Travel Tuesday: Under the Sea to Above the Clouds

Oh boy, headed into week three + still embracing the dirt that comes with lots of trail miles + minimal time in hot, running water. People on the West Coast are surprisingly accepting of the dirtbag way of living…or we’ve stopped noticing the side eyes. All of that said, I swear we’re still somewhat well kept + presentable enough to stop by the Sportsman’s Warehouse retail stores + making reasonably good impressions while we’re there!

IMG_8390Tanya, taking up the thug life in her new abode with stunning views of the Sierra Nevadas!

This was my first of two weeks roaming around the country with Tanya [aka, @tlyslvan] + I think it’s safe to say it’s been a rather rambunctious week! We’ve seen a lot of mountains, wandered along miles of dirt trail + managed make a few new friends along the way.

Dates: June 20-26

Miles Driven: 1,287 [7,070 – 8, 357]

States Visited: 3 [Nevada, California, Oregon]

Mountains Summited: 2 [White Mountain, Mount Rose]

Nights of Van Life’ing: 7

Nights in Trailhead Lots: 3

Showers Taken: 2

Highest Elevation: 14,252 [White Mountain]

People are Awesome: Ran into the Bro’d Trip in Bend! We circled our van + ate birthday cheesecake!

While our trip into Death Valley National Park was technically part of last week it was my first little adventure with Tanya…making it part of this story! After a very hot night of camping near Lake Mead/Las Vegas we started our trek toward the California mountains in search of any weather that didn’t top out with triple digits. A noble plan…except for the part where we decided to meander through Death Valley National Park on the way north! Yea, that was a very healthy triple digit temp, topping out around 115 degrees while we were walking along the Badwater Basin Salt Flats!

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The next few days were spent along Highway 395, just east of the Pacific Crest Trail. Not every campsite is glamorous, some are just straight up convenient! After a night of working + sleeping in Big Pine we headed into the mountains to scope out the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest where we ran among 4,000 year old trees! As we were whipping up breakfast in the parking lot a fellow van life’r stopped by to say hi + check out our setup as she was still building out her van. It was so cool to hear about her process!

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She also told us about White Mountain, a 14,252 foot mountain just up the road! Hmmmm…that got us thinking. We decided to head into Bishop for an afternoon of work then make our way back up to the White Mountain trailhead for the night…so we’d be all set for a morning hike up the mountain. We were going to snag Tanya her first 14’er!

It was a late night as we extended our “head up at 6pm” plans until about 10pm after starting up a conversation with some PCT hikers + trading them a ride back to the trail for dinner of brewery pizza…solid choice, by the way! Even with the late night, Tanya rocked the socks the summit + survived the altitude, although a nagging altitude-induced brain ache kept her quite the rest of the afternoon as we drove north toward Lake Tahoe.

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We wound our way around Lake Tahoe + up to the Mount Rose trailhead in the middle of the afternoon on Wednesday. Finally back in the mountains + away from the desert heat we decided to head right back up the to summit of Mount Rose! We left the trailhead around 6pm, hit the summit at 8:30pm + loped back to the dark, empty trailhead just before 11pm…boom, another summit, done! Even better, we watched the sun dip below the horizon from the tippy top of Mount Rose as the wind attempted to violently rip the hats off our heads!

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Now, before you start thinking we never do any “adulting” I should point out that we did spend a fair bit of time online during our drives + downtime between trail-ventures. I work remotely for a mobile app in Denver + have set hours to be online while Tanya does marking for a publishing company. All of this required “adulting” is exactly why our Thursday consisted of two Sportsman’s Warehouse store visits, a work lunch + 7 hours of scheduling email’ing in an adorable coffee shop [seriously, check out Comma Coffee in Carson City, NV]. Not exactly exciting…but life, none the less.

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To refill our adult meters we headed back up to Lake Tahoe for another night in the cool mountain air followed by a morning run along some crazy smooth mountain biking trails. Tahoe’s beaches are mostly privatized + pricey but they trails are stunningly beautiful + oh, so free! Up next, food in Truckee then the drive up toward Lassen Volcanic National Park.

We made a rather quick drive through Lassen Volcanic National Park, not because it wasn’t crazy cool but because most of the trails accessible from the main entrance were still buried under snow. Instead of traipsing through the slippery mush we took one of the visitor guide ranger’s advice to loop around to the Butte Lake entrance where we would find the Fantastic Lava Beds + landscape that looked like it belonged on Mars. Sold!

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That night we crashed into our pillows near the Cinder Cone trailhead before hitting the trail rather early to check out the Cinder Cone volcano. It wasn’t a long hike but it sure was steep! About three hours later we made it back to the van with shoes full of sand. Time to get back on the road + refresh a bit before we hit our next Sportsman’s Warehouse store.

After a stop by the Klamath Sportsman’s Warehouse store we hopped back into the van + followed the signs to Crater Lake National Park. Again, our visit was rather short because a lot of the trails were snow covered. Having just come from a rather snow-less 9,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies it was weird to see snow burying trails at just 7-8,000 feet in California!

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Our initial plans had us camping near Crater Lake on Sunday night but with the Bro’d Trip posse + other friends hanging out in Bend we decided to push north for a few days of trails, rivers + bonding in Bend. And that’s where we are now…chilling out in Bend + pulling everything together for tonight’s group trail-venture at Archie Briggs Canyon at 6pm tonight! If you’re in Bend…come say hi!

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The mountains were calling...and she went. While she pretends to avoid cliches this one is true! Heidi is a farm girl from the Midwest living a nomadic mountain girl life. When she isn't working in a myriad of jobs she's out on the trails with her running shoes, snowboard or tent...chasing down her version of adventure + life one day at a time.

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