Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An S240 Adventure to Leo Carrillo


It's been quite a while since my last adventure, May to be exact.  That's seems to be a common theme for me this year.  With changes in priorities, my weekend trips have had to take a backseat.  

With a little bit of planning, I was able to take time for myself, away from responsibilities for at least 24 hours.  This trip was a birthday present for myself...I will be celebrating another year on this earth this week.

As with all my adventures, I am joined by a few friends and this past Saturday, we embarked on a 16 mile ride to Leo Carrillo.  

Meeting at a local Starbucks in Malibu, we pack up our bikes, anxiously waiting to start our ride through PCH.

Panniers loaded, we start our ride at 11:30AM.  Not having done any form of physical activity for the past 4 months, the first hill climb to Pepperdine got to me - it reminded me of how out of shape I became.  Out of breath and out of shape, I had to re-pace myself...we haven't even pedaled a mile.

A mile in, I decide to stop for a minute to catch my breath...we're at Pepperdine at this point.

To think, this was just the first hill...looking at the terrain in advance prior to the trip, I was well aware of this but didn't think it would be this challenging.

This was our route...as you can see, there were quite a few hills still to climb before reaching our destination.

No matter, we had beautiful weather and a cool breeze to help us through.  It was truly a nice day to ride.

10 miles in, we reach our first planned stop at Trancas Canyon...food and cold drinks await. Much needed nourishment for the calories burned so far.

I remember when this used to be a How's Market...this place has changed since I was last here in 2011.  I do miss the Tri-Tip from this place...the best I've had.

We stayed here for a while to rest. I think I rested a little too much though, because as soon as I started to pedal out, both my legs began cramp up severely.  It came to a point where both legs stiffened and I had to force myself to pedal to release whatever lactic acid build up I had.

A little over 5 miles to go and I would be at Leo Carrillo.  Once my legs started pedaling, my cramps went away.  I made sure to eat all the bananas I had and drink lots and lots of water.

Half hour later, I arrive at Leo Carrillo...oh man what I sight to see.  I arrived at Leo Carrillo in exactly 2.5 hours...a bit slow but still glad I made it.

Happy to have arrived in one piece and happy to have secured a campsite away from all the RV's and other Car Campers.  We had a beautiful camp that felt secluded enough to give you that feeling that you were miles away from the world...with the exception of the occasional sounds of passing cars and motorcycles.

Enjoyed reconnecting with new and old friends that I haven't seen in sometime.  Also celebrated my good friends birthday along with mine....I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my birthday.

I am hoping that my adventures won't be so far in between...looking forward to doing this again. I sure miss being out in the woods.

Till next time...see you on the trails.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Part 3: A Day On The Lake

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You would think that as tired as I am I would be sleeping in and not wake up till noon.  I guess for as long as I'm in the woods, sleep will always be an issue for me.  

Since starting backpacking 3 years ago, I can count in one hand the times I've actually slept well.  This was not one of those nights.  I tossed, I turned, I snored...which woke me up.  I can't catch a break!  Up at the crack of dawn...5:30 AM to be exact, I decide to get up and just walk around camp.  Ears ringing, throat throbbing, not a happy morning but still in good spirits.

I sit by the lake with my cup of coffee and just wander with my thoughts...I quickly forget that I'm sick as a dog

A few hours later, camp start to wake up...feels strange to not worry about time. You can imagine that for the majority of the time, I typically only spend sub-24 hours in the woods.  The following morning typically means a quick breakfast, then packing up and hiking out.  Today, we get to relax, day hike, and explore.  

Originally, I wanted to join my friends in a day hike to Hart Lake - another Alpine Lake that's a bit off-trail that's about under 3 miles away.  However, I decide to hang back and just explore the lake.

After having my oatmeal with fruit...and another cup of coffee, I put on my trail runners and start to walk.  

There isn't really a trail around the lake and looking at the perimeter from a distance, some of these boulders seem innocent...until you get up close.  Ankle breakers if you're not careful.

Not sure how long it took to navigate around the lake but it was enough to tire me out.  Got back to camp and once again, I start feeling warm.  I head to my tent to take a mid-day nap...it felt good to catch up on some sleep.

I'm usually not one to just sit around at camp so the short jaunt around the lake pacified me enough...though I still wish that I bagged Hart Lake.

We had another beautiful sunny day at the lake.  The wildlife were also enjoying the day.  Marmots were going wild...as if on a mission, they kept stalking everyone at camp.  Possibly hoping to grab an easy snack!

This was my first time seeing a Marmot, naturally, I was excited! I kept chasing them, stalking them, hoping for that one great shot...they do like to pose but quickly move once they see you have the camera out...sneaky bastards!

Aside from Marmots, we also had a young buck that paid us a visit.

...and a chipmunk.

It was a truly nice day on the lake.  Warm and sunny, fish were biting, and wildlife...what more could you ask for?  

A few hours later, my friends return from their hike to Hart Lake and not soon after they decide to bag a peak nearby...so jealous! Funny story actually how this peak needed to be bagged.

While lollygagging at camp, a few hikers pass through and we all greet one another.  Once couple, however, struck us as unique...well, that's putting it nicely.  They were more douchey really...at least the one lady was.

Us: Hi! Where did you guys head to?

Douchey Lady: We headed to this scarp by the other end of the cirque

Us: Oh! How was it? Sounds like a good hike!

Douchey Lady: It was! But you guys look like you're having fun too.  We like to hike, but you (while gesturing at all of us) can also sit around like what you guys are doing.  Ok, see you guys.

Wow...really? How presumptuous of you!  Well, you can imagine, that didn't sit well with us so some of the group took it as a dare and half of my friends decide to head to this "scarp" HA!

40 minutes later, I hear a "hoot" and this is what I saw...

They bagged it alright...challenge accepted and met! 

Later that evening, everyone talks about the trip so far.  Sad that this was my last night in Ostrander Lake and it felt as though I didn't accomplish anything.  Compared to my trip last year to Ediza Lake where I hiked to Iceberg Lake.  This is just a sign that I need a return trip here to finish what I started.

Dinner for our last evening was wonderful.  Two of my friends started to fish the lake and pretty much provided dinner for everyone.  Nothing like fresh Brooke Trout cooked in Butter and Olive Oil to fill our starving stomachs. 

The following morning, everyone was quick to rise knowing it was time to go.  It was bitter sweet for me at this point.  On one hand, I was happy to have had the chance to go on this trip and on the other, I was sad that I didn't get to accomplish the goals I have set for myself.  Again, this will be used as a reminder to come back here again.

Overall, this was a wonderful trip.  I got to experience Yosemite as I have always imagined...by spending time in the woods and not with the tourists in the Valley.  There is still so much and so many trails to explore here and I cannot wait to come back.

As always, thank you for reading and I appreciate everyone's support.

Till next time...see you on the trails.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Part 2: The hike to Ostrander Lake

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After a mile or so into the hike, we reach the first junction.  Based on our maps, we still have a little over 4 miles or so to go.

First Junction
As I mentioned on Part 1, the first few miles of this hike is pretty flat and scenic.  A very shaded and well maintained trail...it was actually a nice trail to walk on and it suited me fine considering my condition for the hike.  

At this time, my group has formed clusters where certain people break off the main group.  The "hike your own hike" philosophy I employ is apparent.  I personally was surprised that I was keeping up with the fast group but sadly, this changes later on.

An hour or so into hike, we reach the second junction on the trail.

At this point, this is where the trail basically starts to climb. Though gentle at first, it does get steep - at least for my standards it was steep.

Now, you have to remember that when hiking in the Sierra Range, the trail will provide you with something amazing that helps you forget all the pain.  After hiking the uphill section, the trail opens up to this...

One last turn on the trail and the Ostrander Ski Hut comes to view...oh what a sight.  Seeing this was a psychological boost for me...I can rest soon.

Exhausted, hungry, and feeling a bit weak, I look for my group and find a spot to setup for the weekend.  There are quite a few spots 200 feet away from the lake that offered good wind breaks and shade.  I find a spot between two trees where I can setup my tarp shelter.  

Home is setup. time to sit by the lake and have some lunch.  We started hiking around 10:00 AM and I arrived at 12:30 PM...not bad for a sick guy I guess.  

The hike as a whole was very scenic and simply beautiful.  I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if I was at 100%.  In the end, I am happy I made it to camp...I can relax and enjoy the view and the sounds of the lake.

Part 3...A day on the Lake - coming next


Monday, June 2, 2014

Part 1: The trip that almost didn't happen.


After months of preparation and planning, wouldn't you know that I tiny issue like a flu almost killed my trip.

Tuesday, May 20th - After work, I joined a few co-workers and hiked a quick 6 mile loop in the Verdugo Mountains.  Underestimating the weather, I didn't bring anything to keep me warm.  Seeing how warm it has been, I never considered that the weather would have been as cool as it was even at low elevation (~3000 ft.).  After completing the hike, I already felt a head-cold coming along...I knew this wasn't going to be good.  As soon as I came later that evening, I took a shot of some Booster C.

Wednesday, May 21st - 6:30 AM, slowly getting up, I feel warm but I needed to go to work.  Being at work felt awful and the 8 hour day felt long...6PM could not come quick enough.

Thursday, May 22nd - 7:45 AM, groggy, ears ringing, and the feeling of weight on my shoulders...I grabbed the thermometer and it reads 104.3 degrees.  Not good, not good at all.  Only 1 day left till the trip, I had to do something drastic to recover and I needed to do this FAST!  Called in sick and crashed back to bed...pretty much was my whole day.  Later that evening, my fever breaks to 101 and I feel slightly better.  Time to pack...loaded my bear canister with 4 days worth of food and loaded my pack with all my gear - I didn't bother to weigh anything and I didn't care how light or heavy my pack was.  

Friday, May 23rd - 6:00 AM, day of the trip.  Fever finally at under 100 degrees.  Still feeling off but comfortable enough for the long drive.  After picking up a friend later that morning, I'm finally off to Yosemite.

It has been a crazy 3 days of hell but I wouldn't miss this trip for the world.  It's my first time in Yosemite after all, and I didn't want anything to get in the way of that...not even my health.

The drive to Yosemite was nice.  Traffic was mostly light and whatever heavy traffic we did encounter passed quickly.  Weather was beautiful and the skies were clear.  Last report from the Yosemite Rangers was that all roads in Yosemite were all open.  Whatever snowfall that caused the road closures earlier during the week have since dried off.

We arrived at the Park at 3:20 PM which left us with less than an hour to pick up our permits for Saturday - our weekend destination was Ostrander Lake.  We got to the Wawona Visitor and Permit Center shortly after and received our permits for the weekend...I can breathe now.  Time to head to the Village...another 32 miles down the road.

Before arriving at the Village, I noticed a few people looking over to the left. Curious, I parked on a pull-out to the right and this is what I see...holy $@%# what a view. I can't explain what I'm feeling at this point...I just had to pinch myself because I still couldn't believe I'm here. 

After taking our photos from this iconic overlook, we continue on to the Village.  We needed some supplies for our trip like Nyquil, Shot Bloks, etc.  Yosemite at this time of the year was packed...almost all car camping areas where full and the roads were filled with cars, bikes, hikers, and tourists.  

Footbridge to Backpackers Camp
5:00PM, we arrive at the Backpackers Camp where we plan on staying for our first night.  It looks like we arrived just in time...the camp was almost full and most of the good spots taken.  Bear warning signs everywhere...this is the first time that I'm truly freaked out by Bears.

That evening, I barely sleep. The combination of excitement and my fever slowing coming back prevented me from getting a good nights sleep.  Not to mention a loud bang from what sounded like a gunshot  This kept me alert along with loud footsteps from rangers constantly walking around with beacons to what I imagine is a tracking device to find a bear running rampant around the grounds.

6:00 AM, I decided to get out of the tent and start finalizing what food I need to bring to Ostrander Lake.  I realize that I have overpacked on food.  Luckily there are bear boxes by the trailhead and I can store food there.

7:10 AM, I leave camp to find my car...I get lost and waste 20 minutes walking around.  I get back to camp and ask one of my friends if she remembered where I parked...clearly my brain is still not with me despite having 2 cups of coffee.  8:00 AM, I finally find where I parked...it was by the trailhead to Happy Isles.

By 8:30 AM, we're on our way to Glacier Point Road to the Lost Bear Meadow Trailhead to Ostrander Lake.

9:00 AM, we arrive at the trailhead.  Feeling energized and good...I feel ready to hike the short 6 miles to Ostrander Lake.  Most of the hike the trail is flat - it only gets steep for the last 3 miles or so of the hike.  Due to not feeling 100%, the uphill stretch affected me and it felt like a chore...nothing else to do but put one foot in front of the other, it will end soon.

Part 2 Coming Next...stay tuned.


Monday, April 7, 2014

The Best Thing About Memories...Is Making Them


Nothing gives me more joy than having the privilege of sharing my passion for backpacking with my daughter.  I am truly a lucky man to have daughter who can see the same beauty I see when I am exploring our local mountains.

When a friend of mine posted that he was taking his daughter to Third Stream Crossing, I jumped at the chance and asked my daughter if she wanted to go.  Originally, the plan was to stay home and watch TV while she, most likely, will be playing games on her smart phone all day long.  I responded to my friend and said that I'm 50/50 and that I will let him know if I was going or not.

Thursday evening, coming home from work, not even dropping my laptop bag, I hear my daughter from the bedroom, 

"Daddy! I want to go backpacking with you this weekend!".  Do you even realize how that's music to my ears? 

"Are you sure?", I said.

"Yes, I want to go...I already picked out the stuffed animals I'm bringing", she excitedly said.

Warning her I said, "Ok, well, I'm letting everyone know that we're going to be there...you can't back out last minute"

"I won't, I want to go...", she replied.

After hearing this, I couldn't stand to wait another day but I knew that like me, she's decided to go and she's not going to change her mind.

Friday, after arriving home from work, I start packing our things and make a trip to the store to grab last minute provisions.

6:00 AM Saturday morning, I walk into the bedroom and my daughter opens her eyes and she smiles..

"Time to get up baby, it's time for our adventure", I whispered.

Eyes barely open, warmly tucked under her comforter...in a soft voice she says, "Yaaaaay!"

Bags all loaded, we leave the house by 6:45 AM...off to meet our other friends and caravan to the Lytle Creek Ranger Station.  However, before we do, a quick stop for breakfast at McDonald's was in order.

She will need all the energy she can get...Pancakes, Sausage, and OJ should do the trick.  Next stop, the ranger station where we meet the rest of the crew.  

My daughter gets to meet her hiking buddy for the first time at the station...they hit it off almost instantly and become inseparable.

Shortly after the quick meet and greet at the Ranger Station, we head on to the Middle Fork Trailhead where our hike would start

The weather was really good this past weekend.  High 50's, bright sun, and short kisses of wind made the hike tolerable for the kids.  The first mile of this hike is unshaded and during the summer time, if hiked then, the kids would have lost their energy quick.  

Eager to start, the girls lead and take point while we take the rear.  We had beautiful weather for this hike...clear blue skies with patches of clouds. On some sections, you can also see portions of the mountain tops where snow still remained.  After the first mile or so, we hit the shaded portion of the trail...it would remain this way for the most part till we reach camp.

The girls were having a great time though the Dad's we're anxious to get to camp.  I know I was, the pack I had on my back wasn't getting any lighter.  We encouraged our girls to keep going...

"We're almost there baby, you're doing really great!", I praised.

Not sure how long it took us to hike the 2.3 miles to camp but we didn't care.  It was gratifying enough to be able to spend time with my daughter in my place of Zen as opposed to sitting on a bench at the mall.

A few turns and a couple of switchbacks later, we arrive at the stream crossing to our camp.

At this point, our group was already at camp.  Both girls are tired and they just want to drop their packs, explore, and play.  

"Baby, go ahead and drop your pack while I look for a place to setup"

"Ok...Daddy, can I get my stuffed animals out of my pack now?", she asked.

"Ummm...how about you wait for a minute until I setup our tent ok?", I replied.

We found a flat-enough spot close away from the stream with enough trees to break any winds for the evening.  

Not long after setting up, the girls unpack themselves and bring out their toys and rest for a bit.

Knowing how hungry she is from the hike, I cook up some Mac 'n' Cheese with Meatballs for our lunch.  

Tip: If you want to take your kids with you on a backpacking trip...bring lots of sugar and try to pack foods that they normally eat at home.  

photo by: marvin m.
After our lunch, our group decides to head to the waterfalls nearby. I promised my daughter a nice waterfall...this was one of the main reasons why I wanted her to join me on this hike.

The hike to the falls from where we are can be tough enough for adults.  I knew it would be a challenge for an 8 year old who has never had to scramble over rocks.  Undeterred, my daughter was game.  

Climbing at least three-tiers and who knows how many rocks, we made it to the falls.  The look on their faces totally makes for this trip.  I remember doing this hike 2 years ago and how much I wished I could have shared what I saw with someone...I was finally had the chance and I couldn't have asked for a better person to share this with than my daughter.

We spent a few minutes here to take photos and play.  I was really proud of my daughter on this trip.  For the first time, she carried her pack all on her own! Not once did she ask for me to take the pack.  To date, this is one of her most difficult hikes she's done with me.

After enjoying the falls, we all head back down to camp.  At camp, the girls continue to explore and play...it's nice that the two girls were on this hike together and it was also great they just hit it off from the start!

Nighttime falls and the cold comes in.  Dinner and dessert for the kids...then time for bed.  A day full of activities that I hope my daughter will remember.  I hope that she does indeed love the woods as much as I do.  My fear is that as she grows and matures, she may lose interest in backpacking with this old man...I hope she doesn't.

The following morning, the same smile greets me just like the morning before.  I cook up some pancakes for her and soon we pack up.  Sad to leave only because I truly enjoyed my time with her this weekend.  I've taken her on other trips but this one was special.  I can't put my finger on it but this...this was something else.

On the hike out, both girls take point as they did the day before and the Dad's follow closely behind.  They stop every now and then to look at things that interest them both...pine cones, rocks, even a mistletoe.  

We arrive at our cars, tired and hungry but full from adventure.  I truly hope that my daughter had fun...as much fun as I did on this trip.  

As always, I appreciate you all reading my ramblings...

If you have a chance to share your passion with someone dear to you...do it.

Till next time....see you on the trails.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Views, Views, and more Views at Windy Gap Trail


Ahhh...the Windy Gap Trail. When I discovered that Crystal Lake was actually closer to me as opposed to Islip Saddle Parking Lot, I jumped at the chance to hike to Little Jimmy from Crystal Lake (Windy Gap Trail).  As usual, I am joined by a couple of friends on this hike.

Windy Gap Trail to Little Jimmy is actually a longer hike with more of an elevation gain compared to the approach from Islip Saddle.  I was open to the challenge and to be honest, I was quite excited.  I haven't hiked from this side before and I was looking forward to seeing this trail.

We had perfect weather for this hike and it was needed since this trail does not have much shade and if hiked during a warm day, this could prove to be more difficult that it is.

We had a late start for this hike and we didn't mind since the weather was nice and cool...the sun wouldn't have an affect on us for this hike.  The first section of the trail was nice and shaded until you get passed the first road crossing...from this point, the ascent starts.

It's amazing when you look ahead towards your destination from the valley below.  From my point of view, I didn't believe that the saddle was only 3 miles from where we started.  This will, however, soon pass...the views from this side of the mountain is nothing short of beautiful.

The hike to the saddle was picturesque and the views appeared endless.  The panorama we were granted helped keep our minds off the difficulty of the elevation gain.  It's also nice to have people around you that you naturally have great conversations with...time seems to pass rather quickly.

One more switch back to go and the saddle was within reach.  From this point, we cross the PCT...a quick map check and we saw that we were close to Little Jimmy.

We push the last half mile (or less) to camp.  I was actually quite surprised to see how much snow was left on the ground considering how warm it has been.  This is also gave me chilling flashbacks of when I had to run for rescue to get assistance for someone who couldn't hike out - this will be for another story.

Our other friends who came from Islip Saddle were at camp at this point.  We decided to pitch above camp overlooking Antelope Valley.  Views were amazing facing north as well.

Seeing how beautiful the views are, my friend Pete talked us into walking to Islip so we can enjoy a 360 degree view of where we are.  It was absolutely beautiful...

That evening, the real social networking begins...gathered around a fire, we enjoy a few drinks, good food, great conversation...and a movie.  Yes, you read that right...we watched a projected movie.  I wonder if we can even consider this a backpacking trip.

11:00PM, the few left retire to our individual tents.  With temperatures down to 36 degrees, we looked forward to the warmth of our bags and a good nights sleep.

Slow to rise the following morning and after having our fill of coffee and oatmeal, we say our "goodbyes" and "see you later" to everyone and we head back down Windy Gap Trail...looking forward to a real breakfast at Crystal Lake Cafe.

Breakfast at the Cafe was quite tasty and I would recommend it to anyone in the area.  On a sad note, seeing as this was my first time at Crystal Lake, I was really looking forward to meeting Bubba the Cat...so sad I didn't.

Anyway, if the weather is cool and the skies are clear...you're guaranteed an awesome hike via Windy Gap...I would definitely recommend it.

Till next time...see you on the trails.