Mt. Whitney Training: Mt. Baden-Powell via Vincent Gap

darren on mt. baden-powell wrightwood

By Heather

“Look at me,” I yelled as I we embarked on our hike on Saturday, “I’m Cheryl Strayed!”

That’s because the trail from Vincent Gap to the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell is also a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, not because I was ill-prepared for the trek or anything.

Finding the trailhead is easy: it’s about eight miles west of Wrightwood on the 2 Freeway on the south side of the road. There’s a huge parking lot and a bathroom, and the trail starts just right behind there. It immediately begins gaining elevation and doesn’t let up much until you get to the top.

The good news is, the trail is gorgeous from start to finish and the summit is the cherry on top: an unobstructed, 360-degree view of Southern California.

The bad news is, I have pictures of almost none of this hike. I relied a lot on my brother’s GoPro2, which he’s loaning me for Mt. Whitney. It did pretty well on Mt. San Jacinto (though not great in low light), but this time I don’t know what happened. Half the pictures I shot just aren’t there, including of some asshole who was cutting switchbacks like it was no big deal!

You will be switchbacking the whole way up, by the way. There are 40 of them, and the first 20 or so go on forever. They’re very, very long and kind of annoying in their long-ness. But after that, they quicken up and soon, you’re standing on a ridge with an astounding view. From there, you’re just about a third of a mile from the summit.

Wally Waldron Tree Mt. Baden Powell WrightwoodOn the left, you’ll pass the Wally “Waldron” tree. It’s about 1,500 years old and believed to be the oldest tree in the San Gabriel Mountains.

You’ll know you’re at the summit when you see the monument to Robert Baden-Powell, the summit’s namesake and founder of the Boy Scouts. There’s also a register, but finding a blank space in one of the four notebooks is tough! It might be time to archive those and place some fresh ones up there.

As a Whitney training hike, I wouldn’t recommend it. Although it gets to a decent elevation (9,399 feet) and is inclined the entire way, it’s pretty short at nine miles round-trip. We also had the trail almost entirely to ourselves on the way up, even though we got there at 6 a.m. which is around the time you start to see a few more people.

The entire hike was 21,155 steps, gained 3,200 feet, 9.13 miles and took us four hours round trip.

Afterward, we had lunch at the Grizzly Cafe in Wrightwood. Although it wasn’t technically lunch yet (they start lunch at 11:30; we arrived at 11), they accommodated us. How nice! We both had some burgers, Darren had onion rings and I had sweet potato fries. All of it hit the spot after being worn out from the long drive to Wrightwood and the hike.

I can’t wait to do this day trip again!

mt. baden powell summit selfie

Whitney Training: Cucamonga Peak

cucamonga peak

By Heather

A few weeks ago, training for Mt. Whitney began in earnest. I’ve been hiking as much as possible (which is not as often as I’d like, frankly) and doing tough leg and cardio endurance workouts at the gym. All I can do now is what I’m able and cross my fingers that it’s enough!

Our first official training hike was up to Cucamonga Peak, one of my favorites. As you can see, Darren got the iconic shot on the outcropping that people have one of two reactions to:

a) I’m going to throw up


b) I must do that

I didn’t quite get my shot, so we’ll be back soon.

teton backpack bladder daypackThis is the first hike on which I got to test out my trusty new Teton daypack.

The early, short review is: I LOVE THIS THING!

I was initially disappointed in it when it first arrived. It looked way too small.

It’s not, though. It’s just compact, and I also like that it forces me to really be thoughtful about what I carry.

But more on this thing later. I have so much to say.

The total stats on this hike were: 33,661 steps; 14.53 miles; 7 hours, 14 minutes. See more hikes in the hiking log ›

Planetary Design – Table Top French Press

By Steve

About three years ago, I purchased one of these bad boys from REI:


That, m’friends, is a 48 oz. insulated French Press coffee pot. It makes very, very good coffee and keeps it warm for a good two hours after brewing. This baby is great for camping with friends, as it makes four good sized cups of strong-ass coffee – just the thing to power you through a day of hiking or power-lounging around the campsite.

The coffee it makes is so good that I started using it at home on the weekends, too. It’s just a great option for a Saturday morning cup or two with the neighbor friends.

Alas, all is not perfect in the land of 48 oz. French Press coffee pots. About a year into my ownership of this awesome rig, the handle fell off. REI being the great retailer that it is, swapped mine out for a new one, no questions asked. All was well for another 8 months or so, when the handle fell off the replacement rig.

Aww. :(

You can see where I sanded a bunch of the paint off in a failed effort to glue the handle back on. I thought I was clever. I am not clever.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – Steve must beat the hell out of his coffee pots. I assure you, this is not the case. I don’t treat it like it’s made of glass, but I also don’t beat it up. But I did feel guilty about returning coffee pot #2 to REI, so I used a little super glue and re-attached the handle. Which held for about a month. Then I got all MacGyver on the thing and sanded the mating surfaces on the handle and where the handle attaches on the pot, then glued it and clamped that mo-fo with a big ‘ol clamp for a few hours to make sure that thing wasn’t comin’ off.

Which worked for about three months.

At that point, I admitted defeat and just started using the pot sans-handle. The carafe does such a good job of insulating that even with near-boiling water inside, the metal outside is merely lukewarm to the touch. I was perfectly happy to use it that way.

Then I noticed that there’s a website printed on the bottom of the unit – I decided to pop on by and let ’em know that they have a great product, but the handle needs a more robust mount. The next day I got an email reply from Doug Pikul, Customer Service Manager at Planetary Design, who offered to send me a brand new unit, no charge. How cool is that?



Thank you, Doug and Planetary Design! That’s some fantastic customer service right there.

Hiking Jackassery: Leaving Your Dog Poop Behind

By Heather

Bad dog owners piss me off.

On our way back down from Cucamonga Peak a couple weekends ago, we saw several of these:


That’s dog poop. In a bag.

Someone decided to bring their dog on a hike and responsibly pack poop backs for said dog.

Their dog pooped, they took out a bag, picked up the poop, tied the bag…and then just left it on the ground.

What is the matter with these people?! Why would you go to all that trouble, just to miss the point entirely and leave the bagged poop on the ground like so much garbage? I’d rather people just leave the dog poop behind unwrapped…it would disintegrate faster than it would all bagged up, biodegradable bag or not.

We saw the bags in multiple colors, so it was probably more than one person thoughtfully bagging up poop and then thoughtlessly dropping it where they stood.

If you do this, please stop.

If you see someone do it, ask them why they come to enjoy nature only to trash it and ruin it for everyone else. If you see a bag and have room, pick it up yourself and dispose of it properly.

Some people.