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Old 06-16-2014, 04:54 PM
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Default Long Hike, Great Times

We were somewhere around 5500 feet on a mountain road when the coffee finally began to kick in. The only signs of life around these parts were the suicidal squirrels who would dart in front of the truck, racing to get to the other side across the uneven asphalt. As we pushed deeper into the forest, the few creeks that appeared as blue lines on the map were devoid of any water as we crossed over them, a sign of the major drought we're facing in Southern California. Granite peeks towered above the road.

Click the image to open in full size.

The parking at the trailhead was concealed under a canopy of pine trees, evidence that we were still below the timberline. A trail began at the end of the forest road, heading east towards the confluence of a major tributary and this area's largest drainage.

This particular day trip was going to be used as more of a test run more than anything else. With my Yellowstone trip planned for September, and my need for hiking away from paved roads reaching epic proportions, we needed to make sure that our bodies and gear could handle a longer than average day trip, especially with the extra amount of weight that usually never comes along on a local trip to our familiar grounds.

Click the image to open in full size.

The day pack did a great job of distributing weight, so it didn't feel like I had a sack of rocks 45 pounds heavy on my back. Simm's engineering on the straps make them extremely comfortable, and not once did I experience any discomfort. The placement of the straps make tightening or loosening them a cinch. It definitely will shine come September.

Click the image to open in full size.

After a series of switchbacks, the valley became visible and the roar of the river below became louder with every approaching step. The topography became familiar, as what was seen in two dimensions countless times on Google Earth finally was in front of my own two eyes. Unfortunately, once we got down to the valley floor, reading the terrain became a nightmare, and I completely lost any sense of direction. Instead of venturing up the smaller tributary, I ended up bushwacking into the main fork, which was roaring in this particular area due to the usual early summer snow melt. Instead of regaining my bearings and trying to find a trail to head towards the right direction, I said, "the heck with it," and made the best out of the situation and managed a good dozen fish out of this stretch, nothing of particular size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Wading was nearly impossible, and the current pushing against me walking upstream made it feel like I was pushing against a freight train. After 75 yards of wading upstream, my body was beat, and the mid 90 degree air temperature did not help situations either. The promise of a 2 hour hike back to the vehicle later in the day also was lingering in the back of my mind.

Click the image to open in full size.

My better and saner half had set up camp along the river, and we spent the afternoon having a picnic and enjoying the scenery. We were startled at a low fly by what looked like an FA/18 Hornet, who did his best Top Gun imitation and "buzzed the tower" at 500 feet elevation, and then roared his way up the canyon. Aside from air shows, I have never seen a jet that low before, and something I didn't expect in this particular area.

We packed things up and decided to make our way back up to the trailhead around 3 pm. It was about 5 when we finally reached the vehicle, completely exhausted, and out of water. Our legs hurt, our backs were aching, and I had new bumps and bruises to commemorate today's hike. I also developed a nasty blister on my small toe, evidence that my hiking boots have been shrinking due to them becoming wet from time to time. Looks like another item to add to our list of stuff I'll need for my trip.

Click the image to open in full size.

We took our time on our way out, admiring the beauty of this area, and even making a side trip to visit a grove of giant sequoias. I haven't seen one in person since I was a kid, and the majestic appearance of these ancient trees was a great way to end the day.

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Click the image to open in full size.

Just another amazing day in SoCal.
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Old 06-16-2014, 05:18 PM
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Default Re: Long Hike, Great Times

Awesome photos and report!
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Old 06-16-2014, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: Long Hike, Great Times

Great report. In a way, it is inspiring, and in a way, it is daunting:
I'm doing the math on how much time it takes for you to drive from LA up to that area, hike, fish, then hike back and drive back. Wow!
Do you ever find yourself nodding off on the way home?
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Old 06-16-2014, 09:24 PM
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Default Re: Long Hike, Great Times

Great Report and better pics. You got me excited about my upcoming back country trips this season... Thanks
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:13 PM
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Default Re: Long Hike, Great Times

Those F18's ARE actually from TopGun (Miramar NAS) and I believe they use the Needles (those granite domes) as a visual reference for some of their drills.

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---------- Post added at 10:13 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:50 PM ----------

[QUOTE=tyler_durden;676536]Those granite domes contain some of the most famous rock climbs in the world and its not uncommon for those F18's to 'buzz' the tower. Locals once told me that they were from the TopGun school but who knows.
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Old 06-17-2014, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: Long Hike, Great Times

Quote:
Originally Posted by yikes View Post
Great report. In a way, it is inspiring, and in a way, it is daunting:
I'm doing the math on how much time it takes for you to drive from LA up to that area, hike, fish, then hike back and drive back. Wow!
Do you ever find yourself nodding off on the way home?
You know, I ask myself the same thing sometimes...how on earth do I keep awake, especially during the ride home. Driving up, the adrenaline and child-like excitement (hey, fly fishing is my Disneyland) keeps me going.

On the way back, I tend to sip on an 'energy beverage' and because my body is not used to caffeine because I never drink it in any other situation, I'm wide awake on the way home. The downside is trying to sleep that night, since I'll be wide awake for a few more hours after hitting the sack, tired as all hell. Nothing worse than the 'hyper tired' feeling.

It's hilarious too, because my usual passengers are lights out like a baby before I even turn the truck on.

But, you only live once, right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by tyler_durden View Post
Those F18's ARE actually from TopGun (Miramar NAS) and I believe they use the Needles (those granite domes) as a visual reference for some of their drills.

Those granite domes contain some of the most famous rock climbs in the world and its not uncommon for those F18's to 'buzz' the tower. Locals once told me that they were from the TopGun school but who knows.
I talked to a buddy of mine who works out of China Lake, and apparently that area "Restricted Area 2508" is the largest military working air space in the US. He also mentioned tho that all sorts of entities use the air space, out of a ton of locations (Nellis, Edwards, Miramar, Lemoore) In this area, it's legal for them to fly at 200 feet (subsonic, of course). Which is probably the height this plane was going when it flew past. It was definitely a surreal experience.
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