Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally his thoughts on life.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hiking Half Dome via the Mist Trail at Yosemite National Park, California.

In July, I returned to Yosemite to hike the classic Mist Trail all the way up to the top of Half Dome.

Official Site: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm
Hiking information: http://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/half-dome/half-dome.htm
Hiking information 2: http://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/half-dome/half-dome-trail-map.htm

As the iconic feature of Yosemite valley, Half Dome is the most popular destination for visitors to the park. At 8,800 feet above sea level however, reaching the top is no small task, with people dieing every year attempting the hike.


In order to hike Half Dome, you need a permit. To get a permit, use the official park site (https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm) and sign yourself up for the lottery system. Most permits are awarded through lottery near the end of March with additional lotteries later on during the summer. Have everyone in your party and possibly even some friends who aren't going sign up for you to maximize your chances. We had six people in our party go and only one of us won a permit.

If you can't get a permit, a last resort option would be to hike to the base of Half Dome and attempt to join someone on their permit. Permits accommodate at most 6 people (I think) so smaller groups can bring up others if they feel generous.


Sunday, August 07, 2016

The End of My West Coast Roadtrip (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

By the time we got to Ben's house in San Ramon, it was nearing 10pm. I was exhausted but at the same time, I was so close to home that I wanted to make that extra effort to get there. I said my goodbyes, received some food from Ben's mom, and returned to the road. In no time flat, I was home, and with my dog.

The trip was only two weeks or so, but it provided an excellent snapshot of all the beautiful states that make up the West Coast. In the future, I'll know better how to allocate my time when revisiting these places!


Portal Brewing and Caldera Brewery (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

After Crater Lake National Park, we made our way home. Just slightly north of the California/Oregon border, home was a mere 6 hours away and we were determined to make it back before the end of the day.

Of course we made some beer stops on the way down highway 5.

First stop on our last day in Oregon: Portal Brewing.
Address: 100 E 6th St, Medford, OR 97501
Official Site: http://portalbrewingco.com/
Yelp Review Site: http://www.yelp.com/biz/portal-brewing-company-medford


Hiking Garfield Trail, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

Our last and final destination, Crater Lake National Park.

Official Site: https://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm

If you are a resident of the Bay Area, I implore you, I beg you, to make a trip up to see Crater Lake. The Lake is so close to anyone in the Bay Area that you can easily do it all in one day or even a romantic weekend. See the Lake for all its beauty! There's a reason why it's so famous.


Hiking Silver Falls State Park, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

As we left the city of Portland behind us, Ben and I looked onward towards Silver Falls State Park, Oregon's largest state park.

Official Site: http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=151
Camping information: http://www.reserveamerica.com/camping/silver-falls-state-park/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=OR&parkId=402235

Of the 24 miles of walking trails, 14 miles of horse trails, and a 4-mile bike path, the most popular hike to do at the park is the Trail of Ten Falls Loop. At a total of 8.7-mile altogether, the Trail of Ten Falls runs along the banks of Silver Creek and various waterfalls from which the park received its name. Of the ten falls that you get to see on the hike, four of them pass behind the falls through an amphitheater-like surrounding.

When we went, parking was abundant at the South Falls Trailhead lot, but at the same time, perhaps it was because it was a weekday.


Green Dragon Bistro and Brewpub, Portland, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

From the Commons brewery, we walked down a couple of blocks to the Green Dragon Bistro and Brewpub. Much smaller of the three, the Green Dragon Bistro and Brewpub was still a lovely place to stop by at as well as very lively.

Official Site: https://pdxgreendragon.com/
Yelp Review: http://www.yelp.com/biz/green-dragon-bistro-and-brewpub-portland

I give the beer  availablilty and quality here 4/6 on my scale. See: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/willys-beer-ranking-system.html

After Green Dragon, we moved on to the White Owl to meet up with some couchsurfers, continued to Gil's Speakeasy, and finally ended on top of Portland Seafood and Grill to enjoy the view and mediocre beer. All in all, a great night of beer and making new friends.

The Commons Brewery, Portland, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

Following Hopworks Urban Brewery, we made our way deeper into the city. But not that deep. Merely 10-20 minutes of additional driving. We found ourselves at The Commons Brewery

Address: 630 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214
Official Site: http://www.commonsbrewery.com/
Yelp Review Page: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-commons-brewery-portland-3

The purpose of this visit was to establish a convenient meeting spot for my friend Grant, whom I haven't seen in ages. We grew up in the same city and went to school together for quite awhile.

The beer is alright here. I had the Urban Farmhouse Ale, the Flemish Kiss, the Fleur de Blanc, and the guest cider. I give the place 4/6 on my beer scale. See: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/willys-beer-ranking-system.html


Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

After Oneonta Gorge, we were absolutely famished. As soon as we got back into town, we went straight for lunch and a beer. The first brewery that we sampled was Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) brewery.

Address: 2944 SE Powell Blvd Portland, OR 97202 Creston-Kenilworth, Southeast Portland
Official Site: http://hopworksbeer.com/
Yelp Review page: http://www.yelp.com/biz/hopworks-urban-brewery-portland

Great selection of beer, amazing food, and awesome service. I highly recommend this place. I give the beer here 5/6. See: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/willys-beer-ranking-system.html


Friday, August 05, 2016

Hiking Lower Oneonta Falls, Troutdale, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

The last waterfall on my list that I wanted to see in Portland during our limited time there was the Oneonta River Gorge; in particular Lower Oneonta Falls.

Official Site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/crgnsa/recarea/?recid=29960
Additional Site: http://www.oregon.com/recreation/oneonta-gorge
Hiking Site: http://www.nwhiker.com/CGNSAHike53.html

To get to Oneonta, take the I-84E towards Multnomah Falls. Either take the Multnomah exit or the proceeding exit and backtrack along the Historic Columbia River Highway. The entrance to the gorge will be a small lot as well as cars parked on the opposite side along the bank. Cross your fingers if you decide to go late because parking is tight.

There are two ways to enjoy the Oneonta River Gorge: one way is to hike it on trail and the other is to hike it through the Oneonta Creek.

I wanted to hike through the creek.

There was some hesitation at first between me and Ben. By that point, it had been a long day, we had already been hiking for days straight between states and countries (Canada and US), and the prior fall, Horsetail, was just so underwhelming, that we weren't too motivated. Additionally, in order to reach the Lower Oneonta Fall, you need to hike in the river which meant getting wet. We simply didn't know if we were that desperate to see ANOTHER fall that day. But something about seeing all the people walk towards the trailhead was intoxicating. So we both switched to our swimsuits and got in.


Horsetail Falls, Cascade Locks, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

After Multnomah Falls, we headed down the road to Horsetail falls.

Address: Historic Columbia River Hwy, Cascade Locks, OR 97014

To get to the Horsetail falls from Multnomah is simple. Both are located on the Historic Columbia River Highway, with Horsetail east of Multnomah. To get there depends on your location. If you were fortunate enough to park at the base of Multnomah, simply drive down the road east. If you parked in the lot, get back on the 84 highway and get off at the immediate next exit, backtracking until you reach the falls.

Horsetail falls is...skippable. Easily.

At the same time, it's also really convenient to add to your intinerary for the day because the falls can be enjoyed within 1-5 minutes. The falls is right next to the road and all you need to do is park, take a picture, and continue on. Well, I mean most excursions happen in that order, but what I mean to say is that, because the falls is so small, you can experience it quickly. Thus, if you absolutely have to cut something out during your trip to the area, Horsetail Falls would be top of the list of falls you can skip.

To make the spot more challenge, you can also continue hiking up towards PonyTail Falls. The trailhead to the waterfall is right next to Horsetail.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Hiking Multnomah Falls, Portland, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

In the morning, we left our hotel in Portland for the waterfalls. The destination was a mere 40-50 minutes away by highway. The first waterfall on our list, Multnomah Falls.

Official Site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/crgnsa/recarea/?recid=30026
Additional Site: http://www.oregon.com/attractions/multnomah_falls

Nestled in the Columbia River Gorge area, Multnomah Falls is a celebrity 600-something-foot-tall waterfall. There are actually many waterfalls in the vicinity but Multnomah is the most iconic and famous.

To get to this destination, simply take the I-84 east and follow the signs. The signs will bring you to a parking lot right next to the highway. There is a closer lot right at the bottom of the falls but it only saves you 1-5 minutes of walking and is more crowded.


Howe's Brewery, Squamish, BC Canada (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

During my brief stay in Squamish, I had the joy of discovering Howe's Brewery.

Official Site: http://www.howesound.com/
Yelp Reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/howe-sound-inn-and-brewing-co-squamish
Address: 37801 Cleveland Ave, Squamish, BC V8B 0A7, Canada

Squamish is a small town, so your options are limited when it comes to trying out beer. Despite that, Howe gladly fills the void with not good beer, but exceptional. At least when I was there. The food is great as well!


Return to USA and Portland, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

As we left Canada and moved into Washington, I decided to completely skip Seattle. After all, I had already spent a few days there on the drive up, and I had visited the state many times in the past.

Within a few hours, we made it to Portland. Searching for a reasonably priced hotel was a bit of work, but in time, we found a hotel close enough to the city.

That night we visited the bar down the street from us. It was a karaoke bar by the name of Alibi Restaurant and Lounge.

Address: 4024 N Interstate Ave Portland, OR 97227 North Portland, Overlook
Yelp Page: http://www.yelp.com/biz/alibi-restaurant-and-lounge-portland?osq=karaoke+bar

The ambiance of the restaurant was friendly and jovial. The place seemed to be filled with karaoke regulars. I heard many great covers that night. And for those who weren't great, they still had the confidence to make people laugh with them.

Returning to Vancouver, BC Canda and on to the US (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

The following morning, with the rainy weather persisting, I decided to forgo traveling further north. The weather simply took too much from the experience. Additionally, that week Whistler was hosting a rap concert so cars were already clogging the only highway into town. See: http://www.whistler.com/events/pemberton-music-festival/

So we returned south to the city.

On the drive down, I stopped by this park that caught my eye. Porteau Cove.

Address: Porteau Cove. Squamish-Lillooet D, BC, Canada

The cove is a nice quick stop because it allows you a great view of the lake and is right off the highway so it doesn't demand too much of your time. When we went, the weather was finally showing signs of sun after days of raining here and there.

When I eventually returned to the city, I made a stop at the Canadian border control office.  A few days prior, I had managed to book an appointment for my global entry visa. The interview was fast and painless. The guard asked only a few questions, perhaps 3-4 and then took my picture.

When I was done, we proceeded south back towards the States.

Back in the US, it was nice to have service and data on the phones again.

More importantly, the signs were in miles rather than kilometers!


Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Paradise Valley Campground, Squamish, BC Canada. (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

That night, we camped at a nearby campground called Paradise Valley Campground.

Address: 3520 Paradise Valley Road, Box 404 Garibaldi Highlands Squamish, BC V0N 1T0
Official Wesbite: http://paradisevalleycampground.net/
TripAdvisor Reviews:

The place left a great impression on me. The front office was hospitable and offered a lot of information and services. The campsite itself was clean, had a table, and a fire ring. What was most impressive about the place however was the facilities. Everything was very clean. Toilets did not smell. Coin operated showers that have hot water. A sink outside for dishes to clean and a mirror to clean your face.

I highly recommend this place for budget travelers.

Cheap too.

Hiking the Sea to Summit Trail, Squamish, BC Canada (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

The Sea to Summit Trail ended up being one of my favorite hikes on the roadtrip, right alongside the Enchanted Valley Hike.

Official Site: https://www.seatoskygondola.com/adventures/hiking/sea-to-summit-trail

Trail Description

Length:  7.5 km one way
Trailhead Elevation: -- ft.
End Elevation: -- ft.
Elevation Change: 918 m
Difficulty Assessment: Difficult
Trail Type: Out and Back, can take gondola back down

The Hike

To get here, you can either park at the Shannon Falls parking lot or the Sea to Sky Gondola Parking lot. The Sea to Sky Gondola parking lot is much bigger and right at the trailhead.

If you decide to forgo the hike, paying for a ticket up the mountain is another option. Tickets cost roughly 40CAD. See: https://www.seatoskygondola.com/store/tickets

A strenuous and varied 7.5km adventure, the Sea to Summit Trail should appeal to anyone who enjoys difficult hikes. None stop sharp incline for the first 3 km, it finally levels off into more manageable climbs. At times your climbing up stairs, at times your scrambling over rock with the aid of a rope installed by the park. The sea to summit trail is so fun. Provided your in shape enough to do it.

Along the hike, are clearly marked diamonds, updating you periodically of how much you've traveled. On this particular trail, there are 400 markers to look forward to.


Hiking Shannon Falls, Squamish, BC Canada (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

Roughly 30-40 minutes north of Vancouver, is Squamish. Squamish is an ideal escape from the steel and the cacophony of people and the city. Whether your interests lie in climbing or hiking, Squamish satisfies both.

The weather was cloudy once again with intermittent sprinkles. Despite the gloom, I still found myself appreciating the lake aside me and the mountains in the distance. Even dulled, it's easy to see potentially how beautiful the lake can be on a good day.

We decided to stop by Shannon Falls, a waterfall I randomly spotted on the map.

Official Site: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/shannon/


Monday, August 01, 2016

Lynn Canyon, British Columbia. Canada (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

I woke up around 6 in the morning to get my car out from the hotel parking garage. It was 9 CAD to park until 6am and 25 CAD to park til 6pm. Seeing how I was up anyways, I forced Ben to wake up and pack up his things as well. Once we both put our things in the car, we headed off to Lynn Canyon.

Address: 3663 Park Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7J 3G3, Canada

For me, the attraction in Lynn Canyon was mainly the suspension bridge. There is another suspension bridge in Vancouver, located in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, however that park has fees. Feel free to take a look and decide for yourself which is more interesting.

Site: https://www.capbridge.com/

At 7am, we were one of the very few people first in the park on a weekday.


Entering Canada (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

Around early afternoon, we reached the Canadian border. Security went smoothly. The guard scanned our passport, asked a few questions, took a glance at us, and let us through.

"Ouvert" must be French for "open." As in, come on ouvert, we're open!

Get it?

Get it?

...alright, moving on.

Pike Place Market, Washington Part 2 (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

In Pike Place Market, me and Ben continued our sampling of the foods that caught our eye.

One stall that caught my eye was Stewart's Meat Market. A magical display of jerkies on the table, I HAD to try them all and buy a bag. No regrets.


Pike Place Market, Washington Part 1 (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

Returning to Pike Place Market on a Monday turned out to be a good decision. Parking was incredibly easy and we didn't have much of a crowd to deal with while walking around. To find Pike Place Market, simply type it in to any map application on your phone. Pike Place Market is a huge tourist attraction and should show up on most, if not all, map applications. However, if you still need it:

Official Site: http://pikeplacemarket.org/
Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/pike-place-market-seattle
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pike_Place_Market


Geaux Brewery & Taproom, Washington (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

For lunch, me, Ben, and Kayvan ventured out to Geaux Brewing.

Address: 12031 Northup Way Ste 203 Bellevue, WA 98005
Official site: http://geauxbrewing.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/geauxbrew/
Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/geaux-brewing-bellevue

Unfortunately for Kayvan, who was starving, the location was mostly for beer. Thus, we each bought one and quickly moved on to find a place to eat.

While I was there, I was able to sample their milk stout. It was pretty good. Not much else to say about the place because our time there was so brief. I'd like to revisit the place again one day though.


Seattle and Bellevue, Washington (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

In the morning we took the ferry across to Seattle. The alternative would be to drive south and then back north into the city. Driving was actually going to be my original plan, but my friend Kayvan who lived there, highly suggested I take the ferry instead. Not only was the ferry a cheaper option, it was quicker! I want to say the ferry was 8-10 dollars.

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