Friday, September 25, 2015

Video: Hiking Emerald Pool

Here's a short video of me and some friends hiking the Emerald Pools at Zion National Park.


Video: Angel's Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Here's a video of me and my friends from San Diego hiking Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, Utah.

To read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here:

1) h


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Video: The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

Just a video of me and some friends from San Diego hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah.

To read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here:

Part 1:

Part 2:


Monday, September 21, 2015

Hiking Garden of Eden, Santa Cruz, United States

Nestled in the mountains of Henry Cowell State Park, there lies a local swimming hole ambitiously named The Garden of Eden. Located on the San Lorenzo River, this getaway is a nice alternative for anyone trying to escape the heat and unwilling to deal with Santa Cruz beaches. Surrounded by trees, the area not only allows sunbathing but also protection from the sun if necessary.

To get there from the south bay (Campbell, San Jose, Los Gatos...etc) follow these directions:

1. Take highway 17 south and over the mountain.
2. After coming down from the mountain, take Mt. Hermon Rd. exit. and head west/straight until you hit highway 9.
3. Once you hit the T-section, turn left onto highway 9 and head south towards the north entrance of Henry Cowell State Park.
4. Drive past this entrance for Henry Cowell State Park, this is not the entrance you are looking for (although this northern portion of the park is also nice for quick hikes).

5. Once you enter the trees, its only a 1-5 minute drive before you reach the parking lot. The parking lot is tiny and my guess is that it can only hold, at most, 10 cars. Therefore, plan your trip accordingly.

This is what the parking lot looks like.

6. From the parking lot, enter the southern gate and walk down the path. From the lot, it takes probably only 15-20 minutes to reach the Garden of Eden. Follow the path down and head right whenever there is any split. Do this until you reach the train tracks. Once you reach the tracks, head right and walk down.

7. Head down for about 10-15 minutes until you see a brown “no campfire” sign. From there, the path is obvious. Turn left and head down the side of the mountain. The trail is not steep. Very quickly, you will see the small beach that is The Garden of Eden.

Here is a panorama of the entire beach that I shot.

At the end of the day, I felt the self proclaimed Garden of Eden was a bit underwhelming for its moniker. This portion of the San Lorenzo river is definitely a beautiful place to escape to and the pools are amazing for diving into, however, its popularity and convenience has also attracted the typical drawbacks that accompanies such notoriety: that is, trash.

This place is littered with trash!

When we got there, you really couldn't ignore the amount of trash scattered about around the beach. Leftover food, clothing, underwear, swimming gear, really took away from the beauty of the river. Not only that, but many of the trees were also vigorously scarred with the initials of countless visitors. It was all a very jarring juxtaposition to say the least.

On a scale of 1-10, I'd have to give The Garden of Eden a 6/10. On a hot day, I imagine parking to be a headache and the "garden" to be crowded with locals. If you're set on visiting this place on a hot day, try the "garden" first, see if the crowd is good, if not, travel up or downstream a bit and look for a more secluded area. There are definitely more pools along the river.

If you want to make the journey a bit longer (because to get to the garden from the parking lot is so short ~ 20 min), try heading down to the river as soon as you reach the train tracks and just follow it. Doing so adds an adventurous 30 minutes to your hike and allows you to identify alternative swimming holes if the garden is overrun by rowdy visitors.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Swimming Holes in Northern California

Parked here as a reminder, there are two places I am interested in visiting before the end of summer and that is: God's Bath in Sonora and Garden of Eden in Santa Cruz.

God's Bath
Taken from
Taken from
Garden of Eden, Santa Cruz


Monday, September 14, 2015

Hiking Mt. Shasta, Siskiyou County, United States Part 2

At around 330am, we all got up and by 430am we were ready to leave. The group seemed to be in good spirits. Most likely because we went to bed accordingly the afternoon before. The stars were out to guide us in their light.

The first three hours were not bad at all. Slow, steady, our pace was good and everyone still felt solid. I believe some people in the group started feeling altitude sickness but it wasn't enough to prevent them from continuing. I know myself, I felt some of the altitude. The entire hike I was dizzy and had a slight headache.

For the most part, the trek up was rocky, in all its different forms of rock. Initially the floor was soft sand but quickly became a trail of small to mid size rocks under our feet.

At around 5-6am, the sun made its appearance. We were at 11,000 ft elevation. By this point, the group had splintered off into what everyone was capable at moving at. The height was getting to us. The incline was getting to us. People were getting tired.

We started the ascent with the optimistic goal of sticking together, but quickly realized that everyone had to just go at their own pace if they were to survive and summit. Despite this, we were never too far away from one another. Perhaps at most 20-30 minutes out from one another.

At around 12,000 ft, we started seeing what remained of the snow.

At around 13,000 ft, the rock beneath our feet became quite precarious and we had to be very careful not to set off any avalanches towards the climbers underneath us. It required what I liked to call, "light feet" and "heavy hands." The climb became quite technical at this point and both the view and what potentially could happen if we made one misstep was pretty exciting.

At this point, nearing 14,000 ft, I was exhausted. And when I discovered that I had almost another 1000 ft of elevation to climb, I was mentally defeated. I just wanted to lie down and give up. But for whatever reason, perhaps stubbornness, or because of the words of encouragement from my friends, I somehow found the strength to zombie on. I was no longer climbing at an enjoyable pace, I was now climbing on empty and just looking for the end.

Eventually though, we made it to the top. As soon as I got to the top, I essentially collapsed. I just went to sleep. I think I slept for an hour before getting up.

Eventually, everyone summitted, we took our pictures, rested a bit more, and then headed back.

The following day, we all packed our gear up and headed back towards the parking lot. At the time, I was dead and physically miserable. But in hindsight, if given the chance to do it with the same group, I would. I'm glad I summited Mt. Shasta, despite how terrible it made me feel.


Hiking Mt. Shasta, Siskiyou County, United States Part 1

Over Labor Day Weekend, I summited Mt. Shasta with a couple of friends. At 14,179 feet, Mt. Shasta is second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California. Given the ambiguity of how everyone would do, we only considered two trails: avalanche gulch and clear creek.

Initially we wanted to do avalanche gulch but due to weather conditions, it was highly suggested to us by the rangers and online resources that we go with clear creek instead, so that's what we did.

To get to the trailhead is pretty straightforward, just drive north towards Redding and enter the park. Once you get on the park road towards the trail head, the road becomes very soft such that I would highly suggest you drive a high clearance, four wheel vehicle. My car would have never made it to the trailhead.

A good resource to consult is

At the trailhead, depending on when you get there, you can either camp there or proceed forward up towards base camp. Only 2-5 miles up (depending on which site you choose), the hike up is relatively easy.

We chose to stay the night there because we reached the trailhead at around 9pm.

The following day, we quickly packed everything back up, left any unnecessary weight at the car, and started our adventure.

After a few hours of hiking, we eventually made it to camp and spent the rest of the afternoon getting acclimated to our surroundings.

Part of the group decided to hike half an hour up the trail to get an idea of what the following day would be like.

At around 6-7pm, after everyone had made and ate their dinner, we went to bed. We would have to wake up at around 3am later that night to start our ascent up Mt. Shasta. We expected the ascent to take us roughly 6 hours.


In light of the company shutdown at the end of the year, I have decided to take an additional few days off to visit the Philippines. The details of the trip have not been sorted out yet but I imagine a month away from my departure I will figure them out.

The tickets were pretty expensive given the timing (December). As I was looking at the calendar, I quickly noticed that November and October were the cheaper flight dates. December just has too many holidays.

The flight from San Francisco to Manila was 938.42 via ANA Airlines. There is one layover in Japan but it's only two hours, providing me enough time to switch planes if necessary. That 938.42 price tag I was able to deduct about roughly 700.00 dollars from using my Capital One Purchase Eraser credits. The Capital One Purchase Eraser allows you to use any credit you have and apply it towards a ticket bought with the credit card. Alternatives to what you can do with your credits are converting them directly to cash or gifts. I felt using the credits to pay for my tickets was a much better deal.

For instance, 50,000 credits = 500.00 airline credits. Whereas, if you wanted cash, the conversion would have been much lower. So it seems to make sense to use them for tickets if possible.

Flying home, I will have to somehow find my way to Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok is where my flight will be leaving to take me back home to the states. I am familiar with Thailand so I don't imagine any issues there. The flight back was free for me because I had United Airline credits and they covered what I needed for a basic flight. In total, I converted 40,000 UA credits and paid about 48 bucks for tax.

All in all, I paid about 300.00 for this round trip to the Philippines.

Additionally, I am unsure how my time will break down. Because I am in the area, I would like to visit Singapore and Indonesia as well. However, I was quality time in each country which may be impossible due to how much time I am afforded.

So we shall see.


Monday, September 07, 2015

Video: Mt. Shasta via Clear Creek Trail

Here's a video of me and some friends summitting Mt. Shasta. For the details of this hike and to read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here:



Part 1:

Part 2:

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