Beek’s Place via Black Star Canyon

Would you believe me if I told you that these pups hiked 17 miles together in one day?

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L to R:  Trooper @trooperandmoe, Xena, Gin @miffydoggy, Jack and River @jen_dux

Our friend Kristine invited us to a pack hike to Black Star Canyon. I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to or would be able to hike 8 miles to the Beek’s Place and back, making 16 miles in total. I packed for 16 miles anyway but decided to play by ear depending on the trail condition and our physical and mental condition on the day of.

We met 3 ladies and their pups at the trailhead. We did a quick round of introduction before we began the hike. One of the pups (who is not in the group photo) wasn’t good with other dogs so the pup stayed on a leash and the pair hiked behind us. The trail began on a paved road but after a quarter mile or so, it turned to dirt. At the 2.54 mile marker, we came to the Black Star Falls trail junction.

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The trail to the waterfalls is unmaintained and has poison oak along the trail. The group decided to hike to the top of the waterfalls instead. On the way, Kristine took the group to this open meadow off the trail. You can’t see it from the fire road because it’s on a higher ground. This place was like The Sound of Music! ..except for the crazy wind. Look at those ears! Haha!

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Messy ears, I don’t care!

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After we let the dogs run around for a little bit, we got back on the fire road again. The side trail to the top of the falls wasn’t far from there. Although it’s unmarked, the long path descending through this open field will be hard to miss on your right. Here is the trail from the opposite direction.

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My GPS said 4.97 miles. Since we took a little detour, I would guess it is probably at around 4.7 miles. Most likely, you will see other people. From here to the top of the waterfalls is 0.17 miles.

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After the detour, we unanimously agreed to hike to the Beek’s Place. Everyone was feeling good. All the dogs got along very well. Xena was super happy on this hike. She smiled up at me many times. The Spring-like weather in January was enjoyed by all.

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The fire road gains 2,468 feet in elevation over a stretch of 8 miles so it has a gradual ascent. The easy terrain pretty much remains all the way to the top. However, the fire road is exposed and there is no shade so I wouldn’t recommend this hike with dogs during hot weather. We only ran in to a few bikers that day but I hear there are many speedy bikers on this trail so look out for them.

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From this gate, Beek’s Place is practically just around the corner.

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We were greeted by a 360-degree view at the top and we could see the snow cap on the Mt Baldy. But I was disappointed to find shattered glass bottles everywhere near the ruins of Beek’s Place. Please remember to leave no trace.

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We took a lunch break here then took a group photo before we headed back. When we were ready, we went back down the way we came up. We enjoyed ourselves on that day very much. Sunshine, waterfalls and laughter but most of all, the beginning of new friendship.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  1.14.17
  • Distance:  17 miles, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  2,468 feet (752.25m)
  • Duration:  7 hours 40 minutes including breaks
  • Difficulty Rating:  Difficult
  • No restroom
  • Best time:  Winter, Spring and Fall

Not all group photos are graceful

Happy Hiking!

Pack Hike to Bridge To Nowhere

Couple weeks ago we went on a group hike and celebrated our friend Robin’s gotcha day. 8 humans and 8 pups in all sizes, shapes and colors hiked to Bridge To Nowhere in San Gabriel Mountains. All pups got along so well! I couldn’t ask for a better group to hike with.

The creek level was lower than May and it made it easier to cross this time. Logs and rocks were placed to create a path since our last visit which made it easier too. All in all, I enjoyed it more this time.

Trail Stats:

  • Trailhead:  34.236981, -117.765305 (copy/paste to your GPS app)
  • Distance (RT):  10 miles to the bridge and back
  • Elevation gain:  1,422 ft (start @ 2,236 feet)
  • Porta-potty at the trailhead and Heaton Flat Trailhead
  • Permit:  Southern California Forest Adventure Pass required for parking ($5/day or $30/annual). Passes are sold here.
  • Features:  stream crossing, arch bridge, bungee jumping (optional) and possible wildlife sighting

Here are photos from the pack hike.

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Behind the scenes

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From left to right:  Robin, Xena, Trooper and Mia

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Below picture cracks me up. Look how blur Xena is. T-R-E-A-T-S!!!!! She acts as if I don’t feed her at home.

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It’s all business when a treat bag is out.

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When everyone wants your toy and you don’t want to run with them to fetch. Even if it’s her favorite toy, if another dog (regardless of its size) chases after it, she stops instantly and gives up. Every time. I worked on building her confidence in many situations but still in this area, it remains that way. Some say that it happens to dogs who were the smallest in their litter and got pushed around by the bigger littermates in the early development stage. Then it sticks with them through the adulthood. Xena was the smallest (or the 2nd smallest) from the litter (of 9 puppies).  So then is it true? I wish I could help her to be more assertive during playtime.

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Happy Gotcha Day Robin but I don’t want you to take my toy..

Must have a group photo, right? We had to take a group photo twice because after the first one, we realized one dog was missing. Are you serious?! Believe or not, the second time it was easier. I think they stayed like this for good 20 seconds so all humans were able to capture the group photo this time. It felt like a long time. 🙂 If you are wondering, all pups are watching their humans. Aren’t they precious? We enjoyed meeting other hiking pups in SoCal. Hope to meet them again on another pack hike!

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Hike date:  9.24.16

Happy Hiking!

Bridge to Nowhere

This popular hike is 10 mile RT if you don’t get lost. But we got lost. From the beginning. There are two forest service gates. Go through the one at the end of the parking lot. Because a big group was congregating near the first gate, I assumed that was the right gate. Else why would they be meeting there, right? Later I found out that that was the meeting place for the people who signed up for bungee jumping at the bridge. sigh..

Pretty soon I realized that we were scrambling for no good reason, I turned us around and walked back to the parking area. Then, I saw the other gate we were supposed to go through. I felt pretty silly at that moment.

The real hike started out easy. The fire road was on a slight downward slope and the view of San Gabriel Canyon was inviting. It was unusually cool morning in May. It was 48 degrees. I was glad we didn’t waste too much of pleasant cool morning by getting lost.

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Soon we were able to see and hear the stream from the trail. We passed the Heaton Flat trailhead and a campsite next to the stream. From here, Bridge to Nowhere is 4.2 miles away. There is a porta-potty here but the frequency of the maintenance is questionable judging by the smell from outside.

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At about 1 mile, we came to the stream. It doesn’t look deep or wide in the picture but it was deeper and wider than I expected. I took off my socks and shoes and changed in to my brand new water shoes. Oh my! To my surprise, the water was ice cold! The deeper part of the stream came to my mid calves. This picture was taken after we crossed.

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The first stream crossing was a bit chaotic. I was in cold water shock and trying to find a shallow section for Xena to cross. She didn’t know why I was walking gingerly and looked painful in the water. She was concerned and hesitant to cross the stream.

My toes were freezing. I dried my feet and put the socks and shoes back on. Ahh, warmth again. I quickly realized that it was a mistake to pack that water shoes. There was no way I was going to keep that cold wet water shoes on. Also, the trail was rocky and the shoes had no support nor protection against the rocks. Gear failure. “Wow, I have to do this 6 more times?” I thought. Little I knew, I was about to get lost and cross the stream a lot more than needed to. While I was putting my shoes back on, I threw a toy for Xena so she can at least play and move around.

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Right after this, go straight until you find a dirt trail. I took a rocky path instead that turned to right. I saw wet boot prints so I followed it. I followed hikers who were lost and I didn’t realize it at that time. We stayed off trail which required lots of unnecessary boulder climbing and more stream crossing. Shoes off.  Shoes on. I was getting tired of it and it slowed us down but I didn’t want to hike the rest of the trail in wet sock/shoes. Ugh.

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Xena never panicked in the water. She stayed with me against her fear of water. I was so proud of her. Sometimes, the water came up to her chin and had swift current. Only on those situations, I helped her to cross. The handle on her Webmaster harness came in handy as usual.

I was especially worried about her paws getting injured by dry broken branches and sharp rocks because that was pretty much the condition of our trek. Most of the time, we were alone. I stayed with the stream hoping that it will eventually take us to the trail. Occasionally we came across other lost hikers. But they moved faster than us and they were out of our sight as quickly as they appeared.

Finally I found a trail about 2.5 miles in to the hike. No more bushwhacking but there was no more coverings to keep us cool either. From here on, it was all exposed.

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Soon, we came to a little bridge and there was a sign that we are now entering in to Sheep Mountain Wilderness. That was the only sign I saw after the Heaten Flat trailhead. We crossed the stream couple more times which kept us cool. I didn’t even have to pull out her Swamp Cooler vest.

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As we got closer to the bridge, there were more hikers around us. I really have no idea where they all came from all of sudden. At some point, someone spotted a herd of big horn sheep up on the hill across from us. Pretty cool!

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About 0.25 mile after that, we arrived at Bridge to Nowhere. We walked pass the crowd who were in line for the bungee jumping then took this photo.

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Luckily I was able to find us a shady spot to rest. It was a small nook next to a rock wall just enough for two of us. We ate our lunch and watched people.

After food and resting for about 25 minutes or so in the shade, we both felt rejuvenated. When I started to pack up our gear, a few people were scrambling to take our spot. A shady area was hard to come by. With recharged body and mind, we enjoyed our surroundings and fantastic views.

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I was determined to not get us lost again this time for Xena’s sake. When the trail started to get hazy again, I followed a big group. I was fighting against the increasing temperature and the heat from ground was getting stronger too. Since she is closer to the ground, I need to consider that as well. The temperature was in the mid 60’s and not having the shade definitely created a challenge. I wasn’t going to extend already her longest hike potentially longer in the heat.

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Taking a little break in the shade

It took us 6 hours and 30 minutes including the stops. What an adventure! We both were pretty tired by the time we got back to the car. It was more from scrambling in the first half and the heat during the second half of the hike. On the way back, I didn’t bother taking socks and shoes off. I only had to walk in wet shoes a few miles anyway. By then the water felt real nice and refreshing. Xena got comfortable with walking through the stream too. She didn’t hesitate any more. That was a big accomplishment!

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I will go back. Next time, I will remember to take my trekking poles. They would have come in handy when crossing the stream.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  5.22.16
  • Distance:  10 miles RT if you don’t get lost
  • Elevation gain:  1,422 ft (start @ 2,236 feet)
  • Porta-potty at the trailhead and Heaton Flat Trailhead
  • Parking:  Southern California Forest Adventure Pass required ($5/day or $30/annual). Passes are sold here.
  • If interested in bungee jumping, click here to purchase a ticket from Cloud 9 Living.
  • Mostly exposed. This is not a good hike to take pups during summer.
  • Features:  stream crossing, arch bridge, bungee jumping (optional) and possible wildlife sighting
  • Trailhead:  34.236981, -117.765305 (GPS coordinates)

Happy Hiking!

Inspiration Point via Castle Canyon Trail

It usually takes about a week for my body to get used to Daylight Savings and it takes about the same time when we change back in November. Instead of doing my usual routine – lay low and take easy – this year, I woke up at 5:20 am and met up with friends at dawn to hike the Inspiration Point in Altadena.

Inspiration Point via Castle Canyon

View of downtown LA

Castle Canyon Trail starts from Mt Rowe Railway Trail on top of the Echo Mountain. My previous post on Echo Mountain has the trailhead information. We reached at Inspiration Point after 4.62 miles and 2909 feet in elevation gain. We ate the delicious sandwiches Jackie made and shared snacks while enjoying the view.

Mountain bikers meetup maybe… FYI, Castle Canyon is only for hikers. Inspiration Point is reachable by other nearby trails as well.

It’s been about 5 years since I hiked this trail. Is it possible that my fear of heights got worse over the years? I hope not. . Some parts of Castle Canyon was very narrow -barely one foot width – with pretty steep decline off the edge. My heart raced and I felt my anxiety coming on. It’s mind boggling.. It’s unlikely for me to forget about the narrow, cliffy parts of the trail. Only thing that makes sense is that it didn’t bother me that much back then. But, I refused to believe that my fear of heights is getting worse! Can it? Can a phobia get worse over time seriously? How am I supposed to hike Machu Picchu and other amazing places on my bucket list if this gets worse? I am hiking with a (mental) disability!! OMG

Anyway, shocking my system was a good call after all. I did not leave my couch after I got home and took a bath. I was thoroughly exhausted. I slept for 10 hours that night and woke up feeling fresh! I didn’t experience any side effects of the Daylight Savings time change. 🙂 Happy Hiking!