Vivian Creek Adventure Hike

August 16, 2009

A good friend of mine, Jay recently started what he terms “Adventure Friday”. See, he works Saturday but always gets Friday off. He already completed one major hike about a month ago and was looking to go on another. I took him up and we applied for a permit to hike the Vivian Creek trail which leads eventually to Mount San Gorgonio. As we set out on the trail I was excited and about as prepared as I thought I should be. I carried two liters of water plus an 8 oz chocolate Silk soy drink. Jamie made me two sandwiches and packed me trail mix, dried fruit, Shot Bloks, and Gu. Jay was even more prepared. He packed a full U.S. gallon of water plus he had trekking poles and a water filtration pump. More importantly, Jay is in much better shape then I am.



So we set out on our hike at a few minutes past 7AM. The trail starts flat, crosses a riverbed for Mill Creek and then shoots up into seriously steep switchbacks and loose rocky terrain. Jay and I were both feeling great as we crossed Vivian Creek and continued on a slight uphill. As we were going I mentioned to Jay that I smelled smoke but he couldn’t smell it at the time. We kept going and even though it was some seriously steep and technical hiking I was feeling great. We passed Half Way Creek feeling good. We continued up to another switchback which took us around to a great view of the valley. It was then that we could see the typical thermal inversion layer in the atmosphere and below it this cloud of thick black and orange smoke. This spooked Jay and concerned me as well. My first though was “let’s get away from the smoke”. I wanted to summit and then decide which side of the mountain to come down. If there was fire nearby we would see it and we could go down the other side. Jay reminded me that this would make it a 23 mile hike. “Good Point” I said and so we went down. We got about a mile and a half down or almost 1200 vertical feet and we happened across the first hikers we had seen on the trail so far. They didn’t know where the smoke came from but were not concerned. Then another couple came up and continued on. Jay and I decided it must be safe to continue so we went back up.

Smoke from the Santa Barbara County fires

Smoke from the Santa Barbara County fires


Jay looking worried

Jay looking worried

The second time doing that ascent took it’s toll on me. We went slightly above where we turned around the first time and stopped to eat lunch. Then we continued on past High Creek. By this time I was really feeling it. We got a few hundred feet vertically above High Creek when I decided to call it quits. We could have reached the summit but we would have gotten back to the car around 7PM and I had no cell service to tell Jamie I would be late.


It felt really good to be going downhill and we made great time. Then my body just hit a wall and every step was a major effort. I had forgotten how steep the switchbacks above Mill Creek were. Jay lent me his trekking poles and that helped me get down. Then we crossed the creek and made it to the car. I was never happier to see a car in my life and I thought for a moment about kissing it’s steel skin; then I decided not to.

Be sure to check out my GPS information and the photos I took. Also make sure to check out Jay’s Adventure Friday blog here. Oh, by the way the fire was all the way up in Santa Barbara County and nowhere near us.

Part Dingo

August 13, 2009

In the tradition of one of our favorite photographers I’m including adorable photos of my Dog as a way to boost traffic to this site. Ok, well it’s not really my dog as it is my family’s dog and I’m pet sitting. The dog’s name is Mimi and one thing which has always troubled me is to find out just what kind of dog she is. You see I heard she was pure bred but she looks like a mut. I also heard she was Australian Shepherd but she looks nothing like those dogs except that they are about the same size but her fur is much shorter and courser and her coloring is both spotted and mixed.
For a long while I just assumed she must be a mut. That is, she must be a mixed breed. So one day I was playing Fallout 3 and decided to research the game a bit. I happen across this page. It says there is a dog companion in the game. It also mentions it’s the same breed of dog that plays in Mad Max 2 and more importantly mentions this dog is an Australian Cattle Dog of the Blue Heeler type. This is important as a neighbor recently conjectured that she might be a heeler. So this sent me to this page.
From here I found photos which match almost exactly to what Mimi looks like. She is a “Blue Heeler” color with very little red mostly in her undercoat on her head and some on her back thighs. Otherwise Mimi is entirely black and white with an almost perfectly black face. I learned many interesting facts about Australian Cattle Dogs like the fact that they are considered in the top ten of most intelligent dogs. In addition I learned they were bred by combining Collies with Dingos then mixing in some Bull Terrier and finally Dalmatian. The Dalmatian is responsible for the unique coloring of the dog as it passed a long a gene with basically guarantees they will have multiple colored fur. You can see from straight on the characteristic ears from the Dingo. An interesting note about Dingo is that it was a once domesticated dog which has reverted back to wild in order to survive roaming free in much of Australia.

So there you have it. Mimi is a great dog and companion and now I know from whence she has come.

San Diego Photo Trip

August 5, 2009

Last weekend we went with our friends down to San Diego for a day long photo trip. We first visited the Cabrillo National Monument. While waiting for our friends to arrive I took many photos of the view of San Diego from the visitors center. We also ran into some sort of miniature sea explorer man who graciously took a photo with me. I wonder if he scowls at all the tourists photos or if I irked him in some way. Our main purpose for visiting was to see the old Point Loma Lighthouse. It was nice but nothing spectacular, it probably would have been more fun to photograph at dawn or dusk. After exploring the lighthouse we drove down to the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala. I had a lot of fun photographing this site, especially all the colorful flowers. After thoroughly exploring the mission we went to Sea World. Yes, I know, this day was jam packed. While at Sea World we got to see the Clydesdales, the Beluga whales and the shark aquarium. But of course no trip to Sea World is complete without seeing Shamu perform. I’m still not sure which whale Shamu actually is, there seems to be many Shamu’s. They all performed an awesome show and after that we called it a day. Check out the photos below: