any full-service huts and because of this, I like to go out and take advantage of hut systems beyond my abode. This wasn’t my first time at a hut, but it was my first time snowshoeing to a hut; better yet it was in Europe.

About Wiesbadnerhutte (2443 m)

*hutte is mountain hut or refuge

Wiesbadenerhutte is located in the Silvretta Alps; it is a very good starting point for plenty of tours of the mountains surrounding it. Some of the great peaks around include Piz Buin, Litzner and Piz Linard. To reach Wiesbadenerhutte walk along a well maintained summer/winter trail in the Oschental glacier valley. In the summer it takes about 2 hours walking time, for us it took about 3-4 hours on our snowshoes because we went off-trail a bit with our guide.

Wiesbadenerhutte accommodates 180 people, 80 beds and 100 small bunks. It is a full-service hut that is very popular for climbing the glacier of Piz Buin nearby. If you stay overnight, you will receive half-board which means your dinner and breakfast are paid for.

Wiesbadnerhutte Website – for reservations, information

How to get to Wiesbadenerhutte

First things first go to the Vermuntbahn where you will park your car for the night and take a lift and a tunnel bus to Berggasthof Hotel Piz Buin. This is during the winter, during the summer you are able to drive straight to the Berggasthof.

Directions to Vermuntbahn during the winter:

From Landeck get on E60/S16 from B171. Follow E60/S16 to B188 in Bludenz. Take exit Bludenz-Montafon from E60/S16. Follow B188 to Bofasrtasse/Innerbofa in Gaschurn for 27.9 km (17.5 mi).

Address: Vermuntbahn 6794 Gaschurn, Austria

Vermuntbahn Information

Vermuntbahn and tunnel bus is your gateway to Bielelhohe, Verggasthof Hotel Piz Buin where you will begin the hike. A 1 day Vermuntbahn and tunnel bus ticket costs 30.10 Euro. You can buy your ticket ahead of time or instead buy on-site. Make sure you buy your ticket down too unless you will walk all the way down to your car.

Information about the Silvretta High Alpine Road and Vermuntbahn

Guide Options

There are options to hire a guide and do one of their tours. Here are some links to some companies that offer these tours.

Bergaktiv Montafon
Mountain Guides for Summer and Winter Tours

Our plan
Day 1
06:15 Leave Zurich area
09:00 Arrive Partenen, AT
09:20 Take Gondola to Bielerhöhe, Gasthof Piz Buin. Vermuntbahn (Gondola) Partenen > Trominier then Tunnelbus > Silvretta-Bielerhöhe
10:15 Meet guide and receive equipment
11:00 Start Hike, 4h – 5 hr
16:00 Arrive at Wiesbadenerhütte (stay the night)
Day 2
08:30 Leave Wiesbadenerhütte, head back to car


There’s things that you would only try once and then there’s things that you do for the first time that may become your passion later. I haven’t been snowshoeing ever before this trip and I now want it to become a hobby.

I would like to recommend that if you have never been snowshoeing before especially to a place you have never been, hire a guide. To reach our guide, we took the Vermuntbahn (cable car) to Partenen. Here a taxi service takes you in a tunnel bus through a 4 km long tunnel and then a cleared road only for this tunnel bus to Bielerhohe. During winter months this is the only way to get to Bielerhohe. It was quite an experience going through this tiny tunnel in the mountain as the bus perfectly fit into the tunnel.

We searched around for a little and there he was all ready for us. Our guide Kristof was ready with our snowshoes and poles. The only reason it took a little to find him was we were mesmerized by the beautiful valley we were standing in; I immediately felt like I was dreaming, it was completely white everywhere. Kristof gave us our snowshoes and poles that we attached to our backpacks. The beginning of the hike was done on foot and hiking poles. We were crossing the Silvretta-Stausee (see is lake in German) as I saw a gentlemen doing a run around the lake. Quite the workout I must say.

After we passed the lake, Kristof instructed us to put on our snowshoes as we were entering into backcountry where there was no groomed trail. An interesting fact in the Alps is that tree line is at much lower elevation because of the harsh conditions and cold temperatures. It is much different than what I am typically used to here in the Eastern Sierras. Alpine territory is unimaginably beautiful, almost like someone painted the mountains white and didn’t miss a spot.

The hike itself was moderately difficult seeing that we weren’t going on the groomed trail, but higher up along the ridge of the mountain. The snow was deep, but every step I took I was mesmerized by what was around me. During the hike, we came close to these birds called snow chickens (I believe its official name is Rock Ptarmigan). Initially I thought the snow was moving, but it was actually the snow chickens. These birds are known to change colors from white in the winter and brown in the summer; another way to say this is they “seasonally camaflouge”. The snow chickens were the exact color of the snow we were walking on; I don’t believe we saw any other wildlife this entire trip.

The hike took us about 4 hours, obviously this time length would have been much faster in the summer months or if we took the groomed trail. Kristof took us off trail and I remember seeing the groomed trail just below us almost the entire hike. Of course that played with my head during the hike, but I didn’t mind much. I was having such a fascinating time with this hobby. The first thing we did after we reached the hut was order a Radler (beer mixed with carbonated lemonade). I learned of Radlers years ago on my first hike in Switzerland and guess what they are imported to the U.S. now.

We enjoyed the warm weather in the sun while waiting for our room to be available. They had a few benches outside that numerous amount of people were relaxing on. They overlook the valley where we came from below and have a perfect view of Pitz Buin (3,312 m). Pitz Buin borders Austria and Switzerland; so just on the other side of the mountain we were looking at was Switzerland. We were able to witness some people who were ski-touring up to reach Pitz Buin and ski back down.

Wiesbadenerhütte sits at 2443 m (8,015 ft) and Bielerhohe where we came from sits at 2023 m (6,637 ft). The next day we would go back another way which also meant we were climbing the mountain behind Wiesbadenerhutte; this looked like a difficult task.

For dinner I had a soup by the name of Speckknodel Suppe and Wiener Schnitzel. Speckknodel is dumplings with pieces of bacon) and is a specialty in the Tyrol area of Austria. It’s quite interesting because the Tyrolean cuisine is simple; I’ve read that they were not rich and since they lived in the mountains and valleys in the Alpine areas they farmed. A lot of their cuisine has flour, milk and cheese. Wiener Schitzel is breaded chicken and what’s funny is in the U.S. we have a chain called Wienerschnitzel that is actually the world’s largest hot dog chain. I would recommend both of those for dinner if you eat there.

We stayed in an 8 bunk room that night, we were fortunate to get there early enough to get the bottom bunks. The people who took the beds at the top came later and left before us. I would advise to bring a sleeping bag liner.

The next morning we woke up and had a communal breakfast. The usual is bread and cold cuts in these mountain huts. I don’t have much of that at home, so of course I get excited and may over-eat. Either way we were told to eat well for energy for the climb that was going to take place.

Instead of heading back the same way, we headed up the mountain side to another valley. The climb up was quite icy and we did put on our snowshoes until later. Once we hit the ridge it was much warmer because the sun was beating down on us. There were portions where I second guessed my next step because we were on steep and icy terrain. As we finally descended into the valley on the other side the snow was perfect fluffy and we had a bit of fun on this portion of the hike.

I enjoyed that Kristof took us a different way back; I tend to like loops better than out and back hikes. Just before noon we hit the Silvrettasee drag lift and Silvretta-Skisafari. This is where we split up: 3 went to the car and my sister and I decided we would hike back down all the way till Galtur where we had an apartment rental awaiting us. The entire way down was on a groomed trail. It was nice because all we had to do was return our rentals the next day to a shop in Galtur.

This was an epic trip, a trip of a limetime that opened my eyes to another world of hobbies. Soon enough I would take my next snowshoe trip without a guide.

Week 6 – 1000 Miles Challenge

Do it for the Mountains!

Week 6 was also a challenge, but I did get 22.95 miles in. Unfortunately I did not hit one of my goals for the week and that was to hit 25 miles. I did get past the 100 mile milestone; let’s see how long it takes to get to the 200 mile milestone. I did however beat my mileage and my minutes per average mile. I still have not reached the under 11:00 min/mile, but slowly I’ll get to that. Longer runs I do like to take slow pace and since I’m still only on Week 6, my body is getting used to running still. In fact 3 of my runs this past week were under 11 min/mile. I’d say that’s a success because I’ve only had 1 run this year that was under 11 min/mile this year.

Runs outdoors week: 3. Something different: I hit the gym during lunch time and added a couple miles to my total that way. Next week I’d like to do that 3 times. Maybe I can change it up and do runs somewhere else other than the gym and the path by our house. Hmmmmm where to run? Here’s to the next 100 miles!

Goals next week:
1. Catch up to mileage I should be at for the year: 134.62
2. 26 miles running
3. 3 extra runs during lunch time

This Week: 22.95 miles
Last Week: 18.25 miles
Avg min/mile: 11:08
Miles Left:899.47

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
2/8 3.37 100.53 899.47
2/7 4.5 97.16 902.84
2/6 4.99 92.66 907.34
2/6 2.75 87.67 912.33
2/5 7.34 84.92 915.08

Anyone else doing a challenge like this? Let me know how it is going, very interested in hearing about it. Follow more on my journey to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles in 2018.

Week 5 – 1000 Miles Challenge

Do it for the Mountains!

Week 5 didn’t go as well, but at least I still got 3 days of running in.  I’m not feeling as sore all the time like the 4 first weeks.  2 of my runs were in the gym and 1 one outside.  I actually like my Friday runs outside, feels so nice.  It was one of those mist days where it was coming in fast and I actually like those days because you’re so hot from running.

I didn’t quite hit 20 miles last week, but I will make up for that during week 6 I promised myself.  I also still have yet to get an average under 11 minutes per mile for the week.  Maybe next week – we’ll see; on the longer runs I like to take it slow in the beginning so I can last.  I was able to beat my average minutes per mile over last week. I’d like to keep that up through the entire year.

Goals next week:
1. Pass 100 Miles total
2. 25 miles running
3. 3 runs outdoors

This Week: 18.25 miles
Last Week: 32.66 miles
Avg min/mile: 11:20
Miles Left: 922.42

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
2/2 6.65 77.58 922.42
1/31 5.5 70.93 929.07
1/30 6.1 65.43 934.57

Anyone else doing a challenge like this? Let me know how it is going, very interested in hearing about it. Follow more on my journey to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles in 2018.

Week 4 – 1000 Miles Challenge

Week 4 was a turnaround week. I killed it on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I was gong to take the day off, but my sister pushed me to run at least 3 miles. I pulled through and did the 3 miles on the treadmill, which I have no idea how because I was feeling absolutely dead and sore everywhere. I honestly think it would have been much easier outdoors because I kept looking at the mileage and the time. We made a pact that days we’re supposed to run, but are dead we would run 3 miles to keep our muscles stimulated. I was thinking about writing a blog on muscle soreness and good habits to pick up to help it. Thursday, Friday and Saturday went much easier and I took Sunday off to recover. I’ll be back on the trail on Monday with at least 3 miles.

Two weeks ago I had a goal: run 20 miles within a week; I hit that goal on Thursday! I also achieved the fastest min/mile average on Thursday afternoon when I didn’t even want to go for a run with my average being just under 11 minutes per mile. Goal this coming week is run above 25 miles for the week. Next training goal is to obtain a 10:45/min or under average per mile.

I simply have to remember that if I train hard, my hikes that I plan to do this summer and challenges will be a lot easier. Do it for the mountains! Do it for the challenges! I think I just came up with the motto for this whole 1000 Miles Challenge.

Do it for the Mountains!

This Week: 32.66 miles
Last Week: 11.03 miles
Avg min/mile: 11:39

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
1/27 5.04 59.33 940.67
1/26 6.34 54.29 945.71
1/25 4.97 47.86 952.14
1/24 3.14 42.89 957.11
1/23 6.04 39.75 960.25
1/22 7.04 33.71 966.29

Anyone else doing a challenge like this? Let me know how it is going, very interested in hearing about it. Follow more on my journey to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles in 2018.

My Picks – January 2018

1. Madera Apache Camping Hammock

> >>that hammock you’ve always been waiting to relax in when backpacking

A couple of weeks ago, I became a brand ambassador for a company called Madera Outdoor. I really believe in their mission; “Because it takes 2 trees to hang a hammock, Madera plants 2 trees for each hammock sold. The new one I just received is perfect, can’t wait to get it outdoors on my next trip and relax in it. Remember 2 trees are planted out there where it’s needed if you buy this item!

There are many types of hammocks available. If you click on the link I have attached and make a purchase, I receive a small amount of commission; no added cost to you.

>>$$95.95 – @madera_outdoor

2. Cotopaxi Fuego LT Down Jacket – Women’s

>> >>that jacket you won’t ever take off in the winter

I received My first item from Cotopaxi after signing up for a monthly package at Cairn. Cairn has sent me quite the products over the years that I’ve had the package come to me. The item was a Luzon Del Dia 18L Backpack which I nearly use every day hike and take on trips. After owning an awesome product that is made of “repurposed fabric” and unique, I’d decided to pick out another item from this company that I would like to buy; scratch that, that I would love to buy! I love the brand Cotopaxi and what they stand for.

Down jackets are very reliable in the outdoors for many activities. Every hike during the colder seasons I take a down jacket with me and I use one snowboarding on a bluebird day. This one sticks out to me for a few reasons:
– Goose Down 950-fill: it is very well known as the finest quality down
– Elastic binding at cuffs and hem: this is much more comfortable fitting than those that don’t have that
– Two interior stash pockets: the one I have now has only one; I would love to have two especially for snowboarding
– Included stuff sack: some down jackets do not include these, I believe it’s a plus
– Cotopaxi is a great company and has a huge impact in the world

See more Cotopaxi gear here:

>>$$229.95- @Cotopaxi

Interested in getting your outdoor package monthly from Cairn click here: @getcairn

3. America the Beautiful National Parks Pass – 2018/2019

>> >>that pass you buy for someone that regularly goes to National Parks

Free entrance to the following: Forest Service, the National Park Service, etc. Buy the product off the USGS website and 100% of the proceeds supports the National Park System’s improvement of visitor recreation services.

If you buy this product from REI, they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.

Here is a some more information about the America the Beautiful Passes: Link.

>>$$80.00 – @USGS
>>$$79.99 – @REI

Mt. Whitney – Inyo National Forest

Where: Inyo National Forest/John Muir Wilderness
Mileage: 22 miles
Difficulty: Extremely Difficult
Elevation gain: 6,000 ft
Type: Out-and-back

Mt. Whitney Background

The mountain sits at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) above sea level and is the highest peak in the contiguous United States, the lower 48. Mt. Whitney was named after Josiah Whitney, the State Geologist and benefactor of the California Geological Survey. The first recorded ascent was in 1873 by Charles Begole, A.H. Johnson, and John Lucas, all residents of Lone Pine.
Mount Whitney Trail: The most popular route to its summit is the Mount Whitney Trail route, beginning at Whitney Portal sitting at 8,360 feet (2,550 m). The hike is 22 miles with a gain of just over 6,100 feet. If done as a day hike expect 12-18 hours of hiking. Permits are required year round.

Mountaineer’s Route: The less popular route to the summit. This route was first climbed by John Muir a more interesting fact. The scramble up this way is a gully on the north side of the east face of the mountain and is known to be a class 3, more difficult route. Permits are not required.
Technical Climbs can also be done for the more serious climbers.

Every year the Forest Service holds a lottery for hiking and backpacking permits on Mt. Whitney Trail. Applications are accepted from February 1 to March 15. The lottery is for the dates in between May 1 and November 1. Interested in reserving, scroll to Helpful Links and find Mt. Whitney Permit Lottery Reservations Page.

I would recommend camping and sleeping up at the Whitney Portal Campground due to sleeping at elevation will help and you can get a very early start this way. Interested in camping here, scroll to Helpful Links and find Whitney Portal Campground Reservations Page.

Forest Service Guides
U.S. Forest Service Mt. Whitney Trail Information
Mt. Whitney Trail Recreation Guide
Mt. Whitney Permit Lottery Reservations Page
Tom Harrison Mt. Whitney Map
Whitney Portal Campground Reservations Page
Mt. Whitney Weather
Weather near Whitney PortalWeather near Whitney Portal
Weather near Summit (14,505 feet)
More information on Mt. Whitney
Hiking the Mt. Whitney Trail
Sierra Elevation’s Hiking Mt. Whitney Page
Whitney Portal Store
Whitney Zone and Forums
Timberline Trails Mt. Whitney Page


Here are some tips for training and preparations:
Do at least 5 hikes:
– That take you above 10,000 feet
– That are over 10 miles
– That are 5,000+ elevation gain
– That you carry exactly what you are taking on Mt. Whitney Trip
– Study the map and mileage, order the map as soon as you know you have permits
– Make sure you have all the essential gear, make a list 3-4 months ahead or exactly when you get the permits, so you can buy anything that you are missing or borrow from a friend
– Plan your meals, re-packing foods that are bulky to minimize room is helpful
– Talk about possibly having to turn around together and no making the summit
– Give your trip plans to at least two different people at home and include: Permit reservation number, entry/exit dates, itinerary, car’s make/model and license # you’re taking, names and phone numbers, ranger station to call in emergency

From Highway 395 in Lone Pine, CA turn west on Whitney Portal Road. Drive 13 miles to Whitney Portal. There is an upper parking lot that has limited parking and a lower parking area as well.

Mileage Points of Interest

Points of Interest Elevation Mileage
Trailhead (Whitney Portal) 8,637 feet 0 miles
Lone Pine Lake turn-off 9,420 feet 2.8 miles
Outpost Camp 10,360 feet 3.8 miles
Mirror Lake 10,640 feet 4.3 miles
Trailside Meadow 11,395 feet 5.3 miles
Consultation Lake overlook 11,989 feet 6.0 miles
Trail Camp 12,039 feet 6.3 miles
Trail Crest 13,777 feet 8.2 miles
JMT Junction 13,480 feet 9.0 miles
Mt. Whitney Summit 14,497 feet 11.0 miles


You can’t just wake up one morning and say, I’m going to hike Mt. Whitney. Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in California, even the tallest mountain in the lower 48. There are many reasons why there is a permit process for this trail. There have been many people unprepared and even people prepared who experienced trouble and/or devastation on the trail.

We picked up our permits at the Eastern Sierra Inter Agency Visitor Center the day before. The deadline to pick up your permits is 10am of the entry date. You should pick up your permit the day before. Only the group leader or the alternate leaders that are stated on the permit can pick up the permit. Also, something to take note is if you confirm your reservation online you can pick up your permit one or two days before your entry day.
They will give you a permit that you signed, the group leader has to keep this on them and each person in the group will receive a tag. Put these immediately on the backpacks of those going with you in order to not forget them. The two things they will give you is a Parking Pass (must have one displayed at Whitney Portal) and a Human Waste Bag. You are required to take out what you bring in; this includes human waste. Do not leave the bag on the mountain, there is a trashcan where you can dispose of it at Whitney Portal at the end of your trip.

I hiked Mt. Whitney twice and did it the same way both times. We slept up at Whitney Portal Campground just 5 miles down the road, woke up around 2:00am with everything packed except our tents and were on the trailhead by 3:00am in the morning. Both times we had a group of 3 people with us.

The first time around it was easy to find a spot online at Whitney Portal Campground, but the second time there were no sites available. We walked in and were able to snag the last site even though I had reserved a site at Lone Pine Campground, but again wanted to sleep in elevation to be more accustomed and have an easier time adjusting the next day. It’s $15 a night to stay at the campground.

We cooked some steaks with veggies and potatoes on the fire for dinner the night before; the year after we hit up one of the restaurants and had a turkey burger. Both were high in carbs and protein. If you know you are going to wake up early, make sure you hit the sleeping bag as the sun sets. Both years we were in bed by about 7:00-8:00pm.


Day 1: Whitney Portal to Summit and back down to Consultation Lake Overlook (16 miles)
The goal of today was to get the Consultation overlook to set up our tents and take a day pack up to Mt. Whitney after a short break and a good breakfast. Second goal was to head out and summit before 1pm, so that we would get back to camp before sunset. We parked the car actually right next to the trailhead which was absolutely nice on our way down. Make sure you put all food and scented items into the bear boxes; do not leave anything in your car.

The trailhead is located across the street, it is very easy to find and it’s just below the Whitney Portal Store. We were on our way, taking our first steps on the trail and of course the first couple of miles are long switchbacks. We were quite overdressed for the climb and after about a mile in we had to take a couple layers off. We hit a trail marker that pointed to the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. If you are continuing on the Mt. Whitney trail, continue on “TRAIL”.

Soon after this sign, you will cross over a small creek call Lone Pine Creek. In the dark one year I missed it, but the year later shortly after crossing the creek there will be a John Muir Wilderness wooden sign. Continue on to the next major landmark Lone Pine Lake. It was still complete darkness and other than a few lights we saw up ahead of us, we did not see a soul starting when we did or on the trail behind us.

A little before the lake itself there is a wooden log crossing, this is where you will know that you are very close to Lone Pine Lake. This was the first time we ran into people who had started earlier than us. We reach the junction to Lone Pine Lake a little past 4:00am. We were making good time to reach Consultation area to set up camp and possibly even take a good hour to ourselves. The junction sits about 2.8 miles from the trailhead.

We continued on after a short break we were addressed by a wooden sign. “ENTERING THE WHITNEY ZONE – SPECIAL PERMIT REQUIRED FOR ALL HIKERS, DAY AND OVERNIGHT”. We were still using our headlamps at this point. The sign is there for a reason, you cannot enter this area without a permit. Please do not attempt to do so! If the ranger catches you, you will be escorted off the mountain. Once you pass this sign you have about a mile to arrive to Outpost Camp.

The uphill climb on this portion was the first time we saw light. Keep climbing to about 3.5 miles from the trailhead and there is a notable large meadow just before Outpost Camp. There is a short descent into the valley where we didn’t really notice anyone sleeping as we approached and were talking rather loudly. Fortunately it looked like we didn’t wake anyone. You could hear a waterfall rumbling in the distance from Lone Pine Creek to the south of the camp; perfect spot to fill up on water.


Outpost Camp sits at 10,400 feet and is a perfect location to camp and acclimate if you’d like to do so. The Camp has established sites that are perfectly sandy and level. If you decide to stay here, there are no wood fires allowed; it is well marked on a sign near the campgrounds. We continued up to the next point of interest Mirror Lake. After a short climb we reached the lake and it is well marked that camping is prohibited here.

We continued next to the lake until the trail turns into a heavily rocky area. The trail starts climbing on the west side of Mirror Lake and stays above it in a small wooded area. Switchbacks take you up to granite rock with no more tree coverage and you will be glowing in the sun (of course if the sun is out). This portion of the hike was very strenuous. Do not rush yourself and make sure you are getting plenty of water. This is the first time I actually felt the altitude and from reading many others have too at this point. There is a wonderful view of Lone Pine Lake and the Owens Valley as you reach a plateau; this is a great spot to take a break.


The trail turns westward here on a flat portion till Trailside Meadow before another climb. Trailside Meadow is another great spot to fill up on water and take a short break. Once you hit Trailside Meadow you have gone about 5.3 miles and a little over 2,700 feet of elevation gain. It is a lush meadow with a small waterfall pouring out of Consultation Lake. The lake is just above us on the right here and you won’t be able to see it until we climb up towards Trail Camp. Make sure you take the trail to the right of the meadow, north side.

This trail supports the hiker with large rocky steps. We looked at the gps and we were about 6 miles into the hike. It was time to find a campsite and we headed off trail a little bit to find some nice sandy outcroppings with a beautiful view of Consultation Lake. We found a perfect place to set up our tent and take a rest and it felt like we were nowhere near civilization. I’m sure everyone was either day hiking or at Outpost/Trail Camps.


Consultation Lake sits at 11,686 feet, our campsite for the evening was a few hundred feet above that. There was no one on the shores of the lake, which absolutely made for a perfect picture. One year the lake was clear of snow, the next year there was a little more remnants of snow. In 2015, we decided the next morning we would leave our packs near the trail and go for a quick swim in the lake. But we still had to tackle the highest mountain of the lower 48. We set up our tents, ate some breakfast and napped, deciding to move forward at 9:30am.

We packed up the essentials for summiting as a day hike and headed towards Trail Camp to fill up on water, enough for summit and the way back. Not even a half a mile later we hit Trail Camp and there were tents everywhere. What did you know, there were people on the trail overnighting. Apparently Trial Camp is one of the most crowded backpacking campsites in the entire Sierra Nevada range. Trail Camp is located at 12,000 feet and is actually a perfect base for the summiting of the mountain. Trail Camp has a seasonal lake perfect for filling up water, but in the other seasons it is frozen over and you will have to melt snow.

Just after passing trail camp is the beginning of the infamous 99 switchbacks up to Trail Crest. 1,700 feet of elevation gain, 99 switchbacks in a little over 2 miles. There is a sight of the 99 switchbacks and a ton of little ants (people) heading up it from Trail Camp. How did I make it easier on myself? In the beginning I counted down 98 left, 97, 96… I definitely lost count at some point and by then we were halfway. I thank the use of my hiking poles on this part of the trail, which I let my sister borrow for half of the time.


There was a little snow from a storm that occurred a week ago, but nothing to fear. There is a portion of the trail right before Trail Crest with cables. Many people worry about this section of the hike, but we had little to no snow or ice on it; small portions. Be sure to check the conditions on this portion of the trail in case you need any equipment.

Trail Crest sits at 13,777 feet and you are within 2.8 miles of the summit by this point. The view from here is quite dramatic as you can see both sides of the mountains, west and east. This is probably one of the most beautiful views in the entire Sierra Nevada’s, but then again every new place you see is. On the west-side you can see almost the whole of the Sequoia National Park. On the east-side, John Muir Wilderness and the Owens Valley below with views extending all the way to the White Mountains on a clear day.


After Trail Crest the trail descends and ascends a few times before hitting the John Muir Trail Junction. The trail wasn’t exceptionally steep like most other parts of the trail, but the trail is very exposed with a drop. Be very careful here and know one of the rules on the trail is to let the hiker going up pass by if you are on your way down! Honestly, it’s better to always just move over if someone looks like they are in a hurry to be safe.


I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the trail as you are now on the Sequoia Side of the trail where it is extremely rocky. My favorite area are the Windows that offer beautiful views and you peer through of the Owens Valley and thousands of vertical feet below. I remember thinking how far the trail seemed to just go and keep going. After the Needles, you will hit the East slope where we hit our first snow patch, but nothing to worry about as it was melting and the trail was not steep here.


It was a very difficult last mile up, but this stretch by numbers is the easiest stretch of the hike. But because of elevation and being that you have already climbed 10 or more miles, it obviously feels like the hardest part. Take your time here as most people start having altitude sickness problems. Make sure you read about safety and how to prevent this before your trip up to Mt. Whitney.

I remember not even looking where I was walking and looking for the hut. We reached the summit at 1:00pm, seemed like just enough time to take a good break at the top and enjoy the 360 degree view. We definitely had a victory shot and rested a bit here. I recommend not hurrying because being up there was just something else entirely. It is the first time we were standing on the highest point in the lower 48. Even the second time around was just at breathtaking and the greatest feeling of accomplishment. It’s a great place to refuel your body too and eat something.

We had a small meal and lots of water while we relaxed at the top. Something to note, do not take refuge in the summit hut if lightening is a threat; leave the summit as soon as possible if you see any threatening weather. Always check before hand and even if you are so close to the summit and a storm rolls in, leave immediately. We were lucky to find perfect conditions during our entire hike both years.


We didn’t reach camp until about 4:45pm and the sun was going down quickly. How nice it was that our camp was set up; we cooked something warm and laid out under the stars in our sleeping bags. Both nights we tried to stay up, but we fell asleep on the rocks outside. Around midnight we woke up and made our way into the tents.

Day 2: Consultation Lake overlook to Consultation Lake to Whitney Portal
The next morning we decided to pack up and leave our backpacks somewhere on the trail near Trailside Meadow to check out Consultation Lake. Bikini and towels in our small day packs we scrambled off-trail to the lake. The water was crystal blue clear and looked cold as ever, but what’s our #1 rule – jump in the water. So we ended up doing so; see video here. It was such a good feeling, almost like we had just showered and yes the water was absolutely freezing.


Quickly dried off and headed back to our backpacks. We filled up on water here at the Trailside Meadow and continued down to Whitney Portal. It was quite nice to see the trail on this portion on the way down. We were able to catch side of some deer on our way down the long switchbacks. There were actually people coming up asking how much further. I hope they listened and turned back because they were very under prepared. We were also asked by two rangers for our permits. This was the first time on any hike I have ever been asked; I always keep my permit on me, but never encountered a Ranger until that hike.


There were a lot of day hikers going up to Lone Pine Lake, we decided we wanted to head back home sooner than taking the side trek to the lake. We headed to the Portal and had an amazing burger and beer and headed home on our way. What a hike!

Note to self: Make it to Lone Pine Lake one year!

Week 3 – 1000 Miles Challenge

Week 3 was tough, I was able to get in two runs this past week.  Unfortunately I caught a bad cold and decided that I would take the weekend off and rest.  Today is a start to a new week; I am feeling much better and can’t wait to get some higher mileage in.  One of the runs this week I did on a treadmill just like all my past runs. On Thursday I took myself outside and was able to run on a nearby creek trail.  My favorite part of day to run outside is just as the sun is about to set, I was able to time it out perfect to where I reached home as the sun had set. Thankful that we have a trail so close to our house. The trail actually is about 4 miles from the beach, so goal is to get to a point where I can run all the way to the beach and back just on a normal day. This coming week I should be able to put in the highest mileage yet weekly.  Let’s see where we get. 973.33 miles to go, still have a lot of time this year! Total mileage last week: 11.03 miles.

My runs this week:

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
1/18 5.69 26.67 973.33
1/15 5.34 20.98 979.024

Anyone else doing a challenge like this? Let me know how it is going, very interested in hearing about it. Follow more on my journey here to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles in 2018.

Week 2 – 1000 Miles Challenge

During Week 1 of the challenge, I was struggling and recovering from our 5 days of snowboarding. In return, I put in absolutely no mileage. Week 2 was almost a success reaching a mileage of 15.68. The average daily during this week only ended up being 2.24 miles per day because we went snowboarding this weekend both Saturday and Sunday in Mammoth. I hope to get stronger and be able to do more mileage as I time goes on. I think a good goal for next week is to get 20 miles in. This will keep my on track to the 1,000 miles.

My runs this week:

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
1/12 6.38 15.68 984.32
1/11 4.86 9.26 990.74
1/9 2.4 4.4 995.6
1/8 2 2 998

Anyone else doing a challenge like this? Let me know how it is going, very interested in hearing about it. Follow more on my journey here to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles in 2018.

Cactus to Clouds – Mt. San Jacinto from Palm Springs

Where: Palm Springs/Mount San Jacinto State Park
Mileage: 23 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 10,400 ft
Type: Out-and-to tram

Cactus to Clouds isn’t just some hike you wake up and say I feel like hiking 23 miles today. Do not consider this hike unless you are prepared and well trained to do it. It is a very difficult and long hike.

Some training hikes I would recommend that helped me get ready for this hike are:
1. Iron Mountain
2. Mt. San Antonio
3. Mt. Wilson
4. Mt. Baden Powell
These are just a few, but I recommend doing longer hikes over 10 miles to train you with high elevation gain as you will be going from sea level to the 3rd highest mountain in Southern California.

Cactus to Clouds is a term for the hike going from where cactus lay to where clouds hover. The trailhead is at 470 ft. and Mt. San Jacinto peers out at 10,834 feet.

Important Points Along Trail:
I’ve found that the table below has helped me with the points, I checked a few sites before and had some of these printed out and updated them with what my gps showed.

Points Along Trail – to keep an eye on Elevation Mileage
Trailhead: Palm Springs Art Museum 470 ft 0 mi
Picnic Tables 1,340 ft 0.8 mi
North Lykken trail junction 1,400 ft 0.9 mi
Rescue Box 1 2,450 ft 2.2 mi
4,300 ft Pebbles 4,300 ft 5.1 mi
Rescue Box 2 5,400 ft 7.4 mi
Flat Rock 5,900 ft 8.4 mi
The Traverse Start 7,400 ft 9.5 mi
Coffman’s Crag 7,800 ft 8.8 mi
Grubb’s Notch (entrance to Long Valley) 8,400 ft 10.5 mi
Long Valley Ranger Station 8,380 ft 10.8 mi
Round Valley Campground 9,060 ft 12.3 mi
Wellman Divide 9,710 ft 13.1 mi
San Jacinto Peak 10,834 ft 16 mi
Tram Station 8,400 ft 23 mi

We parked just outside of the Palm Springs Art Museum.
101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA, 92262, USA
From 10 East take exit 111 and continue on this for 9.4 miles until it turns into N. Palm Canyon Drive. Continue for another mile. Turn right onto W Alejo Rd. drive a few hundred feet and turn left onto N Belardo Rd. Continue for .4 miles and N Belardo will turn into Museum Dr. Find some parking here on Belardo and not in the museum parking lot as it is free. There is a lot that used to be free across the street, but now has a 4 hour limit on it. Make sure that you do not park in the parking lot, but on the street.

Helpful Links:
Mt. San Jacinto State Park
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – for times and tickets
Hiking Guy’s Description of Cactus to Clouds
Mt. San Jacinto Message Board
Hikin’ Jim’s Skyline Page – original blog I used to help me prepare
Palm Springs Weather
Mt. San Jacinto Weather

This hike was absolutely epic. We started at midnight and reached the tram for a quick stop and breakfast, perfectly around breakfast time and a gorgeous sunrise. With that said, the hike wasn’t easy. As I’ve stated before, please do not take it lightly because there have been some instances where fatality has occurred because of not being prepared enough.

Before we headed to the trailhead we slipped into a Mexican restaurant to get a quick bite to eat. Oh how I wanted those chips and salsa, but I stuck to a couple tacos with some rice and beans and no salsa that would upset my stomach later. Should be just enough to get my juices flowing for the epic, long, extreme hike that we were about to embark on.

To find the trailhead, cross the parking lot of the museum. You will see a large sign that says “Welcome to the Museum Trailhead”. We took a couple of shots of our group and finally headed out around 12:20am. It was complete dark and headlights were on with our group. The first part of the trail is quite the climb. Follow signs and the white dots are going to be your best friend until the sun comes up.

The lower parts of the trail here are fragmented and it is easy to get lost in the dark. Again use the white dots to help you. If you don’t see take steps back and forward a little to find the next white dot. I had my gps and a map and we never seemed to lose the trail the entire time. At some point we were able to see the light at the Mountain Station. It looked abominably far away from where we were. Palm Springs was lit up below us, but the lights slowly faded as the sun started to come up.

The first part of the trail is called the Museum Trail until it passes the picnic benches and hits a junction. The trail to the left is the North Lykken trail and to the right is the Skyline Trail. Make sure you veer to the right and stay on the Skyline Trail. The junction sits at about 1.9 miles from the trailhead.

After the benches and junction the next major point will be the first rescue box. We took a short break here since we had gone about 2.2 miles and 2000 feet in elevation gain. I didn’t know what the rescue boxes were for, but according to reading online later, they were installed after a higher volume of rescues on the trail. The boxes each contain some food, water and a cell phone to call 911. Please only use if you are in dire need of some help.

We continued after a short snack up to the 4,300 foot mark written out in pebbles. This was a little over 5 miles up, which also meant that we were halfway to the Ranger Station. From here the climb isn’t as gruesome as what we had just endured up to the second Rescue Box. We all seemed to be doing pretty well and continued on to an are where there was a Flat Rock. I actually don’t believe I saw it, but I knew we were absolutely close as we were 8.2 miles into the trip and the sun began to rise above the horizon.

We took a little longer break here to watch the sunrise and again refuel ourselves for the hike to the Ranger Station. The travers are to Coffman’s Crag view had a few rough patches of uphill. The whole group started to slow down a bit, but till the Grubb’s notch the constant elevation gain let up a little. After a few breaks along the way it was such a good feeling to reach the notch, it was a little before 9:00am when we reached Long Valley.

I really enjoyed this part of the hike mostly because we had gone into the trees, the contrast with the colors and some snow on the ground was fabulous. Not to mention few hundred yards away we saw a small group of deer grazing. With the group all together we headed up to the tram to warm up/cool off and have some lunch, ok I guess it could be called breakfast. For about an hour everyone did their own thing, either napped, chatted at the table or checked out the gift shop.

After filling up on water, we finally decided to head on the trek up to Mount San Jacinto at 10:15am. We still had just under 6 miles to reach the summit. Before continuing on the rest of the hike, make sure that you fill out a wilderness permit at the Long Valley Ranger Station. Everyone is required who passes beyond this point and heads up to Mt. San Jacinto.

After filling out the permit, head behind the Ranger Station to continue on the San Jacinto Peak Trail. The trail was a gradual climb up to Round Valley Campground and there were more people on the trail at this point. We honestly didn’t see anyone until we hit the notch earlier into Round Valley. The campground had patches of snow here and there. Round Valley Campground is one of four hike in campgrounds; it is the only one with toilets and benches in case anyone wants to take their break here.

The trail is well maintained here and signage is also very easy to find. After the campground the trail heads towards the Wellman Divide. Make sure to take the trail to the right at the fork, but before there is an area where you can get quite a view. From here you have about 2.2 miles. At this point I was leading on the trail and started to fade, literally fall asleep while walking. I asked for a short break, took some GU chews and that held me together till we reached the summit.

There will be a well-marked saddle before the summit, follow the trail for .3 miles to the summit. You will pass by a stone cabin that can be used as an emergency shelter. We took a look inside and actually left a couple of snacks that I had left and didn’t need in the shelter. Hopefully someone would need them more than I did at that point. From here the scramble up was possible about another hundred feet. There it was perched in the rocks, the sign that I had seen in pictures. The view was incredible from up here.

It was 1:45pm and we had finally made it all 16 miles to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto that lies at 10,834 feet. We waited till the entire group showed up and toasted a small shot of Hungarian Palinka while our beer cooled down in the snow in the shade under one of the rocks. Quite a few people had reached the summit at this time, but we did have a few minutes to take some shots with the infamous sign.

We didn’t leave the summit until 3:00pm, which was probably a bad idea because we still had to take the tram down, get a ride to the cars and drive back all the way to Torrance and get up the next morning for work. Though it didn’t take as long to get down, we ended up reaching the Tram at around 5:15pm. We all grabbed a beer for celebration of finishing and took the

Note to self:
I was asked if I would ever do this hike again and honestly yes I would. Maybe one day I’ll do Cactus to Clouds to Cactus. Perhaps I should add that to the goal list.

Beyond Limits on Foot: 2017 Picks

Pack up some necessities for a hike.
Light up your adventure and take some footage.
Bring some snacks.
Take a seat or lay around while you let your loved ones know your safe.
Charge your electronics while your food cooks and have a refreshing drink or two…

I’ve put together a few of my favorites from this year.  Read further for some ideas of what to buy for your next adventure or what to buy a loved one who is outdoorsy.


1. REI Co-op Roadtripper Duffel Price: $26.93
2. Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles Pair – Women’s Price: $99.95
3. REI Co-Op Camp Roll Table Price: $64.50
4. ENO DryFly Rain Tarp Price: $79.95
5. Sea to Summit Pocket Trowel Price: $22.95
6. Therm-a-Rest NoeAir XLite Sleeping Pad Price: $159.95
7. Therm-a-Rest Z-lite Sol Sleeping Pad Price: $44.95
8. Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Price: $42.95
9. Leatherman Skeletool Topo Multi-tool Price: $69.95
10. Hydro Flask Standard-Mount Water Bottle – 24 fl. oz. Price: $34.95
11. REI Co-op Nalgene Water Bottle – 32 fl. oz. Price: $10.95


12. Petzl Tikkina Headlamp Price: $19.95
13. Black Diamond Moji Lantern Price: $19.95
14. GoPro HERO6 Camera Price: $500.00


15. KRAVE Beef Jerkey Sweet Chipotle Price:
16. Haribo Gummi Bears Price: $2.00
17. Honey Stinger Energy Waffle Price: $1.50
18. GU Hydration Drink Tablets Price: $6.50


19. REI Co-Op Flexlite Chair Price: $49.99
20. REI Co-Op Sit Pad Price: $19.95
21. Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair Kit Price: $23.73
22. ENO Doublenest Hammock Price: $69.95
23. SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger Price: $74.89
24. Garmin InReach Explorer Satellite Communication Price: $450.00


25. Goal Zero Flip 10 Portable Charger Price: $19.99
26. Jetboil MicroMo Cooking System Price: $129.95
27. GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Cookset Price: $64.95
28. Seat to Summit X-Pan Price: $39.95
29. Seat to Summit X-Bowl Price: $15.95
30. Snow Peak Titanium Mug Price: $49.95
31. Snow Peak Thermal Lid for Titanium Mug Price: $5.95
32. Stanley Stainless Steel Shot Glass Set Price: $20.00
33. Snow Peak Titanium Spork Price: $9.95