2013 was a great year. In 2012 we relocated to Los Angeles after living many years in south Orange County. That meant lots of new trails to explore. Inspired by Derek at 100peaks, I’ve put together some of my favorite photos from 2013.
My year began with a trip to Mumbai, India for work… and work I did. I didn’t have the luxury of time to hike, but I was able to tour Navi Mumbai and Mumbai. This was my second time here, and I’m struck by this remarkable city of contrasts.
One of my favorite hikes from early in the year was to Escondido Falls in Malibu. This multi-tiered waterfall is an easy hike, but with an impressive payoff that’s even more so after it rains.
Of course, being an LA resident, I had to hike to Bronson Caves — notable for the location where Adam West would speed out of in the Batmobile back in the ’60s — and then on to the summit of Mt. Lee with the closest view you can get of the Hollywood Sign.
In the spirit of #TryingStuff (or #DoingStuff for that matter), we went snowshoeing for the first time. It was Joan’s first trip on the Palm Springs Tram.
When we got to the top, we explored for several miles in relative solitude. The trick is to get there early. By the time we headed back, it was pretty busy.
And we discovered that snowshoeing is not only fun, but really easy! Almost zero learning curve. We’re looking forward to doing more in 2014 (we just need some snow, please!).
One of my favorite hikes when we lived in Orange County was what I called The Roller Coaster Ridge Trail. While that’s an unofficial name, this trail between San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano makes a perfect weeknight hike to catch the sunset. Whenever I was down that way, I made a point to hit this trail.
One of my most-used photo tools was my Olloclip. This handy clip-on device provides three lenses to my iPhone, but the macro lens was far-and-away my favorite. Here’s a sampling of macros, all captured on my iPhone 4s with an Olloclip.
If you love macros, you can view more of my macro photography on Flickr.
On St. Patricks Day, I ran the Los Angeles Marathon. It was my second marathon, and I broke exactly one record — my own. Isn’t that what really matters?
Over spring break, we took a trip up to Sonoma wine country. We tasted wine, visited the Russian River Brewing, where they always have Pliny the Elder on tap, took a bike tour, and (of course) did some hiking.
I was amazed by how green everything was, with moss and lichen cover much of the trees and even the manzanita.
We stayed at the edge of a vineyard near the entrance to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, and bagged the peak of Bald Mountain. The views were lush and immersive.
Next up, it was Joan’s turn to shine. She completed her first ever half marathon — The Hollywood Half. You can sense a trend here, as we were really immersing ourselves in the LA experience.
Fish Canyon Falls are another wonderful spring hike, but with limited access. We went there on one of the few days where this trail is open, and bumped into our friend Josh from CaliforniaThroughMyLens. Small world.
On the last weekend in April, several hundred thru-hikers and wanna-be thru-hikers gather in Lake Morena, just 20 miles from the Mexican border. We went down there to check it out and see what it’s all about.
This is the Class of 2013 — as they call the group who’s hiking the PCT. We also bumped into two friends — Kolby “Condor” Kirk (The Hike Guy) and Campfire Kam. And I got a chance to meet some folks I’ve known online, including Lawton “Disco” Grinter, legendary PCT-hiker Billy Goat, Shane “Jester” O’Donnell and Scott “Squatch” Herriott.
And my appetite for the Pacific Crest Trail was whet.
In May, I met up with four other hiking bloggers — Derek, Peter, Josh and Zac — to tackle five peaks. Yes, that’s five guys, bagging five peaks in the San Gabriel mountains, in the fifth month of 2013. And we got to enjoy views like this.
In July, we visited Nashville — where my daughter now calls home. They have a lot of trees in Nashville, so we climbed them.
Nashville was a lot of fun. From here we drove over the Appalachian Mountains and the AT Trail, through North Carolina and down to Charleston, South Carolina. I got to visit my youngest son and my grandkids. Yes, I have grandkids.
My granddaughter doesn’t quite have the wingspan of a bald eagle… yet.
In August, my eldest son Daniel flew out for a friend’s wedding, and I managed to take him up Echo Mountain. Nothing like catching the sunset and watching the city lights of LA come on from the steps of the Echo Mountain House.
Continuing our tour of local LA hiking trails, we hit Inspiration Point in Will Rogers State Historic Park, the M*A*S*H hike in Malibu Canyon, Balancing Rock and Sandstone Peak via the Mishe Mokwa Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains, and the ultimate urban stairmaster: the Baldwin Hills Overlook.
As October rolled around, we went in search of the most beautiful fall color in Southern California — the hidden Aspen Grove in the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
One of the more curious hikes in LA is to Murphy Ranch — at one time a Nazi base. Seriously. Now the remains of the buildings serve as a canvas to street artists. And there are lots of steps.
When most people think about hiking in LA, they jump to the obvious Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park. We had hiked those, for sure, but there was still so much to explore. In the fall we hiked two routes in the Verdugo Mountains — including the Vital Link Trail and the Beaudry Motorway Loop.
The Verdugos have amazing views, and I look forward to returning to hike here again.
Another iconic hike right here in LA County is at Vasquez Rocks. The site of many movies and TV shows, the Pacific Crest Trail also passes through here. We jumped at the opportunity to check it out. And yes, I climbed to the very top.
In November I added another Inspiration Point (there are many in LA) en route to Muir Peak above Alta Dena. While it wasn’t perfectly clear, I could see Catalina Island poking above the clouds in the distance.
Thanksgiving was spent visiting family in San Francisco, giving us a chance to explore Land’s End. It’s really incredible to think that this rugged coastline lies within a major city.
On our way back from San Francisco, we stopped for a day hike in Pinnacles National Park. This was really a scouting trip for us. What did we learn? We loved Pinnacles and return to spend more time here in the future.
For Christmas, Joan got me a hiking kilt (it had been on my wishlist), and we went out to Topanga State Park to give it a test. All I can say is that I love the freedom.
We closed out the year with a trip to San Antonio. I like to incorporate a hike when I travel, but was scratching my head on where to go (isn’t Texas flat?). As it turns out we weren’t too far from Texas Hill Country and one of the largest batholiths in North America: Enchanted Rock.
This is just a sampling of my favorite photos and moments from 2013. If you enjoyed these, you can check out all my photos on Flickr.
What are your favorite photos of 2013? Share a link in the comments below!