hike

The Yosemite Five

Last year, I got the chance to start the new year with a road trip to Grand Canyon! It was my first time hiking in the snow and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to adventure with!

I was fortunate enough to travel again in the start of this new year! I went to Yosemite for the second time in the span of 9 months. Though my first time to Yosemite was in the spring, I was more curious to experience Yosemite in the winter with the snow!

On our way from SoCal to Yosemite, we made our first stop at Benaddiction in Fresno. We were pretty hungry after driving so many miles and found a place to eat via Yelp. It’s a small restaurant that can probably fit a max of 30 people. Due to the small capacity of the restaurant, the wait for us to be seated took some time. We saw hangry customers leave after waiting several minutes. If you plan to check out Benaddiction, keep in mind that it’s a small restaurant, it gets busy, and they close at 3PM!

Benaddiction is known for their breakfast and brunch entrees. I ended up getting a burger because it was past lunch time by the time we got seated and I wasn’t feeling breakfast. The burger was packed with a huge slice of tomato and shredded lettuce. The burger wasn’t anything that special as I expected but it did the job filling me up since I was hungry!

After lunch, we kept driving north until we got to our AirBnB place. We had a hard time finding our place since the street signs were hidden and it was getting dark too. We circled around the neighborhood for quite a long time and somehow we found it after lucking out on a turn!

Note to future self: Check-in at AirBnB place before the sun sets so it’s easy to find especially in rural areas where they like to hide street signs and house numbers.

Once we got to our AirBnB place, we chilled for a bit and then prepped for dinner. We had some fancy lasagna from Costco with a side of corn and garlic bread. We raised our glasses with Martinelli’s Apple Cider and made a toast for our trip! Can’t go wrong with that! While we were eating, we played some classical music in the background and ate with our pinky’s up. We fancy.

We went for a walk in the dark after dinner. Literally, it was pitch black outside. I had to hold onto some hoodies to make sure I was walking in the right direction. I may or may not be afraid of the dark. Don’t judge!

It was beautiful outside seeing some stars but it was also scary. I wasn’t sure if some animal was going to pop out of nowhere. It was just the five of us walking down a lonely road.

We ended first day with an episode of The Man in the High Castle. It was my first time ever hearing about it but I surprisingly enjoyed it. I think everyone else knocked out except me and maybe one or two others. I can’t remember who knocked out because I was really into the show.

The next day, we packed our lunches in the morning and headed out officially to Yosemite National Park!

We actually had a rough start to Yosemite. We entered the park and we were required to put chains on. We purchased some chains from Walmart earlier and that was not a good idea.

I repeat it was not a good idea.

Probably for a good hour, we struggled with them chains. They were straight up real chains with links on them.

First, we had a hard time putting them on in the cold, very cold weather. Once we got them on, we were driving around and something was not right. We heard some clunking noises. As we were driving, we passed by a bunch of Asian tourists standing outside. They were watching us drive by and the look on their faces was priceless. They looked concerned for us. Oh, you could tell they were deeply concerned.

We pulled over and thought we knew where the clunky noise was coming from so we tightened up the chains. Then we started driving again but heard the noise again! We pulled over for two or three more times to tighten things up. We were pretty confident for the first few times that we figured out where the noise was coming from but at some point, we were like, “Let’s be safe and just go back and buy new chains from that guy.”

We backtracked and bought chains from the guy on the side of the road. That was probably the best idea ever. Those chains were thin, easy to put on, and definitely quiet. And no tourist looked at us weird.

I think we spent two hours in total trying to figure out our chain issue. BUT! It was great teamwork and we all learned something new that morning. Too bad we don’t have a picture of us with the crazy chains. Maybe some moments aren’t meant to be captured.

Ok, now onto the fun stuff! We didn’t hike any strenuous trails since they were all closed due to the weather. We made multiple stops within the park and took a brisk walk to see some beautiful sites!

Tunnel View

On our way to Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall

Even though the picture below is blurry from the mist, I still had to share it because there was so much potential in this picture looking beautiful.

Yosemite Valley

Major PC to Kevin! Thanks for taking this awesome shot!

On our way to Vernal Fall

Photo credit to whoever was at the bottom either Kevin or Susan! 


We ended up not being able to hike up the whole trail to Vernal Fall. It was blocked off midpoint because of the snow. It was still nice being able to hike up halfway and have our lunches up there with the drizzle.

We were able to make a lot of stops within one day and experience the beauty of Yosemite with the snow. There were moments when it was snowing and felt so magical! Going to Yosemite during the winter is a MUST! It’s a complete whole different experience compared to any other season.

I heard that you’re able to ice skate somewhere outside in Yosemite. If the opportunity comes around again to go to Yosemite during the winter, I hope to ice skate then!

The trip was short and sweet! I’m thankful that we played in the snow and that no car was damaged from the chains! Yay, us!

 

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Big Horn Mine Hike

I was on Instagram one night and noticed that Patrick Manalo, a photographer in the SoCal area who I follow on IG, posted some scenic pictures that just seemed so different from any hiking pictures I have ever seen! I looked into where he had gone which was Big Horn Mine and then I just had to go too!

By the way, I have no idea how I found Patrick Manalo on Instagram. I’m pretty sure he was on my Explorer page and I found a lot of his pictures aligned with my interests such as food, travel, and adventures.

I posted some information and pictures about this hike on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to join me on this adventure. A good amount of my friends were interested so I created a Facebook event to get the ball rolling. I planned about one month in advance because I knew this hike wasn’t just going to be a simple morning activity that friends can stop by. It was going to be an all day thing.

I’m a planner so I had a rough itinerary planned out so my friends knew what to expect throughout this whole adventure. I ended up being pretty on point with my agenda but below is the schedule you might want to follow accordingly if you plan to check it out:

  • 8:30am – Leave Orange County
  • 10:00am – Arrive at  Grassy Hallow Visitors Center to purchase a $5 Adventure Day Pass. This is to pay for parking. Apparently you can purchase this ahead of time at REI.
  • 10:15am – Begin the hike. Take breaks and pictures. Go into the mine!
  • 2:00pm – Approximately the time we got back to our car
  • 2:45pm – Lunch at Ichi Ichi in Rowland Heights and milk tea at Tenju Tea House
  • 5:30pm – Arrive home and rest

If you can, I suggest that you pick up the Adventure Day Pass ahead of time. Grassy Hallow Visitors Center doesn’t open until 10:00am sharp! If you hike earlier in the morning, you will be able to avoid the crowd at the time. By the time we got to to the mine, we had the whole area to ourselves so it was really nice to enjoy the scene. An hour later, there were probably more 20 people onsite and we weren’t able to take decent pictures.

Here are some tips to share with you about this whole hike:

  • If you’re going to get there before 9am, you might want to dress warm (in March). We were surprised how cold it was that morning. It was forecasted to be high 60 degrees and low 40 degrees. Once we started hiking, it definitely got warm.
  • I was not able to find an exact address to get to this site but if you type in Big Horn Mine or Glassy Hallow Visitors Center on Apple or Google Maps, it will show up. It will be fine to follow those directions.
    • You are going to lose reception once you are up in the mountains. Prior to your drive, save the location on your map. Follow the directions from Business Insider on how to save a map without Wi-Fi.
    • If you forget to save the map, just know that if you drive by Inspiration Point first and then Grassy Hallow Visitors Center, then you’re heading towards the right direction. There will be a dead end and you will see a lot where you can park. Don’t forget to hang your parking pass up!
  • After you park, it can get a little confusing on which trail to take because there are a few different ones. You will see a white gate and right behind that gate is the trail you want to take to see the mine. This hike is a little less than 4 miles round trip.
  • There is another trail you can take that is to the far right of the white gate. It’s a skinny hidden trail. I think that trail might be the longer route, 8 miles round trip. You might be able to see an empty cabin and see some snow if you take that route. There might be some restrictions from experiencing the whole hike based upon weather.
  • Make sure you have hiking shoes on that are sturdy and waterproof. There were a lot of uneven and sharp rocks so it was nice to have my feet protected. If you wear your regular Nike shoes, you’ll definitely feel the pain. I recommend waterproof boots also because when we went into the mine, there was a stream that the guys accidentally stepped in.
  • Make sure to bring:
    • Headlamp – It’s nice to use this when you’re in the mine over your smart phone and it feels cool to wear one
    • Extra socks & shoes – Just in case you step in water and it’s nice to wear a fresh pair of socks and comfortable shoes after the hike
    • Water – You’ll get thirsty in the beginning of the hike because of the uphil
    • Sunglasses, hat, & sunscreen – It got pretty sunny on our way up so make sure to protect yourself from burns

Ok, I hope those were some helpful tips for you! I did a lot of Googling and reading Yelp reviews.

Onto the fun stuff, pictures!

Inspirational pose at Inspiration Point-

Inspirational friends-

When you see this, that’s when you know you’ve made it!

This is what the view looks like when you’re actually there!

Ok, Tim got some pretty cool pictures. I’m a little jealous.

Above all of these unprotected metal posts was a mine shaft! We had to climb up some old wooden planks to get there. It was a little scary but we made our way up. To get through, we had to limbo our way into this gated fence. This mine shaft was pitch black and dead quiet but with friends and flashlights, we were able to make it out alive. I wish I had taken pictures here but I didn’t want to risk dropping my camera in an unfamiliar area with minimal lighting.

You will definitely want to check out the mine. We walked pretty deep into the mine but stopped at some point because it was getting too hard to see where the trail was leading us.

Afterwards, we went back outside and took more pictures!

I have no idea how Tim and Edward got up there but all I can say is that they were brave.

By the time we were done touring around the main site, it was getting crowded there. As a result we weren’t able to take a good selfie group picture! 

Going downhill was quick and easy. We probably got back to our car in less than 45 minutes. It was so much easier than going up!

We had some thin Oreos on our way down and it definitely brightened our hangry mood. Thanks Edward for bringing them! Once we got to our car, we changed shoes and got comfortable.

We ate in Rowland Heights since it was on our way back home. Then called it a day. After hanging out with each other for 8 hours, we concluded that we were all best friends at a friendship level of 4. Who knows what that level really means but what matters is that we are all best friends! #insidejoke

Thank you Cindy, Stacy, Edward and Tim for joining me on this hike! It was a lot of fun singing in harmony during the car ride. This hike was a nice short and sweet one day get away from Orange County!

Grand Year, Grand Canyon!

Ah! Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Leap Year! Oh man, I can’t believe I missed sharing all those holidays on my blog. Better late than never, right?

So many memories took place in 2015 that I have yet to share on TTT! There will be plenty of #ThrowBackThursdays to share here.

It’s crazy how time flies. I’m so surprised how today is the last day of February! Now, let the March Madness begin!

I told myself that I’m going to post my first trip of 2016 before February ends. So here I am now!

Meet my friend, Cindy. We met about three years ago at work and hit it off the first day we met each other. Oh gosh, just to clarify we’re not dating. We’re just friends. We actually don’t work together anymore but still stay in contact a little too much.

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Back in the fall of 2015, she invited me to go to Grand Canyon with her and her friends. The trip was planned for the first weekend of January. I was a little hesitant to go at first simply because it was happening the first weekend of January. It was just too soon for me to plan something that far advance in the new year but then I thought YOLO. Right after that, I had no hesitation to go.

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Ok, so we left on a Sunday afternoon. I think we spent about 6 or 8 hours driving and making stops. We spent two nights at an AirBnB in Flagstaff, Arizona. Our stay was perfect for 8 people!

Monday morning, we had breakfast, packed lunch for our hike and headed towards Grand Canyon. It was freezing when we got there! I quickly lost mobility in my hands and had to layer up! Once we started walking around though, I felt a little more alive.

There were multiple trails to hike through but we ended up taking South Kaibab Trail!

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We probably hiked for about 4 hours round trip. Even though it was only a 3 mile hike, going down was challenging initially. There were moments where you had to use your core to control yourself from not falling since it was slippery hiking downhill.  At some point, we got the hang of it going downhill.

It was a magical hike going down as it was snowing! The view everywhere around us was breathtaking!

We took a good amount of breaks to take pictures and to catch some breath. In the picture below, it was crazy to see that there was no snow right behind us but in front of us, there was plenty of snow. It was a little funny how nature was working that day.

When we were hiking, I remember thinking, “We are never going to get down there!” Seeing the skinny trails ahead of us seemed impossible for us to get to our final destination.

We ended up getting to the flat area a lot faster than expected! I had so much adrenaline that I wanted to keep going but we couldn’t go all the way to the bottom due to time. We wanted to make it back before the sun was setting.

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We spent some time enjoying the view and of course, taking jumping pictures.

It was pretty brutal going back up. I think we were all breathing heavily and dreading each step we took.

The uphill inclination was quite steep and trying to be cautious to not step on special gifts that mules left behind made it even more challenging.

We all agreed that it was a good idea that we didn’t go further down because that uphill would have been worse and we would have been more tired.

As we were going back up, we had some intense snowball fights. I got hit and was fatally wounded.  Just kidding. I did get hit but it was by accident. Well, I like to believe that it was by accident.

Definitely at the end of the hike, the craziest snowball fight happened and there is evidence of it in the picture above.

It was bittersweet finishing the hike. I was relieved that that we had made it to the top but I had immediately missed the scenic view.

After the hike, we treated ourselves to some pizza and wings! Then we went to our AirBnB home and played an intense game of darts. That game was way too fun. I got bulls eye at least three times that night! It was all by God’s grace that had happened! GG, everyone!

The next morning, we packed up our belongings to go back home. I’m not sure which route we took to go back but it was a scenic one! Major photo credit to Kevin Yoon for taking some awesome pictures on my DSLR!

Cindy kept asking me throughout the whole trip, “Who invited you?” She asked me numerous times with a serious face. Oh Cindy, it was you who invited me. You, my friend. You.

One last group selfie before this post comes to an end! Everyone looks great in the picture below!

Thank you to new and old friends for making this trip so much fun! Big thanks to Kevin and Tim for driving us around! Thank you again, Cindy, for inviting me! Thank you to Rachel, Andy, and Preston for being so hospitable!

I’m so thankful to have started the new year with this trip! What a grand year 2016 will be! I’m excited for more opportunities to travel this year! More adventures to come!

Oh yeah, one more video to share with everyone! Here’s a video I put together from all the random recordings I had on my phone and camera. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

The Hills Are Alive!

What meant to be a hike turned into a show. Charlotte and I ran through a field of grass and started singing, “The hills are alive!” from the top of our lungs. We threw our arms into the air and started dancing across the fields. I think we did pretty well acting out the scene. It probably should’ve been us in that musical.

If only we were performing that scene in Germany! If only. Instead, we were at Quail Hill Trailhead in Orange County. You can see the hills and trails right off the 405 freeway going down San Diego. You can’t miss it especially when the grass is bright green.

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Did I ever tell you that I’m a triplet? I probably never did because I’m not.

Aside from singing our hearts out, we had some good conversations during our actual hike. By the way, the hike wasn’t a strenuous one. It was flat for 2 miles and easy to get around. Take it as a walk in the park kind of thing. It’s a great place to get a quick and simple work out, but also for some breath of fresh air.

On Yelp, this trail has 4 out 5 stars with 42 reviews. Though there may not be a lot of reviews, it definitely doesn’t hurt to check this beauty out when it’s sunny and the grass is green.

Thanks Charlotte for taking me to Germany! I mean, to Quail Hill Trailhead. You should bring your guitar and I’ll bring a picnic blanket and basket to make it more like the Sound Of Music.

The Bay

Eat Pray Love Journey – The Bay – Day 2

For my time in the Bay area, I actually did not plan anything. The only plan was to just go with the flow! I just wanted to hang out with the people there. It’s the people who make NorCal homey.

The first activity we did in the morning was to go hike! Michelle, Yesie, and I drove over to the Almaden Quicksilver Park in San Jose. Yelp gives this park 4.5 stars with 133 reviews!

We started the hike a little late in the morning since we slept in. The hike was tough with the heat creeping in but those uphills made the hike more of a challenge.

I thought those uphills were never going to end but the beautiful view on the way up was never ending!

The view of the fields, clear sky, and trees reminded me of Lion King. Specifically, the first 20 seconds from the clip below:

I should have played The Circle of Life song while I was hiking. I’ll have to do that next time! So after forty minutes of hiking uphill with the scenic view of mother nature, the hike started to get easier. We finished within an hour and fifteen minutes of hiking around this park! We made it alive!

For lunch we headed over to Ike’s, a popular sandwich shop in the Bay area. There, Yesie and I met up with Pastor Sam and his wife for a mini reunion!

Yelp reviews give all Ike’s locations a 4 star! That shows you how good this place is! For sunny SoCal residents, there is one that just opened up in LA!

They have all kinds of unique sandwiches on their menu and they all sound good! I got The 49er which had buffalo wings sauce, cheddar, halal chicken, and honey mustard! I would definitely not mind getting this again!

Isn’t that a beautiful sammich? I wish you could take a bite of this right now because the spread and the halal chicken went perfectly together! This was one thick halal chicken sandwich with a juicy spread! I was so full from one half of the sandwich that I had to save the other half for dinner.

Because we ate so much, the four of us walked around downtown San Jose for a little bit. Then Yesie and I headed over to Santana Row. This a fancy outdoorsy mall in San Jose. I would compare this place to The Grove or The Americana at Brand in LA or Fashion Island in Orange County. There are a bunch of stores and restaurants to check out, and spots to just sit down and relax!

Yesie and I had some real talk here as we waited for more of our friends to join us. I’m always encouraged when I talk to Yesie. She has an optimistic view in life that can easily bring anyone up!

Michelle and Grace joined us for dinner! We all went over to Pluto’s in Santana Row. It’s a make-your-own salad kind of restaurant that is only found in NorCal. For SoCal residents, I’d compare this place to Tender Greens. I didn’t get a plate of salad because I still had my other half from Ike’s but I just got a small plate of vegetables. It’s always good to have some greens in you!

Majority of the different Pluto’s location have 4 stars on Yelp. The one in particular we went to had 3.5 stars with more than 900 Yelp reviews. If you’re craving something clean, this is definitely the right restaurant to check out! Everything is made fresh right in front of you!

Connie joined us in the middle of dinner. It got merrier once she arrived!

The five us here have known each other since 2007! Seven years later, we are big kids who are still able to come together and pick up where we left off!

After a healthy dinner at Pluto’s, we went over to Peet’s for a warm drink on a cold night! Stacy was able to finally join us there! It was more time of fellowship with these girls where we encouraged each other, laughed, and helped Stacy use Instagram on her new iPhone 6!

We ended our night here with a prayer of gratitude and joyfulness! Many thanks to many friends who came out to eat and hang out with me! Thank you to Pastor Sam & Yehee SMN for providing lunch and challenging my faith at Ike’s! Thanks Grace for coming out after work! I’m glad that we were able to have a quick catch up session! Connie! It was good seeing you even for an hour! Thanks for making time for me even for a little bit! Michelle, I’m thankful that you were able to take time off and play with me! Again, thank you so much for picking me up from Millbrae! Stacy, I didn’t think I was going to see you because of your work situation but I’m so glad that we were able to spend the night together! And Yesie, my Yesie! I’m sorry you were stuck with me all day and night but I learned so much from you in such a short amount of time spent with you. Thank you again for opening up your house as always!

 

I Did It!

Around June of this year, I signed up to do my first 10K in Chino Hills on the first Saturday of November. I started training a month and a half before the actual race. Two to three times a week, I would run about 3-4 miles. I wasn’t able to train consistently as much as I wanted to due to a swelling and pain on my foot. Luckily, everything ended up working out for the race.

The race started at 8 in the morning with the cold crisp air that numbed my hands and feet! A mile into the race, my hands were still freezing. I had to clap my hands while running to get the blood flowing. Unfortunately, clapping or slapping didn’t help much to beat the cold air.

Probably two miles in, there was a painful 45 degree angle uphill that felt like it was never going to end. At this point, you saw walkers. I didn’t feel as guilty walking up the hill compared to when I was walking after a mile on flat ground.

Note to self: Chino Hills really does have hills.The city doesn’t lie about their hills.

When you’re doing a race like this, you honestly meet the most inspiring and encouraging people. After the torturous uphills, I met a runner named Nathan who was probably in his 50’s or 60’s. As I was struggling to run at a steady pace, he encouraged me by simply saying, “You can do it! You got this! You’re almost halfway there!” Those simple phrases of encouragement really made a difference. I really felt like I was able to make it to the half way point.

He asked me if this was my first time doing a 10K and I said yeah as I tried to catch my breath. The way I was running or the way I dressed must have made me look like I was new to this race.

Afterwards, he continued to run along at his own steady pace. I then battled with my mental self to just keep pushing myself. During a race like this, it’s not all about your physical strength. It’s also about your mental strength of endurance which was challenging throughout the race. So I ran for a few minutes by myself. I looked ahead and saw that a guy was standing on the side perhaps waiting for a friend to catch up. As I ran closer to him, he ended up being Nathan! Surprisingly, he was waiting for me!

He continued to encourage me and started conversing. I actually didn’t want to talk to him while I was running because I was secretly dying from weakness. On the outside, I was trying to keep my cool. From our conversation, I learned that he did a 100 mile run in the previous weekend. It took him 25 hours! No big deal, of course. No big deal.

Once I passed the halfway mark, the trail was becoming more scenic with the canyons and the stillness of nature. The halfway mark was the time and place to become one with nature. If interested in hiking, Chino Hills is a great place to explore.

A little less than half a mile of the race left, I was able to hear the streets of Chino Hills. Once I heard cars driving by, I knew that I was getting close to civilization. I knew I had to push myself to the max at this point to make every moment of the race worth it. So I started running towards the finish line with the little energy I had left.

I finally made it to the finish line with the time of 1:36:20 in 54th place out of 79 runners! The time could’ve have been better. But hey, all I can say is that I’m glad I made it alive and that no EMT had to pick me up on the side! I was really worried that was going to happen. Praise God!

 

Andrew who is the second guy from the right registered for the race on the day of. He ended up getting in 2nd place in the whole 10K race with a time of 58:50. Congratulations Andrew!

Derek (guy in red shirt) met Xoan (bottom left) during the race who pushed him to finish strong! Thanks to genuine caring people like Nathan and Xoan, we were all able to finish the race! I’m telling you, you meet the nicest people at a race like this.

I plan to do another 10K in the future but with no uphills, please. The next race I have lined up is actually the Color Run in Irvine on the 8th of December. That should definitely be a fun one and painless.