Jaunts With Jackie

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Month: June 2019

Lessons I learned From a Bad Backpacking Trip…

About a year ago my friend Sally and I decided to start backpacking. We are both hikers and there are places that we want to explore that you can only get to if you backpack. We went to REI and got fitted for backpacks and slowly started collecting our gear. We’ve been on some overnight trips and recently we have been practicing for a through a hike in the Sierras. On our latest backpacking trip, I learned some lessons the hard way.

It Was Supposed To Be An Easy Overnighter.

Our latest trip was to Little Jimmy Campground. It is located off SR2 (Angeles Crest Highway) in the Angeles National Forest. You can only reach the campground by hiking in. There are 16 sites, picnic tables, fire rings, bear boxes, and a vault toilet. There isn’t running water, but Little Jimmy Spring is just 1/4 mile away.

The parking lot is at Islip Saddle.

Lesson #1: Watch Out For Detours

We started our trip around 11 am so that we could avoid the commuter traffic. Unfortunately, they were doing road work on SR2 and we had to make a major detour. We found some friendly firemen that were able to give us directions to detour around the road closure. There is no cellphone signal in the canyon. Our detour took us 2 hours.

Heading up the switchbacks.
Hiking on the PCT

Lesson #2: Eat Breakfast

We finally arrived at Islip Saddle Parking lot. The trail is part of the PCT and it follows steep switchbacks for the first mile. I wasn’t feeling it. Some days your body just doesn’t feel like hiking up a steep hill with a 35-pound backpack on. Looking back now, I realize it was probably because I didn’t eat breakfast and it was afternoon time when we actually started hiking and I had only eaten a protein bar on the drive up the mountain. I munched on a few sour gummy worms on the way up hoping it would give me a burst of energy. Luckily, after the first mile, the trail levels out a little bit.

We saw butterflies the whole way up.

A Hammock & Book Are Backpacking Essentials

We made it to camp and there was only 1 other camper there so we had our choice of spots. After putting up our tents, unpacked and set up our hammocks, we decided instead of hiking we would just relax in our hammocks and read. It was peaceful and relaxing for about 30 minutes and then it got windy and cold. After 45 mins we had to get out of the hammocks because it was too cold.

Hammock time.
My favorite part of camping is reading in my hammock.

Little Jimmy Springs

One of the best things about camping at Little Jimmy is the proximity to Little Jimmy Springs. The spring runs year-round and the water comes out fresh and cold. Some people filter the water, but numerous Boy Scouts and a ranger have told us that it isn’t necessary. We walked down to the spring and filled up our empty water bottles for drinking and cooking.

The trail to Little Jimmy Springs.
On the way to the spring.
Filling up my nalgene from the spring.

Lesson #3: Make a List

When we got back to camp I decided it was too cold to be sitting around in shorts even with a fleece top on. I climbed in my tent to change and found out that unfortunately, I packed a long sleeve shirt instead of my long pants. They are both black and made of the same material. unfortunately, I made the very bad decision to put on my sleeping fleece pants even though it wasn’t time for bed. I came out of my tent in my fleece top and bottom that I sleep in and a fleece hoodie. I was warm and cozy for a few minutes. We started dinner.

Lesson #4: Accidents Happen

Sally found out that she had forgotten her backpacking stove. Luckily it wasn’t a problem, because we just used mine. Over the last year, we have narrowed down our backpacking dinners to what we like and what we can eat without having leftovers that we have to pack back out. I had picked up a lentil soup at REI. We boiled the water I added water to Sally’s couscous and then I added two cups of boiling water to my package. After adding the water I realized the package didn’t come with the standard top that allows you to reseal it after you add the hot water. Generally, after adding water the food has to sit for 10 minutes while it rehydrates. I use a mailing envelope as a cozy to put my food in while it’s rehydrating. It helps retain the heat. Somehow while I was transferring the package to the cozy I knocked over the soup onto myself. I was sitting at the picnic table and the soup poured onto my ribs, thigh, calf and inside my camp shoes. I let out a blood-curdling scream, but I couldn’t do anything. The hot water was trapped between my fleece and my skin.

A Long Night

When I calmed down I pulled my clothes off and realized how bad it actually was. I had to leave all my clothes outside the tent. Inside the tent, I put on my long sleeve shirt and a puffer jacket. Unfortunately, I only had my shorts to put back on. I opened my first aid kit and slathered myself with antibiotic cream. My dinner was all dumped out on the ground so, I ate a small baggie of trail mix that I had packed. Sally made a fire and I sat with my burned side of my body away from the fire, because I was cold! I remained fairly calm. I made some trail margaritas and took some Advil. When it came time for bed I had to put all my fleece clothes in the bear box. We were in bear country and my clothes all smelled like lentil soup. I had to sleep in my underwear and I was cold all night.

Trying to dry out my clothes on the tree and the bear box.
Backpacking Margaritas
Sally made a nice fire.

Packing Up

After a rough night of trying to not pop my blisters, trying to stay warm and trying to sleep I was ready to go home. We had planned to hike up to Islip Saddle in the morning. It has a beautiful view and both times I’ve been up there I’ve seen Bighorn Sheep, but I didn’t want to hike anywhere. We had coffee and then packed up. While I was packing up my tent, I felt something on my leg. I looked down and a spider almost as big as a tarantula was climbing on it. I again started screaming and somehow got it off my leg. Thankfully, Sally came to my rescue and relocated it with a hiking pole.

Hiking Back To The Car

All packed up we hiked back out to the car. I was so happy that I made it to the car. I leaned my hiking poles against the trunk and hoisted my pack in the backseat. Later after we had been driving for over an hour I realized that I had left my hiking poles against the trunk and now they were laying in the parking lot. I went to the doctor the next day and I have 2nd-degree burns on my rib and thigh. The burn on my thigh is worse and will leave scarring.

Backpacking down the mountain.

Lessons Learned

Here is a list of things I learned from this backpacking trip.

  • Google Maps and Waze are not always up-to-date for road construction.
  • If you are in Southern California and using route SR2, good luck. This isn’t the first time we’ve run into road closures and I even called Cal- Trans the morning we left to check for closures.
  • It’s a good idea to have a permanent packing list. This would have helped with the forgotten stove and missing pants. I’m thinking of making a list of things I have to pack in my backpack and then laminating it.
  • Never change into your sleeping clothes until you are ready to climb into your sleeping bag.
  • When buying dehydrated food check the top to make sure it’s resealable or have another way to cook it. If I would have realized about the top before we got there I would have dumped everything into a ziplock freezer bag. You can pour boiling water into the freezer bags and cook that way.
  • Ice cubes will stay in your Hydroflask. Perfect for trail margaritas.
  • Accidents happen, not much you can do about this. I told Sally this trip was to teach us humility. We’ve been on so many backpacking trips where nothing went wrong something was bound to happen eventually.
  • Make sure all your gear is in the car before you drive away.

Little Jimmy Trail Camp

Seal Beach

My first day of summer break and I decided I needed a day to decompress at the beach. Seal Beach is a small sleepy community that is also the home of a Naval Weapons Station and the large retirement community of Leisure World. To get to the beach you turn onto Main Street off of Pacific Coast Highway. The main street will give you the hometown feel. Main Street is lined with small boutiques, shops, and restaurants. There is street parking for all the shopping. Continuing on to the ocean and there is a large parking lot for the beach. They have implemented a new parking system. You first park and then pay at a machine. Make sure you know your license plate number you need to type it into the machine before you pick the amount of time you want to stay. It is $2 an hour or $8 for all day.

You have to pay for parking at the machine. It accepts credit cards or coins only.

The Water Is Close To The Parking Lot

The water is close to the parking lot which is important if you are hauling a lot of stuff. When I was there we were still experiencing June-Gloom and it was chilly, but that didn’t stop people from getting in the water. A large surf school that operates at Seal Beach and their truck is usually parked in the beach lot. It’s always fun to watch the lessons going on. There are lifeguards on duty and there is a bathroom. There is also a playground for the kids. Although, there isn’t a snack bar on the beach, however, there are many restaurants within walking distance and some provide a walk-up surfers menu.

Seal Beach during June Gloom.
The surf report.

The Pier

Seal beach has a pier. It is a popular with fishermen and people strolling. At one time there was a Ruby’s at the end of the pier, but they vacated and then in 2016 a fire destroyed the vacant restaurant. There are talks that permits have been secured to rebuild the end of the pier.

Seal Beach Pier.
A Dedication to Seal Beach

Sweet Treats on Main Street

I brought my lunch to the beach, but before heading home I decided to check out some of the fun shops on Main Street. I have fond memories of taking my kids into Sweet Jills. It is a Seal Beach institution that is best known for its delectable cinnamon rolls. I bought some cookies to take home for my son and I got a peanut butter cup cookie for myself. The bakery has a wide variety of baked goods including cupcakes. Sweet Jill’s is cash only so come prepared.

Sweet Jill’s Bakery
Some of Sweet Jill’s many treats.

Coffee, Tea, And Boba

I stopped to get a drink at Honeybees. They serve tea, coffee, boba, and fresh juices. I ordered their special Vietnamese Coffee with boba. It was $4.95 and there wasn’t an additional charge for the boba. Vietnamese coffee is very strong and bold and then they add sweetened condensed milk to round it out. Their coffee was very good here and I would definitely order it again.

Honeybee’s

A Snack With A View

I took my coffee and cookie to the pier. I walked along until I found the perfect bench to have a seat and watch the surfers. The sun had finally came out and it was a beautiful day.

Hiking From Dry Lake to San Gorgonio Peak…..

Day 2 Of Our Backpacking Trip

Hiking from Dry Lake to San Gorgonio Peak was our goal. Friday morning we had backpacked from South Fork trailhead to Dry Lakes. We woke up early on Saturday morning. I had actually woken up a few times during the night. The first time was to a chorus of coyotes. The second time I woke up because something was sniffing around my tent. I almost had a heart attack and was way too scared to look and see what it was.

Backpacking Breakfast

Even though it was only 6 am we climbed out of our tents to make coffee. The only problem was it is so hard to open a bear canister when your hands are cold. I couldn’t get mine open and thank goodness for Sally being able to open mine or I would have starved to death. After a healthy breakfast of Pop-Tarts and coffee, we decided we would try to summit San Gorgonio. We have both summited from Vivian Creek, but never from this side. We packed up a lunch and put our supplies in small packs. The day before we had stopped at REI and picked up microspikes.

Heading up Mine Shaft Trail

Using Microspikes

We were following Alltrails. There are two ways to go. One is to hike back to the saddle of Dry Lake and Dollar Lake and head up from there or to start the trail near where we had camped and headed up Mine Shaft Trail. We opted for the closer trail. Within a 1/4 of a mile of camp we were in serious snow and we had to stop and put on our microspikes. It was early in the morning and the temperatures had been cold the night before so the snow was still solid and we had no problem walking on it with the microspikes and our poles.

First time using microspikes.

Navigating In The Snow

The real problem became navigating. It’s impossible to follow a trail that is covered in snow. Every couple hundred yards we had to stop and see how close we were to the red line on All Trails. After we made it to the top of a canyon we found out that we somehow got off course. At the top, we were on dirt and we had to sit down and take off our microspikes.

Using All Trails

Using the red line on All trails we went straight up a side of a mountain and somehow found our trail. We were at 9,960 feet above sea level, which meant we had 2,000 feet more to climb. Sally had a huge blister on the back of her heal and she wasn’t feeling it. We decided that San Gorgonio wasn’t in the cards for us that day. I again looked at All Trails and saw that we could continue on the trail we were on and we would be able to loop back to camp.

At the saddle.
Way too much snow.

Looking Up At San Gorgonio Peak

When we made it to the saddle we could either continue on Sky High Trail and in another 3.6 miles we would be at the top of San Gorgonio or we could take Fish Creek Trail and eventually end up back at Dry Lake we opted for Dry Lake. When we looked up at San Gorgonio there was so much snow we couldn’t even see the switchbacks. We were pretty confident that we could make it to the top, but we were scared of what it would be like coming back down after the sun had been out all day.

A New Plan

Fish Creek Trail had way less snow than the way we came up, but unfortunately, we ran into 100 feet of dirt and then huge mounds of snow completely covering the trail. We tried going over the snow, but we would either post-hole or start sliding downhill. Eventually, when we got to the snow we either went up or down the mountain to go around it. On the way back to camp we found Lodgepole Spring that we had looked for the day before. All together we hiked 8 miles and made it back to camp in one piece.

We spent one more night at Dry Lake and hiked back down to our car the next morning. We hiked a total of 25 miles and got experience with our bear canisters and microspikes. It was a good practice trip for the Sierras.

San Bernardino Forest Service

Backpacking to Dry Lake

Backpacking to Dry Lake was a real surprise. One benefit of the wet winter here in Southern California is that Dry Lake in the San Gorgonio Wilderness is not dry, it is currently full. An average Spring will bring some water to the lake, but it quickly dries up with the warmer temperatures. The past few years Dry Lake as been that very dry, but this year it looks spectacular.

Backpacking to Dry Lake

My fellow adventurer, Sally and I are training for a trip to the Sierras. We decided on a 3 day 2-night backpacking trip to Dry Lake. The trail starts at the South Fork Trailhead in Angelus Oaks. This the one lot that has plenty of available parking spaces. Adventure Passes are required to park in the parking lot. At this time permits are not required for day hikes, but permits are required for an overnight.

South Fork Trailhead

We struggled to get our packs on. They were heavy. This was our first time hiking with bear canisters. Black bears are prevalent in the San Bernardino National Forest, however, bear canisters are not required for Dry Lake. If we didn’t carry a canister we would have had to hang our food. This trip was a practice run for the Sierras so we opted to add the extra weight of a bear canister. I could feel the extra weight and it took up so much room in your backpack, but I wouldn’t want to have an encounter with a bear in the middle of the night.

South Fork Trailhead

A Little Detour

This winter’s weather played havoc on the beginning of the trail. The first 1/4 mile of the trail has too much debris to make it safe. Forest Service has marked an alternate starting point. It is easy to follow, you can follow the pink ribbons until you meet up with the original trail.

Horse Meadow

The trail to Dry Lake is 6 miles. At the 1.5 mile mark you find yourself in a meadow with some old structures. This is Horse Meadow and it is a beautiful spot for a picnic. There is a picnic table, but there is no overnight camping allowed. We took a little break and enjoyed taking off our backpacks and getting a drink.

Horse Meadow
My very heavy backpack.

Poop-Out Hill

After leaving Horse Meadow you walk through low brush on the way to Poop Out Hill. At 2.5 miles you can take a slight detour to take you to the top of Poop Out Hill. There is a sign for San Gorgonio Wilderness and an amazing view of San Gorgonio.

The junction to Poop-Out Hill.
At Poop Out Hill

Water Crossings

We got back on the trail that was heading up, through an area that burned in the 2015 Lake Fire. We spotted plenty of wild flowers, mushrooms growing on the dead trees and carpets of green grass. After you get to the junction of where to turn off for either Dry Lake or Dollar Lake we had to cross the river 4 times. Some of the crossings were easier than others. One crossing required us to walk all the way across on a downed log. Luckily we made it across without falling in.

Switchbacks All The Way To Dry Lake

After the water crossing, it’s just straight up the switchbacks until Dry Lake. On the way up we had to climb over two large trees that were blocking the trail. It wasn’t easy getting over the top with full packs on without falling down the other side of the mountain.

A First Patch Of Snow

A little before the 6-mile mark we started to see patches of snow. At 6 miles we could see Dry Lake. We walked on the right side of the lake looking for a place to camp. The next day when we walked around the entire lake we found out we should have walked along the left side of the lake. On the left is a sign with a map showing where the designated campgrounds are and also where the Spring is.

Dry Lake was actually full of water and beautiful.
Dry Lake
A nap of Dry Lake, the campground, and the spring.

Finding The Campground

Since we walked the wrong way and missed the sign we set up our tent closer to Lodgepole Springs Campground. A large group that we had walked up behind sat up their tents on the edge of the lake. No camping is allowed within 200 feet of the lake, stream, spring, meadow or other campers. The following day when we got back from hiking the large group had relocated farther back away from the water. We assume a ranger had come and asked them to move.

Our tents. We made sure they were more than 200 feet from the edge of the lake.
We could still see the lake from our tents.

Filtering Water

We didn’t bring a lot of water with us, so we had to filter water. The first night we couldn’t find the spring so we used our Sawyer Water filters to filter water from the lake. After our camp chores were done we sat down to heat up our dinners on our camp stoves. No campfires are allowed in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. While our meals were rehydrating I made us some Trail Margaritas. I mixed one packet of Crystal Light Lemonade with with a 1 1/2 shots of tequila, a slice of lime and lots of fresh snow. They were seriously the best margaritas I’ve ever had. We called it an early night and got in our tents and read. We had big plans to try and get to the top of San Gorgonio the next day.

I used a Sawyer squeeze filter to filter water.
Filtering water using the Sawyer.
Cooking dinner
Supplies for backpacking margaritas.
Making Margaritas
I made backpacking margaritas using 1 packet of lemonade, 1 shot of tequila, fresh lime and snow.
Trail Margaritas
The sun setting on Dry Lake.
Goodnight!

3 Must See Museums in Paris

When you think of Parisian museums you probably only think of the Louvre. The Louvre is everything you have heard of and more, but the Musée de l´Orangerie and Musée d’Orsay should also be on every tourist must-see lists as well.

The Louvre

The Most Popular Museum in The Worls

The Louvre is as large as some small towns. It would take you days to see it all. It would be ideal to be able to see small parts of it on several different days. We chose to go on a day that the Louvre stayed open late. We had a museum pass so we were able to queue up next to the pyramid. This was a definite benefit to the museum pass. Our line was not long and it moved rather quickly. Security in all of Paris is no joke, so be sure and plan extra time for it. If you are only going to visit for one day as we did, I suggest you do a little research and make a list of your must-sees.

The Mona Lisa

Of course, we wanted to see the Mona Lisa. We headed there first assuming it would only get more crowded. First of all the painting is small. Secondly it is behind glass and lastly, the amount of people cramming in to see the painting is crazy. It’s not possible to spend any amount of time studying the painting. To stand in front of it you risk getting trampled to death. After inching my way up close, I took a quick look and then a quick picture. As hard as it was to make my way in front of the picture it was twice as hard to squish my way out.

The Mona Lisa
Trying to inch my way closer.

Winged Victory

Next, we took a breather and saw my favorite piece the Victoire de Samothrace (Winged Victory.) It is located at the top of a grand staircase. It is possible to get a good view of this fabulous sculpture from many different angles.

Victoire de Samothrace

Venus de Milo

The Venus de Milo is another sculpture that can’t be missed. The Venus de Milo is assumed to be Aphrodite the goddess of love & beauty. The sculpture is large. She is over 6 feet tall. They believe she was sculpted between 130 and 100 BC. Other than her missing arms she’s in good shape.

Venus de Milo

Apollo Gallery

We took a walk through the Apollo Gallery. The Galerie d’Apollon is famous for its high vaulted ceilings and painted decorations.

The Ceiling in the Apollo Gallery

The Musée de l´Orangerie

The Musée de l´Orangerie is a small museum that is known for its eight large water lily panels painted by Claude Monet. There are also other impressionist paintings. The museum is on the edge of the Tuileries Garden. The entrance is also included in the museum pass. The Monet panels are the highlight. They are floor to ceiling in a round room. There are benches in the middle of the room and the panels depict Monet’s garden in all four seasons.

Claude Monet’s Water Lilies

The Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is my favorite museum in all of Paris. The museum is located in an old train station. It holds mostly French art from the impressionist area. It has paintings, furniture, sculpture, and photography. The highlight of the building is the old clock.

The clock overlooking the Seine River.

The building itself is as beautiful as the art that it holds. It is two stories and has grand staircases at each end of the building. There are many galleries filled with amazing art.

The view from upstairs.

These are the three museums that can’t be missed in Paris. It would be possible to spend multiple days in each one. I think that is a great excuse for another trip to Paris.

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