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Bel Marin Keys

Bel Marin Keys

One of my favorite places to romp around in Marin County, CA is the Bell Marin Keys. There’s tons of water for me to jump in and plenty of birds to chase. There are also a couple lengthy and flat running path for your human friend. 


Your human friend can also jump in the water in the summer, but I am okay all year around! 


Whichever you prefer, staying dry or getting wet, I hope you get to got outside today! 

Till next time…
-Nalah 🐾

Posted in Hikes and Runs

Grass Mountain

Look at these flowers! Just look at them! We ran all the way up this mountain to find these flowers, I think. That’s what the objective appears to be, considering we never catch and kill food when we go outside for some reason. I don’t know where my dad gets the food from actually…but I digress.

This steep incline puts you at the top of one of the taller peaks on the Pacific Coast. On a clear day you can see Santa Barbara, San Luis Obisbo, and all the way down to LA.

Grass mountain is located in the Santa Yanez Valley. You can find directions and details here http://www.summitpost.org/grass-mountain/659115


The hike is dog friendly and, this coming spring I would definitely put it on my to-do-list. Just a short jump off Hyghway 101, and with all this rain, you know the poppies are going to be better than ever! (Even though it all looks pretty grey to me.)

If you’re reading this, then you are done with the article. Go grab your dog and get outside!

Posted in Hikes and Runs, Living in...

I’m Taking Over!

My name is Nalah and I’m taking this blog over. I don’t imagine anyone will mind due to my dad’s absence. My dad tells me I am 4 years old and I love to run! I love the snow and the beach, and all forms of water actually.


Check in from now on to find out where the best spots to go for dogs are, I find all the good ones. And sometimes the places I’m NOT supposed to be…Whoops.

Also tune in for guest stories/information about fitness and food and travel from my mom (Larissa) and dad (Kyle)


Can’t wait to see who will be reading! See you on the trail.

-Nalah

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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

 

 

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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. 

Goodnight

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

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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

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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