Today we made the drive to Wrightwood to hike the Blue Ridge Trail. We’ve been slacking the past couple of weeks since we got back from Mt. Whitney. The Blue Ridge Trail is a nice, mellow climb up to Blue Ridge in the welcoming shad of Oak and Pine. When we got to the ridge we decided to go a little bit further to enjoy the views. We hiked southeast along the PCT towards Guffy Campground and Wright Mountain for just a short while. It was a lovely day and much cooler than at the lower elevations. There are still plenty of wildflowers in bloom and the bees were buzzing all around them. Afterwards, we headed over to my favorite place to eat in Wrightwood, The Grizzly Cafe. It was a nice way to end the weekend.Read More
This was my and my husband’s first time hiking the Mt. Whitney Trail past Lone Pine Lake and our very first backpacking trip. We didn’t plan to summit due to the trip reports of snow traverses beyond our skill set and comfort zone. We weren’t in a hurry and we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves. The only goal we had was to gain experience, enjoy an evening on the mountain and return home safely.
I’d been reading trip reports from other hikers and keeping track of trail conditions for weeks. With the big snow year we’ve had, I needed to be aware of what to expect on the trail. The first obstacle we encountered was a water crossing just before the John Muir Wilderness boundary. It was flowing strong, but I found it easy enough to cross. I removed my boots and hiked across in sandals. I did the same on the return, but my husband chose to rock hop and we both were able to get across with no problems. It was actually a lot of fun.
We hiked up the first set of switchbacks slow and steady. I kept my pace in synch with my breath. I carried 28 lbs. My husband had 33 lbs. We had no problems with weight. Both of us workout regularly, so we both have a good level of fitness. We are both going to be 50 years old this year.
For our first night, we planned to sleep at Outpost Camp. Both of us felt great when we arrived. We even felt like we could have gone farther, but I didn’t want to risk AMS.
Our plan to acclimate was the following: Saturday, spend time at Horseshoe Meadow, sleep in Lone Pine (enjoy hotel facilities such as plumbing and a shower!), Sunday, hike the Ancient Bristlecone Forest, sleep again in Lone Pine, Monday hike and sleep above 10,000’ at Outpost camp.
Monday night we had Outpost Camp all to ourselves aside from one other couple. The star filled night sky was amazing and the moonlight reflecting on the granite walls surrounding us was beautiful. We fell asleep to the sound of the nearby waterfall. Well, my husband fell asleep. I actually didn’t sleep all that much, but I never sleep well when camping. The only other issue I had was the bugs. Lots and lots of mosquitoes!!!
In the morning, there was a doe wandering around camp. I watched her for a while as my husband made breakfast. I didn’t have much of an appetite, but other then being tired from lack of sleep, I didn’t have any signs of AMS. After breakfast and decided to leave our gear at Outpost camp. We planned to hike up as far as we could get with lighter daypacks, then return to Outpost camp and decide whether or not to spend another night there or drive back to L.A.
I was pretty tired when we first got going. We continued up the trial and just past Mirror Lake we encountered a very short snow bridge with footprints going left and right. The trail here was actually almost covered, but you could kind of see the rocky steps to the right which is the way we went. We had to do some route finding between that section above Mirror Lake and Trailside Meadow where it got a little confusing. We came prepared with navigation tools. I carried a paper map, compass, a Garmin inReach Explorer and my husband had a Garmin Fenix 3.
We kept on hiking until we reached Trailside Meadow. It was amazing to be above the timberline! At this point we were both satisfied with how far we had come. We could have continued on, but decided to turn around. Both of us wanted to make sure we had enough energy left to hike back down, pack up our things at Outpost camp, then hike out and make the drive back to L.A.
Even though we didn’t reach the summit, I feel accomplished. We gained experience, had a great time, returned safely and got to know the majestic Mt. Whitney a little bit better.Read More
It was nice to re-visit the Ancient Bristlecone Forest in the White Mountains. We did this hike last year, and I wanted to go back again to see these incredible ancient trees. This hike starts above 10,000’, so it was a good acclimation hike prior to our backpacking trip on Mt. Whitney. These trees have survived over thousands of years and have been sculpted into twisted works of art by wind and ice over time. The really are something to see! We hiked the Methuselah Trail, a 4.5 mile trail with an elevation gain of about 800’. The trail climbs up into a forest of Bristlecone and Lodge Pole Pines then drops down and into a woodland of Mountain Mahogany. It truly is a journey through time and I highly recommend visiting if you are ever in the Eastern Sierra.Read More
We had a another relaxing camping trip to Table Mountain in Wrightwood this weekend. We set up camp in the afternoon, took a nap and then did a short evening hike up the Blue Ridge Trail through the majestic Black Oaks and up to the top of Blue Ridge. I love this trail. It was very peaceful on a Saturday night, since most of the day hikers were gone. Before heading back to camp, we stopped off in Wrightwood and picked up a pizza and a bottle of wine. We spent the rest of the evening enjoy food by the fire. When we turned in for the night, the forest was extremely quiet. It’s usually windy up on this mountain, but on this night it was very still. In the morning we woke up early and did a quick hike on the Table Mountain hiking trail. It’s about 2.5 miles and goes around the perimeter of the campground. It has great views of Mt. Baden-Powel and all the way out to Palmdale. It was another great weekend spent in the mountains!Read More
Every Sunday I wake up at the crack of dawn to hike. This past Sunday when my alarm went off at 5 am, my husband persuaded me to stay in bed. It was nice sleeping in for a change. Once we got up, we went out for breakfast then came home and relaxed until the afternoon. Around 2ish we headed up the ACH and into the Angeles National Forest to hike Waterman Mountain. We had our backpacking gear, and this time I was trying out a new Gregory backpack. My Osprey Kyte was bothering my shoulders, so I thought I should check into another pack. The Gregory seems to be a much better fit on my back. I was carrying around 27 lbs. We did approximately 7 miles taking the Waterman Trail up to the summit at 8,038’ feet and then heading back down on the fire road past the ski lifts to make a loop. We passed by the seasonal pond just below the summit. I’d never seen water in it before, but we’ve had so much snow this year that it looks like the pond may be around for a little while longer. Just as we were approaching the pond we saw a Search and Rescue chopper circling low. This was followed by a vehicle coming up the mountain with a team of rescuers. They showed us a photo and description of a hiker who’d gone missing on Saturday. They asked if we’d seen him, but unfortunately, we had not. We then continued our descent. The forest was quiet and the light was much different then I’m used to seeing it in the early morning. It felt very peaceful. The weekend crowd had cleared out and when we got back to the parking turnout, our car was the only one there. It was so nice I really didn’t want to leave! We got to see the sunset as we drove back on the ACH. It was a really nice afternoon. I think we need to do more late afternoon hikes in the future. It’s a nice change from waking up so early.Read More
We had a fantastic long weekend backpacking and camping in Los Padres National Forest! Our first hike was an easy one to the top of Mt. Pinos and back. We wore our heavy packs to continue our training for Mt. Whitney. Afterwards, we headed to the McGill Campground. I was really excited to get to camping! I’d been at this campground a few times before, but never stayed. It was just lovely! The camp hosts are very hospitable and they keep the place in tip top shape. Almost all of the campground is shaded by towering pine trees. If you prefer, you can camp at one of the more exposed sites on the outer edge that offer sweeping views. We almost took one of those, but since it was windy we opted to stay a little farther in. We hung a hammock and enjoyed a lazy afternoon. In the evening we made dinner (just freeze dried meals using the Jetboil stove) and then took a romantic stroll along the Exploration Trail. The Exploration Trail is a paved nature trail leading to some benches where you can sit and enjoy the view. It was a very relaxing evening. Once the sunset, the moon rose and lit up the entire sky. It was magical. I really don’t think I’ve ever seen a full moon as beautiful as the one we saw from this forest. It was amazing and so bright, we didn’t even need our headlamps. When it was time to sleep, the only sounds we heard was the wind howling through the trees. Since it was a Sunday night, there was hardly any trace of human beings around. Just the way I like it! I woke up a few times from the wind during the night and each time, I saw the moon in a different spot as it circled our tent throughout the night. It was about 5:30 am when I woke up and stepped outside to catch a little bit of sunrise. It was so quiet and peaceful and the sky was full of different colors. I wanted to enjoy a little more sleep, so I got back in the tent and didn’t get up again until about 7:30. Once we were awake, we made a fire, had breakfast and relaxed some more before heading up to the Nordic Base and hiking to Mt. Pinos again. This time we went a little further and took the Vincent Tumamait trail down to the bottom of the switchbacks, At that point we decided it was time to head back. I really just wanted to do a good climb with my heavy backpack on to get in some more training for Mt. Whitney before heading home. It really was a wonderful weekend. I especially didn’t want to leave the camp. We will definitely be staying here again sometime in the future. It’s such a beautiful place.Read More
This weekend we took out the backpacking packs, loaded them up with gear and went on a hike in the Los Padres National Forest. We hiked the McGill Trail up to the McGill Campground. I was carrying about 27 lbs in my pack. This was a nice starter trail with a moderately graded incline to begin getting used to carrying extra weight before our backpacking trip on the Mt. Whitney Trail. I also started using my backpack to train at the gym. At least one day per week, I wear it with 30 lbs and do exercises like squats, lunges and step ups. It’s all been very beneficial. Hiking with the extra weight takes some getting used to, but the McGill Trail is a lovely trail through a beautiful pine forest and I enjoyed myself nonetheless. Once we arrived at the campground, we chatted with the camp hosts before sitting down at a picnic table and making lunch with the Jetboil stove. We took a nice rest before loading up again and heading back. It was nice and cool up in the mountains. When we got back on the freeway to head home, my car gauge read 101 degrees! I was happy to have spent the day in the mountains!Read More
This weekend was our first camping trip of the season! It was time to pull all our gear out and get familiar with it again since we’ll be backpacking the Mt. Whitney trail this year. I love camping. It’s so nice after a day of hiking to be able to build a fire and sleep out under the stars. We headed out of the gloomy cloud covered city up to sunny Wrightwood. There were, however, some scattered storm clouds hanging around, but the rains held off and the clouds passed us by. Our hike today started at Jackson Lake. There were people here fishing and families picnicking. We got on the Jackson Lake trail to the Boy Scout Trail. There’s plenty of shade on this trail as you pass through a forest of beautiful black oaks and towering pine trees. I’d like to come back here in the fall when the leaves are changing. It’s a lovely trail and we didn’t see another person. The Boy Scout Trail eventually ends at a junction for two service roads. You can head southwest on the Pinyon Ridge Truck trail, or southeast on service road 3N26. This road winds around the mountain as it climbs upward with nice views of Mt. Baden-Powell which is still covered in snow at the top. The road eventually takes you to a junction for the PCT, so we headed north here to loop back to the Jackson Lake Trail. We passed about 6 thru hikers on this section heading towards Baden-Powell. Hope they all made it up safely with the snow. It was about 2:30 pm when we got back to the trailhead and headed to camp at Table Mountain. After we set up camp, we went into town and brought back some Grizzly Burgers from the Grizzly Cafe. That’s the nice thing about camping at Table Mountain. You’re about a 10 minute drive from food! Why cook when you can get a burger to go, right? As the sunset and the weather cooled down, we built a fire, toasted marshmallows and enjoyed the outdoors. We had a peaceful night and slept comfortably under the stars. The next morning welcomed us with a beautiful sunrise and birdsong. We had breakfast and then headed home. The weekend was way too short, but I’m so grateful for the times we have like this when we get to be away from the city, traffic, electronics, etc. and enjoy the beauty of the forest.Read More
We got up late today and decided to take our time getting anywhere. We weren’t really decided upon any one hike, so I stuffed my backpack with maps, downloaded a bunch of different trails onto the Garmin and headed up the ACH. The rock slide still hasn’t been repaired, so we had to take the detour to get to the high country. We then decided today would be a good day to hike Devil’s Canyon. The weather was cool, and I remembered last year when we did this hike in April there was lots of water flowing. I knew with all the rain and snow this year, there would be plenty of water now too. The trail hadn’t changed much. The views down into the canyon overlooking the San Gabriel Wilderness were beautiful. The trail could definitely use some love though. It was pretty brushy in some areas, and there were some trees down across the trail. There was also more erosion. Still, it was nothing too difficult to get around. We followed the creek most of the way and eventually reached the backcountry campsite. We saw a family on their way out who had spent the night. They had their kids who were carrying backpacks bigger then they were and two dogs. I asked them how their night was, and they told me it rained all night. We made our way over to this really great rock I found last year right next to the stream. It’s nice and smooth and shaped like a recliner. We got comfortable and ate our lunch (ham and cheese croissants from the donut shop... yum!). The sound of the running water was so relaxing and the clouds were billowing across blue sky. We took a nice nap until eventually the sky turned to gray and the sun was covered by the clouds. We packed up our stuff and began the hike up out of the canyon. I took a lot of photos on the way back. There were lots of wildflowers, and at one of the creek crossings there was a ton of ladybugs (and also poison oak). The cloud cover made the hike up and out pleasant since it kept us cool on the exposed sections of the trail. It was a very peaceful, relaxing day.Read More
What a beautiful mountain. There are so many blooming wildflowers this time of year. We did this hike last year in June and the weather was very hot. This time the weather was still warm, but definitely not as bad. Again, just as last year, we saw very few people other then the PCT thru hikers passing by on their way to the Sierras. We put in quite a lot of mileage and the day was made even longer by my stopping to take photos every few minutes. The best hikes are always the ones where I take my time and don’t feel like I’m in a rush against the clock or in a big hurry to reach the summit. Now that we’ve been hiking for a few years and have hiked many of these mountains, I don’t feel such an urgency to summit and I’m taking more time to stop and really appreciate and enjoy the beauty of my surroundings. Even though Pacifico Mountain was hit hard in the 2009 Station Fire and there’s still a lot of visible damage along the route, it’s a very pretty hike. The area is incredibly beautiful with great vistas and it is full of flowers and wildlife. In fact, we can in very close proximity to a rattlesnake towards the end of the hike and only about a half a mile away from the trailhead. We didn’t see the snake, but we did hear the warning rattle. She must have been alongside the trail hidden where we couldn’t see her. It’s amazing how they can disguise themselves. As we climbed up the mountain, the trail changed from charred trees to beautiful Jeffery Pines. We had lunch at the campground on top of the summit. It would be so nice to camp here sometime. There were a good number of ravens circling and I saw several species of butterflies including painted ladies, swallowtails and duskywings. We spent good amount of time at the top before leaving. There was no one there but us. I scouted around the big boulders to see if I could find the official USGS marker, but I still couldn’t locate it. I’ll check again next time we’re here. It was a really nice day.Read More
I needed a little R&R today, so I headed over to Descanso Gardens which is one of my “go to” special places. The garden was in full spring bloom, and it looked exceptionally stunning! I’ve always said Descanso is a magical place, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.Read More
I always look forward to Joshua Tree. We go a couple of times a year during different seasons. There are so many trails within the park to explore. This time we hiked from the trailhead at Juniper Flats on the California Riding & Hiking Trail to the Stubbe Springs Trail to Fan Canyon Overlook. This was a beautiful hike. The desert was alive with wildlife and wildflowers. We saw road runners, antelope ground squirrels, birds, lizards, you name it. This route took us through a dense Joshua Tree wilderness, through canyons, over rugged but gentle rolling terrain, in and out of desert washes and to an incredible overlook with views of Mt. San Jacinto, San Gorgonio and the Coachella Valley. We got on the trail at 9 am which is a little later then I usually like to start. At this time it was about 73 degrees with about a 15 mph wind. As the day progressed, the weather warmed up and by the time we finished the hike around 1:30, it was about 85 degrees. Luckily, the winds stayed with us through most of the day although there were sections where it seemed to quiet down and you could really feel the heat. We also had a few moments where the sun hid behind the clouds, but for the most part we had clear skies. I would have loved to have hiked the entire Stubbe Springs Loop at 13 miles round trip but with the intense desert heat we decided to shorten our trip to an out and back. We plan to return in the fall and complete the loop. It was a wonderful day and not a soul in sight other the my husband hiking in front of me. I took literally hundreds of photos. There’s something very magical about the desert, and we had a wonderful day.Read More
The weather is still cool so I’m trying to make the best of the front range before it gets too hot. Today we drove up to Eaton Saddle with no specific plan in mind since there are plenty of routes you can take to make a great hike. We hiked up the Mt. Lowe Road through the Mueller Tunnel which experienced an avalanche over the winter, but some of the rocks were cleared so you can get around it safely. At Markham saddle, we decided to continue down the Mt. Lowe Road to Mt. Lowe Trail Camp and the ruins of Ye Alpine Tavern where we’d take a break and enjoy the ham and cheese croissants we’d picked up from the donut shop before starting our hike. I really love this area and enjoy walking the Mt. Lowe Fire Road. The views are great down into Bear Canyon and you can really see just how rugged the San Gabriels are. As we hiked the sun was trying very hard to break through the clouds, but we were soon engulfed in them as they wrapped around the mountain and our views disappeared in a heavy mist of white. When we reached the junction with the Tom Sloan Saddle trail, we branched off to explore it for about a quarter mile. It descended steeply and since we didn’t want to lose too much elevation, we decided to save that adventure for another day. I was really enjoying being surrounded by all the cloud cover. When we arrived at the Mt. Lowe Trail Camp, I noted that there was water flowing. This is the first time I’d seen it there. There were a few people enjoying the solitude of the camp, and we stopped for a while to appreciate the silence and eat lunch. I pulled out the map while we were eating to check out the Mt. Lowe East Trail. It would be a shorter, but steeper route back, so we decided to explore it. We got on the trail and began climbing up the switchbacks on Mt Lowe’s southern slope. There were some loose rocky, sections that were narrow and exposed so we had to be careful on those, but nothing too terrible. At one point, two mountain bikers almost collided into us as they were racing down the mountain on the switchbacks that didn’t give them much visibility to see what was around the corner. Thankfully, they saw us and we moved to the side so they could continue their way down the mountain. I worked up a pretty good sweat climbing up, but soon we reached the junction with the summit trail to Mt. Lowe. I considered continuing up since we were already here, but then we both decided since there would be no views today, that we’d just head back to Eaton Saddle and enjoy an early day.Read More
I had off on Friday and was looking for a challenge. Strawberry Peak seemed like a really good idea. We’d done this hike exactly one year ago, and I was excited to see if it would be easier this time since I’ve been working with a trainer for almost a year now at my gym and he’s been training me with my specific hiking and backpacking goals in mind. The hike starts out innocently enough meandering northeast from the trailhead at Red Box and making a sharp turn to the west and around the southern slope of Mt. Lawler until it reaches the saddle between Lawler and Strawberry. That’s where the fun begins. The trail then climbs unforgivingly for about the next mile and a half except for a short section where you’ll actually lose elevation and then have to climb back up later. I put my hiking poles away on the last mile so I could have free use of my hands for the rock scrambles. I felt really strong today and all the step ups I’ve been doing at the gym were really paying off!! I was definitely running on a bit of adrenaline and excitement, but I was having a good time. Strawberry Peak is still a butt kicker, but I could tell how much stronger I’ve become. We reached the top of the mountain in no time and since it was a week day, we didn’t see many other hikers and had the peak to ourselves. We signed the summit register, had lunch and then began our careful descent. On the way back we saw a lot of critters. One in particular was a Western Fence Lizard doing push ups to impress a female. We stopped to watch him as he tried to put the moves on her, but she had no interest. I wished him luck and continued down the trail. As we got closer to Red Box, we also saw a few snakes. They made their way into the shrubs as we passed by on the trail. It was an awesome day in the mountains!Read More
We hiked Little Butte and Saddleback Butte this weekend. I was here last year, but had not gone during the wildflower bloom. It was magical! We started our hike on the Dowen Nature Trail which connects to the Little Butte Trail and eventually the trail leading up to the top of Saddleback Butte at 3,651’. I immediately began to see carpets of wildflowers blanketing the park and the Fiddleneck flowers were covered in thousands of caterpillars. We took our time and admired all the beauty being offered to us here at the western edge of the Mojave Desert. I took note of some of the many wildflowers we observed. We saw: Coreopsis, Fiddleneck, Desert dandelion, Sun cups, Desert candles, Davy gilia, Fremont pincushions, Dune primrose, Wild Rhubarb and in addition, the Joshua Trees were in full bloom. Eventually, the sandy trail gave way to rocky terrain as it began its steep ascent up the top of Saddleback Butte. The wind was strong as we climbed and after a few easy rock scrambles, we were at the top enjoying the 360 degree views. To the south we could see the snow capped San Gabriel Mountains and further off in the distance we could make out Mt. San Gorgonio and Mt. San Jacinto. This was a really wonderful hike and being able to see the park in all it’s wildflower glory was a special treat!Read More
I decided to take a vacation day on Monday so I could go hiking. We headed to Chantry Flats, but we weren’t sure whether or not we wanted to do a longer, more strenuous hike to Mt. Wilson or a shorter loop. We figured we’d decided when we got to the junction at Sturtevant Camp. Santa Anita Canyon was exceptionally beautiful today. There was so much water flowing in the creek. We took the Lower Winter Creek Trail that climbs up along the side of a rocky cliff to the top of Sturtevant Falls. The water was rushing strong and it looked awesome! As we hiked along the trail, we saw so many cascading pools of water. When we reached the junction near Sturtevant we made the decision to do the longer route to Mt. Wilson. I figured why not. I’d taken the day off and had no other place to be. As we started up that first steep mile, I was almost starting to regret my decision. My body was tired, but I didn’t want to turn around. We’d done this route last year, and I remember I really enjoyed it. We slowed up our pace which made it a little more bearable. It was a fun climb! Lots of beautiful scenery along the way. But I was very happy to reach to top because all I kept thinking about was sprawling out at one of the tables at the Cosmic Cafe and eating a ham and cheese croissant my husband had picked up at the donut shop before our hike! Once at the top, we had a nice rest. I took my hiking boots off to give my feet a break too. After we were finished refueling and recharging, we began the 7 mile descent back down the mountain. We took the Mt. Wilson Trail where you can still see quite a bit of fire damage to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road. There had been an avalanche since the last time we hiked on this road, and there were huge fallen boulders strewn across it. They were easy enough to get around, and I wondered what it must have sounded like when they came crashing down. We then reached the junction for the Winter Creek Trail and continued the long, steep descent on the switchbacks until we reached the bottom of the canyon. There were a lot of downed trees to hop along the way and there was also some trail erosion. The trail was still in good shape, but it does need a little TLC from the wonderful volunteers who help keep these trails passable so we can enjoy them. My knees and feet were getting tired, but the Winter Creek Trail is just so pretty. The final part of the hike was the grueling slog up the concrete road leading back to the parking lot. It seems to go on forever and it is steep! I was sweaty and tired by the time we got back to the trailhead, but it was so worth it. It’s been a while since we did any long, hard days on the trail so it felt really good to get out there and enjoy it!Read More
Today we hiked the entire length of Griffith Park from Travel Town (north) to Fern Dell (south) and back. The nice thing about living so close to the park is we get to sleep in since we don’t need to travel very far to start hiking. We didn’t get on the trail until about 8 am. We started up Oak Canyon which is a popular equestrian trail. It’s very pretty and like the trail’s name, it’s a canyon covered in beautiful oak trees. The morning was chilly and there was frost on the ground. From Oak Canyon we connected with the Toyon Trail. This trail was very lush and green. I almost felt like I was walking along a country road. We then connected to Mt. Hollywood Drive. It’s a winding concrete road, but it was very quiet and we saw very few people. To my surprise, we happened to come upon the infamous haunted picnic table, table #29. If you don’t know the legend of the picnic table, two young lovers, Nancy and Rand, were crushed to death by a tree that fell right on top of them while they were making love on Halloween night in 1978. The fallen tree still remains on top of the table as is because when the city sent someone to cut it down, he became scared out of his wits and claims he saw the tree start to shake violently and heard voices telling him, “Leave us alone!”. When his supervisor went up to do the job himself, he was found dead of a heart attack the next morning. Quite an interesting little story. From Mt. Hollywood Drive, we made our way up near the Griffith Park Observatory. The trail became very busy here with tourists and people hiking in from the south side of the park. We then descended down the West Trail into Fern Dell. Fern Dell was very pretty with it’s cascading pools of water and tropical flora, but we didn’t stay very long. There were A LOT of people here and although I was expecting it to be this way, we were done with crowds and ready to head back to the peace and quiet on the north side of the park. We hiked back on the West Trail and then took the Charlie Turner Trail up and around Mt. Hollywood. From there we headed north around Taco Peak and then followed the trail West. From here we picked up the North Trail near Mt. Chapel and then back again to Mt. Hollywood Drive, Toyon Trail and eventually Oak Canyon. It was a fun day, but as fun as the past few weeks have been trying out city hiking, I think I am ready to get back into the wilderness!Read More
Since I began hiking in Los Angeles, I’d always seen photos of the Wisdom Tree. But since I’d never really been interested in city hiking until now, I never considered hiking up to see him for myself. He’s kind of a celebrity to Los Angeles city hikers. There’s a huge trunk that sits underneath the tree where hikers can leave their “Wisdom Tree Wishes” in the hopes they’ll be granted. This tree is the only tree that survived the 2007 Hollywood Hills fire. Now that our days are getting longer, there’s more time for hiking on weekdays after work. We decided to make the short climb up Burbank Peak where the famous Wisdom Tree is located. This is a very popular trail and there was a consistent flow of all kinds people going up and down the entire time. In front of us, a girl who was wearing only chucks and hiking with a handbag was slipping and sliding on the rocky trail trying to make her way up. She finally realized that this may not be the best idea and asked my advice on whether or not she should continue. I politely let her know it would probably be better to come back another day with a pair of hiking boots. She took my advice and turned around. I felt relieved she did so that she wouldn’t twist an ankle. The climb up was a lot of fun. It was a warm day and I worked up a decent sweat. As we made our way to the top, I saw a few people trying to come down on the rocks wearing sandals. Yikes. In just a short time we reached the top and the Wisdom Tree came into view. I walked up to him, made my introduction and then explored all around the summit taking in the 360 degree views of Burbank, Griffith Park, DTLA, Warner Bros. Studios, Universal Studios and the surrounding mountain ranges. To the east, there was a trail to continue on to Cahuenga Peak and Mt. Lee. We’ll try that one another day. After taking it all in, we carefully began our descent down the rocky trail. Now when I look up at the Wisdom Tree which I can see from the studio where I work, I can finally say that I have met him in person.Read More
We spent another day exploring Griffith Park. Our plan was to hike the North Trail from Mineral Wells Picnic Area and from there take the Mt. Chapel Trail to watch the sunrise from Mt. Lee which is where the Hollywood Sign is located. This is a non-traditional route to the sign, and I had not been able to find much much information about the Mt. Chapel Trail. We got started around 5:30 am and saw a couple of coyotes scavenging the picnic area for leftover food. As we hiked up, the city below looked really pretty. The lights were twinkling and there was a soft, warm wind blowing which made it seem kind of surreal. Up ahead I noticed the orange glow of an eye reflecting in the light of my headlamp. I wasn’t sure what kind of animal it was until I got closer and realized it was a little bird. It seemed strange to see a bird just sitting in the dirt and there was another one not far up ahead. Later, I did some research and learned that these nocturnal birds are called Common Poorwills. We continued up the hill until we reached the base of Mt. Chapel. It was about 20 minutes before sunrise, and at this point the wide trail turned into a rocky, narrow footpath hugging the hillside. We didn’t get too far on this when we realized we’d have some rock scrambling to do. I wasn’t comfortable scrambling rocks in the dark with only the light of our headlamps, especially since I didn’t know much about this trail. To play it safe, we backtracked and opted to see if we could make it to Mt. Hollywood for sunrise instead. We could always check out the trail again later when there was more light. We had about 15 minutes to reach our Plan B destination, and we made it there just in time! There were already a number of people on the summit ready to enjoy the sun coming up over Los Angeles. It was lovely. We then headed down to Captain’s Roost where you can find the “hidden palm trees” that you see in so many photos of Griffith Park. It’s just a short distance from the Mt. Hollywood summit, and it’s a great place for a photo op with it’s beautiful garden overlooking the city. From there, we continued our journey and headed toward Taco Peak. Taco Peak is a just small bump, but the climbing was a bit slippery due to all the loose little pebbles. The views at the top were nice, and from what I understand, there used to be a tea house here. After a quick snack break, we headed back towards Mt. Chapel to check out the Mt. Chapel Trail again now that there was daylight. After surveying the scrambling situation and some encouragement from my husband (I’m not a fan of rock scrambling), we made our way across the rugged trail over to Mt. Lee. I admit the rugged trail was a lot of fun and the views from the ridge were probably some of the best I’ve seen yet in Griffith Park. By this time the sun was warming things up and there were a lot of Painted Lady butterflies fluttering around the wildflowers. Eventually, the Mt. Chapel Trail intersected with Mt. Lee Drive and we met up with the crowds making their way up to enjoy the views from the summit of Mt. Lee and the back of the Hollywood sign. It was actually really fun seeing the Hollywood sign up close. I’ve lived here for so long now and never made it a point to go see it. But we didn’t stay very long since there were lots of people on top jockeying for a good view and the perfect photo. Even so, I would definitely recommending seeing the sign at least once just as long as you know what to expect as far as the amount of people you’ll be sharing the views with. After leaving Mt. Lee, we scrambled our way back across the fun Mt. Chapel Trail and back the way we came on the North Trail and to Mineral Wells. We put in about 9 miles. I am really enjoying exploring this park!Read More
Today we headed back to Griffith Park again and this time accessed the trails from the north side. We didn’t have to get up as early to beat the crowds today, and we had much more solitude coming up from this direction. We took the Skyline Trail to the Mineral Wells Trail. From there we followed it all they way to the Bee Rock Trail. What an interesting spectacle Bee Rock is from below! We made our way up the steep single track to the top of the Bee Rock where the views, even though fenced in, were excellent! From Bee Rock we hiked a short distance on Vista Del Valle and then picked up the North Trail. From the North Trail we connected back to Mineral Wells and then back to the Skyline Trail in a lollipop loop. I have to admit I really underestimated Griffith Park. It has a very extensive trail system, and there’s a hike for ever level. You can make a whole day out of it or just a few hours if you so choose. The only problem we ran into was that there are many use trails throughout the park, so it can get confusing as to which one to take. I found myself referring to my map quite a bit. At the end of our hike, we both agreed we are very lucky to have this wonderful park within a few minutes drive from our home. We’ll definitely be coming here more often in the future.Read More