November 2011

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Over two years ago Katharine planned an epic camping trip with co-workers at Jackson Flat in the Angeles Nat’l Forest.  The trip included campfire stories, an insane hike, a lake full of dead fish, lots of food, and memories for a life time.


Jackson Flat Group Photo 7/19/2009

After many requests to plan another trip Katharine along with a few other colleagues planned a 2 day 2 night trip in the Sequoia National Forest.  Quaking Aspens was the actual campground, which had large group campsites with fire rings and plenty of hiking and fishing nearby.

Night 1

We all left work on Friday at various times and drove 4 hours to Quaking Aspens.  We took our Outback fully loaded with all our car camping supplies plus a little extra in case someone forgot something.  We had also been monitoring the weather, which was predicting low temperatures around freezing at night.  There was 22 people, 8 who had never camped before, and 8 who had camped once before on the Jackson Flat Trip.  We were obviously hoping for better weather but everyone was excited and it had been planned for so long we decided to tough it out.

As we started climbing the mountain’s winding roads the sun started to set, which wasn’t good since we were the second car to leave work. Soon it became dark and we knew it was going to be interesting setting up tents in the dark, especially a lot of new tents.  Then to our surprise the headlights sweeped across a white patch on the side of the road.  “Is that…snow?!” Sure enough it was and we checked the car thermometer which read 30 degrees.  The situation just got 10 times worse, we had another 1,000′ to climb and we were already seeing patches of snow.  We finally pulled in to the campground to find it under about 4″ of snow.  We got out and found our campsite as everyone started to arrive.  It was 9 pm, freezing, and we had to setup 13 tents over the next hour, on the snow!


As the tent city was being assembled we also started a fire as people took shifts warming up then unloading gear.  The look on everyone’s face when they arrived was priceless, it said it all, “are we really doing this?”

The worst tent to sent up was a Cabelas tent loaned to Brian from Ken.  It took 5 engineers 30 minutes to set it up and it never really looked quite right.

Worst Tent Ever

Casual Friday’s attire didn’t seem to hold up the best against the night cold.

Steam rising off wet tennis shoes near the fire

Cyrus brought a hatchet to chop firewood which was very useful, entertaining and sometimes scary.


The alcohol gave us a false warmth in our bellies that we all enjoyed.


Nature’s Cooler

Box Wine Being Transferred to a Plastic Bottle…Classy

There was also two dogs on the trip- Dexter & Lola.  This was the also the dogs’ first time in the snow and camping.

Not Sure Who’s Keeping Who Warm

Day 1

 Everyone woke up to a winter wonderland…well a freezing wonderland at least.  The tents were covered in frost and starting a fire was not an easy task.

Everyone chipped in to make breakfast whether it was warming up propane canisters, scrambling eggs, or cooking sausage.

The dog’s also had a lot of fun playing in the snow and yes that is Lola’s lion Halloween costume being used as a jacket.

We decided to split up for the day into 3 groups: some were headed fishing, others wanted to hike to Needles Lookout, and the third group was headed to see a giant sequioa grove. Katharine and I decided to join the hike to Needles Lookout since we just saw some sequoias a month earlier.  So our group took three cars and began the journey up the mountain on a dirt road to the trailhead.  Unfortunately, the shaded areas of the road were icy, the sunny spots were muddy, and the whole road was full of ruts and potholes.  We soon realized the AWD on the Outback paid off but it became difficult for the other cars.  The Audi also had traction but Cyrus didn’t want to risk damaging his car driving through brush and eroded roads.

Cyrus Making His Way Through Some Muddy Water

Having Fun Getting the Car Dirty

We gave up on the hike to Needles Lookout and instead joined up with some of the others on Dome Rock, which provided an excellent view and a great place to have lunch.  The sun was out and we almost forgot how cold it was the night before.


When we got back to camp the snow had melted and created a lot of mud throughout our camp so everyone worked together to pickup tents and relocate them in the dry grass for the next night.  After a long day of driving, hiking, and gathering wood, everyone was tired and relaxed drinking beer around the fire.

Even Dexter Was Pretty Tired

Night/ Day 2

It was another cold night probably just above freezing as opposed to the previous night of 25 degrees.  We broke out the marshmallows and told stories to keep our minds off the cold.

The next morning we had a quick breakfast and packed up camp.  This was another trip to remember for sure and for all of those who’s first time camping…it usually isn’t this uncomfortable!  Also, Katharine and I realized that we had gone camping 4 times in 2011 and 3 of them involved snow.  Hopefully 2012 is full of warm and dry camping trips.  Thanks again for all of those who toughed it out- it was fun and always memorable.

Next time hopefully Trail of 100 Giants won’t be closed and it will be warm enough to try out the natural water slide!

Check Out More Photos

This outing with Rick (Katharine’s brother) had two purposes: to take photos of Rick fishing and a chance for Rick to fish (most important).  On a Saturday at the end of September Katharine and I decided to join Rick on a expedition up Santa Anita Canyon to catch small trout in the pools of the stream along the trail.


Rick brought his Tenkara (collapsible fly rod which doesn’t include a reel) to compare against ours because they have different lengths and stiffness.


Before heading out Katharine and I tried to figure out which shots we wanted.  One we discussed was a macro shot of the fly sitting on the water. Low light and moving water always complicates the shot a little bit trying to catch the subject and not dip your camera in the stream.


Then there are some unplanned shots to just capture the activity and the moment.


While standing behind Rick, not to startle the fish I saw a great future Tenkara advertisement.  Katharine posed with our Tenkara so I could position the rod better.  The idea was to capture their logo on the end of the rod in the foreground while the tip of the rod extended out into the background.


After going home I looked at Tenkara’s website to see if they had any stock ad photos, sure enough someone else already thought of that shot.  It is the sixth photo in their gallery.  Although it’s discouraging to see my idea already used it’s nice to know my eye is picking the right arrangements.

While hiking we also took some photos of mountain bikers and the scenery.


Overall we had a lot of fun and it is always nice to escape to these little havens of nature just outside of LA. And little did we know a month later Rick and his wife would decide to move to the East Coast, making this likely our last fishing trip together in the Los Angeles area.



We were barely unpacked from Alaska and had just started school but we couldn’t pass up a three day weekend backpack for Labor Day. We decided to go to Jennie Lakes Wilderness, which is in the Sequoia National Forest, between Sequoia and King’s Canyon Nat’l Parks.  Because it wasn’t in a Nat’l Park we were allowed to have campfires using the dead wood found around our campsite.  Also we would be camping next to lakes where we could fish…backpacking, campfires, and fishing sounds like an amazing weekend!!! Katharine as usual planned the entire trip mapping out each day, researching permits and calculating our travel times.

We left early Saturday morning and drove through King’s Canyon National Park, to gain access to the Jennie Lakes area.  The park was full of confused campers that were forced to “dispersion camp” along side the road because all the campsites were taken. One good thing about backpacking is it filters out a lot of people- even on a 3 day weekend you might only see a few other parties on the trail.

The plan was to do a 3 day loop: first day to Weaver lake, second day to Jennie Lake, then last day back to the car.  The first leg to Weaver lake was shorter which was appropriately chosen after spending almost 5 hours driving.  It was a quick 3 mile hike to Weaver lake and we were able to find a nice camping spot along the lake.

Weaver Lake

We sterilized water with our new Adventurer Opti Steripen (3.6 oz) which uses UV light to kill viruses and bacteria rather than using a filter.  It is much smaller and lighter than our Katadyn Hiker filter pump (11 oz) but the Steripen can only purify1/2 liter of water at a times and takes about 5 minutes each time.  The Katadyn pump is much easier to filter 7-8 liters for hydration packs, cooking, and cleaning, but we’re looking at ways to keep our pack weight down so the Steripen was a nice option.

As soon as we finished dinner the sun was setting so we thought we would try our Tenkara fly rod and see if we couldn’t catch a few fish.

After a few casts we caught a fish but soon after the sunset behind the mountains and it was hard to see the fly on top of the water.

The blur is the fish, I swear

Weaver Lake Sunset

We probably could have had better luck by rolling up our pants and wadding out in the shallow, cold, mountain water but staying dry was also nice.

Of course with all campfires you have to have marshmallows so we packed 10 marshmallows which we throughly enjoyed.  Eating marshmallows around a fire near a lake with the next campers over 100 yards away on a 3-day weekend…pretty awesome.


We also packed our iPad and tried to use the Star Walk app to identify constellations amongst the thousands of stars.  As the fire dwindled we headed for bed knowing tomorrow we had to hike 9 miles with some elevation gain.


We hiked 9 miles with 1,000 feet of elevation gain in 6 hours which is unusually fast for us.  Considering we were hiking uphill with our packs and stopped for lunch that would normally take us close to 8+ hours.  We didn’t take as many photos which may have played a part in our quick pace.

Jo Pass 9,400 feet

We only saw one other couple on the entire 9 mile trail and they were headed the other direction.  When we arrived at Jennie Lake it was apparent that most people just hike directly to Jennie Lake and don’t attempt the loop through Weaver Lake.  Many of the campsites were taken from the previous day but we were still able to find a nice campsite with a rock fire ring.  We spent the evening fishing and caught at least 4 fish, which probably frustrated the guy next to us who had brought complicated spinning rods and extensive tackle boxes but didn’t seem to be having much luck.

Fishing Off a Log in Jennie Lake

Although next time I should bring my Leatherman fishing instead of leaving it in my pack.



We ended the evening with another fire under the stars.



Sunrise at Jennie Lake

We packed up our camp and headed to “Poop Out Pass” which is a difficult up hill hike coming into Jennie Lake luckily we were headed out down hill.

Packing the Rainfly

There were some interesting flowers along the way but the vistas were not as amazing as Alaska which may have resulted in another day of very few photos and a quicker than average pace.  We covered 6 miles in a couple hours allowing us some time to visit King’s Canyon.

We visited the General Grant sequoia tree, second largest tree in the world next to the General Sherman, which we’ve seen in Sequoia National Park.  It stands at 267 feet tall and is estimated to be 1,650 years old.  There was also an old fallen sequoia that you can walk through but beware of the active bee hive in the roots!

Katharine Walking Through a Fallen Sequoia

Overall it was a nice and relaxing trip with fishing, campfires and 18 miles of hard earned exercise.