Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Posts Tagged ‘Hiking and walking

Biodiversity park in Delhi

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Yamuna Biodiversity Park

Yamuna Biodiversity Park

Any green space in the naturally arid Delhi is always welcome. The Biodiversity park is an artificial wetland created to attract and study migrating birds. It is spread over an area of approximately 450 acres near Wazirabad village in North Delhi.

Park authorities are still learning to cope with visitors and may not necessarily be too helpful. But most scientists love to talk about their work. So if you find one of the field researchers, ask him or her about their work, and enjoy a guided tour.

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Written by locomotoring

August 18, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Kashmir – On walking across Leh

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Lamayuru Monastery from the Highway

Lamayuru Monastery from the Highway

A combination of lack of detailed maps, the locals’ flexible notion of distance and time, and the thin mountain air, made us drop our grand plans to wander across Leh on foot. But every day or two we did have to walk the distance from the nightly bivouac to the nearest bus stop, which usually turned out to be just beyond the next mountain (us) / hill (locals). After a couple of days of lugging my stupidly heavy backpack it dawned on me that there were usually two tracks leading across every mountain/hill – one around it and the other over it. The latter seemed as if someone had created straight-as-arrow paths on a flat piece of paper, and draped that paper on mountains and valleys.

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Written by Sachin

June 16, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Kashmir – On not walking across Leh

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Hitchiking - the driver hadnt slept three nights ....

Hitchiking - the driver hadn't slept three nights ....

We traveled to Leh, in northern Kashmir, a few years ago. Good sample-the-local-culture tourists that we are, we traveled on crowded buses, hitchhiked on trucks, and once, memorably, on a fully loaded gasoline tanker truck driven by a dozing driver. One thing we did not try to do much was hike. It was not the lack of detailed maps that held us back. India is crowded enough that finding someone to ask the way to a nearby village is usually not a problem. The problem was estimating how long it would take us urbanites to walk across the hills and mountains of Leh to our destination. Actually, the problem was the set of short conversations we had with the locals one fine day, which I reproduce below.

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Written by Sachin

June 12, 2009 at 2:09 am

The very edge of San Francisco

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Sutro baths from Cliff House

Sutro baths from Cliff House

What have we got at the edge of San Francisco? Sutro baths of course. Our very own modern ruins. And fog. I doubt a hundred years have changed the course of San Francisco’s weather. So, who built a public bath house on a generally cold and often foggy beach? A rich dude, of course. In 1896, Mr. Sutro, who owned most of San Francisco’s western front, built an indoor swimming pool, in fact a set of seven swimming pools, at a cost of over a million dollars. Why? I guess, because he could.

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Urban hike in San Francisco, from Ferry Plaza to Fort Point

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Kites at Marina Greens

Marina Greens; Click for a photos from this hike ...

Choose a day that isn’t too cold. Start the walk from  Ferry Plaza. If you start on a Saturday, you will be able to pick up your lunch from the Farmer’s market. When you are done exploring Ferry Plaza, start walking westwards and stay as close to the bay as possible. Many of these piers offer pedestrian walkways. The route is unmistakable, so there is little to no chance of getting lost. If you are planning on completing the hike, plan on walking about 10-12 miles and spending anywhere between 3-6 hours.

Here is what you will see on this hike – San Francisco skyline from several vista points, sailboats dotting the sea, yachts moored at the harbors, large container ships crossing underneath the Golden Gate bridge, kites doing acrobatic maneuvers by the marina, kids playing in big or small groups, people of all ages sunbathing or jogging, couples of all genders holding hands or kissing, buildings with military architecture – extensions of Presidio. In spring, you will see Crissy Field in a wildflower bloom.

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Winter camping in a desert park

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Bow Willow Campsite at Anza-Borrego

Bow Willow Campsite at Anza-Borrego

It is raining cats and dogs today. Winters of Northern California typically bring cold rain and dark cloud covered skies. Good for water table but not good for the soul. My thoughts turn to Anza-Borrego desert state park, the largest of California’s state parks and a perfect escape from rain drenched winters. A couple of winters ago, we camped at the Bow Willow campgrounds. We are intermediate campers – we can do without the comfort of hot showers for a day or two but do need a chemical toilet. Bow Will was perfect – clear skies, not too cold, no bugs, hiking trails nearby.

I still remember that for dinner we had Trader Joe’s Lentil Rice Biryani heated on our camp stoves. Last night we had Chicken Biryani Dum Pukht style and while my Biryani is infinitely better on a culinary scale, there is something special about campside food. Is it the appetite built up from all day hiking, the fresh air enhancing the aroma of food, the effort of getting dinner ready in an unfamiliar setting, or sitting down for dinner without the TV?

Written by Som

March 3, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Elephant seals of Ano Nuevo

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Papa and baby elephant seal

Papa and baby elephant seal

December to March – they arrive, they mate, they have babies.

Elephant seals are big, brown, and blubbery. If you come to Ano Nuevo Beach – a small state park on the California coastline  between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz – you will see hundreds of them. Blue sea, choppy waves, rocky waterfront, sandy coastline and what looks like large brown blubbery sacks littered all around. Males weigh 5000 lbs, females 4000 and newborns about 100. Maybe they are called elephant seals because they are elephantine versions of seals, or maybe it is because of the trunk the males have for a nose. Harems of alpha males number in hundreds. Sounds more exciting than seventy two virgins, eh?

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Written by Som

March 2, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Vegas, gateway to getaway

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Chihuly exhibit at Bellagio

Chihuly exhibit at Bellagio

I live in San Francisco and Vegas is my favorite gateway to a getaway. I like Vegas – it is hard to not be amused by this crazy city. But what I love lies within 4-6 hours driving distance from Vegas. So … I get into Vegas, enjoy a night of neon excess and then I get out.

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Hoodoos of Bryce on a chilly autumn day

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Navajo Loop Trail at Bryce

Bottom of Navajo Loop Trail at Bryce

I am not at all in favor of visiting national parks from the comfort of my car seat, but I came close enough that day. It was freezing –  I live in San Francisco Bay Area and anything below fifties is freezing for me. Cold wind was biting chunks off me – my nose, my ears ….

A little about Bryce for those who are not familiar – it is situated on a high plateau in Southern’s Utah, 5 or so hours drive from Las Vegas. The limestone rock formations, called the “hoodoos”,  are caused by rain and ice eroding away the relatively soft rock. A  large collection of hoodoos form a basin called the amphitheater and it is most definitely one of the few destinations worth visiting.

I am glad that we decided to walk the Navajo Loop Trail. It would be a strenuous hike if it were longer but it was less than 2 miles and offered a great opportunity to watch these rocks from a distance as well as close up. Besides, it was the only time that trip when I took my hands out of my pocket to hold the camera.

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Written by Som

February 12, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Coronation Park, a story of indifference

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Coronation Park

Coronation Park

When the decision to shift the nation’s capital from Kolkata to Delhi took place, this spot was proclaimed to be the site for viceroy’s residence. George V’s coronation as the emperor of India was commemorated here. Then the story of neglect began. The site was deemed unsuitable and the residence of Viceroy was eventually built at the site of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The park reminds me of my school park – large, open, not very shaded, spottily grassy. But that is where the similarity ends. At dawn, no groups of people gather about for a yoga class or a laughing club session. At dusk, young lovers don’t come here in search of intimacy.  Grandpas don’t come here for their evening constitutionals. There is no chaiwala or any one else selling snacks. Really, nothing is happening here. There appears to be a single caretaker who lives with his family, he may very well be self proclaimed one. He doesn’t seem to be doing anything either.

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Written by Som

January 13, 2009 at 1:53 am

What keeps me going back to Death Valley

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Storm approaching salt flats of Death Valley

Rain approaching salt flats of Death Valley

What a beautiful, serene, solitary desert this one is. It is also the driest, hottest and largest national park. People have indeed died here although not in recent years.

My first trip to Death Valley was on a Thanksgiving weekend. We had started from Bay Area a little after ten. Nearly 12 hours later, we drove into Stovepipe Wells Village. They had given our room away. We had called at least twice that evening to let them know we would be arriving late!

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Grassy Knolls of Skyline Ridge

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Russian Ridge Open Space Reserve

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. That one is a mouthful. Never found anything Russian about it. It is a bald hill in the midst of not so bald hills, full of dry grasses early in the winter, tall green grasses in the peak of winter and then full of wildflowers in the spring. There are other grassy knolls along the Skyline Blvd but this one is prettier than most. The parking site is a “vista point”. From here, you can see most of the Bay Area including the Bay and the bridges across the bay, which is more often than not, covered in smog.

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Written by Som

December 31, 2008 at 7:29 am

To leave only footprints behind while rafting through Grand Canyon

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Campsite at Grand Canyon

Campsite at Grand Canyon

Over the years, I have flown in a small aircraft over Grand Canyon, taken a helicopter tour, hiked parts of the canyon, driven through parts of it, stayed nights there, done some touristy things, and rafted through the white water rapids of Colorado river. It is the last I want to share with you today.

Two of us had started at the South Rim main visitor’s complex at 5:00 a.m.. Six hours, 9 miles and 5000 ft descent later, we had joined our rafting group. We had hiked before, rafted before but it was our first camping experience. We were looking forward to eight days in the Canyon. Our group consisted of six raft boats with a guide each and about 6 people to a raft. All except our raft. Our raft was thinly populated – us, our river guide and a lot of camping gear. Little did we know then.

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A hike on a mid-summer day

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A leaf on the trail

A leaf on the trail

Purisima Creek trail, a trail through a cool moist canyon is especially delicious on a summer afternoon. I love the towering redwoods, the sound of the creek, the ferns growing along the trail and the wild flowers. I like the challenge of the 1000 feet elevation change and the relative isolation of its 8 miles. I even like the 5 miles of winding Black Mountain Road that connects Woodside to Skyline Blvd.

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Written by Som

July 21, 2008 at 9:35 pm