West Fork Camp & Notes to Myself

APRIL 02 2019

Spent the past weekend hiking in the Angeles National Forest. It was yet another much needed break from the day to day. It was just a 40-ish minute drive from home; along the way we stopped in Glendale to have a big breakfast at a diner. We hiked down the fire road towards camp, a hot a dusty endeavor that was never very difficult, save for the few water crossings which caused us to get wet feet and shoes. We arrived at the first camp, Valley Forge, which was overrun by dozens of middle schoolers.

We pushed on to West Fork Camp where we finally settled, a beautiful location at the intersection of a couple of trails where the San Gabriel River curved ever so slightly as it meandered downward.

We settled quickly and did the usual camp chores: Agreeing on tent locations, setting them up, getting our sleeping quarters in place, gathering firewood, and kicking back. We started the fire early to rid of the pestering bugs that spring and its new rains hatched. Life was in full swing. It was grand.

Our campfire grew huge as we chucked in chainsawed chunks of giant redwoods. The scent of their burning is musky and alluring. We exchanged stories and jokes while we dried our sore feet near the fire, socks and shoes closer than our toes.

Before leaving for this trip, I'd decided I was done with Mountain House dehydrated food. I packed Annie's Mac & Cheese and some polish sausage. I grilled the sausage over the smoky flame, then later sauteed the rest in the ghee i'd brought. It was sublime.

I went to bed early as the others tended to the roaring fire. I slept like a baby.

The next morning, I woke early, before the others. I took the time to meditate, something I should do more often. I sat cross legged on my small sheet of Tyvek, in the middle of the forest, with the white noise of the forest playing for me: The birds chirping, the river rushing, the wind rustling. I thought of my wife, my son, and the business I'm trying to start. I felt deep gratitude for my life and the opportunities I've had.

After the others woke, we made our way back. The hike back was difficult; in fact I'd call it very strenuous. We had to pause more often than not. This time we took the real trail, not the fire road. It afforded much improved scenery, but did not skimp on water crossings nor punishing ascents. But I should not complain, as I was not carrying the heaviest load nor did I have any blisters, like others in the group.

After we got back to our cars, we rushed back down to the nearest In-N-Out, where we proceeded to eat what seemed like the best meal of our lives.

Notes to myself

  • Gaiters would have helped (again). Todo: Can gaiters be worn with shorts?
  • Really enjoyed eating “real” food. The sausage over the fire was a huge hit. Next time: Beef skewers?
  • Airplane mode PLUS low power mode would have cut down battery consumption.
  • How do I print better maps? Color would have helped.
  • Forgot to pack extra socks. Would have helped during the drying session.
  • Water crossings are no joke. Wet shoes mean wet feet, which mean possibility of blisters.
  • Should probably pack sandals for camp shoes next time.
  • Leukotape was a lifesaver.
  • Bring a bit more dinner. One portion of mac & cheese was not enough!
  • Probably should eat breakfast.
  • Todo: Is there a better way to store ghee?
  • Could I really handle a bivy?
  • Dinky stuff bag is feeling heavy. Minimize.
  • Repair kit bag is unnecessarily huge. Minimize.
  • Befree water filter is great. Need to add line to the hydrapak.
  • Todo: Look up proper bear line length
  • Todo: Write name on smart bottle + clean its adhesive