Saturday, June 2

Little Jimmy Backpacking Trip

| Dividing the Clouds with Baden-Powell in background |

Carlos would come to ask one of the most important questions anyone has ever asked me while out in the woods. Why do you like doing this so much? It may have been phrased differently, but more or less a simple question that requires more than a "surface" answer. Why sweat for hours under a heavy pack, why leave the comforts behinds, why eat crummy mediocre meals made from only hot water, why sleep on the ground, and why can we truly not wait to be back out there once we are home safe in our beds.

Here is the words and photos to accompany the short video above. Enjoy

This trip was going to be a perfect Memorial Day Weekend adventure to contemplate such ideas & reflect on why these times were so important to myself and those that dared to leave all else behind.

| Carlos cruising along the trail |
Compared to last months backpacking trip to Sespe, this would be a shorter initial trip to Little Jimmy Trail Camp, with many shorter day hikes out from there while keeping all our gear set up.

The trail up from Islip Saddle Parking Lot is a nice uphill climb, nothing terrible. Just at the mile mark or so, when you are ready for some level ground, the trail crosses an old fire road and begins it's winding path deeper onto Mt. Islip. The trail changes & turns into a much easier grade that even your Grandmother would hike, if it weren't for the first mile uphill. 

|Little Jimmy Spring |

Rounding a bend our members were a little astonished to already be at camp by lunch time. Dropping our packs, we set about clearing places for tents, collecting fire wood, & hanging bear bags. This was a new & fun adventure, that with a little patience & practice beforehand at home, went swimmingly. Double carrabeaner made for a great pulley system we left in the tree all weekend and used repeatedly.

 Last of the campground prep was to go fetch water for the day and to make dinner that night. Trying to be a bit smarter about our packs this time, we carried minimal water up & filled everything once we were all established. Experience can make people the wiser. Little Jimmy Spring looks as if it has been visited for over a hundred years. A well trod path leads to stump cut benches & a beautiful area to sit and enjoy delicious mountain spring water.

Onward towards the days destination, Mt Islip. Leaving camp behind, full with water we head up the trail toward Mt. Islip that read 1.2 miles. As you wind up the hill the views open up to the traveler. Alas, at a trail junction there is another sign the reads Mt. Islip 1.2 miles. The same exact sign we saw a mile ago. Ergo, this must mean it's more like 2.4 miles to the summit. Not a problem, just not expecting. 

| On the trail to Mt. Islip |
The weather was amazing! Clouds covered the entire south side of the whole mountain range, while the north side stayed clear. The photo at the top of the post shows this best contrast in one snapshot!

| On the trail to Mt. Islip |

This hike was also especially neat b/c I experienced something in the woods I had never seen. While walking the trail the very last bits of winter's snow clung to the trees and was melting rapidly. So rapidly in fact it would slush off the trees like someone dumping a huge Slurpee out of the trees onto our heads as we passed beneath their branches.


Summit love.

| Summit of Mt. Islip |

On top of Islip there is the ruins of a neat rock cabin. Our other trooper Kevin mentioned this was the remains of a past weather stations from the 1920s. If this is the truth, it was in a perfect location, looking far into two diverse sections of southern California.

| Stone Cabin on Mt. Islip |

Rising now above the clouds the hike took on a whole new attitude and everyone was all smiles. At the summit of 8,250ft we were treated to a stunning view of the mountains covered in clouds in almost all directions.

Back down at camp that night the temps dropped below freezing due to the crazy weather above us and we all slept a little off and on. I hadnt mentioned to the reader how at 2:30 in the afternoon that day we could already see our breath!! There is only one photo from the night b/c no one wanted to leave the fire side... and you can see it was taken before the sun even went down.

 Everyone slept a little extra that morning, at least according to camping, waking around 8am & getting the day started it was apparent it would be warmer with less cloud cover. Still brisk none the less, we all made a solid oatmeal & hot chocolate breakfast & headed for the spring for round 2 of water.

| On the trail to Mt. Hawkins |

Our destination for the day hike was Mt. Hawkins. We had attempted this peak in late winter & lost the trail in the snow, eventually turning back when we reached a large drop off. This time, with very little snow & wonderful brisk alpine wind blowing, we set off through the moonscape that is the north side of Mt. Hawkins.

| On the trail to Mt. Hawkins |

This trail afforded wonderful views of California's central valley, while holding LA's secret city views on the other side of the mountain.

| On the trail to Mt. Hawkins |
Eventually reaching the 8,850ft summit the weather was great! We even got a little sunburned, a welcome change from yesterdays cloud infested cold.  The summit had views in all directions. One could stand & see far out into southern California, then turn around and see almost to the southern end of the Sierras on the other.

| On the summit of Mt. Hawkins |
I have gotten a lot better at choosing moments to really take my camera out get the right essence of our hike b/c I found myself lugging too much, too often. On this trip I got several of my favorite shots on the way back down. Here are two of them below... Narrow trail, cliff drops, & stunning views.

On the way down more switchbacks with the central valley in background.

Making it back to camp with plenty of sunlight in the sky was our goal. Sure enough, here we were with loads of time to kill before our next meal... must be time to Slackline! Check out our camping video for more funny moments, but this is basically amateur tightrope walking!

| Georgette slacklining at Little Jimmy |
Carlos & Kevin were kind enough to go to the extra effort to carry the wench and line for us all to try out in the woods. Being completely new to this, Georgette & I were at ground zero, no pun intended, but we did spend a lot of time on the ground. Still a great new hobby to hone one's patience.

| Carlos & Kevin filtering their water |

 Night was setting in & our stomachs were telling us so. We set out to filter some more water. Carlos & Kevin are shown above using the newest & lightest way to purify water, The Sawyer Filter. Worked like a charm.

| Out into Central California |

That night's weather proved to be much more comfortable, sitting around the warm fire in only fleeces this time. We spoke about how the trip had been & people's favorite moments around one last beer, Peruvian style. Closing in on 9:30pm, we all could barley stay awake, perfect bed time for camping.

| Around the campfire with the moon |

The last morning was a smooth exit, one more trip to the spring to bring home far better water than the city could provide & make sure all items were accounted for. Packs hoisted onto our backs we set out downhill!
| Carlos in the REI quarter dome, Kevin in the Mtn Hardware & Us in the Big Agnes |

As for myself & discovering a little more about my own personal journey into the woods & into my soul, it really is still a mystery that seems to be slowly revealing itself to me each time I look a bit harder. There is just more to the outdoors that I need to experience & learn from before I think I can make an informed, soul satisfying, decision.

Maybe that day will never come or maybe I will always be walking through the woods looking for it... with a huge smile. 

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