Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy Hour Hikes

For years, if I didn’t have a buddy to hike with me, I went by myself. I have hundreds of miles logged solo, mostly because I couldn’t find anyone to pack up at the "11th hour."

A few months ago I was hiking up Sam Merrill Trail—alone—and came across a group of enthusiastic hikers. The group of about 20 were sharing food and drink on the ruins of the “White City” hotel on Echo Mountain. It was sunset. As a joke, I pretended to be part of the group by throwing up my arms and announcing, “I made it.” I was immediately offered a beer, a glass of wine and aged cheddar. Within minutes, I was taken in and officially one of them.

The weeks following, I attended a few of the’s “Happy Hour Backpacking”. They meet at the top of Lake Avenue, about two hours before sunset each Wednesday night. They hike three miles to the top of Echo Mountain and share food and drink. After an evening of conversation with the city's lights as a backdrop, the Happy Hour group packs up, switches on their headlamps and in single file, march down the hill.

The Zion Loop

Today, we did a ten-mile loop into Big Santa Anita Canyon via the historic Gabrielino Trail to Sturtevant Camp, Mt. Zion and Heogees Camp.

Like always, the group is as diverse as it is fun. Good people who truly enjoy the out of doors.

We met at the bottom of the hill and car-pooled up to Chantry. There, we met up with Dana and we began our hike down into the canyon. Our first stop was Sturtevant Falls, then on up the trail, past a couple miles of cascading streams to Stuertevant Camp.

Chris, the camp host, took us on a tour of the 100-year old retreat center. His friends, Dennis, joined us as we toured the kitchen as well as the old ranger station; one of the first and oldest in the USA.

After lunch, and after a little exposition from the personal trainers, we packed our bags and headed up and over Mt. Zion to Hoegees Camp where we took

off our shoes and cooled our feet in the crystal-clear water of Winter Creek.

Three miles back to where we started nearly six hours earlier!

So, it looks like my solo hiking days are thwarted….

Photos from the hike

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