Summiting Mt. Whitney


I was home for the Holidays in the winter of 2017 when my brother and I solidified our deal to summit Mt. Whitney together in the summer of 2018. Even though we made a verbal agreement - it still seemed a far off dream and the odds of getting a decent permit for the dates we wanted seemed slim.

That following April, while I was on my usual workday lunch-break-walk to Whole Foods, I got a text from my brother; we had miraculously secured overnight permits for the trail from June 30th - July 1st. Upon reading those words, I stopped dead in my tracks. This was really happening. 

The Preface

Since 2014, and the inception of Hikeology, my hiking skills have slowly, but steadily progressed. Back then I mostly stuck to exploring the local LA trails - my goal was to simply explore the immediate city trails and offer insight for other weekend warriors. But soon I found a desire to explore deeper and go farther into the backcountry. In the fall of 2015, during a camping trip to Sequoia National Park, I remember standing atop Moro Rock looking out over the Great Western Divide overhearing a father telling his son that "just past those peaks is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States". He continued on, telling his kid about how he had once summited that peak and was, for a moment, the tallest thing in the lower 48. This brief moment of eaves dropping blew my mind. First of all, in my 4 years of living in California I had never heard about Mt. Whitney and secondly, there was a mountain, THAT special, THAT close to home that I could attempt?! 

When I arrived home from that trip I immediately started Googling all I could about Mt. Whitney. I read countless blogs and probably watched every time-lapse video that existed on YouTube. I was fascinated. But it still seemed beyond my reach. If there was one thing I learned through all my research, this wasn't a fun little jaunt up the "hard side" of Runyon, this was the real deal and  I was a day-hiker, not a backpacker. 

So, I pushed that desire to the back of my mind, and continued to pursue the local LA trails. But soon, I was seeking trails farther away, and I seemed to be regularly ending up in the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests, bagging peaks, and doing light-backpacking excursions, still longing for more. 

Cut to 2017, as I'm mindlessly scrolling Facebook, as one does at 9:30pm in bed on a Sunday night, and I'm stopped short when I see that my older brother, who lives in Chicago, has uploaded a photo of himself holding a wooden summit sign for Mt. Elbert, one of Colorado's many 14'ers. I was shocked, because, quite honestly, I never knew my brother had any interest in hiking. But also because when I saw that picture of him with that huge smile on his face, it immediately reminded me of the deep dive I had done in 2015 on all things Whitney and that feeling of accomplishment I, too, wanted. I texted to congratulate him, and also cheekily added "If you ever want to do the OG 14er, you should come to California". I was only half serious. 

10 months later we were standing on top of Mt. Whitney.

The Prep

Just getting the privilege to climb Mt. Whitney is an uphill battle. This hike is extremely popular. In 2016, there was something like 65,000 people that wanted to hike or backpack to the summit from Whitney Portal during between June-September (prime hiking season). Because of that, a quota system has been enforced that allows only 100 day hikers and 60 backpackers at a time to hike from Whitney Portal between May 1st and November 1st. You can gain one of these quota-controlled spots by entering the lottery. Securing a spot is not an easy task, and you will have to attempt to get your permit a couple months in advance.


To get into the nitty-gritty of how to obtain your permits I HIGHLY recommend you check out the post on Mt. Whitney. He offers loads of details, that simply put, I cannot, because my brother did all the leg work for this portion of our adventure. We would have been lost without Chris, aka The Hiking Guy, and his wealth of knowledge - so a HUGE thanks to him!

Initially,  my brother forgot to enter us into the lottery (I only found this out after the fact) but when they reopened the lottery in April for cancellations, we miraculously locked down overnight permits for the last weekend of June, during a nearly full moon and our conditions were absolutely perfect. 

Now let's talk details. Mt. Whitney tops out at 14,508 feet, making it the tallest peak in California AND in the Contiguous United States. The Mt. Whitney Trail is a round trip total of about 22 miles, and while in the summer-time it requires little to no mountaineering skills, it is still a long, grueling hike and the extreme altitude and sporadic weather is nothing to mess around with. 

As soon as my brother gave me the news that we had secured spots for the end of June I realized, I only had 2.5 months to prepare. Let's. Be. Real. I'm an Art Director at an branding agency. Sometimes I work till midnight, with my butt sat in a chair staring at a screen for hours on end. Not to mention, since my wedding in October, I had given myself a reeeeally nice long break from regularly exercising (I deserved it, quite honestly). So physically, I was not in the right kind of shape to be climbing the tallest mountain in the lower 48. 

So to begin my preparation, I forced myself to prioritize my exercise again. I made sure to schedule time to get to the Baldwin Hills stairs as much as possible, and when it was too dark for that, I'd hit the gym and go back and forth between the treadmill and the stair-climber. I also made sure to work some yoga and HIIT into my schedule. I honestly believe half the struggle of the climb is mental stamina, so I felt the yoga and HIIT helped prepare and train my mind to be centered and focused on my goal. 

At the time of obtaining our permits I had also only hiked and camped around 8,000 feet in elevation. On top of that, I live in LA, therefor I basically spend all my time at Sea Level, so Altitude Sickness was a real concern of mine. 

I read a lot about AMS in preparation for this hike. Probably too much. I discovered that a lot of people take Diamox (I did not) which is a prescription drug said to help with the side effects of Altitude Sickness. I also read that hydrating far in advance, taking ibuprofen before and during your hike, and some elevation acclamation a day or two beforehand were key. Did I follow all these tips? Not exactly. But I did what I could. The week before our trip I drank a gallon of water every day - whether this helped or not, I can't really tell you, but I will say my skin was absolutely *glooowing* and I felt really good, so either way - I recommend it. I also made sure to pop a Tylenol before heading out on the trail. While I had some moments of exhaustion up there, I never experienced any nausea, stomach issues, confusion or headache (I'm extremely prone to migraines so this was a big deal for me), so it seems something was working in my favor.

Another great way to prep for this adventure is to get some high-elevation and longer distance hikes under your belt. Because of my schedule, I unfortunately didn't get to train much above 9k but I did make sure to solo-hike Mt. Baden Powell about 4 weeks out from our trip. This felt like a good mental training hike - this trail has LOTS of monotonous switchbacks, some decent mileage for a day hike, and half the trail is above 8k.  

Knowing that the first leg of our trek would be about 6 miles, I also made sure to log some local lower elevation 6+ mile hikes in leading up to the trip. There are loads of those throughout Southern California - AllTrails is definitely your friend when planning your training hikes!

If you're in Southern California, here are some other great training hikes: 

  • Mt Baden Powel (8.5 miles, 2600 ft. gain)
  • Mt Baldy via the Devil’s Backbone (11 miles, 3800 ft.gain)
  • Mt Wilson from Chantry Flat (14 miles, 4100 ft. gain)
  • San Bernardino Peak Hike (16 miles, 4600 ft. gain)
  • San Gorgonio Hike (18.5 miles, 5400 ft. gain)
  • San Jacinto from Idyllwild (19 miles, 5000 ft. gain)

You can also prep by joining Socal Hiker's 6 Pack of Peaks challenge (it has includes most of the above peaks). I haven't attempted it yet - but it's an awesome pursuit either way!

Aside from hiking and exercising I did a lot of research. My husband can vouch for that. I drove him a little nuts every night before bed scrolling through the Whitney Forums looking at the trail conditions or checking posts on the Mt. Whitney Facebook Group. I was obsessed, because I quickly realized, that while we had a fairly dry winter here, the weather just wasn't warming up enough on the mountain. The snow and ice that had accumulated along the most dangerous portion of the 99 switchbacks wasn't melting, which meant the usual trail from Trail Camp to Trail Crest would be closed. If that trail didn't open, it meant the only way up was up the via the snow Chute -  a 1,200 vertical ft. snow field that requires crampons, an ice-axe and a bit more technical mountaineering skills. My brother and I are pretty confident hikers, but this was unknown territory for me. I had no prior glissading or self arrest training and I was terrified it was going to bring our dream of summiting to a halt. 

That said, if you are heading up there before July and after September and you don't have any kind of winter mountaineering experience you should definitely invest some time in learning. REI offers classes during specific times of the year and I also found some other outfitters in the Mammoth area that offer day-long classes. The conditions up there are always changing and weather is never consistent season to season so it's a great skill to have to be safe.

The Climb

Before I knew it, my brother was landing at LAX and we were huddled in my living room sorting out gear between our two packs. That evening we made sure fill up on plenty of carbs at my favorite Hollywood dining spot, Jones, and then came home early to get a proper night's sleep before heading to Lone Pine the following morning. 

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We got a later start than we intended, hitting the road around 8am, and we arrived in Lone Pine to pick up our permits about 11am. After waiting about a half hour to get checked in and receive our passes, we were finally free to head up the windy road to Whitney Portal. When we arrived at the portal it reminded me, that while we're heading into the wilderness, we're still just a short distance from LA - the parking situation reflected that. It was no easy feat to find legitimate parking spot, and part of me began to panic that we'd be circling for hours losing precious day light. Luckily, the circling didn't last long and we managed to find a spot in the overflow parking area. Here, we made sure to clear out any scented items from our car. There are a lot of Black Bears in the area, and if they sniff out anything in your car, you just might return from your long adventure to find a bear behind the wheel. Pretty sure that's the last thing you want to find after hiking 22 miles. 

At the portal there is a general store with basic gear, snacks and a menu of what we heard were some super tasty burgers. We picked up a couple last minute essentials from the store and quickly headed right for the trail. As you approach the trailhead there is a station to weigh your pack. Mine clocked in just under 30 lbs. and my brother's was around 35 lbs. - I was pretty proud of us, considering we had never done this intense of a backpacking trip together, but I definitely learned some new packing lessons (that I'll elaborate on later) and I'm fairly certain I could shed another 5-10 lbs. on my next trip.

The first half mile of the trail feels like your average Angeles National Forest trail. To be honest, this was the worst part for me. While the views here were beautiful, I just wanted to get to the "good stuff". You know, the massive waterfalls, the lush meadows, the alpine lakes - my impatience seemed to make my pack feel a lot heavier.


Around that half mile marker we reached our first of many stream crossings and the views began to open up.  0.3 miles later we found ourselves at the crossing of the North Fork of the Lone Pine Creek. This section is made famous for the downed logs that act as a bridge. 

Eventually you will reach a junction with the Lone Pine Lake Trail around 2.8 miles in. I had heard about how beautiful Lone Pine Lake was, and while we were a little behind on our timing, my brother and I agreed to take the 0.1 miles trip down to it's shores. I only wish we had ditched our packs at the junction, the hike back up from the lake was no walk in the park, and forced us to dip into some of our energy reserves. Otherwise, this quiet detour off the main trail was definitely worth it. I've never seen a lake so glossy and blue in my life. 


When we finished soaking in the views at Lone Pine Lake we retraced our steps back to the Whitney trail and continued on our way. This next section of the trail contained a lot of switchbacks - and during this stretch we broke 10,000 feet and officially entered the Whitney Zone! I felt a pang of emotion as we crossed over 10k. I had never been that high in elevation and while my pack was starting to get the best of me, I otherwise felt great. 


Suddenly we began to descend and we were greeted by Bighorn Park, a super lush meadow nestled right between these humongous granite monolith formations. This part of the trail is simply awe inspiring. We took a moment here to just stare. Looking back on footage of my go-pro through this section I'm caught whispering to myself: "I am in my happy place." It was seriously a magical sight.


Here we found ourselves crossing more low streams and having to get our feet a bit wet. Eventually we came upon Outpost Camp which is around the 3.8 mile marker and 10,360 feet in elevation. 

Outpost Camp is the first of the two main camps on the Mount Whitney Trail. It's a beautiful spot to camp, but we made the decision to continue on up to Trail Camp to make our morning ascent a bit easier. However, if you're breaking your overnight trip up into multiple nights, I would highly recommend posting up here. The scenery is absolutely stunning.


As we passed through Outpost Camp the ground began to change from softer dirt to full on granite and your feet and knees really start to feel it! We continued to gain elevation along the hard granite trail and as we continued upward we found ourselves looking down over beautiful Mirror Lake. At this point Trail Camp begins to feel SO close, but still so far. 

My brother and I are very different hikers. He is fast and wants to get to where he is going without any dilly-dallying. Now, I'm not "slow" per-se, but I'm definitely more of a leisurely hiker. I love to take pictures, and gawk at the grandness of it all. You'll see in most of our photos and video he's always about 100 feet ahead of me waiting. But somehow we made it work without too much bickering. My brother started a system that helped motivate me to keep climbing - every 500 ft. of elevation we gained I was allowed to take a break where I could take my back pack off, give my shoulders a rest and nosh a little. 


During one of our breaks above Mirror Lake we decided to rest in the shade of a giant boulder and fuel up on snacks. Just as we were hoisting our packs back on to head back up the trail we heard a huge CRACK! I stopped dead in my tracks and called back to my brother, "Did you hear that?! Was that a gun?!" Then as I turned the corner around the boulder, I saw it: a massive rock slide was barreling down the side of the mountain just in front of us. 

Scale in the mountains is really hard to judge. We stood watching these massive boulders come tumbling down the face, taking out everything in it's path and then suddenly we were panicked... How far away was it really? Could it reach us? It was hard to tell, so to play it safe we jumped back behind our giant boulder and waited until the sound of tumbling rocks subsided. I don't think we were ever in any kind of real danger, but it was certainly a humbling moment and a reminder that we were in fact at the mercy of this magnificent mountain.

After this little scare, we quickly got back on the trail. We knew there wasn't much farther to go, and we were anxious to set up camp. 

Around the 5.3 mile marker the trail begins to rise up the the side of Lone Pine Creek at Trailside Meadow where you will find the tiniest most beautiful little alpine meadow. This section also marked our last big push up to Trail Camp and as we ascended over this last steep section we caught our first glimpse of Consultation Lake. The site of the lake fueled our anticipation and gave me a little extra pep in my step knowing Trail Camp was just hundreds of feet away. 

Finally at 6.3 miles, we were entering into Trail Camp at 12,039 feet of elevation. It’s a fairly large backcountry camp and feels like you're basically on the Moon. There is little to no vegetation, so if you find yourself up there on a windy day, it's great to pick a spot behind a boulder to help shelter you from the cold and wind. It was around 6pm when we arrived. We still had plenty of light left in the day and there wasn't much wind, but we made sure to quickly find a vacant spot and set up camp. We were hungry, tired and as soon as the sun set behind the needles towering above us we could feel the temperature drop significantly. 


After filtering water from the small camp-side lake that is so eloquently dubbed "Pooh Lake" (thanks to all the WAG bags left behind at Trail Camp) we put on some extra layers and waited for the stars to come out. As the sky turned a deep, dark blue color we could start to make out little headlamps winding their way down the 99 switchbacks. After such a tiring afternoon, it was tough to keep our eyes open, but let me tell you, when the stars come out up there, they shine extra bright. 


I tossed and turned for most of the night. The mixture of excitement and elevation was overwhelming, but by some miracle, when my alarm rang out at 5:00 am I was up and ready to get back on the trail. 

We began ascending the infamous 99 switchbacks around 5:30am. Why are they infamous? Well, for one thing there are 99 of them (or 97 - it's a heated debate - that we tried to count but were over it by the time we reached 40-something) and they stretch on for 2.2 miles rising just over 1,700 feet before hitting Trail Crest. Most people find them excruciatingly monotonous - but looking back, as I commiserate on our trip, this actually felt like one of the most enjoyable parts of the trail. It may have just been the luck of our timing, but every turn I found more exciting than the next. In some areas you could hear the rush of the spring beneath the rock, there were beautiful little purple wild flowers sprouting seemingly out of no where and watching the sun rising was simply incredible! It also might have been my lack of sleep causing some delusion - if I recall correctly, this is also where I did A LOT of singing and talking to myself as my brother powered on ahead of me. 

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About 1.4 miles of the way up the switchbacks you'll find "The Cables", a short section of the trail that has a cable like railing along the side. Before our trip, this had been a point of serious anxiety for me. We had heard stories just days before about someone trying to climb over the mass of snow still covering the trail, nearly slipping and falling to his death. So, that's cool. 

However, when we arrived at the cables we were pleasantly surprised to see that nearly all of the snow and ice that had been obstructing the trail had melted! Still, the section is a bit nerve wracking - there is a reason they have installed a "railing" system here after all. Just be mindful of your footing here and you'll be fine. 

As we trudged along we eventually ran into a group coming down from the summit who excitedly exclaimed "This is your last switchback!" We were so excited - until we quickly realized, it's the longest, steepest switchback of them all, but it makes your arrival to Trail Crest that much more rewarding. 

We made it to Trail Crest around 8am and I suddenly found myself getting a little emotional - the same damn way I'm finding myself getting emotional writing this right now. At that moment, I just knew we were going to succeed. Everything before that seemed uncertain, but at Trail Crest, I could feel it. 

At this point we only had 2.5 miles and about 845 feet of elevation gain to reach the summit. This was by far the longest 2.5 miles of my life. Knowing how close you are is somehow both invigorating and demoralizing at the same time. But you can't beat the views throughout this part of the trail - that's for sure. 

After crossing through Trail Crest we found the trail began to descend. At first this is an exciting break for your legs, but then you remember the summit is still 1,500 ft. above  you - which can be a bit demoralizing too. About a half a mile after Trail Crest the trail intersects with the John Muir Trail. Here we ran into a lot of fellow hikers taking a break, or making their way up to Whitney from the JMT. This is a spot a lot of the JMT hikers leave their big packs and continue on with their day packs (we left our big packs back at our campsite). Because so many packs get left behind here, you'll ALSO find this is a popular spot for Marmots! Keep your eyes peeled for these little buggers snooping around looking for any kind of treats they can get their paws on. 


As we made our way past the JMT junction the trail becomes primarily just slabs of super hard, knee-busting, granite. My feet and knees were not happy along the last stretch of trail, but again: #sickviews. They make all the difference. 

Eventually we found ourselves coming upon a part of the trail I had read about and was very excited for: The Windows! The Windows are a section of trail that passes behind the space between the thin needle-like peaks. The windows offer extremely steep, little peeks down to the other side where Trail Camp lies. Pictures do not do the vertical drop here any kind of justice. It is steep. And if you have any kind of vertigo or fear of heights, it's probably best to just keep walking.

From the windows it's about another 1.5 miles to the summit! Unfortunately, this part of the trail was pretty daunting. After a slight descent for a good 1 mile, you'll find yourself making up for that loss of elevation and it is no fun. Luckily, from there on out we could see the Smithsonian Hut perched upon the peak and somehow knowing it was just ahead in the distance kept us going strong. 


Just before our last 500 ft. of elevation we took a short break. Words can't describe the feelings I had staring up at that last push before the summit. That's a lie, I did have some words, however most of them were expletives. 

After cursing those last 500 ft. around 10am on July 1st, 2018 we were there. My brother let me walk those last 100 feet to the top in front of him and when we reached the hut he called out to me "How do you feel?" and my response was a simple, out-of-breath whisper, "We f*cking did it."


We allowed a good 45 minutes to rest at the top. We captured our happy summit photos, high-fived some fellow hikers we had been leap-frogging with, quietly face-timed our parents (yes, there is excellent cell service on the peak - but be mindful of your volume if you phone a friend - most people are trying to enjoy the serenity of it all) and then took a moment to ourselves to simply lie under the sun and soak it all in. 

Around 10:45 am we started to notice some clouds building in the distance which was our cue to begin our descent. It was really hard to tear ourselves away from the summit, but the last thing I wanted was to ruin a perfect hike by getting stuck in a lightning storm on top of Mt. Whitney. 

As we headed back down the trail I remember feeling as though the switchbacks took much longer to descend than to climb. The lingering thought of having to pack up our campsite and don those heavy packs again was putting a damper on my thus-far pleasant mood. 

We arrived back at Trail Camp around 1pm and just as we packed up the last of our belongings we began to feel rain drops. This put a little extra pep in our step as we said goodbye to our campsite around 2pm and took off down the trail. I don't usually agree with the sentiment, but this time it felt very true: the way down is the harder than way up.

Around 6pm, after a single day of 16 miles, 22 miles total, 6,130 feet of elevation gain, 2 marmot sightings, 1 deer sighting and a miraculous 0 blisters, we threw our packs in the hatchback, collapsed into my car, and with our last tiny bit of energy left, headed back to LA. 

Any Regrets?

There are only two things I would change about this hike.

1. Pack lighter

All things considered, I felt pretty good about my pack capping out around 25-30lbs. However, my next overnight backpacking trip I'll be sure to invest in a lighter sleeping bag. I currently have the REI Trail Pod 30º bag. It's a fairly light bag at the end of the day, and before the trip I wasn't ready to invest in an ultra-light bag. Now, after the fact, I'd be more than happy to shell out some cash to shave off a pound or two. The Trail Pod also has a pretty big footprint - it takes up a lot of space in the pack. If any of you have a favorite ultra-light sleeping bags, let me know!

2. Enjoy the scenery

I wish I had "taken it in" more and brought my camera and GoPro to the summit on our second day. The morning of our summit bid, as we were preparing our day packs, I wanted to carry as little as possible - just  some snacks, 3L of water, rain gear, first aid kit, a head lamp and my poles . The thought of the extra weight of my camera around my neck was exhausting. But in hindsight, after watching and re-watching my go-pro videos and photos from our first day, I wish I had that kind of footage of our triumphant summit. When you are really "in it" it's hard to allow yourself to take in the view. I mostly had my head down, calculating my every step and focusing more on keeping the pace than really soaking in the awe-inspiring scenery that surrounded me.

My Go-to Whitney Gear:

Alpine Summit
Katadyn North America - pallet ordering
Gregory Mountain Products
Clif Shot Bloks Energy Chews
GoPro Camera
Black Diamond
Gregory Mountain Products
Adventure Medical Kits
New Nuun Active
Posted on August 28, 2018 .

Cozy High Desert Cabin Getaway in Joshua Tree

Man, we have a lot of catching up to do! With traveling and wedding planning being the main source of the blog neglect - I can't really complain. 

With all the hype surrounding the current super bloom, desert music festivals and art installations it seems like a good time to fill y'all in on this gem of a property out in Joshua Tree. 

Mark and I ventured off to Joshua Tree to check this place out in Mid December. We were a little worried the weather would be too chilly - but it turned out to be a beautiful day! We met our hosts outside of the Joshua Tree Saloon and followed them to the property, where they gave us a great little tour of the space and some background on themselves and the land. 

There are three "sites" on the property that surround a main building (that is currently unfinished) resembling a sort of amphitheater. It's a great space for entertaining, retreats or group camping. 

The site we were staying at was the Pensione site. At this site, there is a tiny little cabin - which is GREAT at night for sheltering you from the wind. The cabin has electrical outlets, a mirror and the windows are arranged perfectly so it doesn't get too hot, but lets in beautiful natural light. We set up a queen size air mattress inside - it was just perfect! The Pensione site also has a big fire pit made from an old washing machine drum, a water tower (with shower and sink) a picnic table and more outlets along the perimeter! 

The other two sites were created for tent camping. They each offer lots of privacy from the other sites and have a picnic table, campfire ring and a solid wooden fence surrounding them, so again, there is plenty of shelter from the wind. I would love to come back in the warmer months to tent-camp at these spots!

The great thing about this property is it's proximity to bars, restaurants and shopping, but it still manages to feel "off the grid". I was happy we were able to grab groceries (and wine, of course) on the way in, and we never felt stranded so that if we happened to forget anything we weren't out of luck. 

After Cheryl and Jimbo showed us around, we set up our bed, did some exploring and got to cheersin' and cooking! The early sunset during the winter months always manages to sneak up on me when camping - so we had to do some of our cooking in the dark - but lucky for us, the Pensione has plenty of lights and our roaring fire made it easy to navigate. 

The fire pit in the Pensione has a built in removable grill, so we grilled up some burgers and veggies and had ourselves a feast! 

We also found JUMBO mallows at the store that we couldn't resist, so we made ourselves some giant s'mores to close out the night. 

When the sun fully set, the stars came out in full force - it was simply breathtaking. Even with the full moon, we could see millions of stars, and it made for some pretty epic photo ops. We constantly found our selves in complete silence, just staring up at the stars in awe. 

When it came to head to bed, I was actually too excited to sleep! I don't know if it was the altitude, the excitement of the day, or just my star gazing FOMO - I felt like I couldn't go to sleep or else I'd miss some epic shooting stars.

The cabin was SO cozy and when I finally did fall asleep, I slept fairly well. We awoke bright and early to the sun shining in through the windows - it was another beautiful day! We decided we wanted to head into town to grab breakfast and explore a bit. So we made some coffee, packed up our things, brushed our teeth under the cute little water tower and headed off!

We grabbed some breakfast sandwiches at Frontier Cafe on the main drag and sat out on their front patio reflecting about the great time we had the night before. Our sandwiches were SO GOOD. I definitely recommend popping in here for some coffees and breakfast. They also had great live music! 

Our entire Joshua Tree trip was such a treat! I can't wait to go back for my bachelorette 💁🏼 

If you want to find out even more about this property head to hipcamp and book your stay here ASAP! 

Posted on April 21, 2017 and filed under camping, blog.

Inspiration Point - Pacific Palisades, CA

I’m going to admit something that’s a little embarrassing not only as a local hiker but also a 6-year strong Angeleno - I had never been to Will Rogers State Historic park until I finally decided to conquer the hike to Inspiration Point. The park is rich with history plus a polo field, a ranch house, and a beautiful picnic area. Oh, and did I mention the lovely 2.5-mile loop hike to Inspiration Point? It’s a great place to spend an entire day.

I will say, the one downfall of this area is the steep price you have to pay for parking! The fee is $12, so if you are going check this area out, it’s definitely worth it to pack a picnic and spend some time there.

From the parking lot just beyond the park entrance, you’ll find the trailhead meandering up the hillside just to the left of the fenced in tennis courts. The single track here switches back and forth for a short tenth of a mile before you come to a service road, which is the Inspiration Point Loop Trail. Across the way, there is a single track that continues to wind it’s way up, while the service road gradually makes its way up the mountainside with views of the Santa Monica bay. If you choose to take the single track, it will cut your distance and time in half. Otherwise, continue along the service road.

As you make your way to the left, you’ll find two benches along the road, offering beautiful vistas of the surrounding area. One looks south over the polo field and Santa Monica. The other rests at the western end of the loop and has a great view of the Pacific Ocean.

Follow a bend in the trail to the northeast. Just past the top of the aforementioned single track, you will come to another split with a trail breaking off to the right. You’ll see arrows and signs for Inspiration Point in both directions! You have two options. You can take the road another quarter mile up Inspiration Point Loop Trail to the overlook, or you can turn down this single track, which crosses a chaparral-covered depression to reach the point after 0.4 miles. We took the single track, which was a fun little detour. Both routes lead to your destination of Inspiration Point. 


If you followed the road, you’ll get more lovely views of the taller mountains off to the north until you eventually come to a split. Take a right up along a spur trail that wraps around a short rise to reach Inspiration Point.


To the southwest, you’ll find an amazing view as the Pacific Ocean curls it’s way around Santa Monica Bay. To the north, you’ll find wonderful views as well. Looking out to the Santa Monica Mountains you’ll find the 2,126 ft. high Temescal Peak.

To close the trail loop, head back down to the trail split. A couple hundred feet to the north is a trail map. The Backbone Trail (which is roughly 65miles long and crosses the Santa Monica mountains all the way to Point Mugu) breaks off to the left, while the descent from Inspiration Point continues on to the right. Hike straight through a junction with a service road heading down to Will Rogers Ranch and continue to the eastern edge of the loop. Along the way you’ll spot mansions at the top of Sullivan Ridge to the east as you make your way to a line of eucalyptus bordering the trail.

This is one of the only shaded areas along the loop, which provides a charming canopy for the remainder of the hike. Continue another 0.4 miles down the hillside to the bottom of the trail. Here, you can take a peek around the ranch or say hello to the horses! You’ll pick the trail back up as it runs next to a large green lawn. This is the perfect place for a picnic or to enjoy a good book under the sun. Follow the trail along the top of the field and behind the Will Rogers House to complete the loop and return to the parking lot.

Note: Dogs are not allowed on the park trails, however, you may have your leashed pups on the lawn.

As mentioned before, there is a $12 fee for parking. You can also find (limited) free roadside parking outside of the main entrance. 

How to get there: Follow Sunset Boulevard to Will Rogers State Park Road, located 4.5 miles west of the 405 and 3 miles east of the PCH. At the traffic light, turn north on Will Rogers State Park Road. Go about 3/4 of a mile up the mountainside to the park entrance. Pull past the gate and park in the lot on the left.

Address: 1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Girl's Night Outside in The Intrepid Wild - Wolf. Feather. Honey. Farm.

Wow. It really shouldn't have taken me this long to write about our stay at Wolf. Feather. Honey. Farm. Somehow, every time I sat down to begin a draft I just couldn't find the right words. It's hard to craft a sentence worthy enough to describe the magic and energy of that place. But now, it's been nearly 3 months since our stay, and my guilt for not sharing our special experience has finally overcome me. 

Mid June of 2016 I was lucky enough to snag a Field Scout trip through HipCamp for WFHF. HipCamp only had two photos up on the listing at that point, and neither did the place any real justice, but I was eager to go on a new adventure and take pictures!

Almost every year, my girlfriends and I take a camping trip. Usually, we head up North to Sequoia National Park, but this year we didn't manage to make it. We'd been itching for a girl's only adventure, but this last year we've all been swamped with work, social events and making our way through the wedding circuit. Heading 5 hours North has just been too much of a commitment. WFHF, on the other hand, is located just 2 hours south of us in Temecula and seemed to be the perfect opportunity to unplug for 24 hours. So I grabbed my two friends, Jillian and Shannon, we packed up my car and headed off in a direction we'd never been. 

The property is located just past all of the wineries of Temecula, up a country road that winds past horse farms and pistachio groves. When we pulled up to our camp sight, we were in absolute awe. Now, if you know me, you know I am an excellent Internet sleuth. I managed to hunt down WFHF's Instagram, so I had some idea before we got there what we were in for, but I assure you, photos do not do this place justice. Chari, the matriarch of WFHF, and I had been in touch before our arrival. She gave us some lovely tips for before and after our stay. Not only that, she had the sweetest note waiting for us when we arrived and she and her husband Craig stocked the vintage cooler on site full of Moscow Mule ingredients! They truly are a couple after three late-twenty-something's hearts, I'll tell ya what!

Chari and Craig really take glamping to a whole new level. We were so pleasantly surprised to find that not only did they provide all the fixings for Moscow Mules, but the site is fully stocked with lighter fluid, coals, a grill, a trash bin, a hand washing station and more! As the girls and I explored the grounds, we caught ourselves (embarrassingly) repeating the phrase "so cute!" whenever we encountered something new. But it was true - everything was SO CUTE.

The icing on the cake of the entire experience is hands down the Pioneer's Penthouse tent. The tent sleeps 3 comfortably and is equipped with sleeping pads, tons of comfy blankets and pillows and a plush day bed - it is seriously a glamper's dream!   

After "oohing" and "aahing" for about an hour, the sun began to set, and we noticed the hum of an engine growing nearer and nearer to the campsite. As the sound grew louder, we realized it was Chari and Craig coming to greet us on their adorable vintage buggy! We piled into the back, Mules in hand, and our hosts escorted us to the top of one of the hills on their property that offers the most amazing views of Temecula. It was such a treat to be able to watch the sunset, surrounded by friends new and old and this positive energy that was truly palpable.  

As the sun dipped behind the horizon, we hopped back into the buggy and had an exciting ride back down the hill to our campsite. Chari and Craig helped us get settled in for dinner under a chandelier that hung from a tree branch. We grilled up chicken kabobs and veggies - my camp dinner go-to these days - and sipped (a bottle or two) of rosé under a massive blanket of stars. I'm pretty sure we stayed up until about 4am, laying on our backs, simply staring up at the stars. It was hard to pull ourselves away, but when we finally retreated back to the tent, we all crashed immediately, and I have to say, while it was not a long sleep, it was a good sleep. 

Unfortunately, our trip took place during one of the hottest weekends in June to date. We awoke around 7am to temperatures in the mid 80º's, which wasn't doing our rosé hangovers any favors! We sipped some instant coffee and nibbled on granola bars - attempting to linger as long as possible, but eventually the heat got to us. We sadly gathered our gear, packed up the car, and said goodbye to Wolf. Feather. Honey. Farm. 

Since our time in the Intrepid Wild I have raved on and on about this trip. I've even considered it as one of my wedding venues... that is how special this property is! My only regret is that we couldn't stay longer! 

If you're looking for an amazing place to unplug, with beautiful views, excellent hosts and magical vibes, you should book your stay through HipCamp right now! 

Posted on September 3, 2016 and filed under camping.

Glamping at Magical Topanga Oasis

Those of us who live in Los Angeles have it pretty good; the amicable weather, the endless entertainment and gastronomy options, the healthy lifestyles - it doesn’t get much better. Still, if you send a girl out in LA traffic twice a day five times a week, she’s bound to get pretty burnt out.

For a quick fix, you can hop over to Runyon for a hike or head to the yoga studio to get a few chaturangas out of your system. But sometimes you need more than an hour long sweat sesh. Sometimes you need to go somewhere your snapchats won’t load, where you can see more than a few stars, where cooking your food requires an open flame.

Typically, to find such serenity, most of us would pack our cars full of camping gear and head 5 hours north to the Sierras. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret - there is a place less than an hour away where you can fully decompress with so much less hassle, and it lives up to its name: Magical Topanga Oasis.


Topanga Canyon is cozily tucked away in the Santa Monica Mountains surrounded on three sides by State Park or conservancy lands with the beaches of Malibu just to the southwest. Famously known by most as the place where Charles Manson took residence in the 60s, it’s also widely known as an area where many musicians, artists and actors choose to live - a place for people who want to enjoy a more simple way of life, off the grid and away from the buzz of Los Angeles.

When I was assigned to Magical Topanga Oasis on Hipcamp as my first Field Scout assignment I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I’ve always been a bit of a purist when it comes to camping - this would be my first “glamping” experience. But I’m currently in the middle of launching a company and mobile app, so some time spent away from the city without having to lug tents and coolers and sleeping bags was very much welcomed.

We took our time heading out Saturday afternoon. The beauty in this particular trip was that we had less than an hour drive to our destination. We arrived at the property around 4pm and were happily greeted by two of the sweetest pups, Blue and Bastian. Following our new furry friends we had an equally friendly introduction to our hosts Colleen and Mathew. We found them tidying up their garden boxes that are home to the likes of arugula, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes and beets. After a brief tour and rundown of their lovely property, Mark and I were free to explore on our own.

Things are much simpler in the canyon. You would never guess that the city is just a stone’s throw away. We spotted lizards, gnarly spiders, snakes and even mice scattering about the property. Back in the city, those critters would leave us feeling a bit uncomfortable running free so close to our bed, but here, in Topanga Canyon, those little guys just felt like home.

We took our time exploring and familiarizing ourselves with the area and then decided to post up on the second-floor patio where there is a lovely view of the property and a comfy hammock to swing in.

From the second-floor there is a great view of the hills and trees that lie just past the property. It’s hard not to notice the abundance of birds fluttering about, in particular the feral parakeets that have also made Topanga Canyon their home. It can be a challenge to spot them, but you can certainly hear them. Occasionally you might just catch a flash of their bright green wings camouflaged in the Sycamore trees.

Mark and I sat sipping wine, eating chocolate and listening to the birds while watching the sun dip quietly behind the hills. Eventually we made our way back to our cozy little Lotus Belle tent to finish getting settled in before dinner.


Mathew helped us fire up the amazing wood burning grill and Blue watched patiently as we threw our kebabs and veggies on the fire. The grill gives everything a delicious mesquite taste, and of course we popped open another bottle of wine to loosen up just a bit more. In that moment, as we ate our dinner under the stars, listening to the crickets chirp, I was so very calm and relaxed - I didn’t even mind that a moth nearly drowned in my wine glass.

Finally, after a delicious dinner, we decided to turn in. The air had grown surprisingly cold, but the Lotus Belle was warm and comfy. Normally, when I camp, I have a hard time falling asleep on my first night. This night was different. Mark and I laid in the darkness for a bit listening to the hoots of owls and the chirps of crickets, and before I knew it, I was drifting off to sleep.

We were awoken in the morning by the sound of a rooster in the distance and the excited paws of Blue and Bastian pattering across the yard. I was expecting to wake groggy and a bit sore, as I usually do after camping in an unfamiliar place, but instead I found my head felt so clear and refreshed. Because of this, I assumed it must be late in the morning, only to find out it was just 6am. I can’t tell you the last time I happily awoke at 6am on a Sunday morning (the answer is: never.) 

As clear and refreshed as we felt, coffee was still a priority. Mark and I slowly made our way from the tent with our percolator and coffee grounds and headed for the kitchen. After brewing a couple cups, we took a seat at the table on the front patio and quietly sat embracing the hazy morning air.

Eventually, Mathew joined us, where we had some nice conversation and he suggested a couple different trails for us to hike in Red Rock Canyon Park. The entrance to the park lies just a few hundred yards from their property, so it was a given we’d be spending the rest of our morning hiking (I'll get into the details of our hike in a later post).

After a couple miles meandering and taking in the views of Red Rock Canyon, we headed back to the property and sadly began packing up our belongings.

That following Monday morning was a tough pill to swallow, but knowing we can always retreat to Topanga Canyon for some R&R makes it just a little bit easier.

If you want to experience Magical Topanga Oasis for yourself, you can book your stay (and many other great camp spots) through HipCamp

Perfect Pre, Mid & Post-hike Snackage!

Nourishing yourself before, during and after a hike - whether it's a quickie up Runyon Canyon or a day trek through the Angeles National Forest - is incredibly important. There is nothing worse than getting 3 miles into a 6 mile trail and suddenly feeling hunger pangs. Ooh - or how about those mornings after you hiked a hardcore incline - you're so sore you have to waddle like a penguin just to get to the bathroom to brush your teeth (can you tell I'm speaking from experience?). 

Well, we've gone ahead an compiled a short list of snacks we love to turn to for pre, mid and post-hike fuel. Enjoy! 

Pre-hike - Lucky Jack Nitro Cold Brew Coffee

Okay, first of all, if you know me at all, you know I live for just a couple things: coffee, design, wine and hiking…
but mostly coffee.

Seriously. My day does not officially commence until I have a big mug full of straight up black coffee in my hands. In the Hikeology household we usually use our lovely bodem french press, but lately, to cut cost and time, we’ve been all about the instant stuff. So you can understand my excitement when I came across Lucky Jack’s Organic Nitro Cold Brew Coffee. 

Perfect for the upcoming warmer months, their iced coffee is a nice pick-me-up to have on-hand for an early morning hike! Not only that, I did the Whole30 nutrition plan back in February, which has very strict regulations of added sugar, dairy, legume and gluten intake. I continue to try to stick to the plan as closely to it as possible, and guess what, Lucky Jack products make it super easy. The majority of their brews are sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, nut free and organic (insert prayer hands emoji here).

Personally, I've only tried the Old School and Lean Bean flavors (we're saving the Double Black we have for a camping trip in a couple weeks) but I have a sneaking suspicion the rest are delicious too. Of course, Old School is my favorite, because that’s how I roll, but they have even more flavors left for us to try, like Sweet Thing, Slow Brew and the one I am most curious about, Mary Jane. Yum!

Mid-hike - Three Jerks Jerky

I know I've posted previously about my latest beef jerky addiction, but I just can’t help myself. Jerky was something I enjoyed snacking on immensely while I was doing Whole30, and I got hooked. While Three Jerks Jerky isn’t Whole30 compliant,  it is gluten free and nitrate free. Plus, it isn’t made with any of that artificial junk, which is awesome! Packed with pure protein, it's an excellent snack for a mid-hike fuel up. 

All of their jerkies have an amazing amount of flavor too. They aren’t too dry, or too moist (I’m a texture person, so this is really important to me). What make’s their jerky so tender is the fact that they’re made from the tenderloin of the cow (filet mignon) which so happens to be my favorite cut of steak - so I guess it makes sense that I love this jerky so much. 

Post-hike - Barnana

Even more important than your pre and mid hike fuel is your post hike recovery fuel. Foods that are high in potassium are popular for recovery because potassium works with sodium to balance your fluids and electrolyte levels. Steady fluid levels help regulate your heartbeat and prevent your muscles from cramping up and being super sore the next day. This is where Barnana comes in handy! They're the greatest little bite-sized, potassium-packed snacks that ever did exist!

As if I didn’t love bananas enough on their own, Barnana had to go and cover them in chocolate, coconut, peanut butter, apple cinnamon and of course coffee (can you take a wild guess which flavor is my favorite?).

Not only will your body thank you for choosing Barnana as your post-hike snackage, but the environment will too. Barnana’s mission is to eliminate excessive food waste, which is a HUGE issue, especially in the United States. When bananas aren’t perfect they get rejected for export, leaving tons of perfectly edible bananas behind to rot! So what does Barnana do? They take those “imperfect” organic bananas and turn them into these little potassium packed sweet treats instead of letting them go to waste. Ah-mahz-ing. 

You can find most of these snacks at your local health foods store and other boutique locations. For more information visit their websites!

Escondido Falls - Malibu, CA

This rainy weather we're experiencing in Southern California right now has inspired me to FINALLY get my post up about our hike to Escondido Falls. I can only imagine after a long weekend of steady rainfall the waterfalls will sure to be flowing!

The hike to Escondido Falls is about 4 miles of fairly easy terrain. The waterfall has three tiers. The lower tier is about 50 feet high and the easiest of the three to reach. The upper tier, which you can imagine is more difficult to reach, is around 150-feet tall. From what I hear, it's incredibly stunning when the water is flowing in full force. Unfortunately, the day we made our journey was after a few weeks of dry weather, so we didn't attempt to climb to the upper falls.

The hike begins with 0.75 miles uphill along Winding Way, a paved road, just off the PCH that is lined with incredible homes Spanish and Mid-century modern style homes. Quite honestly, this was the toughest climb (and least exciting) of the day. Don't let this small part of your trip scare you off - you'll reach the trail in no time and the waterfall, even at low-flow, is well worth it. You'll gain about 200 feet on this paved climb, then the road will begin to head downhill and drop you at a wooded public park entrance.

The dirt path just past the park sign will take you down through a field of fennel and mustard and on into the woods where a small creek flows. Cross over the creek, and make a left turn headed upstream into the canyon. From here on out the trail is fairly level as it wanders through the forest and field. Thanks to our Spring season timing, we were lucky enough to enjoy a trail lined with beautiful wildflowers along the way. You will need to cross the creek bed a few more times, which I'm sure is a bit more daunting after a good rain, but it should still be easy enough terrain for anyone to navigate. 

What I loved most about this hike were all the serene little pockets along the trail you could sneak off to grab a snack or just sit and listen to the creek flow. We popped off the trail to sit by a tiny little waterfall amidst the creek to snacked on some Three Jerk's Jerky and just take it all in.

After you've been on the dirt trail for about a mile the trail will begin to ascend about 150 feet from a low spot below the road and then you will arrive at Lower Escondido Falls! The beauty of these falls without much water is simply stunning, I can only imagine what it is like on a real flowing day. There are lots of large rocks at the base of the falls where you can set up, take it all in or enjoy a little picnic. Some people complain of a natural sulfuric smell, but that isn't something we noticed. For us, the lower tier of the falls was a far as our journey took us.

There were many other hikers setting off to explore the upper falls. There is a steep trail to the right of the falls lined with tree roots and ropes to help guide your way. If you choose to go this route, make sure you have the proper footwear and attire and hike at your own risk! 

When you're done relaxing by the falls, simply follow the trail back the way you came!

How to get there: Take the PCH to Winding Way in Malibu. Winding Way is a small street about 4.5 miles west of Malibu Canyon Road on the north side of the PCH. There is a free parking lot for the trail on the left at the bottom of Winding Way. Overflow parking can be found along the PCH.

Address: 27807 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265

Posted on April 8, 2016 and filed under hikes.

Mulholland Dr. to San Vicente Mountain - Santa Monica Mountains

Hiking to San Vicente Mountain Park from Mulholland Drive is the shortest route one can take to get there. Although it is short, it still offers some stupendous views looking out over the San Fernando Valley as well as Beverly Hills and on out to the ocean. 

Atop San Vicente Mountain lies one of the, now unused, Nike missile defense sites scattered throughout the mountains of the South-western Coast. Here you will find the remains of the buildings and technology that were used to detect and intersect potential missiles directed at LA. After about 10 years, long-range technology came into play rendering the Nike missiles useless. Fortunately the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has made a point to preserve some of these sites, sprinkling info panels throughout the grounds to keep this history alive.

You will begin your hike at end of the drivable section of Mulholland Drive. You will find plenty of parking along the streets and on up towards the yellow gates. If the yellow gates are open, you can even drive your car all the way up to the top of San Vicente mountain - but where is the fun in that!? 

Hike on past the yellow gate and continue along the unpaved Mulholland Drive. In the distance up head you should be able to spoit the radio towers on San Vicente Mountain. 

As you ascend you'll find Mandeville Canyon ,Westridge, and Canyonback Ridge to the south. As the road continues on the views will begin to open up in the opposite direction, offering gorgeous views out over the Encino Reservoir and the rest of the San Fernando Valley. 

Take a moment to enjoy the views over the Encino Reservoir. We were lucky enough to be hiking on a beautifully clear day. You might notice some side trails on your right - they'll take you out over the reservoir. We had fun exploring this area and got some really amazing photos. 

After you're done taking in the views continue another .4 miles and eventually you will reach and junction. Up ahead Mulholland continues across the Santa Monica Mountains all the way to Santa Maria near Topanga, where the pavement resumes. Instead of continuing on ahead, turn left instead and head up to the mountaintop where the military base lies - you won't be able to miss it.  

Take your time exploring the old grounds and take in the gorgeous panoramic views. There are plenty of benches and picnic tables - even a few telescopes that overlook the canyons below. When you're done, simply return the way you came.

How to get there:  On the 405 freeway take the Skirball Center Drive exit. Heading west follow the signs for Mulhollad Drive. After about 2 miles, Mulhollad Drive becomes and unpaved road and makes a sharp hairpin turn to the left. Continue .25 miles until you can no longer drive. Park behind the yellow gate where you will begin your hike.

Address: 17024 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049

Posted on May 31, 2015 and filed under hikes.

Eaton Canyon Falls - Pasadena, CA

Eaton Canyon is nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, just hop, skip and a jump from Los Angeles, on the north-eastern side of Pasadena and Altadena. There are a number of hiking trails meandering there way through these hills, but the one I particularly want to feature in this post is the trail that leads to Eaton Canyon Falls. 

The magnificent forty-foot falls lie at the top of Eaton Canyon Trail, cascading into a beautiful, vast pool below. In the summertime, while it can be extremely busy, I can imagine this pool would be incredibly refreshing to wade or lie in - you could even pack a picnic and relax amongst the large boulders scattered throughout. The trail to Eaton Canyon Falls is fairly straight forward and can be easily be summed up through about 1 miles of wide flat dirt trail, followed by 0.65 miles of single track, rocky creek bed that makes it's way up the slender canyon that is a whole lot of fun to navigate. In total, this trail is about 3.5 - 4 miles (depending how much exploring you do) out and back with a slight elevation gain of about 580 feet (again this depends on your exploration). 

The hike begins at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center which is situated inside the gates amongst the parking lot. Between the picnic areas, nature center and flat terrain this specific location is a hot spot for dog walkers, baby strollers and families with young children. If you are in search of a serene, quiet experience in nature, I definitely recommend exploring this area on a weekday as opposed to a weekend. We went on a cooler, overcast day in February and still there was rarely a moment that we were alone on the trail or at the falls.

There is a large sign marking the start of the trail, you can't miss it! Follow the trail along a usually dry creek bed, Eaton Wash. You'll find yourself amongst a few shaded areas and some little tree hideouts as you make your way up the trail.

The trail crosses over Eaton Wash after about 0.2 miles into your hike. At this point you will make a left, heading northwest under a canopy of trees. Around 0.55 miles in from your start, you will find yourself at a junction with the Horse Trail (you will notice signs). Continue to the left to stay on the Eaton Canyon Trail. 

At just about the 1.1 mile mark in your hike, you will reach another junction which is just in sight of a concrete bridge up ahead in the distance. Here, head left again following an arrow for the waterfall, and pass below the bridge to enter the San Gabriel Mountains.

Passing under the bridge turns your hike into a whole different experience. Suddenly you will be traversing much more rugged terrain, boulder hopping, and creek crossing as you make your way through the dense canyon. While this section is quite fun, it can also be unassumingly dangerous - make sure you watch your footing and keep an eye out for falling rocks from above the steep walls of the canyon. Eaton Canyon is infamous for it's helicopter rescues due to careless hiking.

After just about 0.6 miles you will find yourself coming upon the falls. You might have to do a bit of scrambling to get up close, but the views are certainly worth it! If you're lucky you might get a moment to yourself at the falls. We were not so lucky, but still happy to be face to face with a flowing waterfall. It's a rare sight these days due to the common droughts, but thankfully, these last few weeks we've had some decent rainfall.


While the heavy traffic can be daunting, it's a must see trail nonetheless. With it's close proximity to the city, large parking area, easy to navigate trails and a rewarding ending, you really have no reason NOT to check this trail out!

When you're done taking in the views, simply head back the way you came!

How to get there: Take the Altadena exit off the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. Head north on Altadena Drive. The Eaton Canyon Nature Area is a couple miles up the road on the right. Pull into the park past the gates, and leave your vehicle in the lot by the nature center. WARNING: The parking lot gate closes at 5pm (a little early if you ask me!) so if you plan on hiking past 5pm, make sure you park your car on the outside street and use the trails to get inside.

Address: 1750 North Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107

Glendale Peak - Griffith Park, Los Angeles, Ca

Between the holidays, a trip to Mexico, an unforgiving work schedule and my current state of sickness I haven't had a whole lot of time to dedicate to hikeology. Thankfully, we are in the middle of a much needed long weekend which finally gives me the opportunity to finally catch up!

To kick off the end of this dry spell, I want to share a wonderful moderate 3.5 mile out and back hike through Griffith Park up to Glendale Peak. I love this trail because it's easily accessible, offers some spectacular views and is low on foot traffic compared to a lot of the other hikes through Griffith Park. 

The trailhead begins on a fire road just opposite Greek Theatre on Vermont Canyon Road. Parking is easy to find as there are many spots lining the right side of the street right in front of the trail. You will jump right into a noticeable incline, but after about 0.2 miles the trail plateaus where you will gain great views of downtown LA to the south and the Greek Theater just below you. Being a regular patron to the Greek Theater, I really enjoy this different vantage point where you get the chance to look out over the little amphitheater tucked away in the trees.  

From here you will continue to follow the fire road until you descend upon a three way junction. To your right, there is a firewood that delves deeper into the canyon and to your right, another trail that leads you past the golf course and tennis court. Ignore these trails on either side of you can continue straight to the trail that quickly ascends up the side of the mountain.

You will follow this fire road until you reach the 1.3 mile point in your hike. Here you will find the trail intersecting with Vista de Valle Drive which is a paved road. You will also notice a green building on your left hand side, make a hard left at the building and continue your climb along the fire road.

As you make your way up the fire road your views of the Griffith Park Observatory will begin to open up and soon you will find yourself upon a small wooden footbridge to your left and a little blue sign (that has unfortunately been graffitied) to your right. 

While the footbridge is intriguing, ignore that (for now - it's a great place for photos when you're doubling back down) and follow the inconspicuous Henry's Trail to your right. This trail is dedicated to Henry Shamma, who was a Sierra Club member and avid writer who spent many years leading hikes up to Glendale Peak and tirelessly maintaining other trails throughout Griffith Park.

You will immediately notice a difference in the terrain. This single trail trail is a bit more rugged than the rest of your hike, but it doesn't last very long so don't be dissuaded by the awkwardly eroding staircase before you. 

While you continue to follow the single track trail to the top of Glendale Peak you will find the views only continue to get better and better. Once at the peak, you will have access to full 360º views spanning from downtown LA, to the Pacific, the San Grabriels and the Valley below.

I found this spot to be incredibly calming. With the lack of foot traffic, you're likely to have the views to yourself, which is a rare thing in Griffith Park. We sat for a long while up there in silence, simply enjoying the scenery and the serenity of it all. Once you're done taking it all in, simply follow the trail back the way you came.

How to get there: Head north on Vermont Avenue into Griffith Park. As you continue north through the park you will pass the Greek Theater on your left and notice parking along the right side. The trailhead will be on the east side of Vermont just past the theater.

Address2715 N Vermont Canyon Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Posted on January 18, 2015 and filed under hikes.

Holiday Hunting for your Favorite Camper?

Alright, so maybe you're looking for something for the person in your life who is more than just a day-hiker... if you're in search of some inspiration for your favorite camper check out the below items and let them lead you to the perfect gift!

 01.  Happy Camper Loose T-Shirt  by Camp Brand Goods  02.  Enlightenment Water Bottle  by Poler X MIZU  03.  Campfire Cuisine Book  by Robin Donovan  04.  Road Trip Series Pencils  by Earmark  05.  Brodeo  by Patagonia 06.  Guide to State Parks of the United States  by National Geographic 07.  Fire Lighting Kit  by Light My Fire  08.  Game Kit  by Bush Smarts

01. Happy Camper Loose T-Shirt by Camp Brand Goods  02. Enlightenment Water Bottle by Poler X MIZU  03. Campfire Cuisine Book by Robin Donovan  04. Road Trip Series Pencils by Earmark  05. Brodeo by Patagonia 06. Guide to State Parks of the United States by National Geographic 07. Fire Lighting Kit by Light My Fire  08. Game Kit by Bush Smarts

Posted on December 11, 2014 and filed under camping, style.

Is it Really December!?

It's hard to believe we're already a few days into December. I'm not going to lie though, the last few chilly days of rain we've had here in Southern California have made it a little more acceptable. And thanks to the rain, I've been spending a little more time on the couch, wandering the inter-webs in search of inspiration towards gifts for my family, friends and of course... myself. 

For the next few weeks I'll be bringing you some of my favorite adventure finds - from hiking gear, to camping gadgets to travel essentials - all in hopes to inspire you during your holiday hunting!  

 01.   Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail  by Cheryl Strayed  02.  Ace Sunglasses  by Zeal Optics 03.  Psychedelic T-Shirt  by Poler 04.  Compass  by Suunto 05.  Waist Pack  by Jansport 06.  Inspire Earbuds  by Yurbuds 07.  Watch Cap  by Topo Designs  08.  Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die  by Chris Santella

01. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed  02. Ace Sunglasses by Zeal Optics 03. Psychedelic T-Shirt by Poler 04. Compass by Suunto 05. Waist Pack by Jansport 06. Inspire Earbuds by Yurbuds 07. Watch Cap by Topo Designs  08. Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die by Chris Santella

Posted on December 3, 2014 and filed under style.

Zuma Ridge Trail - Malibu, CA


Zuma Ridge Trail or the Zuma Ridge Motorway is a fairly wide dirt service road that meanders it's way up the western ridge of Zuma Canyon. This easy to follow trail is roughly 5.7 miles out and back and as you continue to climb the views open up looking out over Point Dume, Zuma Beach and Malibu High School.

From the small parking lot head north-west to the Zuma Ridge Trailhead (there is a large sign - you can't miss it). 

The trail is incredibly easy to follow, you will simply follow the dirt service road, ignoring any smaller off shoot trails. If you're hiking on a weekend, don't be surprised if you hear some cheering from down below - it's most likely a sporting event at Malibu High School. You also might have the pleasure of passing by some friendly horseback riding groups.

Around 2.75 miles into your hike you will come to a junction - take the trail that ascends to the right (north-east). This is the last push to the top where you will find yourself with some spectacular views out over Zuma Canyon and the Pacific Ocean. 

If you're feeling especially adventurous you can follow Zuma Edison Rd. trail to Kanan Edison Rd and then on to Ocean View Trail to greatly extend your mileage - if not, simply turn back and came back the way you came. Doubling back will leave you with a solid 5.7 mile hike - which, on a hot day with little coverage from the sun was enough for me!

How to get there: Take the PCH out to Malibu and make a right on Busch Drive (a mile west of Kanan Dune Road and just before Zuma Beach). Head north on Busch Drive, stay right at the second intersection in order to remain on Busch Drive. You will dead end at the dirt parking lot at the end of the road.

Address: Zuma Ridge Motorway & Busch Drive, Malibu, CA 90265

Posted on November 19, 2014 and filed under hikes.

The Wisdom Tree & Cahuenga Peak - Los Angeles, CA

This has become one of my favorite trails in Griffith Park! This particular trail differs from many of the others you'll come across in Griffith Park. This trail is much more rugged, steep and rocky - so make sure you wear appropriate shoes. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people out on the trails with inadequate shoes and unhappy looks on their faces. 

Anyway, to get to the trail head you'll begin by parking along Lake Hollywood Drive. You shouldn't have much trouble finding a spot. From your parking spot head east on Wonder View Drive and head up the hill with beautiful homes to your left and the reservoir below to your right. Continue past the yellow gate and then about .4 miles in from your start the paved road will dead end and you will see the trail head ahead marked by a plaque (only...the plaque seems to be missing these days). 

As soon as you hit the trail it gets right into it. The trail is clearly marked and easy to follow, but you'll ascend nearly 725 feet before you've even gone a full mile. As I mentioned before, it's very steep and crumbly - so watch your footing and don't rush. Right off the bat you'll think you're getting some amazing views of the Hollywood Reservoir, and you are... but the views only open up and get better as you make your way toward the top. Eventually you'll be able to make out everything from the Observatory, to Downtown LA and all the way out to the Pacific.

Around 0.8 miles in the trail will switch back and take you west up the last leg of the trail. This area is the most strenuous - it is even more steep and the ground is extremely loose. Follow this trail to the top of the ridge. To the West on the ridge you will see the "Wisdom Tree" and from here you'll get some of the most spectacular views of the Los Angeles basin. 

Heading west, follow the trail to the "Wisdom Tree". According to... everything I've read on the internet... this tree is pretty dang special. The story goes that the Wisdom Tree (or as some call it the Magic Tree, The Giving Tree or even the Tree of Life) on the summit of Burbank Peak was the only tree left standing after a crippling wildfire fire here in 2007. That fire burned hundreds and hundreds of acres in and around Griffith Park - but not that lone tree! Here you can take in some gorgeous views of Los Angeles to the South and the Valley to the North. We were up here during what I like to call "the magic hour" - that moment JUST before sunset - and the way the sun was hitting the San Gabriel Mountains and the haze (see: smog) that hangs just over the city buildings is really something to be seen. 

At the base of the Wisdom Tree you'll find a couple of trail register boxes. These boxes are filled with notes from fellow hikes and travelers from all over! Find a blank space in a notepad or piece of paper and leave a note, a word of wisdom orrrr shamelessly promote your hiking website, like I did. 

After you take it all in at the tree head east down the ridge trail toward Cahuenga Peak. Through this area you will notice that the northern slopes are still recovering from the 2007 wildfire damage. Scorched remnants of trees and shrubs line the trail. The Cahuenga Peak also holds a bit of history to it. In the 1930's it was purchased by Howard Hughes who wanted to build a home atop it for Ginger Rogers. She declined his offer, and some decades later a group of investors decided to try to build a housing development there as well. Thankfully the citizens of Los Angeles would not stand for this. In April of 2010, Cahuenga Peak was saved from further development by the Save the Sign Campaign. The organization purchased the peak and donated it to LA so that it could become part of Griffith Park. Pretty neat, eh? 

Around the 1.5 mile mark, the trail reaches a small clearing which marks the summit of Cahuenga Peak. 

From this point, you can continue to follow the eastward trail toward Mount Lee and check out the Hollywood Sign. We didn't go on from this point, which is why our trip only totaled around 3 miles - so if you DO continue on keep in mind, it will just about double your mileage.

If you decide that this is the end of the road for you, simply head back along the trail the way you came. I do warn, be especially careful on your way down!

How to get there: On the 101 Freeway you will take the Barham Boulevard exit and drive north for about .3 of a mile. Make a right at the light onto Lake Hollywood Drive. Follow this meandering road for about a half a mile until it intersects with Wonder View Drive. Park along Lake Hollywood Drive (check the signs) and begin hiking eastward up Wonder View Drive. (If head another quarter mile down Lake Hollywood Drive, you will find The Hollywood Reservoir trailhead)

Address: Wonder View Drive & Lake Hollywood Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Posted on November 11, 2014 and filed under hikes.

Stay Hydrated with Super Sleek Stainless Steel Water Bottles

It's hard to believe that just a decade ago there were hardly any steel water bottles available to the public for personal hydration. Back then we didn't know the health and environmental harms that certain plastic containers could inflict upon ourselves and the world. Thankfully, we've come a long way in a short time and discovered a lot about the dangers of BPA. Through that, we've found that steel water bottles are a great eco-friendly solution. And now with the countless numbers of brands, colors, designs and customization out there your bottle can be a fun way to express your personality out on the trails all the while encouraging healthy habits, sustainability and environmental consciousness! drink up!

Posted on November 9, 2014 and filed under style, hikes, camping.


It seems silly writing this post when we just had a 90º day here in Los Angeles. Maybe there is a part of me that hopes this will help summon the fall Gods to bring us SOME kind of weather here (I know all of my Midwestern friends are scowling at me right now as the Polar Vortex descends upon them... sorry y'all)

Still, our short stint of cool weather last week inspired me to start hunting down some new gear for the days when (or... if) the thermostat finally drops below 65º. A girl can dream... 

 01.  Wunder Under Pant *Full-On Luxtreme  from Lululemon | 02.  Sleeveless Gym Tee  from Victoria's Secret | 03.  Tech Cape  from Nike | 04.  Zoom Wildhorse 2  from Nike

01. Wunder Under Pant *Full-On Luxtreme from Lululemon | 02. Sleeveless Gym Tee from Victoria's Secret | 03. Tech Cape from Nike | 04. Zoom Wildhorse 2 from Nike

 01.  Ridley Warm Beanie  from Neff | 02.  Re-Tool Snap-T® Fleece Pullover  from Patagonia | 03.  Ballard Roll-down Boots  from The North Face | 04.  Pinecrest Roll-Up Pants  from The North Face

01. Ridley Warm Beanie from Neff | 02. Re-Tool Snap-T® Fleece Pullover from Patagonia | 03. Ballard Roll-down Boots from The North Face | 04. Pinecrest Roll-Up Pants from The North Face

Posted on November 7, 2014 .

Hollywood Reservoir - Los Angeles, CA

This is an easy 3.34 mile trail that guides you around the perimeter of the Hollywood Reservoir in the Hollywood Hills. This trail is easy to follow, paved and only has about 50ft worth of an elevation gain making this a great loop for everything from a leisurely stroll, to a solid run or bike ride. 

We took to this trail on a rare day a few months back when we had rain (remember that stuff?!) Normally, I would hate getting caught in the rain, but it had been so long since we had actually felt any kind of moisture in the air, it was sort of exciting and magical to be stuck in the middle of it. And of course, the shower didn't last long - maybe a good half hour - but it was fun nonetheless. 

Anyway, you'll begin by parking your car on Lake Hollywood Drive just to the north of the reservoir and then head for the entrance on the west side of the road. The entrance is a bit intimidating, but I assure you, it IS the way into the reservoir trail... 

As you make your way down the evenly paved path, you'll begin to get views of the the northern end of the reservoir. 

Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife - we spotted a few small deer on the other side of the fence foraging in beneath some of the pines that grow along the edge of the water!

About a half a mile in, you’ll start getting some views of the Hollywood Sign off the the east. Although the fencing can be obstructive, you can still get some great views and fun photographs. 

The trail continues to meander along the reservoir’s west end and once you've made your way about a mile you’ll come upon the 1924 Mullholland Dam by which the reservoir was created. This is a gorgeous dam from early-modern L.A. history that is in super great shape and acts as a bridge to get you across to the eastern side of the reservoir. From the middle of the dam you'll have even more spectacular views of the Hollywood Sign and be able to gaze southward down upon the city of Hollywood itself. 

After you cross the bridge continue to the left to stay on the paved reservoir trail. As you make your way north on the eastern trail the views of the reservoir will begin diminish while the views of the Hollywood Sign will only continue to get better and better. 

Around 2.6 miles into your hike the paved trail drops you out on to Lake Hollywood Drive and Tahoe Drive. You'll know in you're in the right place when you come up behind the Hollywood Gate. 

Continue on to the left past Tahoe Dr. and follow the dirt path that makes its way along the northern side of Lake Hollywood Dr. After another .5 miles you'll find yourself back at the beginning of the trail where you originally parked. And there you have it! An easy, low-key "hike" with packed with some beautiful views and interesting LA history. 

How to get there: From the 101 northbound, take the Barham exit and head eastward. Make a right onto Lake Hollywood Drive and continue on it as it winds through the residential neighborhood. When you reach the intersection with Wonder View Drive, descend down the hill toward the reservoir and park on the street near the gate to the reservoir path. The streets here are well marked and you shouldn't have trouble parking along the side of the road. 

Address: 3052 Lake Hollywood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Posted on November 3, 2014 and filed under hikes.

Vital Link Trail - Wildwood Canyon


The Verdugo Mountains are a mini range situated between the San Gabriel Mountains and the Santa Monica Mountains. The peaks along this small (but tall) range offer some spectacular views all the way from downtown Los Angeles to downtown Burbank and out over La Crescenta-Montrose. 

The trail head for Vital Link Trail begins in Wildwood Canyon just north-east of Burbank. I will admit, I must not have read-up properly on this trail before heading out, because I was completely surprised (but not disappointed) by how strenuous this uphill climb turned out to be. You end up climbing about 1500 feet in just 1.5 miles, and the majority of this trail is exposed to sunlight, so you'll definitely want to head out in the early morning or closer to sunset.

There are several different trails you can use to get to the Vital Link trail, but the most direct trailhead is located at the turnaround at the top of Wildwood Canyon Road. You can't miss the wide dirt fire road just past the gate. In just about 1/4 mile you will make a sharp turn to the left where the trail leaves the canyon bottom and begins to ascend up the ridge to the west. As you climb, there will be the views down Wildwood Canyon and over Burbank will begin to open up.

Eventually you will find your way to a dirt pullout on the left that has a few pic-nic benches. The views from this point are lovely, so take a moment to soak it all in!

When you're done, the trail will briefly descend and meet a junction on the right with large, quite obvious, sign for Vital Link Trail. This is your cue to head right and start your ascent to the top!

This is where the trail gets pretty serious. Over the next mile, you’ll gain over 1,000 feet. The trail pretty much runs directly up the end of the ridge. I like to call it "Runyon on 'Roids". There are a couple quick switchbacks to help you overcome some of the steepest sections of terrain - but it's mostly an uphill battle. The good news is, when you need to catch your breath (and trust me, you will), your views are truly spectacular! 

In about 1/4 mile you will come to another junction. A more direct (vertical) path continues up the ridge to the left, while the "main" trail takes a switchback to the right. It doesn't take long for these two trails to meet back up again, so take either route and continue up the ridge line. The more gradual and (typically) shaded route is to the right - it also temporarily winds back inside Wildwood Canyon. 

Your targets are the cell towers directly ahead - and although you keep moving forward, I swear, it feels like they just keep getting further and further away! But don't be discouraged - I promise, the views do not disappoint once you reach the peak! When you DO finally reach the top you'll be greeted by a memorial, recliner bench - take a load off here and enjoy the views! From up here you will be able to look down on your trail, and also look north-east over the San Gabriel mountains. It's really beautiful - especially during the evening magic hour. 

Do a little exploring up here, soak in the views and then when you're done simply go back the way you came. It's much quicker to descend this trail, but make sure you have shoes with good traction because it can be a slippery climb down!

How to get there: Take the 5 Freeway to Burbank Boulevard (Exit 146B). Head two blocks north on Burbank Boulevard and turn right on Third Street. Take the next left onto Howard Road. Go 1.5 miles and when you see the Park Entrance turn right onto Wildwood Canyon Road. Take this road up through the park - you will pass some picnic areas and a few other trailheads. Eventually you will find yourself at the turnaround at the top of the road and where the trailhead begins. There should be parking just below this area.

Address: 1701 Wildwood Canyon Road, Burbank, CA 91501

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Posted on October 2, 2014 .

Camping Sequoia National Park

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Every September, for the last few years, my girlfriends and I have trekked up to the Sierra Nevadas for a special camping trip in Sequoia National Park. Local hiking in Los Angeles is great and all, but I can't even begin to explain how refreshing it is to spend just one night under the stars in the Sierras. 

Camping in the Sequoias is perfect for just about any level of camper. You're secluded enough that you feel like you're in the wilderness, yet if you absolutely need to stock up on more firewood or you need to use a "real" toilet, you have the option.

Sequoia National Park is home to the giant sequoia trees, which includes one of the largest trees on Earth, General Sherman. General Sherman grows within the Giant Forest, which includes five of the ten largest trees in the world! It really is a site to be seen! There are a number of heavily used trails within the Giant Forest that will weave you in and out of these beautiful trees - even some that you can walk and drive through! 


Of all the campsites throughout the park we've always stuck to Lodgepole. I like these campgrounds as the occupants are pretty mild mannered - it's a good mix of young families, happy groups of friends and experienced campers. This campsite is in close proximity to a few of my favorite trails as well and there is also a shuttle that occasionally picks up around the visitor center that will take you all throughout the park (just be aware of service dates - the shuttles were NOT in service the weekend we were up here so we had to rearrange our hiking schedule a bit). 

Two of the trails accessible through Lodgepole:

Tokopah Falls Trail
Distance: 3.4 miles
Time: 2 to 3 hours, round-trip
Trailhead: Log Bridge in Lodgepole Campground
Elevation Gain: 500 feet


Tokopah Falls Trail is an easy trek along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River.  The falls are 1,200 feet high and are most impressive in the spring and early summer months - unfortunately, the last few times we've been up here, they've been pretty dry - still beautiful to look at nonetheless!

Twin Lakes Trail
Distance: 7 miles (14 miles out and back)
Time: 6 -7 hours, round-trip
Trailhead: Log Bridge in Lodgepole Campground
Elevation Gain: 2800 feet


Twin Lakes Trail is a rigorous, and somewhat monotonous (and still beautiful) hike through the Sierra pine forest until it reaches it's namesake glacial lakes. The trail begins just past the Tokopah Falls trail head. The trail is clearly outlined with rocks and immediately winds it's way up into the dense forest. I've never had the time to make the climb all the way to the Lakes - it's definitely a goal of mine. 

Every year - about halfway through our drive from LA to the Sequoias we find ourselves at a grocery store in Bakersfield stocking up on food supplies. Every year I say that there is no way we need to purchase as much grub as we have in our carts, it's only one day of camping after all, and still every year I am SO very glad we did stock up, because after a long day of hiking there is nothing in the world like a campfire cooked meal! 

The fire pits at Lodgepole come with metal grates over the top of them, making it super easy to grill up your food. We always make the juiciest burgers with delicious sides of veggies steamed in foil packets. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

Anyway - one activity that never gets old in the Sequoias is the hike to the top of Moro Rock. You simply cannot come to Sequoia National Park and NOT visit Moro Rock. Moro Rock is a massive granite dome rock formation that is located just between the Giant Forest and Crescent Meadow. This "hike" is less of a hike and more of a "climb up a narrow stairwell" that meanders it's way to the very top of the formation. The thigh burn is worth it - as you ascend the rock the views just keep getting better and better... 


Standing at 6,725 feet above sea level, you get some seriously beautiful views of the Great Western Divide.

From the base of Moro Rock you will find another woodsy trail that will lead you out to Crescent Meadow.

Sugar Pine Trail
Distance: 1.5 miles (3 miles out and back)
Time: 1.5 hours, round trip
Trailhead: Base of Moro Rock
Elevation Gain: 250 feet

This is a moderate trail with much less foot traffic than many of the other trails you will find throughout the main park. Sugar Pine Trail is a rocky (and buggy) single track that connects Moro Rock to Crescent Meadow. 

Crescent Meadow is described by John Muir as the "Gem of The Sierras" and I have to agree with him. We decided at the very last minute to hike this trail, and I am so glad we did - it offers an entirely different atmosphere than most of the other trails we have done in throughout the park. It takes you from dense forest, to granite vista points, over small falls all the way to flat bright open meadows. 

I cannot say enough good things about all of my experiences camping up in Sequoia National Park. If you have the opportunity to spend time here, I highly recommend it. Booking a campsite is so simple and straight forward on the National Park Service website - just be sure to book in advance, as dates throughout the spring and summer fill up very quickly! 

This post only shows the tip of the iceberg of what Sequoia National Park has to offer - if you have more insight or tips, please share them! I love it up there, and I hope you will too.