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EXPLORING THE WESTERN USA

I was waiting for this call for weeks,almost months, and then finally my phone rings.

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Dominik Leiner

I was waiting for this call for weeks,almost months, and then finally my phone rings. Oliver, one of mybest friends, with whom I’ve spent a lot of time within the pastfew years, told me that we finally can make our plans to explore theWestern USA a reality. Arian, a friend of ours, who was livingwith Oliver for the last 6 months in Germany, invited us for a roadtrip.

So after we flew to San Francisco, wepicked up our rental car, loaded it with all our gear, tent and awhole lot of food and beer, then we headed towards Yosemite NationalPark. We drove in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on thehistoric Highway 49, a scenic ride through the old mining towns ofthe California Gold Rush. When we arrived, the weather wasn’tideal, but the amazing landscape helped us enjoy this first stop inspite of the strong winds and rain.

We found a small campsite nearYosemite Falls at Camp 4, long known as the base camp for the toprock climbers in the world as the challenge themselves on the giantgranite rock faces of the Yosemite Valley.

I can’t really remember the last timeI was camping, so I was a bit scared of sleeping in a tent on theground. I mean…I’m getting older and I really prefer some“luxuries”, but after our first night, I was surprised how cozycamping can be.

After a couple of days and some milesof hiking, a trip up Yosemite Falls, and exploring the Giant SequoiaRedwood groves of Yosemite National Park, we decided to push on toZion National Park in Utah. It was a really long and exhaustingjourney to Zion Canyon, almost 12 hours, but it was also fascinatingseeing the landscape changes so much, so quickly. Arriving in the evening, we quickly setup camp and got to bed to be fit for our next day.

In the morning weset out for the renowned vista point, Angels Landing, after abeautiful, but nerve-rackingly exposed hike up, we were greeted by anamazing breathtaking view from high up above the canyon floor of ZionNational Park. Stunning colors, blue skies, and the solitude of theview point made Zion National Park was one of the impressive spots onthe whole road trip for me.

Stop relaxing, get active! Next stop –Moab, the off-road mecca on the Colorado River. Dirt bikes, jeeps,all kinds of deranged off-road vehicles and hundreds of mountainbikes covered in the red dust of the rocks dotted the town and itssurroundings. Two of Arian’s friends joined us in Moab and we hadtwo really active days on our bikes mixed with some scramblingoff-road his friend’s off-road truck.

After every trail uphill, wewere rewarded with amazing views, and best-of-all, thrilling ridesback down, all making it worth every drop of sweat to get up. Thebeautiful landscape of our thrilling adventures around Moab made itall seem almost unreal.

After Moab, we set out for our nextstop, a night at the Grand Canyon. On the way we passed through themagnificent Monument Valley with huge pillars of rock standing highup above the desert floor. Arriving at the Grand Canyon we were blownaway by sheer scale of the vista’s we had before us. We spent thenight surrounded by elk in a beautiful forest near the canyon’sedge. In the morning we took in a sunrise over the canyon beforeleaving the desert for the glitz and glamour of L.A. L.A. was our first stop back at theocean so we tried to get a little familiar with Venice’s surfculture.

After a couple of painful wipeouts we finally managed tocatch some closeouts and felt like real B.A.’s. We enjoyedcraziness of the Venice Boardwalk, the atmosphere of the Santa MonicaPier, as well as a bit of the fine dining experience in “Gjelina“.This made L.A a great place to chill out after a long strenuouswilderness experience.

Recharged and thirsty for action wecontinued our trip and headed north along the coast on the PacificCoast Highway (PCH). After stopping for lunch in Malibu, we arrivedin beautiful Santa Barbara in the afternoon. After a couple of sunny days in theUCSB college town of Isla Vista, we continued heading north on thePCH camping in Big Sur and Santa Cruz.  Big Sur, a sparsely populatedregion of the Central Coast offers some of the most beautiful rawcoastline I have ever seen.

However for us, Big Sur offered us aneven more memorable thrilling skunk experience, as our campsiteturned out to be a nighttime playground for dozens of skunks. I willalways remember Arian’s face, when two skunks popped up close toour campfire getting ready to spray us. However, super-brightflashlights, some well-aimed pebble throws, and the Cave protected usfor the night.

After two and a half weeks we decidedto head back to Sacramento to get cleaned up again after all of ouroutdoor adventures before returning to the city where everythingstarted, San Francisco. There we got an insider’s view of the cityas we spent our last few days exploring by day and partying at nightbefore saying our goodbyes and all heading back to our respectivehomes after an incredible journey.

Arian, Oliver and Dominik.

http://500px.com/DominikLeiner


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