Big Pine Creek North Fork to Third Lake: John Muir Wilderness

Unfortunately this seems to be a very popular trail.  Please make sure that you practice Leave No Trace; we found a lot of trash here and there.  We found a couple campfires; it specifically says no campfires on this trail when you pick up your permits.

*Originally hiked on June 9, 2019 & June 2, 2018

Location Mileage Elevation Gain Type
Inyo National Forest/John Muir Wilderness
11.4 miles
2,750 feet

— What to Expect in this Guide —

  1. Background – Fun facts, trailhead info, things to know, map of hike.
  2. Itinerary Options – Some ideas following 1-3 day options for you to choose from.
  3. Weather – Always important to check the weather before you head out.
  4. Permits – This section includes how to put in for a permit and where to pick up the permit. *Permit is required to hike in this area.
  5. Directions – how to get to the trailhead.
  6. 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.
  7. Check Them Out – More fun reads by other authors that you can check out.
  8. Hike Stats – Quick overview of the mileage and elevation for points of interest on the hike.
  9. Description – Just in case you want to just hear my story and see some more 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.

Before I get into the guide, I wrote a couple recipes down that we have taken on the trail.  We actually did the To-Go Wraps for both 2018 & 2019 trips and made Tacos at 10,000 Feet.  Check them out.

Also, if you are one of those people who love video blogs more than reading all the blabbering in the world you should check out my channel and some great footage from this spectacular hike.

— Twinted Inspiration —

One of the best things about getting outdoors is we get an inspiration to draw/design the places we have been to.  My sister and I have a small side business in which we make our designs come to life.  Our Moments page on Twinted website: temple crag show how the design comes to life.  Check out then big pine collection

Big Pine Lake Second Lake, pencil drawing by Michelle Halloran


Digitized drawing of the above on a sweater available for purchase!

— Background —

Big Pine Creek North Fork trail is nestled in the California High Sierras west of Bishop and Big Pine.  A fun fact about the trail is there is a cabin about 3.5 miles in that was once a summer home to a Hollywood Star.  Lon Chaney was an famous American stage and film actor, director, screenwriting and make-up artist.  He was well known for The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera.  Chaney had a summer cabin built for himself made of stone and wood (1929).  This cabin still stands and is a nice place to day hike to if in the area or pass by on a longer backpacking trip. Inyo National Forest Service has taken over ownership as a Ranger Cabin and visitors are not allowed inside.

— Trailhead Info —

Big Pine Creek North Fork
The trailhead to Big Pine Lakes is at the end of Glacier Lodge Road.  Glacier Lodge burnt down in 1998, but they still have cabins for rent, a small store, showers and a free trout.  A campground is available for overnight use for a fee.  This is the last place you will see a vault toilet if you are off to the lakes.

Glacier Lodge Website

— Things to Know —

This is the know before you go section.

  • No campfires are allowed in the area
  • Food, scented items and waste must be stored in a bear canister
  • Burry human waste 100 feet away from water sources and 6-8 inches deep
  • Check snow report before entering in (2019 we had a huge snow year and we took our microspikes).

— Map of Hike —

Big Pine Area Trails Map on

— Itinerary Options —

One Day
Even if you do this as a day hike, take your essential gear for the day and in case of emergency.

  • Hike ~11.4 miles; ~2,750′ elevation gain out-and-back

Two Day

  • Day 1 – Hike ~6.5 miles; ~2750′ elevation gain from trailhead to Fourth Lake (make sure to stop at Second Lake and even Third) *option to go to 5th lake for an extra 0.6 mi
  • Day 2 – Hike ~10 miles; ~850′ elevation gain from Fourth Lake to Summit Lake and Black Lake to trailhead *option to go to 6th and 7th lakes for an extra 2.0 miles

Three Day

  • See all the lakes and take side trip to Palisade Glacier.

— Weather —

The weather both years was absolutely amazing, but the week after I heard that there were hurricane like winds up there in the same area.  It did get very cold this year (2019).  The weather can change at any time in the mountains, be sure to prepare and pack the right things as needed.
Glacier Lodge (Near trailhead) – Elevation 7,313 feet
Third Lake – Elevation 10,892 feet

— Permits —

— Backcountry Permit —

Day Hikes: You are not required to have a wilderness permit for a day hike. Be sure to leave your itinerary with your family in case anything happens.

Backcountry Permits are required to hike overnight in the John Muir Wilderness Area.  To obtain a permit you can obtain it in person at any of the Inyo National Forest Visitor Centers or to be sure you get a permit, reserve up to 6 months in advance on the website.  Just like most trails in there is an overnight quote, so planning ahead is advised.

*Note: You will not be refunded the $6 reservation fee at any point after completing the purchase. You can get refunded for the permit if you cancel the reservation up to 22 days in advance.

— Directions —

Big Pine Creek Trailhead
Address: 4024 Glacier Lodge Rd, Bishop, CA 93514
From Big Pine, turn west on W Crocker Ave. It will turn into Glacier Lodge Rd. in about .5 miles. Continue on Glacier Lodge Rd. for about 10 miles. There is day parking at the trailhead and the trout pond, no overnight for vehicles here. You can park closer to the trailhead near Glacier Lodge by talking to the owners who will tell you where to park (there is a fee) or drive back out to the Hiker Parking area.  The difference in mileage isn’t much though.

— Maps, Books & Gear Recommendations —


— Maps —

1. Palisades Trail Map (Tom Harrison Maps) – My favorite type of maps are the Tom Harrison Maps. This is the perfect one for this hike; it is also available at the Visitor Center if you forget to buy one ahead of time.
2. Caltopo map of Big Pine Creek North Fork to Third Lake – 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. Sierra South: Backcountry Trips in Californias Sierra Nevada– A book about other hikes in the Southern Sierras. I find most of my trips in this book and the tom harrison maps that I’ve bought throughout the years.

— Some Gear Recommendations —

1. Patagonia Women’s Ultralight Down Jacket – I don’t have this jacket yet, but I have heard so many good things about it. It may just be in my next shopping spree.
2. Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow Premium– This is by far the best sleeping gear I have ever bought. I usually wrap my down jacket and scarf around it to make it even more comfortable. I’ve learned throughout the years to not blow it up all the way; this will allow the pillow to conform to your head better.
3. Sea to Summit X-Pan, 8″, Orange – If you want to make those tacos above 10,000 feet like in my blog: Tacos at 10,000 Feet, then this would be the best kitchen supply you can use for it. We actually used this on this trip, that’s why it’s on my gear recommendations list. Very easy to clean and cook in it.

Check out What’s in My Backpack? and Trail Food: Grub Ideas for the Trail for more of the items I take on a hike.

— Check Them Out —

Before I go on hikes, I always like to check out other write-ups to see if the person who went has any good ideas and just to see how their trip went. Here were some good reads you can check out.

— Hike Stats —

Point of Interest Mileage Elevation
Big Pine Creek Trailhead 0 miles 7,814 feet
Big Pine Wilderness Camp 2.7 miles 9,196 feet
Lon Chaney Cabin 3.5 miles 9,220 feet
First Lake 4.5 miles 9,980 feet
Second Lake 5.1 miles 10,138 feet
Third Lake 5.5 miles 10,283 feet
Fourth Lake 6.5 miles 10,750 feet
Fifth Lake 6.8 miles 10,683 feet
Sixth Lake 8 miles 10,983 feet
Seventh Lake 8.5 miles 11,083 feet

— Description —

I’ve been itching so long to go to Big Pine Lakes and the way I had it planned it didn’t really end up working out that way, but I still had a very good time. We had a friend in town the night before visiting from Canada, which in turn as the trip leader, decided to let everyone sleep in a little longer.  Instead of waking up at 3:30am like I planned, we woke up at 5:00am and ended up leaving the house around 6:00am.  Not too bad considering to get the permits we were about a 3 and half hour drive away.

Getting there

We arrived at the Eastern Sierra Agency Visitor Center around 10:00am and luckily there were only a couple people in front of us in line. I intended to arrive at the ranger station when it opened, so we could get on the trail much earlier. The visitor center opens at 8:00am and usually there is a line on a Saturday morning; this is where you would pick up your Mt. Whitney permits if you intend to climb that beast. The ranger mentioned that I was lucky to get a permit, because this trail is very popular. I wasn’t too excited to see too many people, but usually you can find your own area, it’s so vast out there.

From Lone Pine it took us another hour to get the Big Pine Lakes trailhead; we went straight to the Glacier Lodge Store and spoke to one of the owners about parking there. As mentioned above, there is a $5 fee for parking at Glacier Lodge. If you go back down Glacier Lodge Rd. there is a hikers parking area that is free for parking. We opted to park at Glacier Lodge. Do not park at the trailhead if you are planning on backpacking overnight.

Starting up the trail

We started up the trail at 11:00am approximately, a much later start than I am used to. We still had a full day to get up as far as we felt like going.  The weather was quite pleasant. We got to the Second Lake around 3:00pm and it was full with people.  We decided to take a break and head on towards Third Lake which was not much farther.

Third Lake had some people too, but it felt like we were alone and we found a very nice camp spot. After setting up our tents, we sat by the lake a little and fished.  I had no bites at all and decided after a couple hours to go make dinner.  We were going to have something delicious: TACOS. I have the recipe if any of you would like to take a look:  Tacos at 10,000 Feet.

Heading back out

Didn’t take us very long to get back to the cars, but we did take our time in the morning and made some coffee with hot chocolate.

Note to self: Wake up earlier to be able to go further in or drive up on Friday night and stay close to Lone Pine or Bishop where you will pick up your permits.


Robinson Lake via Onion Valley: Inyo National Forest

Robinson Lake is one of the closer lakes by hiking in the Eastern Sierras, but little did we know that it was one of the steeper trails we’ve ever done.  The elevation gain is 1,350 feet in 1.4 miles.  To say the least that is a very steep grade for a lot of trails; I would say this is a great training hike if you want to get a lot of elevation gain within a short amount of time.

Location Mileage Elevation Gain Type
Inyo National Forest 3.27 mi 1,325 feet Out-and-back

What’s in this Guide?

Feel free to scroll down to any of the sections below.

  1. Map of Hike
  2. Background of the area
  3. Trail Information including trailhead location, elevation of trailhead and lake, permit information, weather and more information on the trail.
  4. Directions
  5. Gear Recommendations
  6. Description of Hike

Map of Hike


Onion Valley sits at 8,900 feet nestled 13 miles outside of a town called Independence off the US 395.  There are several campgrounds on the way up to Onion Valley, where Onion Valley Campground is located as well as a couple trailheads including Kearsarge Pass, Golden Trout Lake and Robinson Lake trails.  These trails are great for both day hikers and backpackers as a destination to lakes is often the enjoyment of these overnight and day trips.

On the way up to Kearsarge Pass, a trail once used as an Indian trading route for centuries, offers 4 lakes that one may choose to stay the night at or day hike to.  It is also your gateway to Kings Canyon National Park, joining up with the JMT (John Muir Trail) and PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) – two famous long distance trails.  The Golden Trout Lakes begins on the same route to Kearsarge Pass, but veers right towards Kearsarge Peak.  The trail is steep and rises 2,200 feet over 2.2 miles to Golden Trout Lakes.  Both of these trails can lead to epic summits surrounding the area.

Trail Info

Trailhead – located inside the Onion Valley Campground.  It is not the same trail as getting to Kearsarge Pass.

Elevation – Trailhead (9,200 feet), Robinson Lake (10,500 feet)

Permits – Required for overnight trips, obtain on website or at any Inyo National Forest ranger station/visitor center.

Weather Onion Valley Campground ~9,000 feet; Robinson Lake ~11,000 feet

Forest Service Information on Robinson Lake Trail – more information about the trail


From Independence, take Market St west.  Market St turns into Onion Valley Rd and continue on road for 12.8 miles till you reach the Onion Valley Campground.  Parking for hikers is located right before the campground near the Kearsarge Pass trailhead.  Walk through the campground and look for trailhead signs for Robinson Lake.

Gear Recommendations

The Hike

*originally hiked: 11/9/19

Reaching Onion Valley Campground around 12:30 pm, we hit the hike just after deciding to make the trek up since it was a short one.  The road up to Onion Valley is pretty cool considering we were able to see the abundance of fall colors.  When we reached the parking area, there were only a couple other cars.  We packed up our day packs and headed through the campground to the trailhead.

The trailhead is very easy to find, but not easy to hike.  I remember being super sore already and it made it rough to climb up to Robinson Lake.  The beginning of the trail is just past the campsites and right away climbs switchback after switchback.  The second part of the hike has very short switchbacks and feels like it just goes straight up.

quick trip

The sun would be hiding behind the mountains soon, so we scurried up as fast as we could to get a look at the lake with the sun gleaming on it.  Spent about 45 min around the lake fishing and relaxing.  There were only two fish, being that it was very late in the season and considering the lake was covered in ice.

I was worried on the way down because I didn’t bring hiking poles (mainly because I forget them at home, didn’t think we were going to do any hiking).  Luckily the hike was short enough that it didn’t make much of a difference for having them or not, but I would have really liked to have them on the uphill.

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15 Items That Always Go In My Hiking Backpack

Thursday evenings are mostly spent finishing packing my backpack for an adventure for the weekend.  I usually begin packing earlier in the week, some of my stuff is even packed from another trip; but this helps me decide if I need to make a trip to the store if I am missing anything.  Since I work full time, most of these hiking trips are day trips or a quick overnight trip; this in turn means that we leave either Friday night or Saturday before anyone thinks of waking up since it’s a weekend.

I used to run into occasions where I would forget an item or two that I should have packed or wanted to pack.  Over the years I’ve compiled a list that contains everything I would potentially take on any kind of hiking trip, one night, two night, day, etc.  Depending on what type of trip, I change the packing list to go with what kind of hike I will be going on.  It was very interesting to see the items I always pack when I go on any of these hiking trips.

*By no means is this list everything I take on my hikes, these are just items that I noticed always join me on my adventures.  There are plenty of other items that can be packed, check out what else is in my backpack.

Backpack – Whether it be a day pack or an overnight pack, this is something I always pack on.  To go hiking, you will need to purchase a backpack that will be comfortable for you and the type of hiking you will be doing.
Osprey 65 L Backpacking Backpack Osprey 10L Hydration Pack Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Dia Daypack
Overnight backpack Day hike backpack Day hike backpack

So you may ask, do you ever go hiking without a backpack?  No, I honestly feel like somethings missing if I go hiking without a backpack.  The items you carry in your backpack may even save your life if something happens.  But what about if I go for a trail run?  You will still need water, so any type of hydration pack where you can fit some necessities would go perfectly for that type of adventure.

GPS Satellite Communicator and/or GPS Watch – I honestly will never go without these on any adventure.  If you aren’t someone who owns one of these but goes out on backpacking trips or local hikes without cell reception, I definitely recommend buying the Garmin inReach.  The Garmin watch is a plus and I actually use this for daily workouts too (running, swimming, elliptical, weights).  It has map settings too that I can put on if we’re out of cell phone range.  There are different variations of this watch and is very similar to smart watches.
Garmin inReach Explorer+ Garmin inReach Mini GPS Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Watch
Satellite communicator, maps and gps navigation Smaller version on the Explorer+ Multisport GPS Watch, TOPO Maps, Garmin Pay, Music

Compass & Map – These are one of the 10 essentials in hiking that most people think they do not need.  I can’t say I’ve ever ran into a moment where I was in trouble and needed to a compass, but I have definitely run into many instances where I’ve needed the map as a resource instead of the gps.  I find comfort in the map, because you can see a larger area than on a small electronic device.  Add these to your packs when you’re headed out for a hike!
Compass Tom Harrison Maps Protection Paracord Bracelet
Simple navigating tool Topographic Maps Compass, fire starter, emergency knife & whistle

Sunscreen & Hat – Did you know you can get a sunburn in the snow too or even when it’s cloudy?  Always take extra sunscreen and a hat for sun protection.
Carabiner Sunscreens Columbia Sun Protection Hat taking it easy retro trucker cap
very easy to clip to pack another hat option Hat design created by our company, Twinted, Inc.


Hydration Reservoir & hydration tablets – This is another necessity on any hike you will go on, you need to take water and extra if you need.  The other item I like to take along on all our hikes are hydration tablets that have electrolytes.  This helps me especially on the longer hikes and backpacking trips.
Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir Nuun Electrolyte Tablets
2.5-3.0L are the best mixes easily with water

Headlamp & Hiking Poles – The headlamp is an extra must, because you will never know how long a hike can take you unless you are on it and doing it; this would be ideal for any emergency situation you may run into on hike.  As I’ve gotten older, I have opted to bring my hiking poles everywhere.  I’ve noticed my pace is better with them and saves my knees for the downhill.
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp Flash Carbon Trekking Poles
battery operated, bring extra batteries lightweight, collapsible

First Aid Kit & Emergency Blanket – these come with me on every hike and I recommend everyone takes with them.
Adventure Medical UL Kit SOL Emergency Bivvy
Ultralight Medical Kit Emergency shelter

Extra Food & Clothes – Never go out into the wilderness without extra food and extra clothes.  I’ve definitely had instances where I was happy that I brought extra food and clothes with me, because sometimes things just don’t go as planned.  We had a hike that turned out to be 15 miles, not only did I need the extra food, but I also needed to change out of a shirt that I wore, because it was soaking wet and was making me cold.  Be prepared when you go out there.
StarKist Salmon Creations Honey Stinger Organic Waffle To-Go Wrap Extra clothes
I always pack a couple extras of these for the hike. Lemon Dill is the best one. 150 calories for 1 waffle, for it’s weight and size perfect as an addition I always pack one or two of these depending on the hike Depending on weather, always take extra clothes to change into or add on

Hope you guys enjoyed this and get inspired to go outside to hike or backpack. Let me know if you have any questions or need ideas for what else to take on the trail.

Happy Adventures,

Annette – Beyond Limits on Foot

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Throop Peak, Mt. Burnham & Mt. Baden Powell via Vincent Saddle: Angeles National Forest

Most people who climb Mt. Baden Powell will start from the Vincent Gap style, we decided to go a different route and allow summits to a couple more peaks in the area.  We didn’t decide to do Baden Powell until we got to Mt. Burnham, but that’s the beauty of having a map with you, you can decide to turn around or keep going.  Always check before you get out there.

Location Mileage Elevation Gain Type
Angeles National Forest
9.5 miles
2,650 feet

— What to Expect in this Guide —

  1. Map of HikeMap of what our hike looked like.
  2. DirectionsMake sure the road is opened, different times of year they close the road either due to road work or winter weather.
  3. Weather – Weather changes often, make sure you check before you go.
  4. Permits and PassesNo overnight wilderness permit is required, but an Angeles National Forest Adventure Pass is.  Read more on how to get one below.
  5. Hike Stats – Quick overview of the mileage and elevation for points of interest on the hike.
  6. 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.
  7. Description This is my favorite part because I can share my adventure and photos with you.

— Background —

The 3 of these peaks are around 9,000 feet elevation, which is perfect training before attempting higher elevation hikes.  Here’s some history on the naming’s of each of the peaks.

  1. The first of the 3 peaks is named Throop Peak (9,142 feet), named after Amos G. Throop founder of Throop University in 1891, also known as Caltech now.
  2. The second peak is Mount Burnham (9,001 feet), originally named West Twin or North Baldy Mountain, it was renamed in 1951 after Frederick Russell Burnham a military scout who taught woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell who was a big inspiration for the founding of Boy Scouts.
  3. The 3rd peak we hit was originally named East Twin or North Baldy and was renamed to Mount Baden-Powell (9,407 feet) in 1931 after the founder of the Scouting Movement, Robert Baden-Powell.

— Map of Hike —

— Directions —

Dawson Saddle Trailhead
To get to the trail from Wrightwood, take Hwy 2 off of CA-138 W.  Once you get on Hwy 2, take it all the way to Dawson Saddle.  There are two trailheads that end up leading to the same place.  Something to note is that there is no sign posted to mark the trail, but it is easy to see both trails off the highway.

— 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.

— National Forest Adventure Pass —
The trailhead lies within the Angeles National Forest in which you are required 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: Dawson Saddle Trail 0 miles 7,901 feet
PCT junction 1.8 miles 8,850 feet
Throop Peak 2.0 miles 9,138 feet
Mt. Burnham 4.1 miles 8,997 feet
Mt. Baden-Powell 4.75 miles 9,399 feet

— Maps, Books & Gear Recommendations —

— Maps —
  1. Tom Harrison Angeles High Country 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 – My mom got me this tiny little book.  I’ve took it out a few times before I head out into the local mountains and it has given me some good ideas for hikes.

— 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 5s Plus – I use this every hike now.  It doesn’t have a satellite communicator, but the maps and it’s functionalities are perfect for hiking.
  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 —

Before I get into the trip, if you’d like to take a gander at the YouTube video I made of the hike check it out below or on my YouTube.

I have wanted to this hike so many times, but every time we went we had to figure out another hike to do because the road was closed.  Always check the road closures before heading up;  this time we were lucky enough for an open road to Vincent Saddle.  We reached the small parking area at Vincent Saddle around 8:00am and there was only one other car parked there.  There are two trails that connect shortly after starting the hike.

Before we set out of the hike, the plan was to summit Throop Peak and Mt. Burnham then turn around.  I didn’t realize until later that it would make for a short hike.  On our way up to Throop Peak we were covered by the trees and the beautiful sun’s rays gleamed through the trees as we climbed to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) junction.  After almost 2 miles we hit the junction and emerged from the shade.

summiting Throop Peak and Mt. Burnham

To the right there is a small use trail that goes up to Throop Peak another .2 miles.  We topped Throop and decided to take a short break and have our hard boiled eggs.  One of my favorite breakfasts when I am hiking is boiled eggs on the first day of a backpacking trip or a day hike.  After the short break we scattered down back to the PCT and Dawson Saddle Trail junction.  We continued northeast toward Mt. Burnham; on the way to Burnham there is a decrease in elevation to about 8,000 feet.

Mt. Burnham was only a mile away from Throop Peak, proved to be a great training summit, but not enough for us to turn around.  Atop Burnham we made the decision to summit one more peak.  Mt. Baden-Powell was in the distance which would make for approximately a 9.5 mile hike.  There were two options, summit Mt. Baden-Powell and come back the way we hiked or drop down to Vincent Gap and try to hitchhike back to car.  We figured we’d weigh in our options after summiting Baden-Powell.

summiting Mt. Baden-Powell

I’ve been up to Baden-Powell two times already, but always from Vincent Gap.  Honestly this was a much easier hill to summit as we were already at higher elevation than the Vincent Gap way.  From Burnham to Baden-Powell there is 360 degree views of the mountains and valleys around; much of the trail sits on the ridge between the two peaks.  If I remember correctly we had only seen 3 people before leaving Mt. Burnham and when we reached the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell there were at least 50 people.

We ate our To-Go Wraps here and decided to head back to the cars.  On the way back we went the same way except stayed on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) to bypass the summiting of the peaks.  Although, I must say it felt much longer that summiting again; but was cool so see a new part of the mountain.

We reached the car just before 1:00pm; this is one of the reasons I like going earlier as now we have the rest of the day to clean up at relax at home.  The hike was challenging and my knee didn’t act up, guess all that gym work has been finally paying off.

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

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Big McGee Lake via McGee Creek Trail: John Muir Wilderness

*Originally hiked: August 10, 2019

McGee Creek Canyon is one of those hikes that I’ve been waiting to do, since last year I had to cancel it due to other plans getting in the way.  The original overnight permits I got were for Sawmill Pass, which would be a 6,000+ feet elevation gain to the pass.  Either way, for some reason I kept checking to see if other permits were available for the weekend.  On the Thursday before, we decided to cancel our permits for Sawmill and head to McGee Creek area.

If you read my last blog for Ruby Lake via Mosquito Flats Hike, we had some trouble with elevation and being out of shape.  The last few weeks I did exactly what I said I would need to do to feel better in the mountains!  We killed it and I can’t wait to get even in better and better shape for more of these kinds of trips.  I fell in love with hiking again and can’t wait for the next trip.  Motto: do it for the mountains!  Hence, go work out and get your body ready for what you want to do!

Want to read more about the hike?  Check out some of the details below and if you want to skip ahead to more pictures and our adventure, it’s at the end.  Save the best for last.


What’s in this Guide?

I have put together a lot of information on this hike, so if you want to skip ahead here are some of the sections I will be covering. Enjoy the adventure!

  1. Backpacking McGee Creek Trailhead to Big McGee Lake Stats – Mileage, elevation gain, map of hike, weather.
  2. How Do I Get Permits for This Hike? – just a quick write up of how to obtain overnight permits for McGee Creek hike.
  3. Directions to the McGee Creek Trailhead – in case you don’t want to look it up on google.
  4. About McGee Creek Area – I put together some interesting stuff for you to read about the pack station and the area.
  5. Geer Recommendations –  Some items I’d like to shout out because of heavy use on this trip.
  6. My Blabbering – Best part with photos and me writing aimlessly.

Backpacking McGee Creek Trailhead to Big McGee Lake Stats

Mileage Elevation Gain Location Type Difficulty
15.44 2950 feet John Muir Wilderness Out-and-back Moderate

map of hike

Want maps like the one above, get the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Watch for your next adventures.


The McGee Creek Trailhead sits at 8,131feet.  The forecast below is for much higher, so expect much warmer weather as it’s 3,000 feet elevation gain to the pass.

McGee Pass: 11,900 feet

How Do I Get Permits for this Hike?

There’s a couple of ways to obtain permits for the hike. One way is to go onto up to 6 months in advance and reserve permits for McGee Pass. Day use does not require a permit.  The other way is to go to a permit office and pick up an overnight permit. The locations of permit offices for the Eastern Sierras are: Permit Issuing Stations. *Note: for this entry the closest permit station is White Mountain Ranger Station.

  1. Go to
  2. Click on Inyo National Forest – Wilderness Permits after searching for it
  3. Click on Explore available permits
  4. Under Detailed Availability, click No unless you are a commercial guided trip.
  5. Pick the date you would like to go and the group size.
  6. Under Filters in the Search you can enter the Trail which is McGee Pass and click Show Results.
  7. Scroll down to McGee Pass under the Sites and see if the date is available.
  8. If it is click on the entry date of choice and click Book Now.
  9. Follow the rest of the steps to book the overnight trip.

If you have any questions on this process, please go ahead and contact me.

Directions to Get to McGee Creek Trailhead

The closest permit pick up station is White Mountain Ranger Station Visitor Center, but we ended up picking it up at the Eastern Sierra Agency Center.

About McGee Creek Area

The McGee Creek area is very close to Mammoth Lakes, CA a popular ski area in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  If you wish to visit the area, I definitely recommend jumping in and checking out Mammoth Lakes.

McGee Pass Trail

McGee Pass Trail – I must say that the wildflowers weren’t in full bloom when we were there, but I bet earlier this spring it was!  There were still many left in the canyon and I’m thinking of making it out during wildflower season.  There are a few water crossings, one especially high this year to where the water was up to our knees.

McGee Creek Pack Station

The McGee Creek Pack Station is located very close to the trailhead; it gives you another option to possibly pack in or go for a horseback ride.  See more of what McGee Creek Pack Station has to offer on their homepage:


If you arrive the night before, a good place to camp is McGee Creek Campground.  July and August the campground has it’s busiest season, so don’t count on finding a spot mid Summer.  We ended up not finding a spot and sleeping near the trailhead.  Closest towns are Crowley Lake and Bishop that have campsites and places to stay.

Gear Recommendations

I have a longer list of items that I pack on my trips including some of my Backpacking Gear Ideas.  Check those out if you have a moment. The list under here were items I was especially happy I took with me.

  1. Water Shoes – Crocs or you can get something similar like the KEEN Women’s Newport Sandal
  2. Tent – Big Agnes Copper Spur UL Backpacking Tent – we have the 3 person and for this trip the 3 of us slept in the same tent.
  3. Stove – Jetboil Zip Cooking System – I have owned mine for over 6 years and wouldn’t get any other stove.
  4. Towel – Sea to Summit Drylite Towel – This is a towel similar to the one I have owned for over 10 years.  I definitely recommend adding this to the packing list especially in the summers when dipping in alpine lakes is a thing.
  5. Mosquito Repellent – Ben’s 100% DEET Mosquito Repellent – much needed still in August.
  6. Hat – Taking it Easy Retro Trucker Cap – Everyone always should bring a hat, this one is special to me because my sister and I designed it and if anything take a look at help us out by buying one and sharing it around.
  7. Water Filter – LifeStraw Gravity Filter – don’t go without this.
  8. Sleeping Pad – VENTURE4th Ultralight Sleeping Pad + Thermarest Zlite Pad – the perfect combination I tell you.  I’ve also written a review on the VENTURE4th Sleeping Pad if you want to check it out.
  9. Spice Holder – GSI Outdoors Spice Missile
  10. Soup – NongShim Shin Black Noodle Soup – once again makes the list, seriously good stuff especially if it’s cold and windy outside


I put together a video that is premiering today at 5:00PM PST on YouTube.  Please go check it out if you have some time:

Instead of driving up the morning of the hike, we decided to still head out around 5:00pm.  Surprisingly traffic wasn’t as bad as we thought it was gong to be.  We picked up our permits at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine, this or the White Mountain Ranger Station in Bishop is also a good option to pick up your permit.

We reached the trailhead around 10:00pm and went straight to sleep after putting all our food in the bear boxes.  The trailhead also has two vault toilets available and a good sized parking lot.  The next morning we woke at 6:30am made some coffee in the back of our Subaru.  Before we came out I boiled some eggs that we could have for breakfast and the day after too.  After eating and coffee, we packed up and headed on the trail around 8:15am.

getting started

The beginning of the trail is nice a gradual, a perfect warm up for a long hike.  The sun didn’t peer out behind the mountain yet, which was extremely nice as we climbed into the backcountry.  I was thinking it was smart for us to get a head start early, because I’m sure this canyon gets very hot during the day.  With the wind against us, once we were sweating a little it was a bit chilly.  After about 2 miles we finally got into the trees, which the sun wasn’t on us just yet but it was getting there.  We took a quick break and snacked and continued on.

I was thinking around this time that we hadn’t seen a soul, just one day hiker who started before us and was on his way out.  The reason I was thinking about this was that there were over a dozen cars parked in the hikers lot.  The spot that we picked to snack was just below Horsetail Falls which we had a great view of it from almost as soon as a mile in from the trailhead.

water crossings

The next couple of miles there were some water crossings, one especially at about 3 miles in where we changed into our Crocs to cross McGee Creek (more like a river).  After this water crossing the scale of up in compared to mileage went up drastically.  I did enjoy the fact that after a big hill there was a flat portion of the trail almost the entire way to the lake.  There was a hill right after this major crossing that leveled out with an amazing view over the creek below.  The creek flows in this valley in a few different spots and the water was extremely turquoise.  We spotted an old beaver damn as well down there, which I don’t ever recall actually seeing one in person.

About 4 miles in there is another crossing where you end up back on the other side of the creek.  I remember getting to the crossing and thinking “Oh my, we might be swimming across”.  But literally just around the bend and behind a bush there were two logs that would take you easily across.

much more hills and meadows

I honestly didn’t know exactly how far Big McGee Lake was because there aren’t that many write ups about it, but some sites said 6 miles, some said 8 miles.  I kept looking at my Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Watch to see if even the first lake was on my map screen.  If I remember correctly about 4.5 miles in there is a turn off to head to Steelhead Lake.  Just before this we stopped at a perfect bench (fallen tree) to eat our To Go Wraps for strength to finish of the hike to Big McGee.  After the turnoff for Steelhead there was a nice flat stretch.  After another lovely uphill we hit the first lake (pond) near the trail, this is a great spot to eat lunch if you are on a day hike.  This is where I finally saw a few day hikers taking a rest with a nice view of the lake.

The last 3 miles were gorgeous, we kept being spoiled with more and more views and the meadows we got to go through were spectacular.  We got to the lake around 1:30pm and made some soup (NongShim Shin Black Noodle Soup, Spicy) because it was windy and cold.

setting up camp and fishing

Just after we set up camp we set out to fish for a few hours.  I MUST say that we had literally best campsite ever.  Our Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent fit just perfect in a spot that showed to have a bit of use.  We even had a kitchen area with a perfect table and view of the lake.  While fishing one by one we jumped in as the clouds and wind allowed us and between the 3 of us we caught 8 fish total just with lures.  Unfortunately I lost two lures that I just bought because I wasn’t paying attention and let them drop into the rocks.

Just passed 7:00pm it was getting quite cold so we decided to hit the tent and all 3 of us were fast asleep.

quick coffee and packing up

Since we fell asleep so early, we woke up at 5:30am on our own and fell back asleep till about 7:00am.  There’s a reason I come up to the mountains and it’s to get my good sleep apparently.  I don’t remember sleeping over 10 hours in a long time.  While drinking our coffee we packed up and headed out on the trail by about 9:30am.  It was shorts weather, much better than the day before.  It took us just under 3 hours to get back to the car and in turn perfect timing to hit lunch at the Burger Barn in Bishop just 20 minutes into our drive.

Hope you guys enjoyed the write up. If you have any questions about this hike or the area, please contact me.

Happy Adventures,

Annette, Adventurer – Beyond Limits on Foot

Related Links

Here are some other great links to check out on the hike to read further:

YouTube Channel

Beyond Limits on Foot YouTube Channel.

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Ruby Lake via Mosquito Flats: John Muir Wilderness

*Originally hiked: July 13, 2019

Ruby Lake lies in the Rock Creek Lake Basin, a very popular fly fishing and hiking destination.  We opted to backpack the area and see how far we can get up to Mono Pass or past it.  It was a big snow year and with being a little out of shape for the mountains as well we only ended up going to Ruby Lake, but what a good little destination for a short backpacking trip and some fishing and swimming.

There are very few trips that I remember where I had such a hard time moving up the mountain.  This trip was somewhat of a wake up call for a few reasons that I want to share with you all because I’m sure some of you will relate.

  1. We ended up staying up till 11:00pm and for this reason had a rough time waking up at the allotted 4:00am wake up call we wanted to wake up at.  Note to self: Go to bed early it’s a mountain you want to climb.
  2. I haven’t been training at home like I used to when I didn’t feel as much pain as on this hike going up and breathing difficulty.   Note to self:  Get back in the gym and go do my cardio as well, so that this will never happen again.
  3. We had a massive headache most of the time we were up there, we took some Advil and rested, which in turn helped.  I honestly believe we weren’t drinking enough water and hadn’t gone into elevation in a while.  Note to self:  Drink more water and hike locally in elevation.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty of the hike’s specifics in case you feel like a simple backpacking trip like we did.  Of course there’s other options in the area that you can go explore!

What’s in this Guide?

I have put together a lot of information on this hike, so if you want to skip ahead here are some of the sections I will be covering.  Enjoy the adventure!

  1. Backpacking Mosquito Flats Trailhead to Ruby Lake Stats – Mileage, elevation gain, map of hike, weather.
  2. How Do I Get Permits for This Hike? – just a quick write up of how to obtain overnight permits for Ruby Lake hike.
  3. Directions to the Mosquito Flats Trailhead – not so hard directions to get here.
  4. About Rock Creeks Lake Resort & Area – I put together some interesting stuff for you to read about the resort and the area (so many lakes).
  5. What to Wear and Take – Just a rough list of some items that you should definitely take with you.
  6. My Blabbering – This is the part that has the photos and my experiences.  Oh and a new edition is my video blog of the hike, scroll down if you’d like to watch it!

Backpacking Mosquito Flats Trailhead to Ruby Lake Stats

Mileage Elevation Gain Location Type Difficulty
5.23 899 feet John Muir Wilderness Out-and-back Moderate/Easy

map of hike


Best time of year to go here is Summer and early Fall unless you are ok with the snow.  The weather below is an elevation that is lower than Ruby Lake or anything higher is.  Make note when using the link below that Ruby Lake sits at 10,389 feet.

Rock Creek Lake – 9,813 feet

How Do I Get Permits for this Hike?

There’s a couple of ways to obtain permits for the hike.  One way is to go onto up to 6 months in advance and reserve permits for Mono Pass.  Day use does not require a permit.  The other way is to go to a permit office and pick up an overnight permit.  The locations of permit offices for the Eastern Sierras are: Permit Issuing Stations.  *Note: for this entry the closest permit station is White Mountain Ranger Station.

  1. Go to
  2. Click on Inyo National Forest – Wilderness Permits after searching for it
  3. Click on Explore available permits
  4. Under Detailed Availability, click No unless you are a commercial guided trip.
  5. Pick the date you would like to go and the group size.
  6. Under Filters in the Search you can enter the Trail which is Mono Pass and click Show Results.
  7. Scroll down to Mono Pass under the Sites and see if the date is available.
  8. If it is click on the entry date of choice and click Book Now.
  9. Follow the rest of the steps to book the overnight trip.

If you have any questions on this process, please go ahead and contact me.

Directions to Get to Mosquito Flats Trailhead

Since the closest permit pick up station is White Mountain Ranger Station Visitor Center, I put together a quick google map directions from there to the Little Lakes Valley Trailhead.

About Rock Creek Lakes Resort & Area

Rock Creek Lakes Resort is just by the trailhead to Ruby Lake and the entire Little Lakes Valley.  The owners (King family) of the resort have been around for about 40 years since1979.  Something to note is that they have a great store if you forgot anything before your trip.  The resort also has a grill that serves breakfast and lunch if that’s what you desire.   If you would like accommodations and do this as a day hike; they have several cabins.  The resort offers boat rentals and also has shower facilities.


There are a few trailheads in the area that can take you to several lakes and passes in the area.

  • Hilton Lakes Trailhead – This trailhead is located below the Rock Creek Pack Station and is a very popular pack trip.  It is about a 6 mile hike to the first lake.
  • Mosquito Flats Trailhead – The trailhead is at the end of Rock Creek road.   I would say it is the most well known of the canyon, so get there early if you want parking.  The trail takes you a couple ways.  Little Lakes Valley is a easy hike and most popular for families and fly fishers because of this.  This is the way to Mono Pass and you can hit Ruby Lake along the way.
  • Tamarack Lakes Trailhead – The trailhead is located on the eastern side of the Rock Creek Lake.  From what I hear this trail sees less people than the others.  There are a few lakes that are reachable from this trail and a possible summit of Mount Morgan.


If you arrive at night, the best place to stay for the night is in Mosquito Flats; anyone who has an overnight permit can walk into the campsites here and stay the night before they leave.

Gear Recommendations

I have a longer list of items that are usually packed on my trips on my “What’s in My Backpack?” page.  Check those out if you have a moment.  The list under here were items I was especially happy I took with me.

  1. Mosquito Repellent – Ben’s 100% DEET Mosquito Repellent
  2. Sunscreen
  3. Hat – Taking it Easy Retro Trucker Cap this hat is pretty awesome, my sister and I designed it and if anything take a look at help us out by buying one and sharing it around.
  4. Water Filter – LifeStraw Gravity Filter
  5. Sleeping Pad – VENTURE4th Ultralight Sleeping Pad + Thermarest Zlite Pad – the perfect combination
  6. Water Shoes
  7. Spice Holder – GSI Outdoors Spice Missile
  8. Soup – NongShim Shin Black Noodle Soup


Backpacking doesn’t always have to be hardcore.  We were planning to do a lot more but because of not feeling 100% and being more out of  it a light backpacking trip and fish and swim and relax.

It was Friday night when we got out of LA to get closer to the trailhead.  The night before heading out we stayed at Brown’s Town in Bishop, California.  After paying for our campsite, it was dinner time.  We ate a taco each and shared a taco salad; I must say the salsa at La Casita Mexican Restaurant was very very good.  Back at camp, we were able to take nice hot showers and fall asleep in the back of my Subaru.

I’m not sure if I’ve told anyone yet on here, but I bought a Subaru in December.  One of the main reasons I bought a Subaru was to be able to sleep in the back of my car if I needed to.  The platform we built gave us a nice bed to where we could fit a good amount under the bed in boxes.  One of these days I’ll get to it and write an article about how we put the removable bed together.

getting up late

One of the reason why we drove up Friday night was to get a head start and begin our hike earlier.  Being that we finally went to bed after showering around 11:00pm, we didn’t have the strength to wake up until about 6:30am.  Jumped out of bed and into the front to head straight to the trailhead which was still about an hour away.

There were a dozen cars already when we got to the trailhead with people getting ready either to fly fish, hike or backpack into the backcountry.  The entire parking lot filled up while we packed and got ready.  9:45am hit when we finally got started.  Note to self – we really need to just pack the night before so that when we get to the trailhead we can just jet!

getting a slow start

Altitude was giving us issues being that the trailhead sits above 10,000 feet.  Let’s just say there were lots of breaks for water and catching our breaths.  At some point I remembered that we hadn’t eaten breakfast (never doing that again before a hike), therefor about a mile in when we were offered a view of the Little Lakes Valley we took a break and ate our To-Go Wraps we made at the cars.

Continuing on, we kept taking breaks, but there was an excuse because we had more and more views of the lakes in the valley and the mountains ahead.  There’s a few switchbacks after mile 1 and then it is a gradual climb up to Ruby Lake.  Just before hitting Ruby Lake there is a gorgeous meadow with the creek dropping out of the lake.  Instead of heading up to Mono Pass we decided to truck on to Ruby Lake and take a break after setting up camp.

deciding to stay at Ruby Lake

After a nap under the fort we made (just a tarp above us), we decided we both weren’t feeling so well and ended up just staying near the lake.  We found a good spot within the trees as the sun was out full force.

If you don’t already know, our #1 rule is to jump into a body of water that we hike to.  We packed up some fishing stuff and changed into our bikinis. We fished for over 3 hours and both only caught 1 fish each.  During that time we did take a break and jump into the water and oh how it feel so good, but it was extremely cold (one of the coldest).  It hurt to stay in the water too long, but it was nice to jump in a couple times and feel like we took a shower.

dinner in the tent

It was amusing how tired we were and not hungry enough to have an entire meal.  We went back up to camp and set up our tents and beds, so that when it did get dark we could just crawl into bed.  It was about 7:30pm and we decided to make some dinner, which was a Spicy Ramen that we both like so much.

After heating the ramen on the Jetboil, we nestled into our sleeping bags in the tent.  I’ve noticed that a lot of the time we bring elaborate dinners, but all we end up having is a nice soup either ramen or miso.  I’ll have to keep that in mind to bring that as a substitute for dinners.

fresh morning coffee and breakfast

I love mornings out in the mountains, mainly because your biggest task is just to get up and make yourself some coffee and breakfast.  The only problem is that it was already Sunday, which means we’d have to pack up everything and head back home.

We packed some cooked eggs and some turkey meat that we sliced and made into an omelette throwing some mozzarella cheese on top.  I’ll have to add this to my trail food recipes as if you are doing only one night, fresh is better!

possibly making a wrong decision

After breakfast, we headed back down to fish some more.  We didn’t realize the time, but it was almost 3:00pm when we finally headed back up to camp to pack up.  It’s a very late start being that we were over 5 hours from home and about an hour or two from the trailhead.

We got back to the car around 5:00pm and headed back into Bishop for some food at the best place to get a burger: Burger Barn.  After talking it over, we agreed to drive as far as we can tonight and finish the rest of the drive tomorrow.  I think we left Burger Barn around 6:00pm and around 9:00pm after driving a couple hours, we hit a tiny place in Olancha, probably one of the last places we could stay at a hotel.

I say possibly making a wrong decision because we shouldn’t have stayed that long out in the mountains and headed out earlier to be able to make it home.  We were just too tired to keep driving through the night and I’m glad we made the decision to stay in Olancha, but honestly wasn’t the cheapest way to go!  Safer, YES!

Woke up around 3:30am the next morning, headed home, took showers and went to work.  Monday was rough, but hey as long as we had a good weekend, it’s worth it!

Hope you guys enjoyed the write up.  If you have any questions about this hike or the area, please contact me.

Happy Adventures,

Annette, Adventurer – Beyond Limits on Foot

Related Links

Here are some other great links to check out on the hike to read further:

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VENTURE 4TH Ultralight Sleeping Pad Review

Where I Used It

The past couple of weekends I had the pleasure of taking a new VENTURE 4TH Ultralight Sleeping Pad to test out on my backpacking trips.

Usually on these quick one night backpacking trips I only take my Thermarest Z-Lite pad, but though hey what better than to try to double up with a sleeping pad like this.

The last two trips I took it on was North Fork Big Pine Lakes, 5.7 miles and Ruby Lake 2.6 miles.  Both camps were above 10,000 feet, however this mattress was not as rough to blow up in elevation.  One of the biggest problems with these ultralight blow up mattresses is when in elevation it takes so much energy!  In contrast to others I’ve had this mattress didn’t take all my energy and only took about 10 seconds.  YES!!!

One more thing before I get into the Pros and Cons, I used it in the back of my Subaru to sleep on as well and my was that comfortable!


  • Lightweight
  • Comfy design
  • Easy to pack
  • Usable even for car camping
  • Doesn’t make noise when you move around on it at night
  • Doesn’t inflate during the night


  • The bag is too big for the mat (if you are backpacking just ditch the bag)


Weight: 1 lb.

Size: 73.6 x 21.6 inches and 2 inches thick

Colors available: Dark Blue, Dark Green, Gray, Light Blue

Where to buy


Venture 4th Website


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Zoodles with Ground Beef and Tomato Sauce

Food for Thought:

This year, I decided to grow a little more vegetables in my garden and they are doing so well.  During my 8 day vacation my mom helped me water the garden every other day or so.  Well get this, when I came back I had a huge zucchini in my garden.  Never seen one this big before!  Usually I take the zucchini off when it looks like the zucchinis from the store.

We made 3 different meals with the zucchini.  See below to make this recipe: Zoodles with Ground Beef and Tomato Sauce.  Alternatively, here are some other ideas for zucchini recipes: grilling with light salt and olive oil, add to a stir fry, cut into thin slices for a dip.

Usually I like to make my own tomato sauce, but this time I decided to grab one from Trader Joes.  However if my garden will yield enough tomatoes, my next time making this or something similar I will use those tomatoes.  The tomato sauce we chose was the one and only Trader Joes: Trader Giotto’s Tomato Basil.

Shopping List:

  • 1-2 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped in squares
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 lb lean ground sirloin beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Trader Giotto’s Tomato Basil 26 oz.
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • *grated parmesan cheese to taste

What is Needed:

  1. Spiralizer
  2. Nonstick Skillet
  3. Nonstick Pot

The Cooking Process:

  1. Chop onions and garlic finely.
  2. With a spiralizer, spiralize the zucchini.
  3. In a small frying pan add olive oil and onions. Turn on medium heat, cook onions until glazed. Add garlic for 1 minute.
  4. Add ground sirloin to the mix and cook on medium and mix until beef is cooked through.
  5. Add tomato basil sauce, bell pepper, bay leaves and 1 cup water, stir until mixed.
  6. Simmer tomato sauce while occasional stirring.
  7. Add olive oil to a pot with the zoodles, turn on heat to medium and stir occasionally.  If the zoodles get very watery, stir in the water with the sauce and keep cooking the zucchini until cooked.

To Serve:

In a bowl, add zucchini noodles (zoodles) to your liking.  Top zoodles with the ground sirloin beef tomato sauce.  Add grated parmesan to taste.

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Eagle Rock via Santa Ynez Canyon Trail – Santa Monica Mountains

Originally hiked:  6/2/2019

This past weekend I went on a solo hike in our backyard mountains to Eagle Rock.  Haven’t been hiking The last time I went hiking was Baden-Powell about a month ago which I haven’t written a blog yet, but I did put together a youtube vlog of the hike.  Check it out if you have a second.  There are several ways to visit Eagle Rock in the Santa Monica Mountains.  If you are looking to do a close by hike if you live in the area, this is a good training hike.  The easier route is actually from Trippet Ranch ($10 parking or park outside the park for a longer hike).

What’s in this Guide?

  1. Hike Stats – Mileage, elevation gain, map of hike, weather
  2. Directions – quick write-up on how to get to the trailhead
  3. What to Pack – some gear, map and food recommendations
  4. Blabbering – best part of the write up, my pictures and thoughts of the hike

1. Hike Stats

Location Mileage Elevation Gain Type
Santa Monica Mountains 7.24 mi 1556 feet Out-and-back
map of hike


Topanga – Weather Forecast

I ended up taking a rain jacket because the forecast stated that there was a chance of light rain.  I didn’t end up using it at all, but better to be safe then sorry.

2. Directions

To get to the trailhead –

From I-10 W, continue onto CA-1 N (Pacific Coast Highway), turn right onto Sunset Blvd. about 4.4 miles from I-10 W.  Drive 0.4 miles and turn left onto Palisades Dr.  Continue on Palisades Dr. for 2.5 miles until you hit Vereda De La Montura, turn left.  The trailhead is on the right, there is a sign that notates “Santa Ynez Canyon Trail”.  There is parking on the street, but not overnight – make sure you read the signs before you go.

3. What to Pack?

Since I did a day hike and it was very local, I packed minimally.  Here are some of the items that I took on this hike:


  • To-Go Wrap: Recipe
  • Mozarella cheese stick
  • Starkist Salmon Creations Lemon Pepper & Mayonnaise

Check out a little more gear I have currently on my What’s in My Backpack Page& some Backpacking Gear Ideas.

4. My Blabbering

Before I get into blabbering a little more about this hike, why don’t you take a look at the YouTube video I put together for this hike.

I had been sick all week and was itching to get outdoors and decided that it was going to be for a hike not too far away from home.  I’ve done part of this trail before and thought it would be cool if there would be water in the creek and wanted to check it out.

The start of a local hike

I was the second car parked for the trailhead, which is awesome and that’s why I got there just after 6:30am.  As I finished off my coffee from Starbucks, I turned on the Garmin inReach because there was no service in the area.  Once I got it working, I sent a message to a couple people that I was beginning my hike.  When I send the message it sends the location I sent it from as well; one of the reasons having a satellite communicator is something I recommend anyone who goes outdoors and is out of cell phone range.

When you begin the trail there is a little pavement that later disappears into a single track dirt trail.  The first portion of the trail is all flat and goes alongside the creek.  I had to cross the creek several times, but to my knowledge there hasn’t been so much water that you would get wet.

I passed a sign that says “Waterfall” about 0.6 miles.  The trail eventually ascends up the side of the canyon and out into the open around 1.5 miles.

For the first 2.8 miles of the hike I did not see one soul.  And the thing about being the first person on the trail especially at this time of year is that you will hit a ton of spider webs.  For this reason, my hiking poles became my best friend on this hike.

At about 2 miles you will hit the Eagle Rock Canyon Fire Rd.  Not quite a trail, but still a great place to get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area.  This portion of the trail seems to be flat at first, but to reach Eagle Rock there is still about 700 feet elevation gain, however it’s very gradual.  At this point, I saw way too many people for my liking on a hike, but what can I expect when I’m in Los Angeles area.

I stood on Eagle Rock at a good time because I was the only one who ended up going to it.  There were several other people around with just different destinations.  The rock itself is made of sandstone, if you climb onto it, you can get quite a view of the area.

A little background

The original name of Eagle Rock was “Elephant Rock”, mainly because the way it looks to the human eye is like an elephant head when standing on the north side.

I bet if it was a clearer day I would have had some ocean views.  I quickly ate a little of my To-Go Wrap before I headed back down before even more crowds would show up.

On my way down

On my way out once I got back onto Santa Ynez Canyon Trail, I had a good mile or so that I didn’t see anyone on the trail.  I hadn’t hiked this long in a while, so my legs were definitely getting tired once I hit the 6 mile mark.  I finally ran into a couple families along the way just near the trailhead.  There was a group of teenagers who were hiking in and the last of them had a stick he was holding and asked me if I wanted to switch.  At first I didn’t get it, but it was a joke to switch my poles with his stick.  I said “good one”.  Thought it was a funny little story to share with you all.

All in all great hike to go on if you’re just trying to get a quick morning hike or afternoon hike in.

Happy Adventures,

Annette, Adventurer Beyond Limits on Foot

Related links

Before I go on a hike I always check some other peoples write-ups.  Here are some others you may want to check out to read further:

Well I hope you loved reading along.  If you want to check out more on the hike, don’t forget to check my YouTube channel here: Beyond Limits on Foot YouTube Channel.

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Backpacking Gear Ideas

Backpacking season is just around the corner, so I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorite gear for my backpacking trips.  I have some of the “big stuff” as I call it and “the gadgets”.  The big stuff are some great ideas of what you should have if you are to go out for an overnighter.  The gadgets are some of my ideas for extras on the trail that you may end up loving and taking on the next trips to come.  Some of these items are also good for hiking, camping and travel trips; they are not just for backpacking.

I recently updated my gear list that’s in my garage.  Check out “What’s in My Backpack?”

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

The Big Stuff

Osprey Aura Ag 65 Women’s Backpacking Pack

I’ve had this backpack for over 7 years.  I love the compartments and it is very comfortable to wear.  Plus it’s my favorite color.  The top can be taken off to be worn as a fanny pack, which is perfect when we leave camp to go fishing or on a day hike.


Garmin Inreach Explorer+ Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation

I have the Garmin 64st still, but we bought this one a couple of years ago as the 64st does not have communication capabilities.  The Inreach has a few extra things that I like about it.  We can communicate through text – if you download the app before you go out then it is easy to text.  We can also check the weather on it, which is nice to be ready when you are out there.


Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Watch

I recently just bought this watch, yet to use it on a hiking/backpacking trip.  But I have used it daily for workouts at the gym, bike rides and runs.  I’m quite excited to try this out on our next hike or backpacking trip, whichever one comes first.



Big Agnes – Copper Spur HV UL2 mtnGLO Tent

We bought this tent last year for summer backpacking trips; ended up using it over Labor Day.  It is so lightweight we don’t have to split up the tent, one person can take it.  Another thing I like about it is that we can fit our packs in the tent too and sitting up is much easier that some other tents.  If it’s rainy, probably won’t hold up and if it’s windy it is quite loud.  A very good tent for summer.


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

Best buy ever, you can use it for sleeping and for hanging out too.  When we take breaks on the trail, instead of sitting on the ground, we pull this out and sit on it.  I recommend it for anyone who wants to go light on the trail.


Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow

This pillow is perfect for backpacking.  I usually wrap my down jacket around it when I sleep.  I recommend not blowing it up all the way as it will be too hard and not so comfortable.


The North Face Cat’s Meow Sleeping Bag

Another gear item that I have had for years.  I love the fact that the zipper glows in the dark.


ENO – Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock & ENO – Eagles Nest Outfitters SlapStrap, Hammock Suspension System

Not so lightweight, but I take it on every one of my backpacking trips.  It’s nice to wake up in the morning and jump into the hammock with my sleeping bag.  I also use it at home and the beach sometimes.  I recommend this for anyone.


LifeStraw Mission Water Purification System, High-Volume Gravity-Fed Purifier

This water purifier was a great buy as well.  Before when pumping water, you would have to go down to the lake or stream and pump, took about 20 minutes sometimes.  Now, with this guy, we fill up the back, hang it up and it does it on its own.  You can do other things while your water is purified.


Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir

Osprey has some great reservoirs, I would go with 2.5-3L which is about what you should drink on about a 5-8 mile hike in with your backpack.


Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

This headlamp has a ton of settings that you will like when you are out on the trail.  I particularly like it because it’s very comfortable.


ENO – Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp

This rain fly can be used over the hammock or your tent.  It can also be used for a shelter from the wind or a sunshade.  Always nice to have an extra area where you can hang out to make your lunch or dinner.


REI Co-op Flash Carbon Trekking Poles – Pair – Women’s

These hiking poles are lightweight and very strong.  I have had mine for over 5 years and used them for hundreds of miles.  I do recommend taking a multi-tool with you to tighten if needed, this won’t really occur until you have used the poles for a while.  I never used to use poles, but it definitely helps my knees on the downhill and pace on the uphill.


Jetboil Zip Camping Stove Cooking System

This is by far the best camping stove I’ve ever used.  It take less than 3 minutes depending on altitude to boil water and enough space to cook a soup.


The Gadgets

GSI Outdoors Spice Missile

If you are a cook out there, I recommend this Spice Missile.  I use it every trip and I put salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika powder in it.  Those are the 4 perfect ingredients to make any backcountry food taste better.  If you like your spices, buy this!


Goal Zero Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit

I recommend that if you have a camera or phone out there, take a solar charger.  I’ve used this one for a long time and if I charge up the stick, I can charge two things at once.  Ideally you would charge your electronics while stationary and not while hiking as you will be in and out of shade all the time.


Snow Peak Titanium Double Wall Cup

A cup is nice to have out there for your morning coffee.  I use this cup even for soups that I make in the jetboil.  It’s great because it has handles and it is lightweight, doesn’t add much weight to your pack.


Snow Peak Titanium Spork 

I think this was my first Snow Peak buy.  Having this titanium spork is perfect for almost anything you will eat on the trail and it is so lightweight.


GoPro HERO7 Silver

GoPros are awesome.  Just get one already for your adventures if you don’t already have one.


Sea to Summit Pocket Shower

Honestly I’d rather just jump into the water, but if you were to use soap you should not do it in the water.  It should be done at least 100 feet away from any water source.  So what better way to get your shower in with this item.


MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Solar Light

I recommend this colorful solar light because you can change to the color of your choice.  No but really, it’s an inflatable light and it’s solar.  Charge during the day and use at night.  In the tent I usually pick the blue or turquoise color as it’s not as bright.


Sea to Summit Pocket Towel

I recommend a good lightweight towel if you are going out backpacking.  Even if you’re just doing a day hike to a lake this is a perfect towel to use after you take a dip.


Mountain House Chicken Breast & Mashed Potatoes

And last but not least, my favorite mountain house meal.  I’m not sure why it’s not sold at REI, so I stalk up from Amazon before our trips.  I like to add my spices to this pack while it’s sitting in boiling water.  Super super yummy!


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