Black Star Canyon Falls

A seasonal waterfall? Hhhmmmm, i don’t know if I can call it that. Nevertheless, this nice hidden gem in the Orange County area, Black Star Canyon Falls is a must check-out.  A quick 6 mile hike (RT) that should not be taken lightly. Multiple stream crossings and some bouldering towards the end, will make the trek that much more rewarding.

ADDRESS: 13333 Black Star Canyon Rd, Silverado, CA 9267

Distance: 6.7 Miles RT, 800-1000 ft gain/loss, 4-7 hour hike, depending on pace

Our hike to Blackstar Canyon Falls was a challenge. Not in distance or bouldering, but in backpacking for Christopher ; full gear including 1 1/2 liter of water added his pack to a little over 6lbs.

We arrived to the trailhead parking lot at 12:20pm. No time to waste, hopped out of car, packs on, let’s do this we said. Right off the back, Christopher was not happy with the heavy pack.  Having weight on your back slows you down tremendously, and more effort needs to be put into your body. 

As is always the case, the start is usually the hardest. Nevertheless, he was reminded why he was doing this and pushed to the falls like a champ, with a positive state of mind.
Once passed the locked gate, trail continues on to a cement fire road for about 15 minutes. Fire road becomes all dirt in about 1/2 mile, here you want to go slight right, and continue with desired pace. Beware of the electric fences to keep trespassers from private homes.

At 1 1/4 miles, we reached a bridge with a small running creek underneath; this we thought to be really awesome. There’s a 2nd bridge about 1/2 mile after that. Right before the 2nd bridge crossing, a few hikers spotted a peacock. Here, we took a 10 minute picture break. We kept our distance from peacock, snapped a few pics, and got on our way. Keep eyes open and ears alert for wildlife.

The dirt road continues and a fork is reached at 2 1/2 miles. Here, the road continues towards the left and detours to falls to the right. You will see a wooden sign for BLACK STAR CANYON FALLS right in front as you approach the turn. This is the moment we had been waiting for, the fun part. Dropped about 20 feet on a narrow slide-like trail down to the river, and right away started following the creek up. No trail from this point on.

Multiple crossings are required. There is no specific trail to follow, you have to use your best judgement as there are multiple ways to get across and keep moving forward. Poison Oak is everywhere, watch your step while going thru grassy areas.​


A blue metal sign is located at .5 miles, keep left. Now, the fun part, this is where the bouldering really begins. 

Do not underestimate the 0.4 miles that are left to the falls; this is the fun part yet also the hardest, as you will be climbing some huge boulders. Plan to take the same amount of time as the previous 2 1/2 miles. Some spots get technical, tackle the climb with confidence and simply make sure to have good grip to pull yourself up and feet are stable to push yourself up. All is very doable, simply keep alert and on your toes with the short bouldering section.​


Along the way,   after a rainy day, there will be lots of mini falls everywhere. The trail itself is just a joy, and knowing you are closer to the 80 foot waterfalls just motivated us to keep pushing forward. 

After several hundred feet gained in a short distance, the last climb, a 20-foot waterfall signals you are near. Off to the right, hands up, feet down secure on rocks, up you go. Climbed. Arrived.

The falls were stunning. The main stream falls into a man made cave allowing water to flow into a 2nd smaller waterfall. I was tempted to climb onto the fall and cave, however, the rocks seemed very slippery and too risky. Also didn’t want my son to think I am some kind of daredevil in pursuit of danger; because after all, there will come a time when what I do will speak loudly over what I say. Lead by example.

Although this trail has gotten very popular, the amount of people at the falls did not bother me much. We stayed there for about an hour, just enjoying the view. Cooked a dehydrated meal, and at around , started hiking out. Retraced our steps as best we could, being extra careful while looking for beat way down the boulders. 

Even though we always pack headlamps, my main concern was to make it back to the dirt road junction before dark. I was shocked to see soo many people making their way up with no water or even light. Strongly suggest an earlier start, that also gives you room to explore more if ahead of schedule. 

Back to the road, to what seemed to be a death march. The short 2 1/2 miles felt like 5. Luckily, we had company. Trail friends found on the trail, right there and then. A couple, who we chit chatted with all the way out. They were really cool, and we exchanged hiking stories and shared some laughs.

About 10 minutes before returning to trailhead, Christopher had given all he had. He was exhausted , and shoulders sore as can be. I carried his pack for the remainder of the way.

Made new friends, the hike was really good, waterfall did not disappoint, and training session was a success in my book. 

Christopher’s pack is comfortable, and I believe it is all a matter of getting use to the weight. That simply means, more adventures 😜
Depending on your pace and desired amount of time at falls, plan to be on trail between 3-6 hours. I suggest a nice meal packed lunch and plenty of snacks. Water can be filtered from stream, or a reusable water bottle is a good choice.

Remember, if you pack it in be sure to pack it out. Leave no trace. #trashfreeearth

From Rivers to Icey Tops: Mt. Wilson

​​The Chantry Flats trail to the summit of Mt. Wilson is considered a strenuous, 14 mile loop, that climbs a little over 4,000 vertical feet. It was a long day, Christopher’s longest hike to date and he still had a smile on his face.
We arrived to the trailhead at around 8:15am, to a full parking lot. Parking fills up quick, as the trail to Sturtevant falls is very popular and shared for the first 3/4 mile. An Adventure Pass must be displayed. An overflow lot is available, it’ll run you $10. Parking along side the road is an option, however the farther down you park, more steps will be added to your already long hike.

No other choice than to park down the road, 8:30am, an extra 10 minutes to get to trailhead; situated, packs on, good to go. The first 3/4 mile down the paved fire road is fairly easy, no effort is required. At the end of the paved road, the Gabrielino trailhead junction is reached; a 1 mile detour can be taken to Sturtevant Falls. We kept left at the fork and headed  up to Mt. Wilson via Winter Creek trail, skipped the falls. Due to recent heavy rain, the water was flowing nice and strong. Walking along the creek was amazing. It was all fun and games until, the first crossing at about 1/2 mile from junction. Wife led the way, and tried to find a good spot to cross, failed. After a few minutes, and no results, I began to loose my head as the wife struggled across and Christopher didn’t want to risk getting wet. I couldn’t help him cross and keep us dry, no rocks or logs for balancing. “Just go thru,” I kept telling him. “NO!!” he replied. Back and forth, until, I decided to just get my feet in the water and carry him. The morning was pretty chilly, temperature on my watch read 43 degrees, and being in between the canyons and trees did not help. Feet soaked, and 5 minutes later, another crossing, feet wet yet again. 2 more crossings after that, I was already soaked, however was not really ready to fully submerge my feet in the freezing cold water every again. No choice, in order to keep Christopher dry, I had to get in. Done, crossed.​ Let’s get to stepping.


In 2.2 miles, Hoegee’s campground is crossed. Our trek continued and we arrived to what seemed like the official beginning of the Mt. Wilson trail, 2.6 miles later. This is where the fun begins, elevation was starting to go into full  effect. A small 2-3 minute break, snapped a pic and video, got on our way. 

Up, up and away, the trail got steep and our pace slowed a little. A nice slow yet steady pace as we approached mile 4, the time was now close to 11am. Christopher was feeling good, and he decided to MARCH like soldiers and sing, all he wanted was to reach mile 4 because Elizabeth, my wife, told him he can have Skittles or M&M’s for doing such great job. Good thing he can’t differentiate distance yet 😜 we kept going until the bench, approximately 5 miles from start. Here, is the junction to the Sierra Madre trailhead, and the ascend gets gradually steeper. We had lunch, mingled with a few other hikers, chilled, back to trekking. 

In about 3/4 miles, Mt. Wilson Toll Road becomes the main trail, a much quicker pace was picked up, as it had not much elevation gain. To our surprise, there were patches of snow and very soon the entire trail was covered. Wife was not so happy; she dislikes like being cold, let alone walk in the snow. Our toes wet and numb, temperature dropped, and clouds covering the sun, the last mile or so was not so pleasant. Pushed for the peak, and found some hiking friends/superstars on their way down from the summit; Evonne, Nathalie, and Theseus. 

2:15pm, with still 15-20 minutes to summit, determined to get to the top, we pushed a bit harder. The melting snow created a small river on the trail, about ankle deep. Feet wet yet again. Finally made it to the summit, and walked over to the museum. It was closed, however, they usually have coffee and hot chocolate for hikers. Very much appreciated. I refilled my coffee mug, and we enjoyed the view. It was cold, so we decided to just have a snack and head back down after coffees were chugged. 

The wife and kid

We set out to bag Mt. Wilson, and we pushed, and pushed and pushed for the peak, about 6hrs later, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. 

What goes up must come down; and so, we began to descend, 3:15pm. Christopher is into running, and I take advantage as much as possible. Usually, when going downhill, He asks to run, and without hesitation, my wife and I gave him the green light. “Sun is going down quick,” I told her, as we ran down the mountain. We knew a storm was heading our way, that gave us a little more motivation to keep running. Impressively, Christopher ran almost 3 miles down, until we reached a junction. To the left, Winter Creek trail, back where we came from with multiple river crossings, “not in the dark,” we said. We went for Upper Creek trail, to the right at the junction, still about 3 miles to go, however no water. Headlamps on, we continued to walk in the dark for about 1hour. It was quite, and lonely. Our only objective was to get to the parking lot. No breaks, just kept pushing up the hills as we gained a few hundred feet. Some little sprinkles were felt, luckily, we were already close to trailhead parking lot. Made it back to the car, close to 6:10pm. Christopher was beyond exhausted. He took a nap on the way home, and went straight to bed upon arrival.
**Home to an observatory high in the mountains, Mt. Wilson stands at 5,710 feet above sea level. Mt. Wilson is the first of the six pack of peaks, as suggested by in great training for longer more strenuous hikes such as Mt. Whitney or a thru hike, John Muir Trail, or in our case, High Sierra Trail.


Theseus aka @OZ _OUTDOORZEN


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. 


Saturday Trail Clean-up



Sunday Exploring 


Mt. Baldy: Hiking in the Snow

A late start on a trailhead sometimes mean you will not make it to your destination. This does not mean however, you can not get out and have some fun in the process of trying. Such was the case today, Sunday 27Nov2016.

After a few stops along the way, finally made it to the San Antonio Falls trailhead at around 2pm. The plan was to try and reach the Top of the Notch, in the Mt. Baldy mountain, in a full of snow trail. Being the wife and kiddo’s first ever snow hike, I wasn’t concerned at all because they love being outdoors and always make the best of any trip or hike we take. As soon as reached the Baldy Village, there were light showers. Thus being the reason we stopped at REI to grab the wife a rain jacket.

We had to park about 1/2 mile from trailhead due to road being icy and only authorized vehicles allowed. Started our accent on the San Antonio Falls Trailhead at approximately 2:30pm, with light showers. All layered, packs with rain covers, we shared smiles and a few endless conversations from Wife(Elizabeth) and kiddo (Christopher). Quick break at the falls, the weather was about 36 degrees, and it begun to get hot. About 1 mile in, we had to make a stop to de-layer. Body  warmed up, and sun started shining thru clouds.
Our trek continued… Being aware of the sunset, the time now around 3:50pm, we set a turn around time of 4:15pm. We had layers and headlamps, however no microspikes. I, having hiked in snow, was a bit concerned about it turning into hard ice, and though the trail is a fire road and not steep, I did not want to hike in the dark for long. As agreed, about 20min before reaching the Notch, it was time to turn around. Right below the restaurant, one last switchback to go, we decided to call it a hike; boiled water for a hot dehydrated meal, had snacks, Christopher played in the snow, and back down we went.

Christopher was a bit upset we did not make it to our destination, “I’m not having fun,” he said, ” we didn’t make it to the peak.” We explained to him the importance of hiking in the dark with hard ice snow, and that our priority was for him to enjoy the hike. He then got over it and we hustled down to the parking lot, which in fact we still had to walk down the road about 1/2 mile.

Though not steep, there were some areas that were icy and kinda scary; wife was a bit on the nervous side. Nevertheless, we made it back down safely, walking in the dark with headlamps for about 30min. The time now 5:45pm, back in our car, I had Christopher pack pj’s in his pack, which came in handy because he was soaked and wet. Wife finished dehydrated meal in the car, and we got our way home. It was a great first experience for them, and we all had a blast.


Forgot my explorer fedore hat, luckily I have this ADVENTUROUS shirt 😜






High Sierra Trail: Day 2

Day 2 on the High Sierra Trail was spectacular. Woke up 7:30 am, temperature was about 36 degrees and it all seemed just perfect. Sun was already out and shining, birds chirping and Irwin yelling, “WAKE DAFUQ UUUUUP!” The rest of the crew finally woke up. Fabian treated Daniel’s blister, while the rest of us packed up. Breakfast was light, I had a brownie snack bar and a protein bar. no coffee, this was the hardest part of the day if you ask me. 


About 1 mile from our campsite, we hit Bearpaw Meadows. A nice cabin is available by reservation, good for rainy or snowy days. The views were ok, due to fog in the air, we could not see too far into the valley. From here, we headed east and started ascending the Great Western Divide. The way to go from here was up, a moderate climb to Hamilton Lake. We arrived to the bridge of Lone Pine Creek, where we took a nice 15-20 minute break before the uphill begun. We were looking to gain some 2,000ft up to Hamilton Lake. The switchbacks were long and felt  never ending as we made our way up Angels Wings; a huge granite wall/cliff. The issue was not only  the distance, the fact that we would gain a few thousand feet only to drop again was mind fucking. Nevertheless, already on the trail, no way to turn back, and the views were well worth it. 

12:05pm, filtered water at Hamilton Creek, right below Angels Wings. We would drink plenty of water while at the source, and filtered about 1/2 liter for the way. Pretty cool how that’s all the water we carried at all times.  

Angels Wings

Around 12:40, we arrived to Hamilton Lake. Not sure if I enjoyed the views, or the break. Packs off, nice long break, but we all decided to save lunch for the next stop; Precipice Lake. I snacked on beef jerky and a protein bar, I was good to go. Another climb was in store for us, about 2,500ft. As soon as we left Hamilton Lake, the trail get’s steep, with some more switchbacks (YAY), only way to go is up.

Fabian and Daniel photobombing shot of Hamilton Lake

 The trail ascending Angels Wings was pretty tough. Views of Hamilton Lake and the Great Western Divide were amazing, I looked back every chance I got. We were hungry and tired, close to 2pm, a quick break was very well enjoyed, time to catch our breath. Closing in on 22miles or so, the best was yet to come. 3:15pm, After a very tough strenuous climb, you are rewarded with crystal clear water, Precipice Lake. Perhaps my favorite spot along the trail. WOW, my jaw dropped. Daniel and I had been making plans to jump in and enjoy a nice swim. All that quickly changed when we took off our shoes and socks, and submerged feet into the burning freezing cold water. Yes, water so cold it would actually burn after a few seconds. It was a bit windy and cloudy, no sun. The time to jump in was then and there; we decided to stay dry and warm, and I tossed on my down jacket instead. Irwin shared a pita bread, salami and pepperoni, lunch was ready quick. After all, he packed sooo much food, every chance he got to get rid of the extra weight was glorious. David took a quick nap, and warmed up water for a dehydrated meal when woke up. Daniel and Fabian had pita bread as well. Chilled for some 45minutes, took pics and got on our way. ​​

 Bellies full and well rested, time now 4:35pm, our trek continued to the next destination, Moraine Lake, scheduled to arrive between 10-11pm. This was a tough day, and still had about 8miles to go.
 Finally arrived to the Kaweah Gap, 10,700ft elevation, only to drop a few hundred feet into the Big Arroyo Junction trail. From here, it got somewhat easy, no more switchbacks or uphills for a while. At around 6:33pm, we stopped at a junction, quick break before going uphill, again. Along the way, now more acquainted than the previous day, we were all laughs and smiles, someone always had something to say. Fabian, leading this trek would stop and check the map to make sure we were going in the right direction, and also kept an eye out for water sources. Although we were on time crunch, all breaks were very well enjoyed and delayed, some talks/debates would take longer than usual, thus making time get lost in the air. Like I said, well enjoyed much needed breaks. ​

Sun started setting, and it was time for headlamps. As planned, we arrived to our campsite at around 10:50pm. We knew the drill; all food in bear canisters and prep the 5-billion star room for the night. The night was chilly, about 33 degrees. I slept nice and toasty in my 19 degree bag with only a thermo shirt on. Occasionally, I got hot and uncovered, then mother nature had me covering back with the quickness with mild winds. 


Lone Pine Creek bridge



Tent Hotel – Bearpaw Meadows-exploring



“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 😉


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 

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.”


#AdventureAlliance @Latitude.43

Sara and Drew, motivating Christopher to keep pushing 😃