Thursday, April 30, 2009

Golden Gate Park

Two weeks ago N. and I decided to celebrate the arrival of spring by hiking through the city. We started our walk in a quiet and residential Potrero Hill, then we walked through vivid and messy Mission, followed by elegantly gay Castro, hippie Haight-Ashbury, to end up in a beautiful Golden Gate Park.

Walking through various neighborhoods of SF is one of my favorite activities. It is just fascinating how the city changes every few blocks.

Here are a few photos from the park:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Grand Canyon - South Kaibab Trail

We decided to hike down the South Kaibab Trail because there is no water on this trail (as opposed to the Bright Angel Trail on which we hiked out), and we figured we would need more water on our way up than on our way down.

The trailheads for the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails are pretty far apart from each other, so we decided to park our car next to the later one and take the "Backpackers Express" shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead located near Yaki Point. The South Kaibab Trail is 6.3 miles (10.1 km) long. Over this distance it drops 4,860 ft (1480 m), which makes it pretty steep. All of us could feel it in our knees when we were making last switchbacks in the Inner Gorge, just before the trail met with the Kaibab Suspension Bridge on which we crossed the Colorado River to get to Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Campground.

It took as "only" 4 hours to hike all the way down to the bottom of the canyon, more or less as much as we had predicted it would take. So we had thought that after setting the campsite we would still be able to go for at least a short hike, but we ended up being so exhausted that we skipped that plan and spent the remaining of the afternoon relaxing and chilling in the shade.

On the way down the canyon, view to O'Neill Butte (on the left) from Cedar Ridge Point:

The very first glimpse of the Colorado River, just after passing the Tipoff:

The first views of the Bright Angel Creek Oasis:

The Suspension Bridge:

Crossing the Colorado River:

Backpacking in Grand Canyon

In the middle of March I went hiking in Grand Canyon with a group of friends that I know from my PhD program in Dresden, Germany. To be able to camp below the rim of the canyon, we had to apply to the Grand Canyon Backcountry Information Center for a permit four months prior to the trip. Apparently, there are three times as many applications as permits, so I guess we should consider ourselves lucky to have managed to get one of them.

Our trip started on Tuesday, 17th of March, at the San Francisco airport. From there we flew to Phoenix, AZ, which is located only 4-hours away from Grand Canyon. That meant that we still had a bit of extra time, so we stopped at Sedona Red Rock, to which I dedicated a separate post. Also on on our way back from the canyon to Phoenix we had some free time, so we visited several other parks: Walnut Canyon NM, Montezuma Castle NM, Montezuma Well, Sunset Crater Volcano NM and Wupatki NM.

As for the itinerary of our Grand Canyon hike we took one day to hike (on the South Kaibab Trail) to the bottom of the canyon, where we spent two nights at Bright Angel Campground and then we took two days to hike out (on the Bright Angel Trail). The photos and detailed description of our hike can be found in the following posts:
  1. Grand Canyon - South Kaibab Trail
  2. Grand Canyon - Bright Angel Campground
  3. Grand Canyon - Clear Creek Trail
  4. Grand Canyon - Plateau Point Trail
  5. Grand Canyon - Bright Angel Trail

My hiking companions, from left to right: Anne-K, Carsten, his gf, Sebastian, Anne-L, I:

Grand Canyon - Watchtower

The most eastern viewpoint in the Grand Canyon park is called Dessert View. It is home to the structure known as the Watchtower that was designed by Mary Colter at the request of the Fred Harvey Company. The Watchtower is a replica of a prehistoric Indian tower. Its interior walls are full of images that depict various aspects of Hopi mythology and religious ceremonies. It is somehow disconcerting that this stylized-to-look-old building is used as a gift shop.

The views from the Watchtower are magnificent. From its top you can see not only the Grand Canyon, but also the Painted Desert, the Vermilion Cliffs and the San Fransico Peaks.

The Watchtower:

The view of the Grand Canyon from the inside of the Watchtower:

The interior of the Watchtower:

Butano SP

On Saturday we went hiking in Butano SP. We decided on a short 4-mile long hike recommended on the park's website. The hike was nice, but not amazing. I am not sure if I will go back there.

Butano Creek:


Slow moving newt:

Pt Pigeon Lighthouse

Most of the Friday and part of Saturday I spent at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, which is located just 50 miles south of San Francisco and makes for a wonderful weekend getaway spot. We stayed at Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel, which is very nice and clean. Bare in mind that to get a private room there you need to reserve 3-6 months in advance.

Here are a few pics.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, take one:

Take two:

Take three: what happened to the sun?

Spring in full power:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race - movies

I also took several movies from the race that can be watched through youtube:

Unfortunately, their quality is not as good as I hoped for. Again I wish I had a Nikon D90... Maybe it is finally time to buy it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bring Your Own Big Wheel - BYOBW 2009

As some of you know the street on which I live is the actual crookedest street of San Francisco, even though Lombard St officially holds the title. Last Sunday my street hosted an annual event called "BYOBW" (Bring Your Own Wheel), in which adults race each other down the street on kids' type of bicycles.

Here are a few photos that I took during this event:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Grand Canyon - Lipan Point

Here are three photos taken from Lipan Point, which is the only above-the-rim viewpoint from where you can actually see Colorado River. If during your visit to Grand Canyon you will have time to stop at only one viewpoint, chose Lipan: