New Additions in February 2015

Below is a list of pages added to this blog/website in February 2015. I didn’t add as many pages this month because I focused more on creating more ways to make it easier to search and find content here. Clicking on links below will open the page in a new tab so that it will be easier to follow links on those pages and still get back to this one.

My favorite February 2015 hike in Angeles National Forest was along the PCT and Kratka Ridge watching the clouds from last weeks storm roll in.

My favorite February 2015 hike in Angeles National Forest was along the PCT and Kratka Ridge watching the clouds from last week’s storm roll in.

I spent some time learning how Google’s My Maps functionality works so that I could create a way for people who prefer to look at maps to find content here.

New My Map Page:

  • My Map. I Created a Google Map for hiking in Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. I added locations of trailhead parking areas, peaks, and points of interest that link back to pages with more information on this blog. I plan to add other categories in the coming months that will eventually link to most of the information I create here. This link also has a tab in the main menu bar and an image link on the side menu bar.

I think printed guidebooks are helpful and I still use them. For me, their major shortcoming is that the medium is forced to rely mostly on descriptions that aren’t always helpful if one doesn’t already possess a good understanding of the landscape. For example, a reader that doesn’t already know the difference between a limber pine and douglas fir won’t be helped by a description stating that one or the other is found on a trail. In a case like this, photos could help one better understand what is being described. Because most of the photos on this site are on trail photo gallery pages, the opportunity to link a gallery of photos to a wide variety of resources exists. Eventually, my reference pages will be a great way to search this blog for more information. This month I focused a lot of my available time on linking descriptions of hikes in two guidebooks (describe below) to photos on my site. Since those two guidebooks are major resources for Angeles National Forest, I’ve added an image of each book with a link to the reference page in the sidebar.

Updated Reference Page:

New Reference Page

Hiking Journal

Updated Peaks:

New  trail photo gallery:

New reference map pages:

 

New Additions In January 2015

Among the things I’m working on improving for 2015 is to better communicate what pages get added and updated on this blog/website due to the fact that I publish far more pages than posts. The blogging aspect is handled pretty well as every time I add a post, those that choose to follow the blog get alerted to that new content by their chosen source for following. However, when I add a page or update a page (the more website nature of this endeavor), there’s no automatic way to inform people. So, I’ve decided to write a monthly post that outlines what pages are new or updated to make it easier for returning readers to find what is more recent. What follows is the my first “New Additions” monthly post.

Hiking up San Gabriel Canyon, following the San Gabriel River to the Bridge to Nowhere, and seeing a bighorn was my favorite Angeles Forest hike this month--#6 of the year.

Hiking up San Gabriel Canyon, following the San Gabriel River to the Bridge to Nowhere, and seeing a bighorn was my favorite Angeles Forest hike this month–#6 of the year.

Clicking on links below will open the page in a new tab so that it will be easier to follow links on those pages and still get back to this one.

Hiking Journal

  • New journal started for 2015 and accessed from the 2015 Hikes tab. New in 2015 is a map included with each hike described. I went on eight hikes in January.

New Peaks:

  • ABDSP Peak 2152: Elevation 2152′–Anza Borrego Desert State Park. (Note: this peak is unofficial but a great extension to the Rock Tanks Loop).
  • Josephine Peak: Elevation 5558′–Angeles National Forest

Updated Peaks:

New hikes with step by step instructions:

New trailhead pages

Updated trailhead pages

New trail segment information pages:

New  trail photo galleries:

New points of interest pages:

New Photo galleries for areas outside Angeles National Forest:

New book reference page:

Why I Created My Peak Bagging Resume

My achilles tendon is almost healed and I expect to be hiking again by this weekend. It has been over a month since my last hike. Although my case of cabin fever is getting intense, I’ve decided to take it real slow and hopefully stop the barrage of injuries I’ve been dealing with over the past year. Since my IT band injury last August I’ve only hiked 1/2 the miles I hiked in 2011 (my first year of serious hiking) and 1/3 of what I did in 2012–both years injury free.

"Use trail" leading to Brown Mountain.

“Use trail” leading to Brown Mountain, April 2012

I think my impatience to get back into the shape I was in prior to getting injured has played a significant role in my continued battles with injuries. Long periods of inactivity have now resulted in my gaining back almost half the weight I’d lost since I started hiking. Looking honestly at where I’m at, I realize I need to get in shape to pursue getting in shape. It feels like I’m starting over–only worse. I’ve decided not to carry the extra weight backpacking requires for the rest of this year (though I may car-camp) and to also limit the strenuousness of my hikes (no matter how I feel) until sometime next year.

North Backbone Trail coming down from Mt. Baldy, October 2011

North Backbone Trail coming down from Mt. Baldy, October 2011

Frankly, this was demoralizing for me. However, my outlook got better as I started to plan my first return hike. There are a number of hikes I’ve avoided going on when I was training to hike Mt. Whitney or the High Sierra Trail because they would be too easy. Since I’m not going to get back into training mode until next year, it’s now a good time to explore them. A while ago my neighbor (Chuck) gave me the book “106 Tops In The Angeles Forest”. What’s great about it is that it shows a separate map with the trail (often un-maintained “use trails” that I don’t see on other maps) and a description on how to get to each peak–many of them un-named . There’s a plethora of options to get off the beaten path and explore trails most people don’t go on and many of them are short. I used that book as a reference to find my way to Pallett Mountain as both a day hike and an overnight backpacking trip this year and really enjoyed both experiences. A plan of exploration without worrying about mileage, gain, and getting ready for some other adventure has me looking forward to enjoyed the getting in shape to get in shape phase of my recovery.

Pallett Mountain, June 2014.

Pallett Mountain, June 2014.

My first hike back will be to Winston Peak and Winston Ridge (about 4 miles round trip). Since the book is over 30 years old and the trail isn’t on the maps I use for Angeles Forest, I felt I should search the internet and see what current information I could find. I came across the Iron Hiker blog which gave a good description. It’s blogger (Keith Winston) also has a link to something he refers to as his peak-bagging resume. I didn’t even know how many peaks I had summited. His resume got me curious to see what my list actually looks like.

Path to the lookout at Mt. Wilson looking toward Mt. Baldy, May 2014.

Path to the lookout at Mt. Wilson looking toward Mt. Baldy, May 2014.

Since I track my hikes on a spreadsheet, it was easy to determine that I’ve bagged 45 peaks. More interesting to me than the number is the variety of ways I’ve reached many of them–108 routes total. For example, I’ve hiked to Mt. Wilson twelve different ways starting from five different trailheads (Angeles Crest Highway at Shortcut Canyon, Chantry Flat, Cobb Estate, Eaton Cayon, and Sierra Madre). However, I’ve only blogged about one of them and I only have step by step instructions of another.

San Gabriel Peak, December 2011.

San Gabriel Peak, December 2011.

Although I repeat many of those routes often, some of them multiple times annually; it’s exploring new routes that I enjoy most. So, I thought a resume could be an effective way of sharing these routes through an outline with quick descriptions that could be helpful to others looking for other ways to explore the forest.

Middle Mt. Hawkins, June 2014.

Middle Mt. Hawkins, June 2014.

My Peak Bagging Resume is located in the Peak Bagging Routes tab in my blog’s menu area above. It’s a continuous scroll list, organized by peak in elevation order starting from the highest (to make quick work of finding high peaks for training), with descriptions of all the hikes I’ve done to each peak, and with links to other information including any step by step instructions I’ve created. At a minimum, each peak has a link to it’s own individual page that has photos from the peak and a list of hikes. Eventually, all of them will look like the one I’ve created for San Gabriel Peak that also has a 360 degree panorama view, links to posts I’ve created, and links to posts others have written on their blogs. Also on that resume page are links to alphabetical lists to make quickly finding information on a specific peak easier.

View from the "use trail" following the ridge from Inspiration Point looking toward Inspiration Peak (Unofficial Name), February 2012.

View from the “use trail” following the ridge from Inspiration Point looking toward Inspiration Peak (Unofficial Name), February 2012.

Like the trail segment pages I’ve created, I’ll use the quick reference nature of the resume to help me plan new routes. I hope others will do the same.

Preparing To Return To The Forest

I’m looking forward to returning to the forest on Thursday or Friday. It’s been a long recovery from Iliotibial Band Syndrome. My only foray into the forest since August 1st was a short 3 mile walk to Switzer Falls on September 26th. It was more difficult than I expected and I knew more rest was needed as the band tightened up where it connects with my knee and I was sore there the next day. In addition to trying to heal, numerous other matters cropped up that also played a role in keeping me away from hiking and blogging.

Butterfly near Switzer Falls

Butterfly near Switzer Falls

I finally got around to updating my hiking journal today to reflect the addition of my short September walk with my friend Bryan. I chose the photo of the butterfly above to represent it. I recall really enjoying watching this butterfly from below from a vantage point in the shade with a view of the light from the sun shinning through its wings. Admittedly, I didn’t notice the tongue sticking out until I got home and looked at my photographs. I think my knee is going to hold up this time (considering it did well touring Hills and Stairs University–aka Humboldt State University–with my wife and daughter last week) and I expect to be blogging regularly again soon.

Weekly Gallery Update #8: Header Images

My Weekly Gallery Updates are about sharing photos I’ve added to the gallery section of this site.  The galleries are my way of creating a visual approach to searching for hikes by having collections of photos that link to information about hiking to where each photo was taken.

Side note for bloggers: One of the reasons I chose the Twenty Eleven Theme was because it has lots of different features and functionality.  I expected that over time I might grow into it.  A feature that recently caught my attention is the option to have random headers load with each page click (WordPress bloggers can find this feature in themes that support it from the dashboard by clicking on the Appearance and then Header tabs).

Since a key component of my blog is to provide visitors with a visual means to find hikes, it makes sense to use the header area to assist in that goal.  I think that having a randomly appearing header image with each page click helps emphasize discovery.  This gallery will work a little different than the others as the images will be organized in alphabetical order by trail name instead of by most recently added.  This will allow someone who wants to know more about a trail in the header image to quickly find it by clicking on the link below the gallery image.  Also, because I need to crop the images to make them header sized, I’m including the whole image in the gallery as well.  I will update this gallery more often than the others to periodically inform people of this functionality.  Presently, there are ten header images, five are shown below.  The rest of them can be seen in the Header Images Gallery.

Pacific Crest Trail, October 2011

Pacific Crest Trail, October 2011

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More photos of the Pacific Crest Trail from Mt. Baden-Powell to JCT Dawson Saddle

Lower San Gabriel Peak Trail, December 2011

Lower San Gabriel Peak Trail, December 2011

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More photos of the Lower San Gabriel Peak Trail. 

Silver Moccasin Trail, February 2012

Silver Moccasin Trail, February 2012

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More photos of the Silver Moccasin Trail between Charlton Flats and Little Pines Loop

Upper Sam Merrill Trail, January 2012

Upper Sam Merrill Trail, January 2012

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More photos of the Upper Sam Merrill Trail

Valley Forge Trail, November 2012

Valley Forge Trail, November 2012

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More photos of the Valley Forge Trail