Big Horn Mine

An abandoned mine that once operated in the 1890’s, Big Horn Mine, was just waiting for us to explore. And, believe it or not, it is waiting for YOU.  

The hike is fairly easy, and the views are just amazing. 

Distance: 4 Miles RT, Fairly Easy **Adventure Pass MUST displayed

To get to trailhead, you’ll need to get to Wrightwood; the drive can feel long yet enjoyable. Passing Mountain High ski resort and Grassy Hollow Visitors center campground, and right before road closes on Highway 2, Vincent Gap is your stop.

Our hike started late in the afternoon, with nowhere to be but on the trail exploring, we took our time knowing hike shouldn’t take that long. Regardless, our headlamps in packs at all time. 

Arrived to Vincent Gap Trailhead at around 1pm. Goofed off a little; it was kind of windy so Christopher tossed on a thermo under his sleeveless shirt, and we were good to go. Christopher was happy with his  new daypack; perfect fit, comfy and way lighter than backpackers pack. 

At the end of the Vincent Gap parking lot, the trail begins. Go passed the white locked gate; there are multiple trails. Follow sign for MINE GULCH. In about 5 minutes a fork is reached. To the left, Vincent Cabin and to the right, Big Horn Mine. We did not explore the cabin, word on the mountain is that it’s an off-trail trek, be cautious and if possible have GPS handy.  

We stayed right at the fork, heading to the abandoned mine. In about 3/4 mile, a treacherous drop off must be traversed. Very doable, just requires to stay focus on trail. The rocky rugged terrain looks sketchy, and has room for only one person at a time. Keep alert, and you’ll be fine.

Passed that, a small hill must be conquered, then flattens out. This got us a bit out of breath, and forced us to take our first water gulp. 

You will pass a mine structure on the right, this means you are closer to your destination. Keep going. After rainy days, or while snow melts, there’s most likely to be running water coming from inside the mini mine. 

2 miles into the hike, we arrived to our destination: Big Horn Mine. Full story of mine can be found here 

It was awesome, the views of Mt. Baldy were spectacular. And, the exploring began. ​

​Christopher decided to explore, ignoring the fact we were already hungry. At the beginning of the mine structure, there is a way up. It is steep and slippery, good grip is key. 

Once you reach the top of what once was the factory, there is a mine protected by metal bars. 

One of the bars is broken off, and it is manageable to squeeze in. Headlamp or phone light is needed, it is pitch black a few feet from entrance.

A scavenger hunt for our headlamps in our packs; spotted, packs remained off while making it across. Let the exploring begin.​

​We walked about 10 minutes into the mine, reaching a split on the road, or should I say, mine. To the left, the mine gets deeper and darker, and to the right, what seemed an outlet to the running water spotted upon arriving.

Already close to starving, we convinced ourselves the mine would look the same if we went further, and decided to turn back.

Before we started grubbing, a quick litter pick up was performed. The amount of water bottles and cans was insane. 

Time to munch: we stopped by a Subway before heading up the mountain. Best idea ever, wife has always been a good thinker.

While eating, a group of 4 hikers sat down at a distance. They looked tired, and dirty as can be, as if they had gone deep into the mine. Only one way to find out, I just had to ask. 

Apparently, they were inside the mine for a few hours, going a few miles deep. One of the guys, pants rolled up to his knee, said “there are a few crossings that are about knee deep.” The time was now 2:45pm and they had been inside the mine since around 11am. Crazy if you ask me, but then again, that’s is one of the best ways to discover and explore. 

Our exploring needs satisfied, bellies full, we were snapping a few pics until BAMM!! Humans… lots of them. And they were loud. A tad bit too busy for our taste, we quickly grabbed our packs and bailed.​

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As dramatic as it sounds, that’s exactly how it all went down. 

Back on the trail, retraced our steps and hiked back with a smile on our faces, happy campers. 

Along the way, we had spotted patches of snow off the trail, Christopher was in heaven. Even for that short period of time. He would run up to the snow patch, and play while we caught up, then back to hiking.

3:45pm, hike concluded, all situated and ready to hit the road.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS:


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.​

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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.​

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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

Our Family Ways

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

** THIS BLOG FIRST APPEARED ON Make Life Count webpage 

PHOTOS & VIDEOS: 


 

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Cucamonga Peak

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

 

just monkey-ing around a bit


http://www.trashfreeearth.org/  


 

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

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.

PHOTOS AND VIDEOS 



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

 

 

 


 

 

NO PAIN NO GAIN

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

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

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

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

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


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

PHOTOS FROM POTATO MOUNTAIN 



my brotha from anotha motha enjoying the view

Living Room Picnic?

My regular working hours begin at 4 in the evening, Monday thru Friday. When I learned I would have Friday off, due to holiday, I was thrilled. First thing that came to my head, surprise my wife. My plan was to pick up Christopher from school, and instead of taking him to the wife, I would take him to the park or a hike, his choice. After that, go on a date with the wife. Christopher’s Godmother, Rachel, had not seen Christopher in some time, and asked for him to sleep over. Christopher, agreed to such great invitation. My plans changed. My wife told me she would get home from work around 11’ish, and though late, still wanted to continue with our plans. I suggested a picnic at the beach, she agreed. 

As the time passed, very slowly- or PERHAPS I felt it that way- I had prepared a pack with her favorite; HOT CHEETOS, and wine ( San Antonio Red Wine) and was just waiting. I also packed my fuel stove, a small pot and short ribs for dinner. 11 o’clock was around the corner, and I was anxiously waiting. 11:30pm and she was still not home. I was going crazy. Finally, she arrived, closer to 12midnight. I was waiting outside, ready to just hop in the car and roll, literally. I manned the wheel and she moved to the passenger side.  

 As I started driving towards the freeway, insecure face, “you look really tired, should we still go?” I asked. The GPS estimated an arrival time of 35minutes. Blocks away from the house, I asked her if she was working the next day, “yes, have to be at the shop at 6am” was her reply. I looked at the time, and as bad as I wanted to make it extra special, it would be inconsiderate for me to overlook her work schedule. I estimated the time to get to the beach, the time we would be there, and the drive back. We’d be getting home between 2-3am. She seemed extremely tired, and did not want to upset me, as to why decided to proceed as planned. Suddenly, I made a turn back to the house, and decided to just go home so she can rest for the next day. As determined as she was to not let me down, she still wanted the picnic, however, at home, in our living room. “You know we still having a picnic, RIGHT!?” she stated. The look on my face said WTF and simultaneously I said “YOU ARE CRAZY.” She affirmed the picnic was still on, and to simply pretend we were at the beach. 

Back home, before I finished parking, Elizabeth aka the Wife said, “I’m gonna take a quick shower, when I get out the picnic better be set.” I quickly replied, “I’m not wasting my fuel, I’m going to cook in the house stove.” She did not like that idea and gave me the look. And of course, I had to obey. Hot steaming boiling water, how she ALWAYS prefers to shower. All I could see was steam coming out of the slightly opened restroom door. I should say that I dislike hot water, with passion. I continued to lay my movers blanket on the carpet, and began taking everything out from the pack. 

  Already in PJ’s, she joined me as I finished setting up. She open the bag of Hot Cheetos, and kept her eyes on the wine bottle, as if trying to give me a hint. One step ahead, “A” game strong AF, wine bottle was already opened. I served her in a glass cup, and started cooking the meat. “I’m going to keep my feet inside blanket, dont want sand on my toes,” she said. We both looked at each other, and started laughing. Meat was taking some time, hence I was doing small rather tiny pieces. The wine bottle was now almost gone. Luckily, meat was done right on time, as the wife was getting tipsy with 3/4 bottle on an empty stomach. We enjoyed our LIVING ROOM PICNIC, and by the time we were done eating and wine bottle was finished, we called it a night. “You’re driving” Elizabeth said, “I think I had a tad bit too much to drink.” Although we planned for some fresh beach air, our living room was the perfect spot and we enjoyed the moment. No matter the place and time, a simple idea can go a long way if the intentions are right.  

San Gabriel Peak

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

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

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

    
    

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

   

Foxxy  The Fox

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

 -Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator

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

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

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

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