boulders

Vasquez Rocks, 3.3 miles, 2,672' max elevation, 535' +/-, January 6, 2019

Vasquez Rocks, 3.3 miles, 2,672' max elevation, 535' +/-, January 6, 2019

We had an easy day today at Vasquez Rocks. We walked the trail that goes around the perimeter of the natural area and enjoyed looking at the unique geology. The sky was filled with big, billowy clouds from the rain we had last night. This is such a wonderful place to come for a relaxing day, and you can get some really great photos perched up on the rocks.

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Onion Valley to Kearsarge Pass, 11 miles RT, Max elevation 11,835', 2,972' +/- August 19, 2018

Onion Valley to Kearsarge Pass, 11 miles RT, Max elevation 11,835', 2,972' +/- August 19, 2018

The trek from Onion Valley to the top of Kearsarge Pass was a spectacular day hike! The Kearsarge Pass Trail heads west from the trailhead at Onion Valley entering the John Muir Wilderness at approximately .7 miles. On this 11 mile round trip journey, we passed through foxtail pine forests, crossed over boulder fields, hiked alongside waterfalls and aquamarine colored lakes filled with golden trout. A final rigorous high altitude ascent up a barren, rocky slope lead us to Kearsarge Pass where the trail crests the Sierra at an altitude of 11,835 breathtaking feet! We were rewarded with the most sublime views I have ever seen; the glaciated Sierra peaks, sparkling turquoise pools of water and views into Kings Canyon National Park. Here are some photos with captions below each to describe our incredible journey.

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Cottonwood Lakes, 14 miles RT, Max elevation 11,384', 1,660 +/-, Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra Trip, July 10, 2018

Cottonwood Lakes, 14 miles RT, Max elevation 11,384', 1,660 +/-, Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra Trip, July 10, 2018

I woke up at 4:30 am excited to get started on our new adventure. We had a hearty breakfast and soon were on our way up Horseshoe Meadow Road to the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead at 10,000’. I took my compass bearings, geared up and we were on our way by about 7 am. The trail enters the Golden Trout Wilderness and starts off on a leisurely stroll through the big pine trees. As we went along we started to gently descend. We followed along side a beautiful creek and made a few water crossings. The mosquitos were out in full force, so I was sure to break out the bug spray before becoming their early morning breakfast. We passed by lush green meadows dotted with wildflowers, corn lily and incredible views of large granite cliffs. Soon we entered the John Muir Wilderness. There was another creek crossing and more lovely meadows to enjoy before we came to the switchbacks. As we began to ascend our pace was slower than usual due to the high altitude. I did not mind stopping to take a few breaks so I could enjoy the views from above and take my photos. As we approached the top of the switchbacks, we could see some peaks coming into view. We passed a junction for Muir Lake and started to see the playful marmots poking their heads out waiting to see if we were going to give them hand out. The trail gently meandered through the meadow with a flowing stream and had incredible views of Cirque Peak and Mount Langley. It wasn’t long before the Cottonwood Lakes came into view. They were stunningly beautiful. We took a moment and sat in the shade to take a break, have a snack and enjoy the scenery, peace and quiet. We made our way to lake #3 and followed along its shore to a short climb up some switchbacks. On the other side we reached lakes 4 and 5. We felt a light breeze and could see the summer storm clouds rolling in closer, but I didn’t hear any thunder. We thought it was a good time to start heading back. We had quite a ways to go before reaching the end of our journey. As we made our way down the switchbacks we enjoyed another marvelous view of lake #3 from above. We passed a man with his two sons who were fishing, but he said they hadn’t had any luck. As we made our way back to the trailhead, I could feel some light precipitation. The cool raindrops on my skin felt refreshing after a long day and the smell of summer rain mixed with the pine was intoxicating. We got back to the trailhead around 3:30 pm and clocked about 14 miles. It was my first time hiking for that long at such a high altitude and I was both tired and exhilarated at the same time. It was an incredible experience. The Eastern Sierra has so much to offer. I have fallen in love.

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Mount Pacifico 7,134', 2,398' +/-, 14 miles on the PCT from Mill Creek, June 3, 2018

Mount Pacifico 7,134', 2,398' +/-, 14 miles on the PCT from Mill Creek, June 3, 2018

I’m always looking to escape weekend crowds and find new trails to explore. This Sunday our hike was to the top of Mount Pacifico in the northern part of Angeles National Forest. We planned to start the hike at Mill Creek and follow the PCT which runs through this area. It looked like the trek would be around 12 to 14 miles depending on whether or not we did an out and back on the PCT or did a loop. The day was going to be hot, but I figured since we were heading up to a higher elevation, it might not be so bad on the ascent. If it got too hot, we would descend and save it for another time. The trail was very beautiful. There were many wildflowers and so much ceanothus (California lilac) which made for a very pleasant fragrance along the way. There was lots of wildlife activity too; squirrels, chipmunks, songbirds, bees, insects and butterflies. As we climbed higher, we started to see beautiful, tall pine trees. Much of the area was burned in the 2009 Station Fire, and we could see the effects of that as we hiked this route. But the area looks as though it’s been recovering nicely. Eventually, we reached a junction where we left the PCT and headed southeast to a jeep road that took us up to the summit. There are outstanding views of the surrounding mountain ranges along the way making the road more interesting. After about a mile or so we reached the summit. Mount Pacifico Campground is also here. There are picnic tables, a fire ring and vault toilets. That’s quite a luxury to have up on a summit! There are also a lot of very interesting rock formations to explore. There wasn’t anyone here today, so we took a good long rest and relaxed and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Soon it was time to head back and get ready for the heat as we descended to a lower elevation. We opted to come back the way we came on the PCT for a more scenic and enjoyable route. Both of us had been keeping well hydrated throughout the trip and we had no problems with it being so warm. We were even gifted with an occasional breeze as we hiked back down the mountain. I found this trail to be very nicely graded so although it was long, it was very pleasant. A very enjoyable hike!

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Mount San Jacinto 10,834', 11 miles RT, 2,437' +/-, May 25, 2018

Mount San Jacinto 10,834', 11 miles RT, 2,437' +/-, May 25, 2018

I took the day off on Friday so we could revisit San Jacinto Peak.  We were thinking about hiking up from Marion Mountain, but first I wanted to try it again from Long Valley, so we made a fun day out of it by taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway way up to start the hike out at 8,516'.  Just as I remembered, the San Jacinto Wilderness was absolutely breathtaking.  Also, just as I remembered, the altitude kicked my butt!  It was a slow and steady climb for me today, but with the beautiful forest and the amazing scenery I wasn't complaining about taking my time.  As we approached the summit, the trail disappeared into the pile of boulders that I had been so nervous to climb last time we were here.  This time, knowing what to expect, I had no problem.  It was actually a lot of fun climbing up those rocks this time!  We spent some time at the summit, had some lunch and enjoyed the expansive views.  Hardly anyone up here today.  It was so pretty with all the fluffy clouds passing just below the peak.  After we were done soaking in the views, we began our descent and I made sure to take plenty of photos to remember the day.  We hope to be back again sometime before the year is over to try this one from Marion Mountain. 

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Mount Hillyer, 6,215', 6 miles RT (1,129 +/-), January 21, 2018

Mount Hillyer, 6,215', 6 miles RT (1,129 +/-), January 21, 2018

The trek to Mount Hillyer in the central San Gabriels is a meandering hike through impressive boulder formations and flat sections of beautiful pine meadows.  This land was once used by horse thieves, the most notorious was Tiburcio Vasquez.  This area was the perfect hideout for bandits to escape from the law and pasture stolen horses.  The trail starts off at Chilao just past the visitors’ center on the Silver Moccasin Trail.  The first section is a series of switchbacks through rocky terrain.  After about a mile, it smooths out and you’ll reach Horse Flats Campground.  It’s a beautiful camp equipt with corrals and hitching posts for equestions who ride in and want to stay the night with their horses.  From here you pick up the Mount HIllyer trial and this is where you’ll start a steady ascent through the ginormous boulders.  We took our time on this hike and had a lot of fun climbing around the various rock formations.  As for the summit, there are actually two.  The unofficial summit stands at 6,215’ and the second official summit is 6,162’.  You’ll come upon the unofficial first.  Once you’re done enjoying the views from there, you can hike just a little further up the trail and find a short use trail off to your right that goes to the official summit.  We stopped there and had some breakfast.  There was absolutely no one on the trail today.  After we were done enjoying the peace and quiet of the forest, we headed back down towards Santa Clara Divide Road.  We followed the road back to Horse Flats and then back to the Silver Moccasin Trail and Chilao.  Loved this hike today.  Short on the mileage, but very big on the scenery!

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