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

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 😜







“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

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 😃

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. 😜


San Antonio Ski Hut, elevation 8,200feet


Endurance Knows No Age

  Saturday morning 6am, Christopher and I set out to a hike. He has been on many hikes with me, with the exception of a few tough ones. That being said, we were prepared with plenty of food, water and warm winter gear to introduce him to some tough rugged terrain. I wanted to throw some elevation gain and push him a little, without the loss of enjoyment and enthusiasm. He can do some distance, the most have been 12miles RT. I was determined to not discourage him, or else he would have no desire to return. To climb a mountain, or go up to the peak is no easy task. Endurance is put to the test, making the statement PUSH FOR THE PEAK sometimes the hardest, as you are walking straight up! 

Our destination was the Icehouse Trail in Mt. Baldy. Icehouse Saddle is 3.6 miles from trailhead and gains 2,600ft. A few miles into the trail, you enter Cucamonga Wilderness, and a permit is required. Mt. Baldy Village visitor center provides this permit, simply have to go to office. You can also call ahead and have one ready at the message board, very convenient if you are looking to start before sunrise. 

I was uncertain of the distance we would hike, therefore, stopped at Baldy Village and picked up a permit. However, I was more than  happy with the fact that Christopher  was up for the challenge. 

All packed and ready to go, I looked at the time, 8:15am. As we started our hike, it was very cloudy and chilly. I had been advised by a friend of mine of a storm said to start later in the afternoon. Though we both had rain gear, I did not want to get heavy rain coming back down the mountain, not with Christopher. 11:30am was my turn around time. From beginning of trail, the steepness at some parts can not be overlooked. Christopher was feeling it and quickly began looking back to see how far we had walked. He looked at me, and with a look that said WHAT DID I SIGN UP FOR? smiled and kept going. Throughout the entire hike he was all smiles. After about half mile, he requested his first snack, SCOOBY GUMMIES; which according to him, gives him energy. He sat on a rock, enjoyed the gummies, and off we went. As we were walking, clouds begun to move in on us, and we found ourselves unable to look past 100ft ahead of us. The clouds also brought along very little mist.  

Along the trail flows a small creek stream, and due to recent rain, was flowing nicely. Christopher’s  weakness is a river. He loves ‘HELPING the water, it will make it go faster and reach farther,’ his exact wording. 

Every few hundred feet, he would ask me to stop and go EXPLORE. “No, we have a long way to go,” was my answer. “We will help the water on our way back.” That did not stop him from slowly going off trail and making his way towards the river, even though the trail was right in front. His perseverance was strong, and finally he said, “ok, this is it, I need to explore!” as he walked off trail straight to the river. Halfway he stopped, looked back and just smiled, “come on” he said and waited for my response. Serious face at first, just had to give in and couldn’t help smiling back, “fine, let’s explore a lil.”  

 He jumped over a small river stream, removed some logs from water, and after about 10 minutes or so, he was ready to go. 

  As we continued going up, the steepness level was increasing. Our first official break  was at the mile marker, which is a junction of the Chapman Trail, turning north taking a route thru Cedar Canyon. Our backs felt good with no packs. Christopher had some SCOOBY gummies, a snack, and drank plenty of water. Many hikers passed by, all amazed at Christopher’s determination and mainly his age, 5 1/2. “great job, keep pushing,” most told him.  

That seemed to motivate him, grabbed his pack and said, “come on, let’s catch up to them.” Our 15minute break came to an end and we continued our hike. As we tried to catch up to them, the steepness gradually kept increasing. Christopher decided to make up songs and count, as to keep his mind occupied. That worked wonders and though we did not catch up to the hikers he wanted, we advanced quite a lot.  

 At 1.8miles from start, you reach the Cucamonga Wilderness, here we unpacked for another break as we were hungry. A cold salami sandwich was our meal, I drank water, Christopher had fruit punch flavored water. I snapped a few pics while Christopher explored. The trail was foggy and dark clouds roamed ahead of us at all times, with occasional mist. Our bodies cooled down while sitting, and we could now feel chills. Jackets were put to work. As our trek continued, to what I estimate about 2.4 miles one-way, rain started getting heavy and more consistent. Hikers going back told us the Saddle was just about 1mile, “almost there,” they all said. However, the time was now 11:15am, and Christopher was exhausted.  

 The trail only kept getting steeper, which meant a lot more time was needed, that is if he still had energy. Christopher’s determination was very strong, and though he was tired, “let’s make it to the top” he said! I quickly reminded him that we still had to explore the river, that worked, he was very excited about that. We sat for a little while, tossed on our rain jackets, and enjoyed some blackberries before descending. The way down was much quicker, at some parts Christopher found himself running down the trail, then stopped to catch his breath for a few secs, and continued. Around 12:20, already past the hardest parts of the trail, Christopher decided to opt from the trail and follow the stream of water. Looking for a nice spot to have lunch, and for me to set up my hammock. 

Along the river, we found lots of little waterfalls, and a few logs begging us to cross ’em. Finally reaching ‘the spot ‘ Christopher took off his pack and quickly started removing rocks and logs from water. His goal is to help the water reach the river bed by our house(in Downey) so he can continue to take long showers. Rain drops were now very small, and I was able to set up hammock and prepare lunch. Hammock was set up, Christopher took over. He was swinging and as I jumped off the hammock, my phone jumped out of my pocket; landing screen down on a rock. Phone was fully functional though screen was cracked. First thought, the wife is going to kill me! I wasn’t going to let that ruin our trip, everything continued as if nothing had happened.  

 We had lunch, BEEF MEAT; and luckily as we were done eating, rain forced us to pack up everything. Well rested, bellies full and rain jackets on we continued our trek back to the parking lot, about 3/4 mile to go. Extremely exhausted, Christopher would occasionally bend down, hold his stomach and catch his breath. Back at the car, rain still strong, packs came off and so did the soaked rain jackets. Christopher had thermo pants under snow bib, so, those came off too. 

Overall, it was a great hike! New experience for Christopher and I, and best of all, we had a FANTASTIC bonding time. As usual, Christopher is always talking, even when out of breath!! I was very happy and satisfied with the outcome of this (training) hike. We will attempt to reach the Saddle again, however with an earlier start. Or maybe no rain on forecast. 












Trailhead address: 7698 Ice House Canyon Road, Angeles National Forest, Mount Baldy, CA 91759

Trailhead coordinates: 34.25018, -117.635997 (34° 15′ 00.64″N 117° 38′ 09.58″W) 

San Gorgonio Summit

Here we were, sitting on the Vivian Creek trailhead parking lot ready to start our hike. With only one mission ahead of us: reach San Gorgonio summit. Our group consisted of 5; Sheila, Jen, Chad, Cody and me.  


 Our plan was to arrive at the trailhead  around 2pm, and make it to High Creek campgrounds (5miles from start) and set camp. Things however, did not go as planned. Time was against us, as we started our way up the mountain nearly at 5pm. Packs strapped tightly to our backs, our voyage begun. Sheila, who had been there before was leading the way. After about 1 mile, we reached the San Gorgonio Wilderness sign, stating a PERMIT is required. 


 I was thrilled, and still could not believe we were actually there, attempting to reach Southern California’s highest point. Though I was excited, I was also tired. Our packs were pretty heavy. From beginning of trail, the steepness kept increasing gradually. When we reached the sign, a group picture was taken, and a much needed break was enjoyed. Shortly after leaving from the San Gorgonio Wilderness sign, we encountered a volunteer ranger. He was coming down from the summit, and was concerned for our safety. “Do you guys have rope?” he asked. Chad told him safety was our priority, and if we thought any danger shall arise, we would not hesitate to turn back. The ranger checked the permit, chit chat with us advising the conditions of trail, then shortly after we continued our trek. 


Chad was thirsty AF

 Our first break was at Vivian Creek. Here, the crew filtered water and had snacks. After about 10 minutes or so, we continued. Daylight was slowly fading. Late night hikes don’t have to be short and boring. As the night took over, we stopped to strap on our headlamps, and hiked in the dark for about 3 hours (maybe more 🙃).  

 At around 9:30pm we reached the breaking point of Halfway Camp and High Creek. Here, we discussed if to proceed to original destination -High Creek, or stay at Halfway camp. We were pretty tired. That was not only the factor keeping us from going. The next 2 1/2 miles to High Creek would be PERHAPS icy, and dangerous AF. And keep in mind, it was already dark. The crew decided to call it a night, and avoid any danger zones. Halfway camp turned to be our billion star hotel for the night. A nice camping spot was found, and we laid down our packs giving us so sooooo much relief. Before cooking dinner, we set camp. Dinner for me, my favorite, RAMEN NOODLES. Each one of the group had different meals. The next day’s hike would not be any easier than today, therefore our time to be on the trail was set to 5am. For a few minutes, we glissaded down a mini mountain right behind our tents to practice self arrest with ice axe. then, off to sleep we went.  

4am was here, and we were anxious to get some breakfast and getting on the trail. 

woke up at around 4am, and quickly started cooking breakfast: chocolate chip pancakes 😋

 Unfortunately, Jen and Cody, did not have the proper sleeping bags, and were unable to sleep due to coldness. Cody, also had fever blisters around his mouth. As much as they wanted to make it to summit, Cody wasn’t feeling well, and finally deciding to make their way down the mountain. Safe call if you ask me. Sheila, Chad and I packed only snacks and food, leaving tents and sleeping gear at campsite. At 6:45am we started hiking up. Lighter packs, made for faster ascending, however, the fact that we would gain over 3,000 in 6miles could not be overlooked. Sections between halfway and Highcreek were hard ice, we stopped to strap on crampons. Ice axe was in full effect as well. Made it up the first steep ass hill, boy was that steep! There was a 2nd hill, this was no different from the first. Upon reaching the top of the 2nd steep hill going straight up the mountain, a much needed break was enjoyed. And, it was lunch time. Sheila’s jetboil stove was used by all of us, as I had ran out of fuel in the am when making coffee. A few photos were snapped while water was boiling. The views to San Jacinto peak were extraordinary. I was im complete awe.

Well rested and bellies full, our trek continued strong, still had about 2 long miles to reach summit. The steepness level got to a point where we had to stop to catch our breath every 10-15 steps. Our final stretch seemed the hardest, as we were already exhausted. Last break was taken, and from there we would make a run for the peak, figuratively speaking. We were pushing for the peak.  

 The summit was reached at around 1pm, and we were all happy the long strenuous hike had paid off. This was Chad’s first time up San Gorgonio summit, and was my first official summit. I was astounded by the views, was just amazing. Last snacks were munched, snapped a few pics, and I enjoyed my FIRST SUMMIT BEER, well deserved if you ask me.  We also kept in mind Sheila’s one WHOLE year of sobriety. Way to go! CONGRATS! 🍻  

Official Summit CHEERS 🍻

The way down was much faster, as the snow was slushy from direct sunlight. We glissaded and made it down to Highcreek in a little under 1hour. I was a bit skeptical about sliding down, as I dropped my ice axe somewhere along the trail. RIP ice axe. Luckily, Chad is a swell skier, and he let me borrow his axe to descend. All the while he was skiing down the mountain as if he was walking in the park. Though the hike down was much faster, still took us a good 5 hours to get down. Finally reaching the parking lot at nearly 8pm.  

Overall, I had a great amazing  unforgettable experience, and best of all, made new friends. As exhausted as we all were, there was always, at all times, a smile on our face.  


much needed break, after 1st steep hill
Cody was trying to make a run for it, BAD CALL 😂


Backpacking A Snowy Mt. Baldy

52 Hike Challenge #8/52 

When my good friend Jose told me he was gearing up for backpacking, I was thrilled and excited for the many adventures to come. We made plans for our first backpacking trip together to BRIDGE TO NOWHERE located in the San Gabriel mountains. A 10 1/2 mile hike R/T. As the time approached, there were warnings of a storm headed our way. The trail we made plans for has many river crossings, and dirt along the sides.  


There was heavy rain the week prior to our trip. We knew it would be muddy. Not wanting to cancel our voyage, we decided to look for another trail. I decided to take Jose to Mt. Baldy, the Ski Hut via San Antonio Falls trail. This trail was shorter in distance by 3 miles, but had an elevation gain of about 3,500 ft. more than the Bridge to Nowhere. And, we would be carrying a 40-50lbs pack on our back. As bad as it seemed, we decided to just do it (more like I decided). Jose was unaware we were going to hike up a snow covered Mt. Baldy, until we arrived. 😁🤗

When we arrived to the San Antonio Falls trailhead, at approximately 0700, the parking along the side was full. Our option was to either park about 1mile down from the trail, or wait for someone to leave. We waited for a while, drove around in circles and had no luck. That weekend, it was beyond full because there had been little to no rain in Los Angeles for the past few years. So, lots of rain meant lots of snow, and everyone was heading up to Mt. Baldy, the local and closest mountain. After about 30 minutes waiting, someone left, and we parked. 

Got out of the car, stretched as we strapped on our packs, and were ready to go. The first 1 1/2 mile to San Antonio Falls is fairly easy, as the trail is pretty much straight forward. The uphill comes past the falls. We stopped at the falls for a quick break. Although the first mile is not tough, we were carrying weigh on our backs, and that made trekking in the snow tiring and difficult. Being Jose’s first time with full gear, and knowing the challenge ahead, we thought of staying near the fall. Not really sure if it is permitted though. I was ok with staying as well as if we kept going. I advised Jose how challenging the hike up would be, specially with fresh fluffy snow and being EXTRA heavy from packs. 


San Antonio Falls
After a few minutes, we decided to continue ascending. Jose was a tad bit tired. He is very optimistic, and his ‘I CAN DO IT’ attitude pushed him to keep going. The hike up was tough, tougher than what we expected. Every once in a while there were spots along the trail when our feet would sink (ankle deep) into snow. After about 2 miles or so, the switchbacks and elevation gain was becoming a nightmare. We stopped to cool down and catch our breath a few times.   


Jose, just chillin’ in his comfy snow chair
After many more quick stops, and many times of wanting to turn around and call it quits, last break and on our breaking point, a group of hikers coming down from the Ski Hut, told us we were sooo close, we just had to keep going. They were shocked at the fact we were planning on camping up there, as the storm was not completely over. We chitchat for a little longer, had some sandwiches, strapped our packs, and up the mountain we went. Our goal was to make it to the Notch (Ski Hut). Jose was running on fumes, however, he did not want to quit. He pushed himself to the limit.    


 I was glad we didn’t give up, and so was he when we made it up the last switchback, and there we were, at the Baldy Notch. All we can think of was finding a spot to set down our packs and relax. While looking for a good camping spot, we got off the trail. However, due to no foot traffic, the snow was fluffier and deeper: knee deep. We found ourselves battling the snow and fighting our way back up to the trail.  

Everything covered in snow, we laid down a tarp, relaxed and enjoyed the view before setting up camp. I snapped a few  pics. With such great work out, appetite rises, I started cooking lunch: RAMEN NOODLES 😋 . Beef steaks was next on the menu. When we were eating, already cooled down, the cold breeze was now felt tremendously. Jackets were necessary to keep warm. Started setting up camp around 1500hrs, before it got dark and in no time, we were all set up.   


As early as it was, we were tired, and the high winds did not allow us to stay out for long. Therefore, we decided to get into our tents and take a (very well deserved) nap. The nap was a big success. I woke up and it was already dark, super windy and chilly. Jose would call me, I was asleep he says. I would call him, he was asleep. As if we were playing tag. The night was somewhat chilly, and at some points the wind would be felt thru the tent and sleeping bag. Although bearable, the chills would wake you up and keep you awake for a few minutes. 

0900hrs – In the morning, my thermometer read 27degrees F.  We got to cooking breakfast inside Jose’s tent. And soon after started packing at around 1000hrs. Though the hike down was much faster, it was no easy task. Multiple breaks were necessary to catch our breath. On the way down, we saw a guy hiking SHIRTLESS. In no time, we were already down at the beginning of the trail.

Overall, it was an  amazing experience and something about hiking in the snow makes it peaceful and serene. 



Echo Mountain via Sam Merril

52 Hike Challenge #15/52

We started our hike at around 8am. The plan was to take the Sam Merril trail to Echo Mountain and Inspiration Point. A total of 11miles, and approximately 2,800  feet elevation gain. As the trail begins, the first 2 miles or so are pretty steep, and you can quickly get out of breath if going to fast. As I looked back, I was amazed how quickly we were ascending.  

We took 2 breaks before reaching Echo Mountain; a mountain where a hotel once stood. A hotel built in the late 1800’s by Thaddeus Lowe. There were no roads to this hotel — you reached it by an incline railway that climbed over 1,000 feet. The hotel burned to the ground in a fire, but there are remnants of the grandeur that once shone brightly atop Echo Mountain. At 10:30am, we were atop where the hotel was years ago. Cement stairs and old trolley parts remain. We had snacks, snapped a few pics, explored the surroundings and shouted thru an echo phone, my guess is that is where the name Echo Mountain comes from. After about 3omin or so, we got on our way. 

Christopher pointing to our destination

Kevin, Juan, Christopher, Foxxy, and me 😆

 From there, we headed up to Inspiration point. The trail was marked with signs providing information of the hotel, and its history. Really awesome. Though the trail past Echo Mountain was not as steep, at first, it still felt as if we were not advancing towards the peak. Or, maybe, just maybe could have been the fact that we were tired. Christopher was exhausted and extremely hot. The sun was out and doing what it does best, warm up planet Earth. I always take extra clothe for Christopher in my pack, ALWAYS, with the exception of today 😁. He was wearing a thick long sleeve shirt, and was shy to take it off. I told him that I was hot as well, and if he took off his thermo shirt, I would take off mine. He finally agreed when he was drenched in sweat.  


We would count, and his pain would seize( for a while)
counting to 100; by 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s helped Christopher reach his maximum distance YET

After some walking, we found a nice shaded area along the trail, and decided to take a break. As much as we really wanted to make it to Inspiration Point, we were extremely tired, and also did not pack enough food and snacks were running low.  About 1 mile short to summit, we decided to take a long much needed break, before heading back down to the parking lot.  

 Juan laid down, took a 15min nap. Christopher and Kevin played with dirt and rocks. And I, made lunch. Our favorite, RAMEN NOODLES.  The time was now (approximate) 12:30noon. We ate, enjoyed the view, and soon after started descending. I kept telling myself, and the group, that the way down is usually faster. However, that was not the case, or at least seemed that way. The hike down was much easier, but still felt long and endless, Christopher was EXTREMELY tired. We stopped to re-energize, and to cool down as the sun was out and beaming. One break at Echo Mountain and straight down we went. When we got to the beginning of the trail, now close to 2:45pm, I asked Juan how many miles he tracked with his FitBit watch, “12.4 miles” was his response. I was surprised and happy Christopher hiked the entire trail, all by himself. All he wanted was to go get some ice scream.  On our way home, we were all hungry. STARVING!! A salvadoran restaurant caught Juan’s attention, and mine as well. We stopped, got to munching and headed home. Overall, it was an awesome challenging hike, we all had a blast and agreed to come back with plenty of food. 😆😋🙃

*Due to low battery on my phone, I was unable to snap as many pics as I would have wanted; times are approximate.