Trail Food: Tacos at 10,000 Feet


If you’re not above 10,000 feet and haven’t hiked at least 6 miles to get there then don’t even think about making these awesome tacos!
*Note: Not a lightweight meal


— Trail Food Talk —

No, it wasn’t Taco Tuesday when we decided that we would pack up some ingredients to make some tacos on our backpacking trip over the weekend. It’s all about the food on the trail and the more we go, the better we are getting with our one-night trips at figuring out fun ways to make the food better. Check out my Trail Food: Grub Ideas for the Trail page for more items that I like to take on our backpacking/hiking trips.

The idea came around when we were having a Mountain House backpacking meal: Mountain House Chicken Fajita Bowl 6-Pack. Why not build our own fajita or taco? And so the Tacos at 10,000 feet came to life.


— Recipe —

Serves 3
For the Tacos
4 small tortillas
1/2 tomato
1/2 cup olives
1/2 cup of green onions
2 cups of shredded cheese (ziplock)
2 canned chickens or packet chicken (Valley Fresh Premium White Chicken Cuts)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use a small container, be careful with this so it doesn’t get all over your bag)

For the Guacamole
2 big avocados
1/2 tomato
Salt/Pepper/Garlic (I use a GSI Outdoors Spice Missile to put salt, garlic, pepper and Hungarian paprika powder)
Guacamole Mix Packet

— Prepare at Home —

Easiest way to have the least dishes on the trail is to put everything in ziplock bag. You can even use it as the trash bag.
Dice: tomato, olives and green onion (this way you won’t have to do this on the trail)
Open: the canned chicken and place in a ziplock bag.
Place: the tomatoes olives and green onion in a ziplock bag and the shredded cheese in a separate ziplock bag.

— Prepare on the Trail —

Guacamole
1. Mix the 2 avocados and the Guacamole Mix Packet.
2. Add half of the diced tomatoes and mix with guacamole.
2. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the Tacos
1. Heat oil in the pan (Sea to Summit X-Pan, 8″, Orange). Use a Jetboil Flash Cooking System – Jetcam or the MSR PocketRocket Ultralight Backpacking and Camping Stove Kit.
2. Once heated, add the chicken from the ziplock or pouch. Using a spoon or spork (Snow Peak Titanium Spork).
3. Once the chicken becomes a little browned, throw in a couple dabs of water, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika powder and mix.
4. Cook chicken until all the water has evaporated. Take pan with chicken off heat.
5. If you want to warm the tortillas up, keep your stove on low and place the tacos above the flames until they are ready to your liking.
6. Make your tacos the way you want them.


— Sign up for My Monthly Newsletter —


— Save to Pinterest —

          


Check my out on Instagram @beyondlimitsonfoot

Week 20 – 1000 Mile Challenge

— Thoughts on Week —

Last week again I was sore because we did a 22.4 mile backpacking trip up in the local mountains. I wrote up a quick guide of the hike this week that’s why my Week 20 Update is just going up today. Read about our hike here: Moymer Creek Trail – Falls Creek Trail Loop: San Gorgonio Wilderness.

I could barely walk on Monday, so I took the day off. Still Tuesday I could barely walk, but made myself get mileage in. Being still sore on Thursday I decided to take a little break for a few days and plus i got sick over the weekend. All in all, I still was able to hit just above 18 miles, still under my 21+ mile goal for the week. The challenge has been proven difficult for me so far, but I still feel as though I can complete this challenge!


— Need New Shoes —

My Asics are on their life end, I need new shoes. Looking to you guys for advice. What shoes should I get to run the next 700 miles?


— 100 Miles in 30 Days —

I hit the 200 miles marker on day 108. On that day i decided to challenge myself to get to 100 miles in 30 days. On day 137, 1 day before the 30 days were up I hit the 100 miles. See my Daily Log Page for my 1000 Miles Challenge in 2018. I found it hard because I took a lot of zero days; I must try to at least get a couple miles in instead of zero days in order to keep myself moving.


— Goals Last Week —

1. Hit 30 miles on Week 20 – this definitely did not happen. I should try to get more 30 mile weeks, but it’s hard when I have stuff planned on the weekends
2. Hit 100 miles in May – Still on track for this. I have 62.21 for May so far
3. Get two double days in – Only got 1 double day in
4. Run once on the weekend – I caught a cold on the weekend, so decided to rest


— Goals This Week —

This is a tough one because of the labor day weekend and we go camping. Friday-Monday are shot and will probably be either just hiking and fishing days.
1. Hit 21+ miles on Week 21
2. Hit 100 miles in May
3. Get one double day in


— Stats —

This Week: 30.57 miles
Last Week: 18.39 miles
Avg min/mile: 12:14
Miles Left: 699.74 miles

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
5/17 3..12 300.26 699.74
5/16 5.12 297.14 702.86
5/16 2.75 292.02 707.98
5/15 7.4 289.27 710.73

Follow more on my journey to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles Running Challenge Page.


Follow me on Instagram @beyonlimitsonfoot

Momyer Creek Trail – Falls Creek Trail Loop: San Gorgonio Wilderness

First day we ascended 1 mile vertical; make sure you train before doing this. The trail is in the San Gorgonio Wilderness; the area is a rare treasure only 75 miles away from congested Los Angeles.

Location Mileage Elevation Gain Type
San Gorgonio Wilderness
22.4 miles
6,530 feet
Loop

— What’s in this Guide —

1. Background – If you’re interested in a little history, some fun facts, trailhead info, map of hike, water sources (important to know for this hike).
2. Itinerary Options – Some ideas following 1-3 day options for you to choose from.
3. Trail Camps – The quick run down of where you can stay the night; I recommend staying close to a water source.
4. Weather – Always important to check the weather before you head out.
5. Permits and Passes – This section includes how to put in for a permit and the need for different passes. *Permit is required to hike in this area.
6. Directions – how to get to the trailhead.
7. Maps, Books and Gear Recommendations – A source for important maps that you should take on a hike, reading material before the hike and some recommendations on gear items that would be great for the hike.
8. Hike Stats – Quick overview of the mileage and elevation for points of interest on the hike.
9. Description – My favorite part is the recollection of the hike and the awesome pictures that I can share with you guys. Be sure to check out my rambling and photographs in this section.


— Background —

Did you know that the word Momyer means more up? Of course you didn’t because it doesn’t mean that, but this loop is definitely more up all the way. Momyer Creek Trail is actually named after Joe Momyer, a retired San Bernardino postal superintendent and also a founder of the “Defenders of the San Gorgonio Wilderness” group. The word is that contractors wanted to make San Gorgonio area a ski resort. He amongst other advocates of the preservation were contributors to a new Wilderness Act that hits the spot of for those hikers who care. “Secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of Wilderness… an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Thus the San Gorgonio Wilderness was born.


— Trailhead Info —

Momyer Creek Trail
Just like the sgwa.org website states this is one of the most underused trails. We ran into only 7 people during the entire two days. This is the route we took to do the 22+ mile loop for training. The trail is quite steep and not to be taken lightly, make sure you train before heading out on this trail. First water source on this trail is Alger Creek Camp about 3.7 miles in; but if you are doing the loop don’t expect any water until 8 miles in.


— Map of Hike —


— Water Sources —

High Meadow Springs is one of many natural springs in the San Gorgonio Wilderness area. “A spring is any natural situation where water flows from an aquifer to the Earth’s surface” and in this case, High Meadow Springs was our reliable source of water. Sgwa Water Sources: Here is a list of water sources in the area.
Notable water sources for this hike:

  • Trail Fork Springs: This is more than 8 miles into the journey, so be sure to have enough water until then. If you don’t need water just yet, High Meadow Springs Is just about 3 more miles away and you don’t have to take the downhill to Trail Fork Springs and stay on the higher route on the San Bernardino Peak Divide Trail.
  • High Meadow Springs: The springs are a bit downhill from the camp area, but a year-round spring and quite the view as the sun is setting.
  • Plummer Crossing: There are two places here one did not have any water, find the crossing where the water from High Meadow Springs. This was one of the better creek crossings and the water was perfect cold. We filled up our bladders here.
  • After Saxton Camp Spring: There is a small spring after passing Saxton Camp; there was barely any water here (May 2018).
  • Dobbs Camp: This is not on the trail and a bit out of the way, but does have a water source.
  • Alger Creek Camp: This is one of the most reliable sources of water on the trail unless it is a high drought year. There was plenty of water during our hike (May 2018)

— Itinerary Options —

One Day
Do not attempt this in one day unless you are in very good hiking shape and take your essential gear for the day and in case of emergency.

  • Hike ~22.4 miles; ~6,350′ elevation gain the whole loops

Two Day
This is what we did! The first day was very tough and the second day was even tougher.

  • Day 1 – Hike ~12 miles; ~5,600′ elevation gain from Momyer Creek Trail to High Meadow Springs
  • Day 2 – Hike ~10 miles; ~850′ elevation gain from High Meadow Springs to Momyer Creek Trailhead via Falls Creek Trail

Three Day

  • Day 1 – Hike ~8 miles; ~5,100′ elevation gain from Momyer Creek Trail to Trail Fork Springs
  • Day 2 – Hike ~8.5 miles; ~750′ elevation gain from Trail Fork Springs to Dobbs Creek Camp
  • Day 3 – Hike ~5.9 miles; ~700′ elevation gain from Dobbs Creek Camp to Momyer Creek Trailhead

*There’s many camp spots along the trail that you can pick.


— Trail Camps —

Most of the campsites along this trail are marked high above on a tree and easy to find except for High Meadow Springs Camp.

  • Trail Fork Springs Camp – ~8 miles
  • Anderson Flat Camp – ~9.8 miles
  • Shields Flat Camp – ~ 10.3 miles
  • High Meadow Springs Camp – ~11.7 miles (Where we stayed!)
  • Red Rock Flat Camp – ~12.2 miles
  • Saxton Camp – ~14.7 miles
  • Dobbs Camp – ~16.5 miles
  • Alger Creek Camp – ~18.7 miles


— Weather —

The weather can change at any time in the mountains, be sure to prepare. This area is known to get very hot in the summertime; hike early to minimize impact of any heat illness.
Forest Falls – Elevation 5,643 feet
Anderson Peak – Elevation 10,840 feet


— Permits and Passes —

— Backcountry Permit —

Day Hikes: You are not required to have a wilderness permit for a day high, but they are highly recommended for your safety. Be sure to leave your itinerary with your family as well in case anything happens.

Backcountry Permit is required to hike overnight in the San Bernardino National Forest. To obtain a permit you can obtain it in person at the Mill Creek Ranger Station and the Big Bear Discover Center. The other option is to mail or fax the Wilderness Permit Request up to 90 days in advance. Just like most trails in there is an overnight quote, so planning ahead is advised.

  1. Fill out the Day Hike or Overnight Hike Permit Request Form. *Allow up to a minimum of 5 business days to process the request.
  2. Submit the form by either: *I recommend emailing it, quickest and easiest
    • faxing it to (909) 794-1125
    • emailing it to permits@sgwa.org
    • mailing it to: Millcreek Ranger Station, Attention Front Desk, 34701 Mill Creek Road, Mentone, CA 92359

There is no fee to put in an application.

— National Forest Adventure Pass —

To park at Momyer Trailhead you do not need an adventure pass. If you park at Forest Falls or Vivian Creek you will need an adventure pass. To obtain an Adventure pass find the closest Forest Service location or go to a major sporting goods store. The fees are either daily ($5 per day) or annual ($30). If you’d like to know more about the pass, read on the USDA Forest Service Recreation Passes & permits Website.


— Directions —

Moymer Creek Trailhead
Address: 40560 Valley of the Falls Dr, Forest Falls, CA 92339
From Los Angeles, take I-10 E. After passing I-215, drive 7.8 miles and exit onto University St (exit 80). Turn left onto N University St. Drive 1 mile and turn right onto E Lugonia Ave. Continue on CA-38 E/Mill Creek Rd for 9.4 miles take a slight right onto Valley of the Falls Dr towards Forest Falls. Drive 2.8 miles and the destination will be on the left a dirt parking lot. If you reached the entrance to the Falls Picnic Area you have driven too far.


— Maps, Books & Gear Recommendations —

— Maps —

1. Trail map of the San Gorgonio Wilderness: Waterproof, synthetic paper – My favorite type of maps are the Tom Harrison Maps. This is the perfect one for this hike.
2. Caltopo Momyer Creek Trail – Falls Creek Trail Loop – This is a map I created on CalTopo of the exact route that we took. I also have a photo of it attached above.
3. San Bernardino Mountain Trails: 100 Hikes in Southern California – A book about other hikes in the San Bernardino Mountains. I usually look here, then go online and then plan the hike.

— Some Gear Recommendations —

1. Patagonia Trucker Hat – The area is known to be sunny most of the year, be sure to take a hat to cover your head and face. Don’t forget that sunscreen either.
2. LifeStraw Mission Water Purification System – A water purification system is very important and ever since we got this one, I have not been happier. We can grab over 6 liters of water, hang this up having it pour into our bladders and completely forget about it. But don’t forget about it, because of course it will overflow – it takes time but it’s perfect if you gather the water and then set up camp while it fills up your bladder.
3. Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking Pole – I recommend hiking poles on this hike because it is very brutal uphill and downhill. I relied on them to give me support on the downhill for my knees and to help me get a rhythm on the uphill portion.
4. Honey Stinger Organic Waffle – Best snack in the world; I had a banana with it for breakfast what a good mix before we started out on our way.
5. GU Energy Hydration Electrolyte Drink Tablets – Add these to your bladder before you go; gives you a boost of energy and keeps you hydrated throughout the day.


— Hike Stats —

Point of Interest Mileage Elevation
Momyer Creek Trailhead 0 miles 5,440 feet
San Bernardino Peak turn-off 2.9 miles 7.010 feet
San Bernardino Peak Trail 7.1 miles 10,250 feet
Trail Fork Spring Junction 7.9 miles 10,580 feet
Anderson Flat Camp 9.8 miles 10,560 feet
Shields Flat Camp 10.3 miles 10,320 feet
High Meadow Springs Camp 11.7 miles 10,320 feet
Red Rock Flat Camp 12.2 miles 10,080 feet
Dollar Lake Saddle *No Camping 12.4 miles 10,000 feet
Saxton Camp 14.7 miles 8,560 feet
Dobbs Camp turn-off 16.4 miles 7,250 feet
Alger Creek Camp 18.6 miles 7,040 feet
San Bernardino Peak turn-off 19.5 miles 7,010 feet
Momyer Creek Trailhead 22.4 miles 5,440 feet

— Description —

I’ve wanted to do a hike in the San Gorgonio Wilderness for some time; the plan was to make this more of a training hike instead of summiting any of the local 10,000+ peaks. I mapped out the hike on the Tom Harrison Map and decided we would do a loop hike that would require us to hike about 1 mile vertical gain in the first day and same back down the next. We woke up at 5:00am, we had already packed the backpacks and food the night before made some coffee and we were on our way just before 6:30am. Took us about an hour and 30 minutes to get to the trailhead, with a short pit stop for some chap stick (forgot it at home) and cornuts (wanted a salty snack for the trail).

There were only a couple cars parked, which meant this was going to be nice quiet hike, even though normally a lot of the Los Angeles Mountains are not as inviting because of the crowds. From the parking lot you have to head down into the riverbed and cross the river. There are some safe spots, we found a log to go over; again check for safety as at different times of year will be difficult to cross as easy.

The first portion of the trail was very rocky; almost like the river roared through this area once. First couple miles till you hit the junction to turn up towards San Bernardino Peak are are a gradual up; at least that’s what if felt like on the way up. We climbed about 1500 feet the first 3 miles; at the junction (around 2.9 miles) turn left towards San Bernardino Peak. I was having trouble on this portion of the trail all the way up to 10000 feet because my legs were tired from running all week and playing beach volleyball the night before.

Tough switchbacks, ton of bushwacking and after many breaks we didn’t reach the height of our ascent until 1:30pm. It felt like forever, but I was so happy that we were done with the up portion. My legs were jelly and I couldn’t wait to get to our campspot. We checked our water and it looked like we had enough till we reached High Meadow Springs Camp.

This is the hill where High Meadow Springs was. The view was absolutely gorgeous especially as the sun was setting. My favorite time of day is right before the sun sets.

Once we got back to camp, first thing we did was go find the springs to make sure we knew were they were. Thanks to gps and maps it was actually pretty easy to find. There were a few good areas where we collected the water; we used our favorite filter: LifeStraw Mission Water Purification System, High-Volume Gravity-Fed Purifier for Camping and Emergency Preparedness, 5 Liter. We walked back up to camp and while our water filtered into our Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir, 3 Liter we set up camp and everything in our tent for the night.


It was getting quite cold outside, so we decided to get into the tent and cook our Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup from inside the tent. I peered out and quickly got the pot ready to boil; closed the tent doors to keep it warm inside. I could hear it get a little louder so I checked on the water to see if it was boiling. We threw in the couple of packets of Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup, mixed and waiting for about 5 more minutes. We use a Jetboil and an MSR Cooking set if we are making bigger soups.


The next morning we woke up around 7:30am and started to put everything out into the sun as it got cold overnight and some things were damp. Made a coffee, had half our wrap for the day and filtered the rest of the water we had gotten last night at the springs. We had about 3 liters between the two of us and I was quite sure we were going to pass some water sources along the way down from looking on the map and being that it was early in the year before the summer’s heat dries out our Southern California water sources.

The way down was uncomfortably brutal on the soles of my feet. Took several breaks: one longer break to filter water from the springs and the others were just for our legs to take a break. Even though it was sunny, it wasn’t too hot for us and by the time we descended about 3000 feet we were in the clouds that we saw below. We reached the car around 1:30pm and boy were we happy to get changed into flip flops and grab something to eat.

Note to self: Pack extra water in case as this hike can take a long time.


*Originally hiked on May 13-14, 2018


Week 19 – 1000 Mile Challenge

— Thoughts on Week —

Last week I was so sore from playing volleyball Friday and Saturday I ended up taking both Monday and Tuesday off. This required me to try to hit my goal of 21+ miles within 3 days. Wednesday my run felt very exhausting, but I was able to get 7 miles in to help meet my goal. I knew that Thursday would have to be a double day because Friday night I had volleyball planned. I pushed hard went to run during lunch and ran near my house after work hitting the most mileage I’ve done this year in a day (9.46 miles). Friday, I decided to get at least a short run in during lunch and was able to almost hit 20 miles. This was a tough week to hit that goal.

I spent the weekend backpacking up in San Gorgonio Wilderness; we did 22.4 miles (sucks I can’t count this mileage because it’s hiking, but I’ve added it to my Mileage Page for hikes) and I’ll have that write-up shortly almost finished with the guide for it. I am pretty sure because of being absolutely sore from this hike this week is going to be a very hard week. It’s going to be one of those weeks where I have to keep going, my motto is “Do it for the mountains!” on this journey and getting through the soreness will help when we’re up there. I can’t give up when I’m hiking because then I won’t get anywhere; I can’t give up at home and not run. Push hard, do it for the mountains!


— 100 Miles in 30 Days —

If you have been following, when I got to 200 miles I set a goal of hitting the next 100 miles in 30 days. I’m sitting 81.87 miles in 25 days. I have 5 more days this next coming week to hit the 100 and I believe that I can easily do it this week. We’ll find out won’t we. See my Daily Log Page for my 1000 Miles Challenge in 2018.


— Goals Last Week —

1. Hit 21 miles on Week 19 – didn’t quite hit this goal, but close to it.
2. Hit 100 miles in May – I’m sitting at 53.97 miles; still doing good
3. Get a double day in – got one double day in on Thursday.


— Goals This Week —

1. Hit 30 miles on Week 20
2. Hit 100 miles in May
3. Get two double days in
4. Run once on the weekend


— Stats —

This Week: 19.86 miles
Last Week: 30.57 miles
Avg min/mile: 11:32
Miles Left: 718.13 miles

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
5/11 3.4 281.87 718.13
5/10 6.2 278.47 721.53
5/10 3.26 272.27 727.73
5/9 7 269.01 730.99

Follow more on my journey to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles Running Challenge Page.


Follow me on Instagram @beyonlimitsonfoot

Week 18 – 1000 Mile Challenge

Do it for the mountains!

Somehow last week I found the time to run the most I’ve run in a week this year. I only had 4 days to do it too as Friday and Saturday I played beach volleyball and Sunday was my day off. A challenging week and my body was dead on Sunday; day off was very nice.

I started going to the gym at lunch at least twice a week for that extra 3+ mile; which will help on days that I don’t run as that is the mileage I should be running every day. My beach volleyball game also got better this week and I can say 100% it’s because the legs are getting stronger from running. Still have yet to bring back weights into my regimen.

One of the things I was going to hold myself to is no matter what hitting the 21+ mark even if I have to do it in 3 days. To hit my May 100 mile goal, I have to run 76.04 more miles this month. I will try as hard as I can to hit that goal. I’m going to be going backpacking this weekend, so I don’t have the weekend to catch up on mileage for running at least, but I’ll be adding to my hiking mileage!

Goals Last Week
1. Hit 25 miles on Week 18 – ACHIEVED with 30.57 miles
2. Hit 100 miles in May – Still running towards this goal (76.04 miles left)
3. Run 3 times during lunch this week – Ran twice during lunch
4. Get a weekend run in since I’m home, maybe both days – no run over weekend as I played volleyball both Friday and Saturday.


Goals This Week
1. Hit 21 miles on Week 19
2. Hit 100 miles in May
3. Get a double day in

STATS
This Week: 30.57 miles
Last Week: 22.17 miles
Avg min/mile: 11:14
Miles Left: 737.99 miles

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
5/3 5.0 262.01 737.99
5/3 3.3 257.01 742.99
5/2 7.15 253.71 746.29
5/1 5.23 246.56 753.44
5/1 3.28 241.33 758.67
4/30 6.61 238.05 761.95

Follow more on my journey to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles Running Challenge.

Mt. Islip via Windy Gap Loop – Angeles National Forest

There’s many different trails around this area, we opted to take a loop around to hit the top . I’m very fond of loop hikes and this was quite lovely with the fresh coat of snow on the ground.

Location Mileage Elevation Gain Type
Angeles National Forest
13.4 miles
2,250 feet
Loop
Background

Mt. Islip is at 8,250 feet just north of Azusa, CA. This trail to Mt. Islip sits in the Angeles National Forest and offers views spanning from the Mojave Desert to the Islands (Santa Catalina and San Clemente), of course also the views of the Los Angeles Basin below; of course this is on a clear day and we have many clear days in Southern California. Mt. Islip was named after George Islip, an settler who called home to the area in the early 1800’s.

Before heading into the area, call the local Forest Service Office to check on current conditions and any additional information.

Trailheads to Reach Mt. Islip
There are two main routes to reach Mt. Islip. One from the south (Windy Gap Trail at Crystal Lake Recreation Area) and one from the north (Islip Saddle) of the mountain itself; both are very beautiful routes.

Windy Gap Trail
This is the route we opted to take. Windy Gap Trail is located at the back of the Crystal Lake Recreation Area. The campgrounds and cabins are available for a fee; the USFS Visitor center that offers printed maps of the area; the kitchen and store called the “Trading Post, snack bar and café” offers snacks and some great home cooked meals. If you are interested in staying here overnight check out the Crystal Lake Camp Grounds Website for more information. There is also information on the Angeles National Forest Crystal Lake Page. The area usually fills up completely on weekends, so be sure to get there early if you would like to take this way in.
You can also opt to take the Islip Ridge Trail which is near the parking lot for the lake itself, quite the climb of 2,200 feet.

Islip Saddle
Islip Saddle is definitely less popular to the non-hiker and therefor a good spot to start up the trail to Mt. Islip. Islip Saddle is on mile marker 64.1 on the Angeles Crest Highway, see more in Directions below.


Weather
The weather can change at any time in the mountains, be sure to prepare. This area is known to get very hot in the summertime; hike early to minimize impact of any heat illness.
Crystal Lake Recreation Area National Weather Service – Elevation 5,778 feet
Mount Islip Mountain Forecast – Elevation 8,248 feet

Adventure Pass

To park your vehicle in this area, you will need an Adventure Pass. Find the closest Forest Service location or go to a major sporting goods store. The fees are either daily ($5 per day) or annual ($30). To obtain an Adventure pass find the closest Forest Service location or go to a major sporting goods store. The fees are either daily ($5 per day) or annual ($30). If you’d like to know more about the pass, read on the USDA Forest Service Recreation Passes & permits Website.

Permits

There are no special permits required, but be sure to let at least two people know your plans before you head out on your journey preferably family.

Directions

Crystal Lake Recreation Area Trailhead
From I-210 take San Gabriel Canyon Road (SR 39) north towards Crystal Lake Campground. Parking is available near the Windy Gap Trail; make sure you park in the day-use area.
Islip Saddle Trailhead
From I-210 take Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2) until you hit Islip Saddle. Look for mile markers along the way, parking is available on the other side of the road at mile marker 64.1. The trail is actually part of the Pacific Crest Trail here.

Maps & Books
Photo Teaser Maps & Books I Recommend
Trail Map Angeles High Country Map
Day Hiking Los Angeles: City Parks / Santa Monica Mountains / San Gabriel Mountains
Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels
100 Classic Hikes in Southern California: San Bernardino National Forest, Angeles National Forest, Santa Lucia Mountains, Big Sur and the Sierras
Stats

*Note: These mileages are not based on what we hiked. I don’t have AWD and it had snowed the day before, so we had to park 3+ miles down the road

Point of Interest Mileage Elevation
Crystal Lake Recreation Area Visitor Center 0 miles 5,656 feet
Windy Gap Trailhead 0 miles 5,830 feet
Deer Flats Road Crossing 1.1 miles 6,100 feet
Big Cienaga Trail Fork 1.4 miles 6,600 feet
Windy Gap/Islip Ridge Trail 2.5 miles 7,588 feet
Mt. Islip Turnoff 3.4 miles 8,005 feet
Big Cienega Trail 4.2 miles 7,580 feet
Deer Flats Road Crossing 5.0 miles 6,100 feet
Windy Gap Trailhead 1.1 miles 5,830 feet
Description

I was itching for a snow hike as we haven’t had a chance to do one this year. I looked at the weather and saw that it was going to snow a fresh coat of about 6-12 inches. This was perfect because it showed Sunday would be a perfect sunny day; we just had to pack right for any kind of situation. We woke up around 6:00am and headed out; took us a little over an hour and half to get there. Before heading up to the mountain we stopped at the local liquor store that offered Forest Adventure Passes, since my annual pass had expired earlier this year.


We were almost at Windy Gap when we heard a loud noise and a scream. The group we passed earlier was standing under a tree below us in the distance and luckily nothing happened, but please make sure if you know things are melting, don’t stand under the trees when you are taking a break. I believe they turned around and headed back down the trail after that happened, because we didn’t run into them the rest of the day.

When we hit Windy Gap there’s a nice view of the Los Angeles Basin and the Mojave Desert. There’s a fork split where you can head down to Islip Saddle off the 2 Hwy, Islip Ridge which will take you up to Mt. Islip, or to Mt. Hawkins to the east. We turned left onto Islip Ridge and I really enjoyed this part of the trail with the massive views and how the trees were wind blown with ice. We were just at Windy Gap, I wonder how that name came up. From Windy Gap the trail flattens out. At the turnoff we realized what time it was and decided not to summit Mt. Islip; snow was getting slushier and we had to get back home by 5:00pm. The trail up looked a bit steep an and we decided we’ll come back when we have a little more time and in the summer to summit it one of these days.

We stopped for a quick coffee to warm up just past the turnoff to the summit. So happy we brought the jetboil. There’s a jetboil coffee press that I am definitely going to have to get into my gear box.

We trekked on towards Big Cienega Trail; the ridge was the flattest section of the hike. The snow was melted on Big Cienega Trail, still some slushy parts, so I finally got to take the microspikes off. We reached the campground and there was an abundant amount of people around. Cars lined up down the road parked with families checking out the snow. All the snow was gone off the road, we finally reached our car around 3:30pm and headed back home.

Note to self: Pack car chains, especially if I knew it snowed the day before.


*Originally hiked on March 18, 2018


Week 17 – 1000 Mile Challenge

Do it for the mountains!

Another week in the books; as most of you know who have been following I am trying to hit 1,000 miles of running and this doesn’t include the hiking on the weekends or biking to the beach to play volleyball. It’s a challenge that I hope to hit and in the meantime brings me back to the shape I was in 3 years ago. I know it takes time and let myself go too much, but I am 100% ready to take on this tough challenge. My body got very tired last week after those 3 days, how in the world did I used to do this. Takes time and one day at a time will help!

I pushed hard this week and decided that I have to hit 21 miles no matter what per week. I had 3 days to run this week was a push week as I didn’t have many days to finish 21 miles. I pushed by going to the gym at lunch 2 days to get an extra 6+ miles in. It was actually really nice and reminded me that I used to go to the gym at lunch all the time for that kind of run. I will continue to do some lunch runs; it’s a nice break from sitting at a desk all day.


I mentioned last week when I hit 200 miles that I was hoping to hit then next 100 miles within 30 days. That is still a goal of mine and is very reachable. I am sitting at 34.98 miles in 14 days; in the next 16 days I hope to hit 65 miles to get to my goal. This requires me to run a little over 4 miles per day and since days off are needed and recommended, the lunchtime runs will help me meet this goal. I’ll update you guys on that progress next week.

Goals
1. Hit 25 miles on Week 18
2. Hit 100 miles in May
3. Run 3 times during lunch this week
4. Get a weekend run in since I’m home, maybe both days

STATS
This Week: 22.17 miles
Last Week: 12.81 miles
Avg min/mile: 11:29
Miles Left: 768.56 miles

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
4/26 6.63 231.44 768.56
4/25 5 224.81 775.19
4/25 3.4 219.81 780.19
4/24 4.03 216.41 783.59
4/24 3.11 212.38 787.62

Follow more on my journey to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles Running Challenge.

High Sierra Trail: Crescent Meadow to 9 Mile Creek

“The High Sierra Trail has all the memory-making potential of a much longer hike, packaged into a job-friendly, one-week vacation. There is perhaps no better way to laterally cross the immense Sierra Nevada range on foot.” Zebulon Wallace

Soon after I heard that my ex-colleague did the High Sierra Trail and better yet wrote about it, I went ahead and bought his book through Amazon. You can find it here: Plan & Go | High Sierra Trail. I’ve ready through most of it, wanting to do the trail myself; I haven’t gotten to do it yet, but my sister and I are planning to possibly do it next year together. His book has a lot of relevant information that will help guide you through the process. Either way, this past weekend we were able to do the first portion of the JMT.

 

Plan & Go | High Sierra Trail: All you need to know to complete the Sierra Nevada’s best kept secret (Plan & Go Hiking)


Location Mileage Elevation Gain Type
Sequoia National Park
24.8 miles
3,840 feet
Out and back
Background

One of the first things I do before heading out into the wilderness or on a trip is a ton of research. If I am heading into the Sequoia and Kings Canyon Area I always go to their Plan Your Visit page. They have so much information on this page for where to visit if you are just there for the sites. I obviously prefer getting into the backcountry as there are much less people there and it’s a kind of therapy. I also own this book called: Sierra South – Backcountry Trips in California’s Sierra Nevada that includes this portion of the hike. Most of the time this is where I get my ideas of where to hike then I go on the internet.

Photo Teaser Books I Recommend
Sierra South: Backcountry Trips in Californias Sierra Nevada
Sierra North: Backcountry Trips in California’s Sierra Nevada

Under the SEKI Plan Your Visit page click on Things to Do. Lots of information about more than just overnight backpacking. I particularly move forward on the site straight to: Overnight Backpacking. Be sure to check out everything before you go especially in the winter due to road closures. Also, no matter what anywhere you are going into the backcountry whether it’s a day hike or an overnight trip check the certain restrictions the park, forest, wilderness has in place. In this case read over the Minimum Impact Restrictions on the Seki page. I cannot re-iterate more to follow these restrictions for the outdoors is a sacred haven that humans are honored to visit places like these. It is home to the wild, let’s respect it.

Weather
The two sources I use to check weather before we leave: National Weather Service and Mountain-Forecast.com. Your best bet and most accurate is to check with the ranger for the latest update on forecast and conditions.
Crescent Crescent Meadow National Weather Service
Moro Rock Weather Forecast
Alta Peak Weather Forecast
You will be a slight bit higher this is why I put the Alta Peak weather in, because you will be between Alta Peak and Moro Rock in elevation on the trail.


Permits

Winter
During the winter months, usually between end of September and end of May the permits are self-issued. Depending where you are going to hike the available places to fill out the self-issuing permits are the Foothills Visitor Center, Giant Forest Museum, Kings Canyon Visitor Center, Cedar Grove Visitor Center and the Mineral King Ranger Station. You can find more information on Seki’s Visitor Centers and Facilities Page.

For this hike the best places to enter your self-issued permits are both the Foothills Visitor Center and the Giant Forest Museum. Since in the winter you can’t drive up to Crescent Meadow because of road closures, your best bet would just to go straight to the Giant Forest Museum since you’ll be parking there and fill out the permits there.

Summer
During the summer months, it is a little more difficult to obtain permits as there is a process. Do not go out into the backcountry without a permit. Here’s a quick summary of how to put in your permits.
1. Check the Wilderness Trip Planner
2. Find the trail of the trip you are planning and fill out the Wilderness Permit Application.
3. Once you fill out the application send by Mail or by email. Fastest way to receive your permit back would be by email; all the information is on the application.
4. You will receive an email and have 10 days to redeem it and pay for it. Once paid you will not get a refund. Price is $10 for a reservation and $5 per person.
5. Print out your Pay.Gov confirmation letter.
6. Bring the confirmation letter to a wilderness office/visitor center after 1:00pm the day before or before 9:00am the day of your trip. Make arrangements ahead of time if you will not be able to pick up your permit before 9:00am (Call (559)565-3766 or seki_wilderness_office@nps.gov).



Directions

From the South: On Highway 99, exit onto CA-198 E toward Visalia/Sequoia National Park. The park entrance will be about 10 minutes after passing the small city of Three Rivers. Once you enter and pay the fee required at the Ash Mountain entrance, drive about 16 miles until the Giant Forest Museum.
From the North: On Highway 99, exit onto Kings Canyon Highway 180 E. The park entrance is about 53 miles after getting onto Highway 180 E. There will be a split in the road 1.7 miles after entering the park. Make sure to turn right onto CA-198 south. Drive about 29 miles until the Giant Forest Museum.
Both routes the road is very windy, be careful of fallen rocks. During the winter months park across the street of the Giant Forest Museum, fill out your permit and head onto Crescent Meadow Rd. It is an extra 3 miles one way on the road to Crescent Meadow. During the summer the road is open to Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow, but due to congestion of so many visitors I would opt parking and taking the shuttle into Crescent Meadow. It’s free, here is some more information on the Free In-park Shuttle page. Make sure to find a larger parking area, Giant Forest Museum parking area is probably going to be full especially if you come into the park on a weekend or a holiday.


Maps
Photo Teaser Maps I recommend
Mineral King Hiking Map
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National parks recreation map (Tom Harrison Maps)

Stats

Note: these mileages are based on winter months beginning at Giant Forest Museum

Point of Interest Elevation Mileage
Giant Forest Museum 6,500 feet 0 miles
Crescent Meadow/High Sierra Trail trailhead 6,700 feet 3 miles
Eagle View 6,900 feet 4 miles
Panthers Creek 7,100 feet 5.7 miles
Mehrten Creek 7,640 feet 9 miles
Nine Mile Creek 7,591 feet 12.4 miles


Description

Day 1: Giant Forest Museum to Nine Mile Creek Campground
12.4 miles
We woke up at 4:30am to drive from Los Angeles up to potentially hike from Giant Forest Museum to Bearpaw Meadow Camp. Ideally we would have left the trailhead much sooner than we did, but even then this was a lot of mileage for our first backpacking trip of the season. We packed everything up the night before in the car, so really all we had to do is get in the car and drive up. We have an America the Beautiful Annual Pass that we just had to show to the lady in the Ash Mountain entrance. We asked about current snowpack on that trail, but what we were told was contradicting information. We decided to stop at the Foothills Visitor Center where again that information can only be relayed by a wilderness office that was only open M-F. The exact words I was told “that’s a backpacking trail”. Either way, what they should have mentioned that if we drove up to the Giant Forest Museum there would be someone with much more information there.

We stopped quickly in and filled out our permits and spoke with the ranger a little about how much snow there was. We were lucky enough to have a pretty free of snow trail at least till hitting 8,000 feet with patches here and there. We parked across the street got ready and headed on our way to Crescent Meadow. I knew that the road was closed and it would add another 3 miles, but we decided to do this trail anyway knowing that there were a few campsites along the way with bear boxes. I still recommend taking a bear canister with you as this area has seen a lot of bear traffic.

We left our car at 10:30am onto Crescent Meadow Rd. We averaged about 3 miles per hour before we got onto the trail as Crescent Meadow Rd. is a paved road. About an hour later we finally got to Crescent Meadow and the closer we got, we heard over thousands of frogs in the meadow. The first mile to Eagle View was a steady uphill climb in a dense forested area. At this point still thought we were making good time. Eagle View was our first view of the valley below with snow capped mountains and a slight glimpse of Moro Rock to our west. It was time for a little break and a snack, two of my go to snacks lately are Honey Stinger Vanilla Flavor (honey flavor is really good too) and Krave Beef Jerkey Sweet Chipotle Flavor.


After leaving Eagle View about a mile later there are a few switchbacks. About a mile later there is a turnoff for Wolverton Cutoff. Panther Creek crossing is the first larger water source with nice shady spot to sit down next to the falls. We took a short break here and continued onwards as it was already after noon and we wanted to get to camp before dark.

We hit Mehrten Creek campsite around 2:00pm and at this point we had already hiked almost 9 miles. The way up to Mehrten Creek we crossed many small drainages/creeks and several somewhat hazardous sections; just make sure you are staying alert where you are stepping. Through dense forest and sheer cliff to your right. Finally we could hear a much louder creek, falls ahead of us. Mehrten Creek was the most dangerous creek crossing of the trip for us. I could only imagine at certain times a year this being even more dangerous. There is a campsite up a steep ways with a bear box, but we did not go looking for it as we were headed to 9 mile creek just a good 3 miles from there.


The rest of the way up to Nine Mile Creek Camp we lost site of the valley in dense forest with patches of snow covering the trail, nothing more than 6 inches. This felt like the longest part of the hike as we were absolutely ready to have camp set up. Unfortunately we finally found the bear box and the campsite was covered in snow. We did however find a nice spot to clean up the couple inches of snow and set up our tents next to each other.

Once we set up our tents we split up and started some of the camp chores. Getting any dry wood we can that was laying around, meant a little more walking around, but that kept us warm. Grabbing some water to filter and starting the fire. While we’re on the water filter conversation, we have a new filter that is absolutely the best thing. We can literally just leave it to filter right into our bladders. It’s called a LifeStraw Mission Water Purification System.

The night turned out not to be too cold, well obviously the fire helped. We also found a thermarest mat in the bear box that was perfect to put on the trunk we were sitting on that was wet from the latest snowfall. Of course when we left we put that mat right back in there, hopefully someone will be able to use it. Dinner was Sapporo Ichiban, one of my newest favorite backpacking meals because it’s so easy to make and it’s very nice to have soup at night.


The night turned out not to be too cold, well obviously the fire helped. We also found a thermarest mat in the bear box that was perfect to put on the trunk we were sitting on that was wet from the latest snowfall. Of course when we left we put that mat right back in there, hopefully someone will be able to use it. Dinner was Sapporo Ichiban, one of my newest favorite backpacking meals because it’s so easy to make and it’s very nice to have soup at night.

Day 2: Back to trailhead
12.4 miles

The next day we were slow going and I must say we definitely hit our limit. My soles and legs were dead about 5 miles before where the car was. We made it to Crescent Meadow and took a nice break there on the bench next to the shuttle stop. We got back to the car About 4:00pm, went and ate at The Gateway a nice burger and fries and headed home. The next morning straight back to work. I love my weekends!

*Originally hiked on: April 14, 2018


Copper Creek Trail to Grant Basin: Kings Canyon National Park

One of the first backpacking that keeps drawing me back to new trails

Location Kings Canyon National Park
Elevation Gain 5,320 feet
Mileage 18.8 miles
Type Out and back
Background

Copper Creek Trail lies at Road’s End inside Kings Canyon National Park. To enter the park there is a $20 one time fee for 1-7 days or $30 annual pass. You can also get an annual pass for all National Parks in the US. The road is closed during the winter months. Check Current Conditions before you head into the park.

Highway 180 is a beautiful scenic drive that I would recommend stopping at some sites along the way in or out. If you have time there is a loop called “Majestic Mountain Loop” that can be done, pick one or do all 3 days.

I bought the book below after this trip, because I was so inspired to find out what else is in our beautiful Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. I have used the book to plan many trips since.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks: Your Complete Hiking Guide

Here is Seki’s Wilderness Trip Planner to see other hikes in the area. Page 7 has Copper Creek Trail’s short description on it. There are no campfire’s above 10,000 feet, but there are at Lower Tent Meadow. Be sure to check restrictions that may be in place (like no fires at all) before you head out.


Directions

From Highway 99, exit onto Kings Canyon Highway 180 E until the road literally ends. The entrance to the park is about 53 miles after getting onto Highway 180 E. There will be a split in the road 1.7 miles after entering the park. Make sure to stick to the left and stay on the 180 E. The road is very windy, be careful of fallen rocks. The trail starts on the north side of the overnight parking at Roads End.


Permits

To obtain permits for this trail fill out the Wilderness Permit Application. The fastest way to get back the application is to email it, but faxing is available.


Maps

When you enter the park they will give you a map of the park: SEKI Map.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Recreation Map (Tom Harrison Maps)
Sequioa Kings Nation National Park Topo Map (National Geographic)

Stats
Trailhead 5,040 ft 0 miles
Tent Meadow Campsite 7,840 ft 4.1 miles
The Lip 10,360 ft 7.6 miles

Description

This was our First Annual Taking it Eazy Hike as we call our annual labor day, memorial day hikes. We wanted to get away from the Labor Day traffic and craziness in LA, so we jumped into our cars and went out into the wilderness for a couple days. We call the hike taking it eazy, because we don’t actually take it easy. Yes, on this United States Federal Holiday, Americans usually relax, celebrate or observe the economic and social achievements of our workers. The major part we Americans celebrate is this, but the specifics are as follows: it was a labor union movement that advocated the eight-hour day movement: eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest.

We attempted to observe this holiday by going hiking in Kings Canyon National Park in order to advocate 3 days of twenty-four hours of recreation.


Day 1: Copper Creek Trailhead to un-named pond on Granite Creek
9.4 miles

The day started out quite slow as there were three blazing wildfires in the distance. Smoke obstructed much of our views and it was hot. Five of us headed up the mountain with trouble breathing. About an hour in our group turned into 3 as 2 decided to head back down the mountain to adjust. The climb was very steep almost climbing 700 feet per mile. The higher we got the air cleared out and you could see the views much better.

With the smoke under us, we could finally concentrate on the beauty around us and push forward on this tough hike. Switchback after switchback we went, almost stopping at every single switchback. About 4 miles in you’ll pass a nice little campsite Lower Tent Meadow. This is the first only campsite on the trail.

3 more miles to hit the highest point and it was already getting dark. We slowly trotted up the steep trail finally reaching the lip. It was about to get dark quickly. We took out our headlamps and continued as we still had a couple miles till Granite Lake. After a few minutes we all looked at each other and decided it was time to just find a camp. We never made it to Granite Lake, but we did find a small creek about 300 feet climb down on some rocks. This was quite interesting in the dark as we were climbing down boulders to find a good place to camp.

Finally, there it was we found the creek and traced back a few hundred feet into a nice meadow opening to set up our tents. Quickly we set up our tents and made dinner. We were out in seconds and it was the quietest night; possibly because we were exhausted.

Day 2: Granite Creek to Lower Tent Meadow
5.3 miles

When we woke up we realized we really didn’t see where we set up camp as it was completely dark. We unzipped our tents and it was absolutely breathtaking. We had set up our tents in a small meadow a few hundred feet from Granite Creek. It was absolutely perfect.

We decided that we would head back down to Lower Tent Meadow, where we would be able to have a fire. This gave us much time to relax near the creek. We made some coffee, gathered a few other items like fishing pole, sit pad and water pump. After setting our things down on a comfortable boulder, we cast out into the small pond for the first time ever. Guess what happened, literally not two seconds later we had caught a fish. So, we cast out again and again in a few seconds we caught another fish. We used some spices to cook it up and had it for lunch. I have a GSI Outdoors Spice Rocket that I use to take spices.

After eating, we decided to take a dip and there was a perfect rock to jump from into the small pond. New rule: jump in any body of water when backpacking. We packed up and headed out around 11:00 am. First off, we had to climb about 1,000 feet up on boulders. Once we finally found the trail, we were offered a vast view of the Granite Basin. It was much clearer than the day before. It was all downhill from here and we reached our camp no less than a couple hours later.

First thing we did was collect our wood for the campfire, set up our tents and pumped water. We found some longer sticks that we carved in order to use for the sausages we brought to put over the fire. We brought out Bende Hungarian Sausage and cooked it over the fire that night; mmmm that was delicious.

Day 3: Lower Tent Meadow to Copper Creek Trailhead
4.1 miles
The next day, we woke up early as we were headed all the way home. It’s funny you would have thought that this would have been the easiest day, and it was headed on our journey down the mountain. You know what? We thought this was going to be the easiest part of our hike. Well, it was. We however did not get a peaceful journey down. 1. The smoke from the three wildfires thickened since the first day. 2. Headache from the fires. 3. Millions of horseflies slamming into are faces and up our noses.

We used our hands like windshield wipers and literally ran down the trail. I have never really been agitated by bugs, but this was beyond annoying. It was at the bottom of the trailhead when the three of us could finally sit down and breathe. This was the longest hike we had done, more to come for sure. Out of the 72 hours, I would only delete the last four hours and go back to menu and replay over and over again.


Week 16 – 1000 Mile Challenge

Do it for the Mountains!

Another low mileage week, but did get two pretty good 6 mile runs in at the gym this past week. I took Monday and Tuesday off because I was so sore from the 25 mile backpacking trip we did the weekend before. Friday night I ended up playing volleyball for a few hours and Saturday same thing played from 8:30am to 4:00pm. Both runs were very tough because my shins and calves were on fire from the hike.

I did however pass the 200 mile marker. It took me way too long to do the 2nd 200 miles. My first 100 miles I finished on Day 40. The second 100 miles I finished in 69 days. I would have to say a good goal at this point for the third 100 miles would be to get it within 30 days. Might be overkill, but we’ll see. Bring it on.

Mileage I should be at for the year as of 4/22 is 306.85; I’m almost 100 miles behind where I should be sitting at. Well then time to get running; I’ll have to add some double days in if I’m going to make this happen.


STATS
This Week: 12.81 miles
Last Week: 7.92 miles
Avg min/mile: 12:26
Miles Left: 790.73 miles

Date Mileage Ran Total Mileage Mileage Left
4/19 6.6 209.27 790.73
4/18 6.21 202.67 797.33

Anyone else doing a challenge like this? Let me know how it is going, very interested in hearing about it. Follow more on my journey to 1,000 miles: 1000 Miles in 2018.