Saturday, January 20, 2018

Finding Frost at Mt. Waterman

This could have been the coldest hike I've ever been on.  I remember wiping so much snot from my face throughout, but it was really beautiful to be in the San Gabriel mountains on this sunny winter day.  Wes discovered the Waterman Trail during our spontaneous camping trip at the Chilao Campground, and it's one of my favorite places to go hiking now.  It feels like a different world out here; though we're only an hour outside of Pasadena.  The best thing is that not many people come here to do this trail.  There's no Instagram-worthy panoramic view at the top, no water features or anything, but the whole vibe of the place just feels natural and peaceful.  I'd say that it's a moderately graded hike, so it's not too hard and not overly easy, either.  It's just right.

The funny thing is that the first time we had been to Mt. Waterman was to snowboard at the tiny, old Waterman ski resort when they opened randomly in 2016.  Yes... there is a ski resort in the Angeles National Forest, believe it or not!!  Because it's such a small and intimate resort literally on the side of the Angeles Crest Highway, they rely solely on Mother Nature to provide the snow coverage needed (no snow blowing).  Prior to that day, it hadn't been open for years because it just doesn't get cold enough here anymore.  I remember that when we did snowboard there, we were still beginners and it was pretty tough for us, as the snow was not fluffy and thick.  During one of my many slips and falls that day going through those flat, icy areas, I cracked my phone screen in the most artistically mesmerizing way.  Luckily, the screen protector took the brunt of the damage and Wes was able to get it repaired.  

Anyhow, Mt. Waterman is a historic spot (its first rope tow was set up in 1941, which was reportedly the first ski lift in Southern California) to which we've attached some fun seasonal memories to by now.  Wes suggested that we come hiking here on this day because he knew that there'd be a good chance for us to see some snow, if not a thin coating, due to the rain that we received down in Pasadena this past week.  We didn't need any snow chains to drive up to the trailhead, but we did bring our microspikes, buffs, and warmest jackets.  Oh, and banh mi!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Years' Resolutions, Inspired by Backpacking

It's hard to believe that there was a time, not even a year ago, that I'd drag Wes, kicking and screaming out of bed, to go on hikes with me.  Just this past summer, he magically started suggesting going on hikes sometime in April, and then it all erupted into a hiking/trekking/backpacking bonanza almost every weekend.  Suddenly, he was shopping for trekking poles, hydration packs, good socks, and even breathable hiking underwear!  Okay... hold up... I'm not sure how this happened!!  Did I create this monster?!

I could have been cheering and thanking the gods, but that horrible miserly side of me took over.  There were differences in opinion regarding how much to spend on specific items and when to put a cap on it, although admittedly I wasn't even aware of how expensive backpacking gear was, and there's that irrational fear of overspending money.  I worried that Wes's old impulse-buying habits would kick in.  Man, I hated those a point where I would grill him about everything that he bought, even though he no longer is the shopaholic who he once was.  In the name of backpacking though, I stopped myself for a second.  Backpacking is a hobby that I never thought he would be interested in when I first met him six years ago, but one that I had always hoped we could enjoy together.  If I am gonna be so uptight about it, I'm taking away the fun.  So after the sticker shock wore off, I learned to give in and to stop being so controlling and nitpicky.  It wasn't easy, but I was able to actively make an effort to be more supportive and respectful of his decisions.

This was in late October, hence the shorts and tanktop.  With all of our new colorful gear, we set out on our very first backpacking trip, just up to Henninger Flats in Pasadena.  It was so spontaneous that we didn't even bring a camera.  I have only phone photos, but they're better than nothing at all!