SA Guide: Hummocks trail

"Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!"

US Geological Survey ImageThat was the astonished cry of David Johnston as he watched the beginning of what was to become the largest landslide in recorded history. An entire flank of the south-central Washington peak the vulcanologist was monitoring calved off of its north side and, at speeds of up to 150mph, roared toward his station six miles away on what is now called Johnston Ridge.

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SA Guides: Hidden Valley, Split Rock, Arch Rock

"Marzipan...," I concluded confidently.

I'd rattled off several other possible general aroma classes, including hand lotion, sunscreen, citrus, and candy before finally settling on the smell of the almond confection. We were standing next to Park Boulevard in Joshua Tree, gazing out on a broad swath of just-blossomed Pectis papposa, unflatteringly called chinchweed. On the light breeze the scent was distinct and delightful, and to me very suggestive, "...yeah, marzipan."

Laura diplomatically agreed that the fragrance was...complex.

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SA Guides: Sun Notch, Mt. Scott

Seventy-seven hundred years ago, in a mountain range in the southwestern quarter of what would one"Mt. Mazama Erupting" by Paul Rockwood day become Oregon, a twelve-thousand foot volcano posthumously named Mt. Mazama decided it was time to violently belch twelve cubic miles of rock and ash into the air. It was a geological temper tantrum on a massive scale, and while there was plenty of earth flying around where it shouldn't be, most of the mountain fell into its own huge magma chamber, creating a circular caldera of over twenty square miles.

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SA Guides: Woodley Island, Stone Lagoon, Trinidad Bay

If your best laid plans go awry, chances are they really weren't very well laid in the first place.

I've been kayaking in California for several years and virtually everywhere I've gone the rule of thumb has pretty much been to get your day started early because the breeze almost always comes up some time after noon. Sometimes it's an opportunity for a bit of a workout, sometimes it's a minor nuisance. But it's not at all unusual, especially in central and northern California, for the wind to really crank and make things quite difficult for paddlers.

So it was that as Laura and I got a late start for a paddle around Woodley Island in Humboldt Bay, with the wind already freshening, that thing in my head that goes, "Eh, it'll be okay," caused me to ignore my better instincts once again.

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SA Guide: Elephant Hill

Route: Everytrail

It only took three days, but we finally got our act together and got a good start on the day. And since we had to drive an hour south of Moab just to enter the Needles District of Canyonlands NP our newfound expeditiousness arrived not a moment too soon.

On the way into the park, as we crossed the open and rolling scrublands, we noticed some scurrying off to the side of the road. Another person riding with us, or observing from a nearby car, could have been forgiven for thinking we'd gone a bit batty - what with the excited gesticulating and craning of necks as we slowed our car to a crawl in the middle of an open highway. 

We'd seen prairie dogs.

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