Millard Falls

If you have yet to visit Millard Falls, I highly recommend it. Located in the San Gabriel Mountains, this short yet enjoyable hike is a MUST. Total round trip is just over 1 mile, however, the narrow canyon and its full green surroundings leaves you in awe and wanting more.  This hike can be continued up to Dawn Mines, just a quick climb up the falls; as I was told by a friend. This was my original final destination, however exploring was not really an option as we were on time crunch. Definitely will be back for the mines. 

Sunday morning, I decided to take a stroll up to Millard Falls, accompanied by wife and kiddo. As we arrived at the parking lot, the trailhead is easy to spot. About 1/4 mile, Millard Campground is reached. The fire road continues passed the campground; a slight right must be made to access falls trailhead. Visible sign can not be missed. From beginning to end, the trees and plants keep you cool, and protected from sun.



My wife, had not been on a hike in quite some time; work got in the way. Though she enjoyed the hike, she was feeling the burn. About half way into the trek, a baby deer was spotted by Elizabeth aka The Wife. That took about 10 minutes to take a quick pic; we waited as the fawn descended to the little river stream and quenched its thirst.


 After about 45minutes, we arrived to our destination. There is still very little water coming down the falls, making this hike much more enjoyable. The wife and I sat down for a few minutes, Christopher ran around the falls. No snacks, only water as we had not wasted much energy. Soon after two nice ladies snapped our family pic, we got on our way. Walking, jogging, running, and jumping over river streams on the way back; sweating and hot yet very satisfied and content.


As we headed back to the parking lot, we decided to extend our hike just a tad bit, and headed up to Mt. Lowe E rd. This is accessible right after the Millard Campground, slight left and up up you go. The short 0.8mile trek is somewhat steep, ascending about 500ft, and the fact  that there is no shade along the way makes this seem a lot longer. I suggest cold cold water on a hot day. 


Made it to the road junction, and decided to take a break; we were tired and beat from the heat. Had a few snacks, hydrated just enough because the water was not appetizing at room temperature. And back down we went. This time, opted from the trail and took the road down to the parking lot. Main reason being that the trail has a lot of horsetail-like grass, that becomes very annoying. Christopher disliked that very much. Walked a few minutes down the road in direct sunlight.  One small break, to cool down and drink some water, and on we went. As we arrived to the parking lot, under a big shaded tree, we enjoyed a juicy mango. Relax for a few before hopping into the car and calling it a day.

 A great morning turned into an awesome day!! 
Trailhead address: Chaney Trail, Angeles National Forest, Altadena, CA 91001

Trailhead coordinates: 34.216185, -118.146653 (34° 12′ 58.26″N 118° 08′ 47.95″W) 

**Adventure Parking Pass Required 
PHOTOS & VIDEOS:




Mt. Baldy: The Devils Backbone

Persevere and you shall achieve, was one of the many thoughts running through my mind as Christopher and I boarded  the Mt. Baldy Ski Lift chair. The plan was to reach Mt. Baldy summit (10,064ft above sea level) via the Devil’s Backbone trail. The Ski Lift elevated us up to 7,350ft in just under 15minutes, and skips about 1,500ft climb in 3miles.  The remaining 6mile, 2,500ft gain trek is no easy task. And, though Christopher’s determination was set higher than the summit itself, I was mainly worrried for altitude sickness. 
At first, He was a bit skeptical about the ski lift ride. After all, it was our first time. “don’t look back,” he kept telling me. As I looked back, I told him, “you should look back, it looks beautiful.” “Oh yeah, you’re right,” he said as he looked back and was was amazed by the views. As nervous as can be, the fear went away after a few minutes.


 As we arrived up to the Notch and jumped off the ski lift chair, the first thing we did was look back. Hike had not yet begun and we were already astonished by the great views from the ski lift. Walked a few steps, closer to the trail, off to the left, and we sat down for a few minutes and had a snack bar. As ready as can be, we headed up the trail and started our trek, the time now 10:45am. 
 
Like I said before, the Devils backbone trail is no easy task, as it is slightly steep since the beginning. About 1/2 mile in, Christopher was already feeling the steepness, and looked back every few steps. His face said, what did I get into. “The trail gets tougher,” I said, “but, I know you can do it, because you are a tough cookie.” I like to tell him the real deal, and keep it simple. Sense of humor kicked in, making him forget about the trail, at least for now. “Hey, I’m not a cookie, I’m a kid” he said. We continued up and he began to slow down. No biggy, as he usually sets the pace. We kept moving, slow yet steady. 


First break, came about an hour after we started, at a nice shaded area where the trail switchbacks a hard left. Christopher sat down with joy, had breakfast (lunchable pizza) while I looked around and snapped a few pics. Well rested, we continued. Shortly after, you reach the boundaries of the ski area, and came accross some abandoned inoperable ski lift chairs, and of course, Christopher wanted to get on it and take a picture; and that is exactly what we did. 
At this point, the wide fire road trail becomes much smaller, and a tad bit steeper, as you are preparing for the Devils Backbone. The trail is narrow with sheer scary drops, with enough space for only one person to pass at any given time. I must mention that it falls off a few hundred feet to the both sides, making it something to ponder about when windy or snow is present. Furthermore, while on this trail, one must concentrate and be very careful, keep your eyes forward and alert. Not as bad as it sounds. The trail takes you along a narrow ridge, hiking uphill with spectacular views in what feels and seems as if on a huge backbone. Somewhere in between, kiddo was getting tired, and hungry, I decided to have lunch, 1:30pm. Boiled water for dehydrated meals; beef stroganoff and mac and cheese. While water was boiling, he played with dirt and rocks. I enjoyed watching him. Bellies full, happy for the long break, the trek continued.


After 1/2 mile or so, the trail shifts to the right, widening the trail to see the immense Baldy Bowl, and the Devils Backbone’s steepest section. A series of steep switchbacks going straight up for the final stretch. Some rock scrambling is needed, and the loose gravel, steepness and lack of oxygen slows you down a little. Pace is key, and taking as many rest breaks as needed.  Before the last 1/2mile to the summit, which gains about 700ft, you must traverse thru a narrow hillside trail; scary and sketchy AF as there is nothing to break a fall. As long as body and eyes are kept alert, it is a nice, fun and short shot of adrenaline. The last final stretch; This part was the hardest for Christopher. Already extremely tired, we pushed to the peak very slowly. 500ft from summit, he was ready to call it quits. “Ok, no more,” he said as he sat down and looked at me with a disappointing face. “Look back,” I told him, “you have walked sooo much, and we are practically here, can’t give up now.” I kept telling him ‘just a few more steps and we’re there.’ Few steps,break, “no more” he insisted. We had spotted our friends, Drew and Sara from @CoastTrekkers a while back, and already on their way down, they helped cheer up Christopher. 


After his climbs, usually, he gets LEGO’s. He demanded 2, because “this is extremely tough” he said. He suddenly remembered seeing stuffed animals at the Ski Lift store, and changed from LEGO’s to a stuffed animal. That was all it took, found some energy and he pushed for the peak with all he had. As amazed as he was of the great views, and of having made it to the peak; the high winds and exhaustion did not let him enjoy as much, at first. Come checkout this cool plaque, and the register box, I told him. As he approached the plaque, he smiled and wrote his name on the notebook in the register (ammunition) box. We sat down inside a windbreaker made of stacked rocks, and enjoyed the views and the feeling of being above the clouds. Happy, excited and proud, I was nothing but smiles. Long Break as we took the views in; Had snacks, gatorade and water, good to go, vamonos!!!


 The descent was relatively fast. What took us about 4 1/2 hrs to climb, was done done in less the 2 1/2 hours, including a 30min nap. Beyond exhausted, pushed to his limits, Christopher had to rest. Already heading down the Devils backbone, As soon as the steep rock scrambling section was over, Christopher sat down, and said “I need a break.” He looked at me and asked if he could “go to bed.” “Sure, I said, “take a quick nap.” Layed down on the flat surface, and in matter of seconds, was fast asleep. Picked him up from the hard rocks and layed him on top of me. Heck, even I started dozing off. Perhaps fell asleep too didn’t even know it. Still tired, but batteries recharged, we flew down the entire trail, until we got to the ski lift area. Along the way, we were on the lookout for litter, trash. None until closer to the beginning of the trail. We fill a bag of trash: water bottles, cans, energy bar wrappers, you name it. Remember, always pack out what you take in, and if possible, go the extra mile and pick up as much as possible without exposing yourself  or anyone in your group to danger.

 

As Groupon advertised, we had each $10 meal brochures for the Notch Restaurant, which we did not hesitate to take advantage of. The restaurant is really well maintained , and the staff is great. Live shows are offered, as courtesy for the customers. The food, delish. I had the Notch burger, Christopher had Chicken Strips, both meals accompanied with a bunch of fries. Pigged out, well rested and ready to go home, we got on our way to the ski lift area to head back down. 


Unfortunately, the arm bar  on the ski lift chair, hit my GoPro selfie stick and knocked off camera. Unaware at the time, I realized half way down the ride, “oh nooo, the camera” I yelled. “Lets go back up,” he said, “I’m sure we will find it.” As soon as the attendant help us out, I advised him of the situation, and he gladly helped us back on the chair, and up we went, again. In search of the GoPro. It was cold. Checked the area where we were eating, nothing. Lost and found had nothing either. Left a note with my info, and gave up on it. As the guy helped us into the chair, to go back down, I was looking for the camera on the floor, as if it had fallen while I boarded. Sure enough, it was there, laying flat on the dirt. Already on the chair, unable to get off, I shouted with excitement, “it’s there, I see it.” “I’ll send it down ” said the attendant. All worries aside, Christopher randomly started laughing so hard, and I asked why. He said, “imagine they send the GoPro on the ski lift like if it was a person!” Few minutes later, we see a crate in the chair, and inside, the GoPro camera. We looked at each other and laughed so hard. People must have thought we’re  crazy. Headed down to the store, for his stuffed animal; odd enough, he chose a baby fox. 

 

 back at the parking lot and ready to go home, 7:45pm. As I drove off, he hugged both his foxes, and easter bunny, and went to bed aka sleep. What else is there to do after a tough hike, and such great accomplishment, right?  

I was glad all went well, and we reached our goal; Mt. Baldy summit, 10,064ft 

“Mount San Antonio, also known as Mt Baldy, at 10,068 ft (3,069 m), is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, and the highest point in Los Angeles County. The peak, which marks a boundary between San Bernardino County and Los Angeles County, is called Baldy because of the absence of trees around the summit.”


PHOTOS and VIDEOS: 






#AdventureAlliance @Latitude.43

Sara and Drew, motivating Christopher to keep pushing 😃















I’ve been nominated for the Prestigious Liebster Award !!

You know that feeling you have when you are doing something you enjoy, and feel you are doing a great job; however, there is not much assurance, or, there is still a tiny speck of doubt in the back of your head? Well, that is exactly how I was feeling, then all of a sudden (Tuesday evening around 7’ish, 19April2016)  ~SWOOSH~ email notification. As I saw the title of the email, LIEBSTER AWARD NOMINATION from Rob Keele at http://getgooutdoors.com/  first thought, Robb has been nominated for an award; that’s GREAT!! Read the body of the email, re-read it, and read a third time and one more time after that. Was I reading right? I’ve been nominated? I had excitement and joy written all over my face. Just the fact someone would think of my blog when it came to nomination was an ineffable  feeling. Thanks Rob, for such great motivation. 😃 

The LIEBSTER AWARD  You might be wondering what is this award all about? Why have I not heard of it before? Simple. This is an award to discover and explore new blogs with less than 200 followers, done only via the internet. Furthermore, it is a recognition of outstanding blog work, and/or high dedication with evident progress. That’s mainly how I see it. The nomination continues, as I will nominate a few blogs I like to follow. It is not mandatory to accept the nomination; however, how would you feel if the nominee of your choice declines your offer. For me, would be like declining a cup of coffee. Speaking of which, coffee sounds good right about now!! NO CUP OF COFFEE CAN EVER BE DECLINED. Yep, I’m a coffee lover.


Should you choose to accept the nomination, there are a few simple rules to follow: 

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog.
  3. Write a 150-300 word post about your favourite blog that is not your own.
  4. Answer your nominator’s questions and create 11 questions for your own nominees to answer.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
  6. List these rules in your post.
  7. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award.

** Get the official rules here …

Now, let’s get this show on the road.

Again, thanx Robb !! 😃


So tough to choose a blog with so many great ones out there. 😁  If I must choose one, it’ll be Robb’s  Grand Canyon RIM TO RIM TO RIM trip As I was reading this blog, looking at amazing pics; it felt as if I was sitting front seat watching a movie. Details are on point, and very intriguing facts. Furthermore, the Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list for a while now. So, there is that special interest even before the story begins. Rob, using great detailed information intrigued me to keep reading. And though, kind of a long blog, not for one second is there any loss of interest. The story telling just runs from onething to the next, I think I was biting my nails off with such epic adventure. Robb also has many detailed reports of amazing trails, be sure to browse thru if looking for hiking trip ideas! 

Q&A from Robb Keele

Now, time to answer some questions. Great way to reflect on the why we do what we do, and to give PRIORITIES some adjustment. Here are the Q&A : 

  1.  What’s your favorite thing to photograph or write about? This one is way tooo easy; when I’m  outdoors, everything is just so peaceful and soothing. From waterfalls to blossoming plants to simply walking looking at mountains ahead or behind me. I love the mountain views. The look of mountains from my view on top of a higher mountain. My all time favorite thing to photograph is FOXXY. Who is FOXXY, you may ask? My son’s stuffed animal, which we takes on every hike. He has a special kind of bond with his stuffed animal.  Photographing and writing about Foxxy also includes writing about Christopher, which is the best part
  2. What inspires you to get outdoors? My inspiration to get outside is the wilderness itself. I like to get outdoors to inspire my son to love nature. And to understand its peace and care for it. 
  3. Where do you most like to spend your time when you’re outdoors? On the river, hence is Christopher’s favorite spot. We like exploring new places, but sometimes find ourselves revisiting his favorite, the Bridge to Nowhere, which includes multiple river crossings.
  4. Given unlimited time and money, where in the world would you like to hike? Given all the time and money in the world, I would like to explore Oregon. The waterfalls are always full, and grass seems greener. Forest full of moss, due to humidity.
  5. Tent or hotel, and why? Tent. I like the whole camping/outdoorsy feeling at all times. The comfort of a hotel is too easy and simple.
  6. What’s your favorite non-essential piece of gear to take on a hike? My fedora hat. Yes, I’m a #fedorahatwearingfool. Sometimes, most frequent now, i’ll toss my flask in my pack. Flask contains either Crowne Royal whiskey, or Vodka. I have 2 on-call 😜
  7. What two pieces of gear you would never hike without, and why? I would have to say a KNIFE. Comes handy even when not hiking. A knive can serve as a bottle opener, or simply to slice fruits. On hikes, I usually carry a food knive and pocket  knive; and machete when backpacking.
  8. What’s your favorite trail snack or recipe? Favorite recipe: PANCAKES. Not really sure if it can be considered trail snacks, because I make when we are camping or on backpacking trips for breakfast. YUM YUM!!
  9. What is one lesson that you’ve learned while hiking that you will never forget? To always make sure you have all you belonging, and if any is hanging out of pack, check on it constantly. Carabiners are great, just tap your pack or give it a good tug if you hang anything. 
  10. What is your favorite piece of wisdom to share with others about hiking, photography or blogging? Go out and explore. You might have the best ideas, but if they are not put to work that is all you have: AN IDEA. Sort of, walk to walk type of deal. In order to back up your ideas, you have to make sure it works, or that you’ve done it before. Furthermore, the more hands on experience you get, the better you will be at whatever it is you like to do. The most important thing is to act. get to DOING, and the rest will follow.
  11. All things being equal, what is your favorite color? BLUE!! Ever since I can remember. 

A few blogs I like follow and read. Check ’em out for awesome adventures.

Life Is Good Outdoors – All around great guy, loves the outdoors and great pics. Always on the go.

Your Favorite Hiker – Adventures with his 2 favorite gals, wife and daughter. Always set out to capture amazing shots, and explore new grounds.

Wandering Biped – Ultralight backpacker; always looking how to reduce weight feom pck, to the point of making his own gear. Fuckin’ awesome!!

Forever We Wander – Exploring any chance she gets, great reviews of trails.

Hike Minded – Out in the woods, from overseas, great nature captures.

 
OC Nature Writing – Writing about wild places around Orange County. 

Questions ( should you accept) for nominees 

What started your interest to photograph or write about nature?

What inspires you to get outdoors?

What is one hike you will never forget? Why?

Given unlimited time and money, where in the world would you like to hike?

Tent or hotel, and why?

What’s your favorite non-essential piece of gear to take on a hike?

In a perfect world, what would be the perfect adventure?

What’s your favorite trail snack or recipe?

What is one lesson that you’ve learned while hiking that you will never forget?

What is your favorite piece of wisdom to share with others about hiking, photography or blogging?

All things being equal, what is your favorite color?

Robb enjoying the outdoors,
Thank you Robb, for the nomination and the chance to think and ponder about the small things in life and the reasons of doing what we love. 

The Green House: San Antonio Ski Hut

Saturday morning, Christopher and I set out for an adventure; A training hike. My plan was to do a bit of distance with some elevation gain. And, though 2,000 feet gain was kinda pushing it, Christopher was up for the challenge. 

Arrived to the San Antonio Falls trailhead later than my desired time. Our hike started close to 9:45am, the sun was not so hard on us, and the occasional breeze felt wonderful. 

About 1/2 mile into the fire road, San Antonio Falls is reached. Here we took a brief break, snapped a few pics of Christopher and Foxxy, and got on our way. 

Time was against us, however I did not want to rush, I let Christopher set the pace. The elevation gain on any trail, can be deceiving, and often times results in wearing you out. Soon after the falls (less than 1/3 mile), there is an unmarked trail to the left of the fire road . This is the Ski Hut/Baldy Bowl trail. It is rated as moderate-difficult, and is the fastest way up to the summit, thus very steep and makes it quite the climb. A register box stands right after the sharp left turn, abour 100feet. Here we took a quick break to catch our breath as Christopher decided to skip the walking and ran to the register box. Bad call. Had some M&M’s, drank some water, got on our way.   


Though the Ski Hut is only about 2 miles away, the steepness makes you think twice about rushing, a slow steady pace we kept. About every 1/2 mile, we took a break and hydrated. Eating snacks along the way, making up songs, counting and chitchatting with new made friends made the climb much quicker. 3/4 of a mile away, and about 800 feet left, the Ski Hut can be seen. This was a great motivation, and he started pushing to the goal a bit faster.
 

Reached the Ski Hut a little after 2pm; and as tired as Christopher was, he was more excited to have had made the trek well worth it. The green house, as he calls it, has awesome views of San Antonio canyons down below, and San Gabriel Mountains all around. He was amazed; and hungry. Off to the side of the heavily trafficked Ski Hut, there is a small water stream, which Christopher chose to have lunch. 

Pack off, While he explored the water and jumped across a few times, I boiled water for some dehydrated meals; beef stroganoff and scrambled eggs with bacon was the main meal. And for dessert, Christopher wanted pancakes. Yes, you read right, PANCAKES!! That is our favorite meal/snack, along with ramen noodles. Once the dehydrated meals were munched, I busted out a little skillet; let it warm up just enough, and pancakes were on the way. Chocolate chip pancakes to be exact.


Cooking all done, I just layed back, relaxed and enjoyed the view. Christopher still playing with water, I was nothing but smiles. An awesome climb, great accomplishment reaching our goal, and had a delish meal. What more was there to ask for. 

Well rested, we started heading back. The time now was past 3:30pm. The way down was way quicker as usual, though Christopher still asked for a few breaks. Back in the car, Christopher was still excited about having hiked up to the Green House aka San Antonio Ski Hut. Exhausted, fell asleep shortly after departing from trailhead.

Great training hike.Climbed some 2,000feet; made it to the Ski Hut (or GREEN HOUSE).

Feel free to drop some comments below, questions & concerns also welcomed. 😜

PHOTOS:




San Antonio Ski Hut, elevation 8,200feet


exploring