Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Make: Toothpaste Dots

A quick and simple way to bring toothpaste on the trail without having to carry a tube of toothpaste. To use, just pop one of the dots in your mouth with a small amount of water, then start brushing!

  • Make sure the toothpaste you are using isn't the kind with gel in it. My first attempt at making these I used gel toothpaste and it never set.
  • Put small dollops of toothpaste on a sheet of foil, make them as big as you want them to be. 
  • Make just a few or stock up for your next few trips. 

  • After 2 - 3 days gently peel off the toothpaste dots and coat them with baking soda so they don't stick to each other.
  • Store them in a small baggie or container.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Evolution Basin Loop- Sequoia/ Kings Canyon

September 26- October 3, 2012

What a wonderful place to spend a week backpacking! I spent the whole week aw-struck, every bend in the trail revealed new and beautiful scenery and every pass we made it over rewarded us with magnificent views of the Evolution Basin area.

Starting at South Lake and ending at North Lake, we spent part of the first day hiking to Bishop Lake at the base of Bishop Pass where we camped the first night. The next day we left Bishop Lake and slowly made our way to the top of Bishop Pass, (11,972) along the way I kept getting flash backs from Mt. Whitney's 97 switchbacks section. After making it to top we took a short lunch break before continuing down to Dusy Basin, if you ever find yourself hiking along this section of the trail keep an eye out for jumping fish! That night we set up camp near the trail just before it drops off down to Le Conte and enjoyed dinner with the most amazing view!

Almost to the drop off where we camped the second night.
On the third day we hiked down to Le Conte, passing two deer eating horse poop along the way?? After finally making it down to the John Muir Trail junction we headed up the JMT toward Muir Pass. After hiking about half way up Muir Pass we found a tiny camp site just before a  "no campfires past this point" sign. The tiny campsite was big enough for one tent and included a small fire pit. We were lucky to find it, it was tucked away off the trail behind some trees, there was no way we were going to be able to make it to the top of Muir Pass that day so finding this campsite was an amazing find! The fourth day we hiked to the top of Muir Pass (11,955) then headed down into Evolution Basin  where we camped next to Wanda Lake.

The fifth day we hiked past McClure Meadow ranger station to Evolution Meadow and camped for the night. The next day we watched a mother deer and her three babies graze in Evolution Meadow as we packed up camp, then set off toward the San Joaquin River then continued on up Goddard Canyon to the Piute Canyon trail and camped just before Hutchison Meadow. The seventh day we hiked up Piute Canyon through Humphreys Basin and camped at Summit Lake (11,423). The eighth and final day we hiked over Piute Pass and down to North Lake Trailhead where we got a ride back to our car from a very... interesting.. couple.

Eight Days of Fun:
Day 1: South Lake to Bishop Lake
Day 2: Bishop lake to Dusy Basin
Day 3: Dusy Basin to Muir Pass
Day 4: Muir Pass to Wanda Lake
Day 5: Wanda Lake to Evolution Meadow
Day 6: Evolution Meadow to Piute Canyon Trail
Day 7: Piute Canyon Trail to Summit Lake
Day 8: Summit Lake to North Lake

What I Learned Hiking the Evolution Basin Loop

Where did the trees go?!- If you plan on hiking this loop make sure you bring a hat. There are long stretches where there are no trees to shade you from the sun, wear plenty of sunscreen and drink lots of water.
Have I been here before?- While hiking to the top of bishop Pass I kept getting this feeling like I have done this trail before, then about half way up it dawned on me, Mt. Whitney's 97 switchbacks section looks a lot like the trail over Bishop Pass. Even includes the foot high rock steps the trail crews were so kind to build for us... who do I send my doctor's bill to for my knee pain?

It's more fun when you bring a map- While taking a short break on a rock overlooking a lake we spotted a backpacker in the distance headed toward us. This section of the trail has no trees, its just rocks and mountains as far as the eye can see. Watching him for a few minutes I noticed him stop, look around, then head back the way he came, a few minutes later he stopped, turned around, and started hiking toward us again. Eventually he made it over to where we were sitting, didn't see us, stopped, turned, looked around confused and started hiking back the way he came! Finally he spotted us and asked where is the trail. When hiking in areas where the trail isn't always clearly marked or visible make sure to pay extra attention to where you are going.
Summit Lake

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Death Valley National Park

December 10- 12, 2012
In a galaxy far far away... actually in California, there's a beautiful place called Death Valley. After spending an amazing week camping and day hiking in Moab Utah, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks we decided to cancel the Zion part of our trip to Utah due to extremely cold weather and head over to Death Valley California. Eric and I spent a few days camping, day hiking, and exploring all this magnificent park has to offer. As huge Star Wars fans we of course visited a few of the locations where scenes of the epic Star Wars trilogy were filmed. We spent most of our time in Death Valley completing day hikes, both long and short, we drove to a bunch of the lookouts, took some tours, and even took the Prius on some dirt road trails! Our trip to Death valley was a blast! and I can't wait to go back in the coming year to see even more of the park!

Click here to view all the photos from this trip

Rhyolite Mining Town
What we did while in Death Valley:

Hiking Trails:
Fall Canyon Trail- 6 miles RT
Natural Bridge Canyon- 2 miles RT 0.5 to bridge
Badwater Salt Flats- 0.5 to 5 miles
Mosaic Canyon Trail- 4 miles RT
Salt Creek- 0.5 mile

Driving Only Trails:
Titus Canyon narrows- 1.5 miles
Twenty Mule Team Canyon- 2.7 miles

Lookout Points:
Dante's View
Artist's palette

Site Seeing:
Rhyolite Mining Town
Scotty's Castle- Take the tour!
Harmony Borax Works

The last time I was in Death valley I was knee high and honestly I don't really remember the experience. So having the opportunity to come back as an adult and do whatever we wanted was an amazing treat and a great way to end the year! During our stay in Death Valley we camped at Emigrant campgrounds, only available to tents so we were not disturbed by huge RV's. Most evenings after a long day of hiking and exploring we would enjoy a delicious meal at the restaurant in Stovepipe Wells. Try their mac and cheese, its to die for! Simply one of the best mac and cheese dishes I have ever had.

Dante's View

Eric and I spent the few days we had to enjoy Death Valley hiking every trail we could and seeing all we could see. In that short time We hiked quite a few trails, my favorite being Mosaic Canyon Trail. Only 4 miles round trip, this short hike involves a small amount of climbing to get past each dried waterfall but its completely doable for most hikers. I absolutely love trails that involve scrambling to get past obstacles, I enjoy the puzzle of finding a rout around whatever blocks my path. So when I come across a trail like this one I get extremely happy! There are many great hikes in Death valley but this one was my favorite out of them all.  

Have you hiked this or any other trails in Death Valley? Let me know what you thought of Death Valley and its hiking trails! Comment below or leave a message on my facebook page :)
Salt Creek Trail- All photos are property of Jessie's Trails

Things I Think You Should Know:

It gets HOT!- Being one of the hottest places on the planet, Death Valley is no joke when it comes to keeping hydrated and protected from the relentless sun. Make sure you bring plenty of water for everyone in your group, try not to hike during the hottest times of day and make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Wildlife is just that, WILD- Help keep the wildlife wild by not feeding them, cleaning up after you and your family, and keeping food in a safe location where animals can't get to it. Teach kids the correct way to be around wildlife and show an example by following all park rules.

WATER WATER WATER!- While in Death Valley you will notice their signs everywhere telling you to carry water and how much each person will need at each trailhead. Always carry water on you and in your car. You never know when or if you will get lost or brake down. Make sure to carry enough water in your car to last you for at least a few days. We kept huge water jugs with spouts on them so we could refill our water bottles at each trailhead.

Rules are not a suggestion- Make sure everyone in your group is well aware of all the parks rules. They are there not only for your protection but the wildlife and other hikers and campers as well. Do your part in making everyone's trip a good one, follow the rules. Park Rules

 Learn more about Things To Know Before You Come

Scotty's Castle

Now it's my turn!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Los Padres National Forest

I recently spent a rough four days in the Los Padrea National Forest, fighting my way through thick brush, muddy trails, and snow, ending in getting rescued by Santa Barbara Search and Rescue.

The first day we started from East Camino Cielo and hiked to the Cold Spring Trail, through the Mono Jungle to Mono Camp. The next day we hiked up the Mono to Upper Mono then continued on to a trail junction with the Alamar Hill Trail. We then followed the Alamar Hill Trail to the top of Alamar Hill, however it had been raining and the trail was nothing but thick mud all the way up to the top. Hiking, or should I say sliding, down the back side to Alamar Creek was exhausting and very painful! I slipped and fell butt first about four times during the duration of our decent down this incredibly muddy hill. After making it down and rejoining with James and Sierra, who we got separated from on the way down, we took a nice long break before continuing on to Rollins where we camped for the night. The next day we awoke to our tents covered in a blanket of snow, not my favorite thing to hike in when you're not prepared for it! Eric and I decided to get an early start and hike toward Dutch Oven where we made plans to wait for James and Sierra to catch up with us before continuing on. After three hours of both rain and snow along with pushing our way through thick wet brush we made it to Dutch Oven! Eric and quickly set up our tent and crawled inside to get warm while we waited. After two extremely long and painful days of bushwhacking we were both tired and cold, not to mention I re-injured my ankle and after assessing our situation we determined I couldn't take 11 more miles of bushwhacking we turned on the PLB and waited to be rescued. :(

Note on Being Rescued: Although the experience of being rescued was new and an exciting one at that! I am and have always been against being rescued unless it is a life and death situation. In the past I have been hurt on the trail but refused rescue and hiked, limped, out on my own. In this situation both Eric and I felt being rescued was the only way we were going to make it out of the Los Padres. I want to give a huge THANK YOU to the team who came to our rescue <3

Things I think you Should Know Before Hiking in Los Padres:
  • Always wear long pants- I suggest wearing long pants made from a think material like jean, even in the summer! I made the mistake of wearing a short sleeve shirt one of the days and my hands and arms are still covered in cuts, I can't imagine what my legs would have looked like if I wore shorts like I usually do.
  • If it rains there will be mud- We did this trip right after it rained for a few days, it then proceeded to rain on us throughout the hike. At one point we had to hike up a steep slope to a ridge line then down the even steeper back side, in the mud, my shoes had to weigh 10 pounds each! It was not easy hiking in mud, I even slipped butt first into the mud a few times.
  • It gets cold when it snows- It snows in the Los Padres. On the last night we were camped at 5,000 feet and woke in the morning to a blanket of fresh snow. Be prepared for the snow and cold weather, pack warm clothing and a rain jacket to keep you and your clothes dry. Know the signs of hypothermia and how to prevent it.
  • Know how to follow a trail that isn't there- Most of the four days consisted of following unmaintained trails covered with overgrown brush. This can be extremely hard to do, if you get lost with directions, some of the trails in the Los Padres are not for you. The trails are sometimes market with tiny colored flags tied to trees and bushes. However, they can be spaced far apart or placed in the wrong spot leading you somewhere else. 
  • Always carry a PLB- Personal Locator Beacon or PLB are small devices designed to give out a signal to local search and rescue so they can come save you. You should always have one in your pack whenever you hike. We always carry one on us, hoping we never have to use it. On a past trip we came close to using it when I sprained my ankle, I refused to use it and instead I slowly limped 10 miles in three days back to the trailhead. This past trip in Los Padres we were not so lucky, because I didn't let my ankle heal properly I re-injured it and we ended up having to be rescued. Normally I would have hiked out on it but because the brush was so thick it would have been impossible and would have taken longer than we had food to do so.
Eric and I with the search and rescue crew hiking back to the helicopter
A huge Thank You! to the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue crew that saved us! The crew of six men were all very professional, they clearly knew what they were doing and were very well trained. I am sad I forgot to ask for a group shot in front of the brand new helicopter once we landed, oh well :( Thank You guys again you guys are amazing! Here is a video someone took of us in the helicopter landing at Santa Ynez Airport:


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