Campbells Farmers Market

10/27/2014


We had the most perfect sunday! 

We spent most of the day at the Campbells Farmers Market. Its about a 20 minute drive from where we live but totally worth the drive! They have so many different vendors. The only bad part about this farmers market is they don't allow dogs, Charlie was not a happy camper about that.


 It was a beautiful day to walk around and explore, its finally starting to feel a bit more like fall here. It even rained a little bit on Saturday morning , so shocking!


We picked up some italian herb pappardelle and bolonese sauce from the Santa Cruz Pasta Factory to cook for dinner. 

We also grabbed some organic cheese curds from the Spring Hill booth. We can't resist cheese, we have a problem!


 This guy ^^ had lots of Giants spirit for the World Series thats going on. 


Farmers markets are my favorite in the fall, I love all the pumpkins, squash and pretty fall flowers.


We also bought this picture from a local photographer. We've seen this exact spot driving down the highway but we weren't fast enough to get our camera out to snap a photo so we were so excited when we found this!


After spending a few hours at the market we had to drag ourselves away we were spending way too much money and our bag was actually ripping at the handles from being so full of goods, I think thats definitely a sign thats it time to go home. 



Hayes Valley

10/26/2014


Last night we headed to Hayes Valley for the night.  We loved this neighborhood, main reason being that its almost completely flat, which is not common for the hilly San Francisco neighborhoods. We also loved the tree lined streets, cute little boutiques and the plethora of dining options. 


 Our first stop was Smugglers Cove. I was really excited to check out this bar, they've won a lot of awards for their specialty rum cocktails, including being named one of the "Worlds 50 Best Bars" 
It took a bit of searching to find this spot. There is no sign out front or anything other than a bouncer standing in front of a door to give you any indication that this is Smugglers Cove. 

The decor reminded me of a Rain Forest Cafe but with an adult pirate twist. There are three different levels. We decided to sit on the top level, it was a lot less crowded and you have a nice view of the downstairs bar. 

I have a major sweet tooth so they suggested I order their signature drink, the rum barrel ($11) ..minus the actual barrel because I didn't want to carry it around with me all night. Allen ordered a sour drink. We both loved our drinks, I can't wait to go back sometime and try some of their other cocktails. 



Our next stop was Suppenküche, a german restaurant also in Hayes Valley. They were fairly busy with a 30 minute wait but we didn't mind, theres so many different little boutiques nearby to explore 
that it went by fast. For a starter we ordered Reibekuchen Mit Hausgemachtm Apfelmus ($11).. aka potato pancakes and a homemade apple sauce. We both don't normally like sweet sauces but surprisingly we loved the flavor combo of the potatoes and apple. 


 I loved the warm and inviting atmosphere that Suppenküche had. We were seated with another couple and their two friends, they were all super friendly and it was fun enjoying beers and dinner with new people. Speaking of beers, they serve HUGE beers in a glass boot, the group at our table ordered one and loved it.  


Allen ordered Jägerschnitzel Nchapignonsobe Mit Spätzle Undgrunem Salat ($18.50)..aka sauteed porkloin in mushroom sauce served with Spatzle  and green salad. Allen also loved his meal, the pork loin was the best part so juicy and flavorful. 


For dinner I ordered Kasespatzle Mit Zwiebel-Buttersobe ($13.50)..aka Cheese Spazle in onion butter sauce served with a small mixed salad.. aka mac and cheese. My meal was amazing! So much flavor and so unique.


We had such a great experience at Hayes Valley, and can't wait to go back! 


Mt Whitney

10/23/2014


Wow, where do I even begin?? This weekend we hiked the highest mountain in the continental United States! Talk about exciting! I'll warn you now this post is going to be a long one :)


We started our hike at 3:30 AM on Saturday morning. Most people do an overnight trip and hike to base camp the first day and then the second day summit but we decided we liked the idea of a day hike better. I was a little nervous about hiking in the dark with headlamps, but surprisingly it wasn't bad. It actually made the first few hours go by pretty quick because you have to focus so much on where you are going in the dark. 


Past this sign is "Whitney Zone" its required to have a permit or else you will be fined. We were luckily enough to snag a cancellation. 


The sun finally started to come up at 7:00am. It was so nice to put away the headlamps after 3 1/2 hours of hiking in the dark. Even though it was still SO far away it was nice to finally see our destination  Mt. Whitney in the light. 


The temperature during the hike was constantly changing. One minute we would be cold then the next minute sweating. If you plan on hiking Mt. Whitney wear lots and lots of layers. I probably changed jackets 15 times during the hike. 


We reached the cables at 8:00 am. Luckily there was only a tiny bit of snow and ice covering the trail so we didn't need to rely too heavily on the cables but I was still grateful that they were there.


After the cables we reached the infamous 99 switchbacks, a 2.2 mile stretch of Mt. Whitney trail that rises 1,738 feet to trail crest. If you look close in the top picture you can see the 99 switchbacks zig zag back and forth. 


We read some horrible things about these supposedly brutal switchbacks, but I honestly didn't think they were too bad. They had a very gradual incline and it was quite a relief from the rest of the trail. Definitely recomend bringing some headphones and good tunes though, we didn't need it but it would be helpful for some. 


   

We brought lots and lots of food with us. I ended up eating two cliff bars, an italian wrap for lunch, a bagel for breakfast, and 4 shot blocks. The shot blocks were my favorite, they taste amazing and I love the little boost of energy they give you. We also brought 2-3 liters of water each and one gatorade each for the hike down. A lot of articles we read stressed the importance of having a water filter. We ended up buying one before the trip at REI which we of course forgot at home so we bought another water filter when we got to Lone Pine and of course we never even needed the water filter. 



The trail was pretty intimidating at some points, scrambling over big rocks when you're dizzy from the high altitude is really scary especially with the steep drop offs. The picture above is the trail, hard to believe its even a trail by the way it looks. 


We could see the tin roof of the summit house bobbing in and out of sight as we continued to get closer to the summit. It seemed so far away and with the air getting really thin we were exhausted by this point. We passed a group of hikers coming down from the summit and they told us we had a half hour to go, we were surprised but really excited! 15 minutes later we passed another hiker who also told us we had yet another half hour to go.. a bit disheartening since we were told a half hour 15 minutes ago but the real heartbreaker came  45 minutes later when yet another hiker told us we STILL had a half hour to go. Apparently a half hour is the magic time here, really upsetting when we were completely exhausted and tired of getting our hopes up but its funny now looking back that we were told a half hour so many different times. 



We finally reached the summit at 12:00pm for a total of 8 1/2 hours of hiking and an elevation change of  8,365 feet. 


We signed the log book, hit the "easy button" and decided to pass on the Jim Beam bourbon that a fellow hiker left for everyone to share. As appealing as a shot sounded at this point, a shot + another 11 mile hike to reach the bottom did not sound like a good idea! 


We stayed on the summit for over an hour enjoying the stunning 360 degree view from the highest mountain in the continental United States. 


I could have spent way more than an hour on the summit but I was starting to get a minor headache from the air being so thin and we knew we would be chasing sunlight on the hike back.  So at 1:00pm we began our 11 mile hike back to the portal, finally reaching the bottom at 7:00pm for a total of 15 1/2 hours of hiking. 


Words cannot describe how amazing it felt to stand on the top of Mt. Whitney. I've never felt so proud of myself before. All the hard work that lead to this moment was completely worth it to see the beauty from the top. 





Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park

10/14/2014



When we were planning our hike to Alta Peak we contemplated trying to make it a day trip but 10 hours of driving and an 8 hour hike all in one day sounded a little nuts so we picked the closest campground and decided to make it a weekend trip.


We decided to try out Lodgepole Campground because it was only 10 minutes from the Alta Peak trailhead. We got really lucky! This ended up being one of my favorite spots that we've camped at. They have a really nice visitors center, a market, vending machines, an amphitheater, and it was really large and clean! 
Since its so late in the season all the campsites are walk in only. There are 200 sites so we decided to take a chance and hoped there would be an open spot when we arrived. 



We ended up getting there really really late around 11:00pm and surprisingly the campground was almost full with a few open spots here and there. We drove around looking for a decent spot and decided #90 was the best option. It was on a little hill and was the most secluded of all the open spots, we really enjoyed it. They had a perfect flat spot marked out with rocks for the tent, a fire ring, picnic table, big bear box, and the cutest table made from a sequoia tree. Oh and most importantly it was right across from the restrooms and running fresh water. Not bad for only $22 a night! 


Hiking Alta Peak

10/13/2014


Next weekend 10/18 we will be hiking Mt. Whitney! To prepare ourselves we decided we needed to try and see how our bodies would react to such a high elevation. While searching the internet for the highest/ longest hike within reasonable driving distance I came across Alta Peak, at an elevation of 11,207 we decided this would be the perfect training hike! 


The trail starts at Wolverton parking lot which was conveniently located 10 minutes from our campground. We started out about 9:00 am, we later decided 9:00 was way too late 7:00am or earlier would have been nice.  


The wildlife is so active here! We saw two bears, tons of deer, and cows roaming around. Such a neat thing to experience. 


 The first 3 miles or so were almost completely shaded and a very gradual incline so it was a good slow start. The elevation starts at Wolverton is 7,250 so it was nice to have some time to acclimate before the crazy climbing started. We found a perfect spot about halfway up to set up our hammock and eat some lunch. This spot was called Panther Gap. I would have been content just hanging out in this spot all day but we had Whitney training to do! 


 We are really fast hikers, if the trail is normally done in 6 hours we'll try and do it in 4 hours. We've never had a problem with hiking fast but its a whole different game when your in high elevation so we knew we had to slow down and try to take breaks every so often. We brought 3 liters of water with us, performance energy chews, pb&j and granola bars. 


After awhile all of those beautiful trees that were protecting us from the sun started to disappear and we were completely exposed to the heat. We were taking a lot of breaks at this point, just about any tree we could find we would stop for a minute or two to enjoy the shade. 


 We had around a 1.5 miles left to go when we passed another hiker. He told us we had at least another hour and a half left to go. I was so shocked I almost stumbled off the side of the mountain. I've never been so sad before ha! I was so certain we only had about a half hour or so. After passing him we slowly trekked along. At this point it was mostly gravel switchbacks with extremely steep drop offs. I was too exhausted to even be scared of falling. The summit seemed so close but we weren't making any progress. I was stopping every 10 steps or so to catch my breath. Dragging my walking stick through the dirt the whole way with Allen making fun of me :) 


 Then we finally we made it to the top at 2:00 pm! Or.... What I thought was the top. There was a cluster of huge boulders that we had to scramble up to get the very very tip top of the peak. After a few minutes of me balling my eyes out and having a panic attack from being so scared I finally made it up! I've never been so proud of myself. Without Allen there I never would have made it. Being at the top of Alta Peak makes you feel so small, it really takes your breath away. I've never experienced anything like it.


 We enjoyed the amazing views from the top, took some pictures, Allen signed our names and put them in the summit book and then headed back. Its incredible the burst of energy you get after you summit. We  quickly made it down the mountain around 5:00pm. For a total of 8 hours of hiking, 5 hours to get to the top, 3 hours to the bottom.


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