• the first encounter.

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

Jul 17, 2015

Los Liones Trail to the Parker Mesa Overlook in Pacific Palisades, California

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Parker Mesa Overlook


The Los Liones Trail is a popular recreational trail located a few miles north of Santa Monica California, just off Pacific Coast Highway. Most people use this trail to connect to the Paseo Miramar Trail and continue on to the Parker Mesa Overlook. From the locked gate on Los Liones Drive, you're looking at about a 7 mile round trip to the overlook and back.

The first mile of the Los Liones trail is the steepest, but its shaded and the grade is relatively gradual. This section is a single track trail. After a mile, you'll come to the fork for the Paseo Miramar Trail. Make a left and continue uphill for an additional 2.4 miles to the Parker Mesa Overlook. The Paseo Miramar Trail is extremely wide and well-maintained. The trail is almost entirely uphill and there is absolutely no shade, so bring a ton of water.  You will pass several small spur trails, but you can just ignore them. Just stay on the wide trail and follow the signs to the overlook.You may also see mountain bikers on this section of the trail, so keep an eye open. 

The overlook at the top is absolutely worth the climb. You can see all of Los Angeles and a stretch of beach south all the way to the hills in Rancho Palos Verdes. After a well-deserved rest, just turn around and head back down exactly the way you came in.

For those of you looking for a really brutal hike, you might think about taking the spur off of Miramar trail for the E. Topanga Fire Road and heading north all the way to Eagle Rock. I’ve never personally done this section, so I can’t vouch for it.  A round-trip hike from gate at the Los Liones trailhead to Eagle Rock is 14 miles. 

Directions:

From Santa Monica, head North on Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway.  After passing Will Rogers State Beach,  make a right onto Sunset Blvd . Go ¼ mile make a left onto Los Liones Drive.  Continue approximately ½ mile on Los Liones road to the metal gate adjacent to the Latter Day Saints church. There is free parking and several public restrooms along the right side of Los Liones Road.  Enter this address into your GPS and it will lead you directly to the trailhead:

575 Los Liones Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90272

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Apr 25, 2015

Quail Hill Preserve and the Shady Canyon Bikeway in Irvine

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Shady Canyon Bikeway in Irvine
The Quail Hill Preserve is a fun little dirt loop located just off the 405 freeway in Irvine.  It’s more suited for a short walk or a leisurely ride on your mountain bike. It’s also a great jumping off point for the Shady Canyon Bikeway in Irvine.  You can park your car in the Quail Hill Preserve parking lot and experience one of the best paved bike trails in all of Orange County.

As you head south from the preserve, the Shady Canyon Bikeway passes through some really beautiful neighborhoods.  The grade is uphill for the first mile and a half and downhill for the next mile, so you can get a nice workout in a relatively short period of time.  At 2.5 miles south of the Quail Hill Preserve, The Shady Canyon Bikeway links up with the Bommer Canyon Trail, or you can continue west on the paved bike trail and link up with the Bonita Canyon trail.  Bommer Canyon is a dirt trail which will take you all the way to Crystal Cove. You’ll need a mountain bike, a helmet and a lot of time to make it to the beach and back up. I don’t recommend attempting a 20 mile round-trip beach journey it unless you are a beast, because the ride back up Crystal Cove is pretty rough.

If you want to start at the Quail Hill Preserve and ride North on the Shady Canyon Bikeway, there is a good route which will connect you to the University Trail. You can link up with the University Trail and head west towards William R Mason Regional Park. This route is a leisurely 8 mile round-trip ride on a paved trail. I highly recommend plotting your route on Google first, because the trails in Irvine can be very confusing and they essentially go on forever in every direction.

Quail Hill Preserve in Irvine

Shady Canyon Bikeway Orange County California

Shady Canyon Bikeway in Irvine California


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Apr 9, 2015

Review: LifeStraw Go Water Bottle

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LifeStraw Go Water Bottle
 One of the major obstacles to hiking in Southern California is the lack of water sources.  Not carrying enough water on a hike in the mountains can put you in a life threatening situation. There are a ton of stories of people who get thirsty and wander off trail in search of water and get themselves lost.   I ran into trouble myself a few years back hiking up Mount Baldy when my girlfriend ran out of water halfway up the mountain. I have a bad habit of bringing the absolute minimum amount of water on a hike to save weight and I had underestimated the distance of the hike. We chanced it, assuming that we would have a clean water source somewhere along the way, only to find some dirty snow at the peak.  We ended up hiking ten miles through the mountains in the middle of summer with empty bottles. It was not a situation I hope to repeat.

I looked around the internet for a while for a viable way to purify water.  I actually tested two different brands of water purification tablets. Although they would work in a pinch, they were both absolutely disgusting.  The next thing I tried was a Katadyn water filter pump.  It was expensive, added more weight to my pack than I would have liked and way too time consuming to set up and pump for it to be practical for a day hike.  I randomly stumbled across an ad for the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle.  I started to do a little reading about the product and the first ting I saw was that Forbes magazine gave them an award for One of the ‘Ten Things That Will Change The Way We Live’ .  I was intrigued.

After using the Go Water Bottle on the trail for 3 hikes, I was in love.  Simply put, the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle is easily one of the best hiking accessories that I've ever used.  It’s a BPA free water bottle with a water filter built in to the straw. You can literally scoop water from the stream into the bottle and drink it directly through the straw without waiting.  The water has absolutely zero bad aftertaste as far as I can tell. The manufacturer claims it should filter 264 gallons of water before the filter needs to be replaced and should filter out 99.9999 percent of bacteria and 99.9 percent of parasites.  However, they do recommend using a water purification tablet anywhere where human sewage might be present because it will not filter out viruses.

The Lifestraw Go Water Bottle retails for $30, which is about 1/3 of what I spent on my Katadyn water filter. The Go Water Bottle also weighed less, 8 ounces vs 11 ounces and that’s not including the fact that you still need to carry a bottle when you’re using the Katadyn filter.

You can attach the Go Water Bottle to your bag using the included carabiner, or just shove it into a side pocket like any other water bottle.  I plan on ordering an extra one to keep in the car in case I ever break down and need fresh water. This would make a great addition to your emergency kit at home in case of some type of water emergency. As a resident of Southern California in the middle of a 4 year drought, it couldn't hurt to have one of these at home just in case.

Another great thing about Lifestraw is that they do a ton of humanitarian work. They have an ongoing program called “Follow the Liters” where for every unit someone purchases, one school child in a developing community receives safe drinking water for an entire school year. They're making a measurable difference in the world providing safe drinking water to communities in desperate need.

You can pick one up on Amazon right now for 30 bucks here: LifeStraw Go Water Bottle


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Apr 6, 2015

12 Fans Around a Campfire = Fire Tornado. Amazing video.

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 If you try to duplicate this and you inevitably end up setting yourself and your friends on fire, I don't wan't to know about it. :)
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Mar 26, 2015

Black Widow SpiderHolster Field Test and Review

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I do a lot hiking and I've been looking for an alternative to my neck strap to carry my Canon DSLR on the trail. I found the Black Widow SpiderHolster on Amazon and gave it a shot based on all of the good reviews. I was not disappointed. I took it on a weekend trip to Tennessee for my brother's birthday to explore Falls Creek Falls State Park and Burgess Falls State Park. There are photo opportunities around every turn in both parks and it was amazing not to have to dig into my bag every five minutes to pull out my camera. This is a fantastic piece of professional gear and does exactly what I need it to. After a few hundred hkes, you get really tired of your camera flopping around on your neck while you're hiking.

Out of the box, you can literally set up the Black Widow on your camera in less than 30 seconds. You just use a wrench to tighten a washer and a bolt. They also sell a plate you can attach to the bottom of the Black Widow to make it compatible with a tripod. I highly recommend picking one up as an accessory.

The camera locks into place using a nifty little ball joint. It sits nice a snug against your hip and you can use the Velcro strap to lock it into place with the lense facing backwards so you don't accidentally damage your lense. The quick release is basically fool proof. You can remove the holster and attach it to any belt, but I really like the Velcro belt that comes with the unit because its really comfortable and has some padding to keep the camera from banging into your hip.

On the trail with the Black Widow camera holster


The quick release is really smooth and fast. You can instantly pop your camera off the holster if you need to get a quick shot. The ball joint locks into place and you have to push the trigger to release it and slide the camera up and out. I did quite a bit of walking with this, and there is just no way your camera can come unattached.

After testing the Black Widow for a weekend on the icy trails in Tennessee, I may never bring my DLSR and hike without it again. I definitely recommend picking one up. I put together a short video of the hikes below if anyone is interested in checking out the waterfalls. Falls Creek Falls is often called the largest waterfall east of the Rockies.


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Mar 19, 2015

A Wild Boar Attacks People. People are saved by ponies?! Unbelievable video footage

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Can you imagine trying to tell this story to your friends before the days of the internet?
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