We had a great day backpacking to Little Jimmy Campground and the top of Mount Islip. We started the hike from Islip Saddle on the PCT. This time the gear in my backpack didn’t feel as overwhelming. I’m learning how to better adjust the pack which makes it more comfortable. After the first steep section of trail which passed through rabbit brush covered in nectaring insects, we climbed upward through lush pine trees which offered us plenty of shade. We’d hiked this trail last year, and I’d almost forgotten how beautiful it was. Along the route, we passed a few boy scout troops heading down from Little Jimmy. I was certain with the weekend crowd heading out, we’d find a spot to set up our tent and have breakfast. As we got closer, the smell of coffee lingered in the air. I was glad we’d soon be enjoying a cup of our own.
After finding a spot setting up the tent was easy. They make it pretty simple these days. I’m sure we’ll make mistakes here and there, but that’s why we’re doing practice drills.
After breakfast and with less gear, we set off to hike to the top of Mount Islip. My backpack seemed feather light without the tent, sleeping bag, etc. We cruised on up the trail like it was nothing. Just before reaching the high point, the old fire lookout ruins came into view. Mount Islip has such a beautiful peak and there was hardly a soul on it. We explored the ruins, enjoyed the views and I snapped a ridiculous amount of photos before descending.
Once arriving back at camp, we had a snack then hiked to Little Jimmy Spring to fill up our water. The spring water tasted cool and refreshing. We brought some back with us to make one last cup of coffee before packing up our gear and heading back.
One thing I’d noticed while still at camp was that there was a smoke smell in the air that didn’t seem like it was coming from the camp. As we descended the mountain, the smoke became more apparent. I hiked up to a high point next to the trail with a view looking down towards Crystal Lake. The canyon was filled with smoke. We were less than half a mile from Islip Saddle and we could see cars coming and going on Angeles Crest Highway. We were concerned, but not alarmed. Cars were being diverted out of the Crystal Lake area onto the normally closed section of Highway 39. When we arrived back at the trailhead, another hiker asked us if we had seen the fire. Apparently a brush fire had broken out in San Gabriel Canyon above Azusa near Highway 39, but it must have happened just after we left the peak. I hope everyone was evacuated safely.
Happy to be back safe and sound, we called it a day and headed home. We had a wonderful time and will be back again when we can spend the night at Little Jimmy Camp.