Monday, February 27

Joshua Tree - Black Rock & Indian Cove Camping

The stark coldness that blew in over the desert that first night sent all searching for our next warmer layer, but returning thankfully to our most highly attended fire pit to date. Don't let the beauty of the above photo fool your, this was taken at dawn, hovering around 28 degrees in long johns and a snow jacket.

Black Rock campground was our first nights destination with a large contingent of new friends that had come to celebrate our friend Stephanie's 25h birthday. After a wonderful sunset hike to a great view of the desert valley, we set in to make dinner and keep warm amongst the gusty winds that had plagued that day.

| Georgette is in the green one sleeping! Never cold again |

 This was the first trip where Georgette & I got to use most of our new gear, down mummy sleeping bags, ultralight tents & fleece layers, camping for the 21st century! The luxury of the new sleeping bags may have sealed the deal and spoiled me for the rest of my camping days. I will never buy anything else.

| Black Rock, Joshua Tree |

 The group had collectively spent about 10 days total in Joshua Tree from what I gathered. I myself only spending about 3 days, I think, more than a decade ago. Therefore, Carlos was the captain of this trip. He led us on a wonderful scenic drive through a portion of the park to a wonderful peak in the middle of the high desert with 360 degree views.

| View out of the tent, second night |

In my opinion the hike up the mountain and down was almost more exciting than the actual summit. On a nice 2 mile uphill trek, we cross snow and ice while looking out over the rock ruins amongst the cacti. Curving into a wind blown canyon amongst my favorite section of craggy cliff hanging boulders.

| Loving two doors on new tent | 
| Mom's Tibetan prayer flags always hanging in the tent now |

After reaching the summit of Ryan Mountain, we said farewell to some of the group that heading back for Los Angeles, while the other took to a new campsite in a different region of the park. One thing I learned on this trip is how vast Joshua Tree National Park is. There really is endless sights & really wilderness danger. God forbid anyone who vacations here in the Summer.
| ABOVE: 28 Minute Exposure / F22 |

The photo above & below was our site for the second night. A STUNNINGLY secluded spot on the edge of a campground looking out into the vast desert, blocked by a wind carved stone. Our whole group, the six that were left, were in total awe at our site for the night. Carlos had scored big time, thanks trip leader.

| Campsite 18, Indian Cove, Joshua Tree |

Not only was the campground stupendous, Carlos had chosen this spot due to it's proximity to a great caving location. Hidden amongst the boulders in the picture below is a wonderful cavern that will take you from crawling like a lizard, to standing tall in a open rock crevasses.

After only a few days in the desert, our normally mountain bound troupe, had been won over by the inland landscape of our wonderful state. There really is endless bounty of sights & sounds within a few hundred miles of the city we call home.

| Pre-Dawn, Joshua Tree |

"One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind." - Dorothea Lange


Tuesday, February 14

Secret Stairs - Old Hollywood Hills


Abound and venturing through the twisting narrow lanes of the Hollywood Hills has become nothing new to a few of us Angelinos. Over a year ago I reicieved as a gift from my Mom, a wonderful book that has taken myself & lucky friends to hidden LA neighborhoods that only a select few ever glimpse.

Spending the afternoon in the "orginal" Hollywood Hills of the 1920s, just east of the 101 Fwy, we are met with wonderfully restored old mansions, with small cottages tucked away inbetween the stoic beauties.

Above is a wonderful example of the winding streets that are carved out of the hills. At times it seems impossible for such early engineers to construct and develop such lofty roads above the city's hustle and bustle.

Truly these hidden glens and valleys of the eastern part of Hollywood have afforded some of the most pleasant neighborhoods we have seen yet. They are always free of cars and often don't see many people even walking throughout the neighborhoods due to the steep inclines. The hideen staircases are the best way to travel.

Tuesday, February 7

Strawberry Peak Hike

Carlos & I tackled one of the more strenuous hikes in the San Gabriel's that we have trekked. It was straight out of my newest gift from my girlfriend, Trails of The Angeles (100 Hikes).

Following many unmarked, rock-slide, & snow covered paths we found our way from Red Box up and around Mt. Lawlor to it's north side, crossing to the saddle.

At the saddle just below Strawberry Peak, there is a junction to follow below the ridge-line to the right you wind down to Strawberry Meadow. Carlos & I chose the faint climber's trail to the left that followed up the ridge-line for a solid uphill mile long scramble.

Greeted at the summit with wonderful views deep into the Angeles & far out into the Pacific. Truly the best view from the front range I have had since moving to LA almost a decade ago.

After lingering for some time on the peak & really capturing the moment in my head, there was the traverse down to think about.  Closing in on about a mile left in the trail you can seen in the photo below the sun setting while we are still on the trail. A wonderful glow came over the whole Angeles forest that eve.