Hike + Camp: Angeles National Forest

May 19, 2015
allofus_sprucegroveTwo weekends ago we hiked and camped in the Angeles Forest with our friend T and our dogs. It was a lot of uphill and downhill, especially with our packs, but totally gorgeous because of the recent rain.
sign_sprucegrovefalls_sprucegroveus_sprucegroveAfter the frustrating process of finding a parking spot, we hiked down the fire road and over a bridge. Then it was past quaint private cabins towards Sturtevant Falls. The falls were running and beautiful.
trail_sprucegroveUp the very steep trail to the left of the falls, we found ourselves alone and hiking among green, lush trees. We continued on to Spruce Grove camp site, hiking around 4m the first day. It was a lot of uphill and by the time we hit camp, my hip-flexors and shin-splints were burning.
Spruce Grove has dry toilets, fire pits, tables and a small river for water so it was perfect. The boys spent some time gathering fire wood (which was all pretty wet) and I went to get us more water. We used filters, not drops, and the water was cold, clear and running enough to hear from our tents. We hung our food in a tree as there are bears in the area.
We ate some snacks, played some Farkle, and the boys drank beers. We spent a lot of time making a fire. In retrospect, we should’ve removed some of the wet ash from the fire pit. Once T got the fire going though, our spirits soared. It seems that, being out in the wilderness, the smallest things become momentous – fresh water, warm fire, hot food, whiskey and chocolate.
We made ramen for dinner, ate a bunch of other snacks I brought and then sipped some Fireball whiskey with hot water. The dogs took turns nestling down near the fire pit and we all sat around having the kind of deep conversation I love for a few hours. It was a lovely night.
shadows_sprucegrovetreeladder_sprucegrovemtzion_sprucegroveThe next morning, we were up early (6am) and decided to skip breakfast to hike out before it was too hot. We continued past Spruce Grove, avoiding a few mountain bikers and climbing over a tree with a ladder built into it, up to the top of Mt. Zion where the view was wide and the sun was hot. It was the perfect time to remove our morning layers, tack on some sun block and eat one of the many apples T hauled with him.

Then we continued the loop back down to Hoegee’s Camp. We stopped here to refill our water bottles and inhale some trail mix. The executive decision was made to hike out the longer, but flatter, 3m out along the trail that spits you out above the parking lots. Chili + beer at the last pack station was our reward.

leaf_sprucegrovewater_sprucegroveSomewhere along this trail we all got quiet. The dogs pushed ahead while I trailed behind. I felt a sense of calm wash over me – probably some combination of exercise high, hangover and nature bliss. Time was a non-issue, all of my To Dos gone, the bossy inner voice silenced. It was the kind of clear, present peace I feel after a day at the ocean or while traveling.
It was a dog-friendly, green fairy-land, awesome & slightly tough ~9m round trip, one night camping excursion. We’d totally do it again.

*The top photo of all us together makes me clap with joy. The blurry one of H & I runs a close second.

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