Aesthetics of Everywhere

The urban scene, its people and processes. Based in southern California.

Archive for the ‘hiking’ tag

Road Trip to Big Sur

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A great weekend trip up north to Big Sur, a scenic part of the central California coast where I had last been on the bike trip with Adam. It was definite change to see things from inside a car, with the tight curves of the Pacific Coast Highway passing in a blur. I was both pleased to see other cyclists enjoying this beautiful stretch of coastline and anxious about how little space they really had on the road, with a constant stream of fast-moving cars and motorcyclists enjoying the drive. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d ride the PCH again on a bicycle, at least not on a busy weekend.

Big Sur Panorama

Big Sur is an interesting area. The first time we passed through we couldn’t figure out when we were actually in Big Sur. The signage seems to disagree on what bounds the region. There’s a little community that calls itself “Big Sur” toward the northern reach of Big Sur, but the region continues quite a bit further south along the PCH. The shift in landscape is very apparent as you leave Big Sur, however.

We hiked through stands of coastal redwoods and set up a miniature tent city at our site. With the decreasing daylight, we donned headlamps and finished cooking dinner into the darkness. We consumed close to twenty heads of garlic in one meal (almost 2 heads of garlic per person). An early start that morning, a good uphill hike, and 10 o’clock quiet hours meant we were all in our tents with plenty of time to sleep off the long day.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is a great choice if you’re looking to camp in the area. It’s popular but large enough to accommodate hundreds of people, and offers hiking trails in walking distance of your site.

Big Sur Redwoods

Valley Trail Hike in Big Sur

Big Sur Waterfall

In the evening, we took time out to admire the stars. You can see so many out there.

Written by Crystal Bae

October 6th, 2013 at 8:35 pm

The Many Waterfalls (Foss) of Iceland

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You could spend your entire time in Iceland visiting waterfalls and never tire of them. They’re not only everyday, they’re each unique and wonderful in their own right. The Icelandic word for waterfall is foss, so if you see a sign for an attraction with a name that ends in foss, you know what’s coming. Here are some of the waterfalls we visited in Iceland.


Gullfoss, a waterfall in Iceland

Gullfoss, the “Golden Falls”, is one part of Iceland’s Golden Circle – three sights that are only a couple hours from Reykjavik and make for a popular day trip for tourists. Along with Gullfoss, the Golden Circle includes Þingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Geysir (from which we get the English word geyser) and the neighboring active geyser of Strokkur. Gullfoss is a tiered waterfall that feeds the Hvítá river, but the wind and spray from it makes it difficult to stay dry.


Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland

Seljalandsfoss was the first stop on our trip around the Ring Road. There’s a very wet path leading behind the waterfall, so you can take photos from a different perspective here. It’s worth stopping here, hiking around the back of Seljalandsfoss and also taking the trail to the smaller waterfalls nearby.


Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland

This was one of my favorite waterfalls, even giving the magnificent Svartifoss (below) a run for its money. See that path on the right side of the photo? You can climb to the cliff above Skogafoss, amidst fields of grazing sheep. The banks of the river below are also made up of that wonderful black volcanic sand.


Svartifoss waterfall in Iceland

Svartifoss (“Black Waterfall”) is one of the best known waterfalls in Iceland, characterized by the hexagonal basalt columns that outline the fall. You can hike to Svartifoss from Skaftafell, at the base of the Vatnajökull National Park. Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Iceland, and makes for a breathtaking approach into the area. Svartifoss is a short, 1.5 km hike from the visitor center at Skaftafell, and the trail also joins two other falls.

We also passed many waterfalls while driving around the country, like this one below which had a new parking lot under construction when we came upon it.

Another Icelandic foss

Written by Crystal Bae

October 7th, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Boulder, CO and nearby

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Boulder, CO: The land of hiking, cycling, and beer-drinking.

You can see the Flatirons and the Rockies beyond that, and who doesn’t love being surrounded by mountains? Boulder folks are some of the most active people in America. And here it’s sunny around 300 days out of the year, making it very easy to be outdoors all the time. Residents are fairly affluent – except I guess the college students – and tend to be very liberal, so there’s a fair amount of homogeneity. But the food is great, the beer is great (with breweries like New Belgium, Oskar Blues, and Avery all based nearby), and the options for what to do are nearly endless. Great first visit there.

Riding Boulder's B-cycle bikeshare along the Boulder Creek Path.

Riding Boulder’s B-cycle bikeshare along the Boulder Creek Path.

We tried out Boulder’s own bikesharing system, the B-cycle, for a casual ride to explore the area. You can feel the effects of the elevation almost immediately – we’re not used to being 5,000 feet high! Considering we’re typically just above sea level, the elevation change took a little getting used to.

More photos after the cut.

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Written by Crystal Bae

May 11th, 2012 at 6:08 am