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Skiing, surfing and climbing are within reach of Lodi

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Posted: Friday, May 15, 2009 10:00 pm

Great adventures can be found throughout Northern California. Lodi is located at the center of it all, and there are major outdoor opportunities for adventure seekers within about two hours.

The following are some great expeditions:

Rock climbing at Calaveras Dome

Aaron Johnson, a climbing guide at Mountain Adventure Seminars in Bear Valley, considers Calaveras Dome a classic.

"I've been climbing all over the West, and Calaveras Dome is still one of my favorite spots," Johnson said.

Calaveras Dome is located about 80 miles east of Lodi at the end of Salt Springs Reservoir. Johnson said the climbs range in length and difficulty. The wall is more than 1,000 feet high and has a rating range on the multi-pitch climbs from 5.9 and up.

The climb is located directly off of Salt Springs Reservoir Road, deep in a Mokelumne River canyon.

"Camping on the Mokelumne River is scenic and really great," Johnson said. The best time to go is spring and fall, as summer months are often too hot and the area can be covered in snow during the winter.

For more information, visit

Surfing San Francisco's Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is located on the west side of the Great Highway that runs along the coast near San Francisco. The surf breaks at Ocean Beach are as unpredictable as the rip currents are strong. Getting past the break at Ocean Beach can be an accomplishment all in its own.

"It's a wilderness experience here," said Sky Crawford, of Mollusk Surf Shop in San Francisco.

Crawford said despite being close to San Francisco, when you get in the water you feel like you're in the middle of the Pacific. Ocean Beach is made up of around four miles of beach, including an area of large sand dunes that separates it from the highway.

The break can be calmer at the northern end of the Ocean Beach near Kelly's Cove. There the area is protected slightly by Seal Rock. For larger surf, the southern end near Sloat Avenue has deeper bars creating a larger surf.

"Ocean Beach can be temperamental; it has its moments. It's always an adventure," Crawford said.

For more information, visit

Back Country skiing

Lodian Mike Gould goes back country skiing to the Ostrander Lake Ski Hut that is managed by the Yosemite Association.

Gould said skiers can start out at Yosemite's Badger Pass Ski Area. Here, back country skiers pick up wilderness permits and any rental equipment. Skiers should have at least "kicker" skins for their telemark skis. The trek out to Ostrander is a 10 mile jaunt. The hut always has an attendant on duty. There is limited electric lighting (solar), no running water and two box toilets that are cleaned out daily.

The hut sleeps about 20 to 25 people and gets lively and social in the evenings.

The best way to take this trip is to go for at least four days. One to ski out, two to ski there and one to ski back.

The ski tours around Ostrander Lake that leave from the hut are fantastic. A "bowl" is close by that you can climb and ski right back down, or you can take a mellow tour along the top of the ridge.

"We sometimes ski under the moonlight, and then play Frisbee out on Ostrander Lake," Gould said.

For more information, visit

Mountaineering through the Mokelumne Wilderness

For hiking and a real backwoods experience, the Mokelumne Wilderness is about as rough and tumble as it gets. The wilderness starts at the eastern end of Salt Springs Reservoir and extends deep into the Sierra Nevada. The Mokelumne is riddled with tangling manzanita bushes, steep canyon walls, ankle twisting rocks and millions of gallons of gushing Mokelumne River water.

The 105,000-acre wilderness can put the most outdoor enthusiasts to the test. To the north lie the Mokelumne Tetons that bite like jaws into the big Sierra sky and are the only comfort in this most secluded terrain.

A trail head into the wilderness can be found at Salt Springs Reservoir, a great camping and hiking area itself. The trails through the wilderness are spotty, sometimes ending without warning. Cairns can be of great use to find your way through the bush.

For more information, visit the U.S. Forest Service at

A midnight plunge, riding a night-time single track

Local cyclist Rob Belaney recommends taking to the night when cruising some of the nearby single track areas. One spot for a star-lit cruise is Granite Bay. The area near Folsom provides several miles of trails through the foothills.

"Granite Bay is pretty well groomed. There's nothing too dangerous and it's really good for everybody," said Belaney, the manager at Lodi City Bicycles.

According to Belaney, a good light set-up on your bike is important to good night riding. Set-ups can consist of a helmet-mounted spotlight and a bar-mounted light.

Mountain biking at night gets you out under the stars and out of the crowds.

From Highway 50 you can take Folsom-Auburn Road and find several areas along the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area to park and ride. The eastern side of the lake also provides mountain biking trails off of Salmon Falls Road, north of El Dorado Hills.

For more information, visit

Contact Photo Chief Brian Feulner at



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