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Islip Saddle via Little Jimmy’s

Angeles National Forest

Activity: Backpacking

Date: June 14 & 15, 2019

6.5 miles, 1700′ elevation change, 5.5 hours duration of hiking, rated Moderate

This hike was in the Angeles National Forest in early Summer. Everything about it was perfect, plenty of natural beauty, nice fresh air, a good workout, temperature around 70 and the view from the summit was wonderful.

I will say the flying bugs were out in force. They were mostly the annoying little flies. We had bug repellent and that kept them from landing on us, but we wish we had the face netting that we saw some PCT serious hikers using. By the way, at the spring at little Jimmy’s we had a long talk with some of the long haul Pacific Crest Trail hikers which was fun and interesting. They relayed tales of hiking through rain storms, trudging through snow, blisters so bad that they became infected and forced them to seek medical attention and kept them off the trail for a week. They said that after about a week or so of hiking all the PCT folks are hobbled with bad blisters, but after that their feet just harden. They told us about how many rattle snakes they had seen in our mountains right near their feet and that quick reflexes are what saved them.

I did this backpacking adventure with my good friend Dexter, and my 15 year old son, Alec, on Father’s Day weekend, which made it a great Father’s Day!

The hike stomped on the accelerator from the get-go as it was steep right out of the parking lot. (Don’t forget your Adventure Pass for parking). The middle of the hike was a more gradual elevation change, but the last part going up to the top was again rather steep.

On the top were great views in every direction. One direction was the Mojave Desert, another view the San Gabriel Mountains, and another the ridge line. On the top is the ruins of an old cabin which was neat to checkout.

We went up on Friday and there were a few people camped in the area designated for camping. Around sunset a bunch of Boy Scouts started filing in. I must note that on Saturday when we came down the parking lot was full, cars were parking haphazardly, and there were big groups going up. So if you are going on the weekends be prepared to have plenty of company.

After talking to a solo backpacker camped near us, we heard that a great hike to do is from Little Jimmy’s to Mount Baden-Powell. There is a trailhead and parking area for Mount Baden-Powell, but according to the hiker, who was scouting out the hike for his group of boys next week, it had an even more aggressive amount of elevation change all at once instead of the hike we were on which was a little more spread out. I think I will have to put his recommendation on my list and camp here again and try the hike to Mount Baden-Powell via Little Jimmy’s. He also mentioned that Mount Baden-Powell is a rite of passage for the Boy Scouts and there is a monument to the founder of the Boy Scouts there.

Islip sits at 8,250′ above sea level and is a Moderate hike. We loved it and having the nice spring at Little Jimmy’s was great. We still carried a lot of water just in case, but we did some refilling and it worked out wonderfully. We still filtered the water just to be safe. But it tasted really good. Highly recommend Pursuing Balance Through Adventure on the Islip Saddle via Little Jimmy’s in the Angeles National Forest.

Trail Map of Islip Saddle to Little Jimmy’s



Nice trail
Angeles National Forest is a great place to be.
Trail post
Nice to be back in the Forest with it’s sights, smells, and feel of balance and adventure
Much of the hike has a steep embankment to one side.
Love the firs
Heard good things about some of these other hikes.
Up up up
What a fun Father’s Day outing.
These mountains are timeless and the black and white still shots make you thing of times gone by.
Nice views
In every direction as we head for the summit.
Shot of the ridge line.
View from the top
On the top are ruins of a cabin
Another shot of this little cabin.
Alec and I on the Summit.
Summit Views
With a view like this everything is alright with the world.
Balance of nature, and adventure
You just gotta’ love it!
Fir and sky
Alec looking out of the cabin imaging what it was like for it’s inhabitants many decades ago.
Alec through the doorway of time.
Beautiful
Looks like an old time postcard.
My son Alec heading back down at the quick clip of a 15 year old.
Come on Dad what is taking you?
Alec practicing bear evasion protocol.
Back at camp where my friend Dexter has been kicking back while we Summited.
Alec silhouetted against the Sunset.
Twilight and the Angeles National Forest. That night we had a full moon that was spectacular through the firs.

Thanks for joining Dexter, Alec, and I as we were Pursuing Balance Through Adventure backpacking in the Angeles National Forest. Now that you are inspired why not make your own adventure, but before you do please, oh please COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW, and SHARE. I know a lot of you tell me that you are checking out the website, but if you don’t say hello once in awhile I do not know that you are even there.

A storm on a high mountain can be a match for even the hardiest man, a cliff or crevasse or expansive ocean is unquestionably a less than 100% safe place to be. But an even greater risk than these is not to take them at all, to allow life to pass by in safe, forgettable shades of gray. – Author Unknow

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

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Malibu Creek State Park

MALIBU LAKE TRAIL

ROCK POOL AND CENTURY LAKE TRAILS

LOST CABIN TRAIL

Activity: Day Hike

11.5 miles, 1290’ elevation gain, >5 hour duration, rated Moderate

Date: 3-14-22

This was my first venture into Malibu Creek State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains.  It is a beautiful place and it easy to see how it has lent itself as a backdrop to so many Hollywood Movies and TV Shows.  There is a $15 charge to enter the park.  I crammed as much into my visit as I could trying to see as much of the park as I possible.  My journey encompassed several of the parks hiking routes.  

From the parking area I crossed Los Virgenes Creek, a quiet and serene setting with shade trees.  Then I walked along Crags Road to the Visitor Center that was not open on the day I was there, but there still were some interesting displays of movie memorabilia.  I crossed the bridge over Malibu Creek continuing on to the Rock Pool and the Century Lake Dam.  

On the way to the MASH site there is a little cement damn that does not completely reach the other side of a stream that is a few feet deep. A person there ahead of me exclaimed, “apparently there is some swimming involved.”  There were however, a couple limbs perched precariously in an long X. After looking it over I cautiously inched my way across. He opted out and turned back. 

The sun filtering through the oaks as I made my way beside a gentle stream, green rolling hills and jagged rock outcroppings. It was evident at some point both fire and flood had rushed through this little valley.

During my time at Malibu Creek State Park I viewed some of the park’s inhabitants, a cute furry bunny, the world’s fastest bird- the peligren falcon, soaring vultures, lots of lizards, very long very skinny very fast snake, and two bee swarms that I gave a wide berth. 

There was a placard showing the set of the Ape’s Village from ‘Planet of the Apes”.  A favorite TV series of mine ‘M.A.S.H.’ had some great props.  I could almost see the helicopters bringing in the wounded over the hill tops in the opening scene of the show, with Hawkeye Pierce, Major Houlihan, and Radar O’Riley directing them to the medical tents.   

I added the Lost Cabin Trail, which brought me views of Goat Buttes and the rugged terrain in a less traveled remote part of the park.  After returning to the ‘M.A.S.H.’ site I headed up for views from above, traveling on Bulldog Motorway/Lookout Road.  This brought me into part of a neighborhood before dropping down on to Crags Road.  I took a side excursion to see Malibu Lake and from there just working my way back.  Near the end I took the High Road just to do something a little different. No really the route was called the “High Road”, lol.  

I really enjoyed my day at Malibu Creek State Park, a place that the whole family can have an Easy stroll, or more adventurous stream crossings, and even head up for a view from above.  

Century Dam and Reservoir
Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel, CLICK THE PIC!
Life isn’t about obtaining processions it’s about obtaining experiences. 

Thanks for coming along to my visit in Malibu Creek State Park as I was ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ in an alluring place that once was a Hollywood Movie Set, in fact it was like 100 movie sets.  For more fun and excitement stayed tuned by doing this COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE.  The menu above will give you lots of ideas and inspiration for your next adventure.  The menu is categorized by area and sometimes by activity, each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.  You can find the hat I am modeling in the photos along with other top quality Adventure Wear at SHOP APPAREL.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure 

Lewis Falls

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

Activity: Day Hike, Chasing Waterfalls

2.5 miles, 860’ elevation gain, 2.5 hour duration, Rated Moderate to HARD

Date: 1-6-22

Delightful hike through a wooded canyon along a babbling brook. This hike fords the stream multiple times, so either having good balance or wearing waterproof boots would be helpful. There is also some light rock scampering. I wore my waterproof boots, but luckily did not experience any slips so I remained dry. 

The falls were enchantingly beautiful, flowing nicely after recent winter rains.  

I decided to climb up a ravine to the side of the waterfall for no other reason than to see what I could see and also in hopes of connecting with what appeared to be a trail on the ridge high above. This course of action took what was a Moderate hike to a whole other level.   It more than doubled the mileage, doubled the elevation gain, and triple the amount of time.

I was scrambling up loose sliding dirt and rock. Each hand or foothold needed to be tested, because sometimes they moved or crumbled.  I climbed up into what was full on bushwhacking mode into heavy thorny brush.  If you take a close look at the GPS Map of my track it looks like a blur because it does a lot of zigzagging back and forth across the dotted line which was supposed to represent a trail on my GPS APP, but I found nothing that even remotely resembled a trail on top. After a frustrating amount of time I finally gave up. I set out trying to follow my trail back, but since that was all bushwhacking that didn’t aid me to any great degree. 

Finally I made my way back to the waterfall. However, I had not seen this portion of the falls previously when I made my way up to the top of the canyon.  So I took a few pictures, as the water plunged over the top, tumbling effortlessly through space. The joy of that moment faded into huh, now how am I going to get down? Following my red line on the GPS map didn’t help much as I had done quite a bit of traipsing around so it was just a ball of yarn, as I mentioned previously.  My trek was slow going through thick foliage of thorny brush. When I started my descent it was twice as hard. I feel it is always easier to go up then go down. So slowly and methodically I eased my way down the steep ravine, some spots with drop offs. The dirt and rock slid so it was a lot of hand holds and foot holds on whatever sturdy rock, bushes, and trees I could get ahold of. There was some butt sliding, crab walking, and backwards bear crawling down the ravine. Finally back to the base of the falls- woooo hooo!  

I took a moment to take in what I just accomplished and to etch the memories of the tumbling water into my mind’s eye, then back on the trail headed out. 

Lewis Falls in the Angeles National Forest
I clawed and bushwhacked my way to this view looking back over the area from above the Waterfall.
After finally making is safely down I drank in one last glance at the falls before bounding down the trail.
Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel
A waterfall needs to be viewed in motion.
Please CLICK THE PIC
A strong person and a waterfall always carve their own path.  

Thanks for joining me as I was ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ by chasing waterfalls. Seeking balance via cascading water is always a delight, especially when there is descent water flow.  Adventure awaits!  Be sure to join me for my next outing in nature. It is easy to do by taking a few easy enough steps: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. The menu above is categorized by area and sometimes activity, each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.  Please checkout SHOP APPAREL where you will find some great adventure wear adorned with the ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ logo. 

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins 

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure 

Verdugo Peak

LA TUNA CANYON PARK

Activity: Day Hike, Peak Bagging

8 miles, 3,126’ elevation, 1,906’ elevation change, 3.5 hour duration, rated Moderate-Hard

Verdugo Peak is the high point of the Verdugo Mountains, a small range in the San Fernando Valley with trails leading up from the cities of Glendale and Burbank.  So certainly this hike has a suburban vibe to it, as it has some great city and valley views, but it also has some wonderful views of the San Gabriel Mountains.

If you checkout the map I have attached, my hike started out of Burbank. There are nice bathrooms at the trailhead Nature Center.  Hiking on fire roads, it begins at a pretty good incline right off the bat. Temperatures started in the middle 60s, but were supposed to reach into the 90s. So I made sure to start early, bring plenty of water and snacks for my journey up to Verdugo Peak via Stough Canyon Trail.

Just after the 1 mile mark I decided to click it up a notch, which took this hike from moderate, on fire roads, to a difficult trail that was practically straight up. I would not recommend going down this side trail hill because of the loose, slick dirt and rock. I Scrambled up to the Verdugo Crest. I will always take the road less traveled if I have an option. You do give up some shade, that coupled with the added extra effort, and you will need that extra water and Cliff Bar. Once on the Ridge line there is a fine trail, and even a comfortable and stylish wooden chaise lounge chair with a view, only in LA, lol!

I took every chance to get off the fire road and onto a side trail and there were numerous such opportunities.  I enjoyed the challenge and I thought the steep side trails were much better for my psyche, and after all- we are ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure.’   On the way back however, I stayed on the fire road to experience it, (which was boring…), and also some of the downhill sections on those trails would’ve been quite slick because of a light dusting of sand, loose dirt and rocks.

Urbanish hikes are not my favorite, highways, urban sprawl, radio towers are just not my thing.  I am really always looking for as much nature as possible, but for what this was, it was a fun hike.  

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel CLICK TO WATCH
“Sometimes the right path is not the easiest.”

My quote for this article ”Sometimes the right path is not the easiest” rings true here as I could have stayed on the fire road, but that was not the right path for me- not when there is a perfectly good trail nearby. So what if it was super steep with loose rocks, dirt and sand. I was up for the challenge, plus fire roads, while they can get you somewhere quickly, are no way near as fun. After all, the whole idea is to be ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’. The key word is Adventure, not Pursuing Balance Through Fire Road. So to me always take the road less traveled if there is that option. To Balance out this go here go there, stop and go traffic, hurry up, meet the deadline, don’t be late world- we need to take some detours. We need some detours that challenge, that have a view, that can get us excited, but also bring us calm. We need detours that bring us back to center. Adventures in Nature can do that, bring us the needed Balance. Let’s do some more ’Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ together so please: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. Go up to the menu for more ideas of places that can put some Adventure in your step. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. In the picture of me relaxing in the lounge chair I am wearing a hat. if you could see the cap clearly you would observe that it has an fantastic logo and on the side is stitched ’Pursuing Balance Thru Adventure’. Go to SHOP APPAREL and pick one up for yourself and your hiking partner. If you DM me I will give you a deal.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Jackson Lake To Jackson Flats Observation Tower via PCT 

BIG PINE RECREATION AREA 

Near Valyermo

Activity: Day Hike

8.2 miles, 1765’ elevation gain, 4 hour duration, rated Moderate

Date: 9-23-21

Jackson Lake Trail starts out by a small lake moves on to a fire road, but after about a mile you turn on to a proper trail, by the way it’s up up up!  The trail wanders through the pines with the deciduous trees just starting to turn here in the first couple days of Fall. The National Forest opened back up today after being closed for weeks due to short staffing as a result of the fires in NoCal. 

It is 2.5 miles up to Pacific Crest Trail.  After awhile on the PCT the route changes from the PCT back on fire roads, (not my favorite), but it does aford nice views of Mt Baden Powell and other neighboring peaks.

To bad it is hazy. Smokey fires in Riverside, Santa Clarita, and Chatsworth are the issue on this day, so I was informed by some hikers along the way.  If you look at my pictures they are all a little hazy, that was smoke in the air. This hike leads to the Jackson Flats Observation Tower where there should have been great views.

Still this hike is a nice one and on a good day it certainly would be a great day. 

Jackson Lake
Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel video of Jackson Lake Trail. CLICK THE PIC!
“Nobody trips over mountains. It is the pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Thank you for coming with me on this journey as I found myself ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ up a mountain. I smelled a trace of smoke in the air, then I saw the orange glow around the sun. It got worse throughout the day. The images of nearby mountains should have been bright and clear, but that wasn’t to be on this day, as smoke from nearby fires drifted into my area. I discovered from hikers near the top that the fires were aways off so there wasn’t danger, but it was not the best day. It goes to show you that you can still make the best of what you have and although it might not be perfect it still beats sitting on the couch. Stay with me by doing this: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE and we will find some clear skies I promise after all as it says in the mantra “Pursuing Balance…” we are pursuing it. We cannot just grab it in our hand and that is it. It is the journey not the destination. The Balance is in the striving. If you summit the mountain you don’t just plant the flag and yell, ”Ta’ Da!” You go after another mountain, and another. If you go to the menu above you will see that PBTA goes to many wonderful places throughout the West. The menu is categorized by location and sometimes by activity. Each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. If you like my hat and shirt then please checkout SHOP APPAREL for your adventure wear needs.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Los Leones Trail and East Topanga Fire Road

TOPANGA STATE PARK

Activity: Day Hike

9 miles, 1,950 elevation gain, 5.5 hour duration, rated Hard

Date: 8-27-21

This hike in the Malibu area is in the Topanga State Park. You could do the hike up to equisit mountain and ocean views as a moderate hike providing some pretty good incline on the East Topanga Fire Road. However, adding on Los Leones Trail makes it more interesting and if you also would like to opt for Adventure take what I have been hearing referred to as “the goat trail”.

“The goat trail”, a nickname not a trail name, pushed the outing into the Hard category. We did the loop, you see on my map, counter clockwise. This was a mistake. Going up ”the goat trail” would be difficult, but going down it is sketchy at best. This was our first time on this trail- live and learn. “The goat trail“ is a narrow winding path through a heavy brush area. It is quite steep and the ground has loose material. Trekking poles help, but sometimes you will find yourself hanging onto the trees and brush as you ease yourself down certain sections. Do not be surprised if you still don’t find yourself a time or two on your butt looking up at the sky. Or… as I suggested, take the loop clockwise and save yourself the aggravation. Going up is always easier.

The reward on this hike once you get up high are some gorgeous views of the pacific ocean and the beach. You will also be pleased with striking panoramic views of the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains.

I did this hike with my friend Ahmed, a thru hiker, who had recently come off of the Pacific Crest Trail. I met Ahmed 6 months earlier when a group of us backpacked to Switzer Falls and Bear Camp via Gabrielino Trail. After that I day hiked with Ahmed, down in San Diego, when a different group of us did the Fortuna Mountain Trail in Mission Trails Regional Park. Then I got a little crazy and tried to keep up with this serious thru-hiker backpacking in the wilds of Oregon taking on the heights of Mount McLoughlin.

Ahmed was also nice enough to share with us his wisdom, at ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ Backpacking and Hiking 101, tips on Electrolytes and Hiking and How a Through Hiker Re-Packs Your Backpack. So I have had a lot of adventure hiking with Ahmed, and I appreciate him slowing down his pace a little, okay a lot…

So in closing this is a hike that will knock your wool hiking socks off with the views. Go early to avoid the weekend crowds and to secure parking or go up and down the ‘goat trail’ I can guarantee that will not be packed. Bring plenty of water and snacks and as Ahmed prescribes: electrolytes.

CLICK THE PIC Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel and this clip.
“Slowness means cleaving perfectly to time, so closely that the seconds fall one by one, drop by drop like the steady dripping of a tap on stone. The stretching of time deepens space. It is one of the secrets of walking: a slow approach to landscapes that gradually renders them familiar. Like the regular encounters that deep in friendship.” – Frederic Gros
Ahmed and Roger on the trail.

Thanks for joining Ahmed and I as we found ourselves sliding, okay I was the one slip sliding away, Ahmed was bounding down the goat trail, but we were both certainly ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’. Stay with us for more hiking, backpacking, and other adventuring. PBTA is all about smoothing out the bumps of our busy schedule, do this do that lives, by taking in the sights of nature, exercising our bodies and opening our minds, breathing in the ocean breeze, and feeling the sun on our face. Nature can bring things back into perspective and that is important… no essential. At least every so often it is crucial to get out and un-shoulder some of that burden that accumulates as part of life. Stick with us by doing these things: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you need Adventure Wear such as that I am wearing in the pictures, PBTA literally has you covered, just go to SHOP APPAREL. If you go up to the menu above you will see that PBTA travels all over this great West of ours. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursing Balance Through Adventure

Cave of the Munits

El Escorpion Park

Near West Hills

Activity: Day Hike, Spelunking

7+ miles, 925’ elevation gain, 4 hour duration, rated Moderate

Date: 8-26-21

Cave of the Munits via El Escorpion Park and Victory Trails

The area is a sacred ceremonial place of the Chumash People.  The tale of Munits is shrouded in mystery, but goes something like this.  Munit was a Powerful Shaman of the Chumash Native American Tribe.  A Shaman is a sort of Witch Doctor if you will.  The Shaman, a religious practitioner, somewhat of a Priest or Priestess, summons what they believe to be the spirit world through a trance with the purpose of influencing the spirits and their energies to provide divine healing or in some way help their people in the physical world.  

The Chief had the Shamon, Munit, brutally murder and dismember his son in this place. The Chief requested this dastardly deed in retaliation for the son murdering his sister, the Chief’s daughter.  Not everyone in the tribe was so keen on the whole thing.  Munit ended up taking the fall for the murder of the Chief’s son and was also put to death on the nearby peak.  

It is a short hike to the Cave of the Munits via El Escorpion Trail. I went toward the cave and a couple young women were there.  I decided to give them some space and started exploring more to the right of the cave and began heading up the side of the hill.  I then dropped into vicinity of the young woman who had climbed up around the cave entrance.  They were down below and greeting me asking if I had been here before.  I said that I had not and one of the young women said she had once before.  Since from my spot I could not get down to where they were I asked if they knew if I could get to the cave from where I was without having to retrace my climb.  They gave me directions to work around some boulders just above me and said, ”It’s a big hole in the ground you can’t miss it.“ I worked into an opening in the ground leading into the cave with a rather steep descent requiring some scrambling and a bit of sliding on my butt.  Soon the young women had caught up to me entering the Cave of Munits.  This was a Chimney Cave with skylights and two ways in.  I entered through the top and went down from there.  The young women were making sure I got my footholds right looking out for me like their Dad lol. 

There is scrambling involved getting into the cave from above and definitely scrambling on some smooth rock down and out of the Cave of the Munits. When you are inside it is a little spooky and unworldly, and rather unique from other caves.  Light reflects in through the entrance and skylights.  There is a portion that is dark and would require a headlamp or flashlight to venture into.  

After my visit to the mystical and mysterious cave I added the Victory Trails. This more than tripled the mileage which was then more in the range of what I wanted to hike. I strolled through the golden hills of Summer sprinkled with green oaks.  In a conversation with a fellow hiker he recommended returning in the Spring to the area which is nicknamed “Little Ireland” because the rolling hills are so green that time of year.

CLICK THE PIC for PBTA YouTube Channel Video on this episode featuring an Chumash Native American Song
Out on the Victory Trails looking back. The peak to the right is Castle Peak that is where the Powerful Chumash Shamon was put to death and the vicinity of the Cave of the Munits
“Take risks, to go boldly… the greatest danger in life is not taking the adventure“ -Brian Blessed

Thanks for joining me on this mystical, magical, cave dwelling exploration as I found myself ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ in ”A big hole in the ground” that you can’t miss. There are more caves, and more explorations ahead I promise you, (because I am some 40 adventures behind and I know of three more totally awesome caves I have not written about yet). In order to make sure you do not miss out on any future adventures, as we all seek Balance in our sometimes mundane and quite often too busy lives, please do the following: LIKE, FOLLOW, COMMENT and SHARE. This particular adventure was in LA County, but if you go up to the menu above you will see that PBTA ventures to many extraordinary spots throughout the West which should provide all the inspiration needed to set you on your own adventure. Each menu location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. In the video clip I am outfitted with top quality Adventure Gear all adorning the PBTA Logo and Mantra. You can purchase this gear at SHOP APPAREL, check it out.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Echo Mountain

VIA SAM MERRILL TRAIL

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

Activity: Day Hike, Walk Through History

5.5 miles, 1417’ elevation gain, 3 hour duration, rated Moderate

Date: June 24, 2021

This hike above Altadena and Pasadena is a popular hike so an early start on a mid-weekday was just the ticket for me. The trail is steep, but plenty of switchbacks keep it in check. You will never be out of sight of civilization as you weave your way up the mountain, so it is an LA type of hike. However keep in mind since this particular hike is a walk through history, about 130 years ago people ventured up this mountain via railroad and incline cars to see the view from Catalina to the entire LA area. One traveler claimed to take in the sight all at once that would otherwise take a month to see by car. Besides that, the San Gabriel Mountains are an exquisite vision to be sure.

Echo Mountain House was a stately 70 room Victorian Clapboard Hotel senior to it was the 40 room Echo Chalet. All of the buildings were painted white, and the newspapers named it ”White City”. The Grand Hotel could be seen from miles away perched up on the mountain. The grounds boasted several attractions, an Observatory, a Zoo, Mule Rides, Tennis Courts, and a powerful 3 million candle Search Light from the Chicago’s World Fair all made this a top tourist attraction around the turn of the Century. Now all that is left is remnants of a by gone era which make for a fun and interesting hike.

Echo Mountain House was lost just six years after it’s fanfare opening due to a kitchen fire. The rest were also doomed, and would be lost in natural disasters of wind, fire and flood not long after. But for that one fleeting moment in time Echo Mountain represented ingenuity in a state of the art railroad and incline cars that being the Mount Lowe Railway, an Observatory made to out shadow Mt Wilson’s, a searchlight second to none and a grand hotel overlooking the City of Angeles.

Be sure to click the pic transporting you back in time and to the ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel.
DAWN ON MOUNT LOWE.
Looking southward to the sunlands,On the ocean’s ebb and flow,Keeping watch o’er Echo Mountain,Dwells the spirit of Mount Lowe—In the glowing light of noonday,In the midnight calm and lone,Gazing outward from the summitLike a ruler from his throne.
At his feet sits Pasadena,Framed with fields of fruit and grainWhere the valley of San GabrielSlopes in beauty to the main—Pasadena, decked with rosesAnd with gems of gold and green,Resting on the landscape’s foreheadLike a crown upon a queen.
And the “City of the Angels,”On her hills of bronze and gold,Stands amidst her groves of olivesLike Jerusalem of old;With the purple Sierra MadresSmiling downward from the dawn,As Mount Hermon smiled on Zion,In the ages that are gone.
West and south the blue Pacific,Hemmed with surf and fringed with spray,Bathes in floods of molten silverHeadland, island, beach and bay;East and north the inland deserts,With their ever shifting sands—More unstable than the waters—[Pg 105]Fade in distant mountain lands.
Oh! that vision of the sunlandsWhere the skies are ever fair,And the Autumn woos the WinterWith young rosebuds in her hair—Where the orange blooms foreverAnd its leaf is never sere,And the mocking bird is singingTo his mate the livelong year.
It has haunted me in slumber,It has gleamed and throbbed againIn my solitary musings,And in crowded throngs of men;Like a vanished revelationFloats the memory back to meOf that dawn upon the mountain’Twixt the desert and the sea.
James G. Clark.

Thanks for joining me on this hike in the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains, to Echo Mountain, an historic location now all but forgotten, a place once of grandeur and spectacle now only foundations, support walls and incline railway parts. One only need an imagination to ponder about the men dressed in their dark suits and hats, the women in their fine long gowns with flowered bonnets upon their heads. They came to “White City” to enjoy the benefits of the mountains, to marvel at the views, to delight in the experience at the Echo Mountain House, revel in the achievement of the modern technology of the incline cars, Observatory, and the World’s Fair Searchlight. In order to engage in more ’Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ be sure to LIKE, FOLLOW, COMMENT and SHARE. For Adventure Wear such as that pictured why not stop by SHOP APPAREL and pick up some top quality gear. If you go to the menu above you will discover that PBTA ventures to many special places throughout the West. Each location is meant to inspire you towards your next outing in nature with the goal of finding what we all seek, being a respite from our busy modern existence- Balance. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Upper Ballast Point Loop

Two Harbors, Santa Catalina Island

Activity: Day Hike

4.25 miles, 1,175’ elevation gain, 2 hour duration, rated Moderate to Hard

Date: 6-13-21

I was on Catalina for a sailboat race, the Marina Del Rey to Cat Harbor Regatta. During the yacht race we sail from MDR to the backside of Two Harbors which is called ‘Catalina Harbor’ or “Cat Harbor” for short. On the frontside is ‘Isthmus Cove’ or just the “Isthmus” for short. You can read all about my account of how we, the crew of the J125 named ’Javelin’, won the race on the way over, upsetting a bigger faster yacht when the going got tough. (Just click that underlined bolded link above.) Unfortunately, that same yacht figured it out for the return race back to MDR. But this post is about hiking, so lets get to putting boots to dirt!

Early Sunday morning I set out for the hike called Upper Ballast Point. I had done a portion of this hike before with friends when I was on Catalina for another yacht race, that one on was on Trimarans. The portion I did at that time was the hard portion, up a very steep trail that eroded in a few places so it wasn’t entirely safe and I caution you to take good care on such an undertaking heading up to Ballast Point on this section.

The hike I read about on my Hiking App did not venture up the very steep, precarious trek rather started near the Isthmus and headed up a dirt road that managed the elevation gain in a much more manageable manner instead of all at once. But, if you are up for a challenge then make this hike into a loop. I always suggest making the steepest part of a loop your uphill. It is always easier going up then coming down a steep, slippery, rocky, dusty trail.

It was to be a solo hike as the rest of the ‘Javelin’ crew had done a bit too much celebrating the night before, so I would be ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ alone. I hiked along the shoreline toward the mouth of the tiny harbor then up a little worn trail that soon afterwards took a beeline straight up. Up higher and higher I climbed, passed a few somewhat dangerous spots, as I mentioned. If you watch yourself and stay away from the eroded drop off you should be fine. No switch backs here just straight up. I am nicknaming this Heart Attack Ridge, lol! Through a layer of clouds finally to the top whereas after a bit the fog began to dissipate which lent a wonderfully moody view of the island as well as Two Harbors, literally 2 harbors.

From there it was mostly a winding dirt road. Over hill and over dale toward the Isthmus, golden hills, some oak trees, I spied a couple of deer. It was a very pleasant journey back.

Lonely view point when it is shrouded in fog, but a nice rest stop after trudging up the hill.
Looking back at the ridge line I had hiked along.
Cat Harbor as seen coming down the ridge.
The Isthmus Cove at Two Harbors, Catalina Island
On the right in this picture you will see the steep slant of the hill, the addition of this section takes this hike to another level.
The crew of ‘Javelin’ motoring out for the MDR to Catalina Regatta starting line.
Roses are red, dirt is brown, let’s go hiking to get out of town.

Thanks for trekking along with me on this fun hike on Santa Catalina Island, and for going the extra mile… sorta’ speak, because the difference between Upper Ballast Point Hike and the loop I contrived was a little added mileage, a little added elevation gain, but a whole lot more energy expenditure and most importantly, adventure. After all that is what we are all about. It takes something a little extra ordinary to gain that balance between our everyday hustle and bustle and the bliss of nature. In order to not miss out on the next episode of ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ LA County Hiking here is what you need to do: LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you would like Adventure Wear that is top quality and carries the mantra then checkout SHOP APPAREL. Go to the menu above for all the locations that PBTA ventures to for inspiration for your next exploration. Each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Grizzly Flats Trail

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

Activity: Day Hike

7+ miles, 2000’ elevation gain, 6 hours duration, rated Moderate

Date: 3-30-21

Perhaps the bottom of the trail near the babbling brook is flat, with beautiful trees that line the creek and multiple stream crossings, but then it starts to climb. This hike is anything but flat. The journey ranges from moderate incline to steep incline. The vegetation is diverse as well. Near the stream vibrant green trees and lush under growth stand in contrast to the more arid conditions as the trail moves away from the water. The trek starts climbing through scrub brush. There’s times, during the ascent, that you get into ravines. These areas have a variety of different types of trees. Nice oak trees frame boundless vistas of the surrounding mountains. In this early part of year there is a lot of greenery, Spring has sprung.

Once I reached the saddle I enjoyed the views and a quick snack and then began descending toward Highway 2. Starting at the 2 would be another option to enjoy this hike, but the parking area on the 2 is quite small. You need an Adventurer Pass or other acceptable parking pass for the National Forest regardless if you start at the 2, for this out and back hike, or where I did at Stonyvale Picnic Area. Either way this hike will not leave you flat.

Oh, and by the way not only is the hike not flat, the last Grizzly Bear, which adorns our California State Flag, was shot in 1906. My point is Grizzly Flats Trail is not flat and there are no Grizzlies. Even though the trail is not apply named it is a wonderful hike. I will warn you that, although this was not the case for me in my experience on this trek, I have read that others have experienced bugs, and overgrown trails. That of course depends on the time of year and when the trail was last maintained.

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel
It’s a hill, get over it

Thanks for coming along ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ with me on this journey to find balance between the everyday world filled with obligations and duties, and this magical carefree world of nature and adventure. We need both in order to thrive, but we certainly need that balance and the healing that profound experiences in Nature can bring. Stay with me as this is a never ending journey into Nature and ourselves. You can do that by these simple tasks: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you like my hat you can purchase one and other top quality PBTA logo gear at SHOP APPAREL. If you peruse the menu above you will see that PBTA ventures to many extraordinary locales, each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Trail Canyon Falls

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

Near Sunland-Tujunga, California

Activity: Day Hike, Chasing Waterfalls

5 miles, 1,050’ elevation gain, >2.5 hours duration, rated Moderate

Date: 3-31-21

The sun rising over the canyon walls bathed the ridge crest in hues of gold. I hiked through the rugged canyon to an enchanting 40’ waterfall which cast a spell of relaxation and rejuvenation. That my friends is what ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ is all about, profound outing in nature that can heal our other wise stressed out or ho hum existence.

This is a dry desert like area where canyon walls and nearby hills are peppered with desert chaparral, but parts of the canyon where a babbling brook flows from a beautiful double falls brings greenery and life. After passing some cabins the hike makes it’s way along Golden Creek which needs to be traversed multiple times under the shade of Alder, Sycamore and Oak.

In the distance you will start to hear the falls as you peer out at it from the trail. I first went to the top of the falls taking it in from above. From there retraced my steps, and then made my way down a narrow off-shoot of the trail. Here it is a steep decline with loose slippery dirt, but no fear as there is a ratty old rope tied to a root for you to trust on the most difficult part of the descent. Also be on the lookout for poison oak.

The scene at the foot of the falls is serene and tranquil with a little gathering pool. Shade is provided by pretty blooming trees. Water trickles down the sides of the wall covered by a mossy vegetation, but the main show is the 40’ double falls. I have heard that there is water flowing throughout the year, but that may be only a trickle during the summer. The best viewing and flow would be during the Spring. I have seen pictures that had a lot more water than my Spring time visit, but I believe that larger flow was just after some rain. Trail Canyon Falls really is quite a delight.

Waterfalls need to be seen in motion click pic for my PBTA YouTube Video.
Grace be the waterfall in the wild of my mind.– Morgan Harper Nichols

Who doesn’t love chasing waterfalls? This was a very fun day and exploration of this section of the San Gabriel Mts part of the Angeles National Forest. As I said in the opening, these treks into nature have such a calming, healing affect on all of us as we seek that balance. For more ventures into balance please join me again. The best way to do that is to LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. Going to the menu will provide ideas for other adventures, as PBTA treks to many spots throughout the West. Each location on the menu is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. A hat and shirt, such as mine in the picture, can be purchased at a nominal cost at SHOP APPAREL. The purchase would help support this website, plus they are top quality and the logo can be your mantra.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure