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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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

 

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY BUY

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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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!

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


GoPro HERO7 Silver

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

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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.

BUY


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!

BUY




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Sherwin Lakes Trail – Inyo National Forest

We finally got out for a snowshoe hike this year.  After 3 days of snowboarding we decided to take a break and go out for a snowshoe hike.  I’ve been wanting to do this hike for many years, but we kept opting to snowboard instead of snowshoe.  Sherwin Lakes is a short hike right outside the town of Mammoth Lakes.  If you are there in the summer, this is a perfect family hike.  If you are there in the winter, this is a great trail for the backcountry skier/snowboarder or snowshoer.  We opted to snowshoe the trail.   One of my favorite things about the hike was that I got to do it with both my sisters!   Before I get into more of my blabbering about the hike, here are some tips before you go.


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

Hike Stats

Location Mileage Elevation Gain Type
Inyo National Forest 3.5 miles 900 feet Out-and-back
map of hike

This map I made on CalTopo; I have some more maps saved on my profile of hikes we’ve done.  I would recommend going to the local ski shops or the Visitor Center to pick up a winter map if you’d like to snowshoe in the winter in this area.

weather

Something to note: if you plan on doing this at any time of year, check the weather before you go.  Weather can change at any time and can turn for the worse.  We experienced very cold and snowy conditions.  Nothing too major, but definitely good that we checked ahead of time because of the weather we were dressed for it.

Mammoth Lakes – 8,301 feet

Sherwin Lakes – 9,216 feet

further reads

Here are some more links to read before you head out, you may want to choose another hike.

Mammoth Lakes Trail System – Snowshoeing

Beautiful Snowshoe Adventures within 10 Minutes of Mammoth Lakes

Inyo National Forest – XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Snow Shoeing in Mammoth Lakes and Southern Mono County


Directions

*Note: during winter months the road is 4×4/AWD only, please make sure you have the correct vehicles to get to the trailhead.

To get to the trailhead:

From the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center, turn South on Old Mammoth Rd.  There is a Vons or Rite Aid if you forgot anything on your way in.  1.4 miles turn left onto Sherwin Creek Rd.  0.3 miles turn right, you will see a sign for the Trailhead.  0.1 miles turn left.  You will hit a dead-end where there is a bathroom and larger sign showing it as the “Sherwin Lakes Trailhead”.


What to Pack

Obviously during the summer you won’t need some of these items.  I’ve added most of these items, because we took them on our hike.

  1. Mammoth High Country Tom Harrison Maps – This map is helpful for seeing where you will be going on the map.  They offer a winter map at the Visitor Center, but since government shutdown, we checked a few stores and had trouble.  Check out the Shell Station on the corner of Main and Old Mammoth Rd. they were the only place that had some left.
  2. Garmin inReach Explorer+ – During the winter months, much more important to make sure you have safety in communicating.
  3. MSR Evo Snowshoes – There are many types out there.  Before you buy, make sure you understand what you need.
  4. Black Diamond Hiking Poles and Powder Baskets – You will need the powder baskets especially if you are going in the snow.
  5. Oakley Flight Deck Prizm Snow Goggles – You may not think you need these, but for us it was a perfect day as it was a little windy and snowing.
  6. Arc’terx Womens Sentinal Jacket – The best thing you can have is an outer layer that keeps you dry.
  7. Jetboil Flash Cooking System – Take this to cook up something warm, like a hot chocolate perhaps.  We did this.
  8. Snow Peak Titanium Mug and Lid – I take this on almost every single backpacking trip along with my jetboil.  On cold hiking days we also take it, hence taking it on this snowshoe outing.
  9. Nestle Hot Chocolate Packets – Well since we took the jetboil and the mug and the lid, we made some hot chocolate when we reached the lakes.

Blabbering

Before heading out make sure you have snowshoes.  If you do not, there are places to rent snowshoes.

Where can I rent snowshoes?

We had to rent snowshoes for two people in our group and headed to Footloose Sports around 9:00am.  This put us at the trailhead about 10:00am, which was very easy to find and there was only one other car parked there.

Starting up the trail

The trailhead was very easy to find; there is a large sign stating “Sherwin Lakes Trailhead”.  There was only a couple of inches of new snow on the floor, but still enough to put our snowshoes on as there was a layer of ice under.  You hit a bridge about .2 miles into the hike and from there the first .5 miles don’t have much elevation gain.

About 1 mile into the hike the switchbacks start.  Luckily we had someone go out in front of us so we were able to follow some tracks, but with a few inches of new snow as we got higher in elevation it was more difficult to break trail.

It was lightly snowing at this point and the rest of the way up we took a few breaks because of the heavier snow and elevation gain.

Reaching our break spot

We hit a part of the area where it plateaued and we were able to see the lakes.  It wasn’t much a great view of the lakes, but we didn’t want to scramble around in our snowshoes over all the rock and trees.  We set down our space blanket and cooked some hot chocolate to warm up.  That was probably the best idea ever and it absolutely warmed my entire body up.

Though, just 10 minutes later it got a little windy and started snowing more heavily.  We quickly packed up and headed down the mountain.  We may have cut trail down pretending we were skiing down, it was the simple way down to just go straight down.  You have to be a bit careful while doing this to not slip; make sure to take it slow if you decide to head down.  Honestly the safest way down is the way you came up when snowshoeing.  While hiking up your goal should be to set steps for your way down, especially if you are going down the same way.

All trips come to an end

We finished around 1:30pm, the way down was much faster as we went straight down instead of following our way up.  No breaks on the way down, just straight to the car.  Headed back to footloose to drop off the rentals and the quick snowshoe hike was over.  Can’t wait till the next one.

If you have any questions on how to get there, please comment below.  If you have hiked here in the summer, I would love to hear from you too; I have yet to hike Sherwin Lakes in the summer, perhaps we do it this year at some point.

Happy Adventures!

Annette – Beyond Limits on Foot


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Check Them Out

Top Spots for Snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes

Beautiful Snowshoe Adventures within 10 Minutes of Mammoth Lakes

Winter in Mammoth Lakes


Latest Hikes

Mt. Hawkins via Dawson Saddle: Angeles National Forest

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

Momyer Creek – Falls Creek Trail Loop: San Gorgonio Wilderness, San Bernardino National Forest

My Picks – January 2019

I have been doing these picks for a while now, but haven’t really ever written on why I write them. I find myself browsing for new equipment/gear all the time; when I say all the time I mean it. I’m sure there are some of you out there that are similar even if you have everything. So I thought, I’d go ahead and put out my picks here and there. Sometimes it’s because of the season, sometimes it’s because I want to buy the item and sometimes it’s because I just used it on a hike.

Interested in buying the leggings from the above picture: “mountain love – leggings“.

The below three items that I picked this month I actually just took on my last trip up to Mammoth Mountain. We were up there for a week for Christmas Day, our birthday and New Year. On top of just snowboarding, we decided to do some other things in Mammoth Lakes including: snowshoeing, going to the hot springs and sight seeing. My first pick is the goggles I use for snowboarding, my second pick is a newer version of the snowshoes I currently have and my third pick is a smaller version of the bag I take on these trips to fit everything.

Have fun choosing and let’s go adventure together!

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


Oakley Flight Deck XM 

Snow Goggles

>>take these on your next ski trip especially if there will be a major storm

These are the best goggles I’ve ever had.  I’m on my second season with them and during any snowstorm have been able to see pretty well with them, even used them snowshoeing when it was snowing once.  The lenses can be switched out pretty easily if they scratch up after a lot of use.

If you don’t already have a helmet and wish to get into the backcountry for skiing or snowboarding, I would recommend one every time you go out there.  A few brands that are out there for helmets are Smith, Giro and Bern.  Of course there are more, but those are the ones I know.  Buy a helmet on Amazon.

Price: $149.93


MSR Evo Ascent 22 

Snowshoes

>>those snowshoes you buy because you don’t want to stay in all winter

In light of the winter in full effect here, I’d thought I recommend some snowshoes that I have heard are very strong and even great in icy conditions.  I have an older version of these and have used them a few times on my snowshoe hikes.  The question is what do you want in a snowshoe?  Some of the items to look into before buying are:

  • Size
  • Bindings
  • Traction Devices
  • Don’t ever forget the boots you will be using with them

Price: $199.95



Patagonia Duffel Bag 45L

>>that travel duffel you buy to fit all your goodies for your next adventure

I own the 60L of this bag and use it almost on every single trip now.  I especially like it when we go snowboarding because I can fit my helmet, my jacket, my pants, my gloves, etc.  Perfect for a weekend or if you are just travelling for the week and will fit enough clothes.

Price: ~$140


— Related Posts —


— Gear and Grub —

27 Essential Gift Ideas for Hikers & Backpackers

A couple of days ago, I put out a quick guide out of 10 Gift Ideas Under $25 for Hikers & Backpackers.  If you are on a budget be sure to take a look at that article.

If you have ever been hiking or backpacking, you know there is always a list out there of the 10 Essentials.  These are the 10 must haves (essentials) to take with you on any outing to be safe.  The top 10 essentials needed are:

  1. Navigation
  2. Sun Protection
  3. Insulation
  4. Illumination
  5. First Aid Supplies
  6. Fire
  7. Repair Kit & Tools
  8. Nutrition
  9. Hydration
  10.  Emergency Shelter

Take your time below, maybe even put together a stocking stuffer with some of the Under $25 Gift Ideas and some of the suggestions below.  Make it personal and meaningful!  Help your hiker or backpacker friend be safe out!

Have fun choosing and let’s go adventure together!

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

1

Garmin inReach Explorer +

outdoor gear

Ever since we bought this version, we have taken it on all our trips whether be it camping, backpacking, hunting, etc.  I would highly recommend this product for a hiker’s staying safe out on the trails.

BUY


2

Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire GPS Watch

I have wanted to have a gps watch for a long time.  I find it perfect if you are a trail runner or even a day hiker and it’s lighter than the Garmin inReach Explorer + like above.  I have heard nothing but good reviews on the watch.

BUY


3

Garmin inReach Mini

This product is very similar to the Garmin inReach Explorer +, just a bit smaller.  If your hiker backpacker friend is all about weight, this is the way to go.  Keep them safe out there with this.

BUY


4

A2S Protection Paracord Bracelet

An all-in-one bracelet: compass, fire starter, emergency knife and emergency whistle.

BUY


5

Regular Compass: Reliable Outdoor Gear

One should always take not only a map, but a compass with them.  Let’s say your electronic device that you use as a gps goes bad, the best things you can have around is a map and compass.

BUY


6

Topographic Maps: Tom Harrison Maps

If you want to get something more personal for your hiker or backpacker friend, go ahead and buy a topo map of an area you may think they want to hike in.  Especially if they are map people.

BUY


7

Sunglasses: Pepper’s Breakers

100% UV protection in style.  Great for the outdoor adventurer spending sunny days outside.

BUY


8

Sunscreen with Carabiner: Sol Sunguard 

A sunscreen with a carabiner is the way to go for the hiker or backpacker for easy access while on the trail.

BUY


9

Patagonia Trucker Hat

A hat is always needed on the trail!  Find your hiker or backpackers friend favorite color or style.

BUY


10

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

Hikers and backpackers both alike love down jackets.  Check out some more of Patagonia’s Down Jackets.

BUY


11

Sherpa Adventure Gear Khunga Hat

This beanie is actually make of wool, keeps you insulated and warm.  Along with that, it is lined with PolarFleece for an extra level of warmth.  Something to not is that Sherpa employs people in Nepal and each hat bought supports those who need it.

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12

Microfleece Gloves – The North Face

Gloves are very important for insulation.

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13

Marmot Minimalist Rain Jacket

If your hiker or backpacker friend likes to hike in weather as well, Gore-Tex is the way to go.

BUY


14

Baselayer Bottoms – SmartWool Merino 150

Baselayers are very important for a hiker and especially for a backpacker.  Merino wool is one of the best materials out there making it an ideal choice for those who go out on adventures.

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15

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

A must have for any hiker and backpacker for any adventure they go on.

BUY


16

MPOWERD Luci Lux Pro Solar Inflatable Lantern

I’ve had the MPOWERD Luci Color Inflatable Lantern for years now and take it on every hiking/backpacking trip.  Now they have a newer version with the ability to charge your smartphone.  I’d say this is a pretty good idea as a gift.

BUY


17

Goal Zero Rechargeable AAA Battery Pack

Something that is very important for the backpacker and even hiker is to keep extra batteries lying around for their headlamp/flashlight.

BUY



18

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight First Aid Kit

Great stocking stuffer or gift for your hiker or backpacker friend.  We are always in need of emergency safety gear.

BUY


19

UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit

The case includes 12 matches, 3 replaceable strikers, waterproof case and cord.  Perfect basic gift or stocking stuffer for any hiker and backpacker.

BUY


20

Make an at Home Repair Kit or a Gentlemen’s Survival Kit

What’s important in a survival kit?  Items that the adventurer can use in any wilderness adventure.  This kit includes a compass, fire-starter, penknife tool, tweezers, rope, safety pins and wire saw.  I would add some duct tape to this mix.  Make your own or buy the Gentlemen’s Survival Kit.

BUY


21

Mountain House Meals

If you are putting together a fun bag of goodies, this is a great add on for your friend.  My favorite of the Mountain House Meals is the Chicken & Mashed Potatoes.  I could literally eat it as a meal at home any day!  Second favorite is Breakfast Skillet, especially if your friend is a breakfast person.

BUY


Check out some Grub Ideas for the Trail!


22

Honey Stinger Waffles

Have a friend who is a sweet tooth?  They’ll love this one as a gift.

BUY


23

PROBAR – BOLT Engergy Chews

Great source of energy for those long distance hikers/backpackers.

BUY


24

Lifestraw Gravity Water Filter

outdoor gearBest water filter we’ve ever had.  We can set up camp while waiting for the water to filter.

BUY


25

Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir

outdoor gearAnother must if you are a hiker backpacker!

BUY


26

Nuun Hydration Tablets

These are great for hikers, backpackers and trail runners.  Great energy source with electrolytes to keep them moving.

BUY


27

SOL Emergency Bivvy

BUY


I hope that this gift guide can either assist you in putting together a stocking stuffer gift or giving you an idea of what your hiking friends or family members might want.  OR if you want anything from this list!  If you guys have any questions or ideas as well, comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.  Check out some of Beyond Limits on Foot gear and food ideas!

Gear and Food Ideas:

Happy Adventuring,

Annette – Beyond Limits on Foot


I hope you guys enjoyed this post.  If you are interested in seeing some of the trips that I took this year and perhaps doing them yourself, check them out here.  I haven’t gotten around to writing about every single one, but will over time.

2018 Trips:


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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.

 


10 GIFTS UNDER $25 FOR HIKERS & BACKPACKERS


1

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.

BUY


2

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.

BUY


3

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.

BUY


4

Darn Tough Hiking Socks

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

BUY


5

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!

BUY


6

TentLab Ultralight Potty Trowel

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

BUY


7

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.

BUY


8

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.

BUY


9

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.

BUY


10

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.

BUY


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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.
Background

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.

Weather

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
Out-and-back

— 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 —


— Follow @beyondlimitsonfoot on Instagram —

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 on Amazon!

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.

Gear

  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.

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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


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— Check Out Some Grub Ideas for the Trail —


 

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