10 Gifts Under $25 for Hikers & Backpackers

Honestly, I was thinking of writing more of an article geared towards just giving an experience as a gift, but decided some of those experiences are well worth it with some of these outdoor gift ideas I have put together.  What is the goal of a gift?  To get that person excited about the adventure they may be able to use it on.  Get them excited!  One of our goals at Beyond Limits on Foot is to help people get outside more.

I’ve put together a list of items that are perfect as a gift for your hiker/backpacker friend.  I can say that this is one of the topics that I know most about being an avid hiker/backpacker.  Most of this gear I tried out or a friend of mine has and we would agree that they would be perfect gifts for your friend, partner, family, co-worker, etc.

I’m going to break the list out into 5 different areas: under $25, techies, safety, essential and fun gifts.

Either way, don’t worry about getting the wrong gift for the hiker/backpacker.  We are so into gadgets and gear and honestly sometimes don’t think of buying items on this list.  If you are on a budget, the under $25 is the best way to go.  All other areas are great gifts for us!  Have fun choosing and let’s go adventure together!

***Notice: Affiliate links below.  Click on links to buy items.




Buff DryFlx Hat

The hat is lightweight (1.9 oz) and good for cool weather activities.  It’s reflective design makes one visible at night.



Stanley Classic Flask

If you know your friend is a whiskey drinker or likes to have a small cocktail to keep them warm on a hike, this would be a pretty awesome gift for them.  Easy to pack and lightweight at the same time.



UV Buff

These actually come in handy for so many other things than hiking too.  There are at least 12 ways you can wear it.  Check it out.  Also, A portion of the proceeds from the NP Collection UV Buff will be donated to the American Hiking Society by Buff Headwear.



Darn Tough Hiking Socks

I have a few pair of these, they are the most comfortable on the trail.



Body Glide Anti-Chafe Balm

Ever have problems with chafing on long hikes?  Don’t be embarrassed we all go through it at one point.  This is the perfect ointment/stick that can help with relief or it even not happening.  Trust me, I’ve had to use it!



TentLab Ultralight Potty Trowel

If you have ever been backpacking, you know for sure you need one of these.



VENTURE 4TH Microfiber Travel Towel

I would recommend this for anyone actually, even those who travel and need a light towel.  It is lightweight, which in turn is good for the hiker/backpacker.



Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Cushion

This is a plus for anyone that goes hiking a lot; sitting on the ground all the time gets tiresome.



Lifestraw Personal Water Filter

I was actually given this by a friend for my going away from an office, honestly I take it on every backpacking trip alongside our other main water filter.  It’s great for a quick drink while taking a break on the trail and a backup if the main filter goes bad.



Light my Fire Titanium Spork

Titanium is huge in the community because it is so lightweight and still very durable.  Easiest way to shed some weight on the trail is buying one of these instead of carrying a spoon and a fork.


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Mt. Hawkins via Dawson Saddle – Angeles National Forest

**Originally hiked: October 18, 2018**

Trail Data
Mileage: 9.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet
Location: Angeles National Forest
Type: Out-and-back
Difficulty: Moderate
What to Expect in this Guide

Aside from the road being closed to the trailhead we planned on doing, we ended up doing a tougher hike and a little bit longer.

As those of you know who usually read my posts, I have areas to which you can get a lot of more information about the hike we did.  All in all, I put this area on here so that you can forward over to whichever area you would like to know more about.

  1.  Background – If you’re interested a little more about the area and some facts about the hike.
  2.  Map & Directions – See our hike on the map and directions on how to get to the trailhead below.
  3.  Weather – Definitely something you need to check before you go out on the trail.
  4.  Adventure Pass – Just a quick rundown of what pass you will need before you head out on the trail. *Pass is required to hike in this area.
  5. Trail Camp & Water – The area has a trail camp with a water source nearby.
  6.  Maps, Books and Gear Recommendations A great source for what maps or books to have before going out.
  7.  Hike Stats – I like to know points of interest on the trail, here are some for you to follow along when you go for the hike.
  8.  My Ramblings This is my favorite part mostly because the pictures.  Check this section out of my recollection of the hike and some photos.

Mt. Hawkins sits in the Angeles National Forest (covering around 700,000 acres just outside of Los Angeles).  Much of the trail from Islip Saddle up to Mt. Hawkins (8,850 ft.) is via the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail).  Islip Saddle has a parking lot across the street from the trailhead.

Some nearby notable peaks that can be done in conjunction are Mount Islip, South Mount Hawkins, Middle Hawkins and Throop Peak.  Have any of you done this hike with multiple peaks in the area?  Let me know how in the comments below.

Map & Directions

To get to the trailhead:

Trailhead is at Islip Saddle, mile marker 64.1 on the Angeles Crest Highway.  The drive is about an hour/an hour and a half away from the Los Angeles area.  From downtown LA, take 110 North and merge onto I-5 North.  About 7 miles later, take CA-2 N (Angeles Crest Highway) toward Glendale.  Merge onto CA-2 E/I-210 E.  In .4 miles take CA-2 toward La Canada Flintridge.  Turn left onto Angeles Crest Hwy and drive 39.6 miles until you see a parking lot on the left at Islip Saddle.  The trailhead is directly across the street.


Mt. Hawkins ~8,041 ft –> Weather.gov

Throop Peak ~ 9,138 ft –> mountain-forecast.com

Adventure Pass

There are no permits required to hike this trail.

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

The Shell Station right off I-210 and CA-2 exit sells the Adventure Pass.

Trail Camp & Water

Little Jimmy Trail Camp/Little Jimmy Springs

Along this trail the only established trail camp is Little Jimmy Trail Camp.  If you feel like an extra night in the area, Little Jimmy sits just 2 miles off Angeles Crest Highway.  There are 16 established first-come, first-serve sites with fire rings.  The campground includes vault toilets, backcountry ovens and bear boxes.  The place is very popular with Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, the two times I hiked in this area in the fall we passed by a few groups of scouts.

Angeles National Forest: Little Jimmy Trail Camp Information

Little Jimmy Springs is about a .2 miles walk away from the campground.  The water usually runs year round and is super cold.  This is a great spot to take a break quickly and fill up with water if you are running low on a longer hike.  Always make sure you take enough water either way.  We took about 3 liters of water each for 9 mile hike.

Maps, Books and Gear Recommendations
Topographic Map of Area: Trail Map Angeles High Country Map
Book of Hikes in the Area: Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels

Gear Recommendations:

Obviously this isn’t everything I take on our hikes, check out What’s in My Backpack? for a compilation of some of the gear I have now.  Some of the items I would recommend for this hike, especially colder weather:

  1. Hiking Poles: BLACK DIAMOND Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
  2. Headband: Adidas Woman’s Tech Headband
  3. Fleece Gloves: Columbia Sportswear Women’s Thermarator Glove
  4. Down Jacket: Patagonia Down Sweater
  5. Wind Breaker: REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket
Some food we took on the hike:
  1. Protein: Starkist Salmon Creations Lemon & Dill and Tuna Creations Thai Chili Style
  2. Mayonnaise for our tuna and salmon packets: Hellmann’s Food Real-Vraie Mayonnaise – We bought a pack of 75 so that every time we go we can just pick a couple out from our hiking food bin
  3. Soup: Lipton Soup Secrets – Chicken Noodle Soup Mix with Diced White Chicken Meat
  4. Bars: CLIF Bar Chocolate Chip and Crunchy Peanut Butter
  5. Bananas mmmmm

*FYI the salmon and tuna packets, Lipton soup, CLIF bars are all available at local supermarkets.  I usually just buy on amazon in bulk since we go a lot and have hiking food bin.  What do you keep in your hiking food bin?

Interested in gear and food ideas?  See posts below for more.

Hike Stats
Trailhead 0 miles 6,800 feet
Little Jimmy Trail Camp 2.1 miles 7,450 feet
Little Jimmy Springs 2.3 miles 7,500 feet
Windy Gap 2.4 miles 7,588 feet
Mt. South Hawkins Turnoff 4.0 miles 8,390 feet
Mt. Hawkins Turnoff 4.6 miles 8,730 feet
Mt. Hawkins Summit 4.8 miles 8,850 feet
My Ramblings

I used to just write this portion of the blog, but decided since I do so much research why not create some guides of the information that I gather before I go out for these hikes.  Should I put my ramblings and photos first or should I keep them here at the end?  You guys let me know.

Alright, let’s move on and talk about this hike.  My sister and I haven’t been on a hike alone in a while; we’ve been with groups, but alone I think our last hike together was Peanut Lake, back in 2016.  Is that right?  I think so.  Either way I was blessed to have a hike together with my sister alone in our backyard mountains up in the San Gabriel’s.

We awoke early and left the house by 6:00am.  We were not much more than 10 minutes into the drive when I had to turn around to pick up the water bladder (Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir – 3 L).  If we were already to far into the drive we would have just picked up 3 L of water at the store nearby.  This wasn’t the only thing we forgot on the hike, just wait for it.

Arriving to the Trailhead

After exiting I-210 road to Angeles Crest highway, I remember I left my annual Adventure Pass in my car back at home.  So another thing I forgot, we stopped at the Shell station to pick a day pass up ($5.00).  As we were driving to go do Mt. Baden-Powell from Dawson Saddle, we arrived at a Road that was closed at Islip Saddle.  Not sure how we could have avoided not knowing, but they do post road closures on the county or forest websites.  Plan B, open my Angeles High Country Trail Map and find a new hike.

There are a few options at Islip Saddle, so we geared up and decided to go hike Mt. Hawkins.  I remember doing it a long time ago by myself, but thought it would be nice to check out the trail again with my sister and it was a little harder hike than we had planned, huge plus there we wanted a good workout.  We started up the trail around 9:00am which would give us ample time to take our time up the mountain and hang out at the top.

The first mile or two was more vertical than the rest of the trail.  We passed a lot of Boys & Girls Scout groups on our way up, probably stayed at Little Jimmy Trail Camp as it’s popular for the Scout groups to camp there on weekends.  Little Jimmy Camp is only about 2 miles up the trail and the trail flattens out on this portion of the hike.  We continued up towards Windy Gap making good time; Windy Gap sits at about 7,588 feet and offers 360 degree views of the surround mountains and valleys.  Here there are a few options, you could turn back, head up to Mt. Islip, head towards Crystal Lake Campground or head on the Mt. Hawkins Ridge Trail to summit Mt. Hawkins or even further to Throop, Burnham and Baden-Powell.

Summiting Mt. Hawkins

Our choice was to hike up to Mt. Hawkins which would make for a 2,050 foot climb total; I liked the sound of that.  11:30am we reached the summit of Mt. Hawkins.  We almost missed the turnoff; stay alert there is no sign for the turnoff to Mt. Hawkins.  I’m glad I was taking note of the mileage on the Garmin.  Did you know Mt. Hawkins is in the 11th highest peak in the San Gabriel’s?  We didn’t make the top 10 list, but that’s ok it’s a peak above 8,000 feet very good training hike for the bigger mountains.  I believe I just made a challenge for myself to knock off the top 10 in the San Gabriel’s.  What those are I’ll probably post later as I already have the 10,000 Feet Peaks in Southern California Challenge ahead of me.

Had to put on some warmer clothes as we were going to hang out on Mt. Hawkins for a little.  We wanted to make some soup and when I opened my bag I realized that I did not pack a fuel canister into my jetboil.  I usually keep one in there but since our last trip to Havasupai Falls we flew, I took it out and never put a new one in when I got back home.  Are you surprised yet?  That’s 3 things and counting so far that were forgotten on this hike.  Instead of a warm Lipton Soup Secrets we ended up having a couple mozzarella sticks and the Starkist Creations Lemon Dill and Thai Chili Style.

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Down we went around 12:30pm so that we could hit the Newcomb’s Ranch for a snack before heading back home.  We didn’t pass too many people on the way down except a couple who was doing one night up at Baden-Powell.  About 1 mile from the trailhead my knee began to hurt, thanks to my sister who brought a brace I made it down in one piece.  It looks like I forgot one other thing, that makes for 4 things we forgot on this hike.  I should be wearing a brace every time I hike anyway so that will be added to my hiking checklist as a permanent item.

Reaching the Cars

It was about 2:30pm when we reached the cars and we changed quickly and headed down the mountain to go grab a quick bite to eat.  Newcomb’s Ranch closes pretty early, so this is the first time I could actually sit inside and have a nice relaxing refreshing drink and a snack.  Usually we get here as they are closing or already closed.  My sister and I love these kinds of places; little gems hidden up in the mountains.  Lots of motorcyclists like to end up here on their rides on the Angeles Crest Highway; we even saw some bicyclists who were brave enough to do that long ride in.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the write-up.  What is the most common thing that you think most hikers (newbies or avid) forget on hikes?  Let me know in the comments below.  If you’ve done this hike before go ahead and comment below and let me know your experiences; I hope we can share more on here together.

Happy Adventures,

Annette – Beyond Limits on Foot

Mt. Baldy, Dawson Peak and Pine Mountain via Backbone Trail: Angeles National Forest

Most people who climb Mt. Baldy go via the Ski Hut Route and do not know that there are a few different ways up to Mt. Baldy, this one being the shorter way up, but not easier.

Location Mileage Elevation Gain Type
Angeles National Forest
8.2 miles
4,504 feet

— What to Expect in this Guide —

  1. Background – A little background on Mt. Baldy and things to know about this trail (very important you read this).
  2. Map of HikeI put together a map of what our hike looked like.
  3. DirectionsMake sure to have an AWD/4×4 vehicle to get to the trailhead.
  4. Weather – Weather changes often, make sure you check before you go. *Do not attempt this hike when it is icy
  5. Permits and PassesNo overnight wilderness permit is required, but an Angeles National Forest Adventure Pass is. Read more on how to get one below.
  6. Hike Stats – Quick overview of the mileage and elevation for points of interest on the hike.
  7. Maps, Books and Gear RecommendationsI like to put together some important items or even just some gear ideas for your adventure, check them out in this section.
  8. Description This is my favorite part because I can share my adventure and pictures with you guys.

— Background —

Mt. Baldy is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains. Did you know that Mt. Baldy is not its official name, it’s actually Mount San Antonio. The mountain was named after a local rancher in the area by the name of Saint Anthony of Padua. The official name is Mount San Antonio even though many locals refer to it as Mt. Baldy.

— Things to Know Before Attempting the Trail —

  1. What time of year should I do the trail? The best time to go is in the summer and early fall there is no snow on the trail. Unless you are ready to icy/snow travel meaning proper training and equipment, do not attempt to do this trail.
  2. What should I know about the trailhead? The trailhead is located off of Blue Ridge Truck Road a four-wheel drive road. Also note that the road isn’t open all year-long; it depends on the time of year. The gates along the road will be closed due to road conditions. If the gate is closed near Guffy Campground, you can still get to the trailhead on foot.
  3. What is the trail itself like? Be advised that the trail at times has very loose rocks and scree, which can make it very easy for you to slip or fall; bring trekking poles as I advise later in my gear recommendations and take your time on the steep areas.
  4. Should I attempt the trail if there might be a storm? No, if a storm is likely to happen do not hike this trail. The trail is very exposed most of the time and does not have much cover. Check the weather before you decide to do the trail.

— Map of Hike —

— Directions —

North Backbone Trailhead
To get to the trail from Wrightwood, take Hwy 2 off of CA-138 W. Once you get on Hwy 2, take it for a little over 10 miles and turn onto East Blue Ridge Rd/Blue Ridge Truck Trail. Continue on Blue Ridge Truck Trail for 7.1 miles. You will see a small sign on the right, easy to miss. Park off the road there are small areas that have turnouts, but make sure you are not in the way of others trying to get by. There is a small area at the start of the trail head for only about 4-5 cars.

Note: Blue Ridge Truck Trail is a dirt road, therefore make sure that you drive an AWD/4×4; do not attempt without a car that has high clearance.

— Weather —

The weather can change at any time in the mountains, due to this fact be sure to prepare. This area is known to get very hot in the summertime; hike early to minimize impact of any heat illness. In contrast this area can also get very cold and windy with even snow on it, prepare for anything!
Mt. Baldy – Elevation 10,066 feet

— Permits and Passes —

— Wilderness Permit —
You are not required to have a wilderness permit for a day hike neither an overnight hike. Certainly you can camp along the trail, but there aren’t many flat spots along the trail, however at the top near Mt. Baldy you can find some pretty good camping spots.

— National Forest Adventure Pass —
To park in the Angeles National Forest 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.

— Hike Stats —

Point of Interest Mileage Elevation
Trailhead 0 miles 8,310 feet
Pine Mountain 1.75 miles 9,648 feet
Dawson Peak 2.55 miles 9,575 feet
Mt. Baldy (Mt. San Antonio) 4.1 miles 10,064 feet

— Maps, Books & Gear Recommendations —

— Maps —
  1. Mt. Baldy, Cucamonga Wilderness, Trail Map – My favorite type of maps are the Tom Harrison Maps. This is the perfect one for this hike.
  2. HIKE Southern California: A Day Hiker’s Guide – This book my mom got me and sits on my adventure shelf at home.

— Some Gear Recommendations —

  1. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles – I definitely recommend trekking poles for this hike it will save your knees.
  2. Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire GPS Watch – I really would like to have this in my gear box; more like on my wrist during an adventure.
  3. Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir – I recommend taking a lot of water and this reservoir fits 3 liters. Check it out.
  4. PROBAR Bolt Energy Chews – Feel like you’re getting tired, take some of these for some quick energy; they are my favorite energy chews out there.

Check out some of the other items I have in my backpack on hiking and backpacking trips on my What’s in My Backpack Page. I also have some trail food ideas – check those out on Trail Food: Grub Ideas for the Trail

— Description —

This write-up only took me one year to finally finish, however I still want to share this adventure because it is one of those training hikes that are killer and so close to home (So Cal peeps). We hiked it last November (2017) on a bit windy and somewhat cold day, arguably it was still great hiking weather.

The Steep Way Up to Mt. Baldy

We arrived to the turnoff on Hwy 2 for East Blue Ridge Road around 8:00 am. It took about 25 minutes to do the short 7.1 miles down the road. The first part of the road wasn’t too rough; the road gets more bumpy as you get closer to the trailhead. We lost reception at some point, but still had the directions printed out and we were able to find where to park. There was only one other car there.

It was barely over 32 degrees when we got started. I had about 4 layers on and was so happy The first part of the trail is a sudden drop for a short distance, that’s one thing I always say “that means uphill on the way back”. I’m sure all of you think the same way.

We decided to stop at Pine Mountain and Dawson Peak on our way back, because we knew later in the day it would get windy. Something to note on this hike it is very exposed and there is a lot of loose talus and rock. This was one of the more difficult hikes I have done and if you want a good training hike for a big hike coming up, do it!

We took a lot of breaks along the way as it was steep. From Pine Mountain to Dawson Peak after the saddle there is a class 2 climb; be very careful especially during weather on this portion. We kept tugging up slowly and reached the top around noon. When we reached the top, there were only a few people compared to when my last summit: Mt. Baldy via the Ski Hut Trail. It was windy and cold at the top we didn’t spend much time there; just a quick bite to eat and all set to head back down to the cars.

Stopping at Dawson Peak and Pine Mountain on the Way Back

We hit Dawson Peak on the way back and found the register, but did not find a register on Pine Mountain. I wonder if there is one. On Dawson Peak, I opened the register and a gal’s signature I hiked with not too long before was in there  – took a photo and shot her text after I got back into cell range.

The way down was brutal, first of all because of my bad knee acting up and aching every step I took also because there were no breaks of downhill. I honestly wasn’t sure I could make it back to the car it hurt so bad, seems like I was moving like a snail one step at a time. We got back to the car around 4:00 pm making for a very slow way down, because I stopped millions of times to give my knee a break!

Despite the knee pain, I really enjoyed the hike and I truly relish hiking this time of year in our local Southern California mountains. Why? Finally the weather is much cooler and there are fewer people on the trail, above all this means the serenity we desire during hiking becomes existent.

*Originally hiked on November 12, 2017

Thanks for listening, hope you guys enjoyed the write-up and let me know if you have any questions about hiking or backpacking this trail.

Happy Adventures,

AnnetteBeyond Limits on Foot

— Related Posts —

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My Picks – September 2018

ENO Roadie Hammock Stand

>>that extra comfort for your road trips if you already have the ENO Hammock

Have you ever run into trouble finding trees on some of your trips to put up your hammock? I definitely have; ran into the problem while backpacking too. This is not for backpacking though; this is perfect for if you are taking a road trip or going camping!

If you don’t already have a hammock, the ENO SingleNest Hammock is a great choice. Buy it at REI!

Price: $149.93

*Hurry as this is on clearance and there are limited quantities.

Ultimate Survival Technologies Spright Recharge LED Lantern with Power Bank

>>that light that you can hang to keep camp lit

I currently have a very awesome blow up solar light called the MPOWERD Luci Color Lantern and my boyfriend always brings along this awesome Ultimate Survival LED Lantern. We keep the blow up light in the tent because it’s not as bring and the Lantern outside especially when we’re cooking at it has already gotten dark. What’s cool about both of these lanterns is that they are compact and easy to pack away in our packs.

What else is cool about the Ultimate Survival LED Lantern?

  • It includes a power bank, allowing you to charge your phone or electronics if needed
  • It has a hook that you can use to put it up on a tree easily and hang it
  • Has a good amount of modes including a night-light that looks like it’s glowing in the dark (my favorite feature)
  • Only weighs 4.8 oz

Price: $23.93

*Hurry as this is on clearance and there are limited quantities.

Big Agnes mtnGLO Light Accessory Kit

>>that light strand that brightens up your tent or campsite and sets a tranquil mood

I actually don’t own this, but it’s on my list of extra gadgets that I may want for my camp lighting. There are a few things that I like about the idea of having this:

  • It can be used anywhere, at home, in the tent, in the car, etc.
  • Clips come with it so it’s easy to hang and move around the lights to wherever you want
  • Is lightweight and weighs only 3 oz.

Price: $23.93

*Hurry as this is on clearance and there are limited quantities.

— Related Posts —

— Gear and Grub —

— Follow @beyondlimitsonfoot on Instagram —

20 Things to Do in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

For about 10 years now, we have been going to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks for Memorial Day and random weekend trips. Sometimes I forget that on the other side of the Eastern Sierras there is the Western Side which is just as beautiful. In this blog post I will share some of the things to do that we experienced.

Check them out and comment below if you want to share any of your experiences or let us know which of the 15 is your favorite.

— Background —

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks lies in the Sierra Nevada; the Sierras are home to 3 national parks Sequoia & Kings Canyon and Yosemite. You could potentially do all 3 national parks in one trip if you have time. If you like to read take a look at some of these links below before you head out; history goes a long way. “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know” – Harry S. Truman.

National Park Service: Learn About the Park
Explore Sequoia & Kings Canyon

— Map —

Something I always do before I head out on a trip or on a trip is buy a map and a guide from Amazon, Information or Visitor Center.

— Start Planning Your Adventure —

I’m going to write them not in order of favorites, but imagine instead that you will be driving from South to North. There are two highways that you will be taking this tour on: Highways 198, Generals Highway and Highway 180, Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. Check out this quick write-up about the history of the Generals Highway: When Two Parks Meet: The History of the Generals Highway.

Fees: To enter the park it costs $35 for one vehicle (one entry 1-7 days), $60 for Sequoia & Kings Canyon Annual Pass or if you know you will be going to many national parks go ahead and purchase the America the Beautiful Parks Pass for $80. https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/fees.htm

Just so you know ahead of time, we didn’t do this all in one trip, over the years we’ve slowly visited all these places. Hope you enjoy the virtual tour.

Drive to Mineral King and Hike Monarch Lakes

Not the easiest drive to get there, but so worth it once you hike into the lakes. Monarch Lakes sit just under Sawtooth Peak, 9.4 miles round-trip you can make this a day trip or an overnight hike. We did Monarch Lakes as an overnight hike and went all the way up to the second lake to take a dip; I have some video footage if you check out the trip report of it. Brrrrrr…

Stop and Take a Look at General Hwy Lookout

On your drive into the park there are few place you will pass along the way that are easily accessible. Not mapped on this tour is Tunnel Log, definitely would recommend going there too; it’s a quick stop. On your way up the windy road there are not many easy spots to stop in turnouts for lookouts. I definitely would recommend to check out this spot.

AddressSequoia National Park, 12 Generals Hwy, Sequoia National Park, CA 93262

Climb 350 Steps to the Top of Moro Rock

Moro Rock is located just before turning onto Crescent Meadow Road. If you are interested in museums and a little history, I would first stop at the Giant Forest Museum. Moro Rock is a short hike, it’s perfect for the family to take a break from the drive. Take 350 steps to check out the awesome views of the foothills. In the winter Crescent Meadow Rd. is closed; there are ski trails that lead to the parking area of Moro Rock, but you cannot go onto the stairway in the winter.

Drive Under Tunnel Log

After Moro rock if you keep going East on Crescent Meadow Rd. you will hit Tunnel Log. It is exactly what it sounds like a tunnel in a log, a big sequoia tree. This is the only sequoia tree that you can drive though in the national park. Now, something to note though if you have a Sprinter Van or anything over 8 feet your vehicle will not make it through. Interest in a myth? Check out The Myth of the Tree You Can Drive Through on the National Park Service Website.

Hike the High Sierra Trail

If you’re an avid backpacker this is one trail you want to do in your life. We did a 2 day trip earlier this year: High Sierra Trail: Crescent Meadow to 9 Mile Creek where we actually had to hike an extra 6 miles from Giant Forest Museum (3 miles each way) because it was winter and the road was closed. The High Sierra Trail is 72.2 miles and goes from Crescent Meadow to Mt. Whitney (tallest mountain of the lower 48). My ex-coworker did the trail a couple of years ago; check out his Plan & Go | High Sierra Trail book. 

Some other good reads – National Park Service: High Sierra Trail, SoCal Hiker: Hiking the High Sierra Trail – An Overview, backcountrycow: Backpacking The High Sierra Trail In 6 Day and The High Sierra Trail – Crescent Meadow to Mt. Whitney.

Feel Small Next to the Tree Called General Sherman

General Sherman Tree is the largest known living tree on Earth; why wouldn’t you want to go see it. An interesting fact is that even though it has been named the largest tree in the world, it is not the tallest, it is not the widest. More interestingly it is not the largest tree historically, it is however the largest living tree known. Follow this link if you’d like to find more information on The General Sherman Tree: https://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/sherman.htm.

The trail to General Sherman is perfect for the family; it is no longer than half a mile one way. Parking is very scarce at the trail head so you may want to opt in by taking shuttles during the summer especially. You may even have no choice but to take the shuttle depending on how busy it is and how far you may have to park.

Snowshoe to Pear Lake Winter Hut

Pear Lake is at the end of a trail called the “Lakes Trail”. During the summer this is a perfect day hike. During the winter, there is a small ski hut nestled 6 miles deep off the highway. Depending on weather (snow) and trail conditions, the hut opens its doors usually between December and April. The cabin is available to the public, but registration is required (lottery). A couple of years ago we made the expedition: Beyond Limits on Foot – Pear Lake Ski Hut Trip. I have since wanted to go back.

During the summer the hut is closed, but the Lakes Trail offers vast views and perfect lakes to eat lunch at and take a dip in. We’ve gone as far as Heather Lake one year in the late spring.

More information here: https://www.sequoiaparksconservancy.org/pearlakewinterhut.html.

Take a Stroll to Tokopah Falls

Tokopah Falls is a short easy 4.1 miles round-trip; the falls itself is 1,200 feet high and probably best to go see during the early summer. Please be careful around the water, the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River can be dangerous especially early summer when the snow is melting.

Find the trailhead just beyond the Marble Fork Bridge in the Lodgepole Campground; very easy to find. More information here: http://www.redwoodhikes.com/SequoiaNP/Tokopah.html.

Take a Nap on Little Baldy

Little Baldy sits at 8044′ and offers 300 degree view of the surrounding area. The trail is 3.5 miles round-trip and only climbs about 650 feet to its summit. Take some sandwiches or stuff for a picnic, the rock is very comfortable to hang out on and even take a nap. The trailhead is 11 miles north of the Giant Forest Village.

Check Out the Views on Big Baldy

If you hike Little Baldy, you should definitely make your way over the Big Baldy. Big Baldy (8,209 feet) is a little longer hike 4.8 miles round-trip and almost the same elevation gain (600 feet) as Little Baldy. To get to Big Baldy from the Giant Forest Village it is about 22 miles. This is also a perfect hike for families that want to take their kids out for a little and have a picnic with a view.

Say Hi to the Volunteers on Buck Rock Lookout

Buck Rock Lookout is actually located in Sequoia National Forest. I still put it on the list because it is very close to the National Parks. The Lookout sits on top of a granite dome and to reach the lookout you have to climb 172 steps. Named after the first fire watcher Buck McGee. It is staffed 7 days a week by volunteers.

More information here: Sequoia National Forest: Buck Rock Lookout.

Pick Up a Gift in Grant Grove Village

Grant Grove Village is a good place to take a break and look around. Head to the Kings Canyon Visitor Center where you can pick up books, maps or gifts. Accommodations are also available: John Muir Lodge and Grant Grove Cabins. If you are hungry for a bite to eat, Grant Grove Restaurant makes pretty good food. If you need supplies head to the Grant Grove Market, if you need cash there is an ATM and if you wanted to send a postcard there is a post office.

Find the Top of General Grant Tree

The General Grant Tree is the third largest tree in the world and is known as “the Nation’s Christmas tree”. The tree resides in Grant Grove where a loop trail offers a perfect place for families to take a quick walk around and check out all the amazing sequoia trees situated in the half a mile. Make sure to get there early in the day or later as parking is scarce and you may have to park 1 mile away even. More information here: https://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/grant.htm.

Paddle Board on Hume Lake

Hume Lake is a reservoir located in Sequoia National Forest, not in the national parks, but since it’s only about a 3 mile drive off Highway 180, I had to put it on my list. I consider this a great place for a stop. They have a Christian Camp that offers camps and retreats for all ages during the summer months especially. It is much quieter during off-season. There are several campgrounds around the lake and nearby, cabins are available for rent (private), you can boat, fish, hike and swim (rentals available for paddle boards, rowboats and kayaks). There is a small shop if you need some items like snacks and drinks, a gas station (expensive, fill up before you get into the park) and a small cafe and gift shop.

Climb on a Stump in Stump Meadow

On your drive to #16 Boole Tree Loop you will pass a very picturesque meadow full of sequoia stumps, hence its name Stump Meadow. The meadow is absolutely green and it was saddening to see the blackened stumps that catch your eye; but why is there so many stumps? For about 20 years from 1887-1908, Converse Basin was stripped of its giant sequoia trees. After checking it out, head over to Boole Tree Trail for a quick hike.

Hike the Boole Tree Loop

Boole Tree Trail is a short 2.5 mile loop and to get there I would recommend a AWD car because after Stump Meadow the road is dirt and very bumpy. This is another one that doesn’t lie in the National Parks but in Sequoia National Forest. Boole Tree lies in the Converse Basin (as does Stump Meadow), which as I mentioned before was logged. An interesting fact is that the tree was named after Franklin A. Boole, the supervisor for the logging operation. It’s named after the very man who stripped Stump Meadow, but he decided to spare the tree’s life due to its size. Boole tree is 6th largest tree in the world.

Picnic at Grizzly Falls

Grizzly Falls Picnic Area is located on the beautiful Kings Canyon Highway 180 just outside the border of the national park. On your way to Roads End you can stop and have a nice picnic right next to Grizzly Falls, one of the more attractive waterfalls hidden behind the trees. The Falls are 80 feet high and the area has picnic tables, bathrooms and very little parking. Some information on picnic areas: https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/picnic.htm.

Have Coffee at Roaring River Falls

Another great waterfall to visit that won’t take longer than 15-30 minutes (.5 miles) is Roaring River Falls (15 feet). When we went, I took out my Jetboil and made a coffee that we put in our Snowpeak mugs and sipped along the way. We also got lucky with all the water as we went on Memorial Day Weekend. The river was roaring, but not too much; we had read that some years it gushes so much from the snow melt that it makes it look more like a mess.

Jump in a Random Pool on the Copper Creek Trail

Copper Creek Trail is a more difficult trail and if you are an avid backpacker you will love it. The elevation gain to get to Granite Basin is over 5,000 feet in 10 miles. I’d say if you want a really good training hike, definitely try this one; plus you get to jump in alpine water after the hard hike. Check out both Grizzly Falls and Roaring River Falls on your way out before you head home.

Feel the Mist from Mist Falls

Mist Falls (100 feet high) is also a great hiking destination that is 4.6 miles one-way. Not an easy hike with the elevation again, so make sure you take food and water; it is perfect place to have a picnic while feeling the mist from the falls. Mist Falls is located at the end of Kings Canyon Scenic Byway (Hwy 180) at Road’s End. Do not enter the Kings River, the water is very forceful.

— What to Take on Your Trips —

Whether you are just doing a road trip or you’re going to hike, here are some items I would recommend taking on your trips. Obviously you would take more than just these recommended items, but take a look at the list; some of these are for your enjoyment and comfort as well.


  1. GoPro HERO6 – I take my GoPro almost everywhere I go whether it just be for travelling, backpacking/hiking or even to the beach. I love how easy it is to pack and the photo quality is awesome!
  2. Snow Peak Titanium Double Wall Cup – Ever since I bought this, I have used it to drink out of and even eat out of (make a soup in it). You can even use this to just drink water, have a coffee in the morning or make your favorite refreshing drink. Perfect lightweight travel mug. 100% part of my backpacking/hiking gear. If you’re a coffee lover, get the lid for the cup.
  3. Jetboil Flash Cooking System – I have the older version of this one, but again another item I take because I love my morning coffee on trips and my soup while hiking. Boils water so fast.
  4. Anker PowerCore 20100 – Ultra High Capacity Power Bank – Always take a power bank with you to charge your electronics especially if you won’t be near electricity or your car for while; better to use the power back anyway instead of your car. I take a similar one made by goal zero for hiking that has a solar panel for it.
  5. Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack – Always need a daypack with you on road trips. Pick one of the Osprey packs, they’re a great brand.

Maps and Books

  1. National Geographic – Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Map – Great map to find where you want to go: has campgrounds, points of interest, scenic overlooks, trailheads, etc.
  2. Lonely Planet Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (Travel Guide) – Always good to have a guide/travel book with you.
  3. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: Your Complete Hiking Guide – There are all types of trails in this hiking guide from 1/2 mile to 20 miles+. Great for the outdoor adventurer or the avid backpacker/hiker.

— Related Posts —

— Follow @beyondlimitsonfoot on Instagram —

My Picks – August 2018

Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 Platinum Backpacking Tent

>>that backpacking tent you want because it’s so light and spacious.

This item hits close to home mainly because we opted out of doing the John Muir Trail because of the air quality and fires going on here in California. The fires are mostly contained, but the smoke is still there. See why we opted out in my post: John Muir Trail: Why We Opted Out of Doing the JMT. Either way, we bought this tent not too long ago. We were backpacking up in the Sabrina Lake Backcountry as we saw a group of people setting up this tent. We were in the market for one. Tent looked super easy to put up and there was enough space for our packs too; we got the 3 person tent. Guess what the best part was, what it weighed. I bet you didn’t know a 3 person tent can weigh under 3 pounds in total. Price doesn’t matter at this point for what you get. This tent will last you years!

The little things we looked for before buying this tent:

  • Weight – since we go backpacking a lot and our tent right now weighs about 5 lbs. This was a huge factor as to which tent we would buy; the packed weight combined is 2 lb. 10 oz.
  •  Size – one of us is tall, so space matters. We also wanted to be able to put our packs inside with us instead of having them linger outside the tent; that’s why we chose the 3 person.
  •  Doors – we all know we hate going over the other person in a tent just to go to the bathroom at night. This tent has two different entries so you can get in and out on your side without bothering your partner.

*Note the tent does not come with the Platinum Footprint.

>> $$699.95 – Amazon

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Backpacking Mattress

>>that mattress you add to your gear for extra benefits

I already had a backpacking mattress, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress. I really didn’t need another mattress, but this one I couldn’t just take out onto a rock and lay on it without being worried it would get a hole in it. So we decided to get something more usable outdoors too. If we go on longer trips this is the choice we go with, if it’s just a one night trip I’ll take both of the mattresses and my comfort level goes up a lot.

outdoor gear


>> $$44.95 – Amazon


Sea to Summit X Pan

>that pan your sister buys you for your birthday so you can cook her quesadillas on the trail

My sister bought me this for my birthday one year and since then we have made quesadillas and tacos with it. Check out my: Tacos at 10,000 Feet recipe if you’d like to do some awesome cooking in the mountains. What I like about this is that it fits pretty easily in my pack and it weighs only 9.6oz. When I’m cooking on it, the handles don’t become hot.

Thinking we’ll have to cook up something else in it on our next backpacking trip over labor day, maybe some fajitas.



>> $39.95 – Amazon

GSI Outdoors Spice Missile

If you’ve been on a backpacking trip, you’ve tried freeze-dried food. Freeze dried food isn’t always the tastiest, so this Spice Rocket is just the thing you need. You can fit up to 4 spices in it, which is just a perfect amount. I take paprika powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Those ingredients are the most used in our kitchen anyway and I have added them to some backpacking meals and it made the food so much better.

It’s weight (2.1 oz.) and size are ideal for backpacking trips or even a short weekend camping trip where you don’t want to take all your spices.

outdoor gear

>> $9.95 – Amazon

— Related Posts —

— Check Out Some Grub Ideas for the Trail —


— Check Out What’s in My Backpack —

— Follow @beyondlimitsonfoot on Instagram —

John Muir Trail: Why We Opted Out of Doing the JMT!

It’s taken me a while to write this, because I’ve been in a funk since we decided to postpone doing the John Muir Trail this year. If you are just tuning in, this March I was awarded permits to do the John Muir Trail, a “premier hiking trail in the United States” says http://johnmuirtrail.org/.

— What to Expect in this Post —

  1. About the John Muir Trail: I’ve put together a little bit about the trail that can help you understand how it is every avid hiker’s dream to do this hike.
  2. The Story of Why Not: This is the story of why we chose not to do the trail
  3. Some Great Reads of People Who Conquered the JMT: Along our journey we did a lot of reading of how others got ready for the trip, packed, etc. Quick list of some of my favorite sites that I used for reference when getting ready for the trip.

— About the John Muir Trail —

What is the John Muir Trail? It’s a long-distance trail, a long-distance of 212 miles in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. This trail is usually one of the first thru-hikes that most do to gain the common knowledge hiking community “I am a thru-hiker” term. California holds a place in my heart, not because of Los Angeles, but because I can get to the Sierra Nevada mountains within a little more than a couple hours and hike in to majestic alpine lakes and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There’s only one place where you can hike and surf all in the same day.

If you haven’t heard of the trail, it begins in Happy Isles – located in Yosemite National Park. This is the lowest part of the journey sitting at 4,000 feet. The trail runs all the way to it’s highest point Mt. Whitney (14,505 feet); Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain of the contiguous United States. If you’d like to know more about how to climb Mt. Whitney check out my post here: Mt. Whitney – Inyo National Forest.

After leaving Happy Isles, the trail doesn’t go much under 8,000 feet, 35% of the trail is above 10,000 feet and the elevation gain total is over 46,000 feet total. If you’d like to read more about the trail check out the John Muir Trail Page by Steve and Claire Schauer and the Pacific Crest Trail Associations John Muir Trail Page.

— The Story of Why Not —

February 15, 2018 I put in a Yosemite Wilderness Lottery Application to do the John Muir Trail. A day later I received a confirmation email that they received my permit. A day later I received my first denial email that I was not awarded a permit. A day later another denial. But on February 19 I received a different kind of email that didn’t say “Denied”, it said “Wilderness Permit Confirmation”. I had to open the email to make sure it was true and it was. I was put into the lottery and they picked my permit; I was in Jackson Hole on a ski trip and realized what this meant and started yelling because I was so excited. I ran out of the room and told my sisters that I had been awarded the permit.

March – May

After the trip, it was time to start planning; we bought a few new gear items and bought all our food over time. We used amazon for almost everything and of course hit up REI and Big 5 for some other items. In April, I received some of my first items in the mail from Amazon. Since I had a few backpacking trips planned before our hike including: High Sierra Trail: Crescent Meadow to 9 Mile CreekMomyer Creek Trail – Falls Creek Trail Loop: San Gorgonio Wilderness, Big Pine Creek North Fork, Sabrina Lake Backcountry, Kearsarge Pass and Yosemite Half Dome.

June – July

In June and July the rest of our ordered items started rolling in. Little did we know that the erratic weather we had been having would change the course of what I believed to be one of the hardest and most exhilarating things that I would ever do. On July 13th,  lightning decided fate and started a fire just outside of Yosemite. I crossed my fingers and hope that they would be able to put the fire out because July 28th I had permits to climb Half Dome.



In the first 24 hours the fire grew 828 acres and because of its steep and rugged terrain, it was very hard to get to where the first was. We still had 2 weeks to find out if we would have to cancel the trip or not. The hotel I had reserved Cedar Lodge at Yosemite was under mandatory evacuation on July 20th; the communities that were evacuated was Old El Portal, Rancheria Flat, Foresta, and Yosemite View Lodge. The following day a couple more communities were evacuated. You can read more about the fire incident here: Ferguson Fire.


I realized a week before our trip, that I had to make the call; the fire grew daily about 2-3,000 acres and it was only contained 20%+. Since we had a friend flying in, I made the call on Monday of cancelling the trip as Yosemite Valley was closed; there was no way we were going to hike Half Dome in the air quality it had. Every morning my routine was to check the Yosemite webcams, check the Mammoth Mountain webcams and then check the update on the Ferguson Fire, Lions Fire, Georges Fire and the Owens Fire. Things weren’t looking good for us.

On August 3rd, 2018 we set out to Mammoth Lakes, CA in my sisters and her boyfriends Sprinter Van (@adventurewithpebbles). This was the first leg of the journey before heading on the John Muir Trail. The entire drive up was smoky on the 395 and got even worse once we got into Mammoth, you could just smell the smoke. We knew going into it, we may not be able to start in Yosemite Valley so our second option was to start in Tuolumne Meadows, which was less desirable the moment we got out of our car.


I didn’t realize until now that we may need to either start later on the trail, maybe even as far in as Red’s Meadow or call the entire trip off. What made me decide to call it off? There are so many reasons, but mainly it is because I wasn’t going to have the chance to do the entire trail and that’s really what I wanted to do! I wanted to do Happy Isles to Mt. Whitney from start to finish in one hike. I didn’t want an asterisk next to its name. I didn’t want to not be able to see all of the trail because of the smoke. I wanted to experience everything the John Muir Trail has to offer.

We went for a short hike up to Arrowhead Lake (2.6 miles round-trip) and smoke grew as the day went on. Definitely realized at this point while we were hiking, how are we going to endure this for 3 weeks?

The Decision

I keep going through my head about the reasons why we decided to opt out; it was a wise choice – we made the right choice and the trail is not going anywhere. I will try it again next year!

  1. Air Quality – Yes, there could have been clear skies half the time, half the trip; but the fact that there were 4 fires in the area and depending on wind was our only option for a comfortable healthy hike, we didn’t want to opt in for that. The hike itself is hard already and to breathe smoke for 3 weeks could take a toll on our health.
  2.  Whole Trail – We applied for these permits to do the entire trail!
  3.  Fire Danger – What if we were on the trail and the fires got worse, out of control. The safety aspect would be thrown out the window if we would have opted to do the trail. It was unsafe.

So, Sunday August 4th we decided to take the ride back home in the Sprinter Van Pebbles. So many thoughts were running through my head during the entire drive back home. We went straight back to work when we got home; I had a hard time thinking about anything else. I will probably go on many more backpacking trips on weekends, but it won’t be the same as the trail. Till next time John Muir Trail!

— Some Great Reads of People Who Conquered the JMT —

Bearfoot Theory: California’s John Muir Trail

Trail to Peak: A Comprehensive Guide for the John Muir Trail

The Big Outside: Thru-hiking the John Muir Trail: The Ultimate, 10-Day, Ultralight Plan

Future Travel: Fastpacking the John Muir Trail

SoCal Hiker: Hiking the John Muir Trail

Martijn Linden: Packing List:: 7-Day Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail

— Check Out Some Grub Ideas for the Trail —

— Check Out What’s in My Backpack —

— Follow @beyondlimitsonfoot on Instagram —

Trail Food: To-Go Wrap

Making a wrap is one of my most favorite things to do these days for one-night backpacking trips or day hikes; you can even make this for work any day – I do, at least once a week.
*Note: Not a lightweight meal, but so nice to have something fresh

— Trail Food Talk —

I found that just taking jerky and snacks doesn’t hit the spot as much as something fresh made at home! Usually the weight matters, but on a day hike and on a one-night backpacking trip, a little extra weight to get something more nutritious and “yummy” hits the spot every time. I only started making these wraps about a year ago when we went on a quick over-night backpacking trip to Long Lake (I have still yet to write about this hike, so behind).

You can obviously change around whatever you would like in the wrap, but nothing other than tomatoes (isn’t too bad) get soggy. I have even had the rest of a wrap for breakfast the next morning. 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 or taking actual fresh food. Either way if you have a minute, check out my Trail Food: Grub Ideas for the Trail page for more items that I like to take on our backpacking/hiking trips.

Check Them Out: I started reading around a lot more about recipes on the trail. Here are some of my favorite websites to read.

Hope you enjoyed those reads if you clicked on them. Alright, time to get this recipe wrapped.

— Recipe —

Serves 1
For the Wrap
1 large spinach tortilla (Mission Wraps Garden Spinach Herb Tortillas)
4 tomato slices halved
4 cucumber slices halved
Slices of red onion to your taste
Handful of spinach or any salad (I like to use mixed greens)
Slices of yellow hot wax pepper
Turkey/Chicken Meat
Pepper Jack Cheese
Spicy Mayo (Lee Kum Kee Lkk Sriracha Mayo)
Jalapeno Mustard or Regular Mustard (Silver Springs Mustard Jalapeno)
1 piece of foil

— Prepare at Home —

Easiest way to have the least dishes on the trail is to make the wrap at home and put in the fridge. It will be very fresh even for lunch and potentially the next day still.

  1. Place down a larger piece of foil on the counter (bigger than the tortilla)
  2. Place the tortilla on the foil
  3. Add your choice of condiments, in this case I use Spicy Mayo and Jalapeno Mustard. If I have no jalapeno mustard I will just use regular mustard (just as tasty)
  4. Add a handful of mixed greens
  5. Add tomato, cucumber, onion and yellow wax hot pepper
  6. Add some extra condiments if you like your sauces
  7. Add chicken/turkey breast
  8. Add sliced pepper jack halved to fit the height of the tortilla
  9. Roll the tortilla and then roll the foil around it

Your wrap is ready to go (refrigerate if you make the night before you leave or put in cooler).

— Prepare on the Trail —

Nothing, just eat it when you feel like it!

— Related Posts —

— Check Out Some Grub Ideas for the Trail —

— Check Out What’s in My Backpack —

— Follow @beyondlimitsonfoot on Instagram —

John Muir Trail: Day to Day Plan

The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”
― John Muir

— What to Expect in This Post —

  1.  Trail Talk – A little background of day-to-day plans and what might change it
  2.  Day to Day Plan A – The plan if Yosemite Valley opens by our start date of August 8, 2018 (Ferguson Fire we may need to go to Plan B)
  3.  Day to Day Plan B – The plan if our trailhead is not accessible
  4.  Resupply Points – Just a quick excerpt on where we will be resupplying depending on our routes
  5.  Other Day to Day Plans – These are some of the day-to-day plans I was reading about before picking out how we wanted to potentially do it – check them out!
  6.  Locate Us – I have set this up for family and friends to follow along; you’ll be able to see us on a map and how we are doing.
  7.  Guest Artist  – This is actually my sister and she has some products that are available to buy; reason I am adding this here is because she just did artwork of Yosemite. Check her out! @twintedinc on Instagram and Twinted Shop Page.
  8.  Gear Picks – Some gear favorites that I’ll be taking on the trail

— Trail Talk —

So we sent our resupply last week and I just tracked it this morning and the 5 gallon buckets were delivered to the P.O. Box at Florence Lake; this one is for our Muir Trail Ranch resupply. If you are just tuning in, this coming Wednesday August 8th I will be embarking on one of the biggest challenges I have ever done in the outdoors; I will be hiking the trail. I’ve set up a John Muir Trail Page for those of you who would like to follow the whole process.

A couple fires in the area, may put us in a bind and we will have to change our day-to-day plan so I’ve put together quick daily plans if we will be able to start in on the official Happy Isles (HI) Trailhead or have to start out of Tuolumne Meadows. Unfortunately due to the fire near Yosemite Valley, we probably will not be starting on our trailhead reserved.

What does this mean? This means all HI permits are cancelled. What do we do now? Well our plan is to go to Tuolumne Tuesday night and try for permits first thin Wednesday. It isn’t 100%, but the lady on the phone did say they have had no problems with shortage. We weren’t supposed to arrive to Tuolumne Meadows until Friday anyways, so we’ll just try again the next day if we need to. I guess we just have to leave it up to chance at this point; which I am ok with.

Let’s see if we stick to any of the plans below after we finish the trail!

— Day to Day Plan A —

If Yosemite Valley does open we will stick to our original plan of going an average of 11.6 miles per day; of course there will be up and downs, but we have picked out spots that are around that mileage. I have a feeling we won’t stick to these as much depending on the terrain, how we feel, smoke (especially in the beginning of the trail) and the other things that can slow you down 🙂

Day Trail Junction or Landmark Total Miles Day Miles Elevation End Elev + Elev –
1 Happy Isles to Forsythe Trail Jct 8.7 8.7 8,150 4,115 0
2 Tuolumne Meadows Backpacker Camp * ^ 23.9 15.2 8,700 1,700 1,150
3 Lyell Headwaters 34.8 10.9 10,200 1,500 0
4 Ediza Lake Trail ^ ^ 47.6 12.8 9,050 1,450 2,600
5 Red’s Meadow * 57.3 9.7 7,600 850 2,350
6 Purple Lake 70.7 13.4 9,900 2,500 200
7 North Fork of Mono Creek ^ 83.5 12.8 8,900 2,200 3,200
8 Italy Pass Trail 95.5 12 9,250 2,700 2,300
9 Muir Trail Ranch * ^ 106.4 10.9 8,400 1,620 2,470
10 Colby Meadow 118.4 12 9,800 2,000 600
11 Helen Lake ^ 128.7 10.3 11,595 2,650 810
12 Deer Meadow 142.7 14 8,700 700 3,595
13 Bench Lake Trail ^ 156.2 13.5 11,000 4,380 2,080
14 South Fork Trail ^ 166.8 10.6 8,500 1,100 3,600
15 Bubbs Creek Trail ^ 180.1 13.3 9,600 3,480 2,380
16 Shepherd Pass Trail ^ 192.1 12 10,930 3,600 2,270
17 Guitar Lake 205.7 13.6 11,600 1,200 530
18 Mt. Whitney Summit/Outpost Camp 219 13.3 10,600 2,900 3,900
19 Whitney Portal (we may finish Saturday) 222.4 2.4 8,360 0 2,240
  •  * = Resupply
  •  ^ = Pass we need to climb

— Day to Day Plan B —

So worst case, Yosemite Valley is still close and we will begin out of Tuolumne Meadows. This was a last-minute put together plan that I for sure know we will butcher out there. I just tried to keep the mileage to where we can potentially have a little more time to ourselves here and there.

Day Trail Junction or Landmark Total Miles Day Miles Elevation End Elev + Elev –
1 Tuolumne Meadows to Lyell Headwaters 10.9 10.9 10,200 1,500 0
2 Garnet Lake ^ 20.8 9.9 9,680 1,450 1,970
3 Red’s Meadow * ^ 33.4 12.6 7,600 900 2,980
4 Duck Creek 44.4 11 10,100 2,500 0
5 Goodale Pass Trail 54.4 10 10,300 1,600 1,400
6 Bear Ridge ^ 67.2 12.8 9,950 2,850 3,200
7 Muir Trail Ranch * ^ 82.5 15.3 8,400 2,070 3,620
8 Evolution Meadow 91.5 9 9,200 1,400 600
9 Evolution Creek 101.6 10.1 10,400 1,650 450
10 LeConte Ranger Station ^ 111.1 9.5 8,700 1,555 3,255
11 Palisades Lakes 121.8 10.7 10,650 2,650 700
12 Lake Marjorie ^ 133.8 12 11,200 2,630 2,080
13 South Fork Trail ^ 142.9 9.1 8,500 900 3,600
14 Kearsarge Pass Trail ^ 154 11.1 10,800 3,480 1,180
15 Forester Pass ^ 163.2 9.2 13,200 3,600 1,200
16 Wallace Creek 175.2 12 10,400 0 2,800
17 Guitar Lake 181.8 6.6 11,600 1,200 0
18 Whitney Portal 198.5 16.7 8,360 2,900 6,140
  • * = Resupply
  •  ^ = Pass we need to climb

— Resupply Points —

The following are the resupplies we will be doing for the trail. The only difference between Plan A and B is that we might start from Tuolumne Meadows, so no need for us to drop off the 3 day resupply there we’ll just pack that in our packs instead of the 2 day that was for Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows.

Resupply Point Distance miles from Happy Isles Distance off trail Distance miles from Whitney Portal
Tuolumne Meadows Post Office 22 miles .75 miles 199 miles
Red’s Meadow Resort 60 miles .5 miles 161 miles
Vermillion Valley Resort 88 miles 5 miles 133 miles
Muir Trail Ranch 111 miles 1.5 miles 111 miles

*Elizabeth Wenk’s John Muir Trail Book has all the resupply points available in case you need food or supplies earlier. We are writing some of these down, but it’s pretty easy to find these on the John Muir Trail Map Pack.

  1. Tuolumne Meadows Post Office (3 day resupply)
  2. Red’s Meadow Resort (4 day resupply)
  3. Muir Trail Ranch (9-10 day resupply)

This Saturday before we leave, we will head up into Mammoth Lakes and spend a couple of days there relaxing. We will go ahead and drop off our Red’s Meadow Resort resupply that weekend. See more on my resupply plans on my last post: John Muir Trail: Resupply Time.

— Other Day to Day Plans —

Before picking our day to days I read a lot about how people set theirs up; there is literally no right and wrong way. Do your own trail; so I’m pretty sure even though we have our goals written down, doesn’t mean we’ll follow it exactly. Here are some good reads on how other people did their mileage on the JMT.

— Locate Us —

During our hike you may wonder how we are doing; well I’ve set up a page that you can locate us on a map and see where we are on the trail. We use the Garmin In Reach Explorer + that you can buy on either REI or Amazon.

outdoor gear

Locate Us

— Guest Artist —

My sister and I have been working a new company (Twinted Inc.) that showcases her art that she then turns into a product all on her own. Her latest project has come just in time for when I start the journey on the John Muir Trail. In order Picture 1 is a photo we took years back in the winter time, Picture 2 is a photo of her pencil drawing, Picture 3 is the drawing put to life after her retracing it on the computer.

If you are interested in buying “yosemite down below” please let me know or click on Twinted Inc’s Shop and purchase your desired apparel. Please Contact Twinted if you would like to talk further on your own custom design.

— Gear Picks —

  1.  Tent Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 3 Person Backpacking Tent: We’re going to test this out on the trail and let you know how we liked it. Two of us and it should fit all our gear; already liking how lightweight it is and the space! Also, put it up in our backyard last week and it was very easy to put up.
  2.  Sleeping Bag North Face Unisex Cat’s Meow: I’ve had this for over 5 years. The link is something similar to the one I have as it weighs just about 2.2 lbs. 20 degree bag should be enough for the John Muir Trail.
  3.  Sleeping Pad Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Backpacking Mattress– : Last couple of hikes we’ve been using this without the blow up and honestly it’s very comfortable. We’ll see after 19 days on the trail. You can also use it outside the tent while you are cooking or to lay on a rock outside the tent when you are resting.
  4.  Pillow Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow Premium– : I swear by this pillow. Ever since I got it, I have used it on every trip even took it to Switzerland on one of our hut to hut trips.

— Check Out My John Muir Trail and Blog Updates —

— Check Out What’s in My Backpack —

— Check Out Some Grub Ideas for the Trail —

— Follow @beyondlimitsonfoot on Instagram —

John Muir Trail: Resupply Time

The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”
― John Muir

— Trail Talk —

It’s been 5 years since I’ve put in for permits to go in August for the John Muir Trail. This summer I am embarking on one of the biggest challenges I have ever done in the outdoors; I will be hiking the trail. I’ve set up a John Muir Trail Page for those of you who would like to follow the whole process.

It’s T -8 days till start date of the John Muir Trail and there are couple logistics problems that may come our way due to the Ferguson Fire in Yosemite. We however did send out our Muir Trail Ranch resupply. We are not going to send the other two because we will actually be dropping off our first two resupplies with the help of family. Even though there are more than 3 resupplies on the trail; we decided to go with only 3. See below our strategy.

One of the problems we may have is not starting in Yosemite Valley; we would actually need to find another trailhead and at that point our permits for the JMT are invalid and we would be considered a walk in permit. Hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does we have a Plan B and will let you know what we did.

— What is a Resupply —

A little background on what re-supply means, for those of you who have never done a thru-hike (I’m in that bucket; longest days I’ve been on the trail was 5). Now what is a thru-hike you may ask?

Thru-hiking means that you are hiking a long-distance trail from one and end to the other in one sitting. Thru-hiking dates back many years as foot travel used to be the way to transport oneself from one place to another. There are many thru-hikes around the world, but in the United States there are three rather known long-distance hiking trails. Appalachian Trail (AT – spans 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT – spans – 2,659 miles from Mexico Border to the Canadian Border on the west coast) and Continental Divide Trail (CDT – spans 3,1000 miles also between Mexico and Canada along the Rocky Mountains). If a person thru-hikes the three of these they will earn the “Triple Crown of Hiking”.

It’s absolutely crazy awesome to see people out there doing these trails; who knows maybe after the John Muir Trail I’ll be inspired to take on a longer hike challenge. As you know these long-distance trails you carry everything on your back; but you don’t carry everything for 3 weeks, 6 months or a year.

Resupply stops are essential to the long-distance traveler; a place where you can rest and rejuvenate and pack up all the belongings you will add to your pack like perhaps food, toiletries, even gear on longer hikes. On the JMT there are several resupply opportunities that I will showcase here below or you can go straight to my John Muir Trail: Resupply Page.

— What to Resupply —

There are so many items that are important to resupply along any thru-hike. I’ve put together a simple list of items that are great to put in your resupply box when you have a stop over. We used a 5 gallon bucket that you can buy at Home Depot and also on Amazon. This is probably the best bucket to send you resupply or drop it off because there is no way for mice or small animals to get into the plastic.

For the JMT:

— Resupply Points —

Resupply Point Distance miles from Happy Isles Distance off trail Distance miles from Whitney Portal
Tuolumne Meadows Post Office 22 miles .75 miles 199 miles
Red’s Meadow Resort 60 miles .5 miles 161 miles
Vermillion Valley Resort 88 miles 5 miles 133 miles
Muir Trail Ranch 111 miles 1.5 miles 111 miles

*Elizabeth Wenk’s John Muir Trail Book has all the resupply points available in case you need food or supplies earlier.

So, how are we going to break it up? It’s simple, I think; no not at all, I’ve never done this before. With the help of a lot of reading and books, came to the conclusion that we will use the following resupply points along the trail. *I’ll have an updated resupply page once we are done with the trail itself.

  1. Tuolomne Meadows Post Office (3 day resupply)
  2. Red’s Meadow Resort (4 day resupply)
  3. Muir Trail Ranch (9-10 day resupply)

The Saturday before we leave, we will head up into Mammoth Lakes and spend a couple of days there relaxing. We will go ahead and drop off our Red’s Meadow Resort resupply that weekend. On either Monday or Tuesday we will head to Yosemite and drop off our Tuolomne Meadows resupply and pick up our permits. We haven’t decided which day, but we do leave on our hike first thing Wednesday morning.

Soon to come is my resupply page with more information on all the resupply points and what we put into our resupplies. It will probably be after my hike as I’d like to update with the experiences during the resupplies. Let me know what you guys did for your resupplies. Look forward to hearing about it.

— Check Out My John Muir Trail and Blog Updates —

— Check Out What’s in My Backpack —

— Check Out Some Grub Ideas for the Trail —

— Follow @beyondlimitsonfoot on Instagram —

10,000 Feet Peaks in Southern California

— New Challenge —

I’ve always been trying to figure out a good challenge to take on. I have a ton of training above 10,000 feet I need to do because I have two major hikes this year including two peaks above 14,000 feet. So, I’ve been trying to think what would be cool training for the hikes that I have planned. What if I hike every single peak in Southern California that is above 10,000 feet? It’s definitely doable, don’t know how long it will take me, but it will be a good challenge that I can keep updating you guys on here on this blog. Have any of you done any of these? I have done only 2 of them Mt. Baldy (Mount San Antonio – twice) and San Jacinto Peak (Cactus to Clouds Hike).

Have any of you guys done all of these or even any? Tell me about your journey!

— Peaks Above 10,000 Feet —

There are 22 peaks in Southern California that are above 10,000 feet.

Rank Peak Name Elevation (ft.) Date Finished My Description
1. San Gorgonio Mountain 11,499
2. Jepson Peak 11,205
3. Bighorn Mountain 11,205
4. Dragon’s Head 10,866
5. Anderson Peak 10,840
6. San Jacinto Peak 10,834 05/08/16 Cactus to Clouds – Palm Springs to Mt. San Jacinto
7. Charlton Peak 10,806
8. San Bernardino East Peak 10,691
9. Shields Peak 10,680
10. Jean Peak 10,670
11. San Bernardino Peak 10,649
12. Alto Diablo 10,563
13. Dobbs Peak 10,510
14. Folly Peak 10,480
15. Miller Peak 10,400
16. Marion Mountain 10,362
17. Grinnell Mountain 10,284
18. Lake Peak 10,161
19. Drury Peak 10,160
20. Little Charlton 10,094
21. Ten Thousand Foot Ridge 10,094
22. Mt. Baldy 10,064 07/23/13 & 11/12/17 Mt. Baldy – Angeles National Forest

— Check Out What’s in My Backpack —

— Check Out Some Grub Ideas for the Trail —

— Follow me on Instagram @beyondlimitsonfoot

John Muir Trail: Announcement

The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”
― John Muir

— Trail Talk —

It’s been 5 years since I’ve put in for permits to go in August for the John Muir Trail. This summer I am embarking on one of the biggest challenges I have ever done in the outdoors; I will be hiking the trail. I’ve set up a John Muir Trail Page for those of you who would like to follow the whole process.


— Dates —

Start Date: August 8, 2018

Anticipated End Date: August 26, 2018

— Pages —

*Note the Pages below will be updated as our journey to the JMT gets closer.

Page Info
John Muir Trail Page This will be the main page that will hold all the links below as they are updated.
Background Interested in finding out a little more about the John Muir Trail read about it here.
Permits A detailed description of how to get permits for the trail.
Gear List An interesting perspective to what gear I have now, what gear I should drop and my final gear list.
Food Food is an integral part of a thru-hike and planning it out is the best way to make sure you get enough calories per day. Find out how we are making it work
Re-Supplies During the trek, you do not carry all of your food. You will have to make stops to re-supply; find out where to stop and how I did it
Blog Entries All blogs associated with the John Muir Trail will be housed here.
Day to Day Planning There’s many ways you can set up your own plan when doing the JMT. Take the time to figure out what works best for you. I’m set on doing it within 19-21 days. Read more here to see what my day to day plan is.
Follow Along Follow along while ach set up to show where we are at the moment. Follow along and find us on the trail.

— Short Description —

The John Muir Trail is a long-distance trail of 212 miles in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. The lowest point of the trail is in Happy Isles (4,000 feet), Yosemite Valley where we will begin our journey and the highest point and terminus is Mt. Whitney (14,505 feet), the highest point in the contiguous United States. This is the official route; we will be following this route over 19 days ascending just over 46,000 feet (that’s the same amount as summiting Mt. Whitney 5.6 times).

— Read More About the Trail —

Photo Teaser What to Read
Beyond Limits on Foot – John Muir Trail: Background
John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America’s Most Famous Trail

— Follow @beyondlimitsonfoot on Instagram —