Washington Park, Portland OR

One of the best urban hiking areas in the USA.

Washington Park is the #1 TripAdvisor attraction in Portland.

It includes a zooforestry museumarboretumchildren’s museumrose gardenJapanese gardenamphitheatrememorialsarchery range, tennis courts, soccer field, picnic areas, playgrounds, public art and many acres of wild forest with miles of trails.

I walked from my hostel and then did about 10km of run / walk between some of the attractions.

The trails are excellent. No bikes allowed.

Early April blossoms are the highlight. There were plenty of cameras out.

The Oregon Holocaust Memorial was dedicated in 2004.

It’s very well maintained. Public picnic spaces superb.

Giant Sequoias.

Don’t miss this park if you get to Portland.

cycling Vegas to Red Rock Canyon

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

My favourite destination in Vegas is Red Rock Canyon.

It was Alistair Humphreys who first got me thinking about microadventures.

… short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding. …

Visiting friends in west Vegas it was only about 10 miles to the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center on excellent dedicated cycling lanes.

I cycled from their house short of the Conservation Area, turning one street early into the Calico Basin (no fees).

You can access similar gorgeous wilderness while avoiding crowds, parking hassles and entrance fee.

For the first time ever I cycled out onto the Kraft Mountain trails.

It was busy with locals climbing the Kraft Boulders.

Aside from April wildflowers, it was typical Nevada desert.

I did see one large desert tortoise, Nevada’s State Reptile.

At dusk I set up my tent in a quiet, hidden spot.

Next morning starting at 5am I began hearing voices.

As it turned out I’d accidentally set-up close to an unmarked but popular local trail.

Oops.

Charles Darwin was a hiker

He got into hiking in his 20s, but it was trekking and scrambling in little know wilderness on four continents visited on his five-year-long H.M.S. Beagle voyage between 1831 and 1836 that cement him as one of the most worldly hikers in history.

 “Mount Darwin” is the highest peak in Tierra del Fuego. On February 12, 1834, Captain FitzRoy named a mountain after him on his birthday. …

Mt. Darwin

Darwin walked mainly to discover plants and animals unique to those regions.

I learned all this by reading his travelogue Voyage of the Beagle.

By the way, the famous phrase “survival of the fittest” comes from Herbert Spencer’s 1864 publication, “Principles of Biology.” The term is largely thought to have been coined by Darwin regarding his thoughts on evolution; however, this is a wrong assumption.

hiking Coachella Valley Preserve, Palm Springs CA

AKA Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I’d wild camped up high overlooking Palm Springs.

Next morning I headed for Coachella Valley Preserve before it got too hot.

Entrance by donation. Owned and well-managed by The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish & Game and California Department of Parks & Recreation

On the San Andreas fault-line, underground springs force water up to the surface.

Most visitors walk about 2 miles round-trip on the McCallum Trail to McCallum Grove.

It’s an interpretive walk with plant species identified.

I was told the Preserve was recently closed due to flooding — and wildlife quickly returned.

McCallum is closed, as well, during the heat of the summer (May 1 – Oct 1).

There are actually 28 miles of trails (easy to moderate) and I continued out into the desert out into Moon Country.

Almost immediately I ran into the first rattlesnake of my life.

There are plenty of lizards to keep them fed.

It was April — wildflower season — and I was lucky enough to see some.

I saw no other hikers climbing up into a dry wash. Most stick to the 2 mile loop.

If you get to Palm Springs, California, I highly recommend a visit.

Official site – CoachellaValleyPreserve.org

Palm Springs to Paradise Cafe – day 6

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Another fantastic campsite. Great weather again.

Here are views looking up from my tent.

Majestic.

I’d been steadily descending from the snowy heights. Vegetation now changing rapidly.

My only health worry was hot foot. Would I get blisters?

Just in case I took off the shoes every hour or two.

I’ve used the same pack for many a year – the super light frameless Granite Gear Virga 2.

The similar Granite Gear Crown2 is the 5th most popular on the PCT. My next pack will be a Hyperlite, the 3rd most popular. It’s heavier but near waterproof. And more durable, I reckon.

Cactus.

Here’s one of the main reason people buy the Guthook app — to find off-trail water in the desert.

Though I treated this pipe water, it did look and smell great in April.

Water is scarce. Researchers use watering holes to check on the health of mammals in the area.

Successful in the desert are birds, snakes and lizards.

Down, down.

Into the trees.

Here’s where PCT hikers often get their water. GIFTS from Trail Angels.

I finally reached the first road. Would the mini-resupply I’d hung in a tree still be there?

YES!

I had enough food for the final 40 miles to Warner Springs. Yet I diverted one mile down the highway to famed Paradise Cafe.

My camp fuel was running low. I didn’t think I could make it two more days.

Unfortunately Paradise does not sell camp fuel. I returned to the trail hoping my Jetboil Flash would run on fumes.

Back on the PCT, I made it another couple of miles.

It looked like wind and rain so I set up my broken tent high enough in the wash to avoid flash flood.

As I feared, my stove fuel ran out before I could boil water for dinner. 😞

___ day 7

Weather forecast for today was for rain and very big winds. Not good.

I started south. Stopped. Then turned around and headed back towards Paradise.

Skipping the next 40 miles meant missing most of the desert wildflower bloom. Too bad.

Three reasons for quitting on my intended route:

  • broken tent
  • no stove fuel
  • weather forecast

The restaurant was packed. As usual.

I ended up seated with a tourist couple from Philly. As they were headed for Palm Springs I offered to pay for breakfast in exchange for a lift to town.

My PCT week was over. After breakfast.

Despite glitches — I really enjoyed hiking southbound on the PCT during peak season. The highlight was seeing hundreds and speaking with dozens of normal people whom — for one reason or another — wanted to try to hike from Mexico to Canada.

They are inspiring.

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6