San Gabriel Peak

My goal was to reach the summit and enjoy a nice sunrise with Christopher and Foxxy. With only a little under 1 3/4 miles, and about 1000 feet vertical elevation gain to get to the peak, I though it would be a piece of cake. The steepness begun after about 1/2 mile in, you could feel the drastic elevation gain. We started hiking close to 6am, it was still dark. Only way to see ahead was with flashlights, Christopher was wearing a headlamp. On the way up, we had to take a few more breaks than what I had expected. Christopher was out of breath, and so was I.    

  
  Though I was eager to make it to the peak before sunrise, the way up was just too much for Christopher. When we took our 2nd break I realized we would most likely not make it on time. I told Christopher, “change of plans, lets just make it to the top, we’ll still see the sun, already out though.” When we started the hike, Christopher saw my excitement to watch the sun rise right before us. He was really sad and kept feeling guilty. I did not mind at all because, after all, he was up really early and hiking in the cold and dark. He was also wearing a pack, with extra clothe and his snacks. I tried cheering him up, but had little success. On the way up, there were patches of snow, that’s what really kept Christopher going. He loves snow..

   He longed for a peak full of snow. We summited at around 0720hrs, the sun was already way up in the sky. Unfortunately, there was not much snow as we hoped for. However, we are very optimistic and though there was not much snow, there was SNOW. I snapped a few pics, he played wit the snow, whatever little there was anyway. Then I got to cooking. Breakfast for me was sliced onion, bell pepper, tomatoe and egg, and Christopher had ramen noodles, his favorite. While he ate, I explored a lil’. Exploring is a MUST. We ate, and just enjoyed the view.  

    
    

 The way down was much easier, we only took 1 long break. Christopher had a green apple and fruit snack. And in no time, we continued our descent. Made it back to the start of the trailhead and headed home. We missed sunrise by approximately 25 minutes. I did not mind at all, and was very happy he walked the entire trail all by himself.  

   

Foxxy Β The Fox

“Sometimes we think too much, and feel too little.”

 -Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator

I believe, the older we get, the more we tend to loose focus of the simple things in life. The things that matter most, and the things many overlook or dont make time for.  As life gets busier, doing what we really enjoy gets to be a challenge. Time does not sit around and wait for you, regardless of who you are.  My son, Christopher, who is also my hiking partner, has helped me in many ways stay on the path of the simple life. He has taught me that sometimes, slowing down is a MUST. When I’m rushing, he asks, “why are you going fast?”

 Anyways, let me begin my story, about a fox named Foxxy.   

 It all begun on a camping trip, about 2years ago to Sequoia National Park, with a group of friends. We had plans to take a tour into Crystal Cave, about a 45min drive from our campsite. The tour would take us down to a waterfall, and then into the caves. Inside the caves, ran a little stream of water(river) and there were lots of icicles. It was very cold inside, around 30β€’ F. At the end of the tour, there is a gift shop, that sells souvenirs and stuffed animals. Christopher really wanted one, but we did not want to buy him one because there were other kids in our group, and many would not be getting anything from the gift shop (parents choice). My friend, Alvaro, bought his daughter a stuffed animal. I had already told Christopher we had no money, so, while we stood there the look on his face when every kid started getting a stuffed animal was just heartbreaking. My wife told me to go check if we had money in the car, and winked her eye πŸ˜‰ . I knew what she was telling me. I went to the car, opened the door, and pretended to look for cash. Christopher  was really anxious,  and did not leave my side while I was searching. He was distracted by the screams of his friends, and I took the chance to get my wallet and take out the MULA πŸ’Έ. His face was priceless, when he saw me smiling, with a $50 bill on my hand and with that look on our faces he knew he was getting a stuffed animal. We then walked to the counter, there were stuffed bears, snakes, eagles, all kinds of animals and there then was a fox, FOXXY.  

     
To everyone it is just a regular stuffed animal fox, but to Christopher , is more than just a fox. He joins us when we go hiking, backpacking, camping, even sleeps with HIM for protection. Foxy has now become a part of our family, every time a head count is needed, Christopher makes sure Foxxy is included. Foxxy has been everywhere; ocean, deserts, mountains and forests. Every once in a while, out of the blue, Christopher asks us(wife & me) if we remember how we didn’t have money, then I went to the car and found cash to buy Foxxy. He remembers almost every detail, and since then Foxxy became his best friend.  

   
     
   

Heart-Shaped Rock Pt.2

Our day started at around 7 in the morning. Woke up, excited for the day ahead. 8am, breakfast was ready, we ate, cleaned up and started packing. One of our friends has recently started archery. He brought along his bow and arrows. He set up a target about 30 feet and we started shooting away. My wife, really excited, had some good shots.  

   
We left our campsite, and headed into Joshua Tree. At 10:53am, we arrived at White Tank campground, and the search begun. Though I had been there a few months back, I was unsure of the exact location. The rock is off trail, and not many people know where it is. Some have heard of it, some have not heard of it at all. Among our friends joining us, we had a prego one, and, the last thing I wanted to do was upset her. I was afraid to turn on her pregnant attitude switch. While I looked around, they waited.  

  

 Finally, spotted the rock from a distance, got the crew and we got on our way. About a 1/4 mile off trail, walking in mildly rough terrain, we were standing in front of it, the rock shaped in a heart the size of an elephant. With help from a friend, we were able to climb onto the rock. With such great accomplishment , a Nate Pose was a MUST. So, that is exactly what we did.  

  

  After taking a few pictures, and enjoying snacks, we headed back to the parking lot. We got back onto the trail, which leads to an Arch rock. Of course, I had to explore a lil’ πŸ™ƒ . Snapped a few more pics and then, we were on our way to the parking lot.  

 
  
From there, our destination was home. The 2 hour drive back seemed longer and tiring. What an adventure weekend we had. All turned out great, successful camping trip. I was really happy my wife got to see the Heart-Shaped rock, after all , it was her who stumbled upon the rock on the web, and sent me in search for it. The first time i was there, it was just me and Christo, our son, she had to work.    

   

Heart-Shaped Rock Pt.1

The famous heart-shaped rock at Joshua Tree National Park was our destination. Plans were to leave from Los Angeles at around 7am, would take us about 2 1/2 hours to get to the campgrounds. However, as we all know, life tends to throw curve balls and change your plans from time to time. 

The wife had to work, and we started our drive/adventure at 12:30 noon. Fortunately, our friends did not  mind the delay and we got on our way. However, it was late and we were all hungry, a quick pit stop had to be made. As we were driving, thinking what to eat, one of the guys wanted to stop by a camping store, to purchase a knife he had seen online. So, we agreed to stop by Bass Pro Shop while the wife’s got the food at The Hat(across the street). The Hat is mainly know for its famous pastrami. So, the wife and I shared a pastrami sub and chili cheese fries, it did not disappoint.

  

  
 The time was now 2:00pm, we had gone to camping store, ate, and were ready to continue driving. As we were getting close to Joshua Tree visitor center, I remembered a wine opener was needed, to open a wine bottle, for the wife. A quick stop was made at a nearby Walmart. Finally, we arrived to the visitor center, at around 4:00pm, only to learn there were no available campgrounds. They advised us to drive about 10 miles to Joshua Tree Lake, however, the fee for overnight camping was outrageous. And we would be camping in a cage(literally). No way we wanted to spend the night there. Drove back to a campground at Joshua Tree, maybe to our luck someone had canceled their reservation, we thought . No luck, ranger stations were now closed. 
4:50pm and we still did not have a place to camp. Until we found Nate, the stranger. Nate was just using the restroom and filling up on water before heading to an isolated area, free of charge. Time was passing by, sun was setting, and Nate was heading to an open, free campground. He gave us directions, then asked if we wanted to follow him, seeing the look on our face saying, “we pretty much have no choice.”

By 5:30, we were setting camp. The place was actually pretty nice, and best of all, FREE.  We were doing what we went to do, camp. Sun started setting, so, fire was started. I enjoyed a nice cold GOOSE IPA beer, and the wife, San Antonio Red Wine.  Much needed after a long drive and almost loosing my head looking for a camping spot.

   
 Once tents were set up, sun had set, and we all relaxed, we begun enjoying and appreciate  the area a tad bit more. Fire was started, and we sat around goofing around, as we usually do. From then on, it was all fun and games, endless laughs.  

   
We had s’mores, I had coffee(a MUST), and we continued to enjoy the night. We also stared deep into the sky, billions of stars were above us. By 9:30 we started cleaning up and getting ready to go to bed. The next day we would drive a few miles into Joshua Tree National Park, in search of the Heart-Shaped rock. 

Valentine’s Day weekend

Weekend is here, and not any weekend, Valentine’s Day weekend. While many are thinking which restaurant to go grab a bite, or which movie theaters to go to, all I can think of is, the next two(2) days doing what I love( EXPLORING), with the persons I love. My wife and son. Joshua Tree National Park will be my home for the weekend. This will be my wife first time visit, so looking to make it extra special by visiting a Heart Shaped Rock the size of an elephant(literally). She will love it.Β image