Red Rock Canyon: Calico Tanks Trail

IMG_2095-1This past weekend we went to Nevada for my lil bro’s college orientation, and ventured outside of the SLO bucket list to hike in the Red Rock Canyons. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. We chose the Calico Tanks hike, which was moderate in difficulty and about 2.5 miles long each way (5 roundtrip).

Before we get started on the hike, let’s go over some general tips for hiking in the Red Rock Canyon.

  • Start Early!

By starting in the morning you will have less heat and less harsh sun rays to face than if you went later in the day. We started our hike around 10 a.m. and I still got burnt to a crisp on my shoulders #IrishPeopleProblems

  • Bring LOTS of water

It’s going to be very hot and no matter what hike you do it’s going to require frequent hydration especially if there is not much shade. Water is a must.

  • Slather on the Sunscreen

Even if you don’t burn as easily as me, still put on sunblock as a precaution. It’s better to be safe than to risk a burn or skin cancer. I also recommend a baseball cap to protect your face, and sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Now for the hike.

It’s seven dollars to enter the park by buying a day pass, and once you get in, drive past the visitor center along the 13 mile scenic route until you reach the Sandstone Quarry parking lot. Park there, and head to the trailhead which is marked with information about the surrounding trails including safety tips and what animals you may encounter.

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Once you start on the trail there will be signs for the first half mile or so guiding the way.

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The first part of the hike is relatively flat, but unshaded. The rocks are a lighter brown color, you won’t reach the red rocks until a bit later in the hike. Keep along the marked path in order to not get lost, even though it’s very tempting to climb everything in sight…

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There are cactuses along the side of the path, so be careful as you walk so that you don’t walk into one like my brother!

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Also along the trail are carinsThese man made stacks of rocks which have been used for a wide variety of purposes since ancient times, are in this case to mark the trail.

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Carins
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More Carins

A little further in, things start to get steeper. Ever heard of rock scrambling? It’s a technique for climbing rocks without having to use a belay, and is relatively easy to conquer on this hike.IMG_2064

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Dad conquering the rock scrambling…

The rock scrambling on this trail is pretty basic and I would say that most people who are in moderately in shape can handle it without any problems.

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This hike has about a 450 foot elevation gain and many great photo opportunities for basic girls like me!

See the picture below:

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After about an hour of hiking you will reach this tree. Get some water and enjoy the shade of the tree for a little while because there won’t be much more for a while.

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Shane’s so silly.

After passing the tree, soon you will come to a body of water (depending on the time of year there may be less or more water) and when you get there don’t give up. I say body of water, because it’s not really a lake but there’s more there than a puddle. This is the “Calico Tank” and is usually full of water when it rains in the winter months. If you can because it’s dry, keep going because the best part is yet to come.

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The water

Pass the lake-like body of water on the right. Once you scramble up some final rocks you’ll reach the peak of the hike with an amazing view of the city of Las Vegas and the surrounding area.

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Our mixtape drops this fall…

Calico Tanks was one of the hottest and most scrambly hikes I have been on but it ended with one of my favorite views. After completing the hike be sure to do the 13 mile scenic drive around the park and bask in the glory of the rocks and the dirt because it’s beautiful.

Also be sure to check out the Visitor Center and learn all of the information about the wildlife and the history of the indigenous people who used to spend ALL of their time in the Red Rock Canyon.

Here’s a map to the parking lot, where the trailhead is!

Happy Hiking…

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Bucketlist number 11: Big Sur (Bixby Bridge, McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach)

 

Author’s note: Green and purple bolded words are links to be clicked on to learn more information about the landmark!

Kelly and I went on a road trip to Big Sur this weekend. It was pretty amazing.  I wanted to see three attractions on our trip: Bixby Bridge, McWay Falls, and Pfeiffer Beach.

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We left San Luis Obispo around 10am. The drive was pretty foggy at first. I was afraid that the rain that was forecasted was finally going to fall. But eventually the sun peaked out from the clouds and reflected off the incredibly blue ocean like an aquamarine gemstone.

Just as a warning to future Big Sur travelers, we lost reliable cell service shortly after Cambria. This means that Google Maps is not a form of navigation that can be used for this trip. Finally after two hours, we got to our first destination: Bixby bridge.

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It was a little foggy, but still beautiful. Watching the ocean crash against the rocks below the 260 foot bridge was hypnotizing.

History Fact: Bixby Bridge was constructed in 1932, five years before the road from Carmel to San Luis Obispo would even be officially opened.

We could have stayed there and watched it all day. But we moved onto our next destination about fifteen minutes up the road, McWay Falls.

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We parked on the side of Cabrillo Highway and started down the “trail” which was only a few tenths of a mile long and featured prime views of the falls everywhere along the way. It took about ten minutes of walking to get to the best view of the 80 foot falls. The beach below is not accessible to tourists, and there’s a hefty fine to pay if you get caught trying to get to it. This is because the reason it’s so beautiful and serene in the area by the falls is that it has not been run down by humans.

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So I’m kind of in a sorority…

We stuck around at McWay falls for a while, going further along the trail to reach another lookout with informational panels on the history of the cove.

History fact: It turns out that there was no sandy beach beneath the falls until 1985 when a massive landslide took the side of the coastal wall into the ocean. 

After checking out the vista point for a while, Kelly and I hiked up past where our car was parked down to the 2 campsites where campers can gain the experience of a lifetime waking up next to the sound of the falls. I asked one of the campers setting up his tent as we were leaving how far in advance he had to book the campsite, and he told me six months. I’m sure it was worth it…

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Looking out over the cliff rocks by the campsite

After McWay falls, we headed up the road to see the purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach. The best time to see the purple sand is after the rain, and lucky for us, we made it to the beach just in time for the sun to poke out right after it had stopped being rainy.

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Fun Fact: The purple color is a result of the abundance of heavy minerals composed of quartz and garnet
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A close up of the sand via http://www.sandatlas.org/pfeiffer-beach-sand/

Pfeiffer beach was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It was unreal. It is not challenging to find, but is off the beaten path and down a couple secluded side roads to get to. Luckily we caught some 3G/LTE action just in time to make sure we were navigating to the right place.

It was 10 dollars to park, but once inside, the views are worth it. Make sure you have cash as the attendant at the booth doesn’t take cards. FullSizeRender-6.jpg

Pfeiffer is sure to be a great experience, whether you want to climb up the rocks to get a better view of the whole cove, run down the soft sanded dunes, make your footprint in the purple colored sand, or get closer to the keyhole arch during low tide.

The day trip to Big Sur was a great adventure. I will for sure be heading back up again sometime soon to do some more exploring. Until then, adventuring in SLO is okay for now, I guess… 😉

View the slideshow of the trip that I made below!

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Why Travel is the Best Gift You Can Get This Christmas

 

It’s Christmas morning and you’re in college. Your generous extended family members aren’t sure what to get you exactly, so they cut you a check.

Now you decide: Do you spend it on a material item like new boots, or something intangible like a weekend trip?

I love to explore, travel, find new experiences and try new things. Traveling expands your mind and opens you up to new possibilities.

These kind of gifts are priceless. Only, they’re not. A day at the slopes or a week long vacation costs a lot of money, but I would much rather have these trips than a new name brand sweater or the latest iPad.You’re taking money out of your bank account, but making your mind richer.

 

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A hiking/camping trip I went on in Idyllwild, CA

 

Material items only provide satisfaction in the short run, while the reward of memories and culture of traveling will last a lifetime. It’s kind of like making an investment. The happiness we get from an experience increases in value over time. Nothing can replace these memories that make up a part of who you are, and these memories make you learn and grow.

It can be a difficult decision, because when you spend your money on a new pair of expensive jeans, they’re tangible. You can feel the jeans and see the jeans and show off the new jeans. But when you use your money to go skydiving, it’s an expensive personal experience that only lasts a few minutes, but is well worth the memories and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

 

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My first time skydiving

 

Material items are not a part of you, whereas the memories and experiences you get from traveling connect you with others, and satisfy you for longer. So… go use the Christmas money to go on that weekend trip you’ve been dreaming about the whole semester!  And then write a thank you note telling the one who paid for your trip how grateful you are for their contribution to the elevation of your quality of life.

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