Thursday, April 18, 2024
Home Backpacking Embracing the Panic and Preparing for Adventure: 21 Days

Embracing the Panic and Preparing for Adventure: 21 Days

by Staff

Oh boy, time is ticking away faster than I can say “trail mix”! Can you believe it? In just three short weeks, I’ll be hitting the trail – cue the repeated panic attacks. It’s a mix of excitement and sheer terror as I realize I haven’t even gone on a proper test backpacking trip yet. Sure, I’ve been hiking daily while lugging around a weight equivalent to my base weight of 16.5lbs, but will that be enough to keep me from turning into a hobbling mess on the Appalachian Trail? In my panic I’m afraid I’m going to try to hold on to my old life by adding a few last minute, but completely unnecessary, items to my pack, ya know, like an emotional support computer – don’t judge, I have separation anxiety from my gadgets.

But hey, let’s not dwell on my impending breakdown just yet. Today, I’ve got some tales to spin about my latest escapades: Pinnacles National Park and the Channel Islands (specifically Santa Cruz’s Scorpion Canyon). And because I clearly have a knack for indulging in all kinds of adventures, I also managed to squeeze in a whale watch trip. Yep, as part of my new “platinum moments directive,” which conveniently justifies my insatiable thirst for thrill-seeking and excess. (Like that A5 Wagyu ramen I raved about last week!)

So buckle up, folks, it’s about to get wild!

A Step up: Pinnacles NP

Oh boy, let me hit you with the tales of my epic adventure to Pinnacles National Park. So, as my hectic week was winding down, guess where I found myself? Yep, tackling the towering peaks of Pinnacles. I strutted my stuff on the High Peaks trail, swerving through those rocky fins and shimmying up ladders carved into stone – basically, feeling like a mountain goat in the making. And oh, in the midst of all this, I even paused to snag a pic of a Condor. No biggie, just a regular day.

Let’s chat about this epic 6.5+ mile hike with 1700 feet of elevation gain. Sounds intense, right? Well, I finished it in about 3.5 hours. And get this, after all that, I still had enough spring in my step to challenge some quails to a race. (Spoiler alert: they ran for the woods as I ran for my camera) (Obligatory post-script so I don’t get yelled at – no quails were harmed, harassed, or chased).

Oh, the Memories…

Now, let’s take a little trip down memory lane to a time when I was at the peak of my hiking game. A few years back, I tackled the same High Peaks trail (right before my epic adventure at Angel’s Landing, mind you). And let me tell you, it was a breeze this time around. I was faster, stronger, and took even fewer breaks. All those months of sweating it out in nature are finally paying off – who knew, right?

I wasn’t wearing my hiker’s backpack so I know I’ll be slower when I am on the AT, but I think (*hope*) this is a good sign, showing me what I can accomplish in a fairly small amount of time. Yes, plenty of people hike faster, I’ll get there. But I’m super pleased with my progress. I am also very happy to have raced the ghost of my former self and won with ease. Because at the end of the day we all must hike our own hike, but it’s really nice to see my progress verse what I believed was a much fitter version of myself.

Channel Islands: Mother Nature’s Prank

Now, let’s talk about my grand plan to conquer the Channel Islands on a 3-night backpacking trip. It was going to be epic, folks. I had my gear all packed, my trail mix ready, and my adventurous spirit in full swing. But, alas, Mother Nature had other plans.

We were hit not once, but twice, by storms that would make even Thor himself cower in fear. It was like the universe was playing a cruel joke on me, saying “not today, adventurer, not today.” But hey, I’m not one to back down from a challenge. Instead of sulking in my tent, I decided to make the most of the situation.

Who Needs a Three-Night Backpacking Trip When You Can Go Day Hiking Instead? (AKA – Making Lemonade out of Lemons)

So, with my backpacking dreams temporarily on hold, I settled for a day trip to Santa Cruz Island in advance of the latest round of storms and I added on a thrilling whale watch. It wasn’t the grand backpacking adventure I had envisioned, but hey, life is all about rolling with the punches, right?

Santa Cruz Island turned out to be an absolute gem, a playground for my inner child and a sanctuary for my wistful soul. I hopped around like a caffeinated bunny, exploring sea cliffs and marveling at the island’s natural beauty.

During my epic adventure, I stumbled upon the island fox, a creature found exclusively on the channel islands. And let me tell you, resisting the urge to smuggle one of these cuties in my backpack was a true test of my self-control. I mean, who wouldn’t want a tiny fox as a hiking buddy, right? But fear not, dear readers, I promise I left the wildlife where I found it. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure kidnapping endangered species is frowned upon. So, sorry folks, no island fox sidekick for me on this trek!

And let’s not forget about the whale watch. Who knew there were so many giant creatures swimming gracefully just off the coast? It was like a real-life National Geographic expedition, minus the David Attenborough voice-over.

Channel Islands, By The Numbers –

Let’s talk about my Channel Islands hike numbers. I tackled a solid 7-mile trek with a respectable 750 feet of elevation gain. And let’s not forget to mention the 25-pound backpack I was lugging around like a champ – filled with all the essentials (and non-essentials) a hiker could dream of. Because who doesn’t need a 600mm camera and a plethora of extra lenses for a casual stroll in nature, right?

But here’s where things took a hilariously chaotic turn. I made a valiant effort to trim down my supplies from by original 3-night camping escapade to a quick 8-hour day trip. But with my belongings scattered from one too many hotel stops the week prior, organizing my gear was like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube blindfolded. The result? Utter mayhem.

And just when I thought I had things under control, karma decided to play its hand. In a classic comedy of errors, I managed to leave my phone charging cord in the car while lugging around the much heavier, now useless, 10,000MaH battery pack instead. Oh, the irony! It’s all part of the hilariously unpredictable adventure, right?

A Last Treat:

Alright, let’s just call it like it is – I spent my day in an intense battle on a wobbly boat. And holding a 6.5lb camera steady at head level and trying not to tumble overboard on choppy seas isn’t exactly the kind of hiking my muscles are used to. So, in the spirit of treating myself (because I clearly deserve it after this struggle), I honored the sacred platinum rule of indulgence and made a pit stop at Din Tai Fung for some belly-warming dumplings. It’s practically a ritual for me whenever I swing by the West Coast. Because let’s face it, no adventure is complete without a bellyful of soupy goodness. And dessert? Oh, you bet. I had more of those delectable soup dumplings, this time oozing with the most decadent chocolate ganache known to humankind.

Final Thoughts and Reflections:

In conclusion, my recent adventures at Pinnacles National Park and Channel Islands have tested my physical endurance and ability to adapt to unexpected challenges. While I may have encountered setbacks and unpredictable circumstances, each experience has added a layer of growth and resilience to my journey. From conquering rugged trails to navigating stormy weather, I have embraced the unpredictability of outdoor exploration with a sense of humor and determination.

As I gear up for my upcoming Appalachian Trail expedition, I carry with me the lessons learned from these escapades – the importance of flexibility, self-discovery, and the joy of embracing the unknown. So, as I continue to chase wild adventures and make new memories, I am reminded that the true essence of hiking lies not just in conquering summits, but in exploring the depths of one’s own capabilities. Here’s to more trails, more challenges, and more triumphs waiting on the horizon. Happy hiking, fellow adventurers!

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