Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Trip Report - 3-8-08 Zim Zim Falls Hike

Last year, I didn't get to enjoy this hike. It wasn't due to my lack of wanting to, but due to lack of rain. Zim Zim falls, located in the Napa Ranch addition to the Knoxville State Wildlife Area north of Lake Berryessa, is entirely fed by rain run-off. It was purchased by the Department of Fish and Game, with help from other non-profit and State agencies. For a history of the Zim Zim name, click here, and scroll to the bottom of the page to 'Zem Zem'.
This vast landscape is wonderful. Ok, so I'll win the award for oversimplification for that statement. Let's try again.

I like the subtlety of the Zim Zim valley. I think it's that subtlety that makes the falls so impressive. For the first 3.5 miles of the hike, you walk up a valley, following and crossing Zim Zim creek. The ridges on each side aren't terribly high, so it isn't like you are walking up some spectacular canyon, knowing you will ultimately meet a fabulous waterfall. No, you just gently wind up the valley, passing through blue oak woodlands. The falls are hidden around a bend in the river, so you have to climb up the hill (on a path of course) in order to view them.

After we had lunch on a rock outcropping overlooking the falls, we took the trail up behind the falls and climbed onto the western ridge above Zim Zim valley. From the ridge, we could see down onto Zim Zim and Nevada creeks, epic views of Lake Berryessa, and a fantastic panorama of Blue Ridge.

Great weather, great people, great place. More photos are posted here.

Andrew Fulks

Monday, March 03, 2008

Gear Review - Zodi Outback Portable Hot Shower

Granted, this is a total luxury. But, if you are car-camping with your family for more than a day, and you have kids that think dirt is the best playground ever invented, this thing is for you.

There are several models of this heater available. Some have dual burners, a soft case instead of a hard case, and some are industrial in size to use a larger propane tank.

Prices vary as well, but a basic model at Wal Mart is about $100. You can also find the occasional used model (as I did) on Ebay for about half that.
So, how does it work? It is actually so simple that I'm surprised it hasn't been made before. It's just a propane burner, with a copper coil wrapped around it. A small 6v pump pushes water through the coils, heating it before it comes out the shower head. If you want the water to be hotter, just put the shower head into the water source and let it cycle through again. The container that holds everything also doubles as a water source and stand for the propane container.
This is a really great product. Made in the USA, and built rock-solid. The body is all metal, and the pump, battery case, and container/water box are all very rugged. If you car camp and want the luxury of a hot shower, this is the gear for you.

Andrew Fulks