Monday, May 21, 2012

Off to Spruce Grove for the weekend.

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6:30AM, Saturday, May 19th…I’m off to Chantry Flats to spend the night at Spruce Grove campground. 

My pack is loaded with everything I needed for the trip; scale is reporting a total weight of 18.8 lbs. – including food and water.  This is the lightest so far for me…my back thanks me for this later.

As I drive closer to the Chantry Flats parking lot, I can already see cars piling up on the side of the road…not good seeing that it’s only 7AM!  I am now forced to park precariously close to a wall a mile down from the main parking lot next to a landslide prone cliff.
A few minutes later at the Gabrielino Trail entrance, I am met with another backpacker with her German Shepherd ‘Ava’…what an awesome trail dog, she was very nice, well trained, and quite a polite dog.

We decided to hit the trail and head to Spruce so that we can snag a few spots as we were expecting a few more people to join us later.  For the first mile or so, the trail was too crowded for my taste but that’s to be expected seeing as this is a popular local trail.  

Not long after heading down the trail we hit the trailhead to to decide whether to take the Upper Trail or Lower Trail.

Having taken the Lower Trail on a previous trip, I thought it would have been safer to take the Upper Trail.  I decided on this trail due to how narrow the Lower Trail can get especially when nearing the top of the falls.  The Upper Trail was going to be the route to take the next day on the way home.

The Upper Trail did not disappoint, a slight incline that gave my legs a good workout and the views were spectacular and it felt as if we had the whole trail to ourselves...definitely less people on this trail.

We reached the Falling Sign Junction where the Upper and Lower Trails intersect...almost to the campground at this point.

After an hour and a quarter or so we finally reach Spruce Grove...a quick photo-op (carrying my sub 20 lb. Golite 50L pack)

After relaxing for a few minutes and selecting our sites, I find my home between two trees close to the creek.

My home for the evening - my homemade gathered-end hammock and my 8x8 Guide Gear tarp setup in porch-mode.

Ava checking out my digs...

A few pictures around the campground.


A hours later the rest of the group arrives and sets up their homes for the evening.  After a quick lunch, a few of us decide to day hike to the Mt. Zion summit to check out the views.

A mile and a half later, we reach the Mt. Zion summit entrance.

It was really nice up at the top of the summit, the sun, the smell, the sounds...this is why I hike.

Another mile and a half, we return back to camp...bushed and sore, I prepare dinner but not before a quick shot of...

So much better...

Dinner follows soon after and a congregation around the campfire. What a nice evening with good people, great conversation and company.  Alas, time to hit the hay and call it a night.  

For the first time, I have to say that I have slept really well in my hammock...might be the Jager...who knows :).

The next morning, the campground wakes up with people walking about prepping breakfast, packing up, and me watching everything from my hammock.  Getting up soon after, I prepare my breakfast and coffee and pack up shortly after.  Everybody leaves camp one by one saying their goodbyes...I too depart and hike back to the car alone.

Hiking back was pleasant and allowed me some time to enjoy the views...


Like all things sadly, my hike comes to an end.  Before I go, here's quick video from the top of the falls.


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