Grand Canyon National Park: South Rim to Phantom Ranch

*Please note that some of the below links in this post are affiliate links.

Location: Grand Canyon National Park
Elevation Gain: 1800 feet
Mileage: 35.6 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Type: Overnight Backpacking Plan far in advance

Usually I begin with the background, this time I wanted to share my sisters beautiful artwork that will soon be available for print and on apparel. Check her out here: Deep in the Canyon art. See photo below.

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Background

One honest fact about the Grand Canyon is that we don’t know how old it is. “There are studies stating that the Colorado river began carving it 6-70million years ago.” What I do know about it, is that it is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. I remember when a few of us were planning the trip I jumped around all over the internet to find out anything about it. Nationalparks.org has a fun article about the 8 Facts About the Grand Canyon You Never Knew.

There’s much more to do than hiking here, but in this case, I’ll be focusing more on the hiking aspect of the South Rim. Day Hiking information can be found on the National Park Service Website.

Directions

South Kaibab Trailhead is located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. There is no private vehicle access here. You have to take a shuttle from the Backcountry Information Center.
Address: 1 Backcountry Rd, Grand Canyon Village, EZ, 86023

From Flagstaff take 64 North. Once you arrive to Tusayan, a small town outside of the park drive 4.4 miles to Center Dr. At this point you will hit the entrance of the park and need to pay your entrance fee. Turn left onto Center Dr. Drive another mile and a half and turn left on Village Loop Drive. Continue following the signs to Backcountry Information Center. There is parking here and a shuttle stop for access to the South Kaibab Trailhead.

Shuttle Information

Reminder, there is no access to South Kaibab Trailhead. The best bet is for you to start the hike down really early, so you can reach Phantom Ranch a more shaded area before it gets very hot. There is a Shuttle called Hikers’ Express. This is an early morning shuttle bus that will take you to the South Kaibab Trailhead year-round.
If not needing the Hikers’ Express see South Rim Shuttle Bus Routes.
Hikers’ Express Shuttle Bus Information

Hike Details

Day 1: South Kaibab Trailhead to Phantom Ranch (8.5 miles one-way)
Day 2: Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls (17.1 miles round-trip)
Day 3: Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Trailhead (10 miles one-way)
Note: These are mileages from my gps, which cannot be 100% accurate.

Maps
Personally, I recommend this map basically because of the many options of other trips to do if you have more than this hike to do. Also, you can use this map again on your next trip out here if you plan on coming back.
Bright Angel Trail PDF
This has a ton of more information on the trail itself: conditions, directions, elevations, services and mileage. Note: There is water on this portion of the trail, but it is not recommended to rely on that. Carry your own extra water at all times
South Kaibab Trail PDF
2014 Bright Angel Point 7.5 Minute Topo Map
Phantom Ranch Information

Phantom Ranch is located at the bottom of Grand Canyon on the north side of the Colorado River. There is no other lodging below the canyon rim other than Phantom Ranch. One can only reach it by foot, mule or by rafting the Colorado River.

Background:
Entrepreneurs shaped the beginnings of a small camp that grew into now the well known Phantom Ranch. Phantom Ranch is a member of Historic Hotels of America. The site has a ranch, a canteen, cabins and two dormitories. On top of that has an emergency medical facilities and a ranger station. Bright Angel Campground is not to far away and available to reserve ahead of time just like the ranch accommodations. I’m not sure if they have copies, but there is a very interesting walking tour I recommend during off-time: Phantoms of the Past: A Historic Walking Tour.

Reservations:
Phantom Ranch Reservations
Phantom Ranch Lottery
Phantom Ranch General Availability Reservations

Phantom Ranch Canteen:
The Canteen is something special and if you end up staying at Phantom Ranch I would absolutely recommend eating here. They serve breakfast and dinner and have certain times for these meals. Reservations are required so be sure to make them ahead of time possibly right when you make your reservations or win the lottery, not money but the reservation lottery. Here’s a little more information about the Canteen: https://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/dine/phantom-ranch-cafe/.

Hiking Gear Recommendations
KEEN Women’s Whisper Sandal,Dark Shadow/Ceramic,8 M US
Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir, 3 Liter
Black Diamond Women’s Trail Pro Shock Walking Pole, 63-125cm
Honey Stinger Waffle Variety Sampler Pack – 14 Waffles, 2 of Each Flavor
Description

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before, but I don’t have much recollection of what it was like. This time I got to experience it in a different way. Its beauty and vastness are like nothing else. We hiked down to the river, bunked at Phantom Ranch, hiked to a hidden waterfall and back out. Would you rather hike the Grand Canyon or run a marathon? Your choice. Our choice was to hike it and enjoy a mere 3 days in one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Note: This trip was reserved 1 year advance.

We started our trip in Phoenix/Tempe fitting in a stop at Montezuma’s Castle, a drive on the Red Rock Scenic Byway, short stop in Sedona for a tiny visit to a Chapel that had views of Cathedral rock, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. Stopped at a college town for a refreshing cold beer in Flagstaff and headed on towards Tusayan; our hotel was located here and along the way we were rewarded with views of the snowcapped Humphrey’s Peak.

After checking in and dropping our things off at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Grand Canyon in Tusayan, we headed for a quick drive into Grand Canyon National Park to double check our parking situation for the next morning. Since it was National Park Week all visitors were allowed in for free. Normally a $30 fee to enter the park is in state. We met the rest of the group at the market and after a quick meeting headed near the hotel to quiet Mexican Restaurant. Since our wake-up call was at 3am in the morning, we all headed back to our rooms in preparation of the early morning rise.

Day 1: South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch

Goal for this day was to get up at 3am and get to Ooh Aah Point for sunrise – and we did just that. Before heading on our way on South Kaibab Trail, we parked at the Bright Angel Trailhead as our return would be on that trail. The reason they tell you that this is probably the better route is that along the way on South Kaibab Trail there are not water sources, as for Bright Angel Trail there are many sources of water and great rest spots, which makes for a better and more convenient climb up the canyon. Be sure to pack enough water to get you through a full 4-6 hours on your way down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
South Kaibab Trailhead is one of the portals to the Grand Canyon sitting at 7,260 feet. 4:45am in the morning it was still dark out, we were dressed warm, headlights were turned on and we were headed to Ooh Aah Point. Ooh Aah Point is less than a mile away from the trailhead and we reached this point perfectly in time for the “Ooh Aah” moment: an incredible sunrise with a view of the vast canyon in front of us.

The trail from Ooh Aah Point continues down several switchbacks until you hit Cedar Ridge a good option to take a rest as it has toilet facilities. Skeleton Point is the next good available spot to take a break and the first sign of the Colorado River below. We continued on and since we were making such good time we decided to take a break at a place called the Tip off. Tipoff sits at about 4,000 feet and has pit toilets and an emergency phone.

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To reach Phantom Ranch, you have to go into a tunnel and pass over a bridge to the north side of the Colorado River. It was over 80 degrees here at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We passed by some tents along the way at a campsite called “Bright Angel Campground”. It was still before noon when we reached Phantom Ranch; we had to wait around for our beds for some time. While waiting we relaxed by a nearby creek called Bright Angel Creek.

Once we got situated the rest of the day we had free time to do whatever we wanted: whether it was taking a nap, showering, swimming in the creek, or laying outside to soak up some sun. Dinner was served in the main kitchen in two shifts. We had the earlier shift and were able to meet some of the others staying in the cabins.



Day 2: Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls

The next morning we work up for the 5:30am breakfast in order to get an early start for our long day hike to Ribbon Falls. Ribbon Falls is situated deep in the canyon on the way out to North Rim. We didn’t exit to the North Rim, we had one more night at Phantom Ranch. Day pack in tact we headed out at 7 in the morning for an 8 mile hike; the hike didn’t have much elevation gain/loss. Rainbow Falls is an absolute hidden gem.

Depending on the time of year you will be visiting these falls, please check the weather. Take appropriate precautions depending on winter months and hotter months.

After about 6 miles you will see a clear sign that says “Ribbon Fall”; make sure you turn left here and go towards the creek, if you continue on the other trail it will go to the North Rim. 2-3 miles later there you can cross the creek following a small rocky trail. The waterfall was amazing, it was two tiered, an upper level and a lower mossy level with a small cave behind the covered moss. Once we arrived we decided to take the trail to the upper level and it was a different world up there; I felt as though we were somewhere fake another world. The view from up here was both breathtaking and surreal. In the small save under the moss and waterfall lived a family of birds. The mother would go in and out while the two charming baby birds chirping in their nest.

We spent about 3 hours here exploring the area. My sister found a spot where we jumped from a rock into a swimming hole – quite the excitement as I like to look for cliff jumping spots on trips like this. Once we finished we headed on our long 8 mile trek back to Phantom Ranch where we soaked our bodies in the cool waters of Bright Angel Creek; this felt remarkable after the long hike we endured and soothed our sore muscles.

Waiting around for dinner, again most us showered and took a nap or hung outside. Dinner was nice and of course after dinner we hung out with others a little past our “bedtime”.

Day 3: Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon 006

The next morning we had the 5am breakfast shift and were up on our way at 6:30am to the top. It was a crisp morning; we headed toward the river the same way we came in. Then as soon as we got to the river we went towards the River Trail to take Bright Angel Trail up. This is recommended as there is water along the way and the extreme changes in climate from bottom to top make this a very difficult trek. Before you leave, make sure you pack enough water.

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Once we crossed the river on a bridge we turned right onto the River Trail which led us by the river for about a mile before we turned left up into the canyon. The trail at some point becomes Bright Angel Trail, which takes you up to the main visitor area. The further and higher we hiked, the temperature climbed.
You’ll notice that when you get about halfway up the crowds get bigger and bigger. Other than being so many people the last part of the hike and it being very warm all of the climb had awe striking views of the canyon from different angles as we climbed the switchbacks. Finally hitting the top around 2:00pm we headed straight for something that we’ve been craving for all day. Yes that BURGER!

Tough trip, but worth every minute of it!

Note to self: Make sure to drink enough water throughout the entire trip or else one my get nauseous on their way home because of exhaustion and dehydration.


Week 15 – 1000 Mile Challenge

*Please note that some of the below links in this post are affiliate links.

Do it for the Mountains!

Another week in the books. This was a different kind of week, because we had a pretty long backpacking trip planned for the weekend. Monday was my dad’s birthday and since he is still in a care center after his accident, I wanted to go visit him right away after work. I flew back to LA on an early morning flight this day, so I was too exhausted to go running. Seems like travel is getting in the way of my running. Spent Monday with him and Tuesday and Wednesday were my only runs.

Thursday night my sister and I ran errands after work; especially picked up some food for the backpacking trip. Friday I ended up playing beach volleyball, so another zero day came upon me. As for the weekend, this was definitely not a easy hike and we ended up doing almost 28 miles total. We went to Sequoia National Park, from Giant Museum (since road to Crescent Meadow was closed still) almost all the way to Bearpaw Meadow until we found a campsite that was perfect. So yes, I only ran 7 miles, but I hiked 28. This upped my total hiking for the year to 41; still have 259 miles of just hiking to go. That’s just another goal of mine. Should be able to hit it with all the trips I have planned this summer. I’ll have the write-up soon for this past weekends backpacking trip.


Fun fact: I should be sitting at 287.67 as of 4/15. I’m not too worried, I feel as though the stronger I get the more I’ll be able to put in weekly and it is still just mid-April. Still hope to hit that 100 miles for the month; got to push hard.

STATS
This Week: 7.92 miles
Last Week: 17.37 miles
Avg min/mile: 11:06
Miles Left: 803.54 miles

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
4/11 4.62 196.46 803.54
4/10 3.3 191.84 808.16

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 14 – 1000 Mile Challenge

*Please note that some of the below links in this post are affiliate links.

Do it for the Mountains!

So if you are just starting to follow my journey, as my new years resolution I decided to take up a challenge. I wanted my hiking in general to get easier and what better than to put in mileage running. Hopefully weight loss would come with it and strength. Until now, I’ve had a few bumps in my path of reaching my goal. What is my goal? It is to run 1000 miles in the year of 2018. What does this mean? I have to run a little over 2.7 miles a day to reach that goal, 2.7 miles every single day of the year. I thought, for sure this is easy no problem.

I’ve had a few weekend trips for snowboarding, few times I got a cold or some bug, we’ve also travelled a ton on weekends (which makes Monday one of the hardest das to run). What does this mean, there are too many 0 mile days on my calendar. I also wasn’t updating my weekly blogs on how my challenge is going; I figured maybe if I talk about it more and share my experience I’ll begin to believe in myself more to be able to finish these 1000 miles.

Week 14 has definitely gone better than my past weeks. I wish I had gotten one more run in that would help me hit 21 miles. Why 21 miles? Because for the rest of the year I have to hit a little over 21 miles to get to my goal. I was short 4 miles this past week. This was however one of my highest mileage weeks and a higher mileage than the past 6 weeks I have logged. I also logged 2 days of weights last week. I hope to up that slowly to 3-4 times per week. It sure as hell will make running easier.

I travelled away for the weekend, Saturday, Sunday and this Monday were shot. Wednesday, I finally got out to the beach to play beach volleyball which meant another 0 mile day of running. I’d like to get out and play at least twice a week, I forget how much I love the sport.

All in all, as of 4/8 I should be sitting at 268.49 miles; I am only 188.54. Here’s to pushing to close this huge gap.

Goals next week:
1. Close the gap on mileage I should be at for the year: 287.67
2. 21 miles running
3. Run outside more

STATS
This Week: 17.37 miles
Last Week: 8.4 miles
Avg min/mile: 12:38
Miles Left: 811.46

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
4/6 7.2 188.54 811.46
4/3 6.06 181.34 818.66
4/2 4.11 175.28 824.72

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.

February & March – 1000 Miles Challenge

Do it for the Mountains!

The reason I didn’t post during the past couple months were because they weren’t very deserving weeks to update. We had lots of trips, I got sick a couple times and lazy could have been a factor. It’s actually hard to admit it, but definitely have to make myself accountable for not holding to my goal the past two months. I also decided that if I keep my weekly updates going on here, I will probably be more likely to push myself to catch up and be on target with my goal this year. I’m only at a total of 171.17 and should be sitting at 249.32 miles as of 3/31. It’s time to get in at least 21.25 miles per week to get to 1,000 this year.

In February we ended up going to Denver. On our way back we had a layover in Las Vegas and missed our flight. Of course the only free flight back would be Tuesday morning; we couldn’t do that so we had a couple options to talk over. Mind you it was already 10:00pm at this point on Sunday and we had work the next day. One option was to rent a car and drive home, but at this point I was way too tired to do that. Another option was to buy the next flight out in the morning. Unfortunately both were costly and we decided to go with the next flight out which would put us back to LA later on Monday. After “sleeping” in the airport, once we finally got home we crashed out almost the rest of the day. Monday working out was shot. I shot away the next two days, which I should have just done a short run to get back into it. I was still able to get at least 13 miles in before our week long vacation started.


Later that February we went on vacation with our sister who was visiting from Switzerland. We drove from LA to Utah and Wyoming for some snowboarding. We hit Snowbird right after a storm (wasn’t planning on that), Jackson Resort and Grand Targhee. Quite amazing mountains out there; needless to say I ran when we got back on Sunday a whole whopping 3.75 miles. I guess that’s better than nothing, but we did snowboard all week. Week 9 went much better: Something different this week, was I woke up and ran 3 miles before work one day. This might be the new potentially favorite portion of this 1,000 mile journey, I could get used to working out in the mornings again. Week 10-12 were tough weeks, because my dad got into a car accident. Spent some time at the hospital and now he is healing well and was moved to a nursing home for physical therapy and care that he needs. So happy he is ok! Some thoughts: I still have yet to hit another trail or area, maybe next week a goal can be to run somewhere else! In the next coming weeks, I hope to push a little harder, to catch up to the mileage I should be at for the year. As of Sunday, March 4 I should be sitting at 173 miles total for the year. I did go hiking for the first time this year finally, 13.7 miles that is! It was pretty awesome because we did it after a snowstorm here in the local LA mountains; That’s why I added the picture to my feature image! I can’t believe I waited till March. Here’s to catching up and staying focused!!!

Goals in the next coming weeks:

1. Catching up to mileage I should be at
2. 26 miles running – since I didn’t hit this the last 3 weeks
3. 3 extra runs during lunch time
4. Run somewhere new!

STATS

Week 13: 8.4 miles
Week 12: 16.02 miles
Week 11: 9.5 miles
Week 10: 4.2 miles
Week 9: 15.63 miles
Week 8: 3.75 miles
Week 7: 13.14 miles
Week 6: 22.95 miles

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
3/27 8.4 171.17 828.83
3/25 5.15 162.77 837.23
3/24 5.1 157.62 842.38
3/19 5.77 152.52 847.48
3/18 4.15 146.75 853.25
3/17 5.35 142.6 857.4
3/7 4.2 137.25 862.75
3/1 6.21 133.05 866.95
2/28 3.07 126.84 873.16
2/27 6.35 123.77 876.23
2/25 3.75 117.42 882.58
2/16 8.01 113.67 886.33
2/15 5.13 105.66 894.34

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.

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
Background

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 a 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

Description

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 and a blow up pillow.

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

STATS
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

STATS
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!

STATS
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: https://www.cotopaxi.com/

>>$$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.

Routes

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.

Permits
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.

Camping
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.

HELPFUL LINKS

Forest Service Guides
U.S. Forest Service Mt. Whitney Trail Information
Mt. Whitney Trail Recreation Guide
Reservations
Mt. Whitney Permit Lottery Reservations Page
Maps
Tom Harrison Mt. Whitney Map
Campground
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:

TRAINING:
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
PREPARATIONS:
– 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

Directions

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
Description

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!