Are We There Yet?

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As you can see from the background, we live in the Greater Los Angeles area.  “People hike there?”  Actually…yes!  Those 2 monkeys in the foreground are standing near Angel’s Point  in Elysian Park, overlooking Dodger Stadium behind them.  You would think keeping incredibly active boys entertained on a hike is a no-brainer.  But even they whine about “Are we there yet?”

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When I was a kid, I used to go hiking all the time with my dad.  There were times I loved it, and there were times I didn’t like it and got tired and whiny.  But it stuck with me all this time.  I cherish those memories and appreciate how much of a love of the outdoors my dad instilled in me.  I want to do the same for my boys.  Sometimes they don’t always love it, but over the last several years, I discovered what to do with these crazy kids on the trails.

Have them carry their own stuff

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I got them their own backpacks so they can carry their own snacks, their own water, their own flashlights, and whatever the heck they feel like throwing in there.  I pretty much let them bring whatever they want as long as they carry it, EXCEPT electronics.

Start out small

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They didn’t used to be into hiking that much, and so I didn’t want to have them hike Mt. Wilson straight out of the gate.  I eased them into it with short, easy hikes, like this 3 mile hike behind JPL, the trail leading to Gould Mesa Campground.

Go somewhere cool

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“Urban hikes” are usually not too far from the city and are riddled with trash and graffiti.  However, it makes for a cool experience for kids, and they tend to be easier hikes.  Believe it or not, these are ruins of an old Nazi sympathizer camp…in Pacific Palisades.  Yep.  That happened.  Alas, Murphy Ranch is no longer, as it was demolished recently.  But for a while these ruins fascinated artists and hikers alike.  We haven’t been to Rustic Canyon since this photo was taken. However, you can still hike around there and the surround hills in the Santa Monicas.  We also bring plastic bags so we can help pick up trash that careless people have left on the trail on the way back.  The boys actually like doing that.

Take breaks

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There’s no rush.  The mountains aren’t going anywhere.  Kids like to stop.  And snack.  They love snacks.  Heck, I love snacks.  But letting them guide the pace gives them a sense of control and they will probably whine less.  Not always, but most the time.

Hike with other kids

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Here they are hiking with their cousin up the Verdugo Mountains from Stough Canyon.  Having other kids around, older or younger, just makes it more fun for them and gives them distractions from the fact that their mean old mommy made them leave their electronics at home.

Go climb a rock

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The first time I took the boys to Joshua Tree, we stopped by some large boulders somewhere.  As soon as they got out of the car, something came over them and they were immediately climbing every boulder in site.  It’s like they instinctively knew what to do, like the call of the wild or something.  Ever since then, every time they see a big rock or boulder, they must climb it.  If they know there are going to be rocks to climb, they can’t wait to get in the car to go hiking.  Here they are at Anza-Borrego State Park going nuts climbing over all the rocks they can see.

Just have fun

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They’re just kids.  Hiking with them isn’t about elevation training, and sometimes not even reaching the destination.  It’s just enjoying the journey and each other’s company.  Did I mention to leave the electronics at home????  There’s no cell or wifi reception anyway, so they can just for the Minecraft until later.  And guess what?  They don’t even miss it!  They’re too busy climbing rocks and cracking jokes with each other.  So far I’m pretty proud of how much they enjoy going outside and hiking!

6 Pack of Peaks

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SoCal Hiker, created by Jeff Hester, challenges people to summit 6 amazing peaks in Southern California, known as the six-pack of peaks.  These are (in ascending order):

  1. Mt. Wilson, 5710′
  2. Cucamonga Peak, 8859′
  3. Mt. Baldy (Mt. San Antonio), 10,068′
  4. Mt. San Bernardino, 10,649′
  5. Mt. San Jacinto, 10,834′
  6. Mt. San Gorgonio, 11,503′

Many of these peaks have many different trails leading the top, so you can literally choose your own adventure.  That being said, these hikes aren’t for just anyone.  These hikes aren’t for those who take selfies every 5 feet at Runyon Canyon, or are looking for Pokémon, because #1, that’s lame, and #2, there’s no cell service (I checked…don’t ask).  These hikes are in the wilderness with no civilization for hundreds of miles.  Ok, so that’s a lie because you can totally drive to the top of Mt. Wilson…and there’s a cafe that sells chili dogs… a water fill station…oh and plumbed restrooms.  And Mt. Baldy has lodge and a bar at the “notch”…with $12 ride on the ski lift down…  But other than that, it’s in the middle of nowhere…with no cell service.  So no Snapchat either.

The “little red riding” photo here is me attempting to summit San G last October.  The day before was nice and sunny.  However, this day it started raining.  I can handle rain, no biggie.  What I couldn’t handle was the hail that started pelting me and my hiking partner at 9000′ elevation.  We could have forged ahead, but since we didn’t want to be the 6 o’clock headline news story of hikers needing heroic rescue due to tomfoolery, we turned around and kept our limbs attached to our bodies.

“Why would you post a picture of the peak you did not summit?” you say.  Because that’s what is motivating me to complete the six-pack this year.  That’s my big white whale.  However, if I actually summit Mt. Whitney next month, then I guess a little 11,503′ peak is just a walk in the park, yeah?

Because I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, and the fact that San Berdo and San G require permits that are sometimes tricky to get, I have already completed Wilson, Baldy, and San J.  Maybe I’ll see you on the trails!  However, if you don’t follow proper hiking etiquette, I will more than likely give you the stink-eye…and not warn you how to survive vicious attacks from these feral beasts…don’t laugh…they’ll steal food right out of your backpack and then mock you while you try to chase them.  True story.

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Cougar On The Trail

When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of writing a hiking blog.  Okay, so that’s a lie…because when I was a little girl, the internet wasn’t even invented yet, let alone the ability to “blog”.  Computers were these big tall machines in climate-controlled rooms, and you didn’t dare hack them, lest ye be wanting to start thermonuclear war.  One thing is for certain:  I used to love to go hiking with my dad.

Flash-forward more years than I’d like to count, 2 kids, and 1 divorce later, I remembered…hey, I used to love hiking!  Why don’t I do that anymore?  After a couple of half and full marathons, my aging body gently tapped me on my shoulder and declared, “You’re old”.  But that somehow didn’t stop me from saying “yes” to my friend, who invited me to join her hiking group.

While hiking up a mountain, hearing the sound of the wind in the trees, a few birds and cranky squirrels, and the crunch of the earth underneath my boots, I think about writing about my hiking adventures.  So I decided to put pen to paper…or fingers to keyboard…  and now I’m finally put my community college writing course to good use.