Our National Parks are treasures. They are special places set aside so that everyone can enjoy nature, and in my view there are few places as splendid when “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure”.
National Parks are our natural heritage: landscapes like no other, places were we have the chance to view wildlife in their natural habit, trees, flowers, forests, meadows, mountain tops, deep canyons, rivers, lakes, plains, deserts, and so much more. A place to fill our lungs with fresh air, stretch our legs, take flight with our imagination, share togetherness and memories, or find solitude in the quiet of wilderness. Fill our souls.
And from my viewpoint find a little balance to our stressful, plugged in, overworked lives through a taste of adventure in a way that only a National Park can provide. It is the journey not necessarily the destination, or said another way what is important is “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure” and our Nation Parks are a fabulous place to do just that.
Pursuing Balance Through Adventure
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” -John Muir
Please join me Roger Jenkins as I am “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure” at our National Parks. At least once a year, as a minimum, we need to recharge our batteries in nature and National Parks are a great place to do that. So I implore you if you love our National Parks, then come with me and LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW, and SHARE.
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Mystical, magical, marvelous rock formations. Joshua Tree National Park has quite a few great spots for wonderful boulder and rock formations and this is certainly among the best. Another good spot is Jumbo Rock which is nearby. That one captures everyone’s attention straight off with ‘Skull Rock‘ glaring at you from the roadway and then everyone just bounds off following the signs to the Jumbo Rock area. Leaving the mystical, magical, marvelous boulders and rock formations on the other side of the road relatively untouched and unspoiled by the crowd. A big plus indeed.
I parked at Skull Rock and headed off to Face Rock Trail. By taking this route to Split Rock Loop I add a little distance, but I was rewarded with more of what I came for and that is the rock formations to include ‘Face Rock‘ which is pretty cool, and really looks like a face. Of course the power of suggestion can be just that, pretty powerful. I have seen someone else’s picture of a rock formation called ‘Old Man with Finger in Nose’, and sure enough after that suggestion it sorta looked like an old man with his finger in his nose for crying out loud.
After checking out Face Rock the trail led to Split Rock Loop. There is a gravel road that you could drive to the Split Rock Loop Trailhead if you would rather, which would cut off a mile round trip of hiking to get to this post’s name sake.
Split Rock Loop is a couple miles long and if you are not in a hurry to fit in as much stuff as possible at the park then I would invite you to immerse yourself in this wonderland of boulders by getting off the trail. Wander over and get up and personal with the rock, scamper around that is part of the joy of Joshua Tree.
I connected an additional hike, that being Eagle Cliff Mine, to my hike which added considerable distance, and difficulty to the hike. It is really off the beaten path and thus might not be for everyone, so I will post that as a separate hike.
Boulders and rock, boulders and rock- what fun for the imagination, and a nice way to unwind, forget about the foes of the world for a moment, destress, breath in… breath out… be one with nature. That is what Pursuing Balance Through Adventure is all about. Stick with me there are more JTNP adventures ahead! Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE and FOLLOW. If you were transported from one of PBTA’s other social media platforms please note that this is where the others lead, like trickles and stream lead to a roaring river. The YouTube, Pinterest, FaceBook, and Instagram are all just pieces. The ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ Blog is what is complete. If you don’t leave a message, I will never know that you were even here, and that is sad. So please leave your footprints in the snow, speaking of which PBTA visits many extraordinary spots if you will scroll up to the menu and click on PBTA WA Hiking you can find a snow adventure or two, if you click on OR Hiking you can find kayaking on lakes so clear it will blow your mind. Click on NoCal Hiking and see waterfalls that are indeed a fairy tail, and so forth and so on. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. The ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure‘ logo hat, high performance shirt, and neck gator can all be found for purchase at SHOP APPAREL. It is first rate high quality and I know that you will enjoy wearing them and the feeling of really connecting to the outdoors as well as yourself.
Ryan Mountain Trail in Joshua Tree National Park is a very popular and a fantastic hike with terrific views. I think that this is a must do if you are visiting Joshua Tree and like to hike. I have seen it rated Moderate, but the Park Service is calling it Moderately-Strenuous, so I am going with that. Pretty much it is strenuous going up and it is moderate going down maybe even easy. One thing is for sure you will certainly get your heart pumping on the what seems to be a never ending stair master gaining more than 1000 feet in a mile and a half.
Once on the top you have views in every direction of the park‘s rock formations, piles of boulders, desert floor, valleys, hills and the distant mountains. You will see some of the differences in the upper desert, being the Mohave Desert where you see Joshua Trees, and lower and hotter desert known as the Colorado Desert. It is special that there are these two very different ecosystems in the same National Park.
Thanks for joining me, if only in spirit, up the 2nd highest peak in Joshua Tree National Park. There are more JT NP treks to be hiked and more peaks to be bagged so stay tuned by doing these several important tasks: FOLLOW, LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE . Look at my outfit! I am totally decked out in the new ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure” Cotton Tee, Cap, and Face Gaiter get’s yours today at SHOP APPAREL. Heck in the spirt of giving, (with Christmas on the way), buy any two regularly priced PBTA items and then email me at email@example.com, informing me that you ordered, and I will throw in at no additional cost one of the new PBTA Cotton T-Shirts a $20 value! Then once you are geared up go to the Menu above for ideas on were you want to hike. Each of the locations is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.
A nice stroll through a beautiful desert garden, sun glinting off boulders, rock formations seemingly timeless, sandy wash with greenery, a small slot canyon, distant mountains, just the right amount of mileage, just the right amount of work, some flat, some up and down, a tad bit of scrambling, and a palm strewn oasis to boot… this hike is loaded!
This particular hike is near the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. It is at a lower elevation than other parts of the park. You will not find any of the park’s name sake Joshua Trees in this area, but what you will find while you are “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“ is lost palms in an oasis.
Most of the trail is hard pack dirt and grainy sand, but sometimes you are in a wash with soft sand. There is also a place you’re working up a gulley with sharp rugged rock with a dusting of grit on it. The trail is easy enough to follow, but I will say there’s a couple times where it’s nice to have a GPS to reassure yourself that you’re on track. The National Park Service rates the hike Moderate to Strenuous, but I think that it is more in the moderate range. The only tricky spot, that is harder, is if you decide to go down into the oasis that is off trail, because there is no trail. That section is steep and can be slippery, and you will want to take care easing your way down.
The oasis is cool because during the entire trek the only place there are any palms are at Cottonwood Spring, which is where the hike begins, and the Lost Palms Oasis, thus the name. Loved the hike, it’s a good one!
Lost Palms Oasis
I had been looking forward to getting back in the desert and especially Joshua Tree. I had not been there in some time. The days that I was at Joshua Tree National Park were perfect. It had been very hot up to this point, as there had been prolonged summer like heat deep in the fall. In So Cal we have what is known as an Indian Summer and it usually is some of our hottest weather, and this certainly was the case this year. The other issue I wanted to escape is the poor air quality that all of the West had experienced because of the Wild Fires and I really wanted to find fresh air. What I found at Joshua Tree was “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure”, just what the doctor order. Desert beauty, solace, clean air, warm but not hot temperatures. A wonderful escape from the busy, rush around existence that we all experience with the added stress of politics, and smoky air… it was a needed break. Thanks for joining me on this hiatus. I invite you to join me more often. I have hopes that you will find inspiration from the thought of adventures in nature, and also that you will get to go out and explore first hand very soon. Please COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW, and SHARE. Check the menu for mountains, lakes, rivers, falls, forests, and deserts in a variety of places that PBTA travels to. Each location in the menu is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Lastly, get your PBTA Merch at SHOP APPAREL. Where there is currently a SPECIAL DEAL going on.
I backpacked into Echo Lake and set up camp. King’s Creek Falls was one of the two day hikes that I squeezed into my adventure. The other you can read about was Twin Lakes.
I would say that this hike is a do not miss type of an excursion. I did it pretty early in the Summer and there was snow fields covering a portion of the trail. There were people in tennis shoes that had given up on the hike after sinking down into the snow and getting their feet cold and wet. I will say on the hike out we saw someone sink to about his knees. So if you are there early in the season this is not a simple stroll in the park.
The Park had just re-opened from being closed, like most of the other National Parks during the first part of the Covid-19 Pandemic. There were not many people in the Park because of this and that includes Park Personnel, so it was especially nice that the Park Service was able to have some little red flag markers placed so that we could find our way through the snowy portion of the trek. Not all of the trail loop was open due to some trail maintenance, so I believe that our journey was a little longer because of this.
It is a nice hike past King’s Creek Meadow and down to the falls through lush green forest, along the stream, and one spot in particular had a spectacular view of the valley and distant mountains. I met a young couple from Central California at the trailhead. Of course being nature lovers and fellow hikers we had a common bond, as we picked our way through the snow field, almost like an Easter Egg Hunt looking for the next little red flag marker. We chatted away about our adventure at Lassen and the neighboring area. Plus it was most helpful having them film me for my PBTA duties introducing this outing to my audience.
The first thing that we saw was a very tiny little falls and we looked at each other saying this isn’t it is it? It wasn’t and when we closed in on the real falls there was no mistaking it. We got to see the 40’ King’s Creek Falls from the top then there was a viewing area, and we also scrambled our way down a bit of the hillside to get another view and some swell pics.
Like any beautiful falls the tumbling water is mesmerizing and we found ourselves transfixed, almost bewitched by it’s magic. The light mist on our skin, watching the cascading water descend through space, the sound as it plunged to the rocks below, delighting in the smell of damp wood, moss, and earth. All of our senses were alive with the experience.
Thanks for joining me while I was ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ at Lassen Volcanic National Park enjoying the park’s most popular hike, King’s Creek Falls Trail. My adventure was made even nicer by joining a couple of nature loving hikers along the way and experiencing the trek together. Take a moment to COMMENT, FOLLOW, SHARE, and LIKE. If you go to the menu above you will see many more places that PBTA has explored. One such example is in Pursuing Balance Through Adventure NoCal Hiking you will see a couple great experiences right outside the Park: Subway Cave and one of the best waterfalls in California, Burney Falls. Please take note that each location you see in the menu is a separate website and thus needs to be Followed independently. You can gear up for your own pursuit of balance away from the hustle and bustle of the civilized world with PBTA outdoor wear like my cap in the picture at Shop Apparel.
Distance: 8 miles, elevation change approximately 1,200’, duration approximately 6 hours, rated Moderate
I did the hike to Upper and Lower Twin Lakes in Lassen Volcanic National Park as part of a Back Country Wilderness Backpacking Adventure. My base camp was a Echo Lake, so the following morning I set off to further explore the trail ahead. I read about the Summit Lakes Loop after I had already made the plan of using Echo Lake as a base camp and then hiking out each day to do other excursions in the park, but the Summit Lakes Loop sounded really intriguing.
So that you will have all of the information regarding this hike you will want to checkout my previous post Echo Lake which will catch you up on the first portion of the hike from the trailhead at the Ranger Station not far from Summit Lake.
From my base camp at Echo Lake my hike took me through beautiful wooded forest. I made my way across snow areas that covered a portion of the trail, and went past several unnamed lakes, a couple of which were probably more like ponds.
I heard commotion behind me and I spied another hiker. At a quick pace he made his way down the switch backs of the hilly trail towards me. He would be the only person that I saw out in this back country, as it pretty much seemed that we had this extraordinary experience all to ourselves. I hiked a couple miles or so with this new trail friend, Sean a Trail Guide for Outdoors Adventure Club out of the Bay Area. He is a recently retired CAL Fire Fighter and was a pretty impressive guy. Sean had done a couple 200 mile stints along the Pacific Crest Trail and plans on doing the entire PCT next year. It would have been this year, however he thought the resupply could be an issue because of the whole Cov-19 Pandemic Crisis. He is a Trail Angel, meaning he would take in PCT Through Hikers for a night so that they could have a quick respite from their long trek. When he caught up to me he said, “I thought that I saw fresh footprints in the snow.” He was doing the hike that I mentioned, an 11 mile loop of the Summit Lakes. He was scouting the hike as next week he would be leading a group and wanted to get more familiar with it. We talked about me doing the loop with him, however I had only planned on a morning hike to the Twin Lakes and then back to my camp to resupply with additional water and to pick up food before heading out to hike to King Creek Falls.
It was fascinating speaking with Sean, with all the experience he has had on the trail as a Cal Fire Fighter, outdoorsman, and Trail Guide. I told him that I was not used to being in an area where it was an Mandatory Requirement to Backpack with a Bear Canister, which led to a conversation regarding bears. He said that his encounter with Black Bears was that they could easily be scared off as they really didn’t want anything to do with you. He said however, that Grizzly Bears were an entirely different animal. We spoke about how, at least at Lassen Volcanic National Park, the bears did not relate cars with food like they do at, for instance, Yosemite. He recanted a story that while at Yosemite his brand new truck had a couple thousands dollars of damage as a bear tried to get at food, and how a friend’s vehicle had been totaled.
While we are on the topic of bears, I must say that because of the whole Mandatory Bear Canister Requirement and the strong suggestion of carrying Bear Spray, (which of course I did), along with the fact that there was essentially no one in the entire park to include employees, (I had only saw the Ranger at the Park entrance and then she was gone by 4:30 PM), I really had bear on the brain. CheckoutBear Attack! My Worst Nightmare.
While looking for a map to show the Twin Lakes for this article I ran across the below post on All Trails by Backpacker Andrew Shegrud which totally spooked me and thought that I should make my readers aware of it regarding this hike. This incident took place a month after I was at the very same spot.
DON’T GO TO UPPER OR LOWER TWIN LAKE
My girl friend and I set out from Butte Lake Campground on June 30th 2020 for a two night stay at Twin Lakes. The cinder cone and lava beds were really cool, and the lakes are super scenic. We got to the southern side of the Upper Twin Lake, and found an awesome camping spot.
About 5-10 minutes after we set our packs down and started setting up the tent, a 5 1/2 to 6 foot tall black bear approached us. We waived our hands in the air and screamed at it at the top of our lungs.
There was a standoff for about 30 seconds as we continued to yell at the bear, in an attempt to scare him off. The bear was not scared of us, and took one of our packs and ran off with it, then ripped all of our gear up to shreds trying to get to our bear can.
When we safely got back to Butte Lake Campground I sought out one of the Rangers and told him what happened. The Ranger said, “Oh yeah, we’ve heard of several incidents already this year. It sounds like the same bear that is taking people’s packs.”
The reason I’m leaving a 1 Star rating is so that it stands out, and hopefully anyone looking to camp at Upper Twin Lakes sees this! The lakes and scenery is really nice, but so are all of the other lakes and trails in this area. Go to another lake. Take another trail. It’s not worth it. – Andrew Shegrud
I think that the problem with the idea of going to a different lake or trail is that bears roam a pretty big expanse of territory, the male more than the female. You would have to just not go to the park with that idea. The good news is that the bear just stole their stuff and didn’t hurt them. Stuff can be replaced. Still it sounds like a scary experience.
But as far as my hike, the woods, and the lakes they are really beautiful and I throughly enjoyed my outing.
Thanks for joining my trail friend Sean and I as we were “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“ at Twin Lakes in outstanding Lassen Volcanic National Park. Be sure to FOLLOW, SHARE, LIKE, and COMMENT so that you can take part in the many adventures to come. If you like my beanie than go to SHOP APPAREL, if you are seeking balance and love adventure than go to the menu above for hikes and backpacking all over the West. Each is it own website and thus each needs to be FOLLOWED independently.
The corner of the tent depressed in rapidly several times in swift succession waking me from a deep slumber, I kicked at it yelling, “Hey, hey, hey”, thinking it was perhaps a raccoon or other smaller creature. The response was a deep guttural huff almost like a bark, an under the breath sort of groaning growl that started out low and heightened into one horrific thundering roar that seemed to continue for eternity straight into my tent with a blast of breath, a cloud of steam and saliva. I immediately realized this was my worst nightmare. I obviously surprised the bear who sounded highly agitated and the ground vibrated as his full weight came down with a thud. I could hear his movement and feel his breath as his head swayed side to side. I quietly reached for the Bear Spray. But Bear Spray inside a small tent? The only thing I was going to get was me, temporarily blinding myself and then there was the intense debilitating and excruciating pain. This was no time to be totally incapacitated. A foot away from me separated only by the thin cloth of a tent was four hundred pounds of FUR, FANGS and FURY.
Only to sit up, rub my eyes and say what just happened?! It was a nightmare… it was only a nightmare… hold it- was it?! It seemed so real… it felt so intensely genuine that I had to say to myself did that happen, am I okay!? The anxiety of being in Bear Country, alone, at night, being required to have a bear canister, having it recommended to have bear spray, and all the talk during the day about bears and how effortlessly they could tear the backseat out of a car to get to the food in the trunk, after smashing the window and ripping open the door.
The odds of a human bein being attacked and killed by a bear are almost impossible. You have a better chance of being hit in the head by a falling coconut. That being said, I would have to think that those odds must go up dramatically when that human bein is sitting alone in a tent, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hungry bears. To later hear that in that very place a young couple encountered a bear that would not scare off and destroyed all of their stuff to get at their bear canister makes one take pause and think was I just dreaming? The ranger told the couple that there was a problem bear that was taking backpacks and they had several incidents just this year and believe it is the same bear. I suppose that proved my point regarding the odds increasing…
That is a lot of adventure… more adventure then I would be looking for. A Bear Attack Nightmare in the middle of the wilderness is quite enough of an adventure thank you very much.
Thanks for joining me on this Nightmare in the Wilderness. Here is a quick funny story, so with all of these bear thoughts going through my mind… It was early morning, the light of day just starting to illuminate my tent, everything was very still, then suddenly out of no where this squirrel like creature ran right over the side of my tent, doing his best impression of ‘Speedy Gonzales’, under the staked out rain fly, and across my backpack, giving me quite a start indeed. For more “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure” please LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, and FOLLOW. Don’t forget to SHOP APPAREL for your adventure needs and to help support PBTA. The menu above has more pursuing balance at National Parks as well as many areas for adventure across the West. By the way, each is a separate website and needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Credit is due for the feature photo of the bear from Outside Magazine.
This was my first trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Because of the Covid-19 emergency the park, along with all National Parks, had been closed. I arrived the weekend that it opened back up. The park was open, but most of the campgrounds and the Visitor Center were still closed. Backcountry camping was open and that is what I was interested in.
Lassen Volcanic National Park- I have heard it called “Little Yosemite.” It is one of our lesser utilized National Parks. It’s most prominent feature is Lassen Peak, the largest Plug Dome Volcano in the world, and the Southern Most Cascade Mountains Volcano.
After reaching the park I filled out the Self Registration for the Backcountry Wilderness Camping and was on my way. I just about had the place to myself. I suppose that it was a little early in the season, as there was a lot more snow than I was expecting which caused me to rethink my plan to Peak Bag Lassen Mountain that was covered with snow. I do not have the proper equipment for such a snow and ice adventurous undertaking. The other reason the park was so scantily populated is not every National Park has re-open so few people probably even know it is back. I parked near the Ranger Station at Summit Lake and slung my heavy pack up onto my back and headed out on my adventure. It was quite late in the afternoon, but since it was the unofficial start to Summer there would be plenty of light to make the trek to Echo Lake where I would be setting up my base camp.
The start of the hike went through a marshy area which had a little wooden bridge to get past the worst of the wetland and a couple places where I crossed on logs. It wasn’t long before the trail took me past Summit Lake. I imagine that this area would usually be teeming with visitors as I peered back across the lake at the deserted campground. The three days that I was there I saw two small groups at the beginning of the hike near the parking lot, and then only one person in the back country. The weather was cool, it was cloudy and there was low cloud cover obscuring both Brokeoff Mountain and Lassen Peak.
The hike rambles up through gorgeous forest and woodland, along vibrant green meadows until, through the pines, you get your first glimpse of Echo Lake- a quaint little timber lined lake with a little snow thrown about as decoratio
You are not permitted to camp right down near the lake so I hiked along the tree studded lake shore trail until I made it past the far side of Echo Lake and then up the hill until I found some level ground where I would pitch my tent and call it home for the next couple nights.
As I said, this would be my base camp and I would do a couple other hikes while at the park, so I would hike in and out of Echo Lake multiple times. One such hike was to the Upper and Lower Twin Lakes. It rained on me once, which was a surprise, as early on when I had WiFi coverage next to the Visitor Center I was supposedly between rain storms. So take note this is Northern California Mountains and the elevation of the park starts at about 6,500 feet so you must be prepared. When I broke camp the weather had changed again and it was picture perfect with mild temperatures.
Also take note this is bear country and not only is it a good idea to have bear spray, but in the backcountry it is required to have a bear canister, which was new for me, and really had me thinking about bears.
Thanks for joining me at Lassen Volcanic National Park’s Echo Lake. A great area to be “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“. A place to pick up all the pieces scattered in traffic, crowds, time schedules, obligations and the craziness of our lives. Stayed tuned to this channel as well as the many different channels that “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“ wanders- just checkout the menu above. It is divided by area and each is it’s own separate site and thus needs to be followed independently. So, please take a moment and FOLLOW, COMMENT, LIKE, and SHARE. SHOP APPAREL- If you need a hat, or shirt we have the best logo, the best merch, made of the best stuff, and besides you will be helping to support PBTA.
Distance 3.5 miles, 1,069’ elevation change, duration less than 2 hours, rated Strenuous
Garfield Peak Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Crater Lake National Park, and it’s all about the view. While it is true there are outstanding views of the precious treasure know as Crater Lake, all along the Scenic Rim of this volcanic caldera, in my opinion, this is the best high view. Garfield Peak at 8, 060’ is not as tall as Mount Scott, but Mount Scott is set back a bit where Garfield Peak is upfront and personal.
Garfield Peak Trailhead is just beyond the Crater Lake Lodge in Rim Village, and the views there are outstanding but just wait until you get the Big Picture at the top of Garfield Peak. The trail wanders through green stands of hemlock and fir, before you cross volcanic rocky terrain. The Park calls the hike strenuous. I am not so sure about that, however you will certainly get a workout, as you traverse a series of switch backs during the steepest portions of the climb. There are multiple view points along your journey to the top where you can look back at Rim Village, the breathtaking lake of course, and also the Klamath Basin to the south.
From the summit of Garfield Peak you can take in the entire lake to include enchanting ‘Wizard Island’, and the ghostly ‘Phantom Ship’. Your commanding view will include at no extra charge the cascades to the north where Mount Thielsen will stand most prominent. This day, this hike, this view, simply marvelous. Garfield Peak Trail is worth the price of admission.
I have enjoyed everything thing that I have done the three days I’ve spent exploring Crater Lake National Park. The ‘Crater Lake Blue’ will stay with me forever. On the top of Garfield Peak, at the end of my time at Crater Lake, I can‘t help but feel some of the balance that we all seek to offset our busy, work-a-day, stressed filled lives. After all that is the goal of ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure. However, it isn’t about the destination, it’s the journey. With that thought in mind please come with me as I leave this beautiful place, continue this quest of fulfillment, this soulful journey to find balance, this escape of the ho-hum, communing with nature, and experiencing the life of adventure. You can do it with me… Please : COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW, and SHARE.
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