Showing posts with label California. Show all posts
Showing posts with label California. Show all posts

Video: Emily Harrington and Alex Honnold Free Climb "Solar Flare"

It's always a joy to watch two amazing rock climbers ply their trade, and that is exactly what we get in this clip. We'll follow Emily Harrington and Alex Honnold as they free climb Solar Flare, a 5.12d route in the High Sierra mountains of California. As usual, these two make it look easy, but make no mistake, this is rock climbing at its finest.

Video: A Flood in Yosemite National Park

January has been a rough month for much of the American West. It has dumped untold inches of snow across many parts of the region, while areas of California have seen an incredible amount of rain. That includes Yosemite National Park, which as you'll see in this clip, has seen its streams and rivers swell, waterfalls overflow, and parts of the valley flood. California has been in a drought for sometime now, but this isn't necessarily the way you would want to see it come to and end. Still, the water as a whole is welcome sight to much of the state.

Video: Where Have All the Stars Gone? - How Light Pollution Affects the Night Sky

One of the great joys of travel for me is visiting places where it is so dark that you can see the night's sky completely unobstructed. Watching the billions of stars overhead is an incredibly humbling experience. But, not everyone gets to feel that thanks to light pollution, which can block the heavens, even on the darkest of nights. In this video, we see just how much of an impact the urban lights can have as we walk through the various levels of light pollution and how they affect our enjoyment of the stars overhead. These timelapse images will put everything into perspective and help you appreciate our dark zones even more.

Video: Amongst the Ancients in California

In need of two-minutes of pure bliss? Than this video ought to do the trick. It is a timelapse clip shot in the Sierra Mountains of California that give us some breathtaking views of that part of the world. Utterly spectacular, I'm sure you'll agree that this is a video that is worth watching beginning to end. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Among the Ancients - California Timelapse 4K from Michael Shainblum on Vimeo.

Video: Tempus Fugit - Time Flies in this Timelapse Video

Shot in Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and California, Utah, Washington and Oregon in the U.S., this video takes us on a whirlwind tour of some of the most beautiful and iconic landscapes at those destinations to show us how they look in an amazing timelapse fashion. This is four minutes of incredible beauty that shouldn't be missed. A perfect way to wrap up the week.

TEMPUS FUGIT 2 from Dr. Nicholas Roemmelt on Vimeo.

California Dreamin' - Adventures in Santa Rosa (Part 2)

I've been spending the past couple of days in the heart of California's wine country visiting the city of Santa Rosa, where I've been discovering all kind of amazing, active adventures that visitors can partake in when they're not visiting the local vineyards. It turns out, this part of the country is not only blessed with lots of great places to grow grapes, but some fantastic outdoor adventures too, making it the perfect destination for those who want to mix an active escape with some relaxing downtime. 

After a very active day yesterday, I was eager to get my last day in Santa Rosa underway. With a busy schedule ahead, I knew I'd have to keep moving if I wanted to take it all in, but I much prefer a packed, active schedule over too much downtime on the beach or sitting by the pool. So, after a light breakfast, I hit the road early for the town of Occidental, which sits roughly 40 minutes from Santa Rosa. My destination was Sonoma Canopy Tours, which is yet another option for those looking to spice up their trip with an adventure.

Sonoma Canopy Tours opened in 2011, and has been a popular attraction ever since. Their original zipline course includes three different lines – the longest of which is 800 feet (244 meters) in length – as well as a number of sky bridges spanning between platforms in the trees. It remains a very popular outing with visitors, who often reach speeds in excess of 25 mph (40 km/h) as the fly through the magnificent redwood trees that are so common in this area.

But I wasn't here to do the original course. I'd come to take on the new Challenger course, which just opened last fall. It includes a single line that exceeds 1500 feet (457 meters) in length, on which zipliners can reach speeds of more than 40 mph (64 km/h). That's the first line of the day, and it is one heck of a way to get things started.


The second and third ziplines on The Challenge course aren't nearly that long, but they are still quite fun. But to spice things up even further, the sky bridges on this course have been built to test your balance and determination as well. Each of them has a unique design that will offer different challenges for crossing, and while you're never in any real danger – you're clipped in the entire time – it is still a bit unnerving to walk out into open air.

Perhaps the most fun part of the entire course were the two rappels that must be made along the way. The final one returns you to your starting area, and is more than 40 feet (12 meters) high. While I've done plenty of rappelling myself in the past, not every member of my group was quite so experienced. This led to a few interesting moment where our friendly and knowledgeable guides had to coax them off the platforms a bit.

All told, The Challenger course takes about three hours to complete, but it was definitely a fun experience. Families in particular will enjoy a visit to Sonoma Canopy Tours, as it is something that everyone can enjoy. It also provides a nice adrenaline rush before heading out to any of the local wineries for the afternoon.

By the time I wrapped up my canopy tour, I was more than ready for some lunch. So, I hopped back into my car and headed back to nearby Sebastopol for a visit to Woodhouse Brewing Company, a local beer brewhouse that is giving the wineries a run for their money. I had a chance to test out a flight of seven different beers, and came away very impressed. The company's founder – Seth Wood – has an extensive background in wine making, and he brings that same level of sophistication and care to his beers as well. I especially enjoyed the Sour Farmhouse, which is light and tasty with some surprisingly fresh tastes. The food was excellent as well, and with plenty of outside seating, it made for a nice place to relax after swinging from tall trees all morning. 

After lunch, I was ready to burn off some calories, so I changed into my trail running gear, and drove out to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. This beautiful wilderness is another wild and remote place that can be found about 45 minutes from Santa Rosa. The multitude of trails are great for hiking, and give visitors a chance to wander under the spectacular redwoods. 

Not content to just go for a hike however, I set off on a run that was made all the longer thanks to me getting lost on some of the more remote trails. I also discovered that some of those routes wander up and down steep hills, particularly if you want to get away from the crowds and reach the backcountry. Be prepared to work you ass off to reach those places, but it is more than worth the effort. Some of the views from the high ridges are amongst the best I've seen here in California, and once I got away from the visitor center, I seldom rand into anyone else on the trail. 

There is definitely something magical about trail running under the redwoods. It was a bit like visiting the forest moon of Endor from Return of the Jedi, which was filmed in a very similar setting. Those giant trees are impressive to behold, and have a way of making you feel very tiny. Especially as you're running up a steep trail, drenched in sweat and gasping for breath. 

After a couple of hours in the Armstrong woods, I managed to stumble back to my car, and get on the road to Santa Rosa once again. By now, it was early evening, and I had another dinner appointment to make. I barely had time to return to my room at the Flamingo, grab a shower, and head back out. My destination for the evening was Belly Left Coast Kitchen, a place I had been told had excellent food cooked up by owner and executive chef Gray Rollins. Gray is known as the "rock chef" because he has often served as the tour chef for a number of major bands, including Motley Crüe, KISS, Katy Perry, the Black Eyed Peas, and many more. 

When I arrived at Belly, I found a loud and raucous crowd. Apparently the restaurant has a popular happy hour, and it was most certainly jumping. I found a spot at the bar, ordered another Sour Farmhouse beer from Woodfour and some foot. The menu had plenty of great options to choose from, and to be honest I had a hard time selecting what I wanted. I finally settled on macaroni and cheese with beef brisket, which was very tasty indeed. On my way out though, I caught a glimpse of the fish tacos, which looked delicious too. 

After another long, and busy day, I was ready to head back to the hotel and crash for a bit. My legs were definitely feeling the combined effect of yesterday's mountain bike ride and today's long trail run, so some downtime was in order. 

Tomorrow, I'll drive back to San Francisco and catch a flight home. But I'll return with a new appreciation for the Sonoma and Napa region of California. While I already knew that those places were wonderful destinations for wine lovers, I now see there is plenty to offer active and adventurous travelers too. I think a return trip will definitely be order and next time I might even make it to one of the wineries. 

Find out more about what Santa Rosa has to offer ant VisitSantaRosa.com.

California Dreamin' - Adventures in Santa Rosa

If you saw my post from a few days back, you probably already know that I'm in California for the week spending some time in Santa Rosa and exploring all of the travel options it has to offer. The city  is nestled in the heart of wine country, and is surrounded by a landscapes of rolling hills and lush grasslands. But best of all, it has plenty of things to offer the adventurous, active traveler too, including outstanding mountain biking, road cycling, and much more.

I arrived in Santa Rosa late Tuesday afternoon after flying into San Francisco, grabbing a rental car, and hitting the road. It took about an hour and a half to drive to town, where I first checked into the Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, my base camp for my stay in the region. The Flamingo is a unique hotel to say the least, which a retro chic design that is both charming and fun. Sure, there are plenty of other places to stay in Santa Rosa, but I'd wager few of them have the character of this place.

After getting settled at the Flamingo, I had to run across town to the Trek Store of Santa Rosa to pick up a mountain bike for a planned ride the following day. The friendly and very helpful staff at the bike shop hooked me up with a Trek Fuel EX 8, and plenty of great suggestions on trails to ride in the area. Their knowledge and experience would come in handy when I would hit trail in Annadel State Park on my second day there.

On a side note, if you want to check out a fantastic bike shop when visiting the area, the Trek Store is one of the best I've seen. They have a great selection of bikes both for sale and rent to meet the needs of just about any kind of rider. There is also plenty of cycling apparel, accessories, and other items too. If you have some time to kill while in Santa Rosa, it's worth a stop even if you're not going to be riding.


After collecting my bike, I rounded out my first day by grabbing dinner at The Pullman Kitchen, a trendy and tasty bistro in downtown Santa Rosa. The menu included some light, healthy options, along with a good selection of local wines. After all, vino is what this part of California is best known for.

On my second day in Santa Rosa would definitely be a more active one. After grabbing a light breakfast, I drove over to Getaway Adventures, a local outfitter that specializes in organizing cycling and kayaking tours of the area. Getaway has been around for more than 25 years, and offer customers such options as the Velo 'n Vino wine tour and Pints and Pedals for beer lovers. But on this day, the company's owner – Randy Johnson –  took me on the Jenner Coastal Kayak tour, a paddling excursion that takes travelers to the place where the famous Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Jenner is a small town located about 45 minutes from Santa Rosa. It overlooks the river and the scenic Northern California coastline. The paddling is easy and relaxed, with plenty of wonderful things to see along the way. The highlight of the trip is watching the Pacific Harbor Seals sun themselves on the beach. And since it is early spring, they have started to give birth to their babies. Were able to spot a couple of the pups from the water as they mingled with the rest of the herd.

As we paddled along the edge of the river, the curious seals came closer to our kayaks, occasionally bobbing their heads above the water to get a closer look. It was clear that they wanted to know who we were, and what we were doing there, but we were careful not to start too close to the main group, as they are easily startled and will quickly dash into the water.

At one point of the tour, we pulled our kayaks onto the beach and got out to take a look around. The beauty of the California coast was on full display, with rocky outcroppings, towering cliffs, and roaring waves crashing against the shore. It was worth the entire trip out Jenner just to take in the view.

Sadly, our paddling excursion had to come to an end, and after grabbing a quick lunch in town, we were back on the road to Getaway Adventures' headquarters in Santa Rosa, where they had other clients waiting and it was time for me to move on. For me, the tour was over far too quickly, but my day was far from over. After saying goodbye to Randy and his very helpful crew, I was off to Annadel State Park for the mountain biking portion of my tour.

This magnificent outdoor playground sits just 15 minutes drive out of Santa Rosa, and yet it has miles of trails for every type of rider. Whether you like twisty and technical single track, smooth and wide fire roads, or something in-between, Annadel has you covered. There are grueling climbs, and breathtaking drops. White knuckle descents and rocky routes can all be found there, with some fantastic views to be had along the way too.

I stared off by going up the North Burma Trail, a difficult climb that left my legs and lungs screaming out for relief. Near the top, it levels out nicely and become easier, but if you want an easier ascent, I'm told that South Burma is the way to go. Eventually I made my way over to the Lake Trail, which circles Lake Ilsanjo, one of the park's hidden gems. After that, I pedaled over to the Canyon Trail for a fun and fast – albeit rocky – descent back to the parking lot.

All told, I spent about two hours riding around Annadel, and came away very impressed. Not only is the riding fantastic, but there are trails for every style and experience level of riders. Best of all, the proximity of the park to Santa Rosa makes it easily accessible to anyone living in or visiting the town. We should all have such a wonderful natural resource so close to where we live.

After my ride, I zipped back into town, dropped off my bike at Trek Santa Rosa, and returned to the Flamingo for a quick shower. As you can imagine, my busy and active day helped me build up quite an appetite, and it was time to refuel. What better way to do that than with a big steak and a glass of local wine? I'd heard that Stark's Steakhouse was the best in town, and after one meal there it's hard to argue with that. The prime rib was delicious, especially when paired with the restaurant's truffle fries. Following a long and busy day, it definitely hit the spot.

Following a good meal, it was back to the Flamingo for some rest. Tomorrow is another busy one filled with more adventures, and I'm already looking forward to seeing what else Santa Rosa has in store for me.

California Dreamin' - Headed to Santa Rosa for the Week

Just a quick note to regular readers to let them know that I'm off to Santa Rosa, California for the week. Over the next few days, I'm going to get an introduction to everything that this enticing city – located north of San Francisco – has to offer outdoor adventurers and active travelers. 

My schedule will include such fun activities as kayaking, mountain biking, and zip lining, so of course I'm looking forward to my little escape. It should be fun, and I'm looking forward to learning about this part of California that I haven't been too before. I also hope to share daily updates of my experiences as well, provided I have the time and Internet access to do so. Otherwise, expect some good reports on my time out there starting next week. 

While I'm off having some fun adventures, I hope you'll be doing the same. Spring is definitely in the air here in North America, and it is time to start taking advantage of the shift in seasons. I'll be back before you know it, with lots of exciting stuff on the horizon to talk about. 

Video: Beautiful Mountain Vistas

Shot mostly in Canada, Oregon, and California (with a brief visit to the Himalaya) this video is three minutes of pure eye-candy. As its name implies, it features some fantastic shots of mountain landscapes that are simply breathtaking to behold. The clip is likely to inspire a sense of wanderlust, spurring you on to go in search of these places for yourself.

A word of warning though. While I find the visuals in this clip to be utterly spectacular, I'm not a huge fan of the choice of music that accompany the those images. I had to turn it down, but hopefully you'll enjoy it more than I did.

Vista from Leif Smith on Vimeo.

Video: Into the West - North America

Take a two-and-a-half minute journey through western Canada, into the Pacific Northwest in America, and south to Mexico's desert in this short video that is simply filled to the brim with stunning scenery. You'll travel past snowcapped peaks, pristine mountain lakes, and lush forests as you explore some of the most stunning landscapes on Earth. This is the kind of video that will inspire you to want to travel to these places for yourself. Enjoy!

Into The West - North America from Mike Bishop on Vimeo.

Video: A Packrafting Adventure in the High Sierra

Recently, adventurer Hank Leukart – who writes about his travels at the website Without Baggage – gathered up two of his best friends and headed out on a hiking trip into the Ansel AdamsWilderness Area in California. The trio were looking for an adventure, and were hoping to find some pristine alpine lakes to packraft while they were there. As with all good adventures, not everything goes as planned, but the journey is at least as important as the destination. Read Hank's rundown of the trip here, and check out the short film he made of their three-day expedition below. It looks like the guys had a lot of fun in the High Sierras.

Packrafting the High Sierras from Hank Leukart on Vimeo.

Video: Breaching Humpback Whale Lands on Top of Kayakers

One of the highlights of my recent travels was a whale watching tour on Monterey Bay in California. We spent three hours out on the water watching dozens of these creatures swim all around us. It was an amazing experience to be sure. In this video, shot in the same area that I was in, a breaching humpback whale not only flies high out of the water, but manages to come down on a tandem kayak that is paddling through the area. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident, but the man and woman aboard the kayak got a little more than they bargained for. See for yourself below.

Mountain Hardwear Is Giving Away Free Campsites This Summer

Mountain Hardwear is so committed to helping us get outside this summer that they're actually giving away free campsites. The gear company has joined forces with Hipcamp to provide free access to three amazing camps located in California, Wyoming, and New York, with visitors able to reserve a spot for two consecutive nights.

The three campsites include Clear Creek Ranch in Northern California, Grand Tetons Climber's Ranch in Wyoming, and The Gunks in New York. Each is of these private campsites offer beautiful outdoor settings that are perfect for a short escape to the backcountry, particularly during the warm summer months.

Reserving the sites is incredibly easy. Simply go to this website and look for the location that you are interested in visiting. Then, select the dates that you would like to stay at that location, and check to see if they are open. From there, you can book the site absolutely free.

If the dates you are looking for aren't available, don't fret. Mountain Hardwear plans to open more dates throughout the summer, and will send emails to campers to alert them that they are available. Announcements of new open dates will also be made on MHW social media, including Twitter and Facebook.

You can find out more at the Mountain Hardwear Blog here.

Video: Chris Sharma Climbs a Giant Redwood

We all know that Chris Sharma is one of the most talented climbers on the planet, but just in case you needed further proof, check out this video of him free climbing a giant redwood in California. The tree in question stands 252 feet (76.8 meters) in height, and was specifically selected because it lacked many lichens and moss growing on its trunk, and it was fire scarred from a natural fire that occurred in the past. Before making the climb, Sharma first consulted with biologists at the University of California, Burbank to ensure that he wouldn't damage the tree in anyway. With those hurdles cleared, he set out to make the ascent. As you'll see below, it was pretty spectacular.

Video: Accelerated Moments - Timelapse Landscapes From the American Southwest and Beyond

Shot over a two-year period throughout Arizona, Utah, California, and Hawaii, this video captures beautiful scenery in spectacular timelapse fashion. Locations include Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Mt. Whitney, and Monument Valley, just to name a few. The imagery is transfixing, with some fantastic shots of some of the most visually stunning landscapes found anywhere in North America.

Accelerated Moments (Timelapse) from Sean Goebel on Vimeo.

Video: The Golden State in Timelapse

California isn't just sprawling metropolises. It also features some incredibly beautiful scenery as well. This 4-minute video takes us on a visually stunning tour of the state, giving us shots of some of its most spectacular landscapes. It is a wonderful clip that will make you even more jealous of those who live in Cali.

California from Hal Bergman on Vimeo.

Video: Paddling Panther Creek Gorge in California

Panther Creek Gorge, located on the upper middle Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park is a tough place to get to, let alone paddle. In fact, until this summer, this section of the river had only been run twice before, and no one has been there since 2008. A team of kayakers made the descent earlier in the year however, and brought back some fantastic footage of the amazing whitewater that can be found there. This is a run that only truly experience paddlers can make, but it looks like quite a ride.

Gold Rush Adventure Race Postponed Until 2015 Due To Extreme Draught Conditions

Organizers for the Gold Rush Mother Lode adventure race, one of the premiere AR events held in the U.S. each year, has announced that it is postponing the 2014 race due to the extreme draught conditions in California. The event was scheduled to take place between September 10-14 in the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, but will not be rescheduled for next year.

As many of you probably already know, California is in the midst of one of the worse draughts in recent memory, and the danger for wildfires is at an all time high. In their announcement regarding the postponement, Gold Rush organizers point out, their last two races have been impacted by wildfires, and the possibility of that happening again is simply to high. Rather than risk endangering competitors, or having to reroute the course through areas they don't have permits for, the team behind the Mother Lode has elected to cancel this year's event, and refund all entry fees.

All is not lost however, as race organizers have announced that they are planning a 24-30 hour adventure race to be held on the weekend of September 13-14 instead. While it won't be as long, or tough, as the Mother Lode, it will give AR teams an event to compete in. Details are still forthcoming, so watch the Gold Rush website for an announcement.

Alternatively, my friends at the Expedition Idaho adventure race, which is scheduled to get underway in just ten days time, are offering Gold Rush teams a discounted entry if they can change their plans, and get to Coeur d'Alene in time for the event. Expedition Idaho returns for the first time since 2011, and it promises to be an excellent race for all involved. Admittedly, this is short notice, but the opportunity to run an expedition length race is there if your team can be flexible. Contact the ExpID team for details.

It's a shame that the Gold Rush Mother Lode won't be taking part this year, and hopefully conditions improve for its return next year. California is in a true state of emergency right now, and the danger for wildfires is incredibly high. August is likely to be a hot, dry month as well, which will probably only make things worse. Kudos to the experienced team behind Gold Rush for making the tough decision to postpone the race. That couldn't have been an easy choice to make, but it is definitely the right one.