Sunday, August 17, 2014

California Vacation Adventures - Part I

Hi Everyone!

Nick and I just got back from a fun California vacation full of hiking, running, and exploring. I had never been to California before this  trip. I was pretty surprised when we landed at LAX and California did not look like Beverly Hills 90210 or Laguna Beach; nor did I see health food stores everywhere or everyone being super "green". What I saw was dry, barren, desert landscape. Throughout most of the trip I kept saying, "Hmm, this isn't what I expected California to look like." Or when I finally saw something that fit my expectations I would say "This is California." 

That's enough rambling about how TV and media skew our perceptions.


The first full day of our trip was spent in Lancaster, CA. We hiked at the Angeles National Forest. I was kind of grumpy because Nick and his brother wanted to just pull off on the side of the road and start hiking random trails (if you could even call them trails). We ended up asking a stranger if one of the "trails" we saw was really a trail and he recommended that we continue down the road to Angeles National Forest. What a great idea! An actual park-- not random mountains to climb. Me being a "safety Steve" was much happier with this option. We stopped at the visitor center to ask for a hike recommendation. 

The trail we ended up hiking was the Mount Baden-Powell Trail. I was super excited when I found out that this trail was on a small piece of the Pacific Crest Trail! So cool :) 



I was kind of nervous to do the hike. We started 6,565 ft above sea level. I've never hiked anywhere other than the East Coast so I wasn't sure how my body would react to the elevation change. The trail climbed up the mountain through 41 switchbacks over approximately 8 miles to reach the peak at 9,399 ft. 


Return Trip
Map and Elevation Profile of Mt. Baden-Powell Trail
(not started from the top of the mountain)

From the beginning of the hike I attempted to count the switchbacks. I was slightly skeptical that there would actually be 41 of them. My Soleus GPS watch showed us approximately 1.5 miles into the 4 mile trail and I had counted less than 10 switchbacks. "Uh oh" I thought, "This is going to take forever." The trail was steep and narrow; and as we got closer to the summit the switchbacks got shorter and shorter. It was tough to tell what the park rangers considered to be switchbacks anymore. 

As we were climbing we had such an incredible view that it was pretty easy to forget the difficulty of the trail. 


Checking out the layers of bark on the trees. 
They were really old. 

You could tell we were getting close to the top. Most of the trees disappeared and you could see for miles. 


The climb was well worth the view at the top. 


Plaque dedicated to Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the World Scouting Movement.

Looks like some people are Geocaching at the summit of Mount Baden-Powell.


Exploring!


Time to head back down the mountain.

As it turns out, coming down is much much harder than going up. Who would have thought? With about a mile left in our return trip I decided to start running. I was getting a pretty bad blister on my toe from the downward impact. For whatever reason, running didn't hurt as bad as walking. I think it's because you're not trying to brake as much when you're running. 

That short run at the end of our hike sparked the idea that we should run as much of the downhills on this trip as possible.

This is just the start of our California adventure. There's lots more to hear about-- and there might be a few videos to share :) 

If you enjoyed reading about the first part of our California vacation, please check back later to read about the rest of our adventures. 

Up next: Sequoia National Park!

Until next time--