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Kings Canyon: Goddard Canyon

June 18th, 2012

Got back last week from a very much needed backpacking trip in the California mountains.  I was out in SF for a conference, and decided to stay a bit longer to see old friends and get some time out in the mountains, enjoying nature, and being offline (for more reasons why i love backpacking, see my honeymoon post).  I was prepared to go solo, but was happy that my friend and old roomate Damian Spain could join me.  I chose Goddard Canyon because it had plenty of water along the route, the trailhead was in a national forest (easier to get permits vs national parks or wilderness preserves), had a ferry, hot springs, and a waterfall, several options for camping (campgrounds are * on key points) and was below 10,000 feet so we could have campfires. We planned for 5 days, but on the fourth day we decided to hike extra and drive home that night.  It was an amazing trip and would totally do it again.

Day 1:  Drove 4 hrs from SF to Prather, CA (got permit), 2.5 more hrs to trailhead at Florence Lake.  Hiked almost 8 miles to Muir Trail Ranch. Elevation from 0 to 7,700′

This was a busy day. We left SF at 7am, got permit around 11, had leisure lunch and drive to Florence lake, stopping by other dams and lakes, campgrounds, and ranger offices, arriving at the lake around 3.  The ferry was not operational for the season yet, so we had to hike 3.4 miles more than we planned, putting us around the private ranch around sunset.  We had trouble finding the campground by Blayney Hot Springs, so we just put up our tent along the jeep trail near the ranch. (Day 4 we found the campground, see below). If you arrive at night, another option would be to camp at one of the many car-camping campgrounds along the road about an hour from Florence lake. You can get a backcountry permit at a smaller High Sierra ranger office near Mono Hot Springs (map) the next morning, and have plenty of time to hike to the nice campground by the river and the hot springs.

Day 2: Hiked over 7 miles to the campground right passed the bridge 2 miles from the bridge marking Kings Canyon Boundary. Elevation from 7,700′ to 8,700′

This was a much easier day then the previous day.  We stopped because the campground was so nice – part shade, part sun, nice campfire ring,  plenty of wood, 50 yards from river and a little off trail (but still very visible to hikers).  One of the more interesting moments of the trip was when i stopped to fill up water in a small stagnant lake – a few leeches got on my water filter.  There were always tons of large black ants around, so i decided to give the ants some lunch.  Upon arriving at the campsite we took a nap and had a late afternoon campfire.

Day 3: Dayhike – Hiked about 10 miles up Goddard Canyon to see the falls, turned around before hitting Hell For Sure Pass.  Elevation 8,700′ to 9,700′ back to 8,700′.

This was another easy day, we did it without packs and returned to the same campsite.  Goddard Canyon was similar to what we had seen so far, just more granite and a more narrow canyon.  The river was also a bit more interesting, having 5-10 feet granite walls in several places.  The falls were impressive, but next time I’d like to try going up Evolution Canyon instead.

Day 4: Hiked 16-ish miles back to car.  Elevation 8,700′ to 7,326′ (Florence Lake), drive back to SF.

By this point we had acclimated well to the elevation, so hiking was easy.  We made it from our campsite to Blayney Hot Springs campsite by lunch time (over 7 miles).  As it turns out, the campsite is right by the river, about a half mile from the main trail (just follow signs to Blayney Hot Springs).  We found campfire rings but could not find the hot springs – later we figured out you must cross the river to the hot springs which lie in the meadow.  At lunch we decided to cut the trip short and hike all the way back to the car and drive home.  Damian said he had to be back to try on some dresses (or something like that).  I actually had a blister on the bottom of my left foot so I was also down to finish off hike.  We had an amazing time up to that point and I was completely satisfied.  On the way home we stopped in Fresno for enchiladas, only Damian was too tired to read the entire menu and got something else instead.  We arrived in SF about 2am thanks to D’s mad driving skills.

In summary we hiked about 40 miles, drove 13 hours, saw beautiful mountains, lakes, amazing trees, and animals, had time to relax, play with fire, get lots of exercise and fresh air, and had that reset button pushed hard.   Can’t wait to make it to the Sierra Mountains again.


September 8th, 2010

Leaving Wedding Ceremony

Well, I did it.  I got married July 31.  Officially and legally and in front of lots of family and friends.  It feels great.  The wedding was a whirlwind – so many people we care about all together in one place.  I felt like a kid in a candy store.  It’s been about a month since it happened and I am still a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience.  For the most part it went perfectly – We didn’t stress too much, things went as planned, we had gorgeous weather, everybody had a good time, what more could we want? Our really close friend, Juan, was our officiant (yay), his first. Wedding Ceremony Crowd Shayna and I wrote and read our own vows to each other then immediately after the ceremony ran off to the woods for a few mins to absorb what just happened.  It was very special.  I was really happy that so many of family and friends could make the trip.  Most of them are not from the midwest and were like .. where is Galena? But Oak Hill was a perfect choice for a wedding venue.  Shayna’s family and my family really hit it off – altho the parents did meet back in March of this year, so it was not there first encounter. In fact, everybody hit it off.  Our picnic theme really brought everyone together – we had BBQ and games like badmitton, croquet, bocce ball, and bags.  Plus our guests are all cool and awesome and there’s no way they wouldn’t all become best friends.

Chad and Shayna in Isle Royale National Park The honeymoon was fantastic, too.  I’ll spare you some of the personal details and just tell you how awesome the midwest is.  Basically we took 2 weeks off after the wedding to go camping on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, hitting bed and breakfast joints before and after.  It’s about an 8 hour drive from Chicago to Copper Harbor, Michigan, where we had to take a 3-4 hour ferry to the island.  Our room at copper harbor was one of our favorites of the trip – the crow’s nest at Harbor Haus restaurant was a giant round room with gorgeous views of the water.  And the food at Harbor Haus was some of the best I’ve had in the midwest – I loved their rack of lamb. Chad Norwood RULES We spent 6 days on the island, 4 nights camping and the last night at the rock harbor lodge.  Shayna was a real trooper, pushing hard and not slowing me down, even though this was only her second backpacking adventure.  Yes, thats right, we backpacked. We carried all our food and gear that we needed for 5 days on our backs.  Well, we did eat sweet wild raspberries that we just picked off of bushes along the trail. But the rest we brought with.  The island has an amazing yet serene beauty.  As a national park there is verly little development on the island. Except at the 2 harbors (where this a lodge, restaurant, gift shop and general store) there is nothing – no cars, roads, bikes – nothing but boats, canoes, and backpackers.. and wildlife.  We hoped to see moose and wolves, but saw birds, rabbits, squirrels, a fox, a giant owl, a bald eagle .. pretty good, actually.   We mostly hiked but also swam (I loved dunking my head in the clear, cool, refreshing lake) and canoed (Shayna loves canoing) in Lake Superior. After the island we hit door county, wisconsin.  It’s a small peninsula in lake michigan with a bunch of cute harbor towns that’s been compared to old towns in new england.  Our other favorite room was at the Black Walnut B&B in sturgeon bay, the big town in door county. Our favorite meal (except harbor haus) was at the cookery, in fish creek, one of the many cute small towns.  Also, on the last day, we decided to take a detour and hit the New Glarus Brewerey (mmm.. Fat Squirrel) in the cute little swiss-german town of New Glarus, Wisconsin.  We enjoyed tastee beers then decided to spend one more night away from home. Lots of fresh beer had nothing to do with that decision.  Yay.

But not all our friends could make it to the midwest, so we are celebrating with them in California on September 18, cali style. We reserved a resort in the mountains with cabins, camping, swimming pool, music, and lots of shenanigans. Looking forward to that !!


December 30th, 2009

Chad and Shayna in Engagementland

It’s official, Shayna and I are engaged!  Yee-haw.  Aww Yeah.  Hurray.  We decided over thanksgiving in Athens, Georgia, to get married.  At that time I was not ready to be publicly engaged, but now I am.  Last week we told parents and friends, and now I’m here to share some more info on this major life decision.

We’ve been dating since the fall of 2004 in San Francisco.  We met each other a few times at parties, but the first time I spent some time with shayna was when Tim Lang and I helped her move some art. She was in school at the time,  was looking for help to move some big pieces, so I offered my help and Tim’s van.  After that day I knew I liked her and soon we went on our first dinner date at Axum Cafe, an ethiopian restaurant.    When she graduated from school the following June, our relationship changed from dating to sorta-dating for the next year or so, since she moved away from SF and I stayed in SF.   I did visit her in New York, where she worked in a woman’s art program, as well as in New Orleans, where she was helping after Katrina.  I convinced her to return to SF for Burningman in August 2006 and we were officially dating again.  In Feb 2007, I started a 6 month trip around the world, 3 months of which was with shayna.  When I returned we moved in together.  During my trip around the world, shayna was accepted into grad school in Chicago, but delayed enrollment for a year primarily for me.  So in the spring of 2008 the time came for me to decide if i wanted to give up my home of 10+ years in SF to move to Chicago with Shayna.  I did.  Chicago was a very big transition.  Luckily we found some good friends fairly quickly which made some of the very rough patches in fall 2008 easier to swallow.  The summer and fall of 2009 were really good to us as a couple.  But it wasn’t till she left for Athens a couple weeks before Thanksgiving did i realize she’s the most important thing in my life and that I wanted to be with her forever and ever.

There was no tradtional proposal.  Neither one of us are too fond of traditions purely for the sake of traditions.  We believe in this day and age its more important to enter marriage with eyes wide open with both people knowing exactly what they are getting into. However, I did get down on one knee in our photo shoot in Athens, which I’ve called Engagementland.  A few of these pics were emailed to friends last week.  We also met with an artist from athens who is making us custom wedding rings – you can see pictures  similar to what we’ll have  in the Engagementland set as well.

As soon as we tell people we’re engaged, one of the next questions out of their mouth is “when’s the wedding?”  Well, it looks like this summer – July or August 2010.  Stay tuned for more on this.

Coachella Rules

April 29th, 2009

Last week I got back from Coachella, a 3-day music festival in Southern California.  It was my 4th time going, the other years being 2001, 2002, and 2006.  This year, like previous years, was awesome – good friends, good drinks, pimpin’ house and pool, and tons of cool bands and DJs to rock out to.  Here are noteworthy moments followed by details from the whole weekend

Coachella 2009 Lineup

  • Groove Armada doing superstylin for like 20 minutes, including a few mins of daft punk in the middle.  After “Around the World” they unloaded the superstylin’ drop that totally electrified the crowd.  This was my favorite moment this year – 3rd favorite coachella moment of all time, after daft punk in 2006 and my personal fav squarepusher in 2001.
  • The Do Lab giving off a great burningman vibe, sick music, interesting art and decorations, water hose, and central location. My favorite spot. Video. Big UP to Jupiter, Random Rab, Beats Antique, Lucent Dossier, and many more.
  • The Dome was another sound location in addition to the Do Lab and the 5 official ones – they provided sound as you entered and left, going till 5am for those in camp city.  LA Riots played sunday night.
  • Naked Hippie getting tasered.  3 fat cops using a taser on a dude out of his mind. article.
  • Contact solution containers are very useful.
  • The Ting Tings singing “Whats my name” (my fav song of 2008)
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs rocking it – love that gold costume, Karen O. video.
  • Girl Talk really knows how to rock a party, short-attentions span style. milkshake.
  • MIA was good, but Blackstar (her Coachella DJ) went a little crazy with that air horn – could barely hear the songs. Lame.
  • Public Enemy doing the entire album of “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”
  • The Black Keys got Soul, damnit.  a video.
  • Leonard Cohen rocking it at age 74.
  • Morrisey left the stage early cuz he smelled burning flesh.  Sigh. Pass the Bacon.
  • The Cure did almost 3 hours – including 2 songs after they cut the sound and lights (only saw first hour, tho).
  • I heard Paul McCartney, would have been really impressed if i still loved him.
  • Wish I saw Etienne De Crecy. Awesome video.
  • Wish I saw MSTRKRFT, saw them in 2008.
  • Wish I saw Roni Size, The Kills, Atmosphere, M Ward, Crystal Castles, the Orb, etc.
  • Out of 166,000 people attending coachella, I ran into my boy Zac (chicago) twice. I ran into tons of other people from California as well. Attendence was second only to 186k in 2007 (src).

Team Coachella

It all began with my arrival Thursday night, along with checkoway and kerry, crashing at my friend Rob’s place in Ontario. Friday morning our new best friend Jason picked us up in his super 80’s Van – Our Carpoolchella.  The rumor was that one lucky crew with “Carpoolchella” written on their car/van would win lifetime vip tix to coachella.  No, wed were not that lucky crew.  Anyways, we drove 80 miles to Palm Springs, got supplies, checked into our house for the weekend, and met up with Isabel (not Babs), Jess, and Brian.  We got our drinks on and headed to coachella friday, coming home around 1 or 2 and staying up till 5 in the morning.  2 hours later I’m up for some reason and ready to go.

Saturday started with more drinking, a surprise arrival by Ding Dong, Cake-Oh, and Katheeee.  Yay.  After some pool shenanigans we left the house for the iMeem party – more pool, free-drinks, DJs (A-Trak was there but did not spin), and great people watching.  It ended up being pretty fun, till the Asahi ran dry.  We made it inside the coachellas around 5 or 6 and lasted till about midnight,  then home and more drinks and late nite grilling by Chef Checkoway. Sunday was more of the same, morning cocktails, donger made eggs, pool chillin, a few visitors, and music at coachella from 6 to midnight.  I was planning on leaving sunday night but I aborted that plan due to lack of sleep and desire not to get sick.

Monday we cleaned up and left the house by noon, made it to LA where most of us did more pool side chilling at the roosevelt in hollywood.  Around 6pm everybody left but me and checkoway – he was in LA for biz and my flight didn’t leave for chicago till 6am the next morning.  Lee Williams showed up, instigating round 7, and with the help of Katie Curry we were out drinking till the bars closed.  After some post-bar pizza I took checkoway back to the hotel where i crashed from 3:30am till 4:30am (thats 1 whole hour of sleep for you kids at home), got up and taxied to LAX.  Needless to say i slept the entire plane ride home.

Good times, Good times.


March 4th, 2009

I just bought my ticket to San Francisco for SnowCamp weekend, flying out Thursday 4/2, returning Monday 4/6. Rejoice. I was on the fence about when to visit SF this spring/summer, and Snowcamp won. You really can’t beat it – the best crew of crazy fun loving trouble makers this side of the mississippi (which side are we talking about?), dressing up (this year’s theme is Fairy Tales) and enjoying delishous tahoe powder (if it doesn’t all melt by april). In addition, carrying on the spirit of Otto, funds will be raised to send girls from Hunter’s Point to summer camp. Deets on FB. Any suggestions as to which Fairy Tales thing I should dress up as?

And 2 weeks later I’m going to Coachella Music Festival, another Thurs-Monday adventure which I’m totally excited for. Check out the amazing lineup and our house for the weekend.


May 30th, 2008

Otto was a friend to us all, but we each view him in our own way. For me, he is an inspiration, a leader, a man I look up to. He has shown me the way people can live to the max – from maximum fun to maxium love and gratitude. He showed the discipline and courage to face the biggest challenge of his life, determined to win, powering thru with Indra and friends at his side, leaving love in his wake. I will miss the big man with the big heart, but will always be glad I was lucky enough to know him.

Give Thanks. Love on Ottomatic.
Get together Wednesday night, Memorial on Sunday.

Bay to Breakers

May 20th, 2008

Swedish Chefs

Another successful adventure of dressing up and drinking with 80,000 other San Franciscans. However, this year, for the first time, I ran the entire 12K. Yep, I ran it, then went back and drank it. I crossed the Start at 8:02am with Checkoway, who hung with me half way, then I finished the rest by myself, clocking in at 65 minutes for 7.46 miles. Then I got on my motorcycle and headed back to Hayes valley, where my friends where startin’ it up. I joined the German Lederhosens and my fellow Swedish Chefs and the rest .. is best told by the pictures. I will say it was as fun as always and seemed like there were more people than ever before. My favorite costumes were actually .. us!! It was simple, easy to find others in a crowd, we had great props – throwing flour and spanking people with a wooden spatula or bagutte is super fun. More from Shayna.

GPS Hike to Sykes Hot Springs

February 19th, 2008

Last weekend Shayna and I joined Terry and Dana on a backpacking and camping trip to Sykes Hot Springs. It was awesome. I’ve done many day hikes and overnight backpacking trips and this was one of my favorites. Not too far a drive from SF, the trail was part dusty, part lush forests, had views of the ocean and beautiful mountains. The first day ended with us arriving at a clear, refreshing river winding through camp (altho it was cold) and nice warm campfire after dark. The next day we slept in, had breakfast, soaked in the hot springs for an hour, and hit the trail back home. It was totally fun to do all this with another couple, especially Dana and Terry.

Team is Ready To Start

We decided to go last minute – Dana mentioned they were going on friday night, and saturday we thought about it, wondering if it was going to be too cold (it is February), and if we were allowed to have campfires (California is sensitive to them fires). After an hour of research, Shayna just said – if we’re thinking about it so much, lets just go!! And we did. After playing a little bit in Golden Gate park we went home, packed, and drove down to Monterey. All the cheap hotels were booked, we ended up staying in Seaside, just north of Monterey, for $100. Not so cheap .. but it was President’s day weekend. The next morning we got up, got some coffee, breakfast and sandwiches and hit the roads. We got to the ranger station about 9:15am. We were trying to hike with Terry and Dana, but they weren’t sure when they’d be able to make it. As it turned out, they showed up at the ranger station right after we did. Hurray.

We started the hike at the Big Sur Station, about 30 miles south of Monterey or 2.5 hours south of SF. We hiked the 10 miles in with our camping gear and food to Sykes campground, the fourth camping area along Pine Ridge Trail. Along the hike we stopped for beautiful views, pack adjustments, snacks, and pictures. By the time we got to camp we only had an hour of sunlight left and it was pretty crowded – we had to run around to find a decent camping spot. We setup our tents and it was getting too dark so we waited till the next morning to do the hot springs. Terry got the fire going and we basically hung out by the fire eating, drinking, and puffin’ till bed. We slept in, had some breakfast, another fire, packed up, and hit the hot springs on the way out. Our campsite was on the right bank of the river, and the trail and hot springs were on the left bank, so just like the previous day we had to wade across the freezing Big Sur River – it was as deep as a couple feet in some spots. And if you’re barefoot, you can’t run across the riverbed rocks like I did. Heh.

Sykes Hot Springs Tub

The Sykes Hot Springs were nice, but not that nice. I’ve read several reviews of them online (mark verber’s excellent details, 2004 NY Times , brian’s blog, yelp) but let me set the record straight as of February 2008, when we went. There were 3 hot tubs – each had man-made walls and varying sizes. There were 2 by the river, and a third one uphill from the one that was more downstream. That third one uphill was the biggest and the one we soaked in. It could hold 6 strangers or 10-12 close friends. The one downhill from that could hold 4-7 people, and the one upstream from that could hold about 2-5 people. You can smell sulfur in the air and there is a little bit of algae/dirt in the tubs. When we arrived at camp on Sunday they were all full, and the clothing optional rule was in effect. But as I said it was getting dark so we didn’t go in. On Monday morning we jumped in the only one that had room – the one uphill – it had just 2 UCSC girls in it at the time. The temperature was nice, the reported 100-degrees seemed about right. That’s not as hot as most hot tubs which are more like 104, but hot enough to ease them sore muscles. The downhill one was about the same temperature, but people said the upstream one was a little bit colder.

Let me list some quick details if you’ve never been and want to go.

  • Where – Start at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, off Hwy 1, about 26 miles south of Carmel, 2.5 hours south of San Francisco. The trailhead is in the parking lot of Big Sur Station (not Big Sur Lodge, but just south of it).
  • When – Its open year-round, but best in spring and summer. If you don’t mind crowds, weekends are fine, but start hiking as early as you can. The ranger station by the trailhead opens at 8am – you’ll definitely want a campfire and thats where you get the permit.
  • Hike 10 miles along Pine Ridge Trail through the Ventana Wilderness, part of Los Padros National Forest (map)
  • Camp at Sykes – leave plenty of time to find a camping spot – it’s hilly and can get crowded during the summer and on weekends. You could camp at Barlow if short on time or the ranger implies its too crowded, which is about 3 miles before Sykes.
  • Bring extra shoes or sandals to wade across the river. It sux to hike out with wet shoes.
  • Recommend: water filter, moleskin, GPS watch, fire permit

As I said, this trip was awesome. But it wasn’t the hot springs that made the trip – Big Sur region is just beautiful. The hike, campsite and river, and friends were all above average. The hot springs were just icing on the cake. Plus, it was shayna’s first backpacking trip and my first with my GPS watch. You can check out our hike to Sykes Hot Springs on Google Maps or see hiking stats on motionbased.

2007 In Review

January 3rd, 2008

This was another big year for me. Not as life changing as 2006, but still very significant. The 2 biggest things were traveling around the world for 6 months and getting serious with Shayna Cohen. Most everything else could be lumped into 2 groups – working on my 5-year plan and having fun (and how).

Similar to last year, i like to look at flickr pics to give me a recap on what i did. Starts off with a couple events before my Round The World trip – Dinner and Trivial Pursuit at 126 and My sendoff. Then there’s Round The World 2007, My return, Fred and Megan’s Wedding, Burningman, Moving into 116 San Jose with Shayna, Treasure Island Music Festival, halloween and Brasstax Renegade, Birthdays (Shayna, Eumi, Rick, Carrina, Sarah Bates) and Quality time with the Family over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Besides all the fun with friends and family covered in those pics, I also spent time looking inward. Organizing and Prioritizing my life. Some of the fruits of this led me down paths such as getting an MBA (postponed for now), Understanding Green Business (lots more on that later) as well as starting my own business, among other things. I also got closer to Shayna. I feel so lucky and blessed to have her in my life. Looking forward, she is moving to Chicago in August to attend grad school. So the big question is .. do i go with her?

Kooza, Santa’s, and my TV

December 17th, 2007

Friday we went to see Kooza for Fritz’s Birthday. Kooza is the name for the Cirque du Soleil show here in San Francisco. It was amazing. It’s my third Cirque du Soleil show, not the best, but none were better – they are all awesome in their own way. Music, Lighting, Showmanship, Story (yes, the show sorta had a story), and unbelievable acts. My favorite act was the 2 dudes running in 2 giant metal circles as they spin around like a ferris wheel. I also love the couple dancing while the guy rode a unicycle, as well as the 3 crazy gymnastical girls. But the whole show was awesome and I highly recommend going. They’re in SF till Jan 20 and then San Jose till March 16.

Like last weekend, this was another busy one with friends. Too many parties and events. Even with my cold, I still made it to House of Things party friday night, a little bit of Santacon Saturday, and still had enough energy to help my friend Juan move on Sunday. Last weekend involved Amnesia, Shooting Ranges, more house parties, and Birthday expedition to the Exploratorium.

I also returned my 42″ Panasonic to Costco (after 88 days and no box, no questions asked, cash back, Hurray) and bought Juan’s Sony 40″ Bravia. I did it cuz i wanted a better picture (the panasonic sometimes was off with the colors), but some have complained about a sony backlighting issue. We’ll see.