Hike to Murietta Falls

Last weekend, Danny and Jared and I hiked the strenuous Ohlone Wilderness Trail from Del Valle Regional Park to the top of Murietta Falls. It was a doozy. This hike and the last (El Corte de Madera Creek) were ostensibly training hikes for the John Muir Trail (JMT) this summer. I say “ostensibly” because, well, my anticipated start date for the hike is still 6 months out, I’m not really training with a loaded pack, and there’s no guarantee I’ll even be able to get a permit for the hike.

But if all goes according to plan, I’ll be hiking with my brother Matthew over 11 days in late-July or early-August. We’ll be taking the kamikaze approach and attempting to cover 20 miles/day. Hubris yes, but it’s also motivated by our experience of hiking similar mileage with our Dad on the PCT (who, as it happens, will be on the CDT at the time). In the interest of training, I’ve been hiking with a group of friends and acquaintances (Danny and Jared included) who are also planning on tackling the JMT this summer—though their group expects to stretch it out over a more humane 3 weeks, covering 10-15 miles/day.

Trail to Murietta Falls in the Ohlone Regional Wilderness

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El Corte de Madera Creek

Two weekends ago, I hiked for 10ish miles with Danny and Jared around El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve. Here are some photos from the trail.

El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve trail

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Index Card Financial Advice

The New York Times recently published an article entitled, How Should You Manage Your Money? And Keep It Short by Ron Lieber. In it, he asked several personal finance experts to summarize their “best ideas” in the space of an index card (inspired by one such internet-famous card and the book it spawned). I enjoy these sorts of pithy financial recommendations, but what really caught my eye was this call to action alongside the article:

What Would Your Card Look Like? Please make your own card with a few simple tips (or just one, or a sketch) and upload a photo of it here. We’ll display some of our favorites in the coming days.

I didn’t think I had anything to add beyond Scott Adams’ 9-point financial plan (which got me started on this path 10 years ago), but I did wonder whether others might benefit from keeping a yearly log of their financial decisions and plans, as I do on my blog. So I distilled Adams’ list down to what I thought were the 4 most important pieces of advice, and then added my own. Here it is:

Justin Watt's index card financial advice: Pay off your credit cards [every month]; Save 6 months worth of expenses as an emergency fund; Fund your 401(k) and/or IRA [to the max] and invest in index funds with expense ratios below 0.1%; Get term life insurance---if you have a family to support; Once a year (early January) write a letter to yourself describing the financial decisions you made in the past year and the financial plans you have for the coming year---before writing, read each of your previous letters
My index card financial advice

Learning how to save, nine years later

I always expect, after recounting my financial chores from the past year, that the next will be simple and uninteresting. That all I will have to write in 12 months is, “I worked a lot and saved a little.” Instead, it seems, each year I confront new challenges, learn the details of increasingly complex financial acronyms, and continue to fine-tune my savings strategy. This, my tenth such dispatch, is no different. (You can read my first here.)

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Double Dipsea

I’ve always been a little intimidated by the Dipsea, what with it being the site of the oldest, continuously-running trail race in the country, not to mention having a reputation for being mercilessly hard. But mostly I was intimidated by the fact that it wasn’t a loop. So on my only other attempt, 7 years ago, I hiked a few miles in, taking pictures of flowers along the way, and then turned around and headed back to Mill Valley. At the time I’m not sure I was as acutely aware of my limits (in terms of miles-per-dayhike) as I am now.

So when I looked at the Dipsea Trail again two weeks ago and saw that it’s “only” 7.5 miles from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, I was a little surprised by my prior reticence. I’ve been looking to push the envelope beyond my recent 12-mile dayhiking threshold, so a Double Dipsea seemed like just the ticket. I left Mill Valley at 10:30am and emerged on the beach at Stinson at 1pm. Exactly 3mph, just like clockwork. I sat down in the sand facing the waves and ate my lunch of beef jerky, marcona almonds, and mozzarella string cheese. Then I got up, turned around, and headed back from whence I came. I arrived at my car around 4:30pm, about 3 hours after leaving the beach. A little slower, a lot sorer.

Hiking the Dipsea from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach and back again

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