For Wendy Baxter, being a field researcher of giant Sequoia trees is the ultimate balance between athletic ability and scientific exploration.
In early June, kayakers Ben Stookesberry, Chris Korbulic, and Eric Seymour joined big wall climbers Forrest Noble and Jared Johnson for an eight-day first descent of Sequoia National Park's Marble Fork gorge, once considered unrunnable. The steep, four-mile descent flowed over nine waterfalls, six of which the team ran, including one 100-footer they called the Twizzler. Sheer, overhanging walls of the Sierra Nevada rise 1,000 feet above the river and forced the team to blend kayaking with big-wall climbs and long rappels on portages to complete one of the great unfinished puzzles in California paddling.
In the foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada lies a huge stash of obscure singletrack. David Page learns some humility (and the value of a modern bike) on a ride with the trails' developers.