To the Top and Back

A couple days ago my girlfriend and I hosted an Italian couple named Jacapo and Giulia in our home. They were a pleasure to have around the house! Every day was filled with amazing food and broken English to Italian language.
Vegas bound, they left us yesterday, but not without leaving behind their fair share of memories. We showed them all around town and spent a good bit of time at the lake swimming or soaking in the sun. On their last day here Jacapo and I hiked a peak called Mt. Tallak (9,738 ft.). It is an impressive mountain. The hike itself is quite short, but very steep. Round trip it took us five hours on the dot. I figured it about nine miles, so that is a fairly decent pace.

Of course Jacapo and I took some pictures on the hike, which I will share with you bellow :) I hope you enjoy seeing what we saw and hope to see you on the trail soon!

-Kyle Simmons

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A Blog is Born

To all of you who read my blog, you know my girlfriend Talia Green. This is her new blog and you should follow her because she is talented and beautiful. She is also a world traveler and grade A story teller!

Check her out :)

-Kyle Simmons

Afternoon Swim

A few evenings ago I decided to take a dip in the lake. The sky was a very interesting intensity and color due to many fires that are currently burning in the Sierra Nevada region. The air quality has not been the best for the last few days, but the sunsets have ben unbelievable!

My girlfriend Talia and I both took some pictures and I will post some of the best ones bellow.

Hope you enjoy :)

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Day Five (Upper Blue Lake – South Lake Tahoe)

Hi There, 

I took a few days off recently to adjust to my new living situations (As you will soon read). On day three I had made it to Blue Lake and was taking a rest day. On day five I was going to go to either Echo or Aloha Lakes. That plan however, did not play out.

As I was nearing the peak of the Carson Pass I caught my first glimpse of what I recognized to be Lake Tahoe. From then on I was in for the kill. Nalah and I simply pushed and I encouraged vocally as much as possible, being quite short of breath. I think it helped Nalah drive through the last of the mountain passes. 

We arrived in Tahoe around 4:00pm, but not before having many encounters and adventures first. We saw many people along the trail on day five. This combined with the previous day’s rest made it very easy to want to go very fast. This last day was definitely our fastest of all. 

When we started approaching Highway 88 I began to see more and more people. Then came the tell tale sign of wheels on pavement. I have never been this excited to hear the highway before. We crossed many highways along the trail, but this one meant we were only about fifteen miles from Tahoe. 

I checked in at a volunteer-staffed ranger station. There were two of the kindest ladies I have ever met there. They immediately took Nalah and I in with cold water and fresh fruit! I hadn’t tasted fruit in quite some time, it was very tasty!

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They also informed me that my shoulders were bleeding from the chafing of my backpack straps. I knew I had some mild irritation, but looking into a mirror for the first time in five days, I realized that I looked a little torn up haha.

They informed me that they were both mothers and were well equipped to bandage my wound. Then they gave me some more fruit and I was on my way. I got a bit lost at first, but we found the trail again and off we went! It was at the top of this first hill that I saw Tahoe. I spent the remainder of the day estimating and judging distances and arrival times in my head. One foot… in front of the other… over and over and over again.

Finally we reached Highway 50 and from here, I had determined earlier in the day, we would hitchhike the last ten miles in on the highway. I got a ride from a very unexpecting vehicle. As I was at the point where I tend to give up hope in humanity and start walking down the road, one of the largest semi trucks I have ever seen screeched to a halt in the turnout in front of me.

Cars backed up behind him and all, a long haired man with a thick brown beard hopped out the passenger side and helped my in with my bags as well as Nalah. The truck step was too high for her low energy level. These particular truckers were hauling carnival equipment across the country for a contracting company. They looked the part too. The inside of the truck was decorated with all kinds of trinkets and treasures one would only find in carnival culture.

The rest of the trip into Tahoe was relatively easy. I found a small patch of grass and called my Mom and girlfriend. Nalah, although reluctant to leave the nice grass we had found, walked with me down to the beach to make camp. Along the way we also stopped at a pizza joint called Blue Dog Pizza for a few 20oz beers and a large pizza to celebrate our arrival. Nalah got all the crusts and proceeded to fall asleep.

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We caught the sunset and found a good spot on the beach after some time of walking down the road. Nalah also got to play with a well mannered doggie companion for the first time in weeks. The sand felt nice and cool on my back compared to the granite rocks and bare dirt floors I had been sleeping on the previous nights. The air was also much cooler that night due to the fact that we were sleeping below 8,000ft for the first time on the entire trip.

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We also faced two of the biggest fears I had on this night, oddly enough. It would be my luck that the night we make it to our destination we see our first bear and pack of coyotes! Well, we heard the coyotes, but they were close and Nalah and I both got chills and looked at each other with worry. 

It was a great night full of great sleep though. And in the morning something very interesting presented itself to me in a very unexpected way. The man who’s dog Nalah had played with was back out on the dock and asked me what I was doing in Tahoe. I informed him that I was trying to get set up with a house, job, and enrolling in school. 

Long story short, he had a house that he was moving out of in a couple of hours. It was right next to where I was sleeping on the beach. He offered to lower the rent for me if he could come up and use it as a vacation home once or twice a month and I accepted. More than accepting, I was thrilled! The house is amazing and has been quite substantial in my becoming set up here.

I also now work at the pizza shop I stopped at when I first arrived in town. The house and job had come in four days! I was and currently am stoked! This last week I spent working monday through friday at Blue Dog Pizza. I like it there and have awesome coworkers, I could not ask for more from Tahoe.

I have been working a lot, and will continue to be. But tomorrow I am reconnecting with my roots. Nalah and I will go from six to ten thousand feet as we attempt to summit and return from the largest peak in South Lake Tahoe. It should be doable but it will be a whole day trip. I will bring my camera along and show you the view from the top next time!

Stop back in soon!

 

-Kyle Simmons

 

 

Day Three – Kinney Lake to Upper Blue Lake

Hi There Again,

Its day three and I promised you something interesting! For today’s entry I will also be including day four. I am doing this because my journal entry for day three was quite short, and day four was a whole day off from movement or navigation so I wrote quite a bit. Nalah and I put forward the most effort on this day simply because of the terrain. 

The start of the trail was a very long and dry region of high, windy Nevada desert. This caused some things to become difficult, as you will read.

Enjoy!

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Day Three

I feel very lucky thins morning. I woke up with the sun around 6:00am and baited my hook to start fishing. What do you know, I caught one! Its a small but beautiful rainbow trout. I know he will go wonderfully with my crackers and cheese spread for lunch.

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I felt bad for Nalah last night. It was very cold up until 9:00am . I did my best to cover her up with my spare blanket and I think it helped her a little bit. From now on I will do my best to ensure both of us are warm and comfy. I do however, enjoy it when she snuggles as close to me as possible in the middle of the night. It makes me feel safe and at home. 

I wanted to take it easy today till around eleven or noon. Both of us were limping around the beach this morning when the first people began to appear. . .

Just caught fish number two! Still a rainbow trout, but bigger than the first. I feel accomplished, I am going for three.

I will be able to take my first bath in an hour or so once the sun touches my side of the beach. I know I will feel refreshed and ready to tackle day three’s journey. I will also do some laundry so I smell nice and fresh :)

Many people are starting to arrive and I hope I don’t look weird bathing in a lake. But what do I care haha. Either way it is time to clean up my area and embrace the day!

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It is night three. Just got to Upper Blue Lake. My legs are hurt. No energy left for creative thought. Its going to be a good day off tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing what I am sleeping in front of. It is 10:30pm. 

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Finally!! Its 2:10pm on day four and I finally feel strong enough to lift the pen I write with. Yesterday was long, steep and treacherous. I lost my knife the night before and had planned on going back to the place I believed I had left it in the morning. We slept in on Kinney Reservoir, then attempted that feat…but no knife.

I was furious! I almost threw the two fish I had caught on the floor, because I couldn’t clean them, and marched my ass straight to Tahoe no stops. But I found my cool again and simply kept walking with the intent of buying a knife from a day hiker. 

The first people I saw were an elderly couple with fanny packs and small backpacks. I asked the couple if I could pose an odd question. “Do you have a spare knife I could buy?” I asked the couple. Without hesitation the old man replied, “Absolutely!” and handed me an older looking swiss army knife with wine cork and all. I asked how much he wanted and he said not a thing. He thought I might have been on the PCT and in fact saw me that morning on Kinney Beach.

This simple happening brought me to tears for the next half mile and almost does still as I write about it. 

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After Kinney Lake we hiked through an unexpected dry patch of high desert. Because of my knife fiasco, I lost track of a few things. Among them once again, was water. I had enough to last till the creeks ahead, but Nalah now refuses to drink from anything that isn’t the source. That includes her bowl for some reason. She went about five miles with nothing but drive, while I required water every ten minutes as well as an oatmeal cookie and some electrolyte GU just to hold her pace. 

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We take turns sharing the front and when one of us slows down the other takes the pace right back up. This combination has takes us nearly seventy five miles, but has also beat us down over the three day course. 

I am happy to take the whole day as a rest day only because Nalah looks so tired. I wanted to make a six or seven mile hike to Red Lake before 6:00pm today, but I think new energy will take us to a very quick pace tomorrow. 

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Something very exciting also happens tomorrow. I move on to the pages of map two! Once that happens I only have half a map length to go. Which means no more than another week or so sleeping on the ground (because once I get to Tahoe I still have no place to live).

I am also beginning to ration my food. I originally divided my stores into three days starting tomorrow, plus breakfast and dinner for today. Hopefully starting at Blue Lake in the morning I can make it eighteen to twenty five miles to either Echo Lake or Lake Aloha. 

One of those places will be my last stop hopefully and by mid afternoon on day six I can be in South Lake Tahoe. Whichever one of these lakes I stop at will also decide the spot I try and take a Milky Way picture. These are the two largest lakes I pass on the way and (from online images) I assume the most inspiring. 

Fishing at Blue Lake sucks. From what someone told me it is an extra slow day today, but I have had my hook in the water since 6:00am (It is now 3:00pm) and I have not seen it move once! I HAVE gotten snagged on plenty of rocks though.

A friendly man and his son were literally in my same boat and we were discussing the matter, when inevitably the question of why I am living on the beach arose. I told him I was on the PCT and he talked briefly about hiking goals and incredible adventures and opportunities long past.

He mentioned that his wife had just finished reading a few book about the PCT and would love to talk to me for a second. As she came over she had a big smile on her face and looked just about ready to set out with me! We talked for a while all about different aspects of the trail.

We also talked about the terrible fishing day everyone was having. She asked if there was anything she could give me and I politely declined. She continued the subject and insisted that she at least give me two frozen fish. How could I turn her down? The fish are about the same size  as yesterdays and will be quite tasty I am sure. 

The beauty of human kindness has astounded me always. That truth however, becomes clearer and clearer each day I spent on the trail. I only hope that in days and years to come I can in turn help someone in my similar situations. 

The sun is slowly but surely making its way from the middle of the sky and the air is starting to get cooler. Soon I will probably eat and take a short nap. Then dinner will come and hopefully with it an early and long night of sleep. We have to cover many miles tomorrow and we will need this energy and an early morning start to do it.

No nap, but I read about half of my book. I am reading Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. It is amazing how much this book speaks to my daily life out here. Steinbeck really does have a way of putting situations into perspective for me. I think him and I may be  much alike.

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Charley, Steinbeck’s dog, seems a much more willing companion than Nalah does today. However, she is warming back up after a hearty serving of fish, rice and chicken noodle soup. Plus she has eaten more dog food today than she has in weeks! By tomorrow I believe everything will be fairly well. 

We have a comfy sleeping spot, but it is cold. We still have not gone below 8,000ft on our journey. More Steinbeck, some whisky and fruit punch then sleep.

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Thats all for days three and four. Come back tomorrow for what was, to my surprise, our final day!

See You Then,

Kyle Simmons

Day Two – Golden Lake to Kinney Reservoir

Hello,

Today I will be telling you how my second day out of five on the PCT went. It was a longer day than the first, and we cover a longer, hillier distance than day one. It was also the first time I had to do many outdoor routines and needless to say some of it was a bit rough. Hope you enjoy :)

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Day Two

Last night was filled with worry and anxiousness as my ears perked at any sign of movement in the forest. It was also however, filled with the amazing glory of the night sky. The Milky Way danced across the vast expanse of space above me. Every once in a while I would close my eyes for twenty minutes or so and then open them to track its movement. Eventually sleep crept its way in and not much can save you from it at that point.

I awoke to one bee buzzing, then two, then three. I decided it was time to get up and move on. We need water so we will now hike back to Golden Lake (about one mile), since there will be no clean water for the next five or ten miles. The time is now 9:30am.

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It is night two and I have set up camp at Kinney Lake. Today was a bit longer than yesterday, or so it seemed. I think we probably went a similar distance, but having the whole day ahead of us from sunrise to sundown was a bit daunting. 

Kinney Lake is beautiful, and by far the largest lake I have come upon. I was going to stay up above the lake, but I needed water once again, and the hike down to the lake was becoming too treacherous. 

I decided to go north on Highway 4 and backtrack a bit. It was a mile or so downhill (which means a mile or so uphill tomorrow morning) but I think it was worth it. I am in a nice sandy spot right in between the highway and the water. 

Today started slowly. The previous day’s pace and the added morning backtrack to find water made things tough at the early hour. But it picked up around mile four or five. We passed the cow heard once again, and a little ways past saw an elegant and powerful looking fawn. 

I decided to stopped eventually for an hour or so at Wolf Creek. I washed my face and did some laundry while Nalah napped in the shade.

I put my legs in the water to soak, but before I knew it, I realized I had leeches all up and down my legs. I have dealt with many types of bugs, but never leeches! I was horrified and needless to say, very worried about getting back in the water. And very anxious to move on.

From there we moved on up one pass then down another over and over till finally, we hit Ebbets Pass and Highway 4. Nalah kept the pace the last three or four miles and I simply tried to keep up. 

I halved her backpack weight because she seemed very tired. I think she appreciated it. As of now we are both exhausted from the day’s effort and Nalah is curled up next to me sleeping. I could not ask for a better pup.

Hopefully tonight’s sleep comes easier than last nights. I think about Talia on these long cold and windy nights. How I wish to be in her arms feeling her embrace. I think about her all of the time during our wanderings. It gives me hope to know that I will see her soon and that there is a goal to all of this. Cheers to her, my love. May she and I both sleep tight tonight under the same stary sky.

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That was all I had left in me for night two. Come back tomorrow to hear more successes and misadventures. One clue, I loose something very special to me in these times.

See You Soon,

Kyle Simmons

Four and a Half Days to Tahoe (Day One – Sonora Pass to Golden Lake)

Good Morning All,

Today I write to you with great enthusiasm and joy. My dog Nalah and I have made it to our destination in South Lake Tahoe, CA, and we made our hundred and ten mile trek in just under five days! If you read my previous post you would remember that I was only able to bring enough food for five to eight days, so this is quite a relief. 

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Nalah and I on a dock in the lake our first night in Tahoe.

We finished the hike early this week and ended at a beautiful spot on the beach in Tahoe. This was of course after drowning myself in beer and pizza for a couple hours.  I had to let my legs settle down, for my left foot hurt so bad I could barely walk anymore. The distance also took its toll on Nalah’s legs. She suffered elbow rashes on the second day from her backpack, and once we were finished it was difficult for me to even convince her to stand up. 

Over the next few days I will be blogging about our adventure. The twenty-six mile per day pace took us over many landscapes and put us through many trials and experiences, some I could have never imagined or planned for. Emotions were high on the trip, as I have never attempted anything quite like this before and may have been slightly underprepared in certain aspects. 

I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts and viewing the images to go along with them! Stop in tomorrow to catch up on day number two…here we go……

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Day One – Sonora Pass to Golden Lake

It is day one of my trek to Tahoe. I got dropped off at the Sonora Pass around noon and have finally eaten, brushed my teeth, made my bed and placed my food “safely” on the tall flat side of a big rock. 

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It is much colder than I anticipated. I should have recalled many brisk High Sierra mistakes, but I was too involved with my plan most likely. Or it just skipped my memory. Either way, I had to choose my camping spot carefully tonight.

I am on top of a large granite dome in between a large deep crack in the dome. I am mostly protected from the wind, and I think even Nalah found a cozy spot. We are both very tired tonight. 

The Summit of the Sonora Pass took a bit longer than seventy minutes. At the top of the pass we were just under 12,000 feet. We descended north into a lush valley that runs parallel to the west fork of the Carson River. We stopped for lunch and played in the ice cold stream around 3:30pm.

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My sandwich I was able to make at home before I started. The last real food for a while.

From there it was a series of climbs and descents (mostly climbs) heading northwest. We made it all the way to Golden Lake today around 7:00pm. I am estimating the day around twenty miles. Hopefully tomorrow we can get an early start and put in another twenty or thirty miles.

We took a few breaks along the trail, but before long I noticed that we simply got into a groove and only rested five or ten minutes to check the map and drink water. It is amazing how you can simply zone out and put one foot in front of the other. 

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When we arrived at Golden Lake, which is a small and swampy place, I began to look for a suitable place to set up camp. I approached a large dome with all the requirements. Almost ready to find a way up, cook, clean and go to bed, I heard a very intriguing noise.

From far off it sounded as if many people were gathered in the meadow below playing music and singing strange songs. As I got closer it turned into the clanging of pots and pans, hundreds of them! I got even closer and it sounded as if someone had hid wind chimes in the branches all around me. 

Suddenly a large brown cow appeared from out behind a tree. Then suddenly I was right in the middle of a forest cow pasture. Nalah jumped at the sight of the cow and began to run. I shouted “STAY!!” at the top of my lungs and cows from all angles ran past us and began to retreat into the dark. 

I was happy to find out what the noise was, for it interested me quite some bit. I am sleeping near the pasture tonight and the sound of the bells now comforts me instead of confuses me.

Nalah keeps barking off into the distance. I keep thinking I see things too. It is just the night and its tricks and I am tired of it. I am sleepy and sore. So is my puppy. It is bed time now, or time to try at least…9pm on the dot. At least I have Nalah to warm me up (hopefully) and a big ole knife to try and protect myself if some animal were to decide to become fierce. 

No fire tonight either. It is windy and dry and it does not feel safe. Hopefully my wilderness karma will improve for it haha. Thats all tonight. See you tomorrow.

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And that was day one :) Check back in tomorrow to hear how day two went. Having the whole day ahead of us proved to be where the real journey actually started.

See you soon!

 

-Kyle Simmons


Phase Three: Getting to Tahoe

This week I embark on a journey that I have been planning for quite sometime now. I leave on monday for the Sierra Nevada Mountains to fish with my family for a few days. Then Thursday my parents drop me off on the Sonora Pass and my dog and I will begin the hundred or so mile long trek to Tahoe, CA!

Preparation has included much gear purchasing and permit buying. It has also included many long tough workouts on both of our parts. In order to make it to Tahoe when I want to we need to cover thirteen to twenty miles per day. This speed will put us at the end of the trail no earlier than five days and no more than eight.

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After this last weekend i feel very prepared. All my gear, including first aid accessories and maps, have come into place and that makes me feel more at ease about the times ahead.

I leave in three hours for the Sierra Nevadas and am all packed and ready to go. I think I need more food, but I dont think anymore will fit in my pack haha! We shall see. . .

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Wish us luck in the coming weeks! They will be most likely weather free, cloudless summer Sierra days and im sure everything will go according to plan. I will also try my best to live blog of some sort as much as possible :)

Thanks again for reading!

Kyle Simmons

Preparing for the PCT

Hello All,

The last month I have been preparing to move from Flagstaff, AZ to Tahoe, CA. A few things have to happen over the course of the next few weeks, and I am excited for the road ahead.

Most of what I have been doing is selling all my stuff! I have to narrow my possessions down to a hiking backpack and a small package which I will mail ahead to myself in Tahoe. My dog and I will be on the Pacific Crest Trail for nine or ten days over the length of about a hundred miles.

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These are some images of gear I bought and a couple of recent long runs we have gone on. Our training has consisted of faster paced sorter mileage runs up until recently, but over the last couple weeks we have gone on a few longer thirteen to seventeen mile practice treks with close to full pack weight in a backpack. They take a littler longer, but they are so fun and beautiful!

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Some of the places we have had the privilege of running in are amazing! However, I am very excited for the scenery that we will experience out on the trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Some of the dangers we could face are bears and other animals, but since there are two of us instead of just me, I think we can remain safe. I also bought a water pump/filter, but I still worry a tad about water quality. High Sierra storms scare me the most. The last thing I want is to be suck in a lightning storm at ten thousand feet haha! But I figure if I see something moving in we will set up the tent at the lowest elevation possible and wait it out in there.

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All in all I believe we are ready for the journey. Hopefully over time the journey will turn into an adventure. :)

I will try my best to live blog everything, although I am not completely sure how phone service will be on the trail.

I will also post pics of the planning, preparing, and initiating phases of the trip as it occurs :)

Stay tuned,
Kyle Simmons

Spring Adventures

Hello All :)

Last spring break my girlfriend, my dog and I headed down to one of the best climbing areas around, Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree is host to thousands of climbs both sport and trad. Although from our experience the sport is dangerous and run out and the trad is “as safe as you make it.”

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Once you decide to go to Joshua for any amount of time, there are certain things you need to consider packing. There is no water in the park (which a friend and I found out the hard way) and minimal facilities for other uses such as the bathroom. A tent, sleeping bag, firewood, and all the other camping essentials would come along with us of course.

Joshua tree doesn’t stop at the usual camping experience though. If you are like me and thousands of other people who come to Joshua Tree from all over the world, you are there to climb some rocks. You therefore have to bring some extra gear along including the necessary camming devices to place into cracks and quickdraws to clip into bolts and anchors as well as a rope and all of your personal systems. Needless to say, the car was packed!

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The first day we decided to climb with some neighbors we met the night before. They had a little more gear than us, which was considerably lucky. The first climb we hopped on was The Bong (5.5) and at the rating it should have felt very straightforward for me. What happened was the other thing completely. I was pretty happy I had some extra gear from the neighbors and a helmet! Our friends and Talia followed shortly and we found a kind of sketchy walk off to get back to the ground. All is well in J Tree!

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We decided to get some lunch and some rest after our first adventure. The sun and the wind really get to you over the course of the day! Naps in the shade are a must. But after there is no shortage of summits to conquer. We had been looking around and found one obvious crack that was an aesthetic ideal. It is called Toe Jam (5.7) and would turn out to be my favorite climb I have tried to date. All I had to protect myself was three #1 sized cams and a set of nuts. I had to run the first easier part out before clipping into protection but it all felt fine till the top.

There is a blank section of rock about ten feet from the top. There are no cracks in this section of rock, therefore nowhere to place protection. Many climbers would feel very comfortable here, in fact many people climb this almost daily without ropes at all! But considering my level of experience combined with my lack of gear, I was a bit worried.

Everything went well though and I got to the top to set up anchors. Talia followed it and she said it was right at her limit as well! A bit scary for her towards the top because she could have taken a bit of a swing, but she pushed though it like a champ and we rappelled down to the bottom to get some beers and some rest.

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The next day we did a very fun climb called Beginner One (5.3) It was very fun and also a really long climb which made it very satisfying. We trail blazed our way off the side of the rock and ate some amazing bagel sandwiches and drank coconut water! All good calls on Talia’s part.

After lunch and some napping/reading/bouldering/running around, we went to do our final climb called The Eye (5.3). The Eye may be the coolest climb I have ever laid my eyes on. I have been staring at it and dreaming for years, and finally the time had come. I was ready. Someone did it before us and it was really nice to be able to watch first. After they were done I took off. You really do feel like you are in a special place when climbing in Joshua Tree. And when you get to the top of this particular climb you are literally in The Eye of Cyclops Rock haha!

After Talia had her turn and we made our way down we climbed a tad bit more, but it was all easy straightforward stuff. We went back to camp and started our fire and our dinner. What a pleasure it was to be sitting in such a wonderful place filled with unlimited beauty. Our trip was such a blast!

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After our nights sleep, I did a bit more bouldering and then we packed up. After we left Joshua Tree we went to my mom’s house which was very close for a short visit. She has a horse which we got to take out and there will be more pictures on that soon, so be sure to come back shortly :)

Thanks for visiting!

Kyle Simmons

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A Long Run

The other day my dog and i went on a seventeen mile run to a place called Fisher Point. Fisher Point is out on the Arizona trail which runs through many beautiful canyons and valleys all the way through Arizona.

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When you teach the bottom you have ran about eight miles. There is a lot to explore at the bottom like a cave and a nice canyon, but our goal was to get to the top so we shortly picked up again. Two more miles to the top…

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Once you hit the top the view is amazing. It feels like you can see all of Arizona from there! We hung out for a bit for a snack and some water and then it wad time to run again.

When you leave the point it is another six our seven miles home. When we finally made it we were both so tired! I ate a burger and Nalah and i crashed out for the night :)

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Thanks for reading about our run. Tune in soon for more adventures!

Kyle Simmons

Sunny Summer Days

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Went climbing at Buffalo Park today and the weather was gorgeous! I got new shoes so i wanted to give them a go.

I don’t think i could have picked a better day than today.it sure is getting hot though : /

More pics to come…

Thanks for stopping by,
Kyle Simmons

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Towering Above the Desert

Hello All,

 

I want to thank you for the opportunity to share another adventure! We went climbing and I just have to tell someone, because we had so much fun. This was the second time I had done this climb in particular and the first time for my girlfriend. The climb is called Queen Victoria and is rated (5.7).

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The hike up to the climb proved to be a tad bit trickier than I remembered it. We ended up down in a gully hiking through trenches and over trees and stones. Once past the brushy part of the hike you hit the large slab of rock pictured above. From there you simply push upward till you hit the base of the climb.

The route is called a “dessert tower” and would require us to be placing our own gear into cracks. This proves to be quite tricky sometimes. A lot depends on the quality of the rock, the size of a particular crack, as well as watching for precarious rock to not knock down below on top of your belayer! All these elements make the climb more arduous and risky, but much more rewarding at the end.

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Look at that hot rock girl go!

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The first pitch is a chimney filled with great foot holds and cracks to grab and jam your fingers into. Only a couple tough sections bring you to the anchors and the start of the second pitch. Everything went well on number one so we were eager to move on.

I started off on pitch number two and Talia belayed. The second pitch is simply a scramble up loose rocks to a ledge with a tree and an overhanging crack to climb up and over. From there I made anchors of my own to belay Talia up because it was windy and we didn’t want to risk not being able to hear each other. Talia climbed up the crack and we walked to the anchors of the second pitch.

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Pitch number three is the last one of the climb. It consists of a scramble up to an overhanging section of cracks and jugs. Once again, I did not want to do the whole pitch risking loosing sight and sound of Talia. We each got to the belay station and I went up to the top followed shortly after.

We had done it! The nearly 300 foot pile of rock and crumbling dried mud had not eluded us. It is an amazing feeling to be at the top of something like a desert tower. The perspective and the venerable feeling of being that high in the air on a rock is something I live for. Talia however, had her fill and was ready to get off the rock! Haha

We set up a rappel station and Talia went first followed by me. The first rappel ends at a  big ledge where you find chains bolted into the rock to finish the rest of the rappel down to the bottom.

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The rappel went well and when we got to the bottom, Nalah was very happy to see that we were alive and well. We had to tie her to a tree this time, but next time I feel we may be able to let her roam free! Hopefully she stays close and just tries to figure out how we get up the rocks so easily. LOL

The hike out was not to bad. After we packed everything up and made it past the slabs we ran into a trail which led us back to the road. We proceeded to drink some beers and gorge ourselves with good food from Oak Creek Brewery.

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Thats all she wrote. The trip was a great success. Now plans are in motion for a move up to Montana where I will be playing in a rock cover band haha. Many more pictures and adventures to come :)

Thanks for stopping by,

Kyle Simmons

 

A Weekend at the Creek

The other day my dog Nalah, my girlfriend Talia and I went to Fossil Creek, AZ. Look thats us down there….

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The road to Fossil Creek is long and arduous. 16 miles down an unmaintained dirt road filled with ruts and rocks can take a toll on you and your car. By the time we reached the first creek crossing Talia’s front window had popped out of its track and was leaning at an angle in the driver door! 

When we hit the first swimming spot we jumped right in! The water was so crisp and clear that you could always see down to the bottom. What you saw if you looked in the water though were really hundreds of thousands of baby fish swimming everywhere. It is quite an amazing desert oasis.

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That night we camped at a hot springs. We ate a simple meal. Grilled cheese with peppers and bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter wrapped in foil and char broiled in the fire for about five minutes for dessert! That night we stayed in the tent and only got bitten by a few hundred bugs, so I guess we got lucky.

ImageThe next morning we got up and had previously planned to make it to a specified spot on the trail with a waterfall. We packed up camp and drove another ten or twelve miles on the dirt road to a parking lot where we hiked another one or two miles in to the spot. It was an amazing waterfall about twenty feet tall with a large basin where the water drops into the pond. You can swim down into it another twenty feet or so and check out the fish and the rock reefs. 

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Oh and I forgot to mention you can jump off another five feet or so above the actual water fall…Thats a plus : )

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The waterfall was a pretty awesome spot. But it was a little loud and chilly because of the spray. Besides, about fifty people with coolers and speakers came down the path to the same spot. So we moved down river to a really nice spot where we could lay in the sun and swim in peace. 

I found and endless swimming pool of sorts and was doing laps and laps up and down our private 150 ft long lazy river. Fish are very pushy in Fossil Creek and in spots you can literally watch them move along the contour of your body trying to get out of your way. They then proceed to fill in all gaps as quickly as possible to resume whatever activities fish participate in. 

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Nalah even put in a couple laps of her own. 

ImageImageImageWhat an amazing place! We got to do everything we wanted to do. I wanted to find an endless pool, Talia wanted to get some sun in, we drank some beer, and even Nalah got all of her activities in. Hell I even got to climb a little bit haha!

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That was the start of a great week, a week filled with many great adventures. I will be posting more outing photos soon with stories to narrate :) I hope you will come back soon!

-Kyle Simmons

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Winter Wonder Land

Today my girlfriend, her roommate, Nalah, and i got to go out and explore an amazing Arizona snow storm. We don’t get a huge amount of good storms in AZ and we had so much fun frolicking and digging around.

Hope you like the photos!

Kyle Simmons

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A little really morning climbing today proved to be just what i needed to get thought the week. Hope you are able to get outside today!

Kyle Simmons

Nalah

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This is my puppy Nalah. She has been in my life for a couple of months now and has become the main focus of my life! She will be appearing alot I’m my blog from now on, you can count on that.

Nalah loves climbing adventures, running, skiing, biking and even river crossing with me. So look forward to it all with me right here on my blog :)

Kyle Simmons

Southridge Downhill Racing

Hello Again,

I just got back from California for a photography/video shoot at a couple of local events. I took pictures and video at a downhill mountain bike race in Fontana and also a cocktail party in Redlands (photos will post soon). The race was very interesting for me, since I only had about an hour to take all my video/images at as many different points on the course as I could access. I started my footage at the top of the course and as soon as the race began I was running down the mountain tripod in hand, trying to find the best shots of the riders.

Enjoy the photo preview of the movie! and I hope you will check back to see the final product soon :)

Thanks Again!

-Kyle Simmons

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Bouldering at Buffalo Park

Last week my friends and I got a chance to go and see the Northern Arizona Cross Country Team race in the Big Sky Championships. The NCAA Division I teams did very well. The boys got first and the girls got third. I will post images from the race a bit later!

After the race we too a short walk over to a patch of boulders that have some amazing climbs on them. The boulders and the race were both at our beautiful Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, AZ. They are basalt rock that is littered with crack routes and finger pockets as well as little baby crimps and and big slopers! It is a very interesting place to climb, and it provides a little bit for every level of climber to struggle on.

 

The boulder patch is only about 300-400 feet long, but it is host to many quality climbs. For more information on Buffalo Park, check out the Mountain Project website guide here: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/buffalo-park/105936090

So there it is folks, come and see us sometime! If you want to do it this year, you better do it quick. We just got our first snow in Flagstaff today! It was barely an inch in town, but more will come soon I am sure! There will also be some more videos or images to come as the scenery changes! Thanks for visiting :)

Till next time,

Kyle Simmons

The Random Crag

 

While camping with a musical group I sometimes play with called Sambatuke, some friends and I walked down the fire road a ways to a cliff our buddy had seen before. They had some trad gear and I had a camera, so I found an opposing cliff and started shooting. What I got in my camera, I think you will enjoy!

Oh yeah…then we all got naked haha.

Thanks for reading :)

-Kyle

 

 

This Years Garden

Last spring I tried gardening for the first time. Originally I had planted two gardens, but when some silly person came along and tore out my community garden plot and planted some flowers I was left with only the garden in my front yard. I attribute a great portion of success this season to the convenience of the situation.

Especially at the beginning of summer, I was often in my front yard watering three times a day because of our dry, hot,  Arizona, arid as hell air. But I loved it nonetheless and I now consider it one of my favorite things to do with my time. I cannot think of going another season without a garden in my front. yard! 

Along the way, as always I took some images I think you will enjoy. Let me know :)

-Kyle

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Buildering

Today I went out around the town and did some buildering. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it is simply climbing up buildings and other man made objects. I took a few pictures that I hope you will enjoy.

Video coming soon…

Thanks for reading :)

-Kyle Simmons

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Settle Down Son!!

Hey Everyone,

As my last post said, I have not been on WordPress in a while. I have been living in Flagstaff, AZ for a while and I am loving it! Good times with good friends in a beautiful environment. I have taken a few images over the last few months that I hope you will enjoy!

I have been here about nine months now, which is the longest I have lived anywhere in the last four years! I am finding comfort in a set schedule and a warm bed. It has been difficult. When you get more responsibilities you no doubt loose certain freedoms and gain others. That transition was made easier by the wonderful surroundings. Flagstaff provides me with a perfect mixture of nature and city life.

My mom came to visit and we went to the top of our prize jewel. The tallest mountain in Arizona, Mt. Humphreys. Standing at 12,637 feet, Mt. Humphreys gets covered in snow in the winters and offers rock climbing and glorious aspen groves during the spring through fall.

Well there you go…A little taste of where I currently call home. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, a climbing bum never really stops moving around, but for now I believe I will be here for a bit. So look forward to more images and videos! I hope you see beauty today!

Thanks for visiting,

Kyle Simmons

Its Been A While

Wow, I haven’t done this in way too long. Over the last nine months or so I have started a new chapter in life. I am getting settled and having a great time here in Flagstaff, AZ. It has everything I want. Rock climbing and mountain biking, great thai food, a fun night scene, great culture, and above all great nature and friends.

I am also consequently the new owner of a steady cam system. The one I bought in particular is the Glyde Gear Syl-3000. I love it. It was incredibly easy to balance and set up my camera, and I got it delivered to my doorstep for ninety five dollars. It is worth it’s weight in gold.

Some of my shots are still in need of improvement, but I put together what I think is a cool little video. It is truly Fall here in Flagstaff and we are getting some amazing colors on the ground and even better ones in our sunsets. This is the time to be in Flag and I could not resist taking my new toy out for a spin.

More to come…I will not abandon my Post for that long again! Enjoy :)

Photo of the Week: May 6-12

Here is an image of my buddy Matt Belus going for it big time in Moab, Utah. This particular route was a 5.9 slab. A lot of the routes on this cliff were rated “R” or “X” meaning a fall could result in injury or death, this obviously made the consequence and depravity of each number grade go up drastically. It was worth it though, as the next route we got on was a 5.10c and both of us considered it our new favorite route we had ever done. Good stuff in Utah!

Thank you very much for reading.

-Kyle Simmons

Streaker Spire

Today my friend and I climbed Streaker Spire (5.7-8) in Sedona, Arizona. It was a three pitch desert tower on some of the worst and best sandstone ever. Sedona is just like that, one second you are on the coolest rock you have ever touched and the next second you are trying not to knock choss onto your belayers head. Streaker Spire provided some of the most awkward off-width climbing I have ever done and definitely had it’s trying moments. But as the local guide book says, “Recommended Climbs: None, Never trust holds, never trust bolts or pitons, never trust cam placements, and just don’t fall period.”

Streaker Spire on the Right

Every trip to Sedona proves to be an epic in its own respect. This time it was the hike back to the car that took an interesting turn. In attempting to navigate the red slabs littered with cactus, thorns, spiders, and loose rock we ended up in some sort of a slot canyon. Fortunately it only took a couple ten-or-so-feet chimney moves to get out and we were back on the trail in no time. All in all today was a great success and I am happy to claim it as my second trad lead!

Thanks for reading!

-Kyle Simmons

 

THIS WEEKEND!!! So Pumped

This weekend I get to hop on my second trad lead. The climb is called Streaker Spire and it is rated 5.7+. I have heard a lot of things about it from the local climbers who have tried it. People say it is awkward  climbing, but a great summit and maybe the best introduction to Sedona climbing. It is a desert spire, so it will be weird and it also has a traverse which I heard can be tricky. All in all I am very excited, and if all goes well you will be seeing pictures soon!

Till then,

Kyle Simmons

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/original-north-face-route/105808198

Photo of the Week: April 29-May 5

I could not decide this week which of two images to make my photo of the week. Last weekend in Moab I took A LOT of pictures…picking through them was no simple task. But this week I chose two night shots. Each taken on right after the other at out makeshift campsite 20 minutes south of Moab out on some dirt road.

Last Turn on the Left

This last weekend was a trip of a lifetime. My friends and I spent the weekend in beautiful Moab, Utah. Moab is a place of much wonder and mystery. Scattered deserts with jutting bluffs and stark sandstone cliffs shooting out from the red earth provide a landscape that steals the breath and cultivates the imagination. It is places like this that make you reevaluate your place and purpose on this planet.

Reevaluation and accumulation of new thoughts, values and memories coupled with challenging rock climbs and time spent sleeping on the cryptobiotic soil underneath the vastly lit night sky. This is what Utah was all about for our small misfit group of dirtbag climbers. After all, isn’t dirtbagging what climbing is all about. Sharing jars of peanut butter for breakfast, boiling water over the open flame and scrounging for wood in the middle of the night gives you a connection to the places you stay. That is why we do it, that is why we rock climb. Not simply because of the stark challenge of the rock itself, but also for the experience as a whole. The knowledge that the outdoors can impart on you is indispensable.

I hope you get the chance to venture outside soon!

Till then,

Kyle Simmons

Climbing Kelly Canyon

Today my friends and I went out to a local bouldering spot called Kelly Canyon. Comprised of mostly sandstone rocks, many of the routes get pretty high off the ground. About twenty minutes south of Flagstaff Arizona, this spot holds some of the best bouldering in the area. Littered with slopers, crimps, and finger pockets, sandstone provides a variety that many types of rock cannot offer.

 

 

Sedona Sending

Here is the former-mentioned video I put together from a climbing trip yesterday. As I mentioned, there is not any climbing footage…but trust us, we got to the top! Its a little quirky at the end and it has one of the new Black Keys songs. I hope you enjoy!

 

Photo of the Week: April 22-28

Hello Again,

Yesterday I got the opportunity to do my first traditional climbing lead. Traditional climbing is when the lead climber clips the rope into “cams” or “nuts” they he or she has placed into cracks. Bolting crack climbs is strictly prohibited due to the damage it can cause the rock. Traditional (trad) clmbing is something that has eluded me until yesterday and I must say that I am now hooked. The climb was called Queen Vic and was rated a modest 5.7, but the day could not have gone better. Here is a photo I snagged just as I finished rappelling to the ground from the top. The light was hitting the gap between the two spires just perfectly and I got it just in time.

Tomorrow I will be uploading a video of the adventure (not much actual climbing footage unfortunately) and maybe some more images. Till then, enjoy!

-Kyle

Sun Shining Through Sedona Spires

Photo of the Week: April 8-14

On a walk through Balboa Park in San Diego, California I came across a small pond. The gleam of light flickering off the water attracted my gaze and I took a picture, but it was not quite what I wanted. So I waited for a bit till just the right person walked through the reflection. The Woman in the Red Shirt is what I call this one, because she caught my eye at just the right time to snap the image. Hope you enjoy!

-Kyle Simmons

An Afternoon Ride

March in southern California brings with it warmer weather and clean spring air. Scattered showers clear the air of its usual dust and smog, and make way for blue skies and sprawling views. On one particular afternoon my mom and I headed out to her stables to see Buddy Rosko, her large brown and white paint horse. He is a gigantic creature and moves with incredible grace and ease (when he wants to). My mom knows how to control him much better than I, but I did manage to get him to a gallop once or twice.

The stables are home to a variety of horses young and old, male and female. There are even a few stallions, one of which was not too pleased with my presence and especially not pleased with my camera. Within the inner workings of the stables there is a lot dirt, dust and drama. “This horse doesn’t get a long with that horse”, “the brown one bites” and “Don’t get too close to that one!” are all something you can expect to hear when dealing with these large creatures.

As large and bold as horses may be, they are graceful and often useful in the hands of a trained equestrian. They are beautiful creatures which have become close friends and companions of the human race, and once you move past the fear and other obstacles you can approach one and communicate unlike any other animal.

I hope your week has been filed with excitement and good fortune.

Till next time,

Kyle Simmons

Photo of the Week: April 1-7

This week I had the opportunity to take some photos at my mom’s horse stables. My mom’s horse is named Rosco, but this guy especially caught my attention because of his beautiful blue eyes. I also took many pictures of Rosco, those will be coming soon!

Until then,

Kyle Simmons

Photo of the Week: March 25-31

On the road from Arizona to Colorado, somewhere around the Four Corners area, my friend and I got lost on an indian reservation. It felt like we were driving forever on a flat and empty strip of road. As we got further and further we realized we were going the wrong direction and turned around. But the bleak landscape did inspire a driving picture along the road. Hope you enjoy!

-Kyle

The Land of Buttermilk and Honey: Returning to Bishop

Hello Again,

Tomorrow I get the opportunity to head out to Bishop, California for a couple days to rock climb. I have only been once, but the little time we had was some of the most fun I have had climbing. Bishop is world class granite bouldering and volcanic rock bouldering. Many of the problems are often visited by the worlds best rock climbers. Winter/early spring is the perfect time to be in Bishop, so it should be a great trip! I will be back with may images! Until then here are some old pictures from my last trip there in 2010.

The Riverside Rock Quarry

Today I had the privilege of climbing at the Riverside rock quarry with some friends. The quarry has long been abandoned, but it left behind a treasure trove of vertical space for southern california rock climbers to develop. The long exposed cliff band is home to over 400 routes and was pretty busy for a thursday afternoon. Most of the rock is surprisingly good quality, leaving only a few spots exposed to looser chipped areas. We ended up doing a few different routes throughout the course of the day, and all of them were fun and challenging. Overall it was quite a success and I will be making my way back ASAP!

 

 

We were so worried about our climbing safety, we completely forgot about our animal safety. On rappel from the top of a route my foot landed in a clump of brush and exposed a large diamond back rattlesnake! We were so shocked and intrigued by the creature that, of course, we had to poke it. The snake was one of the most apathetic I had ever seen, but eventually he got tired of us and slithered into his hole. I even bumped into a pretty big lizard who decided to show off a little bit for my lens.

The Cliff Band looking left

The Cliff Band looking right

The day was amazing, the climbing was superb, and the weather is still nice in So Cal, so get down to your local climbing crag soon!

Till Then,

Kyle Simmons

 

 

Reflections: Lake Tahoe

The time I spent in Lake Tahoe was unfortunately short, however some of my most vivid memories occurred during this time period. The climbing in this region is some of the best I have ever experienced. It is an endless slew of gritty granite that is reminiscent of a Joshua Tree/Yosemite combination. To top it off, you will be hard pressed to meet a friendlier and more accepting climbing community than Lake Tahoe. It was one of the most fun filled times of my life, and I will always enjoy going back. Here is a short movie I put together about late fall/early winter bouldering. Hope you enjoy!

-Kyle Simmons

Photo of the Week: March 18-24

A tad early, but here is this weeks featured image. In Balboa Park last friday we stumbled across some pretty interesting trees with even more intriguing root systems. The huge roots grew over and under everything that stood in their way in the ongoing quest for nutrients. They even made their mark on one of the stone walls that got in the way.

Hope you enjoy!

-Kyle