DSCN0513

Hiking Red Box Trail to Mount Lowe in Angeles National Forest

Back to hiking this weekend and we were both glad for it. The weather has been fantastic and the city unappealing so off to the mountains we go. This trail was about a 45-minute drive from the LA and was much less crowded than the trails we’d done previously in Angeles National Forest…probably because we left before 6:00am to beat the crowds. We were able to park right at the trailhead this time.

It’s amazing how the landscape changes just 30 minutes drive outside LA. Before we knew it we were winding up the mountain toward Disappointment Road (ha) where we parked at the trailhead. The beginning of the trail doesn’t ease you into the hike; it’s straight up and to the top you go:

DSCN0519

DSCN0506

DSCN0520

This was the first time hiking since I’d injured my leg but I was confident that I could do these 6 miles without a problem this weekend. I was wrong, however. About 1 mile in I started to feel it again. We continued on and completed two miles before we decided I should probably let it rest some more instead of risking making it worse. So these pictures are of the two miles to the top of the saddle. If we were to complete the trail, it would go 1 or so miles up Mount Lowe straight after the saddle.

DSCN0512

The views were spectacular on the way up.

DSCN0511

DSCN0507

DSCN0514

When you make it to the saddle, this is what you see – the entire city of Los Angeles at the bottom. Camera doesn’t really do it justice. We decided to stop here, have some lunch, and just take in the views.

DSCN0515

DSCN0516

Jacob is standing on what used to be a ski lift (I think we read that somewhere?) that burned when a forest fire caught here in 2009. You could tell the fire was a big one. Tons of downed trees and piles of wood chips from the clean up efforts. This trail actually runs right along a fire access road which is only used by fire trucks in case of a forest fire. These past few weeks, actually, have been bad for brush fires around the city. It seems like one is on the news almost every day. The drought is at its worst this year, and I’m sure parts of the forest will go up in flames before summer is over with. It’s just something they have to deal with a lot here, unlike the Smokies where it’s not so common.

DSCN0518

Anyway, really hoping to feel 100% on the next hike. We’ve also got plans in the making for a backpacking weekend this month which I’m really excited about.

In other news, we felt our second earthquake this week. Woke us both up in the middle of the night. It sounds like thunder is right on top of your roof and feels like a giant is jumping around outside.  I’ve never felt anything like it. It will definitely take some time to get used to those.

We also went to a housewarming party for one of Jacob’s co-workers. His wife made an amazing spread of Korean food which was so, so delicious. The housewarming gift situation was a little humorous. His co-worker doesn’t drink so the typical bottle of wine was out. We opted to make some cookies and take them instead. While we were walking in with our baked goods, his other Korean co-workers and friends were bringing practical things like Costco-sized amounts of toilet paper and paper towels. Makes total sense, but it was funny to see what an American vs Korean will bring to a housewarming party. I’ll be sure to bring 5 gallons of laundry detergent next time.

KakaoTalk_Photo_2015-05-03-14-59-55_6

KakaoTalk_Photo_2015-05-03-14-59-57_34

DSCN0493

Camping at Camp Wishon in Sequoia National Forest

Camping! One of my favorite past times that we haven’t had the opportunity to do in years. The last time we went camping was in 2009 on Edisto Island off the coast of South Carolina (2009, seriously?). We had planned to do some backpacking this weekend (would have been my first time) but I’ve managed to pull a muscle in my leg so we decided it was best to rest it. We dusted off Jacob’s camp box, loaded up the car, and headed out on a 4-hour drive from LA to Sequoia National Forest.

This was a spur-of-the-moment trip and our first time camping in California so I thought it was best to reserve a campsite before we showed up. I now wish I hadn’t because not only did it cost me $10 extra for the booking fee, but there were also plenty of empty campsites there when we arrived. On the other hand, it’s only April and not peak season for camping. I would probably use the reserve system for June and July, as I noticed that a lot of campgrounds around California are ALREADY FULLY BOOKED through 2015. Californians love the outdoors and their National Parks. Can’t blame ’em. It’s beautiful out here.

Anyway, off to Camp Wishon just outside of Springville, California. The camp itself is off the main road that winds up the mountains. It’s actually very difficult to spot and we ended up driving about 5 miles past it up the mountain before I stopped at a very remote cafe (straight out of the 60s) to ask for directions and was told to turn around. Once you turn off onto the dirt road, it’s about 4 miles to the camp. You’ll see this sign after those 4 miles.

DSCN0499

DSCN0503

There’s no ranger station or place to check in, you just drive around the loop until you see the spot that you reserved. If you just go on a whim without reserving, there’s a sign that says “Open”.

DSCN0481

DSCN0486

DSCN0468

DSCN0471

The campsites are all very shady, lots of pines, and fairly even ground to set up a tent. There are fire pits with grills and picnic tables at each site. There are non-flush bathrooms (no showers) and water spigots to share with other campsites.

There are a couple of sites that could fit a small RV, but this campground seems to be mostly for tent camping. Actually – when I called to make the reservation, the woman told me my total was $54 (for one night!). I told her that I saw it was only $22 online and she said she gave me a campground with a pull through drive-way (usually for RVs). I told her I just wanted the cheap one and she changed it without a problem, but beware that some sites will cost more if you have several vehicles or a large camper/RV.

DSCN0469

Brought the trusty cast-iron (thanks, Papaw!) and made pork chops as well as sweet potatoes, carrots, red peppers, and onions in foil packets over the coals.

DSCN0479

The Tule River and Hossack Creek surround the entire campground. We saw some swimmers and some people fishing. The water was a bit too cold for me this time of year, but made for some good sounds to fall asleep to at night.

DSCN0475

DSCN0473

DSCN0476

DSCN0477

DSCN0490

Some of the campsites sit right on the creek. These are the ones you want! They are beautiful and more secluded from the main entrance.

DSCN0488

DSCN0489

I’ll leave you with this cute little thang. He waltzed in to our campsite as we were about to leave. His owner came over and informed us that he was blind in one eye. “No kiddin’?”


DSCN0496

DSCN0464

7 Mile Hike to Icehouse Saddle – Angeles National Forest/Cucamonga Wilderness

What better way to celebrate Easter weekend than to get out in nature. Jacob and I drove about 1.5 hours to the trailhead of Icehouse Canyon in Angeles National forest on Saturday to begin our hike. Despite leaving at 7am the parking lot was already packed but no worries, it’s common to park along the street heading up to the trailhead. Last weekend we bought a year-pass for parking which allows us to do that in a number of national parks and forests in CA without getting a ticket.

DSCN0454

This trail was a lot different from last weekend at Santa Anita – very rocky, much steeper, and less tree cover. It was 3.5 miles straight to the top of the “saddle” which we learned was the area where two mountains meet. It was really cold at the top, actually. I wasn’t prepared for the chilly winds so I had to borrow Jacob’s jacket (Eagle Scouts are always prepared). Some of the most memorable things: pine cones as big as your head, the sound from the wind echoing through the mountains sounded like a busy highway, and Koreans, so many Koreans! How could I forget that hiking is Korea’s favorite past time. Even in LA.

DSCN0450

DSCN0455

DSCN0456

DSCN0457

DSCN0458

DSCN0460

DSCN0461

DSCN0463

DSCN0464

DSCN0465

If you know me at all, you know that food is always on my mind. Since this hike was short, we made a trail mix consisting of some great snacks found at my new obsession, the 99c Only Store. They have a ton of snacks to choose from so it’s fun to go in and mix it up. I’ve posted the ingredients we used in the mix below, but you can’t really go wrong with trail mix. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious and energizing this was. Hopefully I’ll be posting more substantial camping/backpacking recipes as we go. We just bought some sleeping bags this week so we’re really excited to check out the camping scene around here.

“Our Trail Mix”

  • roasted & salted edamame
  • dried cranberries
  • peanut butter M&M’s
  • peanut M&M’s
  • honey roasted peanuts
  • shelled & salted sunflower seeds
  • toasted coconut flakes
  • bag of mixed “asian” crackers (salted, spicy puffed rice snacks)
DSCN0442

Hiking 9 Miles in Santa Anita Canyon – Angeles National Forest

We went hiking up in Angeles National Forest last weekend.  We decided to take the Santa Anita canyon loop through Stuyvesant Falls, Spruce Grove Campground, Mt. Zion, and back to the trailhead at Chantry Flats.  California is interesting.  Coming from the Smokies, this dry and arid California climate makes for some interesting scenery to the unaccustomed southerner.  A lot of dust and prickly plants.  In the hollows and canyons and low spots there is quite a bit of green.  Typically, the trees in these places are deciduous. It is easy to spot where they are – you can see them as bright green veins running down the mountains. Seems like maples and oaks mostly.  Up the sides of the mountains and on top are evergreens and low shrubs with way too many sharp, pokey bits.

DSCN0448

DSCN0440

DSCN0442

DSCN0444

What was also interesting was the amount of scat (poo).  In the Smokies it was always exciting to see bear scat as it is not particularly common – maybe see a pile every mile or so depending on the area.  However, on this trail we saw scat like every ten feet.  Turns out (according to seasoned west-coast hiker-cousin Hand Me Down) it was cougar scat.

The trails here aren’t particularly well marked.  It seems to me that the Smokies (as well as Big South Fork and a few others) are much better marked.  The signs here are metal, which seems good to me as they need to be maintained less often (and some a**hole is much less likely to turn them).

The dry climate of California doesn’t mean there isn’t water along most of this trail.  It was there (both stagnant and flowing) but in the low, shaded spots the mosquitoes are unbearable.  Also, we saw a squirrel about the size of a daschund.  So, there’s that.

Geocaching in Culver City, West Los Angeles

DSCN0432

DSCN0433

We’ve been doing some geocaching around the neighborhood in recent weeks.  Essentially, you go online and find GPS coordinates that correspond with a small, waterproof container hidden somewhere nearby.  You dig around, look under rocks, in crannies, trees, drains, cracks, holes, etc. until you find it.  You can see emily signing a log we found in one of the containers (pretty common) about a mile from our house.  It can be a little awkward traipsing around next to apartment complexes and other places where people usually don’t go too often on foot.  The object is to find your geocache without alerting the muggles (non-geocaching people).  Good clean fun.

The Angles

So, we’ve been in LA about two months now.  It’s not bad here.  No rain, kind of hot…everyone seems to have a car alarm that goes off at random times during the day.  There’s Mexican guys pushing around ice cream carts honking clown horns.  It’s different.

wpid-wp-1426454674279.jpeg

Here’s a little snapshot from our cross-country drive through the US to get to LA.  I can’t remember where this is.  New Mexico maybe.  Also,don’t go to Arkansas.

wpid-wp-1426454495195.jpeg

wpid-wp-1426454503259.jpeg
These are some snapshots of my office.  It this new shared-space crap that’s popular.  It’s not so good.

wpid-wp-1426454476374.jpeg

wpid-wp-1426454422105.jpeg

wpid-wp-1426454485873.jpeg

So, we leave Korea and what do we do in LA?  The first thing we go out and eat (aside from The Sizzler!) is – you guessed it – Korean food.

wpid-wp-1426454640117.jpeg

bonus: Talyuda.  Mexican pizza or something.  Place next door to our apartment sells stuff like this.

X-mas in Thailand

So, Korea.  It’s done.  In the past.  Behind us.

I left for good on the 23rd of December.  Settling affairs in Korea was (predictably) a clusterf*ck.  Everyone was late, grossly unprepared, and pretty intolerable.  A good farewell gift.  I spent the night of the 22nd in Incheon Intnl Airport.  All in all, it was a pretty cool experience.  I think that airport deserves all the praise it gets.  I had decided before to go and visit Sarah in Thailand. Emily had done it previously at the beginning of the month, and now it was my turn.  The flight was pretty great.  Flying to mainland China is a trip…I got through customs at BKK just in time for Sarah to zip over and meet me after she got off work. Everything went swimmingly.  I took her out to buy her some (insanely cheap) home appliances for x-mas.  We spent the spent our days drinking and nights walking through sticky markets, smoking, and eating street-meat of questionable provenance.

Below is the view from the balcony on Sarah’s apartment.  Nice place – quiet, cozy, sunny.

DSCN0428

Over Christmas Sarah and I traveled to a town called Kanchanaburi.  It’s known for the “Death Railroad” – a railroad built by forced Thai labor and immortalized in The Bridge Over the River Kwai.

Leaving was the worst – especially after coming from gloomy, freezing-cold Korea.  But, we said our goodbyes and I headed back home to Tennessee (via mainland China again for some reason).

DSCN0425 DSCN0423

Here are some of Emily’s pictures from Thailand. She went for a week in November. Enjoy!

DSCN0315

Pad Thai, duh

DSCN0316

DSCN0318

DSCN0320

DSCN0322

DSCN0323

DSCN0326

Our hotel was unexpectedly on a boat!

DSCN0327

DSCN0328

DSCN0329

Sleepy kitty friend that lazes around the hotel

DSCN0340

Night Market in Kanchanaburi

DSCN0341

Night Market in Kanchanaburi/chicken on a stick

DSCN0345

Night Market in Kanchanaburi

DSCN0346

Night Market in Kanchanaburi

DSCN0358

Night Market in Kanchanaburi

DSCN0360

Night Market in Kanchanaburi

DSCN0363

Drive to Erawan Falls in Kanchanaburi

DSCN0365

DSCN0370

DSCN0376

DSCN0381

DSCN0383

DSCN0384

DSCN0385

DSCN0386

Hike to Erawan Falls National Park in Kanchanaburi

DSCN0391
DSCN0393

DSCN0394

DSCN0398

DSCN0405
DSCN0410

Erawan Falls National Park

DSCN0414

View from our boat house in Kanchanaburi

DSCN0416

One of Sarah’s friend’s apartments had an amazing pool that would rival anything in Las Vegas.

DSCN0417Tom Kha (spicy coconut chicken soup)