Zack Mayeda

a software developer’s adventures away from the keyboard

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Desolation Wilderness

A weekend backpacking trip to Desolation Wilderness / A tale of supreme hydration


At the end of the summer, some friends of mine planned a quick, 1-night backpacking trip to Desolation Wilderness in the South Lake Tahoe area, and I got to tag along! This was my first trip with my new Deuter 75 liter backpack that I had just picked up at an awesome REI sale! I also grabbed a camelback water bladder which fit perfectly into my pack and was super nice to have during the trip. After grabbing some Philz coffee, we started the drive early on a Saturday morning…

Day 1

We started out at the Eagle Falls trailhead, overlooking Emerald Bay. We took in the beautiful view, stocked up on water, and began the tough trek up the mountain. Quickly, we arrived at Eagle Lake:


It was a rough ~6 miles more up the mountain, interspersed with breaks to rest our backs. (I was carrying 5 liters of...

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Big Sur

3 days in classic California

This spontaneous trip was my final camping trip of college. I did a bit of research online beforehand, but for the most part we just showed up and hoped for the best. Note: there is an area officially called Big Sur State Park, but during this trip I call the nearby coastline and surrounding parks Big Sur also.

Day 1

The one crucial bit of info I learned beforehand were the details about Kirk Creek Campground. There are campgrounds all over the place in Big Sur, but many are overpriced and on the days we were visiting they were fully booked. However, there are numerous first-come, first-serve basic campgrounds in the southern part of Big Sur, with Kirk Creek Campground being the best. Sunset Magazine rated the campground as the sixth best in the West, as detailed here. It’s technically in the Los Padres National Forest and is about 35 mins from the heart...

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Soy Ginger BBQ Sauce

I categorize cooking as an adventure away from computers, so here goes my first venture into the recipe world! Need a homemade barbecue sauce to go with some homemade ribs? Maybe you need some sauce for a sloppy joe? Try out my soy ginger barbecue sauce! It’s been described by renowned barbecue critic Karl Olsen as, “Yeah, that’s barbecue sauce”.



  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 & 1/3 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons chili garlic sriracha sauce
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ tablespoon honey mustard
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • dash of salt and pepper

Instructions (30 mins)

  • Warm saucepan with a dollop of olive oil and add onions. Cook for 5 minutes until onions are clear and soft. Pretty standard stuff.
  • Add garlic to pan and cook for another minute or so.
  • Add all other ingredients to the pan...

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Point Reyes

an awesome weekend trip to Point Reyes

Our trip began with lunch in Point Reyes Station, a tiny town that embodies the word quaint. Our meal of local oysters, cheese, and beer was excellent, but we didn’t quite feel like hiking at that point. Nevertheless, we headed to the tip of the Point Reyes peninsula, Tomales Point. We set out on the 10 mile Tomales Point trail, which was busy with hikers. Within 15 minutes of starting, we came upon this great view:


There were these types dramatic cliffs throughout the trail, along with the green, rolling hills. Every so often we would also see groups of Tule Elk, a special type of elk that were protected on a preserve that encompasses Tomales Point. It was extremely surprising to turn a corner and see a group of huge elk with enormous antlers, something I would expect to see in Yellowstone. I still can’t believe that these elk live here, not...

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Skyline to the Sea

a quick recount of my two day backpacking trip of the Skyline to the Sea trail

The Skyline to the Sea trail is a 32 mile, 3-day trek that goes from the top of the mountain in Castle Rock State Park, down the mountain through Big Basin Redwood State Park, and ends at Waddell Beach. I only had a weekend free, so I decided to tackle the trail in 2 days. I’d read that it’s been done in 2 days… but that might not have been the best info to trust. Here’s how it went:

Trail Sign

Day 0

1 mile

At around 10pm on Friday night, my friend and I were dropped off on an empty mountain road in Castle Rock State Park one mile from Castle Rock camp. It was very eery walking on the silent trail in darkness, with only headlamps to guide us. We found a campsite, set up tents, and tried to get as much sleep as possible.

Day 1

18 miles

Waking up the next morning, this was our view after 20 minutes of hiking:

View from the Top


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Yosemite - Nevada Falls

a quick trip to Yosemite in winter, with a rigorous day hike

The picture below shows the view from Lower Yosemite Falls, but the main hike that my friends and I tackled was the trek to Nevada Falls. (This photo makes a nice phone lockscreen picture by the way.)


We started our hike down in the valley near Upper Pines Campground. Within the first 20 minutes, we passed by a bobcat that retreated into the forest. It caught me completely off guard and I didn’t manage to get a picture, but it was very cool to see. We hiked along the Mist Trail for a few uneventful miles until we arrived at the bridge below Vernal Falls. It was at this point that we discovered that alternate trails are open during winter, so we had to take a steeper trail to reach the top of Vernal Falls and beyond. No one was particularly excited to hike up a steeper trail, but we still had plenty of energy at this point...

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