Our Family Ways

If I told you that this place we call home (EARTH) has so many wonderful places, would you believe me? You might have been watching a TV show and saw a waterfall you can only dream of. Or, a meadow that seems out of this world. Luckily, I have some great news, there is a way to get to all this wonderful places. All you are required to do is get out and EXPLORE!

When you connect with nature, peace and tranquility start to form inside you. You realize how small we are in a world so big. Problems and life issues are viewed differently. The quote “IT’S NOT THE DESTINATION IS THE JOURNEY” becomes the new way of thinking. The views from the mountain top leaves you speechless. And the discovering of new places become a necessity. 

 Choosing a lifestyle for the family is sometimes a hard task; Sharing the exact same interests, enjoying free time doing what you really love, and most importantly, being together. For the Amaya family, such has not been the case. We all love the outdoors, and enjoy exploring. My wife and son look forward to our weekend adventures, and we plan our hikes around family events if any. For example, if on Saturday we have a get-together, we plan an early morning hike or Sunday hike. Sometimes we’ll do both, yeah we are kinda on the coo coo side for nature.

Our adventures started small and slow, little hikes here and there any chance we got. Until, we realized the outdoor way of life is life. It became a necessity to get out and explore. To get some amazing views from the top, and the journey is a much more rewarding experience while getting there. We also realized, this is so simple, so us. Not much is needed to enjoy the outdoors, just a good willing heart, ready to receive and embrace all that nature has to offer.

It is not just a reason to escape reality, because that is something you can not escape from. Rather a way to find yourself, find inner peace and tranquility. Although when we are in the mountains, not much in the real world matters. No cell phone service means no distractions, aside from those on the trail.


Christopher really loves nature, and has taught my wife and I the importance of caring for it. This, I believe to be the biggest blessing and our backbone to our adventures. If we want our children to care for nature, first they must learn to love it. He fights for a trash free earth, and has earned a patch to prove it. This patch, is not just a simple patch, it is a lifestyle he has chosen.


I, myself, can happily say that hiking and being outdoors has brought peace for me and my family. We take a hike any chance we get; to clear our minds, to de-stress and to connect with ourselves. Christopher joins us in our hikes, he is happy when we are exploring. Although sometimes the steepness of the trail gets the best of him and starts getting fuzzy. This is easily fixed by distracting his mind; we do rhyming words, count to 100 in multiple ways, and do sentences. We take turns choosing a word, and the winning sentence gets a share of M&M’s or Snickers. This has also helped Christopher improve with school work.


It’s all a matter of getting out there really. Start somewhere, and before you know it, you’ll get to your destination. The rewarding journey is almost as priceless as the mountain top. Christopher loves a challenge, and has always pushed himself, on the trail and anywhere. We would take a hike to the Angeles National Forest, the river is his favorite spot, Bridge to Nowhere trail to be exact. At first, he would be able to hike about 2 miles, and I would have to carry him back down. Slowly but surely, his distance started increasing. Soon, he was able to do the entire trail up, 5miles; I’d carry him back down. Once he was able to do the distance, we started going uphill and gaining a couple thousand feet. It took us several attempts to get him to where he is now. When we least expect it, he is going to be carrying me down the mountain.

One of my biggest accomplishment so far has been climbing Mt. Whitney via the High Sierra Trail. Currently training my wife and son, in hopes to do the 76 mile traverse up to Mt. Whitney. My 6 year old son, Christopher, really enjoys hiking. He loves attention and also likes to motivate friends on the trails. His longest and toughest hikes in the training process to name a few: Mt. Baldy, Mt. Wilson, Cucamonga Peak and Strawberry Peak, and still counting.  

** THIS BLOG FIRST APPEARED ON Make Life Count webpage 

PHOTOS & VIDEOS: 


 

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A Weekend To Remember

Sometimes after work, I go home and sleep, and dream of mountains. And sometimes, I decide to skip the sleeping part, and get to a mountain. Scheduled for a crazy adventurous weekend, and my work schedule already all kinds of fucked up, I knew I would be getting little to no sleep. Why sleep when you can adventure, right? 3 destinations, coincidently one after the other, location wise. Would have been pointless to drive back home some 60miles one way. The plan was to camp in our car, or look for a cheap room to nap and shower.

First stop, Riverside Mt. Rubidoux – Trail clean up with Trash Free Earth. Later that day, set up and attend wife’s aunt wedding, about 15 minutes further down Riverside. Sunday, a long 3 hour drive to Schmidt Burro Tunnel near Red Rock Canyon. I should mention the 3 hour drive was already starting from Riverside. I did question myself a few times why did I get myself into such a crazy mess.

Off work, 3:35am, rushed home to make sure all was packed and ready to go. My wife was excited about the weekend, and even though she treasures her sleep, she was down. In fact, she packed all our party clothes, and hiking clothes the night before, as we had no plans to return until Sunday evening. Meeting time for clean up was 7am, and we were about 1hr 10min away. While wife and kiddo slept, I made several trips to bring stuff from and to the car. 4:45am, tried waking up the wife, Elizabeth, and failed. 5 minutes later, failed again. 3rd time was the charm, now 5 minutes to 5am. She got up, showered and got into some hiking clothes. Christopher sometimes gets moody being up so early, “it’s still noche,” he says. This time however, was as smooth as can be. 5:35am, triple checked our gear, everything looked good, time to go. Almost out the door, and I hear rain drops. No problem, luckily we were still home, grabbed our rain jackets. Now, good to go. 

First destination reached, ahead of schedule, 15 minutes to spare. The morning was chilly, and light showers would come and go as we sat in the parking lot of Mt. Rubidoux waiting to see signs of our crew. Hopped off our car, tossed on rain jackets, jaw dropped as we approached the large group of volunteers. About 50 people not caring about a lil rain, and looking to make a difference. That was awesome. Motivating.

Trash Free Earth founder, Daisy, provided a brief description of what they do, and introduced her team. They are an awesome group, being the change they wish to see in the world. Definitely click the link and show them some love. She then handed gloves and adviced us to grab buckets for trash and recycles. Kristin, from Hike Inland Empire set up this hike, who also shared info from her group.

 Shortly after, we begun making our way to the beginning of the trail, I’d say about 1/4 mile from parking lot. The paved road continues for about 1 1/4 miles, and gains between 400-500 feet to the summit. A walk in the park, literally. The city views are really nice, worth every step as you make your way to the summit. Buckets and grabbers in hand, our mission started; no trash left behind. Christopher took my grabber and started taking care of business. 


In 3/4 mile or so, a bridge is reached. A good spot for a nice break or enjoy some history. Look around and check out the posted plaques for info. Also there is a cool watchtower; it is locked. Here, a group pic was taken and the large group was divided into 2. Group A was assigned to clean the bridge area, group B was to keep walking up about 5-10 minutes to the summit of Mt. Rubidoux, where a huge cross stands. The cross can be seen from the freeway, and calls for attention. A set of huge stairs must be mastered before reaching the summit. 


We all scattered like ants, only instead of food, carried trash into buckets and bags. My friend Jason went passed the cross, and had a spot to clean all to himself, greedy much. Christopher decided to go to Jason and give him a hand. I followed. Wife also followed. Little pieces of trash everywhere, time to get down and dirty; grabber, hand, grabber, hand, alternating as the small pieces of trash would fall from grabber. We received back-up, more volunteers arrived to assist. 35-40 minutes, all visible trash was removed. Around  8:45am, started heading back to the cross and down the stairs; all volunteers were gathered and a few were sorting out the trash for proper disposal. Christopher spotted the American Flag right above us and wanted to go explore. “Let’s go,” I told him, I’ll follow you.” Wife joined us. The watchtower was right below the flag, maybe about 100 feet away, “awesome ” Christopher said as he started walking in that direction. Snapped a few pics, walked down to the tower than started going back to join our group. Only to realize they were no longer there. Did we take long? We quickly started speed walking trying to catch up. Christopher had a better idea; he wanted to run down the road. I really liked that idea; he started running, I did too. His main goal was to catch up to Jason, however, we ran about 5 minutes and our group was nowhere to be found. He got tired. Walk, rest, ran some more, repeat. Until we started seeing people from our group, but no Jason, we kept running. “I see him,” he said, and ran faster, “Jason, hi, I’m right here,” Christopher said. Jason smiled said “hi” and Christopher was at ease. That only lasted for a few seconds, then asked, “should we keep running?” I grinned a smile and ran next to him closely. Reached the beginning of the trail in no time, and waited for wife and rest of group. Walked back to parking lot, mingled a little, a group photo was taken, and trash was weighed. Surprisingly, trash picked up added to 203lbs. A great morning came to an end as we departed to our next destination; my wife’s aunt wedding.

Our best option was to get a room at a nearby hotel, as the wedding was only about 15 minutes from trail. Not only would we save gas and time, we’d be able to get some sleep instead of driving. I knew I had a long drive the next day, and going back home would have added another 100 miles or so for next day’s drive. 


All settled, we decided to book a room nearby. My wife and her mom were coordinating the wedding, and setting everything up. Her mom didn’t want to take the drive back after setting up and coming back to the event, so we went half on the room. It all fell into place.

Quick stop to get breakfast at a mexican restaurant on our way to the venue. Arrived around 12:30noon and quickly we got down to business. Chair covers, table centerpieces, dishware, napkins and last touch ups to turn a hall into a ballroom. Check out Tiffany’s Party Rentals for all your party needs, service is great and prices even better. And the results, just take a peek at some of the events, pictures speak volume


 2:45pm All squared away and ready to transition into party mode, we headed to the hotel room to check-in. As soon as the door was opened, my eyes already located the bed, and my body went to it like a feather in the air. While everyone was transforming, Christopher and I took a  quick 2 hour much needed nap. My turn to shower, wife woke me up. Water was cold, to fully wake me up. Showered, changed, ready, let’s party. Close to 6pm, we all arrived to the venue. Moments later, guest started to arrive, family members sat in the table next to us, so the chit-chatting began. More and more guest arrived, it was so many I lost count. Not that I was counting though.


Unfortunately, Christopher did not feel so good, and said he started getting a stomach ache. Wife suggested I go back to the room, and come back by 1am to clean up, as the banquet hall had a strict pick up policy. Even though it was a short drive, I decided to sit in the truck hoping Christopher would feel better and get back to the wedding. That, didn’t end up happening, as I layed with him in the backseat of the truck and we were both out for the count. Close to 1:30am, woke up just in time to help pick up and gathered our stuff; plates, napkins, centerpiece bases, linen, chair covers, it all had to go. Some guests were kind to help us. All packed and ready to go, my mother-in-law went home, we went back to the hotel.

Afraid to close my eyes, I layed down and watched wife and kiddo sleep profoundly. About 5 alarms set, within 5 minutes of each other, I knocked out, 2:25am. Only to be back up at 4:30am, leave room by 5. 2 hours of sleep, GOLDEN, i thought.
Plan was to meet Berto in Victorville at 6am, that was about an hour drive from us. From there, we would drive another 2hrs to get to the tunnels. En route and on time, I was feeling good and excited about the adventure ahead. Wife and Christopher slept some more along the way. Rendezvous point reached, gathered up with Berto’s friend, Harold and his family, hit the road. 

After a long to what seemed never ending drive, we reached a glitch, a closed dirt road, due to floods, here we would begin making our way up the mountain. Bummed out as can be, but not determined to turn back, Berto followed a detour around the highway. A long drive just turned longer, but hopes of getting to our destination were high in the sky. A great sacrifice if you ask me. 

Arrived to the final dirt road, Berto said it would be about 30 miles. A bit worried about my car, as it has some high clearance but not 4X4, decided to go and just wing it. 3 miles in and huge rocks, mud holes and loose dirt became a big obstacle. I was maneuvering like a boss, however my car wasn’t getting any traction. I was mad and disappointed; Berto saved the day. He suggested we ride in his truck, a bit squished but we fit. Car parked, locked, hopped in Berto’s truck.


The road got really rough, and the mud holes deep, though the splashes were fucken amazing. First time being off road in such rugged terrain, I think I was more excited than Christopher, my 6 year old son. A few miles later, 8:17am, arrived to beginning of the Schmidt tunnel. The area was lonely, not a single soul out there that morning. 

The 1/2 mile hand-carved tunnel was waiting to be explored, by us. And that is just what we did. Grabbed our packs, kids went in to take a look, came back, “guys, it’s very small,” they said. We took a look, my pack came off, as the entrance is a bit on the narrow side. Tossed some snacks in my pocket, grabbed water bottle, all set. The kids were eager to go into the tunnel, their feet were itching and their patience was wearing thin.


Headlamps strapped on, inside we go. The kids led the way. After about 5-10 minutes, a junction is reached. Yes, another tunnel, inside the tunnel. As if we were not having enough fun already. We decided to go to the right, simply because you can see a speck of light. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, literally. 

Out the tunnel, WOW, talk about rewarding views. We were all in awe. Superb. There’s an old saying, TAKE A PICTURE IT’LL LAST LONGER. and so, we obeyed and snapped a few pics. Back into the tunnel, straight ahead was the junction, to the left is the exit, and straight is the unknown. What did we do, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you what we did; we did what any explorer would do, went into the unknown. 5 minutes, less than 1/4 mile, the tunnel becomes smaller and smaller and smaller, until, it is a tunnel no more but a dead end. Back we went, at the junction now, turned right to head back to the cars. 

Driving back out on the dirt road was as exciting as the drive in. There were multiple small roads though, and we were trying to back trace our route, because my car was somewhere along the way. Found the car, then took on another tunnel, which lead nowhere. Kids loved it anyway. 

Hopped in our car, headed back to the paved road. Once there, made a right turn and drove some 20 minutes to Red Rock Canyon State Park, for a quick pit stop and restroom break. The time now 11:13am, we decided to check out the awesome rock formations up close. A small 10 minute walk into wet fresh clay, our shoes were not looking pretty. But then again, we didn’t care much about that. As beautiful as it was, it was also as slippery as can be. My wife slipped, went down, knee souvenir. Kids were slipping too. I tried going up a rock, tried grabbing on to a hard surface that was not as hard as I thought, and down I went, ate it. Hands, knees, and jacket covered in clay. I wasn’t worried, a wash and a wipe down fix, no biggy.


Back to our cars, Berto and Harold were going back the same route as it was closer to their home. Being super tired and having very little sleep, I decided to call it  day and drive home a shorter way. As much as I wanted to take the drive through the mountains, I was done, almost on empty on sleep. Farewells to our friends. We departed different directions. 

About an hour later, Wife took the wheel, I napped for a few minutes. One last stop, Islands Burgers in Burbank, 45 minutes before getting home. As I joked around with the wife about who was paying the bill, Christopher made up a rule; whoever touches a phone while on the dinner table, pays the bill. In other words, no phones allowed. We have joint accounts, however the no phones rule was a great idea, and went into full effect immediately. 

A little past 6pm, we were finally home. All of us took showers, pj’d up, and relaxed. Talked about how crazy and awesome the weekend had been, and concluded that we should do this kinda weekend maybe once every 2-3 months, just add a few more hours of sleep. Another great idea. 

A fantastic sleepless weekend, all in the name of adventure and exploring. 

PHOTOS & VIDEOS: 

Saturday Trail Clean-up

 

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Sunday Exploring 



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Top Of The Notch: Mt. Baldy

In winter, our local mountains have snow. Yes, you read right, SNOW. Right in our own backyard. Rain means snow at higher altitudes. 

Mount San Antonio aka Mt. Baldy is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, it’s peak stands at 10,064ft above sea level. Located off the 210 freeway borderline of Los Angeles County and San Bernardino county, in the Angeles National Forest.  



The Top of the Notch restaurant: A restaurant that sits 7,300 feet above sea level in the middle of the mountains? how cool can that be. The restaurant is accessible year-round, and it is only a short drive away from the Los Angeles area. There are 2 ways to get to the Notch: ski lift chair and hiking.

The ski lift elevates you 1,500 feet in just under 15 minutes, the fee $20-$25 round trip. The views on the way down are nice, well worth the ride. Groupon tends to have a great deal; food and ride for a discounted price.
About our hike: We start at the San Antonio Falls trailhead, an ADVENTURE PASS is required for parking. Big 5, Sport Chalet and REI have the day pass for $5 or a year pass for $30. We then follow the fire road, 3 miles, 1,500 feet elevation gain. This trail is fairly easy, and as long as you keep one foot in front of the other, you will reach your destination. Withing 0.8miles, San Antonio Falls is reached. A 10-20 minute detour can be taken down to the falls. Be careful ! Though there is a small trail, it is in some places slippery, specially if snow is present. Not a huge drop, but will definitely leave a bruise or scar. We enjoyed a nice break here, took off our packs, and had a snack. After about 10minutes, we continued our hike. From here, the road gets less traveled, meaning the snow is much fluffier . The level of steepness increases just a tad bit. Pace is key; going too fast might wear you out, cutting your trip short. 

Once at the Notch, you can enjoy a packed lunch, or a fancy meal from the restaurant, which is very yummy and the price is not up the roof. There is an option to hike up to the Notch, and get a one-way ride down, should be $12-$15. 

The Top of the Notch restaurant has flush toilets, full dining menu, and cold beer. Furthermore, a live band plays in a stage on the weekends. A great treat if you ask me. 

ADDRESS & DIRECTIONS:

Trailhead coordinates: 34.266172, -117.62684 (34° 15′ 58.21″N 117° 37′ 36.62″W)

take the I-210 E towards the Claremont area. Take the exit Base Line Road, and turn left at the light. At the light, turn right onto Padua Road. Follow Padua Road until you reach Mt. Baldy Road. Turn right onto Mt Baldy Road for about 9 miles. Pass through Baldy Village, here you can stop for an Adventure Day Pass. Keep going down Mt. Baldy Rd 4more miles, Look for parking once beyond the Manker Flats Campground. Trailhead is to the left hand side, look for a few blue porta-potty’s . Park along Mt. Baldy road, display ADVENTURE PASS, and hike on. Ski Lift parking is just 0.6mes down the road, keep going until you come to a dead end.

PHOTOS AND VIDEOS:  

Winter Wonderland
San Antonio Falls – Summer time

 

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Cucamonga Peak

Determination is major key when you set out to accomplish anything. Cucamonga Peak is not an easy trek; the steep 11 mile hike gains just over 4,000 ft.. It is one of the highest peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains range and is located in the San Bernardino County. The 8,860 foot peak has amazing views; Something worth having will take some effort, this long steep hike is a good workout. I should note that a Wilderness Permit is required, this is mainly for your safety as it asks about your trek, and destination. Although if you are asked by a ranger for the permit and one was not filled out, you might get cited. At the very beginning of the trail, there is a small wooden box which contain the self-issued permits. There are usually pens in the slot. 

As this was Christopher’s 2nd attempt at Cucamonga Peak, I did not want time to be an issue, weather seemed just perfect. Check out our first shot, Endurance Knows No Age .

Early morning, 6:15am, all packed and ready to go at Icehouse Canyon Trailhead, our trek begun. It felt chilly, temperature was about 52 degrees F, sun still had yet to make its appearance. Headlamps on, we got on our way. All layered up, the first few steps are always the hardest, especially with a cold body. Within an hour or so, sun already peeping out, we were forced by our heating bodies to remove a layer. We moved to the side, as hikers were passing by, hundreds of them. 1 mile mark passed and we were  feeling good. We entered the Cucamonga Wilderness in about 1.8miles. Once there,  we took a brief break, had a snack, and were passed by 2 friends who started not long after us. There are some serious switchbacks not long after the Cucamonga Wilderness Sign, the steepness is felt greatly with every step. Plenty of hikers still making their way up, some backpackers with huge 50lbs pack for an overnighter. I would suggest to pack light; half the crap you carry you do not really need or won’t use anyway.


Christopher was getting tired, and when that happens he gets a bit fuzzy and annoyed. I promised him chocolate chip pancakes at the saddle, which was about 1 mile away, and a long steep hill with a few switchbacks, of course I was glad he did not know that. In the meantime, my wife was trying to make things better, they started playing games, I joined once coast was clear and he was not as moody. We started saying rhyming words, composing sentences, and played I spy with my little eyes… 09:05am One last break, hydrated, Christopher had a sneak preview of his M&M’s which he claims give him energy to proceed. The trek continued for about 20 minutes and before we knew it, the saddle was right in front of us. The time now 09:35am, we enjoyed a nice long breakfast break. As planned, I met with some cool friends of mine, who were going up for a morning stroll to check out the location for a future group hike they might host. Packs off, relaxed as can be, I took out pancake batter (already mixed), small pot and fuel stove. As promised, pancakes were in the making. The cool breeze felt nice once we were not in motion, in fact, started getting a  little chilly. 


  The Icehouse Canyon Saddle itself is a nice hike; you can picnic and call it a day, or choose one from the many trails beyond this point. The crowds decrease tremendously beyond the saddle, mainly because the best is yet to be demanded from you. With that in mind, we continued our trek, 10:20am, started our ascent following signs for Cucamonga Peak. Well rested, bellies full and a positive attitude, Christopher soon begin leading the way. He was as energized as a fresh set of batteries, just blazing thru the switchbacks and hills. I was amazed at how determined he had gotten to reach the peak; his main goal was for his babe, aka the wife to reach the summit. He began to feel a bit fatigued and let the wife lead the way, while still keeping up a good quick pace and being extra careful with the sketchy edges and cliff drops along with some minor rock scramble in certain areas. Along the way, we met a group of cool Hindu hikers, who started a race/game with Christopher to see who would reach the summit first. This also helped Christopher push a bit faster. We also encountered 2 nice gentlemen who advised us of a ram sighting; and being so amazed of Christopher’s motivation, they shared some organic coconut almond oat granola, I had my share, very yummy. No rans were spotted. 

Once you reach the Cucamonga Saddle, is a matter of steps before you can see the summit. In the meantime, you can get a good glimpse of the Baldy Bowl, Mount Baldy and it’s surrounding smaller peaks. After many many switchbacks, rugged rocky terrain, we finally reached our destination, around 12:30 noon. Tired and hungry, we first picked a spot to relax and enjoy the view. I prepared for a dehydrated meal. While water boiled, wife had hot cheetos, and Christopher the rest of his M&M’s, very well deserved if you ask me. Lunch was served on the rocks, literally. All hikers are nice, and I did not hesitate to ask a nice young lady if she could snap our pic; “no problem,” she said with a smile on her face. We walked around the summit, looked for a place to lay and relax some more. Here, the wife and I took a quick nap, while Christopher played with the dirt and built castles.


“Ready to go?” I said as I awoke from my 15 min nap. After another photoshoot at the summit, we got on our way, 2:13pm. The hike down left me in shock, as Christopher was rushing down the mountain almost running at some points. Quickly reached the Icehouse Saddle at around 3:35pm, we decided to skip the break and keep going. Christopher started feeling fatigued, and we took a  quick 5 min breather about 1/2 mile after the saddle. He sat down, rest his legs, caught his breath, “let’s go, I’m ready,” he said. He aimed for no more stops. However we were asked for the Wilderness Permit by a park ranger making his way up the mountain. A few minutes later, we saw 2 deer at the creek, snapped a pic, watched them a bit and got on our way. I looked at the time and was super impressed, we made it to the trailhead parking lot in 3 hours and 10min. Tired and beyond exhausted, Christopher recharged batteries with a long nap on our way home. Overall, this was a great hike, and most importantly, we had fun while achieving a goal. 

Thank you all for reading, hope this inspires you to enjoy the outdoors with the family. Take the first step, that one is usually the hardest, then it all becomes natural. 
PHOTOS AND VIDEOS:

 

just monkey-ing around a bit


http://www.trashfreeearth.org/  


 

Sunset, and end of trail; lovely
Always good running into friends on the trail

High Sierra Trail: Day 1

Wednesday, 6:30ish pm, all packed and ready to go. Ready to embark on what I was promised would be a trip of a lifetime; The High Sierra Trail. Fabian, planned and organized the entire itinerary. Special Guests Irwin, David, Daniel and myself.

Normally, this trip is completed in 7-10 days. We were on time crunch, since we all agreed to finish in 4 full days, as Fabian had planned. Our plan was to haul ass, hike long mile days and traverse Sequoia National Park, and cover 75 miles.

Snapped a picture with the High Sierra Trail head sign, and off to commence our 1st of 5 days in the wilderness. If you are into nature and don’t mind being dirty and hiking long hours, this is a MUST. Talk about views for days. Satisfaction guaranteed. 


DAY 1 – CRESCENT MEADOWS 
Our first day, was not so great; felt extremely long and we all described it best as a death-march. Simply because the 5-hour hike in the dark seemed like a never ending parade. Scheduled for today was 11 miles to Bearpaw Meadows.

At the beginning of the trail, maybe 1/2mile, Fabian spotted bear poop, and out of nowhere the big baboon decided to grab a stick, poke it and smell it. “It smells like berries guys,” he said. We all looked puzzled; with a speck of doubt, smelled it and were surprised, smelled like berries. unfuckenbelievable. The hike continued, we enjoyed a nice sunset behind us before we grabbed our headlamps. 

Sunset over Morro Rock

Before darkness took over, The Great Western Divide was our view for a few miles, mountains we would later be crossing. As bad as we wanted to arrive to our campsite, the 11 mile trek was delayed by a few short much needed breaks. A small scorpion was spotted on the trail, cold from the chilly night, it was unable to move. We gently, at first, removed it with our trekking poles. After a bit of struggle, just pushed it off to the side so it would not get stepped on. Along the way, we had snack bars. And for dinner, I had a burrito taken from the restaurant we had lunch at. 

At around 12midnight, we arrived at our campsite. Bear canisters empty just waiting for us to fill up, and that is exactly what we did. All food stored, sleeping pads and sleeping bags in place, we were ready to call it a night. I was still full from dinner around 10pm, so I had a light snack. Daniel had gotten a blister on his heel, which would be treated in the morning, because all we wanted to do was knock dafuq out. 11 miles down, only about 60 to go 😅
PHOTOS:


Sun light hitting trees as we begun our trek, kinda like saying “look at me, I’m going away”
About 30min preppin and making sure to pack all needed for 4-5 days
The ultralight of the ultralightest
Unbelievably, Fabian’s pack only weight about 12lbs, while the the rest of us were between 19 – 30 lbs. After all, he emphasizes on nothing but lightweight gear, and is known for being ultralight AF. 

NO PAIN NO GAIN

“Losing isn’t always the end, sometimes it becomes the beginning.”

You win some, you loose some. In this case, it was a win-win for the Amaya’s. This weekend we went out and conquered, and we also got our butts kicked. 

Saturday, made it up to Potato Mountain with good friends; and though the trail is short, it is steep and can get the best of you. Nevertheless, after some hiking and bit of pain here and there, we conquered, we were victorious.  

First nap; checking on baby Aizik, all good, lets go 💙
  Baby Aizik’s first hike huge success. Full of smiles, and naps 💤 Only time he was fuzzy was when we would stop briefly to catch our breath.

Sunday, as we had planned a few weeks back, we went out to play, at Strawberry Peak playground 😜 Christopher and I summited on our first attempt a few weeks back, the wife unfortunately didn’t( long story 😅😁)  


About a mile in, passed the first steep switchback, Christopher’s legs were tired and sore, AF; being unable to push any further. We decided to have a picnic in the woods, and call it a day. Still a nice day for a small hike. His legs were working harder than usual, giving the saying of NO PAIN NO GAIN some action. His pack was about same weight as usual; filled with snacks, 1Liter water, jacket, and Foxxy. This time instead of packing his sleeping bag(training purposes), he packed his Rock Climbing Helmet. Unfortunately we did not make it out that far, however, mountains will still be there, and we will make it out on a fresh leg day. We owe that to the wife @elizabeth_0716 😉

PHOTOS FROM POTATO MOUNTAIN 



my brotha from anotha motha enjoying the view

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 😃















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

IRON MOUNTAIN: The Hidden Truth

First of all, I think  Iron Mountain should have BIG BAD WOLF somewhere along its name. Simply because, it will have you huffing and puffing and tries to knock you down, the entire way up. Having major switchbacks on the trail was at some point something I would definitely not look forward to. Til’ IRON MOUNTAIN. The steepness level of this brutal hike is unbelievable. Not only that, there are 3 or 4 major hills, that before you can go UP, drops DOWN several hundred feet. I guess that’s the STEEL of the mountain. Total distance up to the summit, about 7miles with 7,000ft elevation gain. Keep in mind, you are practically climbing 1,000 ft per mile, something to ponder about.  

 Sunday morning, our plan was to arrive  at the Heaton Flats trailhead parking lot at 6am. I received a message from Chad (@life_is_goodoutdoors), something about being a tad bit late. No worries, I said. As the thought of not having enough food was at the back of my head. Stopped by a near 24-hr Walmart store to get some food; Chicken Wrap rolls for the way, and honey buns for breakfast. I munched a few 😅 . 6:20 at parking lot, Chad arrived about 5minutes later. Handed Chad 3 honey buns, and he handed me a water bottle, fair exchange, right? I must say, do not underestimate the amount of water needed on this trail, especially on a sunny day. “Here, you can have a water bottle,” Chad told me after I said I was PERHAPS a tad bit short on water. I had 2 1/2 liters, Chad had I believe (6) 16-oz water bottles. All gone before completion of hike. 

A little past our desired time, 6:45am, we were all packed and ready to tackle the BEAST mountain, as Chad described it. About 1/2 mile into the fire road, Heaton Flats campground is reached. Here, you have the option to hike to the Bridge to Nowhere, or go where few have gone, Iron Mountain. A Wilderness Permit is required, to which is self issued at this junction. Bring a pen! A few pics were snapped, permit was submitted and we were on our way. Our goal was set, and we were determined to accomplish that goal.  

   
From beginning of trail, the only way is up. Though not as bad compared to what is yet to come. Our trek was quickly interrupted, for a few seconds, by a junction that switched the trail 360degrees. To the right, was what seemed like a trail, however no foot evidence of being one. More like a water drainage, so, we decided to pour some water of our own and put it to test. To the left, was the more evident trail. Unfortunate for a hiker, he took the wrong turn, and found himself hauling ass to get to his group. “I took the wrong turn, have you guys seen my group?” he asked, as he described fellow hikers about 20 minutes ahead of us. 1 mile into the hike and several hundred feet already climbed, the Sheep Mountain Wilderness sign welcomes you. Our only thought at this point was, how do some hikers see herds of bighorn sheep or at least one, and we’ve yet to witness that.  

   
Along the way, we were greeted by a nice older gentleman James (@he_wei_jin), advised us of his secret water stash, at the Saddle. We chit chatted for a while, and he also mentioned the steepness past the Saddle was about 60% incline. He also added that before going (straight) up, we would first descend a few hundred feet. This is the interesting and tough part of the trail, we thought. And this is my reason as to why I don’t mind switchbacks as much as the UPS AND DOWNS. Upon getting to the Saddle, already some 4miles and 3,000 ft out the way, the best was yet to begin. Water stash was found, nearby a few rocks slighty hidden, as advised by @he_wei_jin.  

Walking along the backbone the entire way up: COOLEST THING ever

The first descent is right after the Saddle, straight down. Then, about 1/2 mile or so, straight up. The inclination level was just insane, and though we were taking  a beating, we kept pushing up. I told Chad we were doing great as we passed a group of 4, taking a quick breather break before heading up the first hill. I spoke a bit too soon, however, a new group we had not seen, quickly got ahead of us. They came out of nowhere, hauling ass straight up the hill. Not worried much about it, after that first hill, we decided to stop and get some breakfast, the time was now roughly 11:13am. I had some chicken wrapped rolls, delish; Chad boiled water and had a dehydrated meal. 20 minutes, give or take a few, our ascending continued. 2nd hill; ups and downs, again. Done. The 3rd or 4th hill, I lost track, included major rock scrambling, that was after the DOWNhill part of course, straight UP we went.  

     
6 hours 20minutes, 7 tough miles with rock scrambling and 7,000 ft gained, we arrived at the summit, 8,007 ft. Exhausted and hungry AF, looked around and enjoyed the view; snapped a few pics, signed register book, and got to boiling water on Chad’s jetboil stove. Which may I add, that thing is just fuckin’ amazing. Water boils before you can even blink. Once water was boiled, under 2minutes, all that was left to do was wait for dehydrated meals to fully cook. After our meal, a 30-40 minute power nap was enjoyed deeply by Chad, who found a rock out in the sun to be his comfy bed. I tried laying on a rock, only lasted seconds; the heat was just beyond my handling capabilities. I dislike heat; hot water and sun are at the top of the list. Crazy how I can easily chug down steaming hot boiling coffee on a 100• degree day. But, that’s just another story. Anyhow, I moved to a grassy shaded area where I re-adjusted my shoes, leaving them off for a few minutes felt great. And kept being bothered by bees just roaming near by. Hat on face, I doze off for about 5 or 10 minutes. Time to go? Chad still on that power nap. Oh well, back to laying I go.  

  

  

At 2:20pm, we started heading down the beast mountain, heads high and chest all pumped, running down some not-so steep parts of the trail. Coming to a quick halt and walking slowly uphills, then running downhill, then slowly uphill again. We kept on saying the entire hike was like a video game, with the water cached and the man stashing the water was on a side mission. And our mission was to find it. All fun and games, til, going downhil you slip on loose rocks and fall on your ass. Yep, that happened to me alright. Mountains just caught me slippin’ and that was a sign that a quick break was needed. I mean, I was already sitting down, might as well, right!? Kept running, trail blazing down; being extra careful with the yuccas trying to prick us. There were parts of the trail where there were yucca plants in both sides, sharp and pointy as can be. Only way to pass thru is to slowly, very slowly maneuver your entire body. This stages were called LEVEL 1,000 in our hiking GAME! As we reached the Saddle on the way back, we grabbed some water from the secret stash. Thank you @Hei_Wei_Jin for such great gesture. It took us about 4 hours 40 minutes to get down, few breaks and picture sessions included. Tired and sore AF, and although heels and toes took a beating, no blisters!  A horny toad was spottedby Chad onthe way down. Funny looking horned lizard. 

  • PHOTOS

   

 
   

Monkeyin’ around