North Fork to Dry Lake

Smokey's Friends

Old Abandoned YMCA Camp

Some interesting flowers

With my Be'eeeen

With Kate ("I'm going by Kate now")

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Headed Back

Dry Lake with Kate

Cray Cray Benny

River Crossing

Kate-froggy

 

Chantry Flats to Spruce Grove

Matilija

No writing here!  Just pictures, trying to get back up to speed!

Chantry Flats!

The big payoff to hiking is camping, in my opinion.  There’s nothing like going from one destination to another, and being self contained, and having everything you need right on your back.

That being said, before heading out, I’m always a little bit hesitant. Yesterday was no different.  I go on hikes not for exercise, but for relaxation.

We begin our trek with ominous clouds creeping over the mountain from the east.  The air is light and crisp, our surroundings quiet, but the feeling that we were being followed was evident.  We were headed to Sturtavant Falls, a waterfall that brings the three F’s: fertility, fortune, and to some, famine.  The thought behind our excursion was that if three of us went, then the chances were that only one of us would have the misfortune of famine and the other two could contribute to the other’s doomed fate.  We had one thing in our way though, a macabre little ghost town called Chantry Flats…

I stumbled upon one of two flowers that populated the trail, it is said that if you bring one petal from the correct flower through Chantry Flats that you would be safe from the evil spirits that linger in the town, and would automatically be fertile and fortunate, with no chance of famine.  But if you were to pick a petal from the wrong flower and bring it into the town then you would be eternally bound to the town as the village idiot.  It was a 50/50 chance that neither of us were prepared to make.  We left those hellish flowers alone…

Parking was hard to come by and to add salt to the wound, the rangers put up a “No Parking Any Time” sign in the clouds to tease us.  I’m sure they thought to themselves, “haha, there’s no parking anywhere so let’s put a sign up in the clouds too”.

The Chantry Flats Ghosts also liked to have some fun with signs, just like those pesky rangers.  They removed the mileage of the Gabrielino Trail.  Very clever, very clever, I thought to myself in a sarcastic tone.  Unfortunately for them, we had our bible, “Guide To Hiking in Los Angeles”.  There silly antics weren’t going to trick us this time!The ghost’s were so real looking as we descended into Chantry flats.  We started the trail on pavement and passed over a dozen ghosts, half of them with their repulsive four-legged friends that leave trails of poo everywhere they go.  It smelled terrible, can’t these ghoulish sons-a-bitches clean up after themselves?  I guess it’s their way of keeping the unwanted people out, as they enjoy living in their own creatures shit.

Below is the Gabrielino Stone, it has special powers that teaches its patrons different languages and history about other cultures.  Oh, that’s the Rosetta Stone, nevermind… I’m not sure what the Gabrielino Stone does then. hmm…

We finally come across our first sight of water, a man-made dam, something almost as special as a sink… Finally we get to the bottom of Chantry Flats, the wind is calm, but the river is wild.

Below are just two of the 40+ ghost-inhabited cabins that were originally placed there during the early 1920’s.  It is known that these cabins are full of vicious ghosts that would like nothing less than to sell them to you at some point for extraordinary prices, of course, when the value of the land goes up.  We’re not messing around with just any tree-hugging ghosts, we are up against the top of the food-chain.

As you can see, they post warnings.  The two most intriguing parts were the facts that they knew how to spell and were able to put together the complex idea that everyone dies someday.  They even put together the notion that they will probably be buried, in which case, they’d become part of the land.  The problem with that is that they forgot to think about those people, such as myself, that will be held in a giant, golden flask above a mantle somewhere.  Now what, ghosts?! Huh?  Whatcha going to do now?  Above all, what makes me upset is that they are such hypocrites, that can’t even pick up after their four-legged beasts!  Then again, maybe they like to be buried with shit?

I begin to feel something curious as I hear the ramblings of a waterfall in the near vicinity.  I somehow start to feel a bit hungry, a bit confused.  Have the ghosts found a way to mess with my mind, am I going to be the unlucky one that pulls the famine card?

As we round the corner I get a heavy blast of mist in my face and I come face to face with the legendary Sturdavent Falls.  I take a couple deep breaths and my hunger overwhelms me, so I take out my Tiger’s Milk Protein bar and eat it.  The confusion lingers and I begin to wonder why all of a sudden did I get so hungry?

I look at my other two companions and see that one is now wearing Armani sunglasses, and the other has cramps.  Fear fills my lungs like a smoker’s cough and the inevitable and unescaping reality hits me, I’ve pulled the famine card.  I’ve come prepared though, as you can see I’ve been saving up 15 extra pounds of body fat, and hopefully that will last me long enough to see my first born before I pass.… The last picture ever taken of Sakai.

- Sakai

Piedra Blanca Trail

6:30pm: We dashed out of The Number 502 and sped straight into 15 mph congestion on the 101 freeway heading north.  Our first stop would have to be The North Face outlet to swap out Katie’s “long” sleeping bag for a regular, Katie (tiny) sized one.  I also picked myself up a fleece and some nifty pants that zip off into shorts!  …we were on our way, got some fine dining fillet-o-fish paninis at McDoñaldés and headed up to Marsha’s house for some beer and wine before we fell asleep and awaited the next day.

Riiiise and Shiiine and Give God Your Glory, Glory!!!

3:30am: I wake up to a trembling body next to me, “there’s something white sitting in the middle of the lawn outside”.  (Side note: we’re sleeping in a house now, not even in the middle of a forest yet) I say “it’ll be fine, go to sleep”.  It wasn’t fine yet.  The trembling continued and roared into a pre-anxiety attack. It was full of the normal overly heavy breathing and tears.  Besides trying to be comforting, I couldn’t help the thoughts racing through my already exhausted mind of the fact that there’s no way that we can go camping if there’s already this much worry about it.

3:45am: Back to sleep.

7:30am: Up and at-em!  Wash the faces, brush the teeth, and pack the cookies that were so graciously made for us by Gramma Kathleen.

8:00am: On the road and headed up the Ojai 33 to the trailhead.

9:30am: Packs packed, shoes on and on a roll (in flip flops because there were 3 early river crossings).

10:00am: 3rd stream crossing, goodbye left flip flop, down the river it goes. I wish I had taken a picture of it, it was a sad sight.  I felt it come off, I looked down and my eyes traced the route of my lonely sandal floating down the river.

10:30am: We hit the Sespe Wilderness sign.

11:00am: Piedra Blanca

… When we round Piedra Blanca, we get a scary awakening.  It was a ghost trying to make it’s way out of the mountain and consume us, we fought it off and continued our trek…

12:00pm (Noon): Katie’s still steady trekking! No problems here, she’s a natural, look at that form, that intensity, that background of which she has already conquered!

12:30pm:  We see the first campsite, in which we were planning to pass, we should’ve only been 15 minutes to the next site.

12:45pm: Devastation strikes when we come up upon a river that was at least waist deep.  It was uncrossable in our flip flops or flip flop for that matter so we stood there weighed our options and decided to head back the 15 minutes to the site that we saw before, unfortunately it would have to do.

1:00pm: Back to Piedra Blanca camp, set up the tent, and prepare for lunch along the river!

2:00pm: With lunch finished, we find ourselves sunbathing on a rock we found on the river, this is now deemed the TiKa Rock or “Our Rock” in English.

7:00pm: The sun begins to fade behind the mountains so we get our fire going. We then prepare our delicious soup a la mashed potatoes, served with whole wheat pita and the finest of red wines (that can be found for $5 at your local supermarket).

8:00pm: It gets dark, and Katie decides it’s best that she get in the tent now, so we pack up our bear box, set it aside, brush our teeth and turn in.

9:00am: We pack it up and start our hike back to the car.

Here is Piedra Blanca from a far:

10:30am: We conquer that motherfucker! Woop, on top of the white rock we go and beat those ghosts out of it.  It’s no longer called Piedra Blanca, it’s now called Tim and Katie’s ma-fuckin-rock-yo!

Beautiful picture of the landscape and the lady (after conquering Tim and Katie’s ma-fuckin-rock-yo!:  That rock and it’s fellow soldiers fought back and gave Katie a chase all the way to the bottom where she ran down, up and around the mountain and back up and down until I see but a little ant wailing her arms at the base screaming.  Katie then got stung by a bee.

11:30am: With Katie’s battle wound and my lost sandal, we reach the end (not a bad tradeoff for renaming a mountain).  And out we go, from where we came in (I’m the taller one at the bottom and Katie’s the one on the left):

The journey will continue when we conquer Matilija Creek and rename that.  Our mission: To rename every trail and major mountain range in the world after us, because of course we’re the first ones there, just like the Americans.

- Sakai

Gear Up/Get Up/Hike Out

Very exciting news, we bought the majority of our gear for our new hobby, or should I say Katie’s new hobby and my rekindled interest.  Maybe it’s just a guy thing, but what is more exciting than being able to pack everything that you need to live in a pack and go out and live on your own, away from the hustle and bustle of the city?  Can’t think of much!  I’m so glad that we’ve found something that can fulfill my outdoor/adventure side and her exercise and hiking needs.  Why didn’t we think of this before.

Our first hike of the season is going to be hiking along the Sespe River, right outside Ojai, in the Los Padres National Forest.  This should be a very relaxing hike, only 5 miles in to set up camp, hang out in the waters, and then cook, and eat and go to sleep.  We’ll wake up the next morning and pack up camp and head back to the car.  My hopes are that no one will be around due to it being Coachella weekend.

I’ll take pictures of our gear later tonight.  I’m really excited for this!

 

 

Fearbook

Have you ever tried to explain a new concept or idea to someone only to find out that it is something that is not possible for them to grasp, or even worse, something that they refuse to at least try to understand?

It’s the most difficult thing in the world, buried under the confusion is frustration and anger.  I believe it is impossible and there is a point of no return to explain anything to anyone who thinks they are above you.  It is a single sadness that I’ve come to realize, the very person who has been teaching me that the most important thing in life is to always learn is the same person who is too stubborn to try to understand a new concept.  Is it that once you reach a certain age you believe and learn nothing outside of your comfort zone?

I have recently discovered that the fear of technology is extremely neglected by the older generations.  Take Facebook for example: parents know about it, are even members of it, but don’t understand how it works… Once they see a picture of them or their family linked via ad-like pop-ups, they get completely scared: why are there pictures of my family, my house, my animals, my vacations, etc. showing up randomly on an internet site, that is publicly known as a networking platform?  Simple answer, it’s a networking platform which sole purpose is to be able to share and spit ads at you that they know you want to see or may like to see based on your friends, internet searching habits, buying habits, etc.  This is the world that we live in, have you not seen the Facebook movie?

As I write this, I do understand the fear of it, public information being shared via the internet, accessible to whomever and whoever wants to view it, unless you have privacy settings established.  I also realize, that my father is getting old, my step-mom (14 years older than me) is also getting old.  A 14 year age difference now means the understanding or mis-understanding of a specific technology.

Am I soon to be passed up by my younger siblings and get to the point of threatening to fire or disown them because I do not understand why they know where I ate lunch?

Fear is an extremely difficult thing to manage and often ends up in some very serious arguments.  Fear is the reason why the U.S. keeps going to war, the reason why there isn’t a sustainable peace, the reason why Bernie Madoff ruined so many peoples lives, the reason for recession, the reason people kill themselves, the reason parents don’t want to learn something new, I think you get the idea…

I guess my new set goal is to continue learning and keep up with the younger generations so I don’t fear new things, so I don’t call my children up at 10pm yelling at them, threatening to fire them (from a job that they asked for me to take) because there are pictures of their kids on a page because Facebook is trying to suggest that those pictures might be of interest to them.  And the understanding that those pictures are not public but only accessible to them because the person who’s pictures they are are permitting them to see them.

It’s a lot of work, but I need to stay with my principle and most important guideline to living happily, come at every single obstacle with an unparalleled understanding.

Fearbook