Two City Girls Go Glamping

We just got back from our first camping trip!! I wasn’t sure if we two city girls can handle the sleeping in the tent thing so this trip was for just one night. And we had a blast! But before I share our first camping trip, I need to share our glamping trip. Some of you might be wondering what is glamping? Well, according to the Oxford dictionary, glamping is:

A form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.

Back in April, we tried this glamping thing near Warner Springs, CA. It was a warm-up for our first camping trip. I figured if we hated glamping, camping was out of the question. I found this place on glampingwithpets.com. I liked the idea of tent-cabin so I booked for two nights. Somewhere between tent and cabin. Sure, that sounds safe to try. 

The place was very cool and had a great view! There was no other campsites around us as it was at the border of the Cleveland National Forest. The host’s house was down the dirt road and we were alone in the woods. It was relaxing and peaceful. 

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Do you eat or do you dine?

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Daytime was great! Nighttime was definitely out of our comfort zone though. Oh boy, so much for a relaxing getaway. 😅 We maybe had 2 hours of sleep on the first night. It was cold and I couldn’t get comfortable but it was mostly due to unfamiliar noises from the wildlife visitors throughout the night. Who was on the top of the tent? And who came to the deck at 2 am and scratched the outside of the tent? We could hear the nails as it moved. The grill screeched against the wood floor as the animal moved around. I imagined this would be what would be like to do primitive camping. Animals come to your campsite middle of night for food. BUT WE WERE GLAMPING! Xena and I stayed still in the bed in fear. Every part of my body was alert. I watched Xena for a cue but I could see that she was watching me for a cue. Are we in danger? Do you know?  In that moment, it was clear neither of us was brave enough to look out to check out the situation.

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Shouldn’t you go out and check on the noises or something?

When the morning finally came, we were a bit tired but felt better that we had the warmth from the sun and were alone again. After breakfast, we went into Warner Springs for hiking. I will save that for another post. Daytime was great again.

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In the evening though, we had a mouse fiasco in the tent while we were lounging. I drove Xena and the mouse into a full panic attack with my screams. I had to force myself to stop screaming because Xena started to shake from the stress. Once I stopped screaming, the mouse found its way out of the tent. It couldn’t wait to get out. Haha. I left the deck light on this time and hoped no creatures visited us at night so we can get some rest. It worked.

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“Mo” the lizard. This dude came in every morning when I opened the tent and pooped on this rug. I didn’t realize glamping requires lizard poop scooping.

After cleaning after Mo’s poo, we went for a little hike near the campsite before we headed home. Never hiked on a private trail before. Very cool! Even though I was tired from not sleeping well for two nights, I wasn’t discouraged about camping. A camping tent is totally sealed and nothing can come in once it’s zipped up. We should be able to sleep better as long as I managed the cold temperature.

Needless to say, Xena and I slept like a baby in our own bed that night. Once the shock from the wildlife visits was lifted, I was ready for a real camping trip. In fact, I am actually glad about the experience we had on this trip because it prepared us for our first car camping trip. It made the car camping felt like a breeze!

Never Stop Exploring!

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!

San Gabriel Peak via Eaton Saddle

There are two locations where you can start this hike. One is from the trailhead near the Red Box Picnic Area (Bill Riley Trailhead) and the other is from Eaton Saddle. Well, I thought I started from the Bill Riley Trailhead.. because that’s what I planned on doing when I left the house that morning. So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself on a different location on the map when I checked the GPS in the middle of my trek. Whaaat?! Haha! In hindsight, I am glad it happened.

I raced against a group of mountain bikers at the parking lot to get ready. I guessed there were about 30 of them. I didn’t want to get stuck in the middle of the group. The hike began on Mt Lowe fire road. It was a clear sunny day so I was able to see the nearby cities (Altadena and Sierra Madre) to the south. First part of the Mt Lowe Rd is an rocky uphill. At 0.31 miles, we arrived at Mueller Tunnel.

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The rocky fire road continued at the end of the tunnel. At the 0.78 mile marker, you will come to a junction. Take the San Gabriel Peak trail is on your right next to the water tank.

San Gabriel Peak trail is exposed all the way to the peak but early in the morning, some parts were shaded. A little bit of scrambling is required at certain sections and some parts of the trail were very narrow but it’s doable. Just watch your step.

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When we got close to the top, the north-facing side of the trail was icy.

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The short hill from the bottom of the peak to the top (maybe 0.1 mile) was covered with thick ice. Many people were turning around when we got there. It was too slippery to climb at that point without spikes. I brought mine with me just in case but never tried them. Woohoo! I get to put my microspikes to the test. They better work! I put them on over my boots with a bit of effort (at least I knew they wouldn’t come off while walking) but overall it was quick and easy. I took my first step on the ice, the same spot I slid earlier without the spikes. OMG. I instantly fell in love with my spikes! Haha! I quickly learned to dig in to the ice when I walk so the spikes can have a better grip of the surface. Going up to the peak was piece of cake after that. Since most people turned around at the bottom of the peak, we found the summit empty which I enjoyed very much.

To return to the trailhead, go back the way you came up.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  12.4.16
  • Distance (RT):  3.5 miles, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  1,209 ft
  • Difficulty rating:  Moderate-Challenging
  • San Gabriel Peak elevation:  6,161 ft
  • Trailhead:  34.239379, -118.093359
  • Adventure Pass required for parking
  • Toilet available at Red Box Picnic Area

 

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Happy Hiking!

Josephine Peak

Park directly across from the Clear Creek Information Center. The trailhead is off Angeles Forest Hwy, a short walk from the parking lot. A gated fire road will appear on your right. The trail starts behind that gate. There are no signs after the trailhead but the trail is well-maintained and you won’t have a problem getting to the peak as long as you stay on the fire road. The city below was covered with rain clouds which looked like about to open up but when we arrived at the trail, we had blue sky and sunshine. Although it’s never too steep, you will break a sweat to get to the peak.

wp-1487196787335.jpgSoon I felt the tranquility you only get to feel in the nature. I was enchanted by the views of nearby peaks and the layers of San Gabriel Mountains. Unlike other nearby peaks in the front range like San Gabriel Peak, Mt Lowe and Mt Disappointment, there were no towers and antennas to make you feel like you never left the city. Ok, not until at the peak but even then, it’s not bad.

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The prominent peak located on the northeast of Josephine Peak is Strawberry Peak at 6,165 ft. It did not leave our sight throughout the trek.

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At the summit

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I know many hikers are down on fire roads. But I think this is one of LA’s best kept secret trail and I hope that people are continued to be uninterested to go here so I can have it all to ourselves. 🙂 We like it so much that we went back with our friends Kristine and her pup Trooper on Xena’s birthday. It was foggy and cold but we had a blast!

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Photo credit:  @TrooperandMoe

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Nice catch, Trooper!

As about 2/3 of the trail faces south, snow melts fast and the trail is usually snow free. And the north facing part of the trail near the top didn’t have enough snow to use microspikes. But since the condition could quickly change in the mountains, I recommend you have microspikes with you when you hike during winter and definitely have layers of moisture-wicking clothes. Based on my experience, it gets windy and cold at the peak. Hot soy latte tasted especially good at the peak. 😉

To get back to the trailhead, go down the way you came up. As always, please leave no trace.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  11.20.16 & 1.2.17
  • Distance:  8.4 miles RT, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  1,833 ft
  • Josephine Peak elevation:  5,558 ft
  • Difficulty rating:  Moderate
  • Trailhead:  34.271097, -118.153699
  • Adventure Pass required for parking
  • Almost no shade. Great for Spring, Fall and Winter.
  • Toilet available at Clear Creek Information Center

 

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Photo credit:  @TrooperandMoe

Happy Hiking!

New Favorite! Mt Islip

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Xena was a grump that morning. She is not a morning dog so when I rush to get ready super early in the morning when it’s still dark outside, she is usually grumpy. Don’t talk to me until 8 am or give me coffee. That grumpy face dissipated though when we arrived at the Islip Saddle parking lot little after 7 am. Then she was super happy when my sister arrived.

The Mt Islip trailhead is across from the parking lot on the south side of the Hwy 2.

The hike started on Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) on an uphill and it continued on for a while. The trail was mostly shaded as it faced north. It quickly revealed the stunning views of surrounding San Gabriel Mountains.  When you reach this sign, you’ve hiked a mile and gained 569 feet. Stay on PCT and go toward Little Jimmy Trail Camp from this junction.

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Next mile was easier with only 236 feet elevation gain. At the 2.1 mile marker, you will reach the Little Jimmy Campground on your right. I goofed and kept going until we reached a fork. We turned around and came back to the campground to find the trail to the summit.

Take the trail that goes through the campground. Soon, there will be a small wooden sign for Islip Peak. The peak is 1.2 miles from the sign.

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Up to this point, the trail was moderately shaded. However, once we left the campground and continued our ascent, it was mostly exposed. The sun didn’t bother us much though since it was middle of November and the beauty of Mt Islip was just about to reveal itself to us. Turn after turn, I was wowed. Then, this view! This hike became my new favorite instantly! I could sit there all day…really.

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A stunning view was waiting for us at every turn.

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When you come to this old stone cabin which used to be a fire lookout at some point, you made it to the peak. It’s literally just around the corner.

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After I set up a place for lunch break,

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On bag duty

we signed our names (including Xena’s) in the log.

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We had the summit to ourselves for about 30 minutes which was a real treat. At one point, I caught Xena taking a summit snooze.

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Enjoy the unparalleled 360 degree view from the summit. We were there early enough to find some shade but if you go in the middle of a day, there will be no shade so be prepared. After the break, go back down the way you came up.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  11.13.16
  • Distance:  7.5 miles RT, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  1,561 ft
  • Mt Islip summit:  8,250 ft
  • Trailhead:  34.356975, -117.850516
  • Difficulty rating:  Moderate 
  • National Forest Adventure Pass required for parking
  • Restroom available at the parking lot

 

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Happy Hiking!

2 for 1: Vetter Mountain and Mt Mooney

We got on the road super early that morning to meet up with a friend at the Charlton Flats Picnic area parking lot before the sunrise. It was the last weekend before the daylight time savings ends. After that, we would have to wake up even earlier to see the sunrise so this was our last chance before the winter begins.

Much to my surprise, I enjoyed driving in the mountains in the dark. I drove without constantly having to pull over for the speeding cars behind me. Then, a fawn came out of nowhere. I came to an abrupt stop and watched this beautiful creature staring back at me with wide eyes. Why are you alone? Go find your mama, I whispered. Once the shock lifted after a few seconds, it finally turned around and retreaded.

There were men with rifles in the parking lot. I learned that it was a hunting season and there was only one more week left. I’ve never been around hunters so seeing men carrying guns made me very uncomfortable. Luckily, Katherine was more familiar with the hunting culture so she explained things to me which helped me feel better. But still, I thought about the baby deer I ran in to earlier and hoped he hid from the hunters.

Since it was my first sunrise hike, I was a bit nervous about the dark (and the guns) and excited about the new adventure at the same time. It was definitely more challenging to get ready in the dark even with the headlight and Xena did not make it easy on me by staying still. This was all new to her too so she was a bit excited. Once we started hiking on the fire road away from the group, I felt the tension released from my body.

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This sign in the dark made me laugh. Follow the Vetter fire lookout sign.

We must’ve taken longer at the parking lot than we planned because the sun already started to rise from the east. It was beautiful.

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It’s a short distance to the fire lookout (1.7 miles from the sign).

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Built-in doggy door at the fire lookout? 🙂

Xena doing her part of fire lookout

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Photo credit: @robinventures

We had a pleasure meeting a couple who were volunteering at the fire lookout. The husband pointed out the helicopter pad near us where a helicopter waits for an emergency call. We also learned that there is at least one fatal accident every week and that it usually involves a speeding motorcyclist. Every week. That’s just horrible. Please slow down.

Normally, we would try side trails but with the hunters in the area, we decided to stay on the fire road with the pups on the way down as well. Since it’s a short 4-mile hike, we planned to do another short hike to Mt Mooney across the Hwy 2 from the parking lot.

After 0.65 miles, you will get to a tiny parking area, you need to take an inconspicuous side trail on your left. From here to the summit requires some scrambling as there is no clear path. Just keep going toward the top. It is about 0.4 miles from this junction. The summit isn’t clearly marked so if you are at the top, you reached the summit.

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Next two photos were taken on our way down to show you the trail condition.

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Photo credit:  @robinventures

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Next, we headed back to the Charlton Flats picnic area for some hang time. It was a gorgeous sunny day with a gentle breeze. Hammocking was a must. 🙂 We took a nap and just hung out listening to the sound of breeze passing through the trees. It was wonderful. Two hours went by fast.

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Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  11.5.16
  • Distance:  7.36 miles (Vetter Mtn – 4 miles)
  • Elevation gain:  1,089 feet
  • Vetter Mountain elevation:  5,909 ft
  • Mt Mooney elevation:  5,860 ft
  • Trailhead:  Charlton Flats Picnic Site (34.296746, -118.006773)
  • National Forest Adventure Pass required for parking
  • There are multiple bathrooms on Vetter Mountain fire road and they were well maintained. We were impressed. 😀

Happy Hiking!