March 2011

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By Katharine

I have begun planning our Spring Break trip to Zion National Park in April, and I am really getting excited for it… There will be some amazing opportunities for photography plus it looks like we will be able to fit in a backpacking portion as well. This has motivated Nathan and me to get back to regular hiking so that we will be somewhat in-shape for the trip.

So, this weekend we procrastinated a lot of wedding tasks and studying for midterms by going on a short hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. Last year I got Jerry Schad’s hiking guide for LA county and bookmarked all the hikes I want us to do before we move away from LA and this week we checked one off: Red Rock Canyon.

The hike is a short (4.5 mile) out-and-back hike up and then down into a canyon. The scenery was mostly the typical SoCal chaparral of the Santa Monica Mts, but it’s always beautiful to me.


There also were some really cool caves to climb and explore.

.Plus, near the end, we started to see why they call it Red Rock Canyon.

And, for the second time in a row, we came across a film crew at some point in our hike. Only in LA!

Overall, it was a nice break from studying and a good training hike with the elevation gain and loss. Next time we should probably load up our backpacks with water to really train for our trip.

By Nathan

Last Sunday we decided to take a break from wedding planning and homework and head to a well known LA hike, The Grotto.  We had the usual LA traffic which delayed us from arriving until 3:00 but since it was a short hike we knew we could finish before sunset.  It was a little cold, windy, and the fog started to roll in as we started down the trail to the Grotto.


Not only did Katharine want to check it off her “hikes to do list” but we are also scouting for a site to take our engagement photos.  We liked the open grasses at the start of the hike where we could set-up a mock camp.


Soon we headed into a wooded area where we found a nice branch that was fun for photos.  Katharine climbed up the branch and then I set-up my tripod and set the 10 second timer.  The plan was to run 20 feet, jump, grab the branch, swing my body up and sit next to Katharine all in 10 seconds.  Well…I gave it my best shot.


As you can see from the photo I only made it to step 2 so I resorted to taking photos of Katharine alone.


The conditions weren’t the best for photography that day because of the late afternoon light and thick fog but I think with the right lighting it could look pretty cute for engagement photos.

After crossing the stream by jumping rock to rock we reached the Grotto.

The Grotto is an interesting location where the stream drops below some of the rocks creating waterfalls below the surface.  The small caves give an adventurous feel to the hike.


In some places I could see through a hole in the rocks showing Katharine exploring the caves below.  If I had a wider lens or full frame camera I think I could capture the scene pretty nicely.  I am not sure what the photo would look like though, maybe too much like were trapped in a dark pit.

I also found my favorite plant, poison oak,  lining the trail which always gives me phantom itching.  After a major episode requiring two steroid shots I can’t stress enough to stay on the trail and wear long pants.


When the fog rolled in knocking out the grand vistas I turned to macro shots of the rocks around me.

Canon 40D, 50 mm, f/1.8, 1/160, ISO 250

Different types of lichen gave the gray rocks some much needed color during our dark and cloudy hike.  We turned back as it started to get dark and drizzle, but we hope to return on a warmer day to explore the complete Grotto. Now that we’ve switched to daylight savings time, there’s extra time for hiking!

More Photos

By Katharine

While perusing REI’s website a while ago, we discovered the perfect cake topper for us:

It’s so detailed- they even have zip-off pants!

Last week we finally received it (after a long backorder wait) and it turns out to be just what we were hoping except that it is WAY bigger than we thought. Guess we’ll need to have a big cake!

And just in case you aren’t sure why this cake topper is perfect, check out this photo of us from a recent hike.

(Ok, yes, we did kinda pose to make it look similar)

Now we just have to decide what kind of cake (or cake alternative) to put it on!

By Nathan

I once saw a photo of downtown LA with snow covered mountains in the background and ever since then I wanted to take that photo.  The day after we returned from snowboarding I started searching the web for the best photo and using google maps to place me in the same location.  Luckily most people online posted their exact location and it turns out a great vantage point is only 10 minutes away.  The view point that rises out of the flat urban environment is better know as Baldwin Hills.  There is a windy path and a steep flight of stairs to the top which is used by many for exercise and locally known as “the stairs.”

“The Stairs”

I set up my camera and tripod at the top and waited for the sun to set.  As I waited several other photographers with more experience and better equipment joined me at the railing.  As the sun set the wind picked up and I realize it was time for me to get a new tripod.  With the wind blowing, the light dwindling, and the haze in the sky it was hard to get a crisp photo.

Canon 40D, 70-200mm with 1.4x Extender, 113mm, ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/1000

Even though I didn’t get the perfect shot, I finally found the right location, so now I just need all the other elements to fall into place.  Even though I’ve lived in Los Angeles for more than 10 years the snow covered mountains behind downtown LA always surprise me.

By Nathan

It’s surprising with all the massive snow fall this year we hadn’t gone snowboarding yet.  But last week we made it a point to make it to “the snow.”  For those of you not from Southern California, “the snow” is what locals refer to as the mountains.  As the weekend approached the forecast was calling for more snow.  Katharine’s brother, Rick wasn’t hard to convince to join us on our day trip to Mountain High, which is only a couple hours away.  Saturday morning we woke up around 6:00 and checked the snow report, 2 feet of fresh powder!  We quickly gathered our gear picked up Rick and headed to the mountains.  Once we got off the freeway the police were making people put chains on their cars, luckily we had purchased chains for Yosemite and were now pros at putting them on.  As we climbed up the mountain the snow continued to increase covering Joshua Trees which was an uncommon sight for us.


We finally reached Mountain High to find the place surprisingly empty, but we figured since it was early in the morning more people would soon fill up the lifts.  Considering this was my 3rd time snowboarding the conditions were perfect.  I wasn’t the first one to pack the powder but the powder provided a nice cushion as I rolled down the mountain.  After a couple runs I became more comfortable and started learning to carve.  Rick spent the day “poaching powder” ruining fresh snow with his tracks no matter the obstacles.

.Katharine and Rick

Shortly after we arrived it started snowing and didn’t stop until around lunch when the sun broke through the clouds.  But within an hour the snow started falling helping maintain a nice layer of powder on the mountain.  The falling snow also seemed to keep the people away and we never had to wait in any lift lines.  By the time we headed back to the car we had no idea how much snow had fallen.

8″ of fresh snow fell in 6 hours

Being able to carve down the mountain and only falling a couple times makes me want to buy my own board.  Considering Mammoth and Big Bear still have a deep base of snow we hope to get at least one more snowboarding trip in this year.  We might even try cross country skiing again!

I survived another snowboarding trip!