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 My first pick is the goggles I use for snowboarding, my second pick is a newer version of the snowshoes I currently have and my third pick is a smaller version of the bag I take on these trips to fit everything.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.
>>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.
>>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:
>>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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
An all-in-one bracelet: compass, fire starter, emergency knife and emergency whistle.
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.
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.
100% UV protection in style. Great for the outdoor adventurer spending sunny days outside.
A sunscreen with a carabiner is the way to go for the hiker or backpacker for easy access while on the trail.
A hat is always needed on the trail! Find your hiker or backpackers friend favorite color or style.
Hikers and backpackers both alike love down jackets. Check out some more of Patagonia’s Down Jackets.
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.
Gloves are very important for insulation.
If your hiker or backpacker friend likes to hike in weather as well, Gore-Tex is the way to go.
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.
A must have for any hiker and backpacker for any adventure they go on.
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.
Something that is very important for the backpacker and even hiker is to keep extra batteries lying around for their headlamp/flashlight.
Great stocking stuffer or gift for your hiker or backpacker friend. We are always in need of emergency safety gear.
The case includes 12 matches, 3 replaceable strikers, waterproof case and cord. Perfect basic gift or stocking stuffer for any hiker and backpacker.
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.
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.
Have a friend who is a sweet tooth? They’ll love this one as a gift.
Great source of energy for those long distance hikers/backpackers.
Best water filter we’ve ever had. We can set up camp while waiting for the water to filter.
Another must if you are a hiker backpacker!
These are great for hikers, backpackers and trail runners. Great energy source with electrolytes to keep them moving.
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:
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.
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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.
The hat is lightweight (1.9 oz) and good for cool weather activities. It’s reflective design makes one visible at night.
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.
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.
I have a few pair of these, they are the most comfortable on the trail.
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!
If you have ever been backpacking, you know for sure you need one of these.
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.
This is a plus for anyone that goes hiking a lot; sitting on the ground all the time gets tiresome.
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.
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.
**Originally hiked: October 18, 2018**
|Elevation Gain:||2,100 feet|
|Location:||Angeles National Forest|
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.
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.
Trailhead is at Islip Saddle, mile marker 64.1 on the Angeles Crest Highway. The drive is about an hour/an hour and a half away from the Los Angeles area. From downtown LA, take 110 North and merge onto I-5 North. About 7 miles later, take CA-2 N (Angeles Crest Highway) toward Glendale. Merge onto CA-2 E/I-210 E. In .4 miles take CA-2 toward La Canada Flintridge. Turn left onto Angeles Crest Hwy and drive 39.6 miles until you see a parking lot on the left at Islip Saddle. The trailhead is directly across the street.
Mt. Hawkins ~8,041 ft –> Weather.gov
Throop Peak ~ 9,138 ft –> mountain-forecast.com
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.
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.
|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|
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:
*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.
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Annette – Beyond Limits on Foot
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.
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 —
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.
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
|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|
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
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.
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.
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.
Annette – Beyond Limits on Foot
>>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!
*Hurry as this is on clearance and there are limited quantities.
>>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?
*Hurry as this is on clearance and there are limited quantities.
>>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:
*Hurry as this is on clearance and there are limited quantities.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
Address: Sequoia National Park, 12 Generals Hwy, Sequoia National Park, CA 93262
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
>>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:
*Note the tent does not come with the Platinum Footprint.
>> $$699.95 – Amazon
>>that mattress you add to your gear for extra benefits
I already had a backpacking mattress, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress. I really didn’t need another mattress, but this one I couldn’t just take out onto a rock and lay on it without being worried it would get a hole in it. So we decided to get something more usable outdoors too. If we go on longer trips this is the choice we go with, if it’s just a one night trip I’ll take both of the mattresses and my comfort level goes up a lot.
>> $$44.95 – Amazon
>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
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.
>> $9.95 – Amazon
It’s taken me a while to write this, because I’ve been in a funk since we decided to postpone doing the John Muir Trail this year. If you are just tuning in, this March I was awarded permits to do the John Muir Trail, a “premier hiking trail in the United States” says http://johnmuirtrail.org/.
What is the John Muir Trail? It’s a long-distance trail, a long-distance of 212 miles in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. This trail is usually one of the first thru-hikes that most do to gain the common knowledge hiking community “I am a thru-hiker” term. California holds a place in my heart, not because of Los Angeles, but because I can get to the Sierra Nevada mountains within a little more than a couple hours and hike in to majestic alpine lakes and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There’s only one place where you can hike and surf all in the same day.
If you haven’t heard of the trail, it begins in Happy Isles – located in Yosemite National Park. This is the lowest part of the journey sitting at 4,000 feet. The trail runs all the way to it’s highest point Mt. Whitney (14,505 feet); Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain of the contiguous United States. If you’d like to know more about how to climb Mt. Whitney check out my post here: Mt. Whitney – Inyo National Forest.
After leaving Happy Isles, the trail doesn’t go much under 8,000 feet, 35% of the trail is above 10,000 feet and the elevation gain total is over 46,000 feet total. If you’d like to read more about the trail check out the John Muir Trail Page by Steve and Claire Schauer and the Pacific Crest Trail Associations John Muir Trail Page.
February 15, 2018 I put in a Yosemite Wilderness Lottery Application to do the John Muir Trail. A day later I received a confirmation email that they received my permit. A day later I received my first denial email that I was not awarded a permit. A day later another denial. But on February 19 I received a different kind of email that didn’t say “Denied”, it said “Wilderness Permit Confirmation”. I had to open the email to make sure it was true and it was. I was put into the lottery and they picked my permit; I was in Jackson Hole on a ski trip and realized what this meant and started yelling because I was so excited. I ran out of the room and told my sisters that I had been awarded the permit.
After the trip, it was time to start planning; we bought a few new gear items and bought all our food over time. We used amazon for almost everything and of course hit up REI and Big 5 for some other items. In April, I received some of my first items in the mail from Amazon. Since I had a few backpacking trips planned before our hike including: High Sierra Trail: Crescent Meadow to 9 Mile Creek, Momyer Creek Trail – Falls Creek Trail Loop: San Gorgonio Wilderness, Big Pine Creek North Fork, Sabrina Lake Backcountry, Kearsarge Pass and Yosemite Half Dome.
In June and July the rest of our ordered items started rolling in. Little did we know that the erratic weather we had been having would change the course of what I believed to be one of the hardest and most exhilarating things that I would ever do. On July 13th, lightning decided fate and started a fire just outside of Yosemite. I crossed my fingers and hope that they would be able to put the fire out because July 28th I had permits to climb Half Dome.
In the first 24 hours the fire grew 828 acres and because of its steep and rugged terrain, it was very hard to get to where the first was. We still had 2 weeks to find out if we would have to cancel the trip or not. The hotel I had reserved Cedar Lodge at Yosemite was under mandatory evacuation on July 20th; the communities that were evacuated was Old El Portal, Rancheria Flat, Foresta, and Yosemite View Lodge. The following day a couple more communities were evacuated. You can read more about the fire incident here: Ferguson Fire.
I realized a week before our trip, that I had to make the call; the fire grew daily about 2-3,000 acres and it was only contained 20%+. Since we had a friend flying in, I made the call on Monday of cancelling the trip as Yosemite Valley was closed; there was no way we were going to hike Half Dome in the air quality it had. Every morning my routine was to check the Yosemite webcams, check the Mammoth Mountain webcams and then check the update on the Ferguson Fire, Lions Fire, Georges Fire and the Owens Fire. Things weren’t looking good for us.
On August 3rd, 2018 we set out to Mammoth Lakes, CA in my sisters and her boyfriends Sprinter Van (@adventurewithpebbles). This was the first leg of the journey before heading on the John Muir Trail. The entire drive up was smoky on the 395 and got even worse once we got into Mammoth, you could just smell the smoke. We knew going into it, we may not be able to start in Yosemite Valley so our second option was to start in Tuolumne Meadows, which was less desirable the moment we got out of our car.
I didn’t realize until now that we may need to either start later on the trail, maybe even as far in as Red’s Meadow or call the entire trip off. What made me decide to call it off? There are so many reasons, but mainly it is because I wasn’t going to have the chance to do the entire trail and that’s really what I wanted to do! I wanted to do Happy Isles to Mt. Whitney from start to finish in one hike. I didn’t want an asterisk next to its name. I didn’t want to not be able to see all of the trail because of the smoke. I wanted to experience everything the John Muir Trail has to offer.
We went for a short hike up to Arrowhead Lake (2.6 miles round-trip) and smoke grew as the day went on. Definitely realized at this point while we were hiking, how are we going to endure this for 3 weeks?
I keep going through my head about the reasons why we decided to opt out; it was a wise choice – we made the right choice and the trail is not going anywhere. I will try it again next year!
So, Sunday August 4th we decided to take the ride back home in the Sprinter Van Pebbles. So many thoughts were running through my head during the entire drive back home. We went straight back to work when we got home; I had a hard time thinking about anything else. I will probably go on many more backpacking trips on weekends, but it won’t be the same as the trail. Till next time John Muir Trail!
Bearfoot Theory: California’s John Muir Trail
Trail to Peak: A Comprehensive Guide for the John Muir Trail
Future Travel: Fastpacking the John Muir Trail
SoCal Hiker: Hiking the John Muir Trail
Martijn Linden: Packing List:: 7-Day Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail
Making a wrap is one of my most favorite things to do these days for one-night backpacking trips or day hikes; you can even make this for work any day – I do, at least once a week.
*Note: Not a lightweight meal, but so nice to have something fresh
I found that just taking jerky and snacks doesn’t hit the spot as much as something fresh made at home! Usually the weight matters, but on a day hike and on a one-night backpacking trip, a little extra weight to get something more nutritious and “yummy” hits the spot every time. I only started making these wraps about a year ago when we went on a quick over-night backpacking trip to Long Lake (I have still yet to write about this hike, so behind).
You can obviously change around whatever you would like in the wrap, but nothing other than tomatoes (isn’t too bad) get soggy. I have even had the rest of a wrap for breakfast the next morning. It’s all about the food on the trail and the more we go, the better we are getting with our one-night trips at figuring out fun ways to make the food better or taking actual fresh food. Either way if you have a minute, check out my Trail Food: Grub Ideas for the Trail page for more items that I like to take on our backpacking/hiking trips.
Check Them Out: I started reading around a lot more about recipes on the trail. Here are some of my favorite websites to read.
Hope you enjoyed those reads if you clicked on them. Alright, time to get this recipe wrapped.
For the Wrap
1 large spinach tortilla (Mission Wraps Garden Spinach Herb Tortillas)
4 tomato slices halved
4 cucumber slices halved
Slices of red onion to your taste
Handful of spinach or any salad (I like to use mixed greens)
Slices of yellow hot wax pepper
Pepper Jack Cheese
Spicy Mayo (Lee Kum Kee Lkk Sriracha Mayo)
Jalapeno Mustard or Regular Mustard (Silver Springs Mustard Jalapeno)
1 piece of foil
Easiest way to have the least dishes on the trail is to make the wrap at home and put in the fridge. It will be very fresh even for lunch and potentially the next day still.
Your wrap is ready to go (refrigerate if you make the night before you leave or put in cooler).
Nothing, just eat it when you feel like it!